Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

August 29th Movement

Speech at Denver Party Building Forum, March 1977


First Published: in Party Building: The Overall Situation in the Communist Movement and How to Complete the Central Task, April 1977, by Colorado Organization for Revolutionary Struggle (M-L-M).
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.


EROL Introduction: In March 1977 a closed forum was held in Denver, Colorado on “The Overall Situation In The Communist Movement and How to Complete the Central Task of Party Building”. The main forum speakers were the League for Proletarian Revolution (M-L), August Twenty-Ninth Movement (M-L) and the Colorado Organization of Revolutionary Struggle (M-L-M).

* * *

Comrades, the August 29th Movement (Marxist-Leninist) welcomes this opportunity to present its views on the burning questions facing our movement, our tasks in this period and particularly our central task of party building.

In preparations for this forum and particularly in preparation to begin our response to the open polemics initiated by LPR-ML we have traced back our unities we held with them. In studying the positions of LPR and our former unities we find two glaring facts: 1) that aside from our assessment of the international situation, we have no unity on any questions facing the communist and workers’ movements, and 2) that our “unities” with LPR were based on the “left” deviation from our line, which we are waging a campaign against in ATM.

LPR has not fundamentally changed their line, but they have certainly hardened their left deviation. In 1976 they expressed an openness to repudiating their left line on the ERA (from Resistencia, Vol. 7, #4); today they uphold their left line. In August, 1976, at a closed forum in New York, they upheld the principle of a mostly agitational newspaper and a mostly propaganda theoretical journal. Today they repudiate that correct line. In the same forum they defended the position on ”two line struggle within a communist organization is the exception, not the rule”. Again, without explanation they have flip-flopped on that line. For our part we admit ATM has certainly changed, (specifically by developing the struggle against the “left” deviation in ATM). In responding to LPR, we want to lay out some of our areas of disunity. What we will reveal is that while LPR’s disunities with ATM are of a fundamental nature, their disunities with WVO and PRRWO-RWL are only shades of difference.

We intend to show that the line of LPR is sectarian, that is the politics of a sect. How is one to explain the fact that after 7 years LPR is still a small sect in one corner of the country? LPR might respond that ATM is focusing on the size of their organization and not on their line. Not so, comrades. After 7 years of existence in the largest city in the U.S. to still be a small sect is precisely where their line leads to and where they wish to lead the communist movement. This is the result of an incorrect political line. For when we break down their line, after cutting through all the quotes out of context, the historical analogies they claim to be the application of theory and shallowest of “analysis” we will find that they everywhere and always put forward why “in this period” it is correct to hold to sectarianism, that is divorcing the communists from the masses, from leading the class struggle in all of its aspects. And this is the case on every single practical question of revolution that they take up.

I. ON THE QUESTION OF PARTY BUILDING

LPR holds that “of the two tactical tasks, Marxist-Leninists unite is primary”. That becomes a very convenient excuse to continue their 7 year practice of sectarian politics for this being the case, they relieve themselves of having to carry out the tasks of communists in any period, that is, that of organizing and leading the class struggle. When ATM raises the importance of breaking with this sectarian method of work, they criticize us for “retreating”. To us political line is the strategy and tactics of proletarian revolution, the “common line of action” without which unity is unachievable, in word and deed. To LPR line unity means unity on formulas or formulations either straight out of the classics or based on the shallowest of sectarian “analysis”, of which justify the narrow politics of a sect. And this is why we disunite on the question on fusion. To us “a Marxist party is a union of the working class movement with Socialism” (as Stalin describes it in the History of the CPSU-B). To the LPR, it means “fusion of the advanced workers with socialism”. We intend to win the advanced workers over on the basis of political leadership we give to the class struggle, not on the basis of providing them with a long list of cute formulations and a promise to lead the class struggle sometime in the future.. This is nothing less than both a “theory of cadres” and a “theory of stages”. In What Is To Be Done?, Lenin criticizes the economists for the theory of stages, i.e. that in the first period only economic agitation, in the second period, political agitation, once the class had “matured”. LPR too has a theory of stages but coming from the “left”; first, only the advanced “in this period”, later fusion with the class, after the party is built; first unity on “line” which they think is key link, chief form of activity, etc., then at some future date we can talk about practice, in other words, today we just talk (or propaganda) , we’ll judge each other on how well we talk, and we will discuss practice, because “theory is primary” in this period (we will have more on this later).

But if the advanced are those who have won the confidence of the laboring masses how have they done this except through their practice of leading the class struggle? And how do we win them over if all we do is talk? All we’ll win over are the windbags, not the revolutionary leaders of the class and the national movements.

LPR provides us with an excellent example which proves our point: in the latest issue of their newspaper they refer to a film showing of the movie, “Lenin in October”. At this film showing LPR became engaged in a polemic with a trotskyite. LPR says that this trotskyite was exposed and driven out of the film showing. And what do they conclude from this? “Trotskyism was shown in practice to be what it is – a trend alien to the working class – and the people present saw through the concrete example of this trotskyite, the treachery of this stand, and joined in the struggle against it. This activity in effect, aided in the process of uniting Marxist-Leninists and winning the advanced to communism.”

