Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

The Roots of Opportunism in the Committee for a Proletarian Party
Criticism/Self-Criticism by Two of Its Leading Members


First Issued: April 1979.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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In the present period, when the Marxist-Leninist movement has substantially broken with revisionism on the ideological plane but has to consolidate this break at a higher level by developing a sound political line embodied in a programme and forging a Bolshevik Party on firm working class foundations, “left” opportunism has stood as a major roadblock. ’ Having concentrated on breaking with Revisionism in its principal and most dangerous form, right opportunism, many Marxist-Leninists have fallen prey to “left” opportunist Revisionism – revising the science of Marxism-Leninism into a sterile dogma and an ideology of a petit-bourgeois sect. This failure indicates remaining weaknesses at the ideological level among Marxist-Leninists. Principles of Unity, pgs. 5-6, Committee for a Proletarian Party, Spring, 1977

The above passage from the Principles of Unity of the now-liquidated Committee for a Proletarian Party serves as a good starting-point to understand both the roots of CPP’s opportunism and the direction that should be taken to rectify the deviations that its members still continue to commit. CPP’s opportunism, which took mainly a right form, resulted from its complacency on basic ideological questions and its related over-estimation of the role and function of political line. The means for rectification involve correcting “the remaining weaknesses at the ideological level” of former CPP members in the course of carrying out a more thorough struggle against the “left” opportunist revisionism of the Marxist-Leninist Organizing Committee (which is now called the Communist Party USA (M-L)).

This paper is intended as a criticism/self-criticism by two of the leading members of the CPP, who bear a major responsibility both for the opportunism of the organization and the positive aspects of its growth and development. These two leading members were not only members of the executive committee, the highest body of the organization, but also members of the “political bureau”, which was commissioned to complete the central task of CPP – linking up with a national communist organization. The completion of this central task resulted in the liquidation of CPP and the recommendation by the organization that all of its members seek to join the MLOC.

This criticism/self-criticism attempts to examine and explain why the completion of the central task of the organization resulted in such a serious mistake. The second half of the paper tries to deepen the struggle against MLOC’s “left” opportunism. This “left” opportunism finds its principal expression in idealism in world outlook, neo-Trotskyism in basic strategy and tactics, and dogmatism in method, especially as method relates to the upholding of the Party of Labor of Albania, Stalin, and the Communist International.

The ideological source for the serious political mistake that CPP committed in linking up with the MLOC can be found in the strong influence of American pragmatism within the organization. This ideological source is at the root of much of the characteristic right opportunist theory and practice of the CPP. Pragmatism was the historically specific bourgeois mode of thought – the screen of sentiments, illusions, prejudices, and mental habits – which conditioned our view of reality and prevented us from adhering to a consistent Marxist class stand, viewpoint, and method.

It was pragmatism which inspired the policy which both of us advocated within the political bureau and executive committee to govern the process of developing unity with a national communist organization. This policy centered on seeing “general political line as the key and only link.” The major form this deviation took was the metaphysical , artificial separation of general political line from all other aspects of national communist organizations. As an example, although it was correct for a local collective like CPP to seek political unity with a national communist organization like the MLOC, it was a mistake for us never to attempt to raise our unity with MLOC to an ideological level.

The political differences that did exist between the two organizations were glossed over in the name of unity on general line and were not vigorously traced to their ideological source in the particular class stand, viewpoint, and method of either organization. Political line itself was only seen in its most abstract, general form, and was not developed concretely enough to apply to specific issues, where the effect of bourgeois ideology in an organization like MLOC would take its clearest, most observable form.

THS SEPARATION OF POLITICAL LINE AND IDEOLOGICAL LINE

The policy of seeing “general political line as the key and only link” is the formulation of the authors of this paper. Even though such a formulation was not used within CPP, the policy which this formulation expresses was nonetheless a fully conscious and deliberate one within the organization. The justification that we gave for focusing our attention on the political lines of national communist organizations was that such a method seemed the most objective and scientific one to use. It had the advantage that the general political lines of the national communist organizations could be deciphered by a local collective mainly by reading their newspapers, journals, and other publications.

In following such a method, we believed that we had the best chance of transcending the narrow local experience and subjectivism of small circles. However, despite the belief that such a method was the most scientific, objective, and unbiased, it was a metaphysical method. It did not examine national communist organizations all-sidedly, dialectically, but instead investigated the one aspect of political line in isolation from all the other aspects of these organizations.

This failure to recognize the interconnections between the various aspects of a communist organization (political line, ideology, theory, practice, organization) followed from our reliance on mechanical materialism instead of on dialectical and historical materialism. In detaching political line from its interconnections with the other aspects of a communist organization, especially ideological line, we treated it to a great extent as an independent factor. As a result, we tended to view political line statically and were not prepared to understand the basis for MLOC’s rapid changes on political positions.

If we had been dealing with an organization whose political line was based on a sound class stand, viewpoint, and method, then CPP’s approach might have coincidentally succeeded. But we were not dealing with such an organization in MLOC. As should have become evident, much earlier and more forcefully, MLOC was an organization whose stability of principles was contingent on the promotion of its narrow interests as a petit-bourgeois sect on the make, and not on proletarian ideology.

One of the major reasons that we avoided concentrating on MLOC’s ideological line was that, compared to political line, ideological line seemed to involve questions that were vaguer, more abstract, and harder to discern. Political line seemed much clearer, more objective, concrete, and observable. We took as a working assumption that if an organization’s political line were correct, then it must be guided by a proletarian ideology. While it is true that political line and ideological line are inseparable, we made the mistake of viewing political line itself much too abstractly. We concentrated on the general line for world revolution, revolution in the USA, and party-building. At this level of general, abstract line, there was some significant unity between CPP and MLOC, but this kind of unity could be achieved by any organizations who were idealist in their approach to Marxist theory.

Marxist theory should not be confused with ideology. Theory encompasses the universal principles of Marxism as well as the science of dialectical and historical materialism which is able to grasp these principles and apply them to concrete natural and social reality. Based on summing up the concrete perception of reality growing out of the class struggle, the struggle for production, and scientific experimentation, theory represents the conception of reality’s essence, such as the basic laws of historical development.

Ideology, on the other hand, is the concrete, specific, historical reflection of reality in our minds. Proletarian ideology represents the class outlook and interests of the working class which is always in battle, as a unity of opposites, with nationally specific and historically concrete forms of bourgeois ideology. The ideology motivating communist organizations such as MLOC and CPP is never “pure” proletarian ideology, but is always inter-mixed with specific forms of bourgeois ideology as well as forms of feudal and slave ideology which have been adapted to capitalist society. In the US, as an example, a major form of bourgeois ideology is American pragmatism. In China, the ideology of Confucianism which arose originally out of slave society still exercized a strong and deep influence even under socialism.

The ideology upon which an organization is based would have a profound effect on its ability to use Marxist theory – not only to recognize the universal principles of Marxism but also to apply these principles to concrete conditions. While MLOC is striving to capitalize on the relative theoretical immaturity of the communist movement, in much the same way that the Communist Labor Party did, by returning to the “classic teachers” and the Comintern, bourgeois ideology, which grows out of the particular class interests MLOC represents, leads inevitably to its idealism, dogmatism, and neo-Trotskyism. Motivated by the sophisticated hustlerism of the petit-bourgeoisie, the MLOC consistently relates to the working class in much the same way that a public-relations agency would.

