Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

August 29th Movement (Marxist-Leninist)

History of the August 29th Movement (Marxist-Leninist)


Published: In the pamphlet, Statements on the Founding of the League of Revolutionary Struggle (Marxist-Leninist), 1978.
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 Note: This history was written by the August 29th Movement as part of the process of merging with I Wor Kuen to create the League of Revolutionary Struggle (Marxist-Leninist).

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The August 29th Movement (Marxist-Leninist), a multinational communist organization, has its roots in the movement of oppressed nationalities, especially the Chicano nationality, and in the working class movement. The August 29th Movement (M-L) was named after the great anti-imperialist march and demonstration – the Chicano Moratorium Against the Viet Nam War – which was held in Los Angeles, California on August 29, 1970. For several years ATM issued a monthly political newspaper called Revolutionary Cause, which disseminated Marxism-Leninism to many people throughout the country. This newspaper was published in both English and Spanish. ATM has provided leadership to many different mass struggles throughout its history. ATM has carried out a continuing struggle against all forms of opportunism and has helped in the development of a correct Marxist-Leninist line for our movement.

ATM’s history shows a steady development forward, although there have been many twists and turns. ATM was born in revolutionary struggle, and has made many contributions to that struggle. The organization hopes that a study of its history will enable all comrades to benefit from its experience. ATM’s history will be divided into four periods:
1. The period prior to ATM’s formation – 1971-1974;
2. The period from ATM’s founding up to the time of the “Wing” – 1974-1975;
3. The period of the “Wing” until the split in ATM – June, 1976-1977;
4. The period from the split in ATM until the present – June, 1977-1978.


The Great Mass Movements of the 1960’s

The history of the August 29th Movement precedes its organizational formation in May of 1974. ATM was a product of the revolutionary struggle of the Chicano people against national oppression of the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. At that time the United States was involved in its war of aggression against the people of Viet Nam and other Indochinese countries and was on its way to the decisive defeat which would signal its rapid decline as the world’s number one superpower. The Soviet Union had already become a social-imperialist power and was stepping up its bid for world hegemony and was attempting to fill the shoes of declining U.S. imperialism.

Within the United States tremendous mass movements were raging. The Black national movement was in the forefront of this struggle and developed a storm of resistance to U.S. imperialism which battered it from top to bottom. Cities throughout the U.S. went up in flames as the Black masses stepped up their rebellion and resistance. Their struggle inspired and gave direction to the struggles of Chicanos, Asian nationalities, Puerto Ricans, to the workers’ movement and to others.

During that time there was also the great anti-war movement directed against U.S. aggression in Viet Nam. This movement embraced hundreds of thousands of people of all nationalities and walks of life, and provided great support to the Vietnamese people’s struggle for liberation.

It was against this revolutionary background and out of a part of this great revolutionary movement that ATM was to develop.

ATM was originally the product of the merger of the August 29th Collective of Los Angeles, California; the East Bay Labor Collective of Oakland, California; La Raza Workers Collective of San Francisco; and a collective from Albuquerque, New Mexico. All of the collectives had their origins in the Chicano national movement or in the struggle of Latino people against their oppression.

A common thread which ran through the history of each group was their resolute struggle against the state and against the line of reformism and revisionism in the national movements. While none of these collectives began any systematic study of Marxism-Leninism until 1973 and their overall grasp of Marxism-Leninism was not very deep, they understood that the system of imperialism was at the root of the misery of the Chicano and Latino peoples and of all working and oppressed peoples. They knew that it had to be overthrown.

This placed them in direct opposition to the revisionists who preached “peaceful transition” and the reform of imperialism as a solution to national oppression. This also brought them up against the Trotskyites who opposed the national struggle and tried to split and wreck the growing unity of the national movement.

The collectives were very active in Chicano and Latino community work, in some workplace organizing, and in work among Chicano and Latino students. La Raza Workers Collective had developed mostly out of the struggle to free the seven Latino political prisoners from San Francisco’s Mission District known as Los Siete de La Raza. This struggle attracted the support of many thousands of people and helped develop many revolutionary leaders for the movement.

La Raza Workers Collective

Los Siete organization was the predecessor of La Raza Workers Collective. It organized mass actions involving thousands, and developed BASTA YA, an anti-imperialist newspaper which grew to a circulation of several thousand per month. They struggled for a line of revolutionary struggle against the reformists and for internationalism in the face of the narrow nationalists and cultural nationalists. They developed a close working relationship with the Black Panther Party in its revolutionary period, with the Young Lords Party, with the Brown Berets, with the Red Guards and with revolutionary whites as well. When the most advanced elements from among Los Siete organization formed La Raza Workers Collective, they took up active organizing efforts in the workplace. They helped to provide sound political leadership to struggles in the Laborer’s Union and to a strike of Latino garbage workers, as well as to other struggles. This collective also participated in the anti-war movement and opposed the stand and role of the Trotskyites and revisionists. The Collective supported the 7 Point Peace Plan of the Vietnamese and opposed the Trotskyites, revisionists and opportunists who refused to support the plan. The Collective was active in building support for the historic Farah strike of mainly Chicana women garment workers and in struggling against the national chauvinist line of the Revolutionary Union within that struggle.

August 29th Collective

The August 29th Collective traces its roots partly to the Brown Berets. The Berets, formed along the lines of the Black Panther Party, involved many hundreds of working class Chicano youth from throughout California, the Southwest and other parts of the country. The Berets stood for building revolutionary struggle against national oppression. It fought the reformists who tried to misdirect the movement into the lap of the Democratic Party, and it rejected the line of peaceful transition to socialism pushed by the revisionist CPUSA.

The Berets initially developed in East Los Angeles, in response to the national oppression faced by Chicano youth in the schools, and against the police brutality directed against the masses of Chicanos. It developed numerous “serve the people programs” and gave consistent support to the organizing struggle of the United Farm Workers of America. It helped to organize school walkouts, and built a mass movement to help free Ricardo Chavez Ortiz and other Chicano political prisoners.

The Brown Berets did not have a clear anti-imperialist line and were also plagued by a tendency toward militarism and adventurism. The most revolutionary elements in the Brown Berets waged a struggle against the narrow nationalists who rejected all alliances with other nationalities and who saw all white people as the enemy. Eventually the narrow nationalists launched an open attack against the revolutionary elements, and against Marxism-Leninism which they condemned as a “white thing.” This was aimed at isolating the class conscious elements in the Berets. The revolutionary elements had helped to lead the Berets in its most revolutionary period, in great mass struggles and in mass confrontations with the state. They eventually left the Berets to form or join other revolutionary organizations, and this was to lead to the eventual decline of the Berets as a revolutionary organization.

Some of them helped to form the Labor Committee of La Raza Unida Party, which was to eventually become the August 29th Collective. In 1973, the collective helped to organize a walkout by the workers of ten furniture manufacturing plants in Los Angeles in opposition to the Nixon Wage Board and against the war in Viet Nam. This walkout was organized in opposition to the most reactionary trade union bureaucrats of the Furniture Workers Union, local 500, and helped to expose them as social props to many of the workers. This walkout of mostly Chicano workers set a militant example for the Chicano national movement and was also a high point in the workers’ struggle in Los Angeles. It provided inspiration to many Marxist-Leninists carrying out factory organizing, who by and large lacked any such experience in their labor work.

The August 29th Collective was also active in helping to lead several other strikes, was active in La Raza Unida Party, and did work among students, particularly in the MEChA’s. It also played an active role among the other collectives, bringing them the benefit of their workplace experiences through a number of conferences, and stressing the need for the collectives to develop a systematic study of Marxism-Leninism.

Its relatively advanced labor work brought the collective into some struggle with an incorrect political line on party building which tended to counterpose mass work to “party building.” The emphasis of this line was on study and phrasemongering. The ATM Collective opposed this line and continued to develop its labor work along a correct path.

