Published: Red Papers 6, June 1974.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought teaches us that the law of the “unity of opposites,” of dialectics, is universal, that is, that there will always be contradictions and struggle in things. From beginning to end contradictions and struggle are present in all things and it is wrong to hope that some day there will be no problems and everything will be peaceful. “If there were no contradictions in the Party and no ideological struggle to resolve them, the Party’s life would come to an end.” (Mao) Inside parties and organizations, contradictions manifest themselves as ideological struggle between “two lines,” between right and left deviations and are only reflections of the outlook of the different classes in society and the struggle between them. As long as there are classes there will be class struggle, there will be two-line struggles–struggles between the old and the new, the revolutionary and the reactionary, the false and the true, and the struggle between the various aspects of these things will push forward the development of society.
Recently, we have been witnessing a two-line struggle between the RU, the PRRWO, and the BWC. Many have asked: “How has this happened? Only yesterday we were ’Comrade Organizations,’ working together at every turn, and now we are constantly at odds, struggling continuously and unable to respect each other.” But as Stalin says, “Communist organizations are not family circles nor associations of friends–they are the political leadership of the working class ... we do not allow the interest of personal friendship to be placed above the interest of our cause.” (Stalin, Selected Works)
But just what are our problems and disagreements? How has a two-line struggle emerged out of the one-line we all thought we were united around? What changes have occurred and where was the turning point? In trying to solve problems, Chairman Mao has always taught us to try to find the essential or main aspects first distinguishing between primary and secondary aspects–paying particular attention to the principal contradiction which decides or influences the existence and development of the others. Always, the “line is the key link.” Only by struggling against erroneous and incorrect lines can the correct line emerge and be implemented-and the struggle between the two lines be raised to a higher level. We do this, however, by paying attention to the principle of “unity, criticism, unity,” and “learning from past mistakes to avoid future ones,” and “curing the sickness to save the patient” (Mao). Otherwise we become sectarian and are unable to achieve ideological clarity and unity of revolutionary cadres.
The publication of the document “National Bulletin 13” by the RU secretariat, becomes particularly important at this time in getting to the heart of the matter because it takes up most of the major questions around which the present struggle is developed. In this document the RU explains its stand in relation to the question of “Revolutionary Nationalism” and the relationship of the National Question to the Communist movement in general. It also deals with the “indefinite suspension of D. H. Wright” and the question of Party building. Of particular interest to us is the RU attitude toward the National Question because we believe this attitude represents a change in RU’s original position outlined in Red Papers 1 and 2. Different lines in regard to the National Question and Party building (or the central tasks of Communists) represent the kernel of the present struggle between the “three” organizations.
National Bulletin 13 begins by “summing up” the RU position on the National Question in regard to Black people: “... the formulation our organization has made of the Black people in the U.S. today as a nation of a new type, and the publication of Red Papers 5 presenting this position in depth, has made an important contribution to the U.S. revolutionary movement, even though as we said in RP 5, this is still only the basic foundation and guide for the question of Black liberation and proletarian revolution.” It goes on to say, “we have gone into more detail on certain aspects of our line, particularly around the existence of a class structure among Black people and the existence of a specifically Black Market, which is the material basis for the existence of a Black bourgeoisie.” And further on it says, “... But on the other hand, in the course of this ideological struggle (against CL and OL), in the necessity, so to speak, to ’prove the existence of the Black Nation,’” there has been a tendency to lose sight of the analysis of RP 5 that:
We have held to the formulation of the Black people as a nation because of the historical basis of nationhood and the present situation of Black people which continues to bind them in a very close national union, and because of the importance of upholding the right of self-determination including secession, which has been firmly established on the basis of the long history of Black people in the U.S.
But the important question (writer’s emphasis) is not the particular word “nation” as opposed, say, to “national minority.” The crucial question is to understand the historical and present material conditions of Black people and the essential thrust of the Black liberation movement today that flows from these conditions.
And further down on the same page, page 1:
And further, as we have said consistently (writer’s emphasis again) in Red Papers, the “essential thrust” of the Black people’s struggle has not been for self-determination in the form of secession, but the fight against discrimination, the denial of democratic rights, violent police repression, and against exploitation and oppression as members of the working class, suffering caste-like oppression within the class.
We hope the reader will forgive us for the long quotes but we feel that they are important in that they give us a clue to the essence of the whole document–RU’s raising of the National Question only to liquidate it. Let us examine these opening words before we move on.
First of all we see in the opening paragraphs an energetic attempt on the part of RU to “make clear” certain aspects of the National Question as it relates to Black people, the “essential thrust” as they say, the “fight against discrimination, the denial of democratic rights, violent police repression, against exploitation and oppression as members of the working class, etc.” They even say that the difference between national minority and nation is only a matter of semantics–“but the important question is not the word ’nation’ as opposed to, say, ’national minority’ ”! Two things are fundamentally wrong here. First the RU is equating self-determination with separation, with separatism. Equating one with the other, they therefore see us both as an evil to be avoided at all costs, in the interest of “working class unity.” As far as they are concerned, the “unity of the class” is hampered if Black people uphold their natural right to self-determination. And while upholding the “right” of Black people to self-determination, the RU sees it as only an academic question, with no possibility of it ever happening in practice. In theory it’s alright, but if it were to occur in practice it would be a “step backward,” and an obstacle to working class unity. They would have us believe that working class “unity” is achieved by begging white people of the oppressor nation to “accept the right” of Black self-determination, at the same time urging Black people to renounce the right in the interest of “unity.”