Although we had our own problems with idealism, dogmatism, and neo-Trotskyism, it was our pragmatism which still played the major role in justifying CPP’s separation of political line and ideological line. Our over-all approach tended to belittle Marxist theory and narrow down its tasks to the development of a political line which could be our “guide to action.” Heavily influenced by American pragmatist ideology, we showed a one-sided interest in being “practical”, in making communism “work”, in getting down to the nuts and bolts of building a mass movement. We never spent much time in training our cadre ideologically or developing their mastery of Marxist theory. Lacking a grasp of the universal principles of Marxism and unable to use dialectical and historical materialism independently, the cadre of CPP were prey to losing their bearings in practical work and being won to new forms of revisionism, such as those being hawked by the MLOC.

In relying exclusively on political line in our evaluation of the unity between CPP and MLOC, we were committing empiricist errors. We allowed ourselves to be taken in by appearances and did not attempt to trace these appearances back to the essential characteristics of an organization like MLOC. We never really raised our understanding of MLOC to an ideological level – until it was forced upon us by circumstances and until it was too late. We never really understood that an organization’s political line can change, and change very rapidly and dramatically, if it is not guided by proletarian ideology. If the organization is a petit-bourgeois sect on the make, such as the MLOC, then its line changes will occur in accordance with whatever most enhances its narrow and sectarian ambitions.

Our own form of pragmatism, which attempted to stick strictly to objective questions of political line, conveniently dovetailed with the vulgar pragmatism of the MLOC. With regards to the MLOC, there were a number of indications that it regarded political line from a basically bourgeois perspective – the line it adopted was the one most expedient in terms of carving out its own separate niche as an organization and the one best designed to “beat out the competition.”

A PRAGMATIC VIEW OF PARTY-BUILDING

Given all of MLOC’s problems with idealism, dogmatism, and neo-Trotskyism, which we did recognize, we still found ourselves attracted to it because it seemed “pragmatically” interested in actually trying to build a national communist organization, and one that was even based in the working class. We initially sought it out because its own political line on world revolution happened to coincide in a general way with our own, namely, a common theoretical opposition to the three-worlds theory. Compared to the other local collectives which also opposed the three-worlds theory, MLOC seemed serious about linking theory with practice.

While we were pitting political line against theory in our own particular pragmatist way, many of these other local circles seemed to be making the opposite error of pitting theory against the actual development and application of political line. Despite the fact that many of the criticisms directed at MLOC by these local circles were valid, this did not excuse their own glaring weaknesses, especially on questions of program, political line, and practice. Our own pragmatism naturally led us to lean towards the bigger, better, and more practical MLOC.

We were consistently critical of many of these local collectives for not sharing our own method of grasping general political line as the key and only link. We believed that many of them were still following in the footsteps of the Revolutionary Wing and fell into the category of “left” opportunists which the above quote from our Principles of Unity attempts to characterize. Whether or not these local circles drew their inspiration from the Revolutionary Wing (or its fellow travelers such as Workers Congress or League for Proletarian Revolution), we concluded that these circles were being subjective and unprincipled and were bowing to small-circle backwardness and narrowness.

A number of our differences with these local collectives revolved around the question of party-building. While we were preoccupied with matters of program and political line, these other local collectives seemed to be almost exclusively concerned with the question of party building itself. CPP took a characteristically narrow and ideologically shallow view of the party. We viewed the party simply as a weapon, which could be wielded well or badly depending on what line guided it. We never really concerned ourselves with questions about whether this weapon was properly designed for its purposes, whether its structure and material were sound, and whether it was built carefully enough to stand the test of time. These kinds of questions would have taken us inevitably into the realm of ideology. But this was a realm which we always took for granted. We just assumed that all anti-revisionists were operating from the same ideological foundations. As the quote which began this paper stated, “the Marxist-Leninist movement has substantially broken with revisionism on the ideological plane...” The complacency which this statement expresses represented a profound and costly mistake, which we shared with many other “anti-revisionists.”

One form that this ideological deviation took was the manner in which we subscribed, unconsciously or not, to a mechanical stages theory in party-building. For us, the stage of developing ideology was over and behind us, and we had the task of moving onto a “higher level” of developing a sound political line and forging a party. But our fatal flaw was that we could not really determine whether MLOC was ideologically sound because our own ideological foundations were shallow, weak, and unconsolidated. If we had been concerned to raise our understanding of the party to an ideological level, we would have focused our attention on whether the party was going to be guided by a correct class stand, viewpoint, and method and deepened our understanding of the basic principles of party building and the laws governing the internal life of the party and its relation to the masses. We did not take these questions seriously because we thought a determination of the correct political line for the party would be a quick and efficient way to cut through these broader ideological matters.

This crude and narrow approach to party-building was no more clearly represented than in our own evaluation of MLOC’s motion towards party declaration. This may come as a surprise to some comrades, but we were never seriously troubled by the question of whether it was appropriate for MLOC to call itself a party. Whether or not MLOC called itself a “party” did not concern us so much as whether this “party” had a correct program and political line.

The petit-bourgeois bombast and pomposity with which the MLOC leadership invariably tries to over-awe local circles and individual communists were regarded as an obstacle which we attempted to hurdle in the name of avoiding subjectivism and getting down to the “objective” questions of program and political line. It is a measure of our own pragmatism, coupled with a common bourgeois cynicism, that we were willing to put up with the petit-bourgeois pomposity and careerist self-inflation of the MLOC leadership provided we agreed with them about basic political objectives, strategy, and tactics.

We never attempted to arm ourselves ideologically to understand the profound basis within MLOC as a whole for the crude and deceptive “public-relations” practices of the MLOC leadership and the public flaunting of a bourgeois life-style. We regarded these abuses as incidental deviations which could be rectified as long as MLOC possessed a correct political line. But these deviations were not incidental, as it turned out, but part and parcel of an all-round and consistent bourgeois pragmatism which animated the organization as a whole.

THE REDUCTION OF POLITICAL LINE TO ABSTRACTIONS

The reason that we came to agree with the MLOC on basic political objectives, strategy and tactics is that although we wanted to develop political line as a concrete “guide to action”, the way we developed our political line, and ended up using it, was idealist.

Many of our errors in practice, in carrying out our political line, are connected with the way we developed political line. Despite a desire to be practical communists able to lead the spontaneous mass movements, our development of a line tended to be more of an abstract, academic exercise because the primary purpose for developing such a line was to compare it with the political line of a national communist organization. As a result, the line we developed never had a real and vital connection with our on-going practice. There always tended to be a gap of some kind between developing the political line (which often involved picking the best one available and elaborating on it) and actually being able to apply it.

This lack of unity between developing the political line and applying it resulted in two opposite errors. On the one hand, in some areas of our work, the line of the organization took a backseat to the day-to-day pragmatic maneuvering of our cadre. Economism, liberalism, and the lack of all-round communist leadership followed suit from this right deviation. On the other hand, in other areas of our work, our cadre would attempt to take the line of the organization and mechanically impose it on reality regardless of the concrete situation. Dogmatism, sectarianism, and isolation of our cadre from the masses would be the companions of this “left” deviation.

Since the main standard we used to judge the level of unity we had with a national communist organization was political line, it was a priority that we had to understand what our own political line was. Only secondarily did we take up the task of making our political line concrete and applicable to our day to day practice. It is also consistent that in evaluating the MLOC, we never tried to find out concretely how this organization was able to implement its own political line.

