Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

League for Proletarian Revolution (ML)

Speech at Denver Party Building Forum, March 1977

First Published: in Party Building: The Overall Situation in the Communist Movement and How to Complete the Central Task, April 1977, by Colorado Organization for Revolutionary Struggle (M-L-M).
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.

EROL Introduction: In March 1977 a closed forum was held in Denver, Colorado on “The Overall Situation In The Communist Movement and How to Complete the Central Task of Party Building”. The main forum speakers were the League for Proletarian Revolution (M-L), August Twenty-Ninth Movement (M-L) and the Colorado Organization of Revolutionary Struggle (M-L-M).

* * *

Comrades and Friends:

We want to commend the Colorado Organization for Revolutionary Struggle (MLM) for their initiative in putting together this forum. Activities like this help to move forward the party building motion in this country. Marxism-Leninism develops through struggle and the principled ideological struggle among the Marxist-Leninists and advanced elements here present today can only help build the unity of genuine forces, to clearly demarcate sham Marxism from genuine, to establish clearer and firmer lines of demarcation. Remember that “before we can unite, and in order that we may unite, we must first of all draw firm lines of demarcation” (Lenin, What is to be Done?)

However, not all of us agree that polemics among Marxist-Leninists – debates, forums, etc. are important. The comrades of ATM M-L for example disdain the importance of the ideological struggle: they see it as abstract, promoting only paper unity – something that remains in the “realm of ideas” and having no practical application in the real world. This view is incorrect. This view, in fact belittles the role of theory, contradicts Lenin’s well known thesis that “without revolutionary theory there can be no revolutionary movement”. Precisely it is Lenin, who in his time had to fight tooth and nail against those that accused him of being abstract, of giving more importance to the task of ’revolutionizing’ the dogma than to carrying out the work among the masses and, who many times emphasized the importance of open polemics.

Discussions (talks, debates, disputes) about parties and about common decisions are impossible and, therefore, unity of action is also impossible. Without them the Marxist organization of those workers “who can get to the root of things” (advanced workers, ed. LPR) would disintegrate and the influence of the bourgeoisie on the unenlightened would thereby be facilitated. (The Struggle for Marxism, LCW p.346).

It is of utmost importance, that we understand the full meaning of these words. Lenin is saying: that the discussions, debates, talks, and disputes, which are the forms of ideological struggle among M-Ls help to unite the working class. Also it is impossible to have unity of action without having achieved unity on political line, and finally, that the ideological struggle among the different groups is essential to achieve such unity.

Comrades and Friends, it is quite clear that to talk about unity of action, unity in practice, without referring to the question of how we are going to determine the character, the content, the direction of such practice, is to liquidate altogether the dialectical relationship between theory and practice, to deny that in this period, we repeat, in this period, theory is primary over practice, and in fact it is to deny political line as the key link to party building in the United States in 1977.

This is precisely what the party building line of the ATM is all about. By labeling as “leftist” anything that relates to theory, by dispensing with all ideological struggle with a simple, “this is abstract, it’s in the realm of ideas,” they have become an anti-theory trend in our movement. An anti-theory trend that carries a line of practice, practice, practice, that unless defeated will take these comrades to the marshes.

We don’t idealize splits and further splits in the communist movement. Nor will we make any concession on principles to anyone for the sake of unity. The unity among genuine M-Ls is forged in the heat of class struggle, both in theory and in practice. In our fight for this principled unity we have decided to focus our presentation here today on ATM in order to deepen our polemic with these comrades.

We would first like to deal with the question of the central task. What does “central task” mean? To say that something is the central task in a given process means that every other task, forms and methods of struggle, etc. are subordinate to that central task during a particular period of its development. In this case, party building is the central task in this period, and Unite Marxist-Leninists, win the advanced to communism, give leadership to the mass struggles, engage in propaganda and agitation, mass actions, study circles, etc., etc., are some of the other tasks, forms and methods of struggle that are subordinated to the ’central task – “placed in the context of party building in this period”.

By “placing (all) our work in the context of party building”, we mean all our theoretical, political and organizational work, all our practice in the communist, workers’, national, women’s and student movements. This position at the same time emphasizes the fact that the party can’t be built in isolation from the masses and their struggles, but rather, in the process of giving communist leadership and a planned, conscious character to those struggles. But in striving to provide communist leadership to those struggles, we cannot afford to lose our bearings, to lose perspective of what is our central task. Instead, we have to consistently link all particular struggles and activities to the building of the party so as to move this task forward.