The ATM Collective also developed a Congreso Obrero in Los Angeles in 1973 – a mass organization of Mexicano and Chicano workers set up for the purpose of helping to train them to organize on the job, to fight national oppression and to study Marxism-Leninism. The Collective also developed a Congreso Estudiantil during this same period which had the same purpose – to help train Chicano students as organizers and to teach them Marxism-Leninism.

During this time the ATM Collective also had to wage a fierce struggle against the revisionist party building line of the Communist League. The CL was, at that time, trying to absorb as many of the independent collectives as they could, wrecking and splitting as they went along. They promoted a line which absolutized the role of revolutionary theory and tried to separate it from revolutionary practice. In their mass work, they were extremely sectarian and usually quickly isolated themselves with their posturing and phrasemongering.

East Bay Labor Collective

The East Bay Labor Collective was formed in 1973 and developed mainly out of La Raza Unida Party. It did active work in building support for the Farah strike, helped build support for anti-war efforts and did workplace organizing. In La Raza Unida Party, it consistently opposed the reformists who tried to turn the local chapters into election machines or into harmless social clubs which relied on legal struggle to fight national oppression. The revolutionary elements who later helped form the East Bay Labor Collective opposed these incorrect views, and fought to turn La Raza Unida Party into an organization of mass struggle.

Perhaps the most significant workplace struggle involving the East Bay Labor Collective was the Dasco strike of 1974. In the course of this strike the East Bay Labor Collective had to wage a sharp struggle against the economist trade union line of the Revolutionary Union which opposed bringing revolutionary politics to the workers, and which instead preached militant reformism. The East Bay Labor Collective also opposed the chauvinism of the RU in this struggle, which denied the vicious national oppression faced by predominantly Latino and Asian Dasco workers. The strike involved hundreds of workers, and began in response to the firing of a member of the East Bay Labor Collective who was a shop steward at Dasco.

From the beginning, the East Bay Labor Collective struggled to expose the social props in leadership of the union, who opposed the strike, tried to sabotage it and tried to work out a “deal” with the company. The East Bay Labor Collective promoted the equality of languages by making sure that all meetings, leaflets, etc. were translated into Spanish, and, with the help of IWK, into Chinese as well.

The strike was very militant and lasted several weeks, in opposition to a united front of the bosses, the trade union bureaucrats and the state, which quickly issued an injunction against the strikers. The strikers defended their picket line against scabs and against a team of hired thugs brought in by the company.

During the course of this strike the East Bay Labor Collective also had to struggle against an economist and capitulationist line, which tried to demoralize the workers, which tailed after the trade union bureaucrats, and whose adherents consistently vacillated at crucial periods during the strike.

The East Bay Labor Collective also did work in the International Longshoreman and Warehouseman’s Union where they also had to struggle against the CPUSA and the RU, and in the Molders Union, where they once again had to take on the CPUSA. The East Bay Labor Collective also did work within the United Farm Workers in California. The East Bay Labor Collective helped to organize in the fields, and helped build support among the farmworkers for the struggle of the Vietnamese people against U.S. imperialism. It promoted support for the People’s Republic of China and organized anti-imperialist educational programs among the farmworkers. It also distributed Marxist-Leninist literature to the advanced farmworkers.

Once more it had to oppose the economist and chauvinist line of the RU. This struggle led the East Bay Labor Collective to pull out of work on a local RU “workers” paper because the RU refused to allow the paper to carry consistent articles on struggles going on within the Chicano national movement. The RU opposed this with their so-called “workers” line, which pitted the interests of the working class movement against those of the national movements. Through their work, the East Bay Labor Collective was able to expose the opportunism of the RU to a significant section of the farmworkers in Salinas, California. The East Bay Labor Collective also waged a bitter struggle against the reformism of Cesar Chavez, and opposed his class collaborationist line with a line of revolutionary class struggle.

Albuquerque Collective

The Albuquerque Collective was the youngest and most inexperienced of the four groups which came to make up ATM. This collective formed mainly for the purpose of studying Marxism-Leninism. However, they were also active in helping to build support for the Farah strike, in La Raza Unida Party, and among Chicano students at the University of New Mexico. They had also done a small amount of labor work. Some of their members were active in support of a struggle involving custodial and service workers at the University, and mobilized support on their behalf. Due mostly to their inexperience the collective made a number of sectarian errors in this struggle, in trying to combat certain reformist ideas among the workers.

The Struggle in La Raza Unida Party

The work of the Collectives in La Raza Unida Party (LRUP), particularly that of the ATM Collective, the East Bay Labor Collective, and, to a lesser extent, La Raza Workers Collective was very significant. The LRUP was an organization which at one time had thousands of people in its ranks and many thousands of sympathizers in California, the Southwest and in other parts of the U.S. To many Chicanos and Mexicanos, it offered the only alternative to the capitalists’ political parties and to the revisionist CPUSA. The LRUP was mainly formed by elements from the Chicano petty bourgeoisie and intelligentsia, but had many working people in its ranks. It was formed to help combat the national oppression faced by Chicanos on the job, in the communities, in the schools and other places, and it was meant to provide a militant voice of protest against that oppression.

In its early days LRUP had many reformists, narrow nationalists and Trotskyites in positions of leadership, particularly in California and Texas. But from the beginning, the revolutionary elements in the Partido waged a consistent struggle against the efforts of the opportunist forces to make the LRUP an appendage of the Democratic or Republican parties, with a focus only on electoral politics or on the most narrow forms of legal protest. The advanced elements of LRUP, many of whom were to become Marxist-Leninists, fought to make the Partido an organization of militant mass struggle, to adopt an internationalist perspective, and to resolutely oppose imperialism.

The struggle eventually crystallized at the historic national conventions of the LRUP held in 1972 and 1973 in El Paso, Texas and in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Over 2000 people attended the El Paso conference, during which the revolutionary forces were able to unite the vast majority of people from all parts of the country who had come to the conference, to oppose the program of Jose Angel Gutierrez of Texas. Gutierrez wanted to make the LRUP a voting “pressure” block to wring concessions from the Democrats or Republicans. His basic message was this: work within the system, use the ballot to achieve liberation, and gradually Chicanos will gain full equality if they can provide votes for the capitalist parties.

Opposed to this was the line of the revolutionaries which said that the enemy of the Chicano people was U.S. imperialism, that Chicanos must wage revolutionary struggle against it, and could never expect equality under this system. They said that the Chicano people could never gain liberation through the vote, but that LRUP needed to mobilize and organize the people to wage a militant struggle against imperialism. While the revolutionaries recognized that elections could be used tactically, they warned against reliance on this tactic to try to achieve an end to national oppression. These questions were hotly debated by the masses at the conference for several days.

Finally the program of the reformists was soundly defeated. The LRUP had taken a step onto the path of anti-imperialist revolutionary struggle. This was confirmed at the Albuquerque Conference, when LRUP delegates from throughout the Southwest and California adopted an anti-imperialist program which called for self-determination for Chicano and all oppressed peoples, support for the struggle of the Vietnamese people against U.S. imperialism, return of the lands stolen from Chicanos in the Southwest. The program made clear that national and class oppression would continue until the “existing economic and political system” was overthrown.

The Marxist-Leninists who helped develop this program and lead the struggle for it were mostly from the collectives which later formed ATM. They represented the most advanced elements from among the Chicano people, and they helped to imbue LRUP with a revolutionary and internationalist spirit. They also helped various chapters to orient more of their work toward working class Chicanos and Mexicanos. This took the form of workplace organizing and strike support work, as well as other forms.