There were a number of reasons that we did not consider practice to be a critical standard to evaluate a national communist organization like MLOC. The first and obvious reason is that CPP was a local collective based in San Diego which could have no direct experience with the MLOCís practice. The second reason is that we found from our prior experience that reports from communist organizations about one another’s practice tend to be unreliable and unverifiable. In the case of the MLOC, there were a number of reports from local collectives, such as the Communist Committee and the Marxist-Leninist Collective, to which we had access. However, since such reports, for the most part, failed to trace MLOC’s deviations in practice to questions of program and political and ideological line, they had little impact on CPP’s motion towards greater unity with MLOC.

A third reason that the practice of the MLOC was not taken seriously was our naive assumption that even if an organization’s practice were bad, given a correct political line and serious cadre, this bad practice was bound to be corrected in time. The steadfastness and single-mindedness with which CPP cadre pursued its policy of relying almost exclusively on political line are commendable, as we look back. We forged ahead without significant hesitation or vacillation despite the reports pouring in from various parts of the country universally critical of MLOC’s practice and despite the recognition that we would be the only local collective that would likely link up with MLOC.

We firmly believed that we were being as scientific and principled as we could be, but such good intentions and single-mindedness do not make our basic policy any less wrong. For one thing, we consistently failed to recognize that an. organization’s practice itself is a reflection of a certain ideological and political line even if such a line is not explicitly laid out.

Practice can be an important standard for a local collective in evaluating a national communist organization mainly in the sense that it can bring out the concrete class effects of a political and ideological line. An organization’s theoretical understanding and ideological bearings quickly come to the surface when it has to take its general political line and apply it concretely to specific and vital issues affecting the working class and oppressed peoples.

We never really put our own political line to the test in this rigorous way. Similarly, we never demanded the same from the MLOC, which, small and undeveloped, did not possess much more than the abstract and formal rudiments of a political line. In this respect, it becomes clearer that both organizations approached political line from basically idealist premises.

THE CLASS BASIS OF MLOC’S BOURGEOIS IDEALISM

We understood for some time that the leadership of the MLOC often resorted more to bourgeois idealism than dialectical and historical materialism to develop and defend their political positions. But our own understanding of this deviation remained abstract and inconclusive. We never traced this marked idealist tendency to its class roots and its ideological source. On the surface, it seems inconsistent that MLOC could be making both pragmatist and idealist errors, as we are charging. But this combination is understandable in terms of its class basis.

The class basis of the early MLOC was unmistakably centered in the radical intelligentsia. This was at a time that a number of other communist organizations had already been attempting for a number of years to base themselves within the working class. Severed from social production, the intelligentsia has a constant tendency to promote idealism – that consciousness determines being, that ideas are the motive force of history. This idealism can take many forms. In the USA idealism must strive to find a “useful” form in order to gain acceptance. Since capitalism in the USA developed to a great extent free from the fetters of feudalism, the ideologies which found the most currency were the ones that “worked”, that had a market value, that were practical and profitable. The result was the development of American pragmatism, which is most closely identified with the philosophical theories of Willian James and John Dewey.

Pragmatism still continues to be the dominant ideology within the educational institutions of this country. The communists who develop out of the radical intelligentsia cannot fully escape this influence. It is not surprising that they would have a tendency to promote Marxism-Leninism as a bright, shiny idealist package. Since these communists have had so little contact with reality, especially with the reality of the working class, they tend to be less concerned with whether their theories are developed out of an analysis of reality than with whether their theories are going to “sell”. Like a university professor scrambling after foundation grants, they want to sell their ideas as a way to promote their own careers, to gain place, position and fame. If they are able to package an attractive enough set of ideas that bear a resemblance to Marxism-Leninism, then they are justified in traveling extensively throughout this country and world-wide as representatives of the “vanguard of the working class.” It is not surprising that this form of opportunism can take shape as the sophisticated hustlerism of a public-relations agency.

The failure to struggle with this hustlerism and other ideological deviations of the MLOC resulted from CPP’s belittling of ideological education of its cadre. We never took the time to train our cadre in grasping the class basis and ideological source of opportunism and revisionism. Many of them had only a passing understanding of social democracy, Trotksyism, Khurshchev revisionism, Titoism, and Euro-communism. Much was taken for granted also in the evaluation of the historical roles of such great Marxist-Leninists as Stalin, and Mao Tsetung.

We thought, for example; that it would be sufficient to rely on developing a political line that could draw lines of demarcation with Soviet revisionism and Trotskyism. This pragmatic deviation can be seen in the way that we spent a long period of time in formulating our Principles of Unity, which provided a public statement of our political positions on party-building, the international situation, the Black and Chicano national questions, strategy for revolution, the woman question, and the gay question. But this whole approach assumed that revisionism was just a crude and obvious political phenomenon. It did not recognize that revisionism is a much more profound and inevitable ideological process of development which can lay for a long time just below the surface of superficially correct political positions.

The MLOC’s degeneration into Trotksyism, for example, has been a process over a period of time. If we had raised our understanding of MLOC’s deviations to a level of ideological clarity, we would have been much more prepared to understand the basis for this process of degeneration into revisionism. We could have understood much earlier that MLOC was “revising the science of Marxism-Leninism into a sterile dogma and an ideology of a petit-bourgeois sect.” But our failure to gain this understanding indicated our own “remaining weaknesses at the ideological level.”

It was only in the later stages of its existence that serious ideological struggle was carried out within CPP. This struggle focused on comrades’ class stand, as each cadre faced the question of whether he or she was willing and able to overcome bourgeois individualism and commit themselves to the dedicated life and discipline of a national communist organization. As we pointed out in our Liquidation Statement, ”Local collectives tend to develop cadre who may be committed to revolution intellectually, but not necessarily in a way that is going to lead them to fundamentally change their lives.” If we had been reluctant to examine the class basis and ideological source for MLOC’s hustlerism and intellectualism, one of the major reasons was that we were hesitant to explain and correct our own ideological deviations. Both organizations were making deviations characteristic of the petit-bourgeoisie, especially the strata of the radical intelligentsia, even though the specific forms of the deviations may have varied.

It may be helpful to expand the analysis of the ideological and political deviations of the MLOC in order to clarify our criticisms of that organization for comrades working with it, and other local circles and Marxist-Leninists. The paper by a member of the Committee for a Proletarian Party “The Historical Merit of Mao Tsetung and Socialism in the People’s Republic of China” began an analysis of MLOC’s deviations. We will attempt to elaborate on some of the particular criticisms raised of MLOC in that paper. Most importantly, we want to elaborate on the charge of bourgeois idealism in order to more fully explain the opportunist motion of the MLOC. The paper will try to draw the links between idealism and MLOC’s developing Trotskyist positions and explain why such neo-Trotskyism is not inconsistent with the organization’s stand on Stalin and the Comintern. Finally, we will attempt to raise some relevant points about Mao Tsetung’s line on combatting revisionism and explain 7/hy a failure to understand and apply this line has led both the CPP and the MLOC down the road of opportunism and revisionism.

SOME HISTORY OF MLOC’S BOURGEOIS IDEALISM

Interestingly enough, we could have detected the motion of MLOC on the question of Mao Tsetung from the very first formal meeting we held with a representative of their organization in early 1978. The idealism of the MLOC was evident in the discussions we carried out with the chair of the organization on strategy and tactics for world revolution. Differences immediately surfaced on the role of the national bourgeoisie and the related question of the non-aligned movement. The idealist position of MLOC’s chair was that, of course, “the bourgeoisie is the bourgeoisie” and their main aspect, no matter what sector they are, is clearly reactionary. From this position, he also argued that there was no such thing as a non-aligned movement.