As Communists, separation is not our solution to the national question. We don’t advocate separation for the Afro-American nation in the U.S. But neither do we equate it with self-determination. Our position is:
On the one hand, the absolutely direct, unequivocal recognition of the full right of all nations to self-determination; on the other hand, the equally unambiguous appeal to the workers for international unity in their class struggle (Lenin).” In essence self-determination means the right to choose, the freedom of choice, the ability to exert the national will freely, rather than as now, being forced into a position of “separation” by our oppressors–the imperialists and their friends. Self-determination does not have to take the form of political secession, of separation. But as Lenin says, this is only the case provided that the Communists, especially those of the oppressor nation, wage a bitter and determined struggle against the big-nation chauvinism of their “own country” and uphold internationalism in deed:
There is one, and only one, kind of internationalism in deed: working wholeheartedly for the development of the revolutionary movement and the revolutionary struggle in one’s own country, and supporting, propaganda, sympathy and material aid and only such a struggle and such a line in every country without exception. (Lenin, Collected Works)
The question of the form that self-determination takes cannot be decided in advance in some off-hand chauvinist fashion as the RU does. It is not for the RU to decide anyway. But recognition of the right of self-determination without serious discussion about the possible forms it may take is of no use at all. Self-determination means political independence, the right to secession, to every genuine Marxist since Stalin this is clear. It may take the form (as in Russia or China) of regional autonomy, federation, separate Republic, a bi-national regional government, or bi-national federal representation on a territorial basis, some other possible combinations. But Stalin says that a nation can establish its right of self-determination only as it establishes its political entity on a territorial basis. This means that this right must be exercised on a given territory, not some nebulous “autonomous national communities” wherever “Black people are,” etc. For Afro-Americans the U.S. this territory can only be their historic homeland–the Black Belt South. Arguments (like in Red Papers 5) which say that Black people are completely dispersed from this territory and no longer constitute a majority there are not true, and even if they were would not prove the contrary (we have a separate pamphlet on our complete position on the National Question). As long as basis of nationhood exists, as long as sufficient internal cohesion exists, and as long as the Black masses proletarian revolution demand it, Black people have absolute unequivocal right to re-establish themselves as a political entity in their historic homeland (which exists). The Chinese say, in their latest special supplement to China Reconstructs magazine:
Any nationality, as long as it has a compact community large enough to form an administrate (autonomous region, chou or county), can establish an autonomous area with its own organs of self-government which can exercise autonomy in administering internal affairs. (“Some Basic Fact About China,” page 71, January, 1974)
It is clear that the RU does not understand this question of self-determination. Point number two. The RU seems confused also about the relationship between the struggle for “democratic rights” and the struggle for self-determination, the struggle for Black liberation. To say that self-determination, though a “right” is not “at the heart” of the Black liberation movement, not the “essential thrust,” etc. is absurd. Since when has any struggle of an oppressed people in the epoch of imperialism not been a struggle for self-determination? (a position supported by the RU in RP 1) People who say this see the national revolutionary movement of Black people in a completely negative light, see it as “bogged down,” etc. To them, as the struggle of the working class develops, and as working class “unity” grows, Black people will be less concerned about their rights as an oppressed nation of people. To “prove” this, they cite the fact that much of the modern Black liberation struggle has taken the form of a struggle for democratic rights, the fight for better housing, schools, against racial discrimination, etc. But form is not the same as content. Every real step forward in the struggle for democratic rights–the fight toward the unity of Black and white workers and every real democratic gain (which can only be tentative under imperialism, since each gain must be continually defended), makes self-determination of the Afro-American people more realizable, and more desirable not less! At the same time, the real success of the proletarian revolution renders the ideology of separation (one form of bourgeois Nationalism) less effective among the masses of Black people, and separation as a final choice less likely. The struggle for equal democratic rights not only does not contradict the struggle for self-determination, it is its main basis because equality as a nation is the main democratic right of an oppressed nation!
It is clear that the RU also does not understand the national movements in general and the Black national movement in particular. The fact that most Black people are working people does not lessen the struggle for self-determination either. It does not dilute the struggle for self-determination, but strengthens it. The fact that a Black worker may enter a plant and union with other workers does not make him lose his identity as a member of the Afro-American nation. His every day conditions on the job, racism and super-exploitation, will keep him from forgetting it, as well as his concern for the plight of his people as a whole. The experience of the past few years has proven that the national movement of Black people has been strengthened, not weakened, by the increasing participation and leadership of the Black proletariat. Because of the class position of Black workers, and their ability to grasp scientific socialist ideology, they are more politically sensitive to the oppression of the Black masses than any other class in the Afro-American nation, at the same time very conscious of the need to unite with white workers in the overall class struggle. The political awareness and development of the Black proletariat and their objective position in the society, places them at the head of the struggle for Black liberation, including the struggle for complete self-determination (which can only come about through proletarian revolution) and the struggle for democratic rights.
The “essential thrust” of National Bulletin 13 thus far seems to be to reduce the Black liberation movement to the level of a Civil Rights struggle, to cut the revolutionary heart out of it, and to unite with the CPUS A in liquidating the National Question all together. RU only hides its liquidation under the cover of “Mao Tsetung Thought.” We will prove this some more later on.
Beginning on page 2; we are subjected to a lecture about the “material unity” of the class:
The material basis for unity of workers of different nationalities in the U.S. is greater than it has ever been in the history of the country. . . . You could not speak of a single proletariat in Russia as exists in the U.S. today.
It is hard to see what point is being made here. Why does the existence of a single proletariat make the “material unity” greater? Were there really separate working classes in Russia? What is the relationship between the material unity and the conscious unity of the class?
We don’t understand the historic parallels being made here, we don’t get the connection. What we do get is that in trying to make a case for the strong “material unity” of the class–a fact that we have never denied–the RU goes overboard, emphasizing the “petty privileges of the white workers,” while saying nothing about the material basis for disunity, opportunism, chauvinism and super-exploitation! For example, the RU reduces the question of great-nation privileges to a matter of white workers “having a little better schools, etc.” And not only do they reduce the question of opportunism, chauvinism, and super-exploitation to a matter of “petty privileges,” but they don’t even make any distinctions between white workers, between those who form part of the labor aristocracy, and who are racist-chauvinist supporters of imperialism, and those who form part of the industrial proletariat and who are less bribed, and therefore less under the influence of the bourgeoisie. The line the RU is pursuing here is very dangerous; it leads straight to revisionism. Let us see why:
The classics of Marxism-Leninism have long pointed out the danger of the spread of opportunism and revisionism in the advanced capitalist countries, where the bourgeoisie takes advantage of their super-profits to corrupt and win over a part of the working class. (From “Albania in Battle with Modern Revisionism”)
The English proletariat, Engels wrote to Marx on October 7, 1858, is in fact continually turning bourgeois, thus, this most bourgeois nation intends apparently to carry things to the point of having a bourgeois aristocracy and a proletarian aristocracy side by side with the aristocracy. (Ibid)
. . . These super-profits, which amount to billions, are the basis on which the opportunists of the workers’ movement thrive. In America, in England, in France we see the opportunist leaders, the upper stratum of the working class, the worker aristocracy are stubborn; they offer stronger resistance to the Communist movement, We should, therefore, bear in mind that the European and American workers’ parties will get rid of this malady with more difficulty than we. We know that great progress has been made since the time of the Third International to this day, but it is not yet entirely eradicated; the workers’ parties, the revolutionary parties of the whole world have not yet got rid of the opportunists in their own ranks. (Ibid)
It has been proven in practice, Lenin has said, that the militants in the ranks of the working class, disposed to opportunist trends, are better defenders of the bourgeoisie than the bourgeoisie themselves. If the workers were not led by these people, the bourgeoisie would not be able to hold their own. (Ibid)
Now it must be said that, in post-WWII USA, the “material basis” for the “Senile Disease” of opportunism is ten times greater than in Lenin’s time. And that historically this disease has been planted with deeper roots than in any other country. Why? Because the very basis of capitalism in this country was founded upon the theft of Indian land and the primitive accumulation was provided for by African slaves. White supremacy, which began during slavery and developed into white chauvinism during the epoch of imperialism has long historical roots, which is the main reason it is still such a pernicious influence today in keeping the class divided. Is there a connection between white chauvinism (or racism) and the opportunism and divisions within the U.S. working class movement? We believe there is. If it was just a matter of petty privileges, then the problem would have been solved long ago. Why isn’t the working class playing the leading role in the united front today? In the national liberation movements and the struggles for democratic rights? In the women’s movement? In the student and youth movements? Why doesn’t the working class have its own party? Is there a connection between the bankruptcy of the CPUSA and opportunism and white chauvinism? We believe there is. Is there any connection between the building of a new party and white chauvinism? We believe there is. White chauvinism, or racism (racism is the form it takes), is the most dangerous form of opportunism in the U.S. working class movement, which is one of the reasons that organizations that have become revisionist have usually liquidated the national question first. White chauvinism is the ideology of the imperialist U.S. bourgeoisie (which happens to be white) and therefore a most dangerous tendency in the U.S. workers’ movement. We wish it was only a problem of the “petty privileges” of white workers.