Comrade Lenin left no room for doubts on this question:

Our principal and fundamental task is to facilitate the political development and the political organization of the working class. Those who push this task into the background, who refuse to subordinate to it all the special tasks and particular methods of struggle, are following a false path and causing serious harm to the movement. And it is being pushed into the background, firstly, by those who call upon revolutionaries to employ, only the forces of isolated conspiratorial circles cut off from the working-class movement in the struggle against the government. It is being pushed into the background, secondly, by those who restrict the content and scope of political propaganda, agitation, and organization; who think it fit and proper to treat the workers to “politics” only at exceptional moments in their lives, only on festive occasions; who too solicitously substitute demands for partial concessions from the autocracy for the political struggle against the autocracy; and who do not go to sufficient lengths to ensure that these demands for partial concessions are raised to the status of a systematic, implacable struggle of a revolutionary, working-class party against the autocracy. (Lenin, Collected Works, Vol 4. Pg.369)

By “placing all work in the context of party building” we are not only expressing that we view party building as our central task in relation to all other tasks but we are also concisely expressing how we view the relationship between party building and all other tasks. That is, between party building and the fight for democratic rights of oppressed nationalities, between party building and the mass movement, etc. By establishing this relationship we are emphasising the link that must exist between these tasks rather than pigeonholing them and seeing them as independent and separate from each other. This is extremely important, especially in relation to party building in combating the two main deviations in our approach to this task.

The left deviation which tends to disconnect party building for the struggle of the masses, or any other practical activity for that matter (see for example PRRWO’s “only” line on party building). To this deviation we say No! It is not a question of “only” party building, but everything in the context of party building. The right deviation, which is the most dangerous, tends to liquidate party building by seeing it on par with all other work thus ending up subordinating party building to the ups and downs of the spontaneous mass movement. To these deviationists we also say, no! Party building is not just another task among many to be fulfilled, but a task to which all else will have to be subordinated so we may complete it as soon as possible and put to an end the lag that now exists between the objective conditions in this country and the subjective factor.

Finally we want to emphasize the fact that in “placing all our work in the context of party building” we are correctly applying the lesson from past failures in party building attempts. The party cannot be built in isolation from the struggle of the masses, but rather in a process of giving communist leadership and a planned, conscious character to those struggles, without ever losing our bearings as communists, always recognizing what is the central task, around which all other tasks revolve. By thus linking all our theoretical, political and organizational activities to the tasks of building the party we are moving this task forward and all other tasks as well.

As we said, all tasks in this period revolve around party building. We have in a consistent, open and above board manner, pointed this fact to the comrades, while struggling vigorously against their incorrect line. However, instead of taking up the ideological struggle – defending their line and polemicizing against ours – they have resorted to blatantly distorting our line.

In the article, “Revolutionary Cause and Our Tasks” the comrades create a straw man to polemicize against our line. They say:

That is why we fight so hard against the line (emphasis LPR) that party building is our ONLY task, and that ”everything must be seen in the context (emphasis ATM) of party building”. This latter position is often interpreted to mean that all of our tasks must serve to build develop and strengthen the party, But when is this not true? Won’t we be trying to build, strenghten and expand the party even under socialism? (R.C. Vol. 1 #10 p.11)

By the omission of a plural, the line instead of the lines, ATM-ML has decided that the line of LPR-ML (“everything in the context of party building”) and the line of the neo-Trotskyites of PRRWO-RWL (“central and only task”) are the same line. This is a very incorrect style of struggle. Marxist-Leninists should, in polemicizing with other Marxist-Leninists, look for the best argument of the opponent in order to prove it incorrect, instead of twisting their position and creating a straw man that can be easily destroyed.