We quoted Mao Tsetung to the effect that the national bourgeoisie or middle bourgeoisie is a vacillating class, which can under certain conditions and at certain times play a progressive role in anti-imperialist struggles. Also, we explained that the class basis of such political forces as the non-aligned movement was the national bourgeoisie, and communists should be able to unite with these movements to the extent that they weaken the two superpowers and imperialism. The chair rebutted our argument by claiming that Mao was not a good source because he did not have access to documents from the Communist International on this subject and had only a very narrow experience limited to China.

The analysis about the “bourgeoisie is the bourgeoisie” is an idealist formula which has little in common with the requirements of a concrete class analysis. This idealism leads straight to Trotskyism since it is an earmark of Trotskyism to consider the whole bourgeoisie in colonial and semi-colonial countries as solidly in the camp of the enemy. From a deviation at the level of the leadership, Trotskyism is becoming a hallmark of all aspects of MLOC.

We encountered the same idealist formulas and Trotskyist tendencies popping out when we attempted to carry out struggle with them on their views on the united front and social props. In a communication to our organization later in 1978 the MLOC leadership attempted to clear away all clouds of confusion on the question of social props by stating, “any political party that claims to represent the proletariat but does not, must be considered to be a social prop of the bourgeoisie. They are either a political party of the proletariat or an agent of the bourgeoisie.” We still think that our response to this position is valid, hitting at the heart of MLOC’s idealism and Trotskyism, and deserves to be repeated:

In other words, all political organizations, whether they be representatives of the progressive, middle, or die-hard forces (as categorized by Mao) would have to be considered social props. From the general historical interests of the proletariat, this statement would appear incontestable. But the general historical interests of the proletariat are only realized in the process of elaborating a concrete strategy and tactics for revolution. And such a concrete strategy and tactics will prove useful to the proletariat on the field of battle only to the extent that a more complex analysis is conducted and a more flexible approach is taken.

This position of “either party of the proletariat or agent of the bourgeoisie” seems to negate the significance of intermediate strata or classes. The party of the proletariat must be able to distinguish between the more progressive and more reactionary wings of the petit-bourgeoisie, especially in the national movements, for example. “Either/Or” formulas and indiscriminate labelling of other political organizations as social props, direct agents of the bourgeoisie, are no substitute for elaborating communist strategy and tactics based on dialectical and historical materialism.

MLOC’s failure to conduct a ̶more complex analysis” or take a “more flexible approach” also showed up in our struggle with them on our position on the principal contradiction. For us, it is critical for the elaboration of correct tactics in this historical period that we grasp the principal contradiction in the world. Our position is that it is still the contradiction between the two superpowers and the people, countries, and nations in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. What came to be the issue was not whether we were correct in our analysis but whether it was an important question at all. The chair of their organization made the claim in a public forum that this matter of the principal contradiction was really a question of “dead dialectics” – that it could have no significant bearing on the work of the party in the coming period.

We would agree that it is a question of “dead dialectics”; but the problem is MLOC’s own “dead dialectics” or metaphysics, not our own. It is another hallmark of Trotskyism that it constantly harps about the fundamental contradiction between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie throughout the epoch of imperialism but it belittles or liquidates the other basic contradictions. A dialectical method would advocate a concrete analysis of concrete conditions, even on a world scale, since contradictions always bring about constant change: the principal contradiction can change as well as the interrelationships between the four basic contradictions (1) Socialism vs. imperialism, 2) proletariat vs. bourgeoisie, 3) imperialism vs. oppressed nations, countries, and peoples, and if) contradictions among the imperialist powers themselves).

Trotskyists always metaphysically treat the fundamental contradiction as though it is the principal contradiction, either world-wide or in a particular country. This is why Trotskyists always sabotage the basis for a broad united front of anti-imperialist forces in colonial and semi-colonial countries. For Trotskyists, the only revolutionary class in these kinds of countries is the proletariat, its enemy is the whole bourgeoisie, whether comprador, national, or petit-bourgeois, and the only immediate goal has to be socialist revolution.

MLOC does not dare to parade about in full Trotskyist garb, but such a deviation has been long-standing nevertheless and is becoming more blatant with each passing month. Its long-held view that “Revolution is the Main Trend in the World” represents a common variation on a Trotskyist theme. That revolution is the main trend for the whole epoch of imperialism is true, but such a general statement is no substitute for a concrete analysis of the changing class and political trends in each historical period of the imperialist epoch. To act as though such an abstract, general statement is a substitute for a concrete analysis is to lay the idealist foundations for Trotskyism in its concept of “permanent” world proletarian revolution.

MLOC promotes “dead dialectics” in more trays than one, of course. Their metaphysical method is revealed in their defense of the PLA formulation that the two superpowers are equal dangers to the world’s people “to the same extent and in the same degree.” This formulation bears little or no resemblance to dialectics. We argued with the MLOC, right up to the Labor Day 1978 meeting to draft the Joint Statement (signed by CPP, MLOC, and Sunrise Collective), that relative to one another the Soviet Union was rising while the US was declining and that it was important tactically to grasp the specific characteristics and motion of each superpower. The MLOC response given through the chair in an early meeting again bared their narrow pragmatic approach to analyzing the world situation. The chair asked, “of what possible value is it for educating the US proletariat to be talking about the rising nature of the Soviet Union?” Our own response would be, is educating the proletariat a matter of telling them what’s most expedient, or is it a matter of telling them the truth about the world situation, even if that makes our propaganda and agitation more difficult? This example is noteworthy in three respects: 1) it demonstrates how MLOC regularly relies on metaphysics and not dialectics, 2) it shows how MLOC dogmatically follows the PLA, and 3) it reveals the basic pragmatic motivation of the MLOC in taking many of the positions that it does.

The most blatant and bankrupt expression of MLOC’s idealism has been their contention that there is a high level of fusion of Marxism-Leninism with the working class (Unite!, 2/77, pg. 7). At least in its crude form, this position apparently has been quietly dropped, witnout any self-criticism or explanation. The reason for this lack of explanation is that the “high-level fusion” concept still lives on, but only dressed up in new forms. As late as January 15, 1979 in Unite!, page 1, they want us to believe that “Hundreds, thousands and millions of people are drawing the conclusion that they have nothing to lose but their chains, that the barbaric system of wage slavery must be overthrown.” If this really is the case, then we must be in the middle of a revolutionary situation. But one of the major longstanding problems with the MLOC is that they are unable to distinguish between their own subjective wishes and objective reality. Even as late as February 1, in Unite!. pg. 9 MLOC is criticizing Douglas Fraser and the Progress Alliance reformists for striving to re-align forces within the Democratic Party at a “time when almost every one has seen that both of these parties represent the interests of the capitalists.” If this were true, then the two parties should be crumbling to pieces before our very eyes. But wishful thinking and self-deception cannot so easily combat hundreds of years of bourgeois democracy.

But there is method to this seeming madness. As the MLOC chair asked at one point in our struggle on the question of fusion, “What purpose does it serve to claim that the fusion of Marxism-Leninism with the working class is at a low level?” Again, the pragmatism of the public-relations agent rears its ugly head. The concept of a high level of fusion has always been linked with the grossly inflated image that MLOC has of itself and tries to merchandise. As they stated quite some time ago, “the formation and development of the communist party is a very high expression of this fusion between Marxism-Leninism and the working class movement” (Unite!, 9/77, pg. 10). In other words, MLOC identifies this high level of fusion with themselves, with the very existence of their own organization. Otherwise, how can they continue to seriously argue that “with the formation of the Party, the struggle of the U.S. proletariat and oppressed peoples is transformed from spontaneous battle against individual capitalists into a class conscious battle to destroy forever U.S. imperialism.” (Unite!, 1/15/79, pg. 2)

This gross deviation is based on a profound misunderstanding of the relationship between the subjective and objective factors. For quite some time, the MLOC position has been that “in capitalist countries, the objective conditions for revolution fully exist” (Unite!, 9/77, pg. 10) Translated, what this position means is that all that is necessary is that the party be formed and be able to reach the working masses with its propaganda and agitation, and a revolution will be put on the immediate agenda.