The real cause of the problems of the U.S. workers’ movement will not be found by throwing terms like the “material unity of the class” around. The real cause of the present situation, of the disunity of the class, must not be looked for in the objective “material” conditions, but first and foremost, in the state of the subjective factor, in the opportunism which runs rampant in the country, and the lack of a genuine Communist party free from such opportunism, capable of really uniting the class. Again, while waving the flag of the “material unity of the class,” the RU in fact is undermining the real causes for the disunity of the class and playing down the pernicious influence of opportunism and chauvinism within the working class movement. Are we against “unity” with white workers as the RU implies, are we “Bundist” as they suggest?
Pursuing its opportunist line the document goes on to quote, out of context, Lenin from, “Does the Jewish Proletariat Need an Independent Political Party?” and Mao’s statement in support of the “Afro-American Struggle.” What is the purpose of these quotes? Obviously RU is using them to “prove” our Bundism and our “lack of understanding” about the “material unity” of the class. Comrades, if you believe we are “Bundists” why don’t you just say so openly? You won’t say so openly because you know we long ago declared ourselves to the building of a multi-national Party of the working class and you know you cannot find one document, speech, or printed word from either the PRRWO or the BWC which advocates Bundist positions or hostile attitudes towards white workers.
We are 100% for the revolutionary unity of the class. We are 100% against “unity” with all forms and shades of opportunism, white chauvinism and revisionism. We are against “unity” in word only, unity without concrete revolutionary content. In order to build unity based on principle, real unity of the workers movement, differences in the standard of living of the class and level of political consciousness of its various sections cannot be minimized. A conciliatory attitude towards opportunism is the basis of all revisionism. Real unity of the class is only possible on a basis of determined and ruthless struggle against imperialism and against its agents in the workers’ movement. The achievement of this sort of unity, Bolshevik unity, not false, superficial and formal, but real unity, is a thing for which the class conscious section of the working class and its vanguard must stubbornly fight. Now we have a “quote” for the RU comrades–Lenin “On Unity”:
Unity is necessary for the workers in fact. And most necessary of all is to grasp that no one outside the workers themselves will “grant” them unity, no one is in a position to help them to their unity. One cannot “promise” unity–that would be empty boasting, self-deception; unity cannot be “created” by an understanding of little intellectual groups–that is a most miserable, naive, and gross error.
Unity must be fought for – and only the workers themselves, the class conscious workers themselves, are in a position to achieve this, by persistent stubborn work . . . (Lenin, Collected Works, vol. 17).
This is the kind of working class unity we want to bring about, not the hollow’ “material unity” the RU waves in front of our face. Lenin taught that to bring about the real unity of the working class requires the most persistent careful work in all directions for the uniting of class conscious workers. Lenin taught that unity must be built on the foundation of ideological clarification of main differences, without which unity of action cannot be achieved. Obviously in the U.S. the main differences have to do with opportunism and the national divisions within the class. Lenin’s teaching was that in order to overcome these divisions–not peculiar to the U.S. alone–a relentless struggle was necessary against the agents of the bourgeois in the workers’ movement, against the enemies of unity, the real enemies of unity: the revisionists, racists, chauvinists and bourgeois nationalists, who divided the workers and split their ranks in the interests of the bourgeoisie.
In a multi-national state, a multi-national imperials state, the main opportunist danger members of the oppressor nation make (“revolutionaries” included) is national chauvinism! The RU can hardly talk about fighting “all forms of national chauvinism” without taking up the fight against national chauvinism, not only in the working class but mainly in its own ranks! We know that a serious struggle of this sort, against white national chauvinism within the organization has never taken place; in fact the words are never mentioned for fear of becoming “self-cultivators,” or “CP Liberals,” etc.
On the bottom of page 4, after criticizing some of their members for “tailing” Black workers and “isolating” themselves from white workers, the RU leadership finally begins to call a spade a spade:
“This is Economist, Pure and Simple.” And: “The STRUGGLE AGAINST WHITE CHAUVINISM WITHIN OUR ORGANIZATION MUST BE LINKED WITH STRUGGLE AGAINST RIGHT ERRORS GENERALLY.”
Right on! We thought you would never get to it. But we would only add, not only must the struggle against white chauvinism and racism in the RU be linked to the struggle against right errors generally, but also to the struggle again opportunism as well. After all, aren’t economism and right errors generally only the most dangerous forms opportunism in the modern workers’ movement? And what is the basis of all opportunism? The “bowing to spontaneity” and the belittling of the conscious elements, “tailism” and so forth. More about this later on. Right now, let us see how the RU continues to liquidate the national question while confusing the most elemental principles of Marxism-Leninism.
Page 5 begins with more casual “quotations” from Lenin, paraphrased out of RP 5:
Lenin already drew the distinction, which has become even more crucial with the further development of the national question, between the nationalism of the bourgeoisie and the aspirations of the working class of the same nation for national equality and for proletarian internationalism.
Lenin is “quoted” again and again down the page from his various remarks on nationalism (before 1914, however) without reference to what Lenin is arguing against. And then the cat is let out of the bag:
... in the final analysis, all nationalism is–nationalism. And all nationalism, even the most progressive, is, in the final analysis bourgeois ideology. It is the ideology of “my nationality first” which reflects and serves the interest of the bourgeoisie of the particular nationality.
Is this PL talking? No. It is the national leadership of the “Revolutionary Union!” Though they deny it in words, the RU leadership has raised the ghost of PL’s reactionary line and brought it back to life. The only thing “new” is the words used to disguise it. They have beat a retreat from Marxism-Leninism, borrowing fragments of racist chauvinist theories they themselves helped to criticize! Let us tear the fig-leaf off this opportunist line. Let us see how the RU opportunistically builds its case for “all nationalism is nationalism.”
