Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Black Workers Congress

The Struggle Against Revisionism and Opportunism: Against the Communist League and the Revolutionary Union


The first six months of 1974 brought about great changes in the ranks of the U.S. Communist movement. Most of the small circles and “collectives” of Communists which sprung from the spontaneous mass movements of the sixties have developed gradually into five or six major groups: The Black Workers Congress, the Puerto Rican Revolutionary Workers Organization, The October League, The Revolutionary Union, August Twenty-Ninth Movement (ATM), and the Communist League. The past six months have seen these groups (as well as many other “independents” and lesser known groups) involved in sharp ideological struggle, which from all appearances seems very far from over.

Particularly this is true in view of the fact that each one of these groups has its “own” line (notwithstanding alliances which exist between BWC/PRRWO, CL/MCLL, OL/Guardian) and each claims to represent the genuine Marxist-Leninist line as applied to the United States. Particularly is this true now that all of the above groups, at least in word, have said that the most important task of the young, growing Communist movement in the U.S. is to create, to build, and consolidate a revolutionary Party of a “New Type”. In our opinion, before we discuss the actual purpose and content of this pamphlet, it is absolutely necessary to be clear on the present state of affairs of the Communist movement in the U.S. and the struggle of the working class and its ideology for the leadership of the revolutionary movement in America.

In the U.S. the spontaneous movement of the masses (particularly of the working class, minority nationalities, and the lower and middle petty bourgeoisie), which spread like a storm in the late sixties, was forced to develop without any conscious direction and leadership. Because of the revisionist betrayal of the CPUSA, the working class was left without its vanguard; there existed no general line or program or tactics, and no trained revolutionary cadres. All the experiences gained by the US proletariat during its long and bitter class struggle against the capitalist class remained buried under the garbage heap of the revisionist CPUSA, and any of this heroic history that was discovered and made use of came to light only after considerable delay, and to this day not to a sufficient degree. (See the BWC pamphlet – “The Black Workers Congress, the Black Liberation Movement, and Proletarian Revolution” for a more detailed explanation of this history).

Consequently Marxist-Leninist theory is taking a long time to penetrate the working class movement and the mass movement generally during the first years of the upsurge and to this day is only “being taken in” at a very slow rate. THIS HAS WEAKENED THE WORKING CLASS! This has made it possible for bourgeois and petty bourgeois ideas and theories to temporarily divert the proletariat from its historic mission. So the propagation of Marxism Leninism, the Leninist organizational principles and tactics, the building of the “New” Communist Party, and the linking up of this with the working class movement itself, etc., has only just begun. This reminds us of a similar state of affairs in Russia where Lenin said:

Russia has attained Marxism, the only revolutionary theory, by dint of fifty years’ travail and sacrifice, through the greatest revolutionary heroism, the most incredible energy and devotion in seeking, educating, practical experience, disappointment, checking and comparison with European experience. Left Wing Communism

Nevertheless, the process of political development among the advanced wing of the American proletariat has steadily developed in the course of relentless struggle against all kinds of deviations and petty bourgeois influences. This core of advanced, active proletarians will provide the basis of the New Party when it does come into being along with the advanced sectors of the revolutionary intelligentsia. But today, many obstacles still remain and have to be removed before the ideological crystallization and organizational formation of the working class vanguard can take place.

Where, at the present moment, do our chief weaknesses and main danger lie?

The building of the Party, the training and development of cadre the growth of communist influence and authority within the class, can take place only on the basis of a sustained ideological struggle for the science of Marxism-Leninism and its application to the concrete political realities of the US: only on the basis of the most relentless struggle against the influences of all shades and forms of opportunism – especially open Right opportunism and modern revisionism–can it take place!

The statement made by Lenin in “What Is To Be Done?” was never so true as when applied to the US – “Without a revolution! theory there can be no revolutionary movement.” The ideological struggle, the struggle on the theoretical front, the struggle for revolutionary Marxism, is an indispensible and inseparable component, of the theory and practice of Bolshevism. Without this, without defeating bourgeois and petty bourgeois ideology on the theoretical front, THERE CAN BE NO QUESTION OF BUILDING A COMMUNIST PARTY OF A “NEW TYPE”!

The Communist forces in the United States must continue to launch and build the widest possible campaign for the dissemination of genuine Marxism-Leninism – its theoretical principles, its tactics and strategy, and the experience of the world proletariat; paying special attention to the experiences of the Russian Revolution and the Comintern, the experiences of our own Communist movement, and the lessons of the struggle of Albania and China in battle with modern revisionism. The Communist movement in the U.S. must assimilate and understand the blood-drawn lessons of the international proletariat and use them in our struggle against the monopoly capitalist murderers and their criminal agents inside the workers’ movement in order to forge a strong Bolshevik party, both ideologically and practically. We must continue to recruit and develop an active core of advanced workers – the best revolutionary workers, and raise them to the level of Communists by the use of trained propagandists in the broader class struggle. Many class conscious workers can in this way become leaders of the class and builders of the Party and, on the other hand, the Communist movement itself becomes organically linked to the proletarian movement as a whole.