LPR-ML has consistently fought against PRRWO’s “only”, “only”, “only” line. In the first article of our open polemic with the neo-Trotskyites of the “wing” we put forward:

6. They have a “left opportunist line characterized by their “onlys”: only party building, only propaganda (rejecting agitation, only line struggle (discarding all other forms of class struggle), only political line (ideology and organization are not important for them), only the advanced (it is incorrect to pay any attention to the intermediate or attempt to raise the general level of consciousness of the masses according to them), only the proletariat (denying the existence of allies of the proletariat like poor farmers, lower sectors of the petty bourgeoisie, etc. (Resistance, Vol.7, #5, page 6)

ATM-ML quotes this in Revolutionary Cause and comrades can review all the Marxist-Leninist press – sham and genuine – and will find that such characterization of-that line as the “onlys” was precisely established in that article and since then almost every other organization has referred to it in this way. The straw man falls on its own weight. In the second article of the polemic with the neo-Trotskyite wing we clearly and precisely established the difference between both lines:

It would do well to point out that while we hold that all our work must be seen in the context of our central task, which is party building, this quite different thing that to say “our principal and only task is to build the party” (PRRWO). The first position recognizes that because our principal and fundamental task is to build the party, all our work must be seen as a function of and in the service of this task. The second position is purely “left” infantilism, petty bourgeois idealism, which results in the liquidation of all the practical activities of communists. (Resistance, Vol 7, #6, page 5)

This tactic of distortion is not a principled way to struggle. Using their now famous Muhamad Ali example (in which Ali represents the sham M-L’s, and an adolescent boy the genuine M-L), A.T.M. is not helping at all to defeat the “heavy weight” champion opportunism, but is making it stronger. If they continue in this path, it won’t be long before genuine M-Ls will have to accept that ATM is part of the strength of Ali – part of the right punch of opportunism that in order to build the party, we must decidedly defeat.

Our line on party building therefore will have a lot to do with the correctness or incorrectness of our line on a lot of other questions. Such is the case with our line on “Marxist-Leninists unite, and win the advanced to communism”. We hold that the first is primary over the latter, although both must be carried out simultaneously as both address to essential features of the party we are striving to build. To view neither of these two tasks as primary is again a failure to establish the correct dialectical relationship that exists between all tasks, which will invariably lead to their separation and eventual liquidation. Failure to establish this correct dialectical relationship will make us lose our bearings and commit errors. This is so because it is impossible to carry out in practice a line that is not based on objective reality, on the dialectical materialism and the law of contradictions in things, but rather an idealistic or eclectic views of things, where relationships are not established or established incorrectly.

“On Marxist-Leninists unite and win the advanced to communism”, we hold that both are carried out simultaneously, but that M-L unite is primary. In polemics with PRRWO back in May, 1976, we put forward:

The party must be composed of workers, yes, but workers that are M-Ls, and not of advanced elements who are not yet communists. So it is our task to unite those that are M-Ls, and not confuse proletarian class with proletarian party or advanced elements with M-Ls. Secondly, the characterization of primary and secondary contradictions is not so much to ascribe importance to one or the other, but to determine HOW the process develops, WHAT moves it forward, WHICH aspect when resolved helps to resolve the other, what is the RELATIONSHIP between all aspects, NOT to the exclusion or exaggeration of one or the other. Any process that is complex, like party building certainly is, involves a series of contradictions, problems to be resolved, and the goal cannot be achieved by one single leap as the idealists from PRRWO would have it. That is why it is a PROCESS. We must determine which of the problems, when solved facilitate the resolution of other problems. Winning over the advanced hinges upon the unity of Marxist Leninists. (Resistance, Vol 7 #5)

Previously, ATM had also held this position and abandoned it in the aftermath of the split of the so-called “genuine wing ”. However, ATM abandoned these positions without making any type of scientific analysis of the line, and its actual implementation in practice. ATM says:

The initial roots of our errors can be traced back to our Unity Congress, which failed to clearly define the tasks facing us – instead saying that all our tasks must be put into the context of party building - rather than saying that party building had to be put into the context of solving the questions put in front of the communists by the mass movement. . .

This error was to lead later to more fundamental problems in regard to carrying out our tasks of uniting Marxist-Leninists and winning over the advanced, as well as in our approach to study, the struggle against opportunism, etc. (R.C. #9, page 5)

We suggest comrades to read the complete article; you will not find a single word to explain the connection between the line and the fundamental problems in relation to ”carrying out the tasks of uniting Marxist-Leninists, winning the advanced” “approach to study”, “the struggle against opportunism, etc.”.

The comrades continue:

In REVOLUTIONARY CAUSE #1 we laid out two tactical tasks to party building and that of the two, “Marxist-Leninists Unite!” and “Win over the Advanced”, the former was necessarily our primary one.

This was a “left” sectarian error on our part. In practice it lead to focusing our work almost exclusively to work with other communists on the basis of struggling for unity on line (in the general sense) without concerning ourselves about the question of common work, i.e., revolutionary practice. Although we were proceeding from an honest desire for the unity of Marxist-Leninists, this “left” position worked against us and our movement.