They try to support their erroneous thesis by quoting from Lenin’s “Critical Remarks on the National Question.” This article was written before 1913, before the “split” in the Second International, and before the National Question was considered part of the world revolution but only as an “internal state question.” It was still the period when Marxists considered the national question as part of the bourgeois-democratic revolution and not of the proletarian revolution. We know that World War I changed all that and Lenin himself wrote, his famous article, “Imperialism the Highest Stage of Capitalism” and later on, “Thesis on the National-Colonial Question,” and many other articles relating to the importance of the national question after the first imperialist war. And even in the same article the RU chooses to “quote” Lenin: “already drew the distinction between the nationalism of the bourgeoisie and that of the working people.” Why then, does RU choose to quote this article of Lenin’s? Even more, why do they quote from this article at the top of page five, and contradict what it says on the bottom of the same page whey they say: “all nationalism is nationalism”?
Stalin, way back in 1925, criticizes Comrade Semich for the same type of errors and erroneous thinking as the RU is committing now:
Comrade Semich refers to a passage in Stalin’s pamphlet, “Marxism and the National Question,” written at the end of 1912. It says there that the national struggle is “a struggle of the bourgeois classes among themselves.” By this he seems to hint at the correctness of his own formula for defining the social meaning of the national movement in present historical conditions. But Stalin’s pamphlet was written before the imperialist war, at a time when the national question had not yet assumed world-wide significance in the eyes of the Marxists, and when the basic demands of the Marxists concerning the right to self-determination were considered to be, not a part of the proletarian revolution, but part of the bourgeois-democratic revolution . . . (“The National Question Once Again”)
Those who do not know history are condemned to repeat its errors. Why does the RU, in the most absurd, abstract way, say: “in the final analysis nationalism, even the most progressive, is bourgeois ideology?” We should ask the RU what do they really mean by this? Do they mean that since “all nationalism is nationalism,” all national movements are bourgeois movements? Do they mean that all nations are bourgeois nations? Is bourgeois ideology the world-outlook of the socialist nations of Albania and China? Do the Albanians and Chinese see “my nationality first?” Does the revolutionary nationalism and patriotism of the Albanians and Chinese “reflect and serve the interests of the bourgeoisie” of China and Albania? Are they calling Mao a bourgeois nationalist because he said that “patriotism is applied internationalism?”
Why does the RU deliberately confuse nationalism in the abstract with nationalism in the concrete? We know that nationalism as an ideology, apart from any concrete conditions, is bourgeois. But Communists never make an analysis of things in the abstract. We are concerned with a concrete analysis of concrete conditions, and that in the world today, since the October revolution, any genuine Marxist-Leninist must make a distinction between the various forms of nationalism. Lenin says:
An abstract presentation of the question of nationalism in general is of no use to us at all. A distinction must necessarily be made between the nationalism of an oppressor nation and that of an oppressed nation, between that of a big nation and that of a small nation. (“Thesis on the National-Colonial Question”)
To Lenin and the genuine Marxists who had just split from the Second International, the key thing was to make a distinction between the various types of nationalism, and not to blur over them as the RU does. Lenin goes on:
The fundamental interests of proletarian revolution, and consequently of class struggle, requires that we never adopt a formal attitude to the national question, but always take into account the specific attitude of the proletarians of the oppressed (or small) nations towards the oppressor (or big) nation. (Ibid)
Not only does the RU make gross errors in terms of logic-confusing ideological questions with political ones-but they are blind to the inescapable conclusions drawn from their own arguments. All nationalism is not nationalism, Comrades! Why do you go through all the trouble of “quoting” Lenin, Stalin and Mao and writing hundred-page documents like Red Papers 5 if all nationalism is nationalism? Maybe the RU leadership doesn’t know any better. Check out what they are saying:
Even bourgeois nationalism (of an oppressed nationality) can under certain circumstances, have progressive aspects–such as combatting chauvinist propaganda about inferiority and self-hatred by the ruling class, instilling pride and self-respect, in the members of the oppressed nation–all of which can aid the development of equality and real unity of workers of different nationalities. But as bourgeois nationalism goes beyond that (beyond?) and takes an aggressive, even chauvinist stance, it turns completely into a reactionary force, disrupts real equality and real unity of the proletariat. Beyond that (again beyond what?), in the final analysis (what is the “final analysis?”) all nationalism must be brought forward, must make a qualitative leap to class consciousness, internationalism, or it will degenerate into bourgeois, reactionary nationalism.
What does this nonsense mean? What errors are hidden behind this confusion? To preach that bourgeois nationalism can “aid in the development of equality and real unity of workers of different nationalities” is a mockery to Marxism-Leninism. We can see from this that the RU leadership has a difficult time distinguishing ideology from politics. From the “left” “all nationalism is nationalism” they go to the right with “even bourgeois nationalism is progressive.”
The struggle of the bourgeoisie of an oppressed nation against one or another imperialist bloc has a progressive aspect in that it has the political effect of weakening and undermining the system of imperialism and depriving the imperialists of their reserves. This struggle is to the tactical advantage of the proletariat and oppressed peoples and the Chinese are masters in knowing how to make use of it. But to equate this with bourgeois nationalism is absurd. The bourgeois nationalism of the oppressed nation’s bourgeoisie is not progressive because it is against the interest of the vast masses, the workers and peasants, of the oppressed nation, and therefore, detrimental to the interest of developing unity between workers of different nationalities. Why? Because the essence of the national question, today, even in the oppressed countries, is not a question of the competition between the bourgeoisies of various nationalities but in the “profoundly popular, profoundly revolutionary nature of the national movement.” (Stalin)
The point is, that the national question, and consequently, bourgeois nationalism changes with the development of capitalism. What is correct for one historical situation is incorrect for another. During the “progressive” phase of capitalism the bourgeoisie fights consciously for the nation; that is, for the removal of the fetters of feudalism and external oppression which hinder the full development of the national market. At the same time, in the interest of “national unity” the bourgeoisie holds down the workers and peasants so that it can exploit them for its own purposes. As the productive forces continue to develop, and in the oppressed Third World nations this process has manifested itself as the transition from colonialism to neo-colonialism, the bourgeoisie (Idi Amin, Gandhi, Quadaffi, Ferrer, etc.) becomes reactionary (especially in its internal relations) and bourgeois nationalism becomes synonymous with chauvinism. Bourgeois nationalism becomes a thoroughly reactionary force, even though tactically, the bourgeoisie of these nations may play a progressive role to the extent that they struggle against one or another imperialist bloc. Stalin says:
Of course there can be no doubt that the competitive struggle between the Slovene and Croat bourgeoisie and the Serbian bourgeoisie cannot but play a certain role. But it is equally certain that anyone who regards the competitive struggle between bourgeoisies of various nationalities as representing the social meaning of the national movement cannot regard the national question as essentially a peasant question . . . The essence of the national question lies at present in the struggle of the masses of the people in the colonies and of the dependent nationalities against financial exploitation, against political enslavement, and the cultural effacement of these colonies and these nationalities by the imperialist bourgeoisie of the ruling nationality.. . . What significance can the competitive struggle between the bourgeoisies of the various nationalities have, when the national question is presented in this manner? Certainly not a decisive significance, in certain cases (Bangladesh, ed.) not even an important significance (“National Question Once Again”)
The RU speaks of bourgeois nationalism as if it were a completely subjective phenomenon, as if it could be turned on and off at will. To say: “as nationalism goes beyond that and takes an aggressive, even chauvinist stance,” is idealism pure and simple, because the very nature of bourgeois nationalism, even that of the oppressed nations, at this, stage in world history is reactionary. To say: “all nationalism must be brought forward” means (besides blurring the distinctions between the two types of nationalism), that the bourgeoisie can transcend its own material conditions and adopt the outlook of the proletariat–that nationalism and internationalism are purely subjective terms devoid of class position. Bourgeois nationalism can never “develop” or make a “leap” to proletarian internationalism, just like you cannot turn an egg into a stone. RU’s line of reasoning is nothing more than a variety of the reactionary: “Combine two into one” philosophy instigated by Liu Shao-chi and Yang Hsien-chen. This becomes even more clear when we look at what they have to say about revolutionary nationalism.
