Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Committee for Scientific Socialism (M-L)

A Proposal Concerning the General Line on Party-Building for the Communist Movement in the U.S.

Theoretical Line on Party-Building

On the Relation of the Objective and Subjective

The most mobile, revolutionary force in society is the working and toiling masses struggling everyday to produce and improve the necessities of life. Throughout history people have improved their instruments (tools) of production and in the process developed their knowledge of production.

In order to foster production, to raise it to a higher level, people enter into relationships with each other. Upon these relations of production, as a reflection of this economic base, arise a set of ideas and outlooks (ideology) and a set of institutions designed to facilitate the smooth operation of these relations.

When social production had developed to a certain extent and private ownership of the means of production emerged, the relations of production became class relations. The emergence of class relations, forming the economic base, gave rise to the development of the state in the superstructure. The state is the instrument for the forceful suppression of one class by another. These contradictions–between the forces of production and the relations of production, explaining how society develops, and between the economic base and the superstructure, explaining how class rule is maintained–are the basic contradictions in social development. The development of these contradictions proceeds independent of human will. This is the objective factor in social development.

At certain points in development the relations of production inhibit the further development of the forces of production. Social development grinds to a standstill; in some cases it is even reversed and productive forces (people and tools) are destroyed. No further development can take place until the relations of production are changed to correspond to the now-more-highly-developed forces of production.

However, upon the basis of the existing class relationships (the economic base) has arisen an entire superstructure of ideas and institutions designed to enhance and stabilize these current relationships. Most importantly, the dominant class in the base has established its own state in order to suppress all those who might struggle to change the relations of production. In a situation such as this the principal contradiction becomes that of the economic base and the superstructure. The principal aspect becomes the superstructure. For only the smashing of the existing state will allow a transformation of the base–a qualitative change in the relations of production–which, in turn, frees the forces of production for further development. This objective situation characterizes a revolutionary era. This is the era in which we live.

Philosophy has always sought to understand the natural and social processes, the objective factor, but, historically, it has been hindered in this regard owing to the low level of social development and the corresponding narrow experience of philosophers. Nevertheless, the emerging class in every social epoch has always pushed ahead human consciousness.

Feudal production relations were dominated by the church which stood to gain nothing from social change. Thus, the superstructure, reflecting as it does the situation in the economic base, was organized to maintain the status quo and support the ruling class’ belief that nature and society were static and under the dominion of God. The prevailing philosophy, both as regards nature and society, was metaphysical idealism.

Owing to contradictions within the mode of production of feudal society, the bourgeoisie began to grow and develop as a class. This class was concerned with trade and commerce and out of this particular relationship to production developed an interest in the laws of, first, navigation and later all of nature. The documentation and summation of experience in this regard led, over the centuries, to the-complete development on the part of the bourgeoisie of the science of nature–dialectical materialism.

These ideas, however, were in sharp contrast to the metaphysical idealism of the feudal aristocracy.

At times the full power of the existing superstructure was used to hold back the further development of these ideas because they threatened the established feudal outlook and, ultimately, the existing class relationships. At these times the question of the bourgeois-democratic revolution came to the fore. The bourgeoisie seized the feudal state and crushed the feudal resistance while consolidating its own ideology and coopting all the feudal institutions for its own use in further exploitation of labor.

Of course, once having assumed the dominant position in the relations of production and the superstructure, the bourgeoisie had no material interest in further social development. Thus, the bourgeois philosophers ceased their struggle to expand and develop science, and, instead, began to declare that science had been fully developed. In the realm of nature dialectical materialism was, indeed, fully developed. However, in the realm of society the bourgeoisie’s metaphysical materialism was merely a quantitative change over the church’s metaphysical idealism. Philosophy continued to lack a full understanding of social development, of the objective factor.

As the bourgeoisie grew and developed, it fostered and developed the proletariat. The struggle between these two formidable classes produced new historical social experience which the static outlook of the bourgeois philosophy could not adequately explain. By the mid 1800’s the class struggle had developed to the point where it became possible for philosophy to sum up the social experience before it and, using the natural science of dialectical materialism as guide, grasp the internal laws of social development for the first time.

This historic task was accomplished by Marx and Engels in 1848. This qualitative leap in human consciousness – the emergence of historical materialism, the science of social development–is the emergence of the subjective factor.