Like it or not, it inevitably led us (and will lead others) to detach the question of Marxist-Leninist unity from the question of winning over the advanced in mass struggle, of the training of the advanced in an all-sided way, of training ones own cadres for this work.” (R.C., Vol l, #9, p.8)

Why was this line a “left” sectarian error? The comrades fail to explain. They substitute the explanation with the results that supposedly that line brought them in practice. It is clear however that by carrying out only one of the two tasks, they were not applying their own line, “two tactical tasks”. They were deviating from it by absolutizing one and liquidating the other (this was, remember, in the period in which they united with the “genuine wing”.) At that time PRRWO put forward the line that the two tactical tasks were simultaneous with neither being primary over the other. (This is ATM-ML’s line today.)

How do the comrades explain that coming from two different lines both organizations “detached in their practice the unity of Marxist-Leninists from the winning over the advanced?”. The comrades don’t explain this either. (On the question of Unite Marxist-Leninists and winning over the advanced, we refer comrades to the article in Resistance, Vol 7, #5)

ATM-ML was objectively practicing the “onlys”! By the admission of the comrades, we can conclude that the problem was not the correct position of ”everything in the context of party building” nor the also correct position of Marxist-Leninists unite as primary”, but rather the fact that, in practice, the comrades were carrying out the same line of the “onlys” of PRRWO. It is clear that they were absolutizing one aspect while liquidating the other. Thus we had two organizations, who carried out the same line in practice, while maintaining that their lines were different. ATM-ML does not deal with this question in their polemics with PRRWO-RWL (from which we have quoted their change of line.)

The only proof offered by ATM-ML to substantiate that their previous line was incorrect is their practice. If they were to be consistent and use the same empiricist method in analyzing PRRWO’s line the only conclusion they could reach is that since PRRWO’s practice was incorrect, then their line (the line that ATM-ML is holding now) must also have been incorrect! But ATM-ML does not do that.

They instead change one line for another without dealing with the theoretical question of how two tactics, or slogans or contradictions, etc., can exist in a state of equilibrium, that is, without one being primary.

In their polemics with PRRWO, ATM doesn’t deal at all with this issue despite the fact that the neo-trotskyites label both ATM and LPR “Mensheviks” based precisely on our position that Marxist Leninists Unite is Primary. In fact ATM, as PRRWO before them, is liquidating both tactical tasks in practice. We believe that the comrades have consistently failed to try to unite M-L’s, and continuously justify this failure saying that they are involved in the mass struggle. We also believe that ATM is failing in the task of winning the advanced to communism. With their line of “agitation in the forefront”, with a newspaper that reads like a collection of agitational leaflets, with their consistent failure to raise party building, socialism, the dictatorship of the proletariat in their mass work – even in their own newspaper, it is impossible to train, consolidate and win the advanced.

ATM is objectively addressing themselves both in theory and in practice to win the broad masses. Making this the principal task of the work in this period, is a serious right error.

Why is it that we have to concentrate on the advanced? Certainly not because we disdain the intermediate or the backward workers. It is because the advanced workers determine the character of the workers’ movement. This means that the fastest and surest way to reach the backward workers, who in fact constitute the vast majority of the working class, is by winning over the advanced workers. It is these advanced workers that are won over and consolidated mainly by our propaganda work (such as newspapers, leaflets, study circles, meetings, oral and one-to-one propaganda, etc.) and by the communist leadership and training provided in the heat of class struggle. These advanced workers provide the bridge between the Marxist Leninists and the broad masses. Comrade Lenin speaks on this question as follows:

Hence, those who accuse the Russian Social-Democrats of being narrow-minded, of trying to ignore the mass of the labouring population for the sake of the factory workers, are profoundly mistaken. On the contrary, agitation among the advanced sections of the proletariat is the surest and the only way to rouse (as the movement expands) the entire Russian proletariat. The dissemination of socialism and of the class struggle among the urban workers will inevitably cause these ideas to flow in the smaller and more scattered channels. This requires that these ideas take deeper root among the better prepared elements and spread throughout the vanguard of the Russian working-class movement and of the Russian revolution. (Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 8, p. 331.)