The Farah Strike

Perhaps the biggest campaign taken on by the collectives was in developing support for the historic two year long Farah strike. This strike was extremely important to the Chicano people’s struggle against national oppression, to the overall struggle of the working class. It won support from all over the U.S. and from people in different parts of the world. The strike involved over 2000 Chicano workers, mostly women, from the Farah garment manufacturing plants in El Paso, Texas. They had to face the most bitter national and class oppression – low pay, long hours, being shunted into dead end unskilled jobs with no possibility for advancement. The women also had to put up with constant harassment from foremen who tried to take advantage of them. The strike took place in a border city which is overwhelmingly Chicano and Mexicano, and where the people face brutal national oppression in every area of life. The strike took place in an area which had become a haven for runaway shops, due to the lack of unionization and the oppressed, low-paid and abundant Chicano and Mexicano workforce. Against this background the Farah workers walked off the job in 1972.

Very soon after the strike began the collectives started to build support for it. In the course of this work they came up against the chauvinist and economist line of the Revolutionary Union. According to the RU the national aspect of the Farah strike was an unimportant and “secondary” aspect, and they insisted that to bring out this aspect too strongly would “divide” the working class. They viewed the Farah strike as simply a working class struggle, and tried to get the working class to support it mainly on the basis of narrow self-interest, to prevent their shops from “running away” to the Southwest. The RU would only give lip-service to the question of national oppression. At that time the RU had the position that Chicanos constituted an oppressed nation, but they refused to raise this during the strike, saying that to do so would “turn off the masses, and that the Farah workers themselves had not raised the question.

The collectives, while having no deep understanding of the national question knew that this was wrong. Their own histories had taught them that the national question was a significant question of the U.S. revolution. They had always fought against the revisionists and Trotskyites who, in the past, had tried to liquidate the national question. They knew, from talking to the Farah workers, that the national question was the most important question involved in the struggle. The collectives began to wage a long and bitter struggle against the RU, a struggle which was hampered by their inability at that time to get to the theoretical basis of RUís opportunist views. The collectives insisted that the national question be clearly brought out in the support work. They stood firm that the context of the strike – the severe national oppression faced by the Chicano people – had to be brought home to the working class and other oppressed people. They put forward that the strike could not be narrowed only to a struggle for a union, or to a struggle against “runaway shops.”

Eventually the collectives’ views were to make headway against those of the RU, and the struggle was to bring the collectives to closer unity. The RU was able to make use of the fact that it was a large organization and was carrying out support work in many areas to widely disseminate their opportunist line, but they were exposed to many honest forces in California and to many of the advanced Farah strikers as well. The collectives had made direct contact with some of the rank and file leaders of the strike and helped to introduce them to Marxism-Leninism, explaining to them the differences that had arisen with the RU. This struggle was to provide many important lessons for the developing ATM, which were later to affect its future direction. But the collectives’ work around Farah was to show them that all was not harmony in the anti-revisionist movement, that one had to be careful in choosing one’s friends here, too.

Due to their consistent work, the collectives were able to reach tens of thousands of people about the Farah strike, and to win many people to support the strike and the overall struggle against national oppression.

As time went on the collectives became more systematic in their study of Marxism-Leninism, although it was not thorough and had many weaknesses. Because of their incomplete grasp of Marxism-Leninism, they were bound to make some errors. One error which developed was a tendency to liquidate work in the different sectors of the Chicano national movement, and to focus almost entirely on workplace organizing. On the one hand, the collectives were correct in trying to root themselves among the largest and most revolutionary sectors of the Chicano and Latino peoples. But on the other hand, there arose the tendency to counterpose work in the factories against work in the communities and schools. The latter work was beginning to be seen as “unimportant.” This tendency developed in part because of their still-shallow grasp of Marxism, which led them to one-sidedly emphasize labor work; and to a certain degree because they were influenced by the RU and the Communist League, both of which pushed a line that liquidated the national question.

A Big Step Forward

In summing up this period from the early 1970’s to 1974 we can say that the collectives were a special product of the revolutionary national movement of the Chicano and Latino peoples (the Latino peoples of the West Coast). The collectives represented the class conscious elements from these movements. Their development as Marxist-Leninists occurred in persistent struggle against the opportunists and was an extremely important factor in the development of a truly multi-national anti-revisionist movement in the United States. The collectives were influenced, to a large extent, by the historic Black uprisings of the 60’s, by the national liberation struggles of the people of Viet Nam and by the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in China.

The collectives provided much leadership to the Chicano national movement – especially in struggle against revisionism, reformism and Trotskyism. They were just starting to develop a theoretical grasp of such important concepts as dialectical and historical materialism, imperialism, the state, the party and so on. But they already knew that the masses needed to make a revolution in this country, that it was important to support the revolutionary struggles of the third world, and that only Marxism-Leninism could provide the answers to the questions arising from the revolution. They knew that to uphold Marxism one also had to oppose revisionism. They upheld revolution against reformism and internationalism against great nation chauvinism and narrow nationalism. They recognized the significance of the national question to the U.S. revolution.

On the other hand their inexperience in Marxism-Leninism led to a tendency toward dogmatism and rigidity in applying Marxism-Leninism. The collectives had a tendency to counterpose the working class movement to the national movement, and to belittle the importance of work in certain sectors of the national movement. There was also extremely uneven development among the different collectives and within each of them.

By 1974, all of the collectives recognized that capitalism had been restored in the Soviet Union, and that the Soviet Union was a social-imperialist superpower; that party building was the central task of U.S. Marxist-Leninists; that communists needed to build the strategic alliance between the working class movement and the national movements of this country. In line with their views on party building, and because of ideological and political unity forged by a common history of struggle, and because they had come to see the painful restrictions of working as small collectives, the groups decided to unite and form a new, higher form of organization. After several months of ideological struggle and discussion and summing up, the collectives were united on the basis of the ATM Unity Statement.

The development of ATM was a big step forward for the anti-revisionist movement. The most class conscious elements from the Chicano national movement had united on a basic line of Marxism-Leninism, giving a blow to revisionism, to national chauvinism, and to narrow nationalism. ATM’s formation was also a blow against the opportunism of the RU and the CL, which were trying to lord it over the rest of the movement. ATM’s founding was also a blow against the narrowness and small circle spirit which plagued much of the movement at that time. The founding of ATM showed to many people that principled unity between different Marxist-Leninist groups could be reached through struggle. It showed once again that the national movements of this country were going to make a significant contribution to the socialist revolution, and that the best traditions and aspects of those movements could be brought to bear in a conscious way to help lead the revolution. The formation of ATM showed that Chicanos and Latinos were going to make their contributions to party building, were going to fight chauvinism, revisionism, and all opportunism, and continue to make contributions to the revolution. While the new ATM was made up mostly of Chicanos and Latinos as its formation, it had an internationalist perspective, and was guided by Marxism-Leninism.


The Founding of August 29th Movement

The August 29th Movement held its Founding Congress in May, 1974. The U.S. was one year away from suffering a decisive military and political defeat in Indochina. U.S. imperialism was already in the midst of a major economic recession, with inflation raging. This further intensified the exploitation and oppression of the working and oppressed masses in the U.S. In response, a new and growing mass movement was developing among the working class and among the oppressed nationalities. For the most part their struggles lacked revolutionary leadership. How this leadership was to be developed, how communists should evaluate these movements, and what tasks communists had in regard to them were burning questions facing the young anti-revisionist forces at this time. Against this background ATM was formed.

ATM’s Unity Statement gave an outline of its views on party building, the international situation, the domestic situation, the national question, and the trade union and labor question. The general line of the Statement was that party building was the central task of U.S. Marxist-Leninists, a task closely bound up with the struggle against opportunism, and the struggle to develop a correct Marxist-Leninist line. It said that the U.S. revolution was a one-stage socialist revolution which must be led by the proletariat under its party in alliance with the revolutionary national and other progressive strata and groups in the U.S. It pointed out that the U.S. and the USSR were the main enemies of the world’s people, and pointed out that the U.S. was a superpower on the decline, while the Soviet Union was on the rise. It called for a deepening of the ideological struggle against opportunism, and polemicized against various opportunist views advocated by the RU, the CL and other forces. It criticized the right opportunist line of the RU on party building, which negated the importance of the conscious element, ideological struggle for the correct line and the necessity to train the masses in revolutionary consciousness. It criticized the revisionist party building line of the CL for promoting a Trotskyite theory of cadres, and for their view that counterposed theory to practice.