So this is how we expose trotskyism “in practice”. This is how we unite Marxist-Leninists and win the advanced to communism – not on the basis of our being able to lead the class struggle of the proletariat, to give direction to their MASS STRUGGLES – but on the basis of a “discussion” at a film showing. Let us compare this with the example of work at Major Safe in Los Angeles.

This struggle began as a trade union struggle. In the course of this struggle we won the active workers to take up the struggle for equality of languages and equality of peoples. We helped them to realize through our agitation, our propaganda and our organizational work that the working class MUST become the vanguard fighter for democratic rights if it is to become the leading class in society, if it is to lead all oppressed classes and strata in the struggle for socialism. During this strike we were able to show the workers, not just through our propaganda, but through their own experience, the role of the capitalist state and the role of the social-prop trade union bureaucrats. We were able to develop the struggle beyond the boundaries of bourgeois legality – beginning to train the workers in the revolutionary methods of struggle they will need to MASTER if they are to overthrow capitalism. In the ideological realm we were able, because we were in the forefront of the actual struggle, to begin to win the workers away from the pervasive bourgeois influence of reformism and chauvinism. In the realm of organization we were able to develop different forms of organization through which the class struggle could be waged and through which communist influence could be exercised. In the course of this struggle we were able to further the training of our cadres as propagandists and agitators and organizers in the struggle – as cadres capable of training the working class in socialist consciousness, as cadres capable of independently finding their bearings. Now this work, small and limited though it was, lays the basis for communist to turn, not only Major Safe into a communist fortress, but to win the trade union itself to communist leadership. THIS is what we mean by carrying out the tasks of communists – this work alone creates the basis for a party backed up by the working class movement – without which backing our “party” will remain a sect. We ask comrades to compare these two approaches to the struggle – two approaches to party building. Which approach is likely to “aid” in the process of winning the advanced to communism – the polemic at the movie or the actual class struggle led by communists? By the way comrades we wouldn’t think of giving such a silly example as that provided by LPR, to “prove” that we “exposed trotskyism in practice” – we think that only the most bookish intellectuals could even conceive of using this as an example of revolutionary leadership. We challenge LPR to show us where in the international communist movement this type of “work” is held up for emulation. We think that only the “wing” would make such a reference to such “work” as an example for correct communist leadership.

II. ON THE STRUGGLE FOR DEMOCRACY AND SOCIALISM

According to LPR, the ERA is a “sham reform”. Obviously comrades, our positions are as different as night and day, and not simply “minor differences”. Comrades, it is clear that the deepening economic and political crises of imperialism has resulted in an increased attack on the democratic rights of the masses of American people, particularly women and oppressed nationalities. According to LPR, ATM has created an “illusion” in taking the position that it is the duty of all communists to struggle for the ERA in a revolutionary way. We have here the error of failing to distinguish between form and content and mechanically dismissing the difficult task of developing revolutionary struggle for the ERA so as to insure that the ERA does not become a “sham reform”. What the LPR does is to liquidate the struggle for the democratic rights of women on a question facing millions of women.

Each and every reform can and will be used by the bourgeoisie to further intensify the exploitation and oppression of the working class if communists do not win the masses to revolutionary struggle under our leadership. Under capitalism there is no such thing as a “genuine” reform! To counterpose genuine vs. sham is to reveal a mechanical approach to the question of the struggle for democracy. This either-or approach to the question of reforms under capitalism reveals the instability of the petty-bourgeoisie and not the proletariat’s “all round consistent and revolutionary struggle for democracy”.

We ask the comrades to note the similarity in methodology of both LPR and WVO. Neither group gives us an actual analysis of the class forces involved in the struggle, the consequences of the ERA politically and economically and the history of the ERA, etc. Instead we get arguments by analogy of other laws and quotes from M-L classics out of context. Neither groups makes a “concrete analysis of concrete conditions”.

The League for Proletarian Revolution says that, “we (LPR) believe that to continue to channel the energies of the working class in the direction of attaining equality and justice through the capitalists courts is outright reformism, against the interests of the working class and instilling in it even deeper faith in bourgeois democracy”. This statement is in reference to ATM’s position on the Equal Rights Amendment. Let’s contrast it with Lenin’s statement on the struggle for democracy. “The socialist revolution is not a single act, it is not one battle on one front, but a whole epoch of acute class conflicts, whole series of battles on all fronts, that is, on all questions of economics and politics, battles that can only end in expropriation of the bourgeoisie. It would be a radical mistake to think that the struggle for democracy was capable of diverting the proletariat from the socialist revolution or of hiding, overshadowing it, etc. On the contrary in the same way as there can be no victorious socialism that does not practice full democracy, so the proletariat cannot prepare for its victory without an all around consistent and revolutionary struggle for democracy.” (That’s from the Socialist Revolution and the Right of Nations to Self-Determination).