The Struggle for Reforms

Another vital question is that of reforms. The attitude of communists toward the struggle for reforms is another line of demarcation between sham and genuine Marxist Leninists. We recognize and uphold the importance of communists struggling for reforms despite the fact that they don’t destroy the power of the ruling class. They can, however, prepare the way towards the seizure of power in the long run. It is key in this matter that we differentiate between reforms and the reformists, because we communists can struggle for reforms but we do not support reformism, or reformers. As comrade Lenin said:

Unlike the anarchists, the Marxists recognise struggle for reforms, i.e., for measures that improve the conditions of the working people without destroying the power of the ruling class. At the same time, however, the Marxists wage a most resolute struggle against the reformists, who, directly or indirectly, restrict the aims and activities of the working class to the winning of reforms. Reformism is bourgeois deception of the workers, who, despite individual improvements, will always remain wage slaves, as long as there is the domination of capital.

The liberal bourgeoisie grant reforms with one hand, and with the other always take them back, reduce them to nought, use them to enslave the workers, to divide them into separate groups and perpetuate wage-slavery. For that reason reformism, even when quite sincere, in practice becomes a weapon by means of which the bourgeoisie corrupt and weaken the workers. The experience of all countries shows that the workers who put their trust in the reformists are always fooled. Marxism & Reformism, Collected Works Vol. 19 p. 372.

Further, we should add that, there are reforms, and there are reforms. We fight for reforms that ”improve the conditions of the working class”, their capacity to struggle, their unity as a class. We oppose reforms that, rather than facilitate the independence, militancy and unity of the working class, further tie the working class to the bourgeoisie, divide the working class, divert their struggles from a revolutionary path, and have the working class rely on the bourgeois State for the instrumentation of the reform. In other words, we fight for genuine reforms and oppose sham reforms.

Comrade Lenin put forward in “A Letter to the Northern League”, (LCW, Vol. 6, p. 167):

12. We neither can nor will help ’in every way’ to improve the conditions of the workers under the present circumstances. For instance, we cannot help in the Zubatov fashion, and even if Zubatov corruption is involved we shall not do that. We fight only for such improvement of the workers’ conditions as will raise their capacity to wage the class struggle, i.e., when the improvement of conditions is not bound up with corruption of political consciousness, with police tutelage, with being tied down to a given locality, with subjugation to a ’benefactor’, with a lowering of human dignity, etc., etc. Precisely in Russia, where the autocracy is so much inclined (and is becoming more and more inclined) to buy itself off from revolution with various hand-outs and sham reforms, it is our duty to draw a clear line of demarcation between ourselves and all sorts of ’reformers’. We also fight for reforms, but by no means ’in every way’; we fight for reforms only in Social-Democratic fashion, only in a revolutionary way.

Coming from the understanding of the existence of genuine and sham reforms, it is the task of communists to analyze every reform in the particulars, and, after determining the character of each reform, put forward their line on it. Obviously, we have to oppose all sham reforms and fight for the genuine ones. It goes without saying that as communists there is only one way that we can struggle for reforms, that is: in a revolutionary way, in a communist way. LPR (M-L) supports struggles for bilingual and bicultural education, against forced sterilization of women, for free day care centers, etc., and opposes sham reforms like forced busing, E.R.A. and all community control, especially the community control of the police.

The comrades of ATM in this question start by denying the existence of genuine and sham reforms. To them reforms are reforms. Based on this, the content of a particular reform is not important. Thus, the only important thing is how you struggle for it. If you struggle as a reformist then the reform is no good. If you struggle as a revolutionary, and by this we understand ATM to mean, if you struggle very militantly, then the reform is good. This is a blatant distortion of Marxism-Leninism on this question. The criteria for determining whether we support a particular reform cannot be how we are going to struggle for it. This is anti-dialectical. It is putting things upside down. How are we going to determine the form and method of struggle that we are going to use in a particular struggle without first determining whether or not we should support or oppose that struggle. This line can only lead and is leading ATM to tail behind the masses, to worship the spontaneity of the mass movement. Let’s take a couple of examples of ATM’s line and practice in the struggle for reforms. In doing this we again call the comrades’ attention to the fact that first you have to determine the character of the reform and then, and only then, the more feasible form of revolutionary struggle around that reform.

Forced Busing

ATM puts forward that they support forced busing from the standpoint of the national question because, according to them, it helps the integration of the different nationalities. They also say that they support the busing of whites but don’t support the busing of the national minorities.