Thus, the subjective factor is the generally accurate reflection in the human mind of the unfolding objective social process. This science developed out of the class struggle of the proletariat. Its ideas, views, method and stand are characteristic of that most-advanced class. The subjective factor is the tip of the emerging proletarian superstructure arising upon the proletarian economic base.

Because the subjective factor correctly grasps the revolutionary process unfolding around it, it can be a telescope and a microscope to facilitate objective development. Since objectively the bourgeoisie is a decaying and dying class in conditions of monopoly capitalism, while the proletariat is the rising and revolutionary class capable of eliminating exploitation and guiding society to communism, the subjective factor, in correctly grasping this process, serves the proletariat and opposes the dying interests of the bourgeoisie.

The spontaneous – essentially undeveloped – social consciousness of the bourgeoisie is now confronted with the scientific consciousness of the proletariat. The battle in the superstructure has unfolded–a battle which only the proletariat can ultimately win. Its theory has arisen from the material conditions of society and, in turn, now acts upon, directs and renders possible the further development of material conditions. This theory, once grasped and organized by the class, will become an irreversible social force which will overthrow the bourgeois state, establish socialist relations of production, consolidate the revolutionary proletarian superstructure and forever free the forces of production for further development.

However, the emergence and establishment of the subjective factor in the working class is not spontaneous. In bourgeois society the ruling class, the bourgeoisie, is the dominant aspect of both the economic base and the superstructure. As a result, workers are heavily imbued with the static, “nothing-ever-changes” outlook of the bourgeoisie. Even when we see ourselves as a class, this consciousness is not proletarian class consciousness. At best it represents, as Lenin said, class consciousness in embryo. Genuine proletarian class consciousness is scientific consciousness. It recognizes not only the economic class struggle, but also that the interests of workers and oppressed people in all countries are identical (proletarian internationalism) and that in order to win the economic struggle and free the forces of production the proletariat must seize state power and maintain it through the dictatorship of the proletariat.

This kind of consciousness is not produced in the spontaneous struggle of the workers against the bosses and the government. Through its control of the superstructure, the bourgeoisie confines the workers’ economic struggle to the trade union struggle, everywhere concealing any connection whatever to the state and political power. The connection is first uncovered by the radical intellectuals.

Because of their training as intellectuals and their corresponding wide exposure to political views of all shades, some intellectuals discover the Marxist theories of dialectical and historical materialism, of surplus value and of class struggle. Applying Marxist theory to their own understanding, these intellectuals realize that genuine knowledge is theory in practice, not in the abstract. Thus, they begin to participate in the struggle to change society in accordance with its laws. The new discoveries, characteristic of the most advanced class, the proletariat, become a material force.

The most advanced workers, those who have been active and frustrated in the spontaneous economic struggle against the bosses and government, quickly grasp the essence of Marxist theory when it is presented to them. These workers actively study theory and their own history and take it into their practice, learning from this new experience the objective truth about the unfolding revolutionary process. In so doing, they, like the radical intellectuals, throw off their bourgeois democratic illusions, their pragmatic and empirical work styles and their chauvinistic attitudes as they consolidate the stand, viewpoint and method of the proletariat in the course of everyday practice. They too join the struggle as conscious elements.

However, because the bourgeoisie controls both the base and the superstructure, the drive to develop and consolidate the proletarian outlook among the workers is long and difficult. Within the exchange relationships of the economic base the bourgeoisie divides the class along trade, racial, national and sexual lines, pretending to reward certain strata for their supposed virtues while actually intensifying everyone’s exportation by the super-exploitation of the more-oppressed stratas. These divisions in the base are reflected in the superstructure where the proletariat is divided, seeing sections of itself as the source of its problems rather than the bourgeoisie.

The bourgeoisie, while fostering divisions within the working class, is constantly consolidating and concentrating itself in order to maintain the existing class relationships. Striving to corrupt and win over the most waivering part of the working class, the bourgeoisie uses a small part of imperialist superprofits to bribe the upper strata of the working class in order to transform them into a reactionary and reformist petty-bourgeois class element which fears revolution. This is the labor aristocracy. Because of this privileged position, they ideologically align with the owners of the means of production and against the proletariat. In the U.S., this includes the professional people, the managers, the department heads, etc.