The Unity Statement also presented a brief analysis of classes, which had certain weaknesses and errors, but had correct features as well, and represented one of the first attempts in the anti-revisionist movement to analyze classes in the U.S. from a Marxist-Leninist standpoint. This showed a certain broadness of scope, and showed that ATM was trying to keep the overall picture in mind in spite of the fact that it was a relatively small organization.

The Unity Statement tended to downplay the danger of world war and the contention between the superpowers. It lumped together some of the second world countries with the superpowers by failing to make a clear distinction between them. ATM’s views on the international situation were not yet sharply defined and were somewhat eclectic. The Unity Statement also contained errors on the question of party building, especially the tendency to counterpose party building against work in the mass movement. The Statement also omitted any mention of the woman question, except briefly, in the discussion on work in the trade unions.

The National Continuations Committee

Just prior to its formation ATM had come into fairly close contact with the Black Workers Congress (BWC) and the Puerto Rican Revolutionary Workers Organization (PRRWO). These organizations had developed mostly out of the Black and Puerto Rican national movements respectively. They had just broken with the RU and were in the process of joining the Communist League’s National Continuations Committee (NCC). Both the BWC and PRRWO had made many errors in their past relationship with the RU on the National Liaison Committee (NLC), and for a time had adopted many of the RU’s opportunist views. While the BWC and PRRWO finally made a break with the RU and sharply criticized its opportunism, they failed to correctly or thoroughly sum up their past unities with the RU and to make a decisive ideological break with their opportunism. ATM had been waging a similar struggle against the RU during this period. Because of this, because of a similar history of development, and a certain amount of unity on party building, ATM was inclined toward unity with BWC and PRRWO.

BWC and PRRWO put a lot of pressure on ATM to join the NCC. ATM at first resisted these pressures. But ATM at that time held to a deviation which had similarities with certain aspects of CL’s views on party building. This took the form of a tendency to abstract the question of party building, to see it as something not closely connected with tasks in the mass movement. It also meant a tendency to separate theory from practice, and a tendency toward the self-cultivation of cadres. There was struggle against this line by those who saw it as metaphysical, divorced from practice and dogmatic, but the two-line struggle was not yet sharp or clearly defined.

ATM had also done some investigation of the NCC and had a negative view of its dogmatism and style of work. ATM had previous bad experiences with the CL – especially its opportunist line and style of work which isolated it from the masses. ATM had encountered the CL in certain places where ATM was carrying on work, such as within the MEChA’s.

But ATM was not at that time capable of taking this experience to a theoretical level and getting at the heart of CL’s line and errors. Based on the unity it did have with certain features of CL’s line on party building, ATM joined the NCC. ATM also joined the NCC with the idea of working with the BWC and PRRWO to struggle against the opportunist line of the CL in order to win over the honest elements under their influence in the NCC. This was an idealist view which ignored the fact that CL had complete hegemony in the NCC and which did not take into account the negative impact that its joining the NCC had on the movement as a whole. While ATM was proceeding on the basis of a sincere desire to build a party and serve the interests of the oppressed masses, it did not correctly assess the objective situation regarding the NCC and thus lost its bearings. ATM did not recognize the Trotskyite essence of the CL in 1974 and realize that it should have opposed the CL, the NCC and their Trotskyite scheme, and should have encouraged all Marxist-Leninists to break with it.

Joining the NCC also helped provide fuel to certain opportunist forces within the Chicano national movement, such as CASA, who used ATM’s error to attack them as dogmatic “Maoists.” These opportunists also tried to gain the upper hand in the national movement by moving into some areas where ATM pulled back on its work.

When ATM joined the NCC, it began to orient the entire organization to prepare for the so-called “first party congress.” What this meant was calling almost all of the mass work to a standstill, and gearing most of the cadres’ activity to study and internal discussion. This represented an attempt to overcome what ATM saw as a profound lag in its theoretical development, as compared to other groups which would participate in the NCC. This also took place due to an incorrect view toward cadre training and party building. The essence of this view was that ATM would build the party and train its cadres for revolutionary work through a process of study and debate.

Even at this time there was some struggle against this line by comrades who wanted the organization to continue its mass work, and to link theory to practice. This two-line struggle was to go on, with ebbs and flows, throughout a great part of the history of ATM. It represented a struggle between dialectics and materialism on the one hand, and metaphysics and idealism on the other. Because of the “left” deviation, ATM cadres had to bear the burden of a very long and academic study program, and of long debates around it in the units of the organization. This served the purpose of effecting a retreat from much of ATM’s mass work which lasted until the early months of 1975, long after ATM had left the NCC. On the other hand, the study that ATM did in this period helped it to develop its grasp of Marxism-Leninism to a certain extent, which was important given the extremely low theoretical level of the organization at the time. This study was also to prove helpful in the developing struggle against ATM’s “left” deviation on party building.

During this period there were two major opportunist currents in the anti-revisionist movement. The Marxist-Leninist current was still relatively weak and was not yet clearly defined. Of the opportunist tendencies there was the RU on the right. The RU belittled the importance of revolutionary theory and ideological struggle for a correct line, and promoted chauvinism, economism and tailism. Their basic error was bowing to the spontaneity of the mass movement. There was also the thoroughly opportunist tendency represented by the CL, which had wormed its way into the movement under a false cover of anti-revisionism. Their line belittled the importance of revolutionary practice, vulgarized ideological struggle and pushed dogmatism, metaphysics and idealism. Under this “leftist” cover the CL tried to peddle a right opportunist line which attacked the theory of three worlds and the national liberation struggles; which claimed that capitalism had not been restored in the Soviet Union, and that the USSR was not social-imperialist; which claimed that fascism was upon us and that we had to unite with the liberal bourgeoisie, the liberal politicians, and the liberal trade union bureaucrats in a united front against fascism.

This second trend influenced ATM, BWC and PRRWO, although all three opposed the basic line of the CL. These groups, while they were Marxist-Leninists, had unity with aspects of the CL line on party building. While ATM very quickly broke with the NCC (PRRWO and BWC followed soon after), it did not correctly sum up the error that had led ATM into the NCC, nor on what basis it had unity with the CL. Failing to correctly sum up these things, ATM was to continue with a “left” deviation on party building for some time, which served to restrict the scope of ATM’s work and its agitation and propaganda, and which often led it to pulling active elements out of struggles and into narrowly prescribed study circles. It fostered a tendency to pit work in the overall national movement against labor work.

The Mass Work of ATM

During this period, ATM was involved in mass work in the Teamsters, in the Molders Union, in the Laborers Union, in the steel industry, in the auto industry, in the electronics industry, in work at a Farah plant in El Paso, Texas, among culinary workers, in an organizing drive in the Southwest, in farmworkers support work around the Steakmate Mushroom strike in San Jose, California. ATM also helped to provide leadership to a strike of 5000 farmworkers in the strawberry fields in Oxnard, California.

ATM’s mass work was negatively affected by its “left” deviation on party building as can be seen from the following example: ATM had helped develop support for the striking farmworkers through its work in a Farmworkers Support Committee. After a short period of time, ATM cadres won the respect of the strikers and helped them to organize a militant resistance to the growers, who tried to break the strike with scabs and goons. Cesar Chavez tried maneuver after maneuver to take control of the strike away from the rank and file, and to sabotage it from within. He opposed ATM and tried to isolate ATM from the strikers without success. Because of ATM’s good work, they had a considerable amount of political strikers. During the height of the struggle the work being done around the strike “belittled party building” because no nuclei or study groups had been established at that time. Under the line that the work in support of the strike constituted “bowing to spontaneity,” a decision was made to liquidate ATM’s work with the strikers. This did great harm to the strikers, and set back for a long time ATM’s work with the farmworkers.

