Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

A Proposal for an Open Socialist Organization in Hawaii

First Issued: n.d. [1977].
Published: Modern Times, Vol. II, No. 1, January 1978.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
Copyright: This work is in the Public Domain under the Creative Commons Common Deed. You can freely copy, distribute and display this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit the Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line as your source, include the url to this work, and note any of the transcribers, editors & proofreaders above.

We are socialists out of conviction–because we see capitalism as harmful to the vast majority of our own and the world’s people. This system we live under, by its very nature, grinds the poor and working people, sets one group against another, and acts violently against people at home and around the world when they resist.

We see in socialism the seeds and the method of achieving a more just, more cooperative and more peaceful society at home and abroad.

Our moral and political convictions prompt us to take sides in conflicts and build struggles–by anti-imperialist work, locally strike support activities, the Hawaiian and women’s movements, anti-eviction and land struggles, and cultural and educational concerns. We may work steadily at jobsites combatting speed-ups, low wages, lay-offs and poor working conditions or put in many hours in a project or research group; or we may give just a few hours of our time for support work, when we are called and have some free time.

BUT ARE WE SPENDING OUR ENERGY MOST EFFECTIVELY? AND ARE WE HELPING THE SOCIALIST MOVEMENT GROW? There is real need for sharing our experiences and scientifically summing up our work. This process of evaluation can only be done collectively, because we need the abilities of many people to overcome our individual deficiencies. We need a broad organization that can fight on many fronts, an organization that can coordinate activities, consolidate gains, and recruit and involve new people productively.

The time is ripe for such an organization. Conditions are very different from 20 or even 10 years ago. There is stronger and more widespread opposition to U.S. military adventures and policy overseas, which help only a handful of giant corporations at the people’s expense. The oil “short-fall” and price hike outrages of recent years have shown more people the frailty and basic injustice of the system. The bubble of post-World War II prosperity has burst, and the real prospect of even harder times in the future is causing more people to doubt and distrust the system. As unemployment and inflation continue to be high, while lay-offs and speed-ups mount, and the government acts more openly against minorities, women, union organizing, unemployment compensation, and welfare, large numbers of people will look for, and begin to demand, alternatives.

Socialists can offer an alternative which can meet basic needs of people and which is based on cooperation and general, productive and fulfilling employment. The alternatives which reactionaries will propose will be based on hatred or fear of particular groups and excluding them from employment or decent public assistance. If our concern for the needs of the broad public appears (and is) genuine, and if our work is thorough and well-done, socialists will inspire confidence among working people and win them over.

Socialism offers a future free from the fears of poverty, sexism, racism, dog-eat-dog competition, joblessness, and the loneliness of old age. As our movement grows, we will be nearer to creating a society that allows each person to create and produce according to her or his ability and to obtain what she or he needs.


We see the primary task of the organization to be the building of a mass movement of the working class to fight for socialism. From this task arises the mass character of the organization. It is an organization that large numbers of working people (and allies) can join because it has room in it for different levels of commitment and experience and, within limits, for people with differing political views. Within this kind of mass organization, working people can develop their potential as revolutionary fighters and leaders.

To build an organization of people having different views requires that we distinguish between essential and deferred questions. The principles of unity of the organization are the essential questions upon which there is no basis for disagreement. These essential questions are the basis for criticism and self-criticism, for strategic decision-making, and for deciding on priorities. Without unity on essentials, no serious practice is possible.

Deferred questions are those secondary to the main task at a given time. Such questions may become increasingly important in a future period and should be studied by the organization. But until answers are developed through practice and the questions become crucial, there is room for differences of opinion within the organization.

We place the highest value on developing people’s potential to struggle. People are our most precious resource. For development of people, social practice is primary. Second, development of theory is important, and all members have a political responsibility to study. Third, we recognize that class struggle goes on within organizations as well as outside of them. Criticism and self-criticism are important parts of this class struggle, essential for bringing out strong points and transforming weak points.

We expect that as such an organization grows, its internal life would become richer and stronger. Members would and should develop social as well as political ties with each other. The organization would have internal education, parties, picnics, dinners, athletics and the like, and would encourage an all-rounded development of its members.


Since the organization does not claim to have developed answers to all major questions facing the working class, it obviously would not be a Marxist-Leninist vanguard party. However, it is not set up in opposition to such a party. In fact, the need for such a party would be a deferred question for the organization–a question on which there could be many points of view.

We have criticisms of the practice of all the various groups calling themselves “vanguard parties” or “pre-parties”. There have been some positive experiences from them. A few of them have made contributions to the development of theory and the spreading of progressive ideas among the U.S. population. Some have made real contributions to the support of peoples outside the U.S. struggling against U.S. imperialism. They also consider class struggle as the central part of this work and have developed disciplined organizations which can carry out organizational decisions.

But none of them has that depth of experience in all areas of working class life to really be the embodiment of the collective experience of the working class. The question is not whether one group has a slightly better line than another. A vanguard party, when it exists, is a qualitatively higher form of organization than exists today.