Along with the labor aristocracy there are the consolidated agents of the bourgeoisie in the labor bureaucracy, the elected officials of the trade unions. Emerging from the workers movement, the trade union bureaucracy, while posing as representatives of the workers, in fact serves only the interests of the bourgeoisie. These professional managers of “labor relations” have the job of leading all resistance of the proletariat into the trade union struggle and thus into the confines of bourgeois legality. Thus, with the economic base the bourgeoisie is further consolidating and has succeeded in dividing the proletariat.

Of course, control of the base alone is not sufficient to maintain the power of the bourgeoisie. Because of their overwhelming numerical superiority, the workers could easily seize the means of production and transform the relations of production if they saw the necessity. It is the reactionary role of the superstructure in obscuring the nature of the workers’ oppression which maintains capitalist exploitation.

On the one hand, the bourgeoisie uses the schools the church, the media, culture, and the state to foster the illusion that the reforms of the trade union misleaders and the liberal politicians are the true solutions to the problems of the working class. The bourgeois-democratic illusion has been firmly established that “the system” can and does resolve contradictions, cumbersomely, perhaps, but consistently. All this is the tactic of bourgeois reformism.

On the other hand, the bourgeoisie will use the state, the military, the police and the intelligence apparatus to viciously repress anyone who makes a determined effort to organize in the revolutionary interests of the proletariat. These institutions of the bourgeois superstructure have been employed to break strikes, frame activists, infiltrate organizations and, when necessary, assassinate revolutionary leadership. All this is the tactic of bourgeois repression.

To avoid the repression of the state and to overcome the illusions of reform, communists must lead the struggle to build the subjective factor into a material force carefully and according to a well-developed knowledge of objective conditions. Only through disciplined, centralized and democratic organization can a plan be developed and implemented nationwide which mobilizes and transforms the class while avoiding the worst repression from the state. This organization of conscious forces engaged in conscious activity to develop and consolidate objectively emerging revolutionary forces is the vehicle of the subjective factor. In a word, it is the party of the proletariat.

Universality and Particularity of Contradiction in the Party

The party is the most advanced, organized detachment of the working class. It is the first institution of the emerging proletarian superstructure. It is composed of the most class conscious forces, the scientists of proletarian revolution. Like all natural scientists who use their scientific theory to change nature in conformity with its laws, proletarian social scientists use revolutionary theory, knowledge of history, and their grasp of the practical movement to change human society in accordance with its laws of development. Stalin stated,

...the bond between science and practical activity, between theory and practice, their unity, should be the guiding star of the party of the proletariat. Stalin, The History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Short Course, Proletarian Publishers, p. 115.

Through democratic centralism the party organizes the work of proletarian scientists, of proletarian revolutionaries, concentrates their investigation, study, analysis, and solutions and provides a unified line of practical activity through which the ideas and viewpoint of the class can be tested in practice and, thereby, the process of revolution advanced. The essence of the party is the consciousness and conscious activity of its members. The party is no more and no less than the organization of this contradiction between consciousness and conscious activity. To understand it thoroughly we must examine this contradiction in its particularity.

The consciousness of any scientific revolutionary divides into two aspects: theory and ideology. By theory we mean, as Stalin said, the experience of the working class movement in all countries taken in its general aspect. This experience exists as a body of knowledge–as proven objective truth. It has been summed up by the great leaders of the international proletarian movement, by Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin and Mao. Through study individuals acquire this theory. By ideology we mean the understanding of the current unfolding objective process in its particularity, nationally and internationally. Theory is scientific socialism in its general form; ideology is scientific socialism in its particular form. Ideology is one’s grasp and use of the general in understanding the particular.