By emphasizing the point that “attaining equality and justice through the capitalist courts is outright reformism”, the LPR is creating a strawman to polemicize against in a vain effort to distort the line of ATM on the ERA. Nowhere can LPR find a single shred of evidence to support this invention of theirs on the “reformism of ATM”. The real issue is whether or not the ERA is a “genuine or sham reform”.

Comrades, Stalin laid out the communist views on the struggle for reforms in the era of imperialism concisely in the Foundations of Leninism.

Obviously, therefore, it is not a matter of reforms or of compromises and agreements, but of the use that people make of reforms and agreements. To a revolutionary. . .the main thing is revolutionary work and not reforms; to him reforms are a by-product of the revolution. That is why, with revolutionary tactics under the conditions of bourgeois rule, reforms are naturally transformed into an instrument for disintegrating that rule, into an instrument for strengthening the revolution, into a strongpoint for the further development of the revolutionary movement. The revolutionary will accept a reform in order to use it as an aid in combining legal work with illegal work and to intensify, under its cover, the illegal work for the revolutionary preparation of the masses for the overthrow of the bourgeoisie. That is the essence of making revolutionary use of reforms and agreements under the conditions of imperialism.

So we see that Stalin failed to distinguish between “genuine” or “sham” reforms. This “vulgar empiricist” seemed to be more preoccupied with organizing the revolutionary struggle for reforms, with ”the preparation of the masses for the overthrow of the bourgeoisie”.

Although the LPR claims to disagree with the WVO that “all reforms are sham”, it is all too obvious that they are heading in the same direction as the “left” opportunist WVO. To liquidate the struggle for the democratic rights of women by raising the spectre of a “sham reform” is to signal the WVO and the PRRWO-RWL clique and other “left” opportunist sects that yet another organization is succumbing to the danger of “leftism”.

And what LPR’s line is revealed to be in essence is a REFORMIST LINE. Again, let us contrast the approach:

LPR: Any liberal could put forward 8 demands except the demand for the right to bear arms and exercise the right to self-defense. To show that they are communists, LPR tells women that they must realize that only socialism will resolve the woman’s question. So until we have a socialist revolution, LPR will have the masses of women fight for reforms under the leadership of the liberals.

ATM: On the other hand, we take up all of the correct spontaneous demands being put forward and link these, not only to the struggle for socialism, but to the struggle for full democratic rights for women. Women should wage a revolutionary struggle for the ERA – demanding that it knock down every law and “custom” used by the capitalists to deny them the exercise of their rights. We put forward that this should be implemented from below – through a mass struggle which puts the actual implementation of the ERA into the hands of the working class – through trade unions and other forms of organization elected by the rank and file workers on an industry-by-industry basis. We say that posing the demand in THIS way will train the masses, not only in revolutionary struggle necessary to win SUCH a demand, but also in the actual exercise under their dictatorship, and such training can neither await the socialist revolution, nor come from books, but can only come from the experience of the proletariat.And we can show them, precisely on the basis of this experience that the struggle for socialism is not only necessary but inevitable.

So here we have two approaches to the struggle for democracy: one – that of LPR – confines the masses to the narrowest of reformist struggles. The other – that of ATM – broadens that struggle into a political struggle, trains the class as the vanguard fighter for democratic rights; actually trains the proletariat in the most consistent democracy – and actually leads the masses in a broad and revolutionary way toward socialism – not just because we TELL them about socialism - but because we lead them onto the path of socialism through the struggle for democracy – precisely in the way that the international experience of the movement – as summed up by Lenin enjoins us to do.

To get an even clearer grasp of the attitude of LPR to the struggle for democracy we have only to read their 1976 index of articles published in Resistence, Vol. 8, #1. In 1976 LPR published a total of 53 articles in which they take up, among other things, the struggle against imperialism, but aside from raising the struggle of the U.S. colony of Puerto Rico, NOT ONE ARTICLE out of 53 deals with the struggle of the oppressed nationalities in the U.S. Only 4 deal with the struggle of the working class and only one of the 53 articles deals with the woman question.

So much for the chauvinism and sectarianism of the LPR, and their liquidation of the national question and the struggle for democratic rights. Again, their fundamental differences are with the ATM and not with WVO and the WING.

III. ON THE QUESTION OF AGITATION AND PROPAGANDA

LPR mechanically holds to “propaganda is the chief form of activity!” Our disunity with them is a question of approach to the questions that working class and the national movements place before us, and the practical implications and concrete results of LPR’s line on this question. What this has meant in practice is that:
a. That a newspaper must be mainly propaganda.
b. We must do mostly propaganda work in this period.

Well, where does the agitation come in? LPR restricts it to local leaflets. That is precisely the problem Lenin raised in What Is To Be Done?, the parochial aspect of agitation which failed to train the working class in political consciousness, yet this is the type of agitation that LPR holds to. So although they do not say “only propaganda”, (they get out of that by calling for local leaflets), in practice this is exactly what it leads to.