This position is incorrect in many different ways. To start with, it is clear that when we talk about integration we have to do so from the standpoint of the proletariat and not from the standpoint of the bourgeoisie. The bourgeoisie sees integration as a violent process, something that is to be forced upon people by the bourgeois State. The proletariat on the contrary sees integration only in a peaceful way. Lenin leaves no room for doubts:

The proletariat, however, far from undertaking to uphold the national development of every nation, on the contrary, warns the masses against such illusions, stands for the fullest freedom of capitalist intercourse and welcomes every kind of assimilation of nations, except that which is founded on force or privilege.” “Critical Remarks on the National Question”

But ATM tells us that we should support the “integration” that will be achieved thanks to the bayonets of the national guard.

In practice and Boston is a good example, busing, instead of integrating the Afro-Americans and the white communities, what it has done is create more divisions among them, causing more racial tension and more national oppression. As communists we know that the integration of peoples of different nationalities is a good thing but we oppose any attempt to carry this out by means of force.

ATM’s position, however, is in this case worse than the positions of other organizations that support forced busing including the October League. ATM puts forward forced busing for whites but not for national minorities. This is sheer narrow nationalism. Another version of the ultra-right line of “white skin privilege”. How is it that if forced busing is something good, only whites should be forced to participate in it?

How can ATM say that they stand for multinational unity and then propose that we should support the right of the bourgeois State to determine what school the sons and daughters of the white workers should attend? In fact, what ATM is saying is that the white workers have the privilege of having better educational facilities and that the way to bring multinational unity is by the whites losing this privilege.

Instead of fighting for better education for all children, instead of trying to give communist leadership to the struggle of the masses for real equality in education, struggles that put as demands an end to all budget cuts, rehiring of all laid-off personnel, establishing of bilingual and bicultural programs, tutoring programs, afterschool programs, adult education, etc., ATM helps pave the road toward fascism by legitimizing the use of the repressive apparatus of the State to implement forced busing.

We have struggled over this question with the comrades many times. We have let them know that in our view their position on forced busing besides being based on sheer narrow nationalism is objectively class collaboration. After a lot of struggle over this question on October 9, 1976 ATM put forward in a letter to us:

We seriously considered your criticism of our position on busing Anglo students. We really couldn’t defend our position. Nowhere have we implemented our line in practice. Therefore we intend to thoroughly investigate the question over the next few months. In the meantime ATM has ’no position’ on busing.

It is precisely these things like the one we just read to you that led us to believe that as long as we were capable of proving that the comrades of ATM were wrong, they would move to repudiate their incorrect positions. In the particular case of busing the struggle among both organizations on the question stopped and we were preparing for a statement of unity and differences between ATM and LPR that was to be made in November to further clarify the position of both organizations on this and many other burning questions. November came and went and the statement was postponed to January upon ATM’s request. A new postponement occurred in January again upon the request of the comrades. Since the situation was moving from bad to worse, we moved to establish an open polemic with the comrades in January. Now we find out from a representative of ATM that they never changed their position on forced busing. That all along they have had the same position despite what the letter said. We expect that the comrades of ATM here will be able to explain this conduct as well as defend their line on forced busing.

Community Control

ATM has put forth that it is possible to achieve community control under capitalism. We strongly disagree with that position. Community control is a false issue, a sham reform. The bourgeoisie spreads the illusion that it is possible for a community elected board to control the schools, or the hospitals, etc. as a way of diverting the revolutionary struggles in those areas into a reformist path.

Take the struggle for better education in New York, for example. As a response of the militancy of the Afro-American and Puerto Rican national minorities in the 60’s, a school decentralization law was signed in New York. The school system was divided into 32 so-called autonomous districts, each one to be controlled by a nine member elected school board. Since the passage of the law, the system in N.Y. has rapidly deteriorated. Not because of the school community boards but in spite of them, as a result of the economic crisis and the declining of U.S. imperialism. Since the decentralization law was approved, the basic issue in the struggle for better education has not been the quality of education but rather who is going to be on the board. In some districts, #4 in Spanish Harlem is a good example, the struggle has been basically between the Afro-American and Puerto Rican masses, each of the communities under reformist leadership despite the participation of communists in this struggle, to decide who is going to have control over the crumbs that are to be “controlled” in that district.