Not only does this position fail to distinguish between a revolutionary and non-revolutionary situation and do a concrete analysis of the state of the class struggle, but it also tremendously over-rates the role of the subjective factor. One of the strategic rules of Leninism is that the masses learn the need for revolution through their own political experience and not solely through propaganda and agitation, and that this experience is tied to the development of the objective conditions, the state and specific form of the general crisis of imperialism in each country and the level and intensity of the class struggle responding to this crisis.

For the sake of clarity on what actually constitutes a revolutionary situation, it should be worthwhile to quote Lenin at this point: “1) all the class forces hostile to us have become sufficiently entangled, are sufficiently at loggerheads with each other, have sufficiently weakened themselves in a struggle which is beyond their strength; 2) all the vacillating and unstable, intermediate elements ... have sufficiently exposed themselves in the eyes of the people, have sufficiently disgraced themselves through their political bankruptcy, and 3) among the proletariat, a mass sentiment favouring the most determined, bold and dedicated revolutionary action against the bourgeoisie has emerged and begun to grow vigorously.” (LCW, Vol. 31, pg. 94) When a nation-wide crisis exists which accelerates the development of these three conditions, then it is completely accurate to state that “the objective conditions for revolution fully exist.” Such a situation does not exist in the USA and is not close at hand.

It is a trait of the radical intelligentsia that it over-estimates the power of ideas; its very existence inclines it towards idealism in its analysis of social reality and the development of revolutionary strategy and tactics. Since so much of the communist movement grew directly out of the class base of the radical intelligentsia, it is imperative for any Marxist-Leninist organization to take timely measures to minimize the old, petit-bourgeois influence of this strata and purge those elements who cannot shake its hold on their thinking and actions. For if idealism is persisted in, if revolutionaries substitute their own subjective wishes and will for a scientific assessment of the state of the class struggle, the results can be fatal. As Lenin remarks, “It is obvious that the ’Lefts’ in Germany have mistaken their desire, their politico-ideological attitude, for objective reality. That is a most dangerous mistake for revolutionaries to make.” (LCW, Vol. 31, pg. 58) For an organization like the MLOC, which is still essentially a sect despite its own pretentions, the losses from an ultra-left line are not necessarily telling. Sects are not supposed to show any significant growth, since true Bolsheviks, from their viewpoint, are very few in numbers and the masses are bound to spontaneously seek them out at the right revolutionary moment anyways.

Like any sect, MLOC constantly substitutes its own subjective desires or illusions for the true state of the working class movement. This is clear in how they propose to build their new “left-bloc” within the trade union movement. According to MLOC, the time is ripe for the creation of a revolutionary trade union opposition. One of the principles of unity that MLOC proposes for this new “mass” organization is that it “fight for the complete emancipation of labor.” (Unite!, 2/1/79, pg. 5) No matter what interpretation is put on this position, this line still represents just another dressed-up form of dual-unionism, long ago criticized by Lenin in Left-Wing Communism.

It should not be surprising, however, that such an infantile disorder is a recurring disease. The class basis of organizations like the MLOC within the radical intelligentsia and petit-bourgeoisie adequately explain the objective roots of this political phenomenon. Standing above and apart from the working class, the MLOC is prone to take a bourgeois idealist, public-relations approach to it. Unable to understand what a mass line is or know how to apply it, MLOC concocts its own subjective conception of the working class and fails to distinguish between the claims of its own public-relations rhetoric and social reality.

It is not logically inconsistent that a revolutionary trade union opposition “fight for the complete emancipation of labor.” But the real question is whether such a logic has a vital connection with reality. Given MLOC’s dogmatism, it is not unlikely that the main justification for a revolutionary trade union opposition did not come from a concrete analysis of the concrete conditions of the working class movement in the USA, but came about as a logical deduction from the PLA’s claim that “revolution is on the order of the day.” The PLA position is expressed by Enver Hoxha in his book Imperialism and the Revolution: “It is precisely this situation of the present general crisis of capitalism, the trend of which is to become steadily deeper, that makes us draw the conclusion that the revolutionary situation has already enveloped or is in the process of enveloping the majority of capitalist and revisionist countries, and hence, that this situation has placed the revolution on the order of the day.” (Reprinted in Proletarian Internationalism, Vol. 1, No. 2, COUSML, pgs. 43-44)

Within the Committee for a Proletarian Party we found such an infantile line as that of the revolutionary trade union opposition being advanced by cadre closest in careers or class stand to the petit-bourgeoisie. In one area of political work led by the CPP, the leadership provided by these petit-bourgeois elements continually hamstrung the ability of the organization to build a base among the masses. Despite continual education and discussion on united front tactics and the mass line, these cadre invariably deviated towards idealism, dogmatism, and sectarianism. In the mass organization in which CPP provided leadership, these petit-bourgeois elements promoted a dogmatic line, a sectarian style of work, and endeavored constantly to push the principles of unity up to a revolutionary level, driving off, demoralizing, and cutting off progressive elements.

It is no accident that these are the same cadre who seem to thrive within the MLOC and feel right at home with the revolutionary trade union opposition. If the Trade Union Action League ever really gets off the ground, which is a matter of debate, the self-defeating, dual-unionist line upon which it is being built is sure to bear the appropriate fruit.

THE NEO-TROTSKYISM OF THE MARX1ST-LENINIST ORGANIZING COMMITTEE

One of the fundamental theoretical assumptions of Trotskyism is the concept of “permanent revolution.” When this line is applied to national liberation struggles, it serves to sever the proletariat from its class allies and denies the ability of the proletariat to lead other class forces in revolution. The notion of permanent revolution includes the idea that the only real solution for liberation struggles in colonies and semi-colonies is the dictatorship of the proletariat and socialism. It denies any real two-stage revolution, in which the strategic goal of the first stage is a democratic dictatorship of the proletariat with other class allies, such as the peasantry, urban petit-bourgeoisie, and national bourgeoisie. For Trotskyists, revolution in colonies and semi-colonies is “permanent” in the sense that it does not pass through distinct stages but heads straight and uninterruptedly for the strategic goal of the dictatorship of the proletariat.

Since other class forces such as the national bourgeoisie, urban petit-bourgeoisie, and rich and middle peasants can be won to oppose imperialism but are not going to advocate the dictatorship of the proletariat and socialism as an immediate prospect, the line of “permanent revolution” ruins the basis for any broad united front of these class forces directed against imperialism. Objectively, although Trotskyism may take on a very “left” form, it actually holds back and sabotages the anti-imperialist liberation movements of oppressed peoples in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. It will not really support any anti-imperialist struggles that are not led by the proletariat and its communist party and not directly oriented towards the dictatorship of the proletariat and socialism as a goal.

Increasingly, the MLOC is putting out this kind of objective Trotskyist line on liberation struggles. We are not talking here about a crude and obvious Trotskyism which uses all the well-known terminology. Such a position would be quickly and easily exposed. We are talking about the ideological essence of Trotskyism which has to take on a Marxist-Leninist veneer in order to smuggle its way back into the communist movement. If the cadre in the Committee for a Proletarian Party had been trained to recognize the ideological essence of Trotskyism, they would have little trouble in ferreting out MLOC’s Neo-Trotskyism even though it may announce itself under another calling card.