Theory and ideology are dialectically related; they are the contradiction which is consciousness. Both are developed and deepened through practice – in the first place through the study of class struggle and its history and in the second place through conscious experimentation in attempting to change a particular society in accordance with its own process of development. Herein, the study of theory, of general knowledge, is crucial. This task, largely, has been grasped by our movement. But the importance of study, summation, and struggle over the historical trends peculiar to the unfolding revolutionary process in the United States has not been grasped by our movement, and, thus, our “ideological” struggle for the most part is not ideological at all, but rather only theoretical. Ideology is one’s grasp of the current practical movement. It requires a sound grasp of theory, but also it requires a profound knowledge of the unfolding objective process and its history–especially the more modern and contemporary history which is closely related to the existing class struggles and shows how all the basic contradictions in the U.S. today have developed. In order to draw clear and firm ideological lines, in order to unite all those who correctly grasp the unfolding revolutionary process in the United States, our movement must concentrate on deepening its knowledge of the historical development of the practical movement. This is a key aspect of party-building which is too much ignored. To draw ideological lines on the basis of theory alone is, in essence, mechanical materialism, the use of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tse-tung thought as a dogma.

Theory and ideology are part of each other and react upon each other. They are the general and particular of socialist revolution. Our movement has consistently muddled this contradiction, grasping the interconnectedness but only rarely the particularity. Nevertheless, we have proceeded to draw “ideological” lines of demarcation. If an organization is confused about the dialectical relationship between theory and ideology, it cannot develop and deepen its understanding of the objective conditions which confront the proletarian revolution, nor will it demarcate itself from other sham revolutionary analyses. In essence, it will belittle theory and place the consciousness of the organization behind the spontaneously developing revolutionary movement. This is the basis of right opportunism.

The theoretical and ideological understanding of party members, as well as their practice in class struggle, summed up and concentrated through democratic centralism, is manifested in the party’s theoretical and ideological lines. The theoretical line demarcates Marxist-Leninists from all revisionists, trotskyists and Utopians. The ideological line serves to demarcate genuine Marxist-Leninists from all opportunists in the workers and communist movements. The ideological line is also the basis of the strategic line for socialist revolution in a particular country and the basis of the party’s international proletarian stand.

The conscious activity of scientific revolutionaries also divides into two aspects: politics and organization which through democratic centralism produce the political and organizational lines of the party. By political line we mean the forms of struggle, the line of conduct, the tactical line of work during a particular period in the development of the class struggle. Political line must be subordinate to the ideological line of the party. Without a firm grasp of the practical movement, the appropriate forms of struggle cannot be put forward. By organizational line we mean the methods by which forms of struggle are carried out. No line of conduct can be implemented without a corresponding plan for organizing the revolutionary forces to carry it forward. Organizational line must also be based upon a profound understanding of the unfolding revolutionary process of a particular country or it will not accomplish the political goals.

Political and organizational lines are dialectically related; they are the contradiction which is conscious activity. The political line calls forth the need for organization. Organizational line is the material form of politics. Each depends on and is part of the other.

By knowing the dialectical relationship between consciousness and conscious activity, we can also understand opportunism and revisionism. Opportunism is an ideological error and is reflected in political line. By not having a correct grasp of the practical movement, opportunism is by nature a question of the relationship between the objective and subjective. Right opportunists, “tailists,” do not understand the subjective as it emerges from objectively unfolding matter. In other words, right opportunism either glorifies the spontaneous movement or mitigates the role of consciousness–social ideas– as it influences the development of matter in motion. Thus, for right opportunists “the movement is everything while the final aim is nothing.”

“Left” opportunists, adventurists, do not understand the subjective as it acts upon objectively unfolding matter. In other words, “left” opportunism either berates the spontaneous movement or glorifies the role of consciousness as it influences the development of matter in motion. Thus, for “left” opportunists “the movement is nothing while the final aim is everything.” In essence, then, opportunism is an ideological error. The political line of opportunists will correspondingly be behind or before the demands of the spontaneous movement and will objectively hold the entire movement back.

It is important to understand that prior to the establishment of the party, right errors are certainly the main danger. This is particularly true in an advanced capitalist country such as the U.S. where the bourgeoisie has fully dominated the economic base and the superstructure for 200 years. Because of imperialist superprofits the material base has existed for bourgeois ideology to dominate the workers and communists movements historically. This, in fact has been the case in the U.S. The first task of communists is to defeat this tendency within the communist movement and lead the struggle for proletarian ideology, for scientific socialism, in the class. This is the development of the subjective factor, the development of the proletarian superstructure and organized class base to seize state power. Any belittling of the role of the subjective factor or glorification of the spontaneous movement will hold back socialist revolution. On this, communists must be clear. The party’s ideological line must be forged primarily in the struggle against right opportunism, against tail ism. Once the ideological line is forged, and the party is actively struggling to lead the spontaneous movement, “left” deviations will become relatively more dangerous. However, throughout the long period of building socialist revolution, it will be the belittling of theory, the degradation of the role of consciousness which generally holds back social development.