In the Lower East Side, District 1, another community in New York, the struggle centered for more than three years around who would be the school superintendent. At a time when Puerto Rican poverty pimps controlled the board, Luis Fuentes, a fellow traveler of the trotskyite SWP, was named school superintendent. For more than a year, this man Fuentes did whatever he pleased in the district. A large number of Puerto Rican teachers were hired. Fuentes clearly discriminated against the Afro-Americans and the Chinese and whites. The forces of the reaction led. by the Jewish Defense League and the leadership of the UFT decided to oust Fuentes. After a fierce struggle that went on for more than 2 years, and mass demonstrations, school boycotts, physical confrontations, arrests, etc., Fuentes was finally ousted. With him about 160 Puerto Rican teachers, over 200 paraprofessionals, principals, etc.

Community control fostered class divisions, bourgeois illusions about the courts and the State, and did not improve the conditions of the working class in their fight against the bourgeoisie for better education. Thus we can see the dangers and evils of sham reforms.

ATM is not only saying that community control is achievable but that the community should try to control even the police under capitalism. This is reformism all along the line. ATM distorts the role of the State as an organ of oppression of one class over another class by putting forth that it is possible that the police, an essential part of the repressive military machinery of the State, can be controlled by the community. This conception views the State apparatus, at least its police, as a neutral body in the class struggle between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat.

ATM goes even further in their reformism. They put forward that the police should live in the working class and national minority communities. According to them the police will think twice before attacking somebody in the community for fear of reprisal. What ATM doesn’t speak to is the fact that what they are calling for is objectively class collaboration with this line on the possibility of control of the police, of making it neutral, etc. This line in fact was put forward by organizations like the Black Panthers and the Black Muslims who fought, in a very militant way, for the demand – “Black cops for the Black ghetto!”

In Harlem, an Afro-American community in New York, the great majority of the police are Blacks and despite this, there is ho other community in the city that has a greater incidence of police brutality than this area. In Puerto Rico all the police are Puerto Ricans and that has not changed the repressive apparatus. We should remember Lenin asked not for changing the nationality of the police, the army, etc., but asked for the struggle to smash the state apparatus.

In their obsession over community control, ATM has also called for “community review boards” to deal with the question of police repression. This boils to the same thing: seeing the State and the police as a neutral body.

We also struggled with the comrades on this question back in August. On these questions they also make self-criticism and said that they had changed their line. They told us that in October 1976, but in February 1977, in a conference against police repression held in Pueblo, Colorado, a cadre from ATM put forth the same demands again, under the guise that ATM has no position on the question and therefore their cadres can put forth whatever line they prefer. Is this what ATM calls communist leadership? Is this the type of democratic centralism in ATM? Is this the understanding of ATM on self-criticism and repudiation, and on being open and aboveboard? We expect to get some answers to these questions in the discussion.

All the above mentioned errors of ATM are consistent with the economist view that “party building has to be placed in the context of giving answers to the questions posed to us by the spontaneous mass movement”. Objectively the comrades are building the mass movement, are tailing behind the spontaneous upsurge of the masses, the Chicano National movement, the student movement, etc. This line has to be defeated because it follows a course that is leading to the marsh.


We have consistently put forward, that we consider incorrect the proposition that the party in this country will be built on the basis of one particular organization. This is so, because there does not exist in the U.S. Communist movement a leading theoretical, political, and organizational center around which the party can be built. Moreover, it is not only the fact that this leading center does not exist, but we think that none of the organizations in existence can by itself become this leading center. The road to the party in the U.S. is the road of unity among genuine Marxist-Leninist organizations, collectives and individuals, in a joint party effort. The development of this center must take place if we are to move forward on the road to party building. Call it a party building commission, organizing committee, Iskra effort, unity trend or whatever. It is not the name but the content that is important. We do not need petty bourgeois intellectuals like WVO who scream “the party is a settled question, we have the correct line – slaughter your circles and collectives and become part of WVO!” We do not need party building proposals a la MLOC, which invite all who care to answer their invitation and promise to keep all discussions in the strictest of confidence, to do practical and theoretical work and even write a program. What we most definitely need is a joint effort to develop a party building plan. The question here is not that an organization proclaims itself to be the vanguard. But, that the developing Marxist Leninist trend unite on political line and prove its capacity to lead the struggle for the party. As Lenin said:

For it is not enough to call ourselves the ’vanguard’, the advanced detachment; we must act like one; we must act in such a way that all the other detachments shall see us, and be obliged to admit, that we are marching in the vanguard. And we ask the reader: Are the representatives of the other ’detachments’ such fools as to take our word for it when we say that we are the ’vanguard’? (What Is To Be Done, Peking FLP, p. 103.)

