Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Communist League

Reply to October League (ML): On the “Young Communist Movement”, Part 1


First Published: The People’s Tribune, Vol. 5, No. 7, August 1973.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
Copyright: This work is in the Public Domain under the Creative Commons Common Deed. You can freely copy, distribute and display this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit the Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line as your source, include the url to this work, and note any of the transcribers, editors & proofreaders above.

The August issue of the Call, the political newspaper of the October League (Marxist Leninist), carried an article discussing their July “congress.” The report of this “congress” carried a number of pronouncements against Marxism-Leninism which were specifically directed against the Communist League. Unfortunately, we again feel compelled to set aside important work and answer these statements lest some of the friends of Marxism should temporarily be led astray.

First, the article makes many references to the “young” Communist movement which they claim to represent and be a part of. We assume that they refer to a “young” communist movement apart from an “old” communist movement. We are forced to admit that the Communist League is a part of the “old” Communist movement – the one founded by Marx and Engels and given further direction by Lenin, Stalin and Mao Tse-tung. It is precisely on the question of an “old” or “young” communist movement that our differences with the OL (M-L) arise.

It is obvious that the “young” communist movement is simply the face of the “new Left”. This trend within the revolutionary movement arose supposedly in opposition to the revisionism and belly-crawling of the CPUSA. The first announcements of the “new Left” were that they did not need Marxism-Leninism and their first attacks were directed against everything Soviet and Communist. They made no distinction between the great Soviet proletariat and the handful of revisionists who have seized power in the USSR. Within the USNA, they denied all the glorious history and struggles of the CPUSA. And in general, they ignored the history and struggles of the world’s proletarian fighters.

Their conception that the CPUSA is and always has been a bourgeois party naturally suggested that they, the “new Left, would have to rely on their own practice. This line denied the Marxist concept that socialism is a science and as such it must be studied. The rejection of the theoretical struggle compelled them to unite with the then popular phrases “the duty of the Communist is to hurl the masses into combat.” The Communist League long ago rejected the idea of relying on the quicksand that the “new Left” calls practice. We rely on the historical experience of the world revolution and especially the experience of the dictatorship of the proletariat. The lessons of this history can only be found by dilligently studying the works of the great teachers: Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin and Mao-Tse-tung.

The article also spoke of the “excellent revolutionary situation in the world today.” If they are talking about the world we live in, we would suggest that they adhere closely to Lenin’s teachings that “truth is always concrete.” The facts of our situation are these. War between the USSR and China is an immediate and practical possibility. We have said this for over a year. Today every news analysis, as well as the report of the 10th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party, confirms this. The inevitable result of such a danger is that the Chinese Communist Party must at all costs safeguard socialism which means defending China. Such defense necessarily includes compromises with its historic imperialist enemy – the State of the USNA. The collusion between the USSR and the USNA has resulted in the momentary containment of communism and its “roll back” in Eastern Europe. The Communist Parties of Latin America have been thoroughly disoriented by the CIA and the Khruschev gang. Throughout the colonial and semi-colonial world the treacherous national bourgeoisie are tightening their hold over the national movements. This is uniting with the real world.

But, we are Marxists and, therefore, we are optimists. In a historical sense the bourgeoisie is being defeated and the proletariat is bound to lead the toiling masses to socialism. However, we do not confuse historical inevitabilities with immediate tasks, in fact it is only the objective activities of the revolutionaries today that make socialism inevitable tomorrow. There have been and there shall be some great successes, but the coming period indicates that a long and arduous march lies ahead for those willing to defend the revolution and struggle to lead our class to socialism.

The “congress” of the OL(M-L) adopted a line that states that while “revisionism (right opportunism) is the main ideological danger facing the world struggle for socialism, the main danger to the young communist movement in the U.S. is ultra-leftism.”

We would like to ask this “young communist movement,” how they go about remaining isolated from the influence of revisionism. Anyone who takes time enough to work in the mass movement is quite aware that there is hardly a revolutionary trend in the USNA that is not the target of and very often in the control of the CPUSA. We have learned the hard way that the strength of the CPUSA lies in the wide and deep system of fellow travelers and hangers on who surround the Party and are embedded deeply in the mass movement. These fellow travelers not only spread the poisonous influence of revisionism on every social level, but also act as a shield that prevents a frontal assault against the Party itself. It is really quite odd that in the most powerful imperialist state in world history – in a state rapidly heading for fascism, a state constructed upon the blood of millions of African slaves, native Indians and immigrant laborers – this “young communist movement” defines ultra-leftism as the main danger. As for the position of the Communist League, we unite with the world communist movement in identifying the main danger as counterrevolutionary revisionism.

At least part of the problem lies in the simplistic view of the “young communist movement” which sees that ultra-leftism arose in opposition to the revisionism of the CPUSA. We are quite aware that by ultra-left they mean the Communist League. But, we are Marxist-Leninists and we arose on a base quite independent of the revisionist “right” or the Anarcho-syndicalist “left”. Marxism-Leninism in the USNA arose on the basis of an analysis of the history of the class struggle here and of the Bolshevik revolution and on a scientific analysis of the world revolutionary movements. In our document, “The Dialectic of the Development of the Communist League,” we proved that there is a unity between Anarcho-syndicalism and Revisionism. This unity does not include Marxism-Leninism which arose quite apart from the subjectivity of the “left” and “right”.