It was to be some time before ATM was able to correctly sum up the errors that it had made in its mass work, and to draw the lessons which would help it to wage a struggle to overcome its “left” deviation on party building.

The Question of Organization

It is important to discuss the question of organization in relation to ATM’s historical development. After ATM’s founding it was not experienced enough to be able to set up a strong democratic centralist and efficiently coordinated organization. ATM had no standing committee at that time to handle the daily affairs of the organization and which would bring together the most experienced leadership on the Central Committee. ATM also made insufficient changes organizationally from the method of functioning which had existed prior to its formation. This meant that the old collectives stayed more or less intact and ATM operated somewhat in a decentralized fashion. This was also promoted by the fact that the new leadership of ATM was mainly the old leadership of the collectives and operated in the same areas as they had previous to the founding. This was also related to the fact that there was not solid and uniform consolidation around the political line from top to bottom.

As time went on ATM realized that it needed to have a strong national leadership and to develop a more streamlined and Leninist form of organization. During this period it established a National Secretariat and began to try and set up a situation where the organization could operate in a centralized and efficient manner. But it was still very primitive, with the national leadership having little experience in this role, and no real clarity as to its function and tasks other than to see to the day-to-day tasks of the organization. ATM did not yet have a good understanding of the importance of establishing strong national leadership.

During this period, ATM’s mass work was coordinated by the national leadership only to a small extent as a result of the organizational weaknesses which still existed. Many times the national leadership was uninformed about the work in the local areas and therefore had a difficult time in providing correct leadership in an overall way to the work.

The struggle to make ATM a strong democratic centralist organization has been a long and continuous one. During this period the struggle for a strong national leadership and a correct application of democratic centralism developed but still had a long way to go.

Selected Speeches

By mid-1975, ATM recognized that it had made a mistake by focusing its work one-sidedly on study and internal discussion. ATM began to encourage the development of its mass work and it began to grow, especially the labor work. This was a result of the continuing two-line struggle around the question of party building and the tasks of communists in this period. While the struggle was still in an early stage, the correct line was beginning to make more headway against the metaphysical and idealist errors on party building. The development of ATM’s mass work required ATM to address the problems which the cadres were facing in their practice and to further develop ATM’s views on certain questions. This led to the development of ATM’s Selected Speeches, which was published in September, 1975.

This pamphlet continued the struggle against revisionism by making a sharp criticism of the CPUSA on their revisionist view toward the state and on peaceful transition, as well as their opportunist views on the trade unions. ATM polemicized against the revisionist Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) for its views on “peaceful transition,” “peaceful coexistence,” and “peaceful competition.”

ATM also laid out an extensive historical analysis of the Chicano national movement, and of the various political forces within it. ATM criticized CASA for its reformism and criticized the RU for its chauvinist and tailist views on the Chicano national question, and for its liquidation of the national question in general.

The strength of this pamphlet was also in its further development of ATM’s trade union position, which opposed the revisionist line of the CPUSA, the economism of the RU, as well as the thoroughly opportunist views held by CL. ATM laid out the necessity to win the masses of workers to the side of communism, to expose the trade union bureaucrats in order to drive them out of the workers’ movement, and explained the necessity to develop strong organization among the workers, especially communist organization. It called on the communist forces to develop the political consciousness of the workers in an all-sided way, and to make special efforts to win over and train the advanced workers as communist leaders of the class struggle.

The weakness of the pamphlet was a somewhat eclectic presentation of views on the international situation, a tendency to sometimes narrow the scope of labor work to simply propaganda tasks, and a tendency to confuse legal and illegal work. On the whole, it represented a good contribution to the movement on important questions, especially on the national question and the trade union question, around which the opportunists were creating a lot of confusion at that time.

Summary – Advances Were Made

In looking back at this period, the influence of the CL is apparent in certain of the deviations that ATM made, and in the metaphysical approach taken to some questions. Among the most important of these was the negation of the significance of ATM’s own history and work in the Chicano national movement, and a tendency to belittle the significance of the Chicano national movement itself. There was a tendency to see ATM’s work in the Chicano movement and the movement itself as simply “spontaneity,” and therefore as all bad. This was similar to the CL’s view which belittled the revolutionary movements of the 60’s, and which dismissed all communist organizations that developed out of those movements as simply the “new left.” By negating its past positive developments, ATM failed to build off of them and to base itself in part on that valuable experience in order to help develop its line and work. Struggle against this incorrect view was beginning to occur within ATM’s ranks, and was to later lead to a repudiation of it. But that was in the future.

During this second period in ATM’s development there was gradual movement forward as the struggle intensified against the metaphysics and idealism, represented by the incorrect views on party building, and toward its history. As the correct line began to emerge on these questions, it helped to lay the basis for the rapid development of ATM’s mass work in the next period.

There was also a further development on the two-line struggle to build and strengthen ATM’s democratic centralism, and to root out decentralization, social democratic methods of organization, and manifestations of bureaucracy. This struggle resulted in a better solidification of the organization, although it was still not sufficient. This helped to create better conditions for firming up the relationship between the leadership and the rank and file, as the leadership was better able to sum up the criticisms of the cadres, which helped to develop ATM’s line and work.

On the whole, ATM made forward steps during this period, as it strengthened its grasp of Marxism-Leninism, took on a broader struggle against opportunism, struggled against deviations in its line and began to expand its work. Much more still remained to be done in order to root out ATM’s idealism and metaphysical thinking on some questions, to strengthen its democratic centralism, and to further develop its work among the proletariat and in the national movements.

1976-JUNE 1977

Unity with PRRWO

After the split in the Black Workers Congress, ATM had the view that the responsibility for leadership in the struggle for the party had basically fallen on itself and the Puerto Rican Revolutionary Workers Organization. ATM had begun to have regular discussions with the PRRWO after the split in BWC in late 1974. These discussions had continued throughout 1975. Their basic political unity was based on an ultra-left view on party building which boiled down to 7 formulations: party building is the central task; political line is the key link to party building; the two so-called tactical tasks of uniting Marxist-Leninists and winning the advanced to communism; factory nuclei as the basic form of organization; right opportunism is the main danger in the communist movement; agreement on Lenin’s characterization of the advanced worker from A Retrograde Trend.. . ; and the right of self-determination for the Black nation.

The ideological basis of unity between ATM and PRRWO was metaphysics and idealism. This was reflected in their “three stages” view of party building, which saw the struggle for the party as a series of rigidly defined periods in which ideology was the key link in the first period, political line was the key link in the next, and finally organization would then become the key link. The “three stages” view did not see the connection between the three components, and the necessity to make ideology fundamental in party building.

In spite of their political unity, there were sharp but still undefined differences between ATM and PRRWO. ATM had been deepening its understanding of the necessity, in practice, to link party building to its mass work, to train its cadres in the course of struggle, and to fight opportunism in the mass movement as well as with polemics. There were other differences as well. On the other hand, PRRWO had just about stopped its mass work. It was practicing a theory of cadres, and it conducted only a sporadic, weak and abstract struggle against opportunism. PRRWO still held to the basic CL line on party building, while ATM was in a process of breaking with its incorrect views on this question.