Revisionism is an ideological error consolidated theoretically and reflected in political line. Once consolidated in theory, ideologically revisionism cannot know the subjective as it emerges from and in turn acts upon the objective because revisionists have altered the basic tenants of Marxism-Leninism and have therefore liquidated its class content. They have liquidated the Marxist theory of knowledge and have severed the dialectical relationship between theory and practice. Revisionism can assume either a right or “left” form; however, its nature is to defile Marxism-Leninism and to rob the proletariat of its class stand, viewpoint and method. The political line of revisionists will correspondingly reflect bourgeois interests, in essence calling for class collaboration.

These are the effects of revisionism and opportunism and the nature of the struggle genuine Marxists must wage to expose, isolate and defeat them. As to the source of these errors, their origin, this is a question of theoretical line as manifested ideologically. Without a proletarian ideology–a consolidated grasp of the Marxist theory of knowledge–opportunists and revisionists neither understand the conscious element nor can they understand the objective factor. As objective conditions unfold and develop they cannot fully account for the changing situation. Without a consolidated knowledge of history, of class struggle in its general form, Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tse-tung thought becomes static, lifeless, a thing-in-itself, incapable of revealing the essence of the growth and development of the motion of matter. The subjective no long corresponds to the objective; it is no longer the subjective factor. The “party” is no longer the party of the proletariat; it is the party of the bourgeoisie. This is what has happened in the U.S.S.R.

To sum up, the party is the organization of the subjective factor. It is the dialectical unity of consciousness and conscious activity which is in conformity with the objective process of social development. Consciousness is the dialectical unity of the general and the particular, of theory and ideology. Conscious activity is the dialectical unity of politics and organization. This is the theory of the party in its universality and particularity.

However, dialectical and historical materialism teaches that in the process of development of any thing different contradictions and different aspects will be principal at different stages of development. In order to fully understand and assist the development of a thing we must know its stages of motion. The party, in its process of development, is no exception.

Stages of Development of the Party

The first genuine Marxist party of the era of imperialism, the Bolshevik Party of Russia, was constituted as a party of the New Type at the Prague Conference in January, 1912. Although it was not finally purged of its opportunist wing and fully consolidated organizationally until 1912, the Bolshevik Party was fully consolidated ideologically and politically as an independent party of and for the proletariat at the Second Congress in 1903. That congress marked the end of the pre-party period in Russia, a period which had passed through two distinct, but interconnected steps.

In the first step, 1883-1899, capitalism was developing rapidly in Russia following its emergence around 1860. Russia was a semi-feudal society with an extremely oppressive autocracy. Russia was at once a capitalist power enslaving many nations and also an imperialized country suffering under the domination of Western European capital. The spontaneous movements of workers and peasants against oppression were on the rise. The nature of class struggle confronting Russian communists was along theoretical and ideological lines. It was against the Russian Narodniks–petty-bourgeois revolutionaries who championed the role of the peasantry in the revolutionary movement. The Narodniks believed that the development of capitalism in Russia could be avoided and that the peasant commune was the embryonic form of a just society.

The leadership of the Narodniks was objectively counter-revolutionary because it prevented the linking of the spontaneous movement with scientific socialism. Thus, its influence among all classes of society, but particularly the strata of the revolutionary intelligentsia, had to be smashed. The theory of the Narodniks was the theory of revolution at all. In order for the class struggle to develop rapidly, the class stand, viewpoint and method of the communists had to be put forward around this burning issue of the day–what was the correct revolutionary theory to guide and foment class struggle?

In a series of major works Plekhanov and Lenin exposed, isolated and defeated the views of the Narodniks among the revolutionary intellectuals and advanced workers. They showed that the views of the Narodniks were diametrically opposed to the true interests of the working class while those of the communists were not. The Marxists showed the advanced workers and revolutionary intellectuals how the unfolding revolutionary process in Russia conformed to the scientific theses of Marx and Engels and denied the Utopian concepts of the Narodniks.