In talking about revolutionary nationalism, though they admit it is progressive, they don’t talk about why, they don’t speak of the class content of revolutionary nationalism, in other words, about what class or classes are revolutionary nationalist. Is revolutionary nationalism, also, a completely subjective phenomenon, as the RU would have us believe bourgeois nationalism is? The RU says that revolutionary nationalism is “something in motion, something that must make a move toward and eventually make a leap to a higher form of consciousness, class consciousness, or at some point fall back into bourgeois nationalism.” To the RU, obviously, revolutionary nationalism (like everything else to them) is only a state of mind, a backward state of mind at that! They make the same old error of counterposing the national question to the class struggle by speaking as though revolutionary nationalism is devoid of class content. Isn’t this what they are saying when they say revolutionary nationalism must “make a leap to a higher form of consciousness”? Isn’t that what they are saying when they say revolutionary nationalism means “my nationality first”? What they are really saying is Trotskyism pure and simple. Mao says:
Chinese Communists must therefore combine patriotism with internationalism. We are at once internationalist and patriotist, and our slogan is: “Fight to defend the motherland against the aggressors.” . . . The socialist nations axe states of an entirely new type in which exploiting classes have been overthrown and the working people are in power. The principle of integrating internationalism with patriotism is practiced in relations between these countries. (Red Book)
We see nothing from Mao that would lead one to believe “all nationalism is nationalism,” or that revolutionary nationalism is devoid of class content, or that revolutionary nationalism means “my nationality first.” To talk about nationalism in the abstract as the RU does, divorced from historical conditions and the classes it serves is not Marxism-Leninism but jingoism.
Revolutionary nationalism of Black people and all oppressed peoples, is a reflection of the nationalism of the working masses. In the world today, this sort of nationalism doesn’t have to make any sort of “leap” to a higher form of “consciousness, class consciousness,” because the national aspirations of the oppressed Black masses are in themselves revolutionary, and the national question is a class question. The main content of this type of nationalism is not “my nationality first.” And as Mao says, this type of nationalism does not contradict internationalism, but complements it, because Black people, while fighting for self-determination and national survival, are weakening imperialism in its heartland, and thereby aiding the proletariat in its revolutionary struggle to transform society as a whole. If the RU wants to really talk about internationalism and what it really means, they have to talk more about the right of self-determination. And since they never do that (except through the side of their mouth), their brand of internationalism (like PL’s) is of no use at all, totally useless! Says Dimitroff:
We communists are the irreconcilable opponents, on principle, of bourgeois nationalism in all its forms. But we are not supporters of national nihilism and should never act as such. The task of educating the workers and all working people in the spirit of proletarian internationalism is one of the fundamental tasks of every Communist party. But anyone who thinks that this permits him or even compels him, to sneer at all the national sentiments of the wide masses of working people is far from being a genuine Bolshevik and has understood nothing of the teaching of Lenin and Stalin on the national question.
It is obvious to us that the RU leadership has understood nothing of the teachings of Lenin, Stalin or Mao on the national question. It would be bad enough if these errors were due to ignorance, but we can’t believe this is so. Listen to the very same RU in their Red Papers 1:
The thesis “all nationalism is reactionary” provides the theoretical window dressing for this denial of the revolutionary nature of the national struggle of oppressed peoples. Mao said: “In wars of national liberation patriotism is applied internationalism.” There is identity in these straggles between their national and class aspects. PLP’s formula “all nationalism is bourgeois” leads to the greatest corruption among workers, ends up placing the national and class struggles in opposition and in effect sabotages both . . . The history of imperialism is nothing if it is not a history of the growing resistance of oppressed peoples and nations. It was inevitable that the theory of “nationalism” would undergo a corresponding development in the direction of recognizing its (revolutionary aspects . . . We maintain that it is essential to uphold the Black liberation struggle. In our view “revolutionary nationalism is applied internationalism” and we, therefore, give full support to the Black Panther Party and Black workers’ groups such as DRUM who adhere to revolutionary nationalism and oppose reactionary nationalism and Black capitalism . . . Why does PL need this thesis “all nationalism is reactionary” and who does it help? PL’s application of this line in practice has led to some of the most vicious slanders and wrecking activities since the Trotskyite maneuvers of the 1930’s. (Red Papers 1)
It is hard to believe that this is the same RU who has just written National Bulletin 13. Maybe it isn’t the same RU? The vague abstract logic of National Bulletin 13 has nothing in common with RP 1 which is definite, clear, and very precise. Who would have ever thought that the ghost of PL which was routed in RP 1 would have come back from the dead to haunt us in NB 13? NB 13 is meaningless rhetoric which refuses to deal with the substance of the present debate between the three organizations. It is nothing more than bourgeois intellectualism hidden under the guise of “Mao Tsetung Thought.”
In discussing the slogan: “Black Workers Take the Lead” the RU resorts to a definitely false presentation of our position. They say the slogan “Black Workers Take the Lead” is an “incorrect concept,” “not a correct slogan for the workers’ movement or the mass movement in general.” And further on:
. . . our purpose as communists is not to emphasize distinctions within the class by nationality, but to stress common interest of the class. . . Finally it is not a correct slogan for the class because it is not and cannot be a call to action to white, Chicano, Puerto Rican, and other workers. . . Even not a correct slogan to raise. . . And we stressed earlier it is not the Black proletariat, separate from the working class as a whole, that must lead the Black liberation struggle. It is not only Black workers, but workers of all nationalities, who must be won to and play a leading role in the fight against national oppression.