We ask LPR to consider the following:

Why was the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party not built on the basis of “propaganda as the chief form of activity”, but rather on the basis of the ISKRA organization, which just happened, as Lenin said, to make political AGITATION “the cornerstone of their program, their tactics and their organization”? But of course LPR cannot understand this because they have not yet grasped that one’s political activity and organization are determined by the political tasks which one sets for oneself. Propaganda to the advanced as the main political task can only mean a narrowing of the scope of political activity and CONSEQUENTLY the development of a correspondingly narrow form of organization to carry on that activity. And that is why in Russia, the party organization was developed because Lenin knew that revolutionaries could not carry on the task of nationwide political exposures – which he set as the chief task of Russian communists (the whole of WHAT IS TO BE DONE is devoted to that question), without developing an organization with a stable core of leadership, with a sound political line, with a strict division of labor, an organization of professional revolutionaries (trained cadres), with a sound party press, an organization built along illegal revolutionary lines. Lenin knew that SUCH an organization was not necessary for ”propaganda as the chief form of activity mainly to the advanced” and that is why he BROKE with that conception of tasks. As is laid out in the History of the CPSU(B):

Lenin put before the League of Struggle the task of forming closer connections with the mass working-class movement and of giving it political leadership. Lenin proposed to pass from the propaganda of Marxism among the few politically advanced workers who gathered in the propaganda circles to political agitation among the broad masses of the working class on the issues of the day. This turn towards mass agitation was of profound importance for the subsequent development of the working class movement in Russia.

And yet somehow comrades, Lenin was able to create the first successful proletarian party in the world – the party of a new type. What can we learn from this?
1. That when the masses are in upsurge, we must be prepared to meet this upsurge with leadership.
2. That the masses are demanding political knowledge and that we are duty bound to bring it to them – for “socialist consciousness can only come from without”.
3. This means that we must be prepared to train them to view every political and social question from the standpoint of communism – what Lenin referred to as “training the workers in class consciousness”.
4. That this nationwide political agitation is necessary.
5. In order to do this nationwide political agitation we must create an organization of professional revolutionaries to carry on this all-sided work which political agitation requires that is propagandists, agitators, organizers, printers, literature distributers, a security apparatus, a regularly appearing and frequently issued communist newspaper, etc., etc. And of course, we will need to create the apparatus which can deal with the work that will inevitably flow from correctly organized nationwide political agitation – such as political strikes, uprisings, and national rebellions, etc.

Does propaganda to the advanced, as the chief form of activity require such an apparatus? We say no, and we assert that the experience of the international communist movement confirms our conclusion.

So we see that in essence, LPR gives no broader scope to our tasks than does the WING. The only difference is that LPR is willing to admit of the necessity for local agitation – exactly the type of restriction of political agitation which Lenin fought against – and exactly the type of restriction which will leave the working class under the hegemony of the bourgeoisie and the petty bourgeoisie – which is not, of course, afraid to do their own type of nationwide agitation. And because LPR does not fundamentally differ with the Wing on the nature of our political and organisational tasks, they are bound to develop the same type of political activity and the same type of organization to carry on that activity. LPR, like the Wing, and like WO and the sects which unite with that “leading circle” are confronting communists, and so they cannot grasp the complex and necessary tasks which flow from such a situation. If they do grasp this situation, then they must be afraid to shoulder their responsibilities, and they hide their fear behind formulas which justify it.

And how are we to understand the idealist notion of a “fundamentally propaganda” newspaper? Maybe it’s that LPR does not distinguish form and content on this question. The fact that Resistence is printed on newsprint rather than in booklet form does not make it a newspaper. We have to look at the content of it and in this case what we have is a periodical which in the last year averaged ONE PROPAGANDA ARTICLE PER WEEK. Yet LPR can call it a newspaper with a straight face. LPR should be upfront on this question, quit hiding behind the idealist notion of “mostly propaganda” newspaper and tell us straight up, that they oppose the publication of a political newspaper when theoretical journals are called for by the conditions of the subjective factors.

But to do so of course would put them dangerously close to the Wing with whom they have only shades of differences as we can see on this question also.

It is the height of idealism for LPR to think that the class can be trained in political consciousness on the basis of one article per week. LPR’s response to this undoubtedly will be to publish a thicker Resistence, not to deal with the question of how the class is trained in political consciousness, not on the tasks of a political newspaper.

And finally, comrades, we challenge LPR to name any genuine M-L party anywhere in the world today or historically who printed a mostly propaganda newspaper: not the Bolsheviks’ Iskra, nor the Vanguard of the CPML of Australia, nor the Daily Worker when the CPUSA was a revolutionary organization. NONE.

IV. ON GIVING THE MOVEMENT A PLANNED AND CONSCIOUS CHARACTER

To LPR this is limited to doing agitation and propaganda. To write leaflets which ”raise” socialism and party building is not giving the movement a planned conscious character, only a part of that task.