During this period the struggle on the party building question became sharpened, with the development of several factors: with the formation of the opportunist Workers Viewpoint Organization, which came strutting onto the scene in this period; and with the development of the “Revolutionary Wing,” which formed in late 1975 and which split in early 1976. Another development of this period was the October League’s Organizing Committee and the formation of the Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist) [CP(M-L)] in 1977. The Marxist-Leninist trend, which included IWK, OL, ATM and other groups, still had a number of outstanding differences within it, and was not yet in a position to forge a unified party. No one group from this trend stood out in this period as the single leading center in the movement.

ATM’s line was, for the most part, a Marxist-Leninist line, but it committed a serious deviation from Marxism-Leninism in its unity with PRRWO and later with the “Wing.” Because of ATM’s still shallow understanding of Marxism-Leninism, and because of its idealism, it tended to puff itself up on the one hand, while setting itself against all those organizations which disagreed with the 7 formulations. Many were consigned to the so-called ”opportunist wing.” For instance, because IWK would not go along with the incorrect way that ATM and PRRWO viewed party building, PRRWO declared IWK a part of the “opportunist wing.” During most of its history, ATM has seen IWK as a Marxist-Leninist organization. But due to the deviation which ATM held on party building, it would often take a sectarian stance towards them. During the time of the “Wing,” ATM even labeled IWK as an “opportunist” organization for a short while. All of this reflects the difficulty which ATM had in those days in distinguishing a Marxist-Leninist organization from opportunist ones, such as those in the “Wing.”

During this time, ATM’s “left” deviation on party building and its metaphysical and idealist approach to questions caused it to label OL as the main danger in the movement, and to put them in the camp of the enemy. ATM negated the Marxist-Leninist aspects of OL’s line and practice and one-sidedly assessed its errors. At the same time, ATM made a correct assessment of many of the OL’s deviations and right errors, which had occurred in previous years, such as its right opportunist line on the trade unions, and its tailing of the liberal reformists in the national movements.

ATM also incorrectly assessed the line of WVO and concluded that they were “ultra-leftists,” when in fact they were ultra-rightists. WVO deliberately gave itself a “left” mask behind which they tried to sneak in a right opportunist line on a number of questions. Although ATM did wage some correct struggle with WVO on certain questions, and did help to expose them, it was not a thorough criticism and missed the essence of WVO’s opportunism. (ATM had initially criticized WVO correctly for its rightism prior to the formation of the “Wing.” ATM had differences with WVO’s line of “two contending trends,” their line of “unite to expose,” as well as with WVO’s rightist line on party building and the Black National Question.)

The ”Revolutionary Wing”

The ”Revolutionary Wing” came together toward the end of 1975 and included, at various times, ATM, PRRWO, WVO, and the Revolutionary Workers League (RWL). The basic unity of the “Wing” was its seven formulations. The “Wing” had idealism and metaphysics as its foundation. It rewrote the history of the anti-revisionist movement, denying the significance of the national movements of the 1960’s and declaring that the “Wing” was the “core” of the new party.

ATM was not long in the ”Wing” before it began to see its bankruptcy and to struggle against it. This struggle occurred because ATM was a Marxist-Leninist organization and had continued its mass work. It also occurred because, from the beginning, significant differences on party building and other questions existed between ATM and the other organizations in the “Wing.” These differences were not apparent at first, but were to become sharper toward the end of 1975 as the mass work of ATM expanded, as the scope and production of its agitation and propaganda expanded, as its newspaper began to become more an organ of political exposure, expanding the scope of its articles and more correctly combining agitation and propaganda.

Also ATM had been waging a continuous two-line struggle against its deviation on party building since its founding, and the correct line was beginning to emerge more strongly. Eventually, this was to lead to the repudiation of the “left” deviation on party building, the reaffirmation of ATM’s history and the history of the revolutionary national movements of the 60’s and the repudiation of ATM’s dogmatic view of theory and cadre training and other features of the incorrect line on party building. When the leadership of PRRWO was informed of this repudiation, the ”Wing” began to open up its unprincipled attacks against ATM, and eventually “expelled” ATM from its ranks.

ATM had begun to see the bankruptcy of the “Wing” before its “expulsion.” This is because ATM made an honest effort to carry on and correctly sum up its past work, to criticize its errors and strengthen its line. This brought ATM into contradiction with the metaphysics and idealism of the “Wing.” Their formulations were opportunist and could not solve the problems of the mass struggle, nor build communist unity, so ATM began to reject them. This gave a great impetus to ATM’s mass work which included work in the Gregg Jones struggle, in the Molders strike, in the Coalition Against Police Abuse in Los Angeles, in the Danny Trevino struggle, in the Western Yarns struggle, in the Major Safe strike, in the MEChA’s, in Frente Revolucionario de Aztlan, La Federacion, in the Albuquerque Public Schools struggle, in the Chilili land struggle, in the St. Lukes 23 struggle in Chicago, in the struggle around Benito Juarez High School struggles in Chicago, in the strike of the Browning-Ferris Industries garbage workers in Santa Barbara, California, in a high school students struggle in Oxnard, California, in auto, in electronics, in garment, in the Caterpillar strike, as well as in other areas such as the first Alamosa Conference.

The repudiation of its deviation on party building helped make it possible for ATM to do much of its good mass work. This repudiation was the product of very sharp struggle within ATM’s ranks and was a big blow against the idealism and metaphysical thinking of the past. It helped enable ATM to provide revolutionary leadership to the mass struggle, and to see party building as a political as well as ideological struggle. In a document which criticized the deviation on party building, the national leadership of ATM called upon the organization to link theory to practice in order to answer the questions posed by the revolutionary movement. It called upon ATM to resume work in the Chicano national movement, and to begin to take up work in the Afro-American national movement.

There were still weaknesses in ATM’s views on these questions. ATM had a tendency to view the role of theory too narrowly, as a tool just to solve immediate practical problems. It still advocated the view of the ”three stages” of party building. It downplayed the necessity for ideological struggle within its ranks, under the rationale that two-line struggle was the exception in ATM. While the document correctly pinpointed ATM’s previous errors of sectarianism and dogmatism, it incorrectly labeled all of its weaknesses as “left.” These errors were to later lead to the development of rightist errors in ATM’s work, and would help form the basis for a rightist tendency mainly advocated by a renegade element who would later try to destroy ATM.

Prior to ATM’s Second Congress and as a result of the struggle against incorrect views, ATM had made some good advances in its mass work. In a strike in the Molders Union in Oakland, California, ATM had helped to organize and lead the workers to oppose the class collaborationist line of the trade union bureaucrats, and to oppose the CPUSA, the CLP and the RU. ATM had fought to unify the workers on the basis of their common demands and around the demand for the equality of languages for the Mexicano and Portuguese workers in the unions.

This strike was very militant, in a local which had little recent history of militant struggle. The strikers defied the police, the bosses and the trade union bureaucrats and also opposed an attempt by the International Union to purge the communist leadership (ATM) from the local, and to put the local leadership into receivership. This strike gave a real boost to the struggle of the rank and file in the Molders Union in Oakland. It affected workers in three states and helped win the best contract in the International. It also resulted in the only contract in the U.S. in English, Spanish and Portuguese.

During this period, ATM also helped provide leadership to the historic first Alamosa Conference, which brought together hundreds of activists from the Chicano national movement. It introduced communist ideas to a large sector of them and set the basis for on-going communist work in the Southwest. This conference, with help from ATM and others, soundly rejected the line of the liberal reformists, and the anti-communism and nationalism of certain other forces in the Chicano national movement.

In May 1976, ATM helped to organize a march of support for the Browning-Ferris garbage workers strike in Santa Barbara, California. ATM had done support work in the strike for some time and had helped to isolate a local politician who attempted to mislead the strikers about the nature of capitalist “democracy” and “justice.” This social prop tried unsuccessfully to make the predominantly Chicano and Mexicano strikers believe that he was their “ally.” On May Day 1976, hundreds of strikers and supporters marched in a rally against the company. The peaceful rally was viciously attacked by the police. ATM stood with the masses in battle against them and helped to protect the masses of marchers from harm, successfully preventing the police from demoralizing the marchers. This march was an inspiration to many people, and was a fitting celebration of May Day.