The truth of the matter is that the Revisionists hold State power in the USSR and a number of other countries. They exert a powerful influence over the majority of the Communist Parties of the world. Therefore, we Marxist-Leninists must center our fire on the revisionists and beware of the line that says that the ultra-lefts are the main danger. This incorrect line does more than confuse the line of march, it diverts it. This line of struggle against “ultra-leftism” as the main ideological danger is also the line of the CPSU and the CPUSA. These revisionists attack the Communist Party of China by calling it “ultra-left”. We would advise our “young communist”, friends to read some of the recent statements of Gus Hall or the trash entitled, “Maoism Through the Eyes of Communist Leaders.” Such mirrors should be warning enough. It is plain to see that the role of the conciliators is to divert the fire from the revisionists who are the main danger onto the Marxist-Leninists, with the resulting harm to the revolution.

The “young communist movement” talks about struggling against Trotskyism and Revisionism “every step of the way” and uniting “all who can be united.” We think that these are very good slogans. However, the concrete reality of their practice seems to be, “struggle against the Communist League every step of the way.” In Los Angeles on January 20, 1973 the October League (M-L) fought for the position that the Trotskyites should be included in the Anti-Imperialist Coalition and it is a known fact that elements of the October League united with elements of the CPUSA to sponsor the march in defense of political prisoners last summer. It is obvious that “uniting all that can be united” includes the Trotskyites and the CPUSA and excludes the Communist League, in spite of our published efforts towards cooperation. (See “OL Reply, Part II,” People’s Tribune, Vol. 5 No. 2.)

In the resolution in support of self-determination, the “congress traced the development of the Afro-American people as a nation over a period of several hundred years in the ’plantation area of the South’.” The “congress” also “condemned ’leftist’ attempts to liquidate the national struggle of Black people, either under the banner of separatist slogans such as “Free the NEGRO Nation...”

Neither of these contributions stands up in the light of Marxism. First of all, a nation is a “historically evolved stable community of people formed on the basis of a common language, territory, economic life and psychological make-up manifested in a common culture.” It is true that the Negro people were a historically evolved community of people during slavery. Being drawn from many tribes in Africa, amalgamated with large numbers of native Indians and Anglo-Europeans, the Negro people emerged as a distinct historically evolved community of people. The Black Belt obviously formed the common territory as distinct from the patriarchal slave areas. The common language was the language of the masters, English. The very nature of slavery provided the basis for a common psychological make-up. However, these four characteristics are not enough to make a nation. A nation must have a common economic life, and that meant exchange between town and country – and that under capitalist conditions demanded a proletariat, a peasantry and a bourgeoisie. Class divisions are proof of a common economic life. Now we ask, were such class divisions possible several hundred years ago (i.e., 1773) when the Negro people were forced into one class – the class of slaves? Is common economic life, i.e., commodity exchange, possible under such conditions? Facts, Gentlemen, are stubborn things, and the facts show that the Negro people could not have possibly developed into a nation until after the defeat of reconstruction when the brutal segregation of the Negro people allowed for, nay, compelled the development of a Negro bourgeoisie, a Negro peasantry and a Negro proletariat – and that based upon exchange between town and country.

Secondly, as regards the slogan, “Free the Negro Nation,” Is it a correct revolutionary slogan? Is “Free Puerto Rico” a correct slogan? Is “Free South Vietnam” a correct slogan? Is “Free Mozambique” a correct slogan? Why support “Free Puerto Rico” and not “Free the Negro Nation”? We quite well understand the differences in the concrete practical struggle, but we also understand the reluctance of the “young communist movement” to truly struggle for the freedom of the Negro people. That reason lies in the fact that the Negro people were slaves to the Anglo-Americans. Every Anglo-American enjoys privileges over the Negro people. The crimes of the Anglo-American people against the Negro people are monumental and historic.

Leninism teaches us: “First, what is the most important, the fundamental idea of our theses? The distinction between oppressed and oppressor nations.” Here Lenin does not speak of oppressor classes alone, but oppressor nations.[1] There is no question that in the light of Leninism, the slogan “Free the Negro Nation” is correct. As for the slogan being separatist, Lenin settled that question long ago. Lenin wrote, “When we demand freedom of secession for the Mongolians, Persians, Egyptians and all oppressed and disfranchised nations without exceptions, we do so, not because we want them to secede, but only because we are in favor of a free, voluntary and not a forcible coming together and amalgamation of nations. It is for this reason and this reason alone.”[2] As for the little trick of placing the right to self-determination as a category, apart from freedom, Lenin wrote, “If we want to grasp the meaning of self-determination of nations, not by juggling with legal definitions, or ’inventing’ abstract definitions, but by examining the historico-economic conditions of the national movements, we must inevitably reach the conclusion that the self-determination of nations means the political separation of these nations from alien national bodies and the formation of an independent national state.”[3]

We very well understand the difficulties the “young communist movement” faces when they attempt to gain clarity on the national question and especially the Negro question. Lenin spelled it out when he wrote, “...in the epoch of imperialism, owing to objective causes, the proletariat has been split into two international camps, one of which has been corrupted by the crumbs that fall from the table of the bourgeoisie of the ruling nations – obtained among other things, from the two fold or three fold exploitation of small nations – while the other cannot liberate itself without liberating the small nations, without educating the masses in an anti-chauvinist, i.e., anti-annexationist, i.e., “self-determinationist” spirit.”[4]

We would like to say this to the “young communist movement”: All young people, young groups, young movements are characterized by their demand for freedom of choice. We earnestly ask you, which of the international camps will you support?

Time and space permitting, we will continue the evaluation in the next issue of the People’s Tribune. At any rate, on the hindquarters of this “congress” we clearly see Kautsky’s coat of arms and send our loud and irreverent laughter.


[1] Lenin, “Report of the Commission on the National and Colonial Questions,” Lenin on the National and Colonial Questions, Progress Pub., Moscow, p. 30.

[2] Lenin, “A Caricature of Marxism,” Collected Works, Vol. 19, Int. Pub., N.Y., 1942, p. 254.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Lenin, Op. Cit., “Discussion on Self Determination,” p. 289.