To do so means that we must lead these movements, win the confidence of the class and oppressed masses, which can be done by giving correct leadership to the struggle and this presupposes an analysis of the struggle, of its history, of its significance, of its most important characteristics, and on this basis, in light of our communist tasks, the aims, objectives and tasks of the movement are formulated, in accordance with the general tasks of the struggle for socialism. This lays the basis for operating according to plan. But LPR limits it to the following:
1. They proclaim a general principle.
2. On the basis of that they lay out our tasks.
3. They substantiate the position with a quote (which is a method of historical analogy and not a Marxist approach).
4. The practical tasks are then agitation and propaganda, in the narrowest sense. The problem of having to think is thus resolved, in favor of not thinking.

So in response to the volcanic mass movement which confronts us LPR can only repeat, like a sinner hoping for redemption, “build the party”, “build the party”, “two tactical tasks”, “two tactical tasks”, “propaganda as the chief form”, “propaganda as the chief form”, etc., etc.

They never address the question of HOW we are to build the party. And we cannot say that focusing on developing the political line of the party will build that party. Again, let us look at the historical experience of the Bolsheviks:

Lenin never counterposed political line to questions of ideology and organization – as does the “Wing”, WVO, LPR, and MLOC, and as did ATM at one time. What does Lenin do in What Is To Be Done? – the book which is said to lay out the basis for the party of a new type?
1. He wages an ideological struggle against economism and the Bersteinites.
2. He defines the political activity of the communist movement – that is, nationwide political agitation.
3. He lays out the type of organization which such activity will require – that is an organization of professional revolutionaries, built around a regularly appearing, mostly agitation newspaper.

What Lenin accomplished here was the complete definition of the ideological, political and organizational tasks of the working class movement. He NEVER defined one aspect as more important than another. He knew that the development of ISKRA would facilitate the accomplishment of all three tasks: it would create the vehicle for the ideological struggle against the economists. This vehicle would also facilitate the struggle for a party program – by publishing it and widely distributing it to all class conscious workers. The newspaper provided the common line of action for class conscious workers. And lastly it helped to develop the organization necessary for their political activity – the party of a new type. Lenin knew that a political line alone was totally insufficient for revolution – he did not have the Wing or LPR to point out his error of course. He thought like a revolutionary should think – he saw the broadness and complexity of our tasks and he understood their interrelationship and was able to lay this out for the entire movement. And this is precisely our task – to see the all-sided nature of our tasks, and to realize that they absolutely cannot be carried out separate from the broad working class movement. It is exactly this key link which we must seek out, which we must determine – that will move forward the struggle on all fronts. While we have not yet determined this key link ourselves it is our belief that it is tied up to putting agitation in the forefront of our work – of a complete repudiation of the line of “propaganda as the chief form” and “propaganda to the forefront” (our “leftism” was showing itself on this question as recently as RC #10). We believe that solving the question of developing nationwide political agitation which exposes the capitalist dictatorship in all of its aspects, which points the class in the direction of its own dictatorship, and which shows the class, on the basis of the experience of daily life, the necessity for its alliance with the revolutionary national movements, and other fighters for democratic rights – solving this question will determine our key link.

What led us to the conclusion of “political line being the key link”? This represented the most sectarian and subjective of “analysis” on our part, a metaphysical approach to the complex tasks confronting communists.

We have never found anywhere in the experience of the international communist movement where such a formulation as restrictive and metaphysical as it is has ever been proposed by any communist party. Our error is linked to the influence of the trotskyist Communist League and our unities with PRRWO, which stemmed from the “left” deviation from our position on party building and the tasks of communists as laid out by our founding congress. This led to a completely sectarian and arrogant attitude toward the history of revolutionary struggle and of those forces coming to form ATM as well as for those revolutionaries of the past decade.

We upheld as the “Wing” and as LPR does (as well as COReS), that the “first” period of party building was one in which the main danger was eclecticism, based on the shallowest of “analysis”. Just who were these eclectics and who were they fighting against? The eclectics were actually the revolutionaries who were upholding armed struggle and revolution in the face of the revisionists of the CPUSA, and who upheld the national question in the face of a complete chauvinism of the Progressive Labor Party. Now what was really the main danger: those revolutionaries seeking knowledge and going through a process of struggle to arrive at Marxism-Leninism, or the revisionists and trotskyites who had completely betrayed the working class?

This is hardly a sound beginning for analyzing periods of party building. What would be the implications of this position?
1. The direction of the main blow would be at the young revolutionaries, not at the revisionists or the trots.
2. Our tasks would be to “disseminate the ideas” of Marxism-Leninism and not to lead the revolutionary struggle. Imagine comrades, in the middle of the stormiest decade since the civil war, when revolutionary struggles of the masses are shaking the foundations of imperialism, to propose the ”dissemination” of Marxism-Leninism at such a time, separated from leading those struggles is the height of arrogance and sectarianism. In fact comrades, it is a trotskyite theory of cadres.
3. This position lets the Progressive Labor Party off the hook, as if they did not exist during that period, when in fact they were sabotaging the struggle with their trotskyism.
4. By claiming that the second period began with the breakup of the National Liaison Committee is ridiculous; certainly PRRWO and BWC “raised” the national question and party building, but the roots of their opportunist line of party building can be traced back to their unity and their breakup of the NLC which was to lead to the trot views that wrecked both organizations. Was this a qualitative leap in the history of our movement? We don’t think so.