Actually we never said that the slogan was correct for all times and places because it grew out of the particular context of the “Black Workers’ Freedom Convention,” and reflected the rising political struggle and consciousness of the Black sector of the proletariat in 1971-72. The slogan became a subject of controversy then and since then with the major criticism of it being “It divides the class.” Before we can get into the pros and cons of this slogan we must know what slogans are supposed to do in the first place–a point the RU conveniently ignores.
According to Lenin in various articles concerning slogans they should follow the following guidelines:
–take account of the concrete revolutionary experience of the present situation
–help develop the class consciousness of the proletariat
–reflect the objective situation with the aim of changing the relationship of class forces in favor of the revolution
–rallies the forces of the revolution by pointing the way to the next step.
According to Stalin, there are two main types of slogans, or directives:
Agitation slogans and action slogans. These must not be confused. It is dangerous to do so. In the period from April to October 1917, the slogan: “All Power to the Soviets” was an agitational slogan; in October it became an action slogan–after the Central Committee of the Party, at the beginning of October (October 10th), adopted the decision on the “seizure of power.” In its action in Petrograd in April, the Bagdatyev group was guilty of such confusion of slogans. (“Political Strategy and Tactics”)
Obviously the slogan “Black Workers Take the Lead” does not reflect all these criteria in the fullest sense but neither does it contradict them all either. It was designed to rally the proletarian forces in the Black Liberation struggle to the forefront of the struggle–long since dominated by Black bourgeois elements. We must remember we are not talking about revolutionary Russia (RU comrades) but pre-revolutionary USA. What is correct for one situation is not necessarily so for the other. The RU, in its usual general, abstract way refuses to understand this basic principle of revolutionary dialectics.
In the U.S. in 1973-74 we have a situation where the majority of the proletariat has not yet developed the necessary class-consciousness to play the leading role in the national struggle or the United Front as a whole. In this situation the central task of communists is to rally the advanced sector of the proletariat, develop its class consciousness first, welding the main core into Party cadres and the expansion of the cadres into a workers’ party. Then and only then, when this task is completed, will our central task become the winning of the majority of the working class for proletarian revolution. Because of historical reasons–the long history of national oppression and the present international situation (i.e., the principal contradiction being between imperialism and the oppressed peoples of the world), because of these internal and external contradictions of U.S. imperialism, the Black sector of the proletariat and other minority workers are playing the vanguard role in the struggle against imperialism. This has been and continues to be demonstrated by numerous political actions with a high level of consciousness–the struggle against the importation of Rhodesian chrome, the struggles in the Auto Industry, the Farah strike, the Farm Workers struggle, the struggles of the student–longshoremen struggles in Louisiana, etc. etc.
To prove that we are right, we just have to ask this one question: “If Black workers were to take the lead (as they have been doing) would that advance or retard the revolution?” There can be only one answer: Yes! Obviously, if the working class as a whole were to take the lead that would be even a greater advance to the revolution! Obviously if we had state power it would be better than not having it, so on and so forth. But what is the reality today? Again the RU itself states this in their Red Papers 2:
(2) the proletariat cannot be the leader of the United Front today, nor proceed to take power tomorrow, unless its white sector is aroused to political consciousness, unites with the more advanced Black proletariat in common struggle, and unless a Communist party is built primarily from the united proletariat. (RP2, p.7)
Lenin said that the substitution of the abstract for the concrete was the most dangerous sin of the revolution. The slogan aside, we would ask the RU how does glossing over the differences within the class–the uneven development of revolutionary class consciousness and degrees of bribery– with student-like abstractions, help unify it? How can we speak of building the “unity of the class” if we do not recognize why the class is dis-united in the first place? How can one seriously talk of uniting the class, i.e., raising the political class consciousness of the proletarian vanguard if we don’t plant our feet on the solid ground of the real present day realities of the U.S.? If the RU’s line is more correct–and they have had over five years to implement it–why haven’t they been more successful in “uniting the class”? What slogans (besides “Throw the Bum Out”) that they have used have been more effective? Why are they still “a predominantly white organization”?
The RU is right when it says:
. . . Historically in this country, wherever revisionism has taken hold of the communist movement, it has led to negating the struggle against national oppression, as well as the struggle of the whole class for emancipation. . . (National Bulletin 13, p.14)
Strange is it not, that the RU cannot see the creeping revisionism within its own organization, based on “Economism, white chauvinism and right errors generally”? The tone and logic of National Bulletin 13 sounds like a carbon copy of PL’s article: ”Revolutionaries Must Fight Nationalism” written around the time the RU wrote this in RP2:
Exactly because the Black national question is in essence a proletarian question, Marxist-Leninist organizations among the Black people are increasingly playing a leading role in these struggles, directing the main blow clearly against the imperialist enemy and pointing the way to the unity of the proletariat. This new fact of Black and Brown leadership of the proletarian struggle as a whole is shaking the entire structure of white supremacy which has been a strong prop of the U.S. ruling class in preventing the revolutionary unity of its victims.
Unlike PL, however, it cannot be said that the RU has gone all the way toward this opportunism and chauvinism (“yes, racism”) but its publication of National Bulletin 13 is such a serious step in this direction that we feel it our revolutionary duty to pull the coats of the honest cadres of the organization to the right line and its departure from Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought. Now we need to go deeper into the origin, nature and development of this right line and examine its historical roots.
The general lack of understanding on the part of the RU leadership in regards to the political significance of the split in the U.S. workers’ movement and their syndicalism goes hand in hand with their belittling of the “conscious element” and of the vanguard role played by Black and other national minority workers at this time. This comes as no surprise if we look at what the RU leadership defines as an advanced worker:
To us, the advanced worker is one who has the respect of his fellow workers, to whom they come when they are in trouble and need to discuss their problems, whom they rally around when they face a collective problem, and who provides leadership in struggle. And this is true even if the individual professes some anti-communism. His anti-communism is socially and media-conditioned (what isn’t, ed.) and can be overcome through his work with Communists, precisely because of the devoted practice he has shown toward others. (Red Papers 5–“Towards the Multi-national Party”)
It is easy to see now why the RU makes “economist” and “right errors generally” with this essentially tailist conception of an advanced worker. We could think of a hundred trade union bureaucrats that would fit their definition. Their definition places emphasis on “respect” and “devoted practice” rather than on political consciousness, it even allows room for the worker’s anti-communism! It says nothing of the need for ideological and political training which is an absolute necessity if anyone is to grasp the science of Marxism-Leninism. Clearly this leads to “bowing to spontaneity” of the lowest variety which must send the RU cadre running mad looking for the most backward and reformist workers they can find (and we can document this!). This special disregard for theory and the worship of spontaneity is the root of all the RU’s opportunist errors and the basic reason for their drift to the right. Lenin says:
. . . firstly, Social Democracy has everywhere and always been, and cannot but be the representative of the class conscious and not of the non-class conscious workers, and that there cannot be anything more dangerous and more criminal than the demagogic speculation on the underdevelopment of workers. (“Apropos of the Prefession De Foi,” Collected Works, Vol. 4, p. 291)
While bowing to spontaneity and running relays with the more backward sections of the class, the RU ignores the really advanced worker the bulk of which today come from the oppressed nationalities. They even deny the leading role of the Black proletariat in the Black liberation movement, they say:
And it is not the Black proletariat which must lead the liberation struggle of the Black people, but the single multi-national U.S. proletariat and its Communist Party.