In this period, ATM also joined or helped to develop mass organizations in the Southwest. These included Frente Revolucionario de Aztlan (FRA), a Chicano student organization, and La Federacion, a mass organization set up to support the struggle for the land in the Southwest.

FRA never really got off the ground. Not enough work had been done on the various campuses to help develop a strong basis for such an organization as FRA. ATM and other Marxist-Leninists also made a number of sectarian errors which tended to give FRA the character of a debating society instead of an organization of mass struggle. On the other hand, FRA did represent the correct desire on the part of the Chicano student movement in Colorado and New Mexico to build strong organizational and political unity, and to oppose national oppression on the campuses.

For its part, La Federacion organized mass support for the land struggle. ATM helped it to make a tour of California which built support for this struggle among students, workers and other activists. These were steps to help build the alliance between the working class movement and the Chicano national movement.

In June 1976, ATM held its Second Congress. The United States had suffered its tremendous defeat in Southeast Asia during the previous year. The U.S. was in a period of intense crisis, and was doing all that it could to intensify its exploitation of the working and oppressed masses. This had given rise to more and more resistance, highlighted by the huge wildcats of the miners, by the long and bitter strike of the rubberworkers, and by a growing movement on the part of the oppressed nationalities, especially against police repression and cutbacks in social services.

The USSR had committed its aggression in Angola and had exposed its social-imperialist features to the entire world. It was taking up its strategic offensive, while the U.S. was trying to hold on to its remaining vested interests. The third world was in a continuing process of strengthening its unity and continued to spearhead the struggle against the superpowers. The second world countries were more and more standing up to the bullying of the U.S. and USSR and the people of those countries waged sharp struggle against the bourgeoisie.

By the time of ATM’s Second Congress the “Wing” had broken up, the CPML was about to be formed, and IWK was beginning to assert more of a leading role in the Marxist-Leninist movement. The Second Congress unanimously confirmed the repudiation of ATM’s deviation on party building, and approved the generally correct course set for the organization. It condemned the-opportunism of the “Wing,” of WVO, the RCP and other forces. It criticized the revisionism of the CPUSA and called for intensified struggle against them. It called on ATM to exert a greater role in the Marxist-Leninist movement and to take the lead in making efforts to build principled unity for the party, and in struggling for a correct line and program. It called on ATM to continue the criticism of its “left” deviation. It called for the bold expansion of its work in the industrial proletariat and in the national movements. It called for the improvement of the Revolutionary Cause, to broaden its scope, expand its distribution, and improve its overall quality, on the basis of the struggle against the “left” deviation. The “left” deviation had caused the Revolutionary Cause to take on a dogmatic character, limiting its scope, and even giving it a poor technical quality. The Second Congress also adopted other political resolutions, such as on the Chicano National Question.

The Second Congress, though, failed to correctly sum up the ideological basis for the deviations made by ATM and the “Wing,” and to make a complete break with the metaphysics and idealism of the “Wing.” The struggle to overcome these weaknesses was to continue for sometime after the Congress.

After this Congress ATM began to vigorously expand its mass work. Unfortunately it sometimes expanded to new areas without leaving a solid base in other areas and without consolidating its gains. At the same time, some of ATM’s work remained narrow and localized, as the struggle to broaden its perspective continued. In the course of the struggle against “left” errors, certain right mistakes were made, and there was a tendency to view all errors as “left.”

As the work expanded, the struggle to strengthen ATM’s democratic centralism and to develop an organization capable of carrying out the tasks that it had set for itself continued. The weakness of decentralization began to be felt more during this time and led to problems in centralizing the leadership, consolidating ATM’s ranks around a single line, and coordinating its mass work. Certain opportunists in leadership in the Southwest and the Midwest waged a vigorous struggle against democratic centralism. They began to attack national leadership as “bureaucratic,” and accused the national leadership of “stifling” the initiative of the local areas.

ATM was beginning to develop its line on party building and on the question of training the working class in revolutionary consciousness. It was developing a strong organization of professional revolutionaries, and deepening the ties of the Marxist-Leninist movement. At this time, ATM had to struggle against the opportunist views on organization, which served to sabotage the work, and which would have made it impossible for ATM to carry out its political line.

The leadership of ATM made the decision to make an all-out effort to sum up the work of the organization, to consolidate the ranks around the developments in the line, to strengthen democratic centralism and develop to a higher level the political and organizational capabilities of ATM. This process was very uneven and had many shortcomings, but did help to create the conditions for expanding ATM’s work, such as that carried on during the 1977 convention of the United Autoworkers Union.

ATM’s work during this convention consisted in issuing a series of bulletins during the convention to all the major auto plants in California. This was done to expose the maneuverings and politics of the UAW bureaucrats, to broaden the political scope of the workers, to help win the workers to support the struggle against apartheid in South Africa, to fight against the deportation of undocumented workers, and to take the course of militant class struggle. The convention work was coordinated with ATM’s on-going work in auto, and helped to strengthen that work, and to introduce many workers to the politics of ATM.

ATM’s convention work was the biggest such undertaking it had done. It forced the organization to develop its agitation and propaganda apparatus, to strengthen its functioning, and to streamline itself. This was done in order to more rapidly produce a great quantity of literature, and to distribute it quickly for a sustained period. This was extremely valuable experience. It was a blow against the opportunists who often were able to take the initiative because they were capable of large and rapidly organized undertakings.

In late 1976 ATM began to take up work in the anti-Bakke struggle. The Bakke work was, at first, mostly confined to San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose and Los Angeles. IWK and ATM helped organize this struggle in a correct direction and helped build big anti-Bakke Decision demonstrations in San Jose, Los Angeles and San Francisco during this period. ATM had taken up sharp struggle against the revisionist line of CASA within the Chicano student movement and within the anti-Bakke movement. The MEChA’s were to help form the backbone of the anti-Bakke movement, so the defeat of CASA was extremely important since CASA exerted some influence among Chicano students.

After a prolonged and bitter struggle, ATM began to make headway against the line of CASA and to expose them. This struggle, and the anti-Bakke struggle, helped to strengthen the MEChA’s, to build their unity on a statewide level, and to unite them around a correct line for the anti-Bakke campaign.

A small group of hidden opportunists within ATM opposed the struggle against CASA as sectarian, and caused a lot of confusion. As the struggle against these deviations intensified, the opportunists stepped up their resistance. The national leadership of ATM waged a firm struggle against the opportunists but did not realize how serious the contradiction with them had become.

Under the cover of a struggle against “leftism,” the opportunists tried to further develop an opportunist line, demanding that ATM consider a two stage revolution in the Southwest, that ATM call for an alliance with the Chicano bourgeoisie, and that ATM give up the struggle to expose the social props in the Chicano movement, whom the opportunists characterized as “middle forces.” The struggle around these and other questions later resulted in this rightist clique leading a split in ATM.

Following its Second Congress, ATM began to improve its relations with other Marxist-Leninists. Based on the repudiation of its deviation on party building, ATM began to strengthen its unity with IWK, which was also helping ATM in the struggle against rightist errors and deviations as well. ATM also improved its relations and carried on struggle for unity with a collective of comrades who had been with the “Wing” in Washington, D.C., with the Revolutionary Collective, with the New York Collective, with the East Wind Collective, and with the Seize the Time Collective. ATM also waged a very sharp struggle with the League for Proletarian Revolution (LPR) in 1977, and raised many correct criticisms of their opportunist views on party building. These criticisms helped to unmask LPR as having a line similar to that of the “Wing.”