As we can see, our whole analysis leading to “political line as the key link” was shallow, arrogant, sectarian, subjective and metaphysical, and as such must be repudiated.

Comrades, in future issues of the Revolutionary Cause and Red Banner, the ATM will lay out and deepen our self-criticism on our former positions of “political line is the key link” and “propaganda to the forefront”. This will be critical in the breaking with leftism that was and still is rampant within ATM and certain M-L groups.

IV. SUM UP

In summing up we want to point out that in ATMís Revolutionary Cause #10 in our editorial the LPR unites with our “sober appraisal”. The differences are over the causes of these weaknesses and the method of rectifying them. LPR’s approach is to make excuses and to a certain extent justify and defend them. We might ask the question, “Who was offended by our editorial in RC #10? Wasn’t it in fact these organizations like CORS with the most sectarian of histories, with the least roots in the working class and national movements?

Particularly for CORS, that’s C.O.R.S., who continue to justify the liquidation of mass work we would sound Lenin’s warning:

It is our duty always to intensify and broaden our work and influence among the masses. A Social-Democrat who does not do this is no Social-Democrat. No branch, group, or circle can be considered a Social Democratic organization if it does not work to this end steadily and regularly. To a great extent, the purpose of our strict separation as a distinct and independent party of the proletariat consists in the fact that we always and undeviatingly conduct this Marxist work of raising the whole working class, as far as allowing no political gales, still less political changes of scenery, to turn us away from this urgent task. Without this work, political activity would inevitably degenerate into a game, because this activity acquires real importance for the proletariat only when and insofar as it arouses the mass of a definite class, wins its interest, and mobilises it to take an active, foremost part in events. This work, as we have said, is always necessary. (“On Confounding Politics and Pedagogics)

So if we can unite on the fact that the character of an organization is determined by the content of their political work, then, it’s obvious that CORS falls far short of being a communist organization in the Leninist sense. A sect – yes; an “organization for revolutionary struggle” – No’.

As to LPR let’s look again at their attitude towards our criticism of our shortcomings. We point out that our lack of ties to the class our lack of influence is the result of a ’left’ restriction on the scope of our political work and political agitation. That if we are to break with this sectarianism and carry out our tasks as communists and build a truly Bolshevik party linked to the working class and oppressed masses by a thousand threads, we must broaden the scope of our work and organize ourselves along professional, revolutionary lines. The time for excusing primitiveness has long past.

How does LPR respond? It cannot deny the shortcomings of the movement that we point out the lack of influence within the class and national movements, amateurishness, etc. But rather than deal’ with the criticism, LPR makes excuses – this is the “rule” in capitalist countries, that we must resign ourselves to this “for a long time, even after the party is built”, and after all, we have to contend with the “dominant ideology”. Who are the pessimists in this case comrades and is this not in fact a “retreat”?

What we have is LPR blaming the OPPORTUNISTS FOR ITS OWN BACKWARDNESS. Unable to shoulder the responsibilities as communists, how does LPR respond? Not by exposing the problem and laying out a solution as ATM does, but by pointing their finger at and calling for more polemics with WVO, the Wing. Somehow, with one propaganda article per week in Resistence they expect to defeat the opportunists, and win over the masses. Incredible!

We stated before that LPR has fundamental disunity with ATM but only shades of differences with the Wing and WVO. Lets lay them out again:

A. ) On Propaganda and agitation.

PRRWO-RWL hold ONLY propaganda; the newspaper must be only propaganda.

LPR – disunites with only propaganda but holds to fundamentally (or mainly) propaganda newspaper. Scope of political agitation is restricted to local leaflets which flip flop from partial demands to “raising” the party, socialism and the dictatorship of the proletariat.

Their essential unity is belittling the role of political agitation, as the basis for training the proletariat in class consciousness (that is, no leadership to mass struggles.) In other words both sects confound and counterpose pedagogics to politics.

B. ) On the struggle for democracy.

WVO holds all reforms are sham.

LPR and PRRWO-RWL hold some reforms are “sham” and others “genuine”.

Their essential unity is the approach to the question of the struggle for reforms under imperialism. Incidentally all four unite on the “correct position” on such ’insignificant’ reforms as ERA, that is they oppose it.

C. ) On the tasks of communists.

PRRWO-RWL hold two tactical tasks, simultaneity of tasks. LPR – two tactical tasks, primary task is “M-L Unite!!”

Their essential unity is that restriction of the scope of political work is only 2 tactical tasks – sectarianism and theory of cadres. The “party” becomes a unity of sects.