This is another example of RU’s generalized abstractions, we’d like to ask them where is this single U.S. multi-national proletariat and its Communist party that is leading the Black liberation movement today? Surely they couldn’t be talking about the RU? What is happening in the U.S. in 1974 is that the Black proletariat is leading the Black liberation movement, or at least beginning to do so, and should do so.
As far back as 1930 when there was a Communist Party, the Communist International had this to say about the relationship of the Black proletariat to the Black liberation struggle and proletarian revolution in general:
The industrialization of the South, the concentration of a new Negro working class population in the big cities of the East and North and the entrance of the Negroes into the basic industries on a mass scale, creates the possibility for the Negro workers, under the leadership of the Communist party, to assume hegemony of all Negro liberation movements, and to increase their importance and role in the revolutionary struggle of the American proletariat. The Negro working class has reached a stage of development which enables it, if properly organized and well led, to fulfill successfully its double historical mission: a) to play a considerable role in the class struggle against American imperialism as an important part of the American working class; and b) To lead the movement of the oppressed masses of the Negro population. (C.I. Resolution on the Negro Question)
Was the Comintern wrong and the RU right? We think not. Not only do we think the Comintern’s line was correct in 1930, but their analysis applies even more to present day conditions. Why? Because today the Black proletariat is much more developed and massive and plays a much more important role in the economy than before, and because national liberation movements in general are playing a much greater role in world affairs than they did in the 1930’s and because today there is no Communist Party which is leading anything whatsoever while the national consciousness of Black people is higher than it has ever been in history.
Instead of concrete analysis of concrete conditions all the RU offers us in their National Bulletin 13, is intellectual word games designed to bluff the naive. In this document, the RU uses the Marxist method, not in order to reveal the truth but to hide it while trying to make petty factional, intellectualist points with the aim of confusing their own members. They do this while posing as “interpreters” of Mao Tsetung Thought by using quotes and phrases out of their historical context and “applying” them simply and directly to U.S. experiences without regard to our own concrete, historical-political situation. All this is done of course, while they accuse us of doing the same. For example, throughout the document it is implied that we, the BWC and PRRWO, are “Bundist” and the RU is defending the proletarian line and upholding proletarian internationalism while “exposing” our “bourgeois nationalism.” But this is a lie. If the honest RU cadre or anyone else wants to really know where we stand they can read our position on the National Question in which we say:
... given our line on the “nation of a new type” (sic), it is impossible to approach the question of revolution either in the oppressor (Anglo) nation or the oppressed (black) nation in isolation from one another. For both nations, there is only one ruling class–the monopoly capitalist who are both the enemies of Black people as well as the revolutionary proletariat as a whole. The Black bourgeoisie is simply an appendage of the big bourgeoisie and both co-exist in the united front struggle against the revolutionary proletariat of both nations. Two: the chief motive force of the revolution is also the same throughout the whole state, the revolutionary proletariat of both nations. Three: there can be but one Communist Party, for there is but one proletariat, one revolution and one counter-revolution.
Comrades of the RU, does this sound like “Bundism”? Do you remember our statement at the Guardian Forum? Show us a concrete example of this ”Bundism” you accuse us of!
And what about the PRRWO? This is what they had to say almost two years ago at their Party Congress:
Our primary task in the United States is to create the conditions to build a multi-national party of the proletariat, at the same time that we fight national oppression of Puerto-Ricans. This means that we will have to find ways that will unite the different nationalities of the proletariat in the U.S. so that a Party will arise in their interest. . . In the U.S. M-L-M organizations have developed among Afro-Americans, Chicanos, Asians,’ Native Americans and North Americans to analyse their work and experiences with the proletariat of their nationality to create a base for a multi-national proletarian party in the future.. . As the world revolution goes, the base will be created in the development of the struggle, a Communist Party of the U.S., part of an international communist movement capable of directing the world struggle against imperialism and social-imperialism. (Resolutions: “The World Situation”)
Comrades of the RU, does this sound like “Bundism”? Show us a concrete example of this “Bundism” you accuse the PRRWO of! Enough of the insinuations – come out in the open with the truth!
Who then, are the real deviators from Marxism-Leninism? Who are the real “bourgeois nationalists”? Who really wants to keep the class divided? Who really wants to build a “multi-national Communist Party”? Who are the real upholders of “proletarian internationalism”? Who really has a “correct line”? Who are the real opportunists? Who are the real worshippers of spontaneity and belittlers of theory? We will let the readers judge for themselves! We ask all the revolutionary cadre of the RU, the BWC, and the PRRWO to read National Bulletin 13, compare it with the former “Red Papers,” then read our criticisms of it and compare all of them with the principles of Marxism-Leninism laid down by Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin, and Mao Tsetung, keeping in mind the concrete political realities of the U.S. “Truth develops out of the struggle with falsehood.”
Every generation of Marxist-Leninists in the U.S. has been confronted with great ideological, political and organizational tasks. In July, 1972, during the YLP-PRRWO congress, four organizations came together to try to work out a common line and common program. The organizations were the Puerto-Rican Revolutionary Workers’ Organization, the Revolutionary Union, the I Wor Kuen, and the Black Workers Congress. The basic principles of unity were: anti-revisionism and upholding Mao Tsetung Thought, anti-Trotskyism, and a vagueness about “joint-city strategy and tactics.” There was also verbal agreement (though not in deed) on the concept that every one of the organizations were “subordinate to what was coming into being” (meaning the multi-national Communist Party).
The main programmatic thrust of the NLC (National Liaison Committee) was to be joint work on a city-wide basis where the organizations co-existed mainly in New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Detroit, and Chicago. But the main work of the NLC turned out to be struggling for unity on the line. From the outset, the main questions struggled around were the National Question and Party Building. Additionally, there was struggle for clarity of the strategy for proletarian revolution (the UFAI), and the central task of communists which we all agreed at that time was the building of the “revolutionary unity, consciousness, and organization of the working class.”
The first sharp ideological struggle broke out with the IWK. The RU, PRRWO, and the BWC felt that the IWK manifested tendencies toward Bundism (isolation from the American workers’ movement while pushing all Asian concepts). Moreover it was felt that the IWK resisted basing its work on the industrial proletariat and workplace (a principal of unity we forgot to mention earlier) while favoring to work more in the “community.” None of these contradictions were resolved and unity finally degenerated when the IWK refused to attend any further NLC meetings and discontinued working with the local workteam in N.Y. While the BWC has not fully summed up this struggle it is clear that we made some sectarian errors in our relationship with IWK.