IWK played an important part in ATM’s development during this period. IWK helped ATM to correctly sum up past relations between the two organizations; to see the fundamental errors of the “Wing” on an ideological level; to see more the ultra-rightist nature of the WVO; and to develop a more objective view of the CPML. IWK also helped ATM to recognize the errors that it was making in trying to “get a base” quickly – sometimes involving itself in “get rich quick” schemes, sometimes conciliating with certain opportunist forces. IWK helped ATM to see certain errors that it was making in the anti-Bakke Decision struggle. But ATM still had a number of important weaknesses. It still had not completely broken with idealism and metaphysics, it still had deviations in its political line, and its democratic centralism was still not sufficiently strong. In addition, the opportunists hidden within ATM’s ranks were waiting for their chance to wildly attack ATM’s line and leadership in an attempt to overthrow them and destroy the organization.

JUNE 1977-1978

In June 1977, a split occurred in ATM led by a small clique of opportunists. The split was the product of several factors: 1) The opportunist line of the splitters on the national question, democratic centralism and on the question of two-line struggle; 2) the careerism of the leaders of the split; 3) the continuing struggle to develop a correct Marxist-Leninist line and to break with metaphysics and idealism.

The leaders of the split were incapable of providing correct leadership to the mass struggle to any great extent. This had led some of them to commit several serious errors in the course of the Chilili land struggle. These errors included the advocacy of a militarist line at one time. Some of the opportunists had made wild and extravagant promises to the Chilili villagers which they were not able to keep. They had also been carrying out a line which advocated secession for the Chicano nation, and they had very often conciliated with some narrow nationalists. They had refused to carry out socialist education among the masses, under the cover of a struggle against “leftism,” and opposed democratic centralism under the guise of a struggle against “sectarianism” and the so-called “bureaucracy” of the national leadership. The cadres in the Southwest had raised criticisms of the incorrect lines, and of the practice of the opportunists. Their criticisms had been suppressed. Finally, the cadres began to open up a fierce struggle against the opportunists in May and June 1977.

Seeing that they were about to be exposed, the opportunists adopted a new tactic. They began to “repudiate” their errors and to turn the entire blame for their opportunism onto the line and leadership of ATM. Seizing on many of the correct criticisms raised by the cadres, the opportunists began to call for the destruction of the organization, pushing the line that ATM was “revisionist.”

Because many of the cadres were not very developed in their understanding of Marxism-Leninism, and were not strongly united around the basic line of the organization, and because of weaknesses in ATM’s democratic centralism, the opportunist clique was able to split ATM. They succeeded in causing a number of cadres and contacts in some areas to leave ATM’s ranks and to attack the organization. The attack on ATM was well-coordinated and well-financed. The splitters travelled to different parts of the country to try and destroy ATM. They went to different parts of the Southwest, to the Midwest, to the East Coast, and to the West Coast in an unsuccessful effort to bury ATM. They also tried without success to get fraternal Marxist-Leninist comrades to denounce the organization.

The leaders of the split promoted idealism and metaphysics in a big way on several questions. They promoted a metaphysical view of self-criticism as a form of confession and as a kind of personal atonement for past wrongs. The only “honest” self-criticism, according to this clique, was one which attacked the line and practice of ATM.

On the woman question, the leaders of the split promoted the idea that women were not capable of becoming revolutionaries unless they had some type of “special training” from men. They also tried to promote the notion that ATM was responsible for all family and personal problems that people might have had. Their intent was to attack the Marxist-Leninist line and work of ATM and to promote themselves as the real leaders of the movement. ATM later criticized the incorrect ideas promoted by the splitters on the woman question and also began to rectify certain male chauvinist tendencies that existed within the organization. This helped ATM to deepen its grasp of the woman question and to more clearly recognize the revolutionary capacities of its women cadres and of women from the mass movement.

The leaders of the split also tried to promote the idea that leadership should be evaluated from the standpoint of “personal” honesty. This meant in practice whether or not one would admit to being “opportunist,” and/or whether one would attack the leadership, line and practice of the organization.

Today the leaders of the split are isolated and impotent. Many of the people that they induced to leave the organization have broken with them. Some repudiated their incorrect actions related to the split and have re-established relations with ATM.

Internally the split precipitated a tremendous two-line struggle. Once again the old idealism and metaphysics began to surface. It took the form of a line which held that the general line of ATM was right opportunist, and that its whole history and practice had been basically opportunist. Accompanying this line was a line which advocated ultra-democracy in place of democratic centralism, which attacked the leadership of the organization, and which advocated self-cultivation under the cover of “two-line struggle.”

These lines were to cause great confusion within ATM and seriously set back some of its mass work for a time. They also led to a resurgence of a deviation pitting the interests of the workers movement against those of the national movements, and which caused a “workerist” tendency to develop in some of ATM’s practice.

As a result of a long process of struggle, summed up at a national leadership conference held in November 1977, and aided by timely criticisms on the part of IWK, ATM was able to gradually overcome the incorrect views. By late 1977, these views were being isolated and the work of the organization was starting to move forward. The work in the anti-Bakke movement moved to a higher level with the continuing isolation of the opportunist line advocated by CASA, the CPUSA and others. On October 15, 1977, ATM and IWK, working with the Anti-Bakke Decision Coalition helped organize an anti-Bakke march in San Francisco which drew over 4,000 people of all nationalities under the banner of a militant struggle against national oppression. Many people were being educated about socialism in the course of the anti-Bakke struggle and new leaders were coming forward.

By the first part of 1978, ATM had defeated the metaphysical view that its general line was right opportunist. This led to an improvement in its work in the trade unions, and in the national movements, and to the expansion of work in some areas. In the anti-Bakke movement, ATM worked with IWK to help develop the Anti-Bakke Decision Coalition as a nationwide organization, and to strike sharp blows at the opportunists in the anti-Bakke movement.

In December 1977, ATM and IWK jointly toured the coal fields of Western Kentucky, to learn about the coal miners struggle. Both organizations, in the following months did support work around the 1978 national coal strike. In early 1978 both organizations initiated a committee to sponsor a tour in California and Hawaii of representatives of the Stearns strike. The tour was successful in educating many people about the Stearns miners’ heroic struggle, and in promoting the need for solidarity of the struggles of all working and oppressed peoples.

ATM began to soberly assess its line and practice, to repudiate what was incorrect, and to affirm and build off of what was correct. This too was a blow against the opportunists and against the wreckers, who wanted ATM to fall apart so that they could “pick up the pieces.” ATM’s unity with IWK developed to a higher level in this period and set the basis for principled unity at all levels. This unity was forged in the struggle for the correct line and in the course of much common work in building support for the struggle of the Steam’s miners and in other areas, especially in the anti-Bakke movement.

The tremendous two-line struggles which took place during this period represented a qualitative development for ATM. It was able to make a sharp break with metaphysics and idealism, to correct its deviations and to develop a correct Marxist-Leninist line. The organization was united as never before. Its work became more solidified, and ATM was able to turn the split from a bad thing into a good thing. This allowed ATM to develop its mass work on a wide scale, to once again begin to expand its ranks, to improve the quality of the Revolutionary Cause in all aspects, to strengthen its democratic centralism, to develop principled unity with other Marxist-Leninist organizations.

ATM had become one of the leading organizations in the Marxist-Leninist movement. It had greatly deepened its grasp of dialectical and historical materialism, of the mass line – and this laid the basis for all of its forward development. It had developed a strong gold reserve of cadres, some of the strongest and most tempered cadres in the entire movement.

The August 29th Movement has set a positive example for the movement by correctly evaluating its line and its work, correcting its mistakes and building off of its positive aspects, which have always been primary. ATM has always tried to share lessons of its development with other Marxist-Leninists. ATM developed into one of the leading organizations in the anti-revisionist communist movement in the space of four years. ATM will contribute its strength and experience to help build communist unity, struggle against opportunism and provide more and better leadership to the working class and oppressed masses.