But there are those among us who seek to divert our numerically weak organizational forces from this task. The petty bourgeois traditions of the former “mass” movements are still in effect. Many traces of the petty bourgeois weakness of neglect and abuse of theoretical work and lack of serious study combined with hard, protracted practical work still remain.

We know from the past and can see from the present who these people are. Principally they are the leaders of the RU. The RU line, especially in regards to Party building and the Black national question, is openly Right. As we know, the right danger in this whole historical period is the main danger; it develops out of the entire situation of the international Communist movement – this must always be remembered. How is this Right line manifested? Primarily, in the belittlement of the strategic task of Party building, not only in this immediate period of which there can be no question of its centrality, but throughout the whole period of proletarian revolution and proletarian dictatorship. The RU for instance says that Party building “has only now” (meaning now that the RU has decided) become the central task, and “only for a brief period.” They claim that after they get through writing their Party program and uniting enough people around it (which they hope won’t take too long), we can “hurry up and return to the task of building the mass movement.” (See the June and July 1974 “Revolution” and “Red Papers 6”)

Comrades, is this the attitude that Lenin and the Bolsheviks had when they forged the heroic Bolshevik Party? Is this the attitude of the Chinese and Albanians towards Party building? Where else in the world do Marxist-Leninists take such a disdainful approach towards forging the proletarian vanguard? What would happen if the rest of the Communist movement took such a tailist, economist, a “necessary evil” approach towards the building of a New Party? It simply would never get built and the “mass movement” would continue to flounder directionless for another decade or so. The “leaders” of the RU, the bourgeois and petty bourgeois lawyers, doctors, and writers who like to “interpret” Marxist-Leninist ideology, and who have plans of “leading” the mass movement that their cadres are vainly trying to “build”, could care less. That is why we must continue to unleash all fire against the RU line, which is more than ever the main danger as representative of the line of the CPUSA. Their line must be exposed, defeated, and thoroughly routed from the ranks of the Communist movement, otherwise the task of the genuine leaders and Communists, which is to give direction and leadership to the broad masses of the working class through its advanced sector, to develop the class consciousness and political activity of the proletariat, and to create and weld together a stable core of cadres and of active workers, will take a very long time.

But there is still another dangerous tendency. In essence the same as the RU one, but hidden. This tendency is represented by the CL (Communist League). Sometimes the Right likes to hide themselves under the mask of the “left”, and under “ultra” revolutionary estimates of the objective situation.

This pamphlet is dedicated to exposing this “left” cover and tearing the fig leaf off this naked opportunism. This “Left” danger is a product of and closely bound up with the whole state of the Communist movement. “One tendency covers another.” (CPC) How is this line manifested? Fundamentally, in regards to Party building, in counterposing this task to all others, in the Trotskyite “theory of cadres” (a theory which says that it is wrong for cadres to do anything else but study), in a sectarian (“all struggle and no unity”) attitude towards other Communist groups, and a lot of “left” phrasemongering and posturing on the principles of Marxism-Leninism. The CL line is not some “freak line” as some like to characterize it. It is the twin brother of the RU line and fundamentally no different. Both seek to isolate the Communist forces from the proletarian vanguard. The RU line, by “tailing” the vanguard, and the CL line by coming nowhere near it. Right and “left” opportunism coexist mutually and in struggle against proletarian ideology – where you find one, you’ll find the other. On the surface, their approach and lines seem diametrically opposed. For instance, the RU in their July issue of “Revolution” has a ten-page “critique” of CL’s line. As we will prove and you will see in this document, the RU ’criticizes’ CL for some of the very same tendencies and errors it holds so dear. Listen to Mao explain the basis for such a phenomenon:

At the same time as we criticize dogmatism, we must direct our ’attention to criticizing revisionism. Revisionism, or Right opportunism, is a bourgeois trend of thought that is even more dangerous than dogmatism (our emphasis-3WC). The revisionists, the Right opportunists, pay lip-service to Marxism; they too attack “dogmatism”. But what they are really attacking is the quintessence of Marxism. “On Literature and Art” Peking Edition, p. 139

In this pamphlet we try to expose both these lines for what they are, while especially concentrating on CL’s. We are doing this to give the entire Communist movement the benefit of our experiences for the past several months–the experience of exposing and opposing several opportunist lines in the communist movement, especially that of CL’s. Needless to say, this process has been coupled with a relentless struggle against right and “left” deviations within our own ranks, a process which has been developing continuously in the ranks of the BWC since July 8, 1972 (see BWC pamphlet for details). Without such a struggle against bourgeois and petty bourgeois ideology and the liberal stands towards them inside our own organization and among the ranks of comrades around us, we could not have possibly discovered and exposed the opportunist nature of the RU/CL lines in such a short span of time.

The Communist League has been in existence since 1969. According to its own account, it was formed primarily by former members of the POC, an organization of communists who had openly broken with the consolidated revisionism of the CPUSA only to fall into an “anti-China, anti-proletarian Trotskyite line.” (Peoples Tribune, 6/74, p. 3) (See also, “Dialectics of the Communist League”) Since its founding six years ago, CL has published a political organ, the People’s Tribune, on a regular basis. It has also published a lengthy document on the Black national question. Its line has been out there for all to see.