As the theoretical work and ideological struggle of the Marxists isolated the Narodniks and developed the genuine strategic line for revolution in Russia, the various Marxist circles were consolidated. First, Lenin led the formation of the St. Petersburg League of Struggle for the Emancipation of the Working Class in 1895. This was followed by the consolidation of similar leagues throughout Russia.

Throughout this step the Marxist circles had had little practical contact with the working class. Most circles were primarily study groups whose practice consisted of propaganda and the identifying of and recruiting of advanced workers for study. Twice preliminary draft programmes for the yet to be formed Social Democratic Party were drawn up by Plekhanov (in 1884 and 1887) and once by Lenin (in 1896).

With the consolidation of the Marxist circles after the defeat of Narodnism through the establishment of the correct ideological line, the focus of work shifted from propaganda to agitation among the workers, and a new step in party-building emerged. The task now became the linking of the communist movement with the workers movement.

Underlying this new step was continued theoretical work and ideological struggle, this time in full view of the workers movement. Within the Marxist movement two lines quickly emerged as to the necessity of proletarian leadership in the bourgeois-democratic revolution.

The economists sought to confine the role of proletarian leadership to the economic struggle against the bourgeoisie and feudal aristocracy, leaving the political leadership of the emerging democratic revolution to the bourgeoisie. They degraded the role of theory and were apologists for the low level of professionalism within the revolutionary ranks. As long as their influence dominated the movement, no revolutionary struggle could be developed and consolidated.

Lenin and the consolidated revolutionary trend within the communist movement exposed, isolated and defeated the economists through the pages of Iskra and in What Is To Be Done? They showed how the economists’ views were theoretically inconsistent with those of Marx and Engels and how they failed to grasp the needs of the practical movement. The revolution in Russia had developed to the extent that the party of the proletariat could and must lead the political struggle in alliance with all other oppressed classes.

The struggle against the economists was waged by the consolidated revolutionary trend through the pages of Iskra, an all-Russian newspaper aimed at the advanced workers. This open, ideological struggle defeated the economists and, in the process, won over the advanced workers to Marxism, thereby solidly linking the communist movement to the workers movement.

As the defeat of the economists was developed, so too developed communist leadership in the workers movement. Iskra published a draft programme for the emerging party. Throughout Russia communists took more and more active roles in leading the rising workers movement. This experience tested the theory of the revolutionary trend and proved its truth by practice. This step prepared for the final organizational consolidation of the party.

At the Second Congress in London in 1903, the party was officially established. As events subsequently proved, the pre-party period in Russia had thoroughly prepared the party theoretically, ideologically and politically. The programme adopted at the congress remained the programme of the party until after the revolution and the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat.

In matters of organization, however, the congress was not equal to its tasks, failing to expose, isolated and defeat opportunism in its own ranks. Because of this shortcoming a third step in party development opened in Russia. A split developed immediately between the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks, and for the next nine years, although nominally the same party, each acted independently of each other.

Practical work in building and leading the revolutionary movement of the masses now came to the fore. The ideological and political line of the Bolsheviks was already fully developed and was implemented in a disciplined fashion. The Mensheviks, however, vacillated and refrained from consistent implementation of the party’s line. Thus, Lenin took on the task of further elaboration of the revolutionary line on matters of organization and tactics. These views, once again, were put squarely before the working class and led directly to further consolidation of advanced elements behind the Bolshevik trend. Increasingly, the Bolsheviks assumed leadership of the large industrial centers. Nevertheless, the practical work in the mass movement was greatly impaired by the factional work of the Mensheviks, some of whom went so far as to urge liquidation of the party during the hard years following the failure of the 1905 revolution. The views of the Mensheviks amounted to counter-revolution within the party. Finally, in 1912, they were purged and a consolidated, party of the New Type established.

Analysis of the Russian experience shows clearly that throughout the pre-party period (up until the Second Congress in 1903) the contradiction with which Russian communists were most concerned was the development of the vehicle of the subjective factor itself–the elaboration of the correct theoretical, ideological, political and organizational lines to allow the party to lead the proletariat and other oppressed classes to the dictatorship of the proletariat.