The other detachments are not stupid. Just because somebody says that they are the party (as RCP or CLP); or that the first congress is around the corner (as the OL or the neo-trotskyite Wing) or that the “party is a settled question” (like WVO), these detachments are not going to cross their hands and stop struggling for the cause that these sham forces have double-crossed so many times. As genuine Marxist Leninists and advanced forces, we share this responsibility. We have to stop waiting for messiahs that will come and build the party for us. The struggle for the party is not based on who has more members, distributes more papers and leaflets, has more money, etc., but it is based on who has the correct line, who correctly links revolutionary theory with revolutionary practice. It is time for all of us – small organizations, collectives, and individual Marxist Leninists to come forward and fight for the leadership in the U.S. Communist movement. As comrade Chou en Lai said:

Chairman Mao teaches us that ’the correctness or incorrectness of the ideological and political line decides everything’. If one’s line is incorrect, one’s downfall is inevitable, even with the control of the central, local and army leadership. If one’s line is correct, even if one has not a single soldier at first, there will be soldiers, and even if there is no political power, political power will, be gained.

In the January issue of our paper we put forward that:

The Marxist Leninist trend in the United States is composed of a few organizations, collectives and individual Marxist Leninists around the country. The trend does not have organic “connections among all its components. Some of the collectives just print internal documents, local leaflets, carry on propaganda and agitation in their areas, conduct study circles, work in the various national movements, etc. In the last six months we have come in contact with a great number of such collectives. Those comrades are developing by themselves, connected to the communist movement only through the different newspapers and by the liaison established through traveling around the country. We have to facilitate growing relations among the collectives, we have to help them solve the ideological, political and organizational problems they share with us. We cannot expect this trend to develop spontaneously. We have to consolidate the trend on the basis of unity on political line.

The most fundamental question on which we have to achieve unity on line in order to be able to move forward is precisely on how to build the party.

The subjective conditions for the immediate creation of the party in the United States do not exist at this moment, but the basis for the development of a concrete plan for party building does exist and this work is long overdue. As long as we understand that the basis of unity in a party – unity of will expressed in the acceptance of the party program, work in one of the party organizations and the paying of dues according to one’s ability – is not the same as that among different organizations, collectives and individuals who agree to work together toward the building of a party, we will be able to move forward in a unified way toward the party.

A component part of the struggle for the party, for the proletarian revolution, the dictatorship of the proletariat is the struggle against opportunism. Today we fulfilled part of our responsibility by exposing the right opportunist line of ATM. It is true that birds of a feather flock together. ATM flocked together with PRRWO-RWL and WVO in the sham party building commission that created the “genuine wing”.

Today, ATM is going back directly to the same swamp of its former bedfellows. Despite the fact that in form ATM and WVO are right opportunists, and PRRWO-RWL are ’left’ opportunists, the similarities in their class stand, method and viewpoint are inescapable.

In our struggle against PRRWO-RWL, the favorite argument of the ’wing’ was how small we were. They claim that a ’sect’, a small organization cannot have a correct line. That the correct line belongs to a ’big’ organization. We had the opportunity to participate in the funeral of the ’wing’. Today they are definitely smaller than we ever were and we are growing stronger.

Today, ATM is using the same bourgeois logic, trying to determine the correctness of line based on numbers. They are doomed to failure. We will help them go straight to the place that corresponds to them. As Lenin said,

We are marching in a compact group along a precipitous and difficult path, firmly holding each other by the hand. We are surrounded on all sides by enemies and we have to advance under their almost constant fight. We have combined voluntarily precisely for the purpose of fighting the enemy and not to retreat to the adjacent marsh, the inhabitants of which, from the very onset, have reproached us with having separated ourselves into an exclusive group, and with having chosen the path of struggle instead of the path of conciliation. And now several among us began to cry out – ’Let us go into this marsh.’ And when we began to shame them, they retort: ’How conservative you are, are you not ashamed to deny us the liberty to invite you to take a better road? Oh, yes, gentlemen, you are free not only to invite us, but to go there yourself whither you will – even into the marsh. In fact, we think that the marsh is your proper place and we are prepared to render you every assistance to get there. Only, let go of our hands; don’t clutch at us, and don’t besmirch the grand word freedom. For we too are free to go where we please, free to fight, not only against the marsh but also against those who are turning towards the marsh.