But strangely enough, there has been no systematic examination and criticism of the CL line by any of the other forces making up what the Guardian likes to call the “new anti-revisionist communist movement.” Instead, CL has been dismissed with a wave of the hand as a bunch of “dogmatists” whose penchant for bizarre terminology (USNA, Negro national minority workers, etc.) and long quotations from the classics of Marxism-Leninism would only serve to alienate them from the masses. It is true that certain of the more outrageous aspects of their line have been singled out for comment. For example, on how it is nonsense to maintain that Blacks and Anglos inhabiting the Black Belt (the territory of the Black nation) share a common history, culture, and psychological make-up, and are therefore both members of the “Negro Nation,” the October League attacked CL’s contention that the concept of the “Third World” is unscientific, Trotskyite, but without really elaborating on it.

Actually, though, it is not strange at all that the CL line was ignored, while the rest of the “new communist movement” occupied itself with polemicizing with now PL, now the SWP, now the Weathermen, Black Panther Party, Venceremos, RU, OL, the various “national forms of communist organizations,” et al. For what separated CL from the rest of the “new communist movement” was its insistence that the building of a genuine communist party, a Leninist party of a new type, was the main and immediate task of Marxist-Leninists of all nationalities in the USA, in opposition to “building the united front against imperialism under proletarian leadership” and/or “building the revolutionary unity, consciousness, unity, etc., of the workers movement.” While the rest of us were running around tailing after every spontaneous upsurge of the workers’ struggle against the employers, every struggle of the oppressed nationalities against imperialism, every protest by the broad masses of the American people against US aggression in Indochina, CL delivered a lot of verbiage on how it based itself in the workplace and the proletarian communities, and sought out the advanced workers. While we debased the Leninist conception of the advanced worker (see Red Papers 5), and knocked ourselves out addressing ourselves to the intermediate workers with anti-imperialist newspapers, caucuses and such, CL at least mouthed the Leninist concept that the advanced worker is one who grasps the necessity for revolution, and for revolutionary theory and organization – for a Party – in order to make it. To our old slogan of “build the mass movement”, they counterposed the Leninist understanding that the task of communists is to bring socialism to the workers movement. While we belittled theory and failed to arm ourselves (much less the people we came into contact with in our mass work) with the weapon of Marxist-Leninist science, CL quoted Lenin to the effect that without revolutionary theory there can be no revolutionary movement.

Over the past year, through study and on the basis of summing up their practice, whole organizations and many individuals within the “new communist movement” have come to recognize the bankruptcy of their former line of building the mass movement, bowing to spontaneity, and belittling theory. We have come to recognize that from the moment the CPUSA passed the point of no return in its descent into revisionism, the central task of all honest Marxist-Leninists has been to build a new Party. So it is not surprising that having finally “seen the light,” we began to relate seriously to the organization which had correctly stated the central task from the git-go: CL. We joined with CL on the continuations committee and took up a serious examination of the line put forward in their documents and newspaper. In this same period we also intensified our study of the science of Marxism-Leninism, so that we can distinguish the genuine from the sham.

It is on this basis that we can say that during the two months past we have gone through the same process with CL that Chou En-lai describes regarding Lin Piao and the Chinese Communist Party in his political report to the 10th Party Congress: “On his part there was a process of development and self-exposure, and on our part there was also a process of getting to know him.” We shall see that this reference to Lin Piao is very much to the point.

In here you will see the ideological and political closeness of the outlook of the CL and the RU. It is plain for all to see, I.e., the subjective idealism, voluntarism, and Hegelianism of both the CL and the RU. Thus you will see why it is even more necessary to continue the decisive struggle to free the proletariat from the pernicious influence of bourgeois and petty bourgeois ideology and to continue on the road to building and forming a Mew Communist Party.

If you will note, there is not one word of pessimism contained here. Ideological struggle, contrary to the Guardian’s assertions, is not something to get “demoralized” about. We have made mistakes and we will make more. Many of the mistakes of the honest Communist forces (and we consider 95% of our movement genuine) are inevitable when young Communists are only just becoming Communists, are only just building their Party, when groups spring up with very little, or absolutely no knowledge of the fundamentals of Marxism-Leninism nor experience in the class struggle. Groups and individuals who are almost “illiterate” from the Marxist-Leninist standpoint. But the important thing, like the Chinese comrades tell us, IS TO BE GOOD AT LEARNING. We must learn from the lessons of our struggle as well as from the struggles of the world proletariat and make this experience acquired our own and useful to the cause of the proletariat – THIS IS THE ONLY GUARANTEE OF THE SUCCESSFUL DEVELOPMENT OF OUR MOVEMENT.

Each genuine communist organization and group, with even great energy and determination than before, must wage a relentless war against all manifestations of opportunism inside and outside their own ranks, link themselves up with the revolutionary vanguard of the proletariat through factory nuclei and organized study circles, unite with other genuine Marxist-Leninists on the basis of political line, and work hard and unceasingly for the formation of the New Communist Party.