Throughout this pre-party period the principal aspect of this contradiction was theory and ideology–the development of the lines of consciousness. The secondary aspect was the lines of conscious activity–political and organizational lines. The secondary contradiction was the building and leading of the mass movement, although this contradiction became more important as the party emerged.

The general nature of work in the pre-party period was theoretical work and ideological struggle designed to establish the independence of ’Marxism from other trends and to win over the advanced elements. On the one hand, work was designed to demarcate the genuine revolutionary line from the sham. On the other hand, work was designed to win over the advanced workers to the revolutionary line, thereby establishing communism in the lead of the workers movement.

In the first step, generally the time of struggle against Narodnism, the forging of and consolidation of revolutionaries around the genuine theoretical and ideological line was the primary task of revolutionaries while, secondarily, propaganda succeeded in identifying the advanced workers and bringing them into study circles in where this line was being developed. In the second step, the time of struggle against the economists, ideological struggle and political agitation was primary while, secondarily, the consolidated communist movement sought to further clarify the theoretical and ideological line of Iskra and delineate it from that of the economists.

Once the party was consolidated, united behind a revolutionary programme, strategy and tactics, the principal contradiction pushing ahead revolution in Russia was not longer the subjective factor, itself, but rather the contradiction between the objective and the subjective. In this period, practical work– the organization of the class, the united front, and, ultimately, armed struggle–came to the fore. The party sought to use its knowledge to provide conscious leadership and organization to the class and the masses, to facilitate the objective process of revolution in Russia in accordance with its general laws and particular features.

Thus, the universal truth residing in the revolutionary experience of Russia is the existence of two great periods prior to the dictatorship of the proletariat. The first is the pre-party period wherein the principal contradiction is the subjective factor, itself–the dialectic between consciousness and conscious activity. The second period is the party period wherein the principal contradiction is between the objective factor and the subjective factor–the contradiction between the emerging proletarian superstructure (with the party in the vanguard) and the proletarian base (the working class and its allies).

The nature of the entire pre-party period is theoretical work and ideological struggle. This work and struggle is characterized by two distinct, but interconnected and overlapping steps: the consolidation of the revolutionary trend around the correct ideological and strategic line and the winning over of the advanced workers to the revolutionary trend. These steps develop simultaneously, but the latter can not be completed in an all-around way until genuine revolutionaries consolidate around the correct ideological line and put the struggle before the advanced workers in an organized fashion. This was accomplished in Russia through the Iskra newspaper.

In Russia these two steps were relatively distinct from each other. In an advanced capitalist country such as the United States they are much more interconnected and overlapping. This is because opportunism is much more developed and, therefore, more ever-present and dangerous than in Russia. Also, here we are dealing with a one-stage revolution by a fully developed proletariat in the midst of the extreme crisis of capitalism. In this case opportunism will play into the hands of fascism. Thus, communists must struggle to assert leadership in the working class movement and expose opportunism even while still in the process of developing the ideological and strategic line. Nevertheless, these steps continue to have distinctive features. In the first step our theoretical work and ideological struggle is focused primarily inward on the communist movement attempting to clearly demarcate Marxism-Leninism from sham revolutionary trends. We are concerned primarily with the theory of the subjective factor, the burning questions of the communist movement. Herein our strength is that we are establishing a firm basis for future unity and struggle and that we are striving to raise the scientific consciousness of the proletarian movement. Our weakness is that we are still incapable of merging the communist with the workers movement in an all-around way.

In the second step, the revolutionary trend is consolidated around the correct ideological and strategic line and, through united action, probably in the form of a newspaper, begins the organized drive to win the advanced elements from the movements of the workers and oppressed minorities to genuine Marxism-Leninism. Here we are primarily facing outwards, beginning the offensive. The theoretical work is aimed at grasping the objective factor, the burning questions of the workers and oppressed movements. Also important are the formulation of draft party program and draft party rules. When the struggle over this theoretical work has won over the advanced and further consolidated the trend, the founding congress can be called.

To sum up. The lessons of the Russian party-building experience are reveal led theoretically in the sections above. The relationship of the subjective and objective factors, the universality and particularity of contradiction in the party and the stages of development of the party constitute the theory of the party. The U.S. communist movement must grasp firm hold of this universal truth and wield it as a weapon in our party-building practice. Without this theory we are spontaneous, pragmatic, unprincipled and doomed to failure.