Only the struggle to build a conscious socialist movement in the working class can provide the experience from which such an organization could be formed. Knowledge comes through practice. A vanguard party, being the advanced detachment of the working class, can only grow in dialectical relationship to that class. Since the political experience of the U.S. working class is low (compared to 1905 Russia, or even to Italy today), the experience and theoretical level of the socialist movement is low. And simply announcing oneself to be a vanguard party does not change the objective conditions.

Although these groups are not vanguard organizations (which is obvious from much of their practice), they conceive of themselves as such. This leads toward regarding everyone not in their particular group as not a true revolutionary, which leads to sectarian behavior and “I am the core” thinking. Since each group does not provide major leadership for the working class, it must maintain its self-definition as a vanguard in some other way. Two ways are commonly chosen.

One way is to answer certain theoretical questions prematurely and claiming these answers are absolute principles of theoretical purity. The examples of this from the RCP, WVO, MLOC, and CP-ML (formerly OL) seem endless. Theory becomes here not a weapon to lead the mass struggle but instead a weapon to club down others who disagree. And because they are not developed through extensive practice, the theories themselves are necessarily partial and often wrong.

The second way is by using and enforcing the tightest centralism in the internal workings of the organization. The creative thinking and initiative of lower-level cadre, which are supposed to flower in a democratic-centralist organization, are stifled. If allowed to flourish, they might destroy the artificial unity of the group.

This combination of factors–an exaggerated self-conception (seeing yourself as having synthesized all of the important experiences of the working class’s struggle for socialism), the premature answering of many theoretical problems, and overly centralized internal structure–leads to the errors in practice of the pre-party and “M-L” groups.

Leadership by these groups in mass organizations or united fronts often is won by organizational force or technique rather than through winning political struggle on the merits of issues. Denouncing honest opponents has replaced the patient work of winning them over.


The Committee or Project Group will be the basic working group of the organization. Each such group authorized by the organization will select its own chairperson(s), and these chairpersons will also serve on the Coordinating Committee of the organization.

General meetings of the organization will occur at regular intervals, at least once a month, with committee and project group meetings in between. The general meeting will adopt the basic policy of the organization, by consensus when possible and majority vote, when necessary. A quorum is defined as one-third of the active members and is necessary for the adoption of policy by the general meeting. The organization may establish by-laws, which can be amended by a two-thirds vote of those active members attending the general meeting, provided adequate advance notice of proposed changes is given to all active members.

The function of chairing general meetings will be rotated among coordinating committee members. Spokespeople are to be designated by the general meeting or coordinating committee.

An active member is one who serves in a committee or project group of the organization, supports its general activities and pays the set amount of dues. Other categories of membership may be established by the organization. Only active members shall have full voice and vote in the organization, though others may attend the general meetings. It is recommended that dues be set at $12 a year for individuals, #15 a year for couples, with a $6 dues rate for students and unemployed.

To enable all its members to be involved as fully as possible, the organization commits itself to providing child care services at its meetings and functions, and will establish a work group to this end. It will actively build the social life of the organization and be open to assisting members with their individual problems and difficulties.


•Education: internal membership education, study groups, forums, films, media and cultural work, Speakers’ Bureau
•Youth and Students: work involving h.s. & college students, drop-outs, community youth organizations
•Workers Support: organizing unorganized, strike support work, research, organizing around unemployment, jobs, runaway shops, etc,
•Community and Hawaiian Struggles: support for, and research around, land, housing and Hawaiian struggles; fund-raising.
•Membership & Finances: communication with members, recruitment and fundraising, maintaining accounts of organization.
•Publication: publishing organizational newsletter (or Modern Times)
•Liberation Support Committee: help build support for liberation and anti-martial law struggles, and for new socialist governments.
•Work Site Committees: organizing around jobsite issues and campus concerns (and other places our members are involved in)
•Con-Con Work Croup: analysis of Con-Con progress and issues and of the role the left might play.
•Coordinating Committee: plan agendas, coordinate work of organization (with representation from each work group and committee).


1) We see capitalism today as a decaying and destructive system that hurts, divides and exploits the vast majority of our people for the sake of profits and power for the few.
2) We advocate and work for socialism–that is, working class ownership and collective control of the means of production (factories, fields, utilities, etc.) and government. We want a system based on cooperation, where the people build together for the common good.
3) We support and will try to build struggles of the working class, oppressed minorities, and other allies as part of building a broad front against the rule of monopoly capitalists and its effects – poverty, hunger, unemployment, war, sexism, racism, national oppression, evictions, runaway shops, etc.
4) We support the liberation struggles of peoples of other nations against monopoly capitalism (imperialism). These struggles and support for them are a key part of winning socialism in this country and around the world.
5) We agree there is a need for an open socialist organization which focuses on building struggle and developing theory in Hawaii.


Members should:

1) agree with the principles of unity, once adopted
2) be active in a committee or project of the organization and support the general activities of the organization as a whole (with the right to disagree with specific policies and activities)
3) be able to participate fully in the decisions and life of the organization, free from the organizational discipline of any other party or group
4) meet other obligations of membership democratically decided upon (dues, for instance).