Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Detroit Group Merges with October League

Detroit Collective Unity Statement

First Published: The Call, Vol. 3, No. 12, September 1975.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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The Detroit Collective, a Marxist-Leninist collective, has reached political and organizational unity with the October League (Marxist-Leninist). Unity was reached after many months of study and struggle. There are several things that helped us reach this decision.

First, the recent developments within the anti-revisionist movement which have led to more clarity on the danger of centrism and conciliationism to revisionism. Our clarity on these questions was directly affected by the OL-Guardian struggle. We feel that this has been a turning-point within the anti-revisionist movement, in that it laid bare the nature of the right danger on many important questions, especially on social-imperialism, the national question, and party building.

Secondly, we have over the last year gained greater clarity on the basic principles of Marxism-Leninism. With this increased clarity, we have been able to understand more clearly the need for a genuine communist party and what the party-building process will involve. In addition, we arrived at the position that the political line of the October League is fundamentally correct.

Thirdly, the decision was based on the sum-up of our practice as a small, all Afro-American local collective in the city of Detroit.

1) For the last several months we have been directly involved in the struggle against centrism and conciliationism to revisionism here in the city of Detroit. While we have made some errors in that struggle, it has enabled us to gain insight into the nature of the local-circle trend, which upholds primitiveness and economism in principle.

When we say economism, we are not limiting it as many have done to the question of whether or not to participate in mass work before the party is built. As we have stated before, participation in mass work is part and parcel of party building. But the economist position places mass work over party building, states that, mass work, in and of itself, is more important than organization based on clear Marxist-Leninist principles, and is more important than a staunch stand on revisionism and social-imperialism. This approach downplays the guiding role of revolutionary theory, the Leninist position on organization, and the danger of revisionism to the proletariat.

In short, economism in the U.S. at this time means that people put the question of Marxist-Leninist politics and party building in a secondary position and refuse to make a clean break with revisionism arid social-imperialism, thereby upholding the spontaneous struggle of the masses as primary.

This struggle unearthed some of the incorrect attitudes that are probably reflective of “independents” throughout the country, which we as a small collective were guilty of also. One is the attitude which says, “Well, I am not clear on the various lines of the national organizations,” or “I don’t agree with this or that aspect of an organization’s line. So until I get clarity, I will remain independent.” We have found that often times the claims of unclarity in fact conceal centrism and conciliation to revisionism. We feel that in uniting with a pre-party national organization that people must decide whether the general thrust of the organization is correct and unite with that thrust. Further clarity can only be obtained from struggle and practice within the organization.

2) As an integral part of the fight against centrism and conciliationism to revisionism, we feel that the stance an organization has on the national question is in part the determining factor in whether it practices Marxism-Leninism or revisionism. In the past we feel that we have made an empirical error containing the seeds of revisionism on the national question. We did not approach the national question from a Marxist-Leninist standpoint which begins by looking at nations within the epoch of imperialism and places the national question directly in the center of proletarian revolution in this country. Instead, we asked the empirical question of whether the nation still exists, which in seeking the answer would have reduced us to headcounts and bourgeois sociological demography. In gaining clarity on the national question, people must unite with Marxism-Leninism. We feel that the October League line on the Afro-American national question upholds Marxism-Leninism. We feel that this position still speaks to the situation inside of the U.S. where imperialism still rules but has not been able to solve the national question within its borders.

Multi-national unity is a question of principle for communists and our existence as an all Afro-American collective hedged on the question of multi-national unity, and in practice upheld petty-bourgeois nationalism.

Our organizational merger represents one of the steps in the process of building a genuine multinational communist party in the U.S. We urge other small anti-revisionist collectives and other formations to practice Marxism-Leninism and break with centrism and revisionism. In this critical period, it is time for all genuine communists to move forward and immediately build a Marxist-Leninist party.