The “left” opportunism of the MLOC has surfaced, as an example, in its recent articles on the Iranian revolution. In its major analytical article in Unite!, 2/15/79, pg. 12, MLOC sermonizes that both Khomeini and Bakhtiar are “agents of the bourgeoisie who intend to take the popular revolution from the hands of the masses who have fought and died for it.” No doubt, both Khomeini and 3akhtiar represent sectors of the bourgeoisie, but this provides no concrete analysis of concrete conditions in Iran. The fact is that at the time this article was written, in the alignment of class and political forces in Iran, Bakhtiar objectively represented a stop-gap guardian of the class interests of the fascist Shah and of U.S. imperialism, and Khomeini objectively represented an anti-imperialist force opposed to both U.S. imperialism and Soviet social-imperialism. To this extent, as a representative of the class interests of the national bourgeoisie, Khomeini should have “been distinguished from Bakhtiar and given conditional support.

This position does not imply that Khomeini should be regarded as consistently progressive and be given 100% support. On a whole array of concrete issues, such as upholding the right of self-determination for oppressed nations, demanding that the masses be armed, and defending women’s rights, the communists in Iran must increasingly demarcate from Khomeini and win away his vast popular base, especially in the peasantry. But as a contrast, MLOC’s attacks on Khomeini from the “left” coincide with and complement the attacks on him by U.S. imperialism, which has been trying every means to discredit him and paint him as representing a step backwards from the progressive, Westernized, civilized Shah. Doubtless, U.S. imperialism is playing the same game in their exploitation of the contradictions between Khomeini and Bazargan. But Trotskyists do not support national liberation struggles led by other class forces than the proletariat even though they objectively weaken imperialism. Their position is that the only struggles that really oppose imperialism are those led by the proletariat and its communist party.

As part of its attack on Khomeini, the MLOC argues that Khomeini is no anti-imperialist, but instead is a “student of Tito’s ’nonaligned nation’ humbug.” As we stated before, MLOC does not really believe that there is any such thing as the non-aligned movement. In an article on last year’s Foreign Ministers Conference of the non-aligned movement, MLOC explains their position: “What the conference did reveal is the utter bankruptcy and fiction of the idea of the non-aligned or “third world” unifying against the two superpowers. Far from fighting the two superpowers, the participants were trying to advance the interests of one or the other superpower.” (Unite!, 8/15/78, pg. 8) The non-aligned movement should not be glorified as the strategic solution to the problems of the imperialist epoch, but it is not an “utter bankruptcy and fiction,” as MLOC claims. In class terms, as we elaborated in Strategy and Tactics of the Proletariat in the Era of Imperialism, the non-aligned movement represents the vacillating opposition of the national bourgeoisie to the imperialist system. Insofar as it is directed concretely against the two superpowers, the movement should be conditionally supported by Marxist-Leninists. To deny the significance of the movement of backward colonial and semi-colonial countries for independence is to fall prey to imperialist economism.

Although such a Trotskyist position takes on a “left” form, it is really very little different in substance from the right opportunism on this question practiced by such revisionists as Khrushchev and Teng Hsiao-ping. Such revisionists always trumpet the view that great powers make history and encourage oppressed people to line up with one or the other in order to achieve their liberation. In either case, whether in the form of Trotskyism or right revisionism, the contradiction between the imperialist powers and the people, countries, and nations of Asia, Africa, and Latin America is negated and the revolutionary potential of these liberation struggles is belittled.

It should be obvious that such “left” opportunist positions as those of the MLOC studiously avoid any concrete analysis and staunchly oppose any tactical flexibility. When their line is applied to concrete conditions, its effect is objectively defeatist. Often, in commenting on national liberation struggles, MLOC has nothing better to offer than abstract principles and empty moralizing. An example can be found in MLOC’s brief obligatory commentary on the struggle of the Nicaraguan people against Somoza. The best concrete advice it could offer the heroic Nicaraguan people at the time was the lesson that “in order for the Nicaraguan working masses to succeed in their struggle against Somoza and for genuine liberation, their struggle must be led by the working class and its vanguard party.” (Unite!, 9/1/78, pg. 1)

As another example, MLOC could not actually provide any substantive analysis of the conflict between Vietnam and Kampuchea. Again the solution offered was that “the inevitable road for the working class of both countries is the genuine construction of socialism under the leadership of genuine Marxist-Leninist parties” (Unite!, 1/15/79, pg. 10)

MLOC is not quite sure right now what a “genuine” Marxist-Leninist party is, since the Chinese Communist Party never was, and it is not quite sure what “genuine” socialism is, since China never was socialist. Therefore, for the time being, MLOC cannot give us a straight answer about whether Vietnam or Kampuchea is or has ever been a socialist country. In attempting to investigate how other powers are intervening in the struggle between the two countries, MLOC also fails to tell us clearly whether China is still a socialist country, or whether it is as dangerous on a world scale as the Soviet superpower. All this adds up to a pretty comprehensive inability to provide any concrete explanation of what is going on or supply any advice on what to do about it. But this is not critical for Trotskyists since like typical idealists they provide advice based principally on universal contradictions and abstract principles and not based on particular contradictions and concrete conditions.

The struggle against MLOC’s Trotskyism is a battle against “left” doctrinarism. According to the perspective of the MLOC, if the proletariat follows a nationally specific road to power which deviates from the strict routes scribed out by the universal Marxist roadman, then such a road is revisionist and cannot lead to “genuine” socialism. But such “left” doctrinairism, which sustains itself on universal truths and abstract principles alone, has little in common with Leninism. Lenin had his own widely-circulated views on the correct relationship between the universal principles of Marxism and concrete, national, historically specific conditions:

It should be clearly realized that such a leading centre can never be built up on stereotyped, mechanically equated, and identical tactical rules of struggle. As long as national and state distinctions exist among peoples and countries ... the unity of the international tactics of the communist working-class movements in all countries demands, not the elimination of variety or the suppression of national distinctions (which is a pipedream at present), but an application of the fundamental principles of communism (Soviet power and the dictatorship of the proletariat), which will correctly modify these principles in certain particulars, correctly adapt and apply them to national and national-state distinctions. To seek out, investigate, predict, and grasp that which is nationally specific and nationally distinctive, in the concrete manner in which each country should tackle a single international task ... (LCW, Vol. 31, pg. 92)

MLOC advocates re-building a new leading center in the world, a Communist International, but the foundations upon it proposes to re-constitute the Comintern are idealist, dogmatic and Trotskyist. If such an international working class organization is to play a revolutionary role in bringing about the downfall of the world imperialist system, then it must develop great clarity on the correct relationship between national liberation struggles and the proletarian movement. In attempting to supply such clarity, MLOC again lapses into neo-Trotskyism. In essence, MLOC denies any objective movement against imperialism except the socialist movement. All movements for non-alignment or for national independence, for example, are considered to be just fake movements, being misled by bourgeois traitors. Interestingly enough, in a recent article celebrating the 3A-th anniversary of the liberation of Albania, MLOC reveals its own theoretical confusion on the relation between national liberation and socialism: “The aim of the national liberation war must be socialism. It is only in this context that the struggle for democracy will be victorious. Both the socialist revolution and the national democratic revolution have the same aim.” (Unite!, 12/1/78, pg. 9)

Such statements make a theoretical and practical muddle out of the distinction between New Democracy and Socialism. New Democracy as a strategic goal is not identical with socialism. To blur over the two strategic stages of New Democracy and Socialism in national liberation struggles is to end up advocating Trotskyist sectarianism.