After the NLC helped the BWC consolidate around the RU position on the National Question, the RU put forward a proposal for forming ”the party.” The essence of the proposal was that it was necessary to organize workteams of the most developed cadres from each organization (“flying squadrons” as they were called) to go about the country organizing and recruiting various independent “collectives” who were just out there. In the meantime, the various secretariats of each organization would merge and form an interim committee that would be the basis of the Central Committee for the new party. All of this would be topped off in about a year at a Congress where the party would be called into being with a program and permanent leading body elected.
The BWC and PRRWO put forward the line that said that “collectives” of this type would be mainly white and petty bourgeois and that we should concentrate our attention on the industrial proletariat. In addition we maintained we should strengthen the role and work of the BWC and PRRWO in the revolutionary national movements and as Communist organizations as a first step towards party building. The RU disagreed with this view saying that the time was now to form the party before other “opportunist elements” (meaning the CL and OL) formed the party first.
In the meantime, and just prior to that time, the RU attacked the slogan: “Black Workers Take the Lead,” and the concept that a Black communist was both a communist and a revolutionary nationalist. The leadership of the BWC and the PRRWO took opposing positions to that of the RU, but the RU held to its position and even went one step further by saying that the BWC and PRRWO leadership were degenerating into Bundism and bourgeois nationalism. This struggle quickly escalated into a struggle over how the national question related to carrying out the central task of communists. At this point, the correctness or incorrectness of the central task itself, the building of the consciousness, unity, and organization of the class, and its leadership in the United Front came into question itself!
Given the fact that there was a complete breakdown on how to advance the question of party building, and the opportunist nature of the RU proposal, the BWC and PRRWO secretariats were thrown into study and struggle on the question of party building and the central task. This along with the summing up of the weaknesses and errors and history of both organizations, and after much study and struggle, the BWC and PRRWO secretariats concluded that the central task of communists was indeed to build the party. This made us see even more clearly how the RU was in fundamental error on some of the most important questions facing the U.S. proletarian revolution and the root cause of all their (and our own) errors–the bowing to spontaneity and belittling the conscious element, “the logical basis of all opportunism.” At this point it became clear that the RU was making the following errors:
1) That self-determination was not at the heart of Black peoples’ struggle. This is also reflected in the fact that the RU does not raise the necessity for struggle to uphold this right of the Afro-American people nor the Puerto-Rican people in any serious way. Even more than just simply “raising it.” the RU never dreams of actively propagandizing and fighting for this demand. It became clear that the RU, in putting the word “proletarian” in front of nation and saying such cute phrases as “nation of a new type,” was trying to separate the class exploitation and oppression of the Black masses from their national exploitation and oppression, thereby liquidating both because in the final analysis the two cannot be separated. And in trying to say that “revolutionary nationalism” does not apply to U.S. conditions, the RU was trying to separate the national liberation movement of Black people, from the liberation struggles of oppressed peoples as a whole.
2) In their National Bulletin 13 the RU lumps the different historical periods in the development of the national question, not distinguishing the difference between the national question before the October revolution (when it was still part of the bourgeois-democratic revolution), and the national question after the October revolution when became part of the world wide proletarian revolution. In doing this the RU is hell bent on slandering the Black liberation movement by suggesting that it is a bourgeois movement, a Civil Rights struggle, and to top it off, the RU has even resurrected the old revisionist CP line that says that the Black bourgeoisie, or significant sections of it can be united in the United Front Against Imperialism. In other words, the RU fails to grasp that the national revolutionary movement is a revolutionary movement which is to quote Stalin, “a profoundly popular and profound revolutionary movement.”
3) And finally, the RU is given to the most blatant bowing to spontaneity and belittling of the conscious element. It can safely be said that the RU while trumpeting the national question from time to time with their mouth has never for one day tried to develop a program within its organization to carry out work in the Black liberation movement, and if they have, it is a secret to Black people including the ones within their own organization! This has naturally led, and continues to lead to errors of economism and right opportunism. Of course, the RU leadership does not agree with this. Though they recognize some of their errors they don’t understand their roots. The evil, they argue, does not lie in the line of the RU which is “100% correct” but in the fact that the cadres are not implementing it in practice as they should, not being implemented forcefully enough by all the cadres!
The point is that the cadres have grasped the line, the wrong line, the line of bowing to spontaneity and the consciousness of the backward elements of the working class. Thus the RU, which started out as an organization trying to represent the interest of the movement as a whole by trying to develop a correct proletarian line on the national movement and the workers movement, now finds itself isolated from both. If this isolation isn’t checked an the opportunist line routed from the organization, it will inevitably degenerate–like so many before it–into revisionism or Trotskyism and follow the fate of PL or the CP. This would be a serious setback, not only for the comrades of the RU but for the revolutionary movement as a whole.
What lesson can be drawn from these struggles? “In Russia,” says Lenin, “the necessity for combining socialism and the working class movement was in theory long ago proclaimed.”
The same is true for the U.S.: The first Communist Party was formed over 50 years ago–in 1919. Still the isolation of genuine Marxist-Leninist teachings and principles (which today has to include Mao Tsetung Thought) from the workers movement is greater than in any other country. For over 50 years there has been a national revolutionary movement of Afro-American people (today complemented by the struggles of many other oppressed nationalities), still genuine Marxism-Leninism is also isolated from these struggles as well. This situation calls on all genuine Communists to build a new Communist Party based on Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought inseparably connected with the spontaneous revolutionary movement. The new, budding Communist movement is being diverted from this task by two erroneous tendencies. The principal and most dangerous one at this time is represented by those who burn incense to the spontaneity of the mass movement and run relays with the backward elements of the class, who hide their politics from the masses, treating them to politics “only at exceptional occasions,” and belittling the decisive necessity for the building of the revolutionary party of the proletariat. The other, less dangerous, but still present tendency is represented by those who see party building as the gathering together of the “top-heavy” intellectual careerists of various sorts, and as the only task to be done, as an end in itself, and disregard any preparatory work that must be done within the spontaneous revolutionary movement.
We, the cadres and leadership of the BWC and PRRWO and genuine Communists throughout the movement, must work wholeheartedly and resolutely at fulfilling our revolutionary responsibility with all due haste; placing the question of building a genuine multi-national Communist Party based on the fundamental principles of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought and the revolutionary experiences of the U.S., on the order of the day. The movement is growing up now and is only experiencing the normal growing pains every adolescent must face. Since we are only beginning to learn the science of Marxism, there is a tendency in us all to magnify the importance of every detail of difference, to dispute over minor points with rigidity and inflexibility, and to apply Marxism-Leninism and the Thought of Mao Tsetung in a blueprint fashion to U.S. conditions. Only as these problems and tendencies are overcome can the great revolutionary movement of the entire American people play its historic role of helping to wipe U.S. imperialism from the face of the earth!