D. ) On basis of unity on line on burning questions.

PRRWO-RWL – “... party building is the central and only task, political line is the key link, that there are periods (of party building), fusion, chief form of activity, tactical and strategic principles, main danger,” two tactical tasks, that’s from Palante Vol.6# 7 p2.

LPR holds ”. . . party building as the central task, political line as the key link, theory as primary over practice in this period, ’Marxist-Leninists Unite and Win the advanced to communism’ our two principle tactical tasks, (M-L unite is primary), chief form of activity, right opportunism.” That’s from Resistance Vol.8 #l.

Their Essential unity is the idealist approach of proceeding from formulas or formulations a ’scorecard’ or ’points’ approach to unity that doesn’t deal with the relation of the conscious element to the spontaneous movement in the concrete, but ignores it, abstracts it, postpones it and restricts the role of communists to that of pedagogues in the working class, for neither sect actually organizes or lead any struggles of the class.

E.) On The role of theory.

PRRWO-RWL hold “this is why the key link, the application of the universal principles applied to our concrete conditions, i.e., hammering out the Party’s basic line and program of action. . .” that’s from Palante, Vol.6# 7 p8.

LPR holds “Marxist-Leninists unite on the basis of political line – (which LPR and PRRWO either mystifies or reduces to a shopping list of formulas), – and it is this unity that allows them to carry out revolutionary work among the masses.

“The very meaning of political line being the “key link” is precisely that. You cannot carry out revolutionary practice if you are not guided by revolutionary theory”, (therefore), “that is why we also have to emphasize that theory is primary over practice in this period.”

Their essential unity – neither knows how to study theory nor how it’s developed, therefore they can neither develop it or apply it. This leads them to confuse book worship, or citing quotation after quotation with the application of theory. Both do not apply theory to practice and instead counterpose theory to practice. Their theoretical backwardness becomes an excuse for not carrying out any revolutionary practice.

Both will claim that conducting polemics is practice. Unfortunately, this claim also exhausts the scope of their practice and there is not a grain of Marxism in their approach.

(Although we are addressing ourselves to LPR, some of these criticisms could just as easily be directed at C.O.R.S. who holds, “Our major unities lie with LPR’s line”. We certainly agree with this and are eager to find out how CORS, as an organization came to unite with LPR on these questions.)

LPR and CORS are metaphysical in their approach to our tasks in this period, detaching the various aspects of party building from each other, (politics from questions of organization, counterposing theory to practice; etc.)

Politically this leads them to sectarianism, dogmatism, inconsistency and vacillation. The historical roots of LPR’s errors will have to be traced by LPR and rooted out by them. Here we would like to offer them some help in this regard.

Particularly in their relation with the Communist League. The LPR should study its relationship with the trotskyite CL to see how they influenced their development and how LPR has not purged itself of certain aspects of that line.

For example, in Resistencia Vol.7 #3 p.3 they state: “The CL fought against the economist thesis of building a mass movement. . .”

Well, this isn’t exactly what happened. First of all, building a mass movement is not economist, its worshipping the mass movement’s spontaneity and failure to give it political direction and restricting its scope that is economist. What is incorrect is to conterpose this to building a communist party. Finally, the basis for CL’s struggle against building the mass movement was its own sectarian and trotskyite theory of cadres and nothing else. Yet LPR lauds this practice of CL in the article!!

They continue: ”(CL) emphasized the importance of the conscious element. . .” (Ibid) Again comrades, how did they “emphasize” it? By the process of eliminating all mass work from the picture, by raising something called ”the theory of cadres.

Comrades, many of you will remember that the old CL was not satisfied by winning advanced workers to communism, but insisted on allegedly winning ”the advanced of the advanced” LPR has taken this line one step further: the party will be built only with M-L’s – not even with the “advanced of the advanced”.

The party must be composed of workers, yes, but workers that are M-Ls, and not of advanced elements who are not yet communists. So it is our task to unite those that are M-L’s and not confuse proletarian class with proletarian party or advanced elements with M-Ls.(Resistance, Vol.7 #5 p5)

Why does LPR praise CL on these questions? Either they unite with the old CL’s line on these questions or they didn’t catch themselves because they are still under influence by that old CL line.

LPR continues:

We have failed in publicly stating our ideological, political and organizational differences with the C.L., which led to our resignation from the Continuations Committee and although it is very late, we are in the process of publishing a booklet which contains a study of CLP’s current line as well as a severe self-criticism for not having carried out open polemics with the C.L. at the time that the differences came about, as well as an open repudiation of a series of incorrect positions which we held and put forth at that time.

Comrades, it is not merely a question of LPR’s series of incorrect positions that must be repudiated. A series of incorrect positions is called a political line, in this case a line heavily influenced by trotskyism. Comrades, this problem has plagued LPR at least since the days of unity and comradely relations with the Communist League. It continued in their position on a one-stage revolution in Puerto Rico. LPR in their self-criticism admits that the one-stage line is a trotskyite line. A few paragraphs before they only self-criticize themselves for a poor understanding of the national colonial question. Never do they dig out the roots of that trotskyite line. The LPR published an entire series of propaganda leaflets putting forward the one-stage theoretical line. Not only is the position trotskyite, but the methodology as well.