Let us quote Trotsky to establish the theoretical links between his position and that of MLOC:

Under the conditions of the imperialist epoch the national democratic revolution can be carried through to a victorious end only when the social and political relationships of the country are mature for putting the proletariat in power as the leader of the masses of the people. And if this is not yet the case? Then the struggle for national liberation will produce only very partial results, results directed entirely against the working masses...in any case we can assert today with full certainty that not only China but also India will attain genuine people’s democracy, that is, workers’ and peasants’ democracy, only through the dictatorship of the proletariat...what there will not be, what there cannot be, is a genuine democratic dictatorship that is not the dictatorship of the proletariat. An ’independent’ democratic dictatorship can only be of the type of the Kuomintang, that is, directed entirely against the workers and peasants. (The Permanent Revolution, Pathfinder Press, pg. 256)

Trotsky constantly under-estimated the anti-imperialist potential of the national factor in world political movements which can impel bourgeois and petit-bourgeois class forces to play an historically progressive role to a certain extent. Along the same lines, Trotsky also characteristically under-estimated the influence of the semi-feudal relations of production in colonies and semi-colonies and correspondingly under-rated the revolutionary role of the peasantry in battling against the alliance of the big landlords, bureaucrat capitalists, and imperialism.

Some of the cadre of the Committee for a Proletarian Party have been slow to detect the Trotskyist tendency of the MLOC not only because they have not been adequately armed ideologically but also because CPP itself took positions which deviated towards Trotskyism. This helps to explain to some extent how both MLOC and CPP could eventually arrive in the same political camp despite some significant differences.

This is a matter of sharp self-criticism for one of the authors of this paper who also played the leading role in writing CPP’s position on the international situation, Strategy and Tactics of the Proletariat in the Era of Imperialism. One of the glaring weaknesses of that paper was its belittlement of the semi-feudal relations of production in the countryside of colonial and semi-colonial countries and a proper appreciation of the revolutionary potential of the peasantry under the leadership of the proletariat.

This represents part of the explanation for why even though there were recognizable differences between CPP and MLOC, for example, on the role of the national bourgeoisie, there were also some shared assumptions. An example is provided by the following statement in Strategy and Tactics...: “in the long run, from the standpoint of the proletariat, it is a matter of indifference whether it is going to be exploited by an imperialist bourgeoisie or by its own native bourgeoisie.” (Pg. 5) This statement is pure-and-simple Trotskyism in the sense that it places the national bourgeoisie and the imperialist bourgeoisie on a par as equal enemies and does this by metaphysically detaching both from the context of the imperialist epoch. This is a common position for Trotskyists, which liquidates the significance of the contradiction between imperialism and the oppressed peoples, countries, and nations.

COMBATTING CONCILIATION ON STALIN AND THE COMINTERN

MLOC’s new campaign to defeat “the slightest conciliation” on the question of Stalin will have little effect on its developing Trotskyism. The reason is that in their own typically dogmatic way they are not attempting to develop any real analysis o# understanding of Stalin, but are only refurbishing the cult of the individual.

Tailing shamelessly after the PLA, the MLOC is trying to point at the present power of the revisionists in China to demonstrate that Mao Tsetung had to be a revisionist himself. But it is curious that they fall strangely mute and are at a complete loss to explain how revisionism came to power in the USSR. This skirting of the whole issue is obvious in Chairman Weisburg’s eulogy of Stalin “Man of Steel, Leader of the World’s Proletariat” in the March 1, 1979 issue of Unite!. Here is what he has to say about the source and process of the revisionist take-over by the Khrushchev clique:

In life, pressure was brought to bear against Stalin both from within and without the Soviet Union. After his death, the forces of counter-revolution from within were assisted from the outside and managed to seize control of the Party and the State.

Such glaring theoretical omissions indicate clearly that the MLOC leadership is not interested in scientifically summing up the strengths and weaknesses of Stalin, but is interested in mounting a new public-relations campaign to build up a cult around him.

Despite MLOC’s protests to the contrary, the content and tone of Weisburg’s article are based on cultism, hero worship, and modern public-relations hoopla. Weisburg even approvingly quotes from Henri Barbusse, who wallows in anti-Marxist hero worship: “In all his career since 1919 there is not a single year in which what he had done would not have made another illustrious. He is a man of Iron...” Barbusse is the same French novelist and Communist Party member who scandalized the communist movement in 1927 when he demonstrated his outstanding powers of Marxist analysis of historical personalities by praising Jesus Christ as a great revolutionary atheist and likened him to the communists of the 1920s.

It is obvious from Weisburg’s own statements on Stalin in the article in question that the MLOC leadership will make no attempt to conduct a scientific assessment. Weisburg, in typical opportunist fashion, is already laying the theoretical justification for liquidating any criticisms of Stalin. As he says, “The Party of Labor of Albania and all true Marxist-Leninists stood in resolute defense of Stalin. They grasped that to conciliate in the slightest on this issue was to depart from Leninism.” Translated, refusing to “conciliate in the slightest” means refusing to admit that Stalin might have made any significant mistakes.

Weisburg tries to discredit any criticism of Stalin with the charge that such criticism is coming from revisionist forces who ascribe to a “new and higher” Marxism, a “new communism.” It also should be obvious that Mao Tsetung is considered one of the leading lights of these new revisionist forces. But Mao Tsetung did not ascribe to a “new and higher” Marxism; his only “error” was to dare to develop Marxism beyond the legacy left by Marx, Engels, Lenin, and Stalin.

The inevitable reactionary effects on Marxist theory caused by MLOC’s public-relations efforts can also be seen in their catechism on the Communist International published in the March 15, 1979 Unite!, “Workers of All Countries, Unite!”. In this article, the MLOC leadership repeats their “slightest-conciliation” line when they state: “To uphold the banner of the Third Communist International today is to work with determination and revolutionary sweep to defend the purity of Marxism-Leninism.”

In rushing to the defense of the “purity” of Marxism-Leninism, we are really being asked to turn back to the scholastic outlook and method of the feudal era and not take up Marxism-Leninism as the revolutionary science of the working class. The best defense of Marxism-Leninism is to develop it, not treat it as a purely formal and abstract body of thought in the manner of idealist a priorism. To defend Marxism-Leninism as though it were some religious dogma is to fall into an inherently reactionary position.

Motivated by narrow pragmatic interests and resorting to a dogmatic method, MLOC is proving itself incapable of contributing to Marxist theory. For them, Marxist theory no longer becomes a scientific method but is identified exclusively with the universal principles which such a method is able to comprehend, and these universal principles become pure, immutable, ahistorical ideals or forms, which are internally consistent with one another. But such formalism can have no consistent correspondence with reality, since reality is always in motion, in change, undergoing contradiction and transformation.

MLOC’s shallow, scholastic defense of Stalin and the Comintern really represents a great disservice to both. Lin Piao and Ch’en Po-ta tried the same opportunist technique on Mao Tsetung during the Cultural Revolution in China. Revealing their own idealist a priorism, these two renegades extolled Mao as a “super-genius” whose every sentence was worth ten thousand sentences of ordinary mortals. Mao was able to cut through to the heart of their opportunist intentions: “Don’t you think this is going too far? One sentence is, after all, just one sentence, how can it be worth ten thousand sentences?...It’s only Ch’en Po-ta’s sentences that are worth ten thousand apiece to them. He talked about ’establishing in a big way’, by which he gave the appearance of meaning to establish my prestige. But when you get to the bottom of it, he really meant himself.”(Chairman Mao Talks to the People, ed. Stuart Schram, pgs. 294-295)

As MLOC’s idealist a priorism, scholasticism, and opportunist tailing of the PLA become mere flushed out for public view and its own basic cadre are increasingly losing faith in the organization, the MLOC leadership has felt compelled recently to try to deny its own obvious opportunism. They are beginning to squeal defensively that “the Party rejects blindly following and mechanically adopting as its own view the views of any other party.” (Unite!, 3/15/79, pg. 7) But to those who area a familiar with the MLOC’s leadership’s rush to judgment on the question of Mao Tsetung and the Chinese revolution and their attempt to jam their opportunist, position down the throats of the basic cadre, their whole approach and methodology in practice give the lie to such cynical and self-serving public denials.

