Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Committee for Scientific Socialism (M-L)


First Published: Forward!, No. 1, June 1976.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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Among the many criticism the CSS has received regarding the publication of The General Line one of the most important has pointed out the absence of the history of our development and the struggles in which we have been involved. We would like to specifically address this criticism. Of course, our answer avoids any particularity which would threaten the security of our cadre or the secrecy of our organization.

Our social base has been that of the semi-proletariat and the petty-bourgeoisie. In our struggle for Marxism-Leninism we have relied primarily upon raising our class political consciousness. This has been the correct policy of putting politics in command of economics. However, although we have correctly grasped the absolute necessity of the leading role of ideology (cultural revolution), we have failed to grasp the absolute necessity of changing our practice with respect to the forces of production. Therefore, our relationship to the productive forces, and core particularly our social base, has remained petty-bourgeois.

This has been a dangerous error for two reasons. First, it is the petty-bourgeoisie which constantly engenders capitalism and, more particularly, opportunism and revisionism ideologically. This is most noted in our lack of consistent and constant participation in the spontaneous struggle and our one-sided (subjective) approach to party-building; that is, our emphasis in practice upon working only within the communist movement.

Secondly, we have reflected a small circle spirit, failing to immerse ourselves in the daily struggles against oppression and exploitation. Both of these errors, if left unchecked, would lead to repudiation of classes, class contradictions and class struggle.

We are currently taking measures to correct these errors in an all-round manner through internal criticism/self-criticism and through the adoption and implementation of the proper political and organizational lines to change our practice. These changes are founded and developed upon the Marxist principle that the political party of the proletariat is the highest form of organization of the revolutionary and progressive peoples and must exercise leadership in everything. As such, the party must be closely linked with the masses, that is, within the economic base, must lead the struggle on the ideological, political and practical/economic fronts and must carry forward in the policy of dispersing its forces to work among the masses and concentrating its forces to deal with the enemy.

The development of the CSS cannot be viewed outside the context of the communist movement generally or the communist movement in D.C. in particular. Washington, D.C. is a non-industrial city whose major business is carrying forward the functions of the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie. This means carrying out the executive, legislative and judicial functions of the bourgeois state, on the one hand, and being the center of the bureaucratic-military machine one the other. The second largest industry in D.C. is printing, an example of the fact that virtually all industry is directly tied to support of the business of government. Besides the many state administrations (Bureau of Standards, NSA, Department of Labor, Department of Commerce, etc.), there exist the national organizations which socially support the bourgeoisie (AFL-CIO, professional lobbies, American Bankers Association, National Chamber of Commerce, etc.). Most private contractors are linked to the military complex (IBM, Fairchild-Heller, Comsat, General Electric, etc.) There is a dual construction industry with the parent union firm restricting its contracts to government construction (which requires union wage) and the sister company, which is non-union, developing construction of plants and buildings for private industry. The population of D.C is 70% Black, 10% Puerto Rican and Spanish-speaking and 20% white. The surrounding suburbs are predominantly white.

The development of the communist movement in D.C. has reflected this particularity of the capitalist mode of production and the centralized aspect of the bourgeois superstructure.

The communist movement in D.C arose mainly from the anti-imperialist and student struggles of the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. Two main currents are in evidence: that arising within the Black liberation movement and that arising within the anti-war movement. The two currents have been generally isolated from one another, and it was only when the ALSC opened the 1975 ALD march to all people that any real motion toward merging developed.

The CSS has grown out of the white anti-war movement, representing a specific ideological trend in our movement—the revolutionary trend. In the development of our organization we have remained too isolated from the day to day struggles of working peoples, especially Black working people. This is a serious shortcoming, and its correction is the principal focus of our work in the spontaneous movement.

This relative isolation from the workers movement is typical of the communist movement in D.C. which has developed without organized leadership over the past four years or so. The entire communist movement here has mainly a petty-bourgeois and semi-proletarian class base. The CSS has managed to avoid the deviations of both the right and “left” opportunists by serious study of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tse-tung Thought, by constantly struggling against revisionism and opportunism and by constantly seeking leadership from the rest of the communist movement. Nevertheless, the revolutionary trend in our movement is not fully consolidated, and the deviations arising within it nationally inevitably arise within the CSS as well. Thus, for instance, the recent split which led to the emergence of the “revolutionary” wing produced sharp ideological struggle in our organization as well. This struggle has been a positive thing and has consolidated our organization at a much higher level of theoretical, ideological and political unity.

The CSS is a new organization, though its members have been engaged in class struggle for many years. Central to this struggle has been the specific struggles against petty-bourgeois democratic illusions and fear of organization. These struggles have unfolded in conditions of “legalized” communism; that is, there has been no forceful suppression of communists, communist organizations or communist study. The state has “legalized” communism to serve its own interests. In fact class struggle between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat is always antagonistic. “Legalization” is simply a ploy to facilitate surveillance of communists by the bourgeois state.

In many instances the CSS has led the struggle as true communists should by providing proper leadership to the less advanced in understanding that appearances can be misleading. However, we have also come to this knowledge through our own experience, in too many cases being fooled ourselves. The lesson we have learned and taught is that we must deepen our secret organization and our ties to the masses, and we must avoid all the bourgeoisie’s temptations to come out in the open. “Legalized” communism is one such temptation and has done nothing for the movement but expose communists and those open to communism before the state.

The more petty-bourgeois communists in the D.C. area have remained, by and large, “independent,” accepting neither communist leadership or organization. We have struggled with these forces to recognize the nature of the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie, to recognize the necessity for the establishment of the communist party as the vanguard of proletarian revolution and to establish unity with the revolutionary trend. We have recognized that along with ideological consolidation, the petty-bourgeoisie must change its relationship to the means of production and accept the leading role oŁ the proletariat.

Our initial statement on party-building reflects the student and study circle background of the D.C. area communist movement. Specifically, we see idealist deviation in the form of one-sided emphasis of the ideological struggle and a belittling of the practical/economic struggle. This, again, is a reflection of the petty-bourgeois class base. We also see an abstractness in our style and have pin-pointed areas for correction: the tendency to not document theoretical work with sources we have used to develop the line and the tendency to present line struggle in an ahistorical manner.

Our strongest positive criticism is that we looked directly into the question of party-building, the central task, and took up our first position on this question. This was very important as party-building is the principal contradiction in the development of the revolutionary movement at this time, and it is only by grasping firmly the nature of the principal contradiction that we can do scientific work in relation to any other secondary contradictions.

In our work we carefully studied the communist movement, primarily as it exists today and secondarily as it has historically emerged, always seeking leadership. We linked this study to our investigation and study of the historical experience of the international communist movement in party-building, and from this we put forward our analysis and solution. Given the lack of genuine revolutionary leadership and consciousness in the D.C. area, we formed a communist organization based upon unity around our central line and struggle over our emerging political line. This has led to our assuming leadership in many specific struggles and to more conscious activity within the general struggle to build proletarian revolution in the U.S. This has been correct practice and is an example for others to follow.

We shall continue to deepen these criticisms in the struggles ahead.