In the pamphlet “The Puerto Rican National Question”, LPR simply states that because Puerto Rico is an industrialized country, Mao’s New Democracy does not apply. No analysis of different classes in motion, the history of Puerto Rico, etc. Simply, New Democracy does not apply. In their recent repudiation LPR utilizes the same methodology. No new analysis of the history, objective conditions, class struggle, etc. Now we learn that New Democracy does apply. Finally, we would ask comrades to compare the methodology of LPR on the Puerto Rican national question with ATM’s pamphlet on “Fan the Flames” on the Chicano national question.

Finally LPR never explains the relationship with the PSR of Puerto Rico except to say that they were liberal in failing to struggle with PSR’s one-stage revolution line. Does PSR hold to other trotskyite lines? Does PSR still consider the Communist Labor Party a fraternal organization? And this is the history of LPR – flirting with trotskyism, being influenced by it, particularly the idealist and metaphysical approach. Today they adopt a series of lines which if not repudiated and rooted out will lead them to consolidated trotskyism. Until this question is taken on by their entire organization, the net result will be to pull a number of sects into the same errors. We sincerely hope that LPR, and CORS, and other groups repudiate and correct those lines before they fall into the ranks, of a dozen of groups like the “Wing”, WVO and co.

LPR wrote that they intend to repudiate their relationship with the CLP.

We would encourage LPR (the champion of the timely polemic) to expedite this task, particularly since its three years overdue. We have seen what happened to PRRWO when it failed to sum-up and carry out the struggle against the main danger in PRRWO, the ’left’ danger, and how this too had a history linked with unites with the Communist League. We feel that the sooner LPR begins thu “open repudiation of a series of incorrect positions which we held and put forward at that time,” the sooner they will root out the ’left’ danger and trotskyite influence still haunting LPR.

Characterizing LPR’s Errors

We have already characterized them at the beginning of this sum-up. But the question arises: “If LPR has significant unities and is influenced to a great degree by the Trotskyites from PRRWO-RWL and the ’old’ CL line, then shouldn’t we consider them trotskyites and treat them like all trots – expose, isolate and chase out of the Movement?”

Comrades, one of the lessons ATM and other communists have learned in the past few years is not to hastily condemn organizations as “opportunists or revisionists.” LPR has certainly consolidated a left line on many questions. At the same time, they have at least made the effort to send some cadres into factories and the student movement. In the past year LPR has shown some willingness to struggle with its leftism (i.e., ERA, errors in Hostos College in 1976, the methods of cadre training and recognized need for agitational newspaper). In the last few months however, LPR has hardened its leftism.

They face a critical choice: to thoroughly repudiate their left lines and root out the trotskyite influence of CL and PRRWO within LPR or sink into the same marsh as the Wing, WVO and Co.

We maintain there are no fundamental disunities between LPR and the Wing, only shades of difference. But the shades of differences are important, for by building on them and struggling with them, the basis for pulling LPR away from trotskyism exists.
1) First deepen the struggle with CL (i.e., develop the pamphlet that they committed themselves to write). In doing so, find the basis for and root out their ’left’ line. Carrying on a campaign at all levels of their organization to purge CL’s influence.
2) Break with the “pedogogics as politics” line on propaganda and “agitation” and move to mass agitation among the working class and national minorities. This will force them to have to give concrete leadership to the struggles of the class, not because they are printing agitation but because they are organizing for agitation which will, if properly done, throw them into the leadership of the struggle/whether they like it or not. This will bring forward the advanced and begin laying the basis for the unity of M-L’s on the basis of organizing the struggle for revolution, on the basis of a common line of action (not definitions and formulas) and on the basis of political Line and political struggle’.

We think the basis for this still exists in LPR. But they must decide on which direction to move. Either towards Trotskyism or at least into further sectarianism which will do the working class no particular favor, or move towards becoming an organization of revolutionaries.

We view them the same as Lenin viewed the “lefts” in “Left-wing Communism, an Infantile Disorder”, where he didn’t call for breaking with them, exposing or isolating the ’lefts’ but for struggling to win them away from their ’leftism’ and calling on communists to struggle against this line which, as he pointed out, was bound to develop in most countries. At the same time he laid out that until this occurred they would not be allowed into the Third International.

As for ATM, we are continuing to deepen the ideological struggle against ’leftism’ in our organization. We are digging deeper into the ideological, historical and social roots of it while mounting a campaign against it in ATM all along the line and in every aspect. We intend to publish a public repudiation of it, its roots and history and its role in our relationships with the NCC, PRRWO, WVO, etc.

Such a campaign cannot be carried out apart from the mass struggles, but in the course of leading them. To do otherwise, is to move towards sectarianism again, to internal sectarian squabbling. No, we will continue to develop our mass work, which will aid us greatly in setting up an organisation of revolutionaries, there is no way that this can be done apart from organizing and leading the class struggle.