To disguise their own opportunism, the MLOC leadership has struck on the device of using the Central Organisation of U.S. Marxist-Leninists as a handy foil for criticizing opportunist tailing of the Party of Labor of Albania. They lambast COUSML for reducing proletarian internationalism to “slavish idolization of this or that party at this or that moment” and the way COUSML likes to “wave every flag, hurl every ’red salute’, and make every pose.” (Unite!, 11/1/79, pg. 10) But the differences between the MLOC and COUSML are not differences in substance, but only in form. The distinguishing feature of the MLOC is not that it refuses to “slavishly idolize” the PLA, but that it refuses to do it in a crude, stupid, and easily-exposed manner. The MLOC leadership has already shown itself completely willing to make every “red salute” that is necessary to promote their careers, but they insist on making such salutes with the slick and sophisticated techniques of a public-relations agency.

IN DEFENSE OF MAO TSETUNG AND AGAINST IDEOLOGICAL COMPLACENCY

It was the question of Mao Tsetung and the nature of the Chinese revolution which led to the authors’ split with the MLOC. It is one of the most serious self-criticisms that the authors of this paper can put forward that they did not play a leading role in educating the cadre of the CPP in grasping the outstanding theoretical and practical contributions of Mao Tsetung. In this respect, we contributed significantly to the whole approach of the organization which completely neglected to educate the cadre on the nature of socialist society and the dictatorship of the proletariat.

With the revisionist take-over in the USSR in the 1950s, it was imperative that Marxism be developed to new levels on the theory of the dictatorship of the proletariat. The result of Mao Tsetung’s efforts constituted one of his greatest contributions to Marxist theory and practice – the line of continuing the revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat. The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution resulted from the application of Mao Tsetung’s revolutionary line for struggling against revisionism and overthrowing the capitalist-roaders entrenched within the party and state.

If we did not strive to educate cadre within CPP about Mao’s line on continuing the revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat, one of the chief reasons was that we ourselves did not fully understand and appreciate its great significance. We did not fully grasp the significance of the Cultural Revolution as embodying the form and method for relying on the masses to revolutionize the Party itself, “to arouse the broad masses to expose (the party’s) dark aspect openly, in an all-around way and from below. (Ninth Party Congress Documents, pg. 27) Moreover, we did not really comprehend that the universal importance of the Cultural Revolution was that its basic strategic object was “to solve the problem of world outlook and eradicate revisionism.” (“Talk by Chairman Mao with an Albanian Military Delegation” People’s China, ed. David Milton, Nancy Milton and Franz Schurmann, Vintage Books, 1974, Pg. 263)

The CPP did not take as its own strategic objective “to solve the problem of world outlook and eradicate revisionism.” As we have described already, we took a very narrow pragmatic approach to struggling with revisionism. We did not systematically struggle with our own cadre to steel them in the battle with revisionism and strengthen a proletarian world outlook. The results of this failure speak for themselves with a number of CPP cadre being in a passive position politically when the attack on Mao Tsetung was launched by the MLOC.

One of our major mistakes was that we never took the struggle against MLOC’s “left” opportunism seriously enough. This error is related to the way that we took up the battle against the main danger of right revisionism in a shoddy, mechanical fashion. If the struggle against one deviation is not carried out correctly, the opposite deviation often gains strength. This was the case with MLOC, which was able to gain some following and credence for its “left” idealism, dogmatism, and neo-Trotskyism because it posed as a resolute, uncompromising enemy of right opportunism. In failing to pursue the struggle against right opportunism systematically and thoroughly, especially within our own organization, we ended up conciliating to “left” opportunist revisionism.

After finding ourselves in some theoretical unity with MLOC on opposition to the three-worlds theory, it was a critical error not to have developed further study on class struggle within China and to have summed up the conflict between Mao Tsetung’s revolutionary line and the revisionist line which is now dominant. This is another example of not consistently and methodically striving to raise our understanding to an ideological level as part of an over-all campaign within CPP to “study Marxism, and criticize revisionism.”

It would be a mistake to single out the Committee for a Proletarian Party for its complacency on ideological questions. This complacency has been widespread throughout the whole communist movement. It has been a working assumption of many of us that it was enough to recognize the cruder forms of revisionism and criticize them in an abstract and mechanical fashion in order to qualify as anti-revisionists. But recent developments have brought forcefully home to us the fact that many of us have not been as consistently and solidly anti-revisionist as we thought. Our anti-revisionism was always very shallow, superficial, and artificial. There is no other conclusion to draw given the rapid degeneration of many of the “anti-revisionists” into Chinese revisionism and Trotskyism.

Although we were all inspired by the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, we never developed a deep and thorough-going understanding of the revolutionary line that Mao Tsetung applied in struggling against revisionism and we never applied that line ourselves within the communist movement in this country in order to strive to dig out revisionism root and branch. Apparently, there have always been several different implicit interpretations of the Cultural Revolution. Enver Hoxha’s recently published interpretation is that “the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution was neither a revolution, nor great, nor cultural, and in particular, not in the least proletarian. It was a palace putsch on an all-China scale for the liquidation of a handful of reactionaries who had seized power.” (Imperialism and the Revolution, reprinted in Proletarian Internationalism, Vol. 1, no. 2, by COUSML, pg. 107)

As an historic development without parallel, it is not surprising that the Cultural Revolution in the People’s Republic of China should be at the center today of the struggle between Marxism-Leninism and opportunism and revisionism. The manner in which MLOC, for example, has dealt with struggle on the question of Mao Tsetung and the Chinese revolution reveals that it implicitly supports a tradition which does not rely on the masses but relies on the party as an unerring elite, which does not rely on the party rank and file but relies on the centralized party authorities.

Although the MLOC leadership states that the cadre should find their independent bearings on this question, the thrust of their opportunist maneuvers belittles the ability of the cadre to find such bearings. Cadre are told that these questions are really beyond their individual abilities to fully comprehend and they must rely on the MLOC leadership and the PLA to provide the answers. The cadre are instructed not to talk with comrades outside the organization who have opposing views. The main thrust of this line is that it shows a basic lack of confidence in the rank and file cadre; organizationally, such a lack of confidence leads directly to bureaucratic centralism and the separation of the party from the masses. The concrete class basis of this elitist line, politically, ideologically, and organizationally, is the petit-bourgeoisie, and the real class interests it serves are those of the imperialist bourgeoisie.

The fact that so many “anti-revisionists” are succumbing to Chinese revisionism or its ideological fellow-traveler, Trotskyism, is definitely a large setback for the world communist movement. But this is only to see one aspect of the current struggle. Out of such setbacks come new victories. Out of the present confusion inevitably will come new clarity. Out of the battle against revisionism will come a healthier and stronger Marxism. Once again Mao’s two familiar comments gain new relevance: “The future is bright; the road is tortuous.”