Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

League for Proletarian Revolution (M-L)

Rectify our Way of Thinking!

First Published: Resistencia, Vol. 9, No. 7, September 1978
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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This is the second article on the rectification campaign recently launched by LPR (M-L). Here we present excerpts from a report made by the Central Committee on the question of the need to rectify our method of thinking.

The main directives put forward in the rectification campaign sum-up our major weaknesses and shortcomings, and establish the method to rectify them. The first one, “Rectify our method of thinking and style of work”, spells out clearly what is the nature of the main problems. The second one, “Study Marxism-Leninism Mao Tsetung Thought, Practice criticism, self-criticism” establishes the method of rectification.

Obviously, it is not enough to refer to problems in the “method of thinking” and the “style of work”. It is necessary that we examine what are the particular problems in each of these two great areas. Furthermore, we have to determine how these errors are manifested in our ideological and political line and in our revolutionary practice. We also have to determine what are the bases for those errors.

It is clear to all of us that the problems we face are not exclusively our problems, but that they are problems common to the U.S. anti-revisionist communist movement as a whole. Nonetheless, it is crucial that we focus the campaign on the errors and failures of LPR (M-L), and not on those of the whole movement. Only by focusing on our low theoretical development, our subjectivism, our sectarianism, our bowing to spontaneity, our narrow circle spirit, our incorrect methods of leadership, will we be able to, in fact, rectify our way of thinking and our style of work. And only by doing that, can we expect to lead others in the great process of rectification that our movement so badly needs.

A question is in order: What is wrong with our way of thinking? What is wrong, comrades, is that we don’t always adhere to the Marxist-Leninist methods of “seeking truth from facts”, of “making concrete analysis of concrete conditions.” This is quite a heavy indictment. But failing to call a spade a spade can only cause harm to the proletarian cause. The sooner and the deeper we move on our case, the sooner can the disease be cured, and the patient move forward with the tasks ahead.


“Concrete analysis of concrete conditions”, says Stalin, “is the soul of Marxism.” And he adds: “Everything depends upon time, place and conditions.” Concretely, this means that in order to avoid errors we have to take as a point of departure things as they are, and not as we would like them to be. We have to base ourselves on concrete reality, not on wishful thinking.

For sure, everyone agrees with this proposition; but the point is to apply it every place, every time. Any deviation from it, no matter how slight, breaks with the historical materialist method of thinking, and puts us in the camp of idealism. Idealists have a distorted view of reality. Thus, a political line that is based on an idealist view of reality has to necessarily, independently of the will of its authors, be incorrect. Whoever breaks the dialectics between the objective and the subjective, between theory and practice, between knowing and doing, between thinking and being, is making, we repeat, idealist errors, is making a subjective “analysis” of conditions.

We have done this many times, in many different ways. Sometimes we have completely relied on book knowledge of phenomena and, without a good grasp of the “time, place and conditions” we have put forward solutions which have served to solve problems in other places, at other times, but which have no application to our concrete reality. This subjectivist deviation is called dogmatism, and we have to plead guilty for having made dogmatic errors in our treatment of some questions.

Our approach to the Afro-American question is a good example of this. When in 1975 we put forward our support for the right to self-determination up to and including se cession of the Afro-American nation in the Black Belt South, we had not made any substantial investigation of the actual historical development of that nation, nor of its present socioeconomic conditions. And yet, we adopted the position.

We based ourselves on the two Comintern resolutions of 1928 and 1930, in which the existence of the nation was in fact scientifically proven. But we did not really grasp the thorough and rigorous scientific analysis done by the Comintern on this question. Its scientific approach of “seeking truth from facts” was disregarded, and substituted by a lazy bone and dogmatic approach of taking positions without considering time, place and conditions.

It is clear that we need to deepen tenfold our understanding of the crucial question. Unless we do so, our support for the right to self-determination up to and including secession of the Afro-American nation, will not mean much.

On the other hand, we have also committed the subjectivist error of empiricism. This is relying only on our own experience (“own” meaning sometimes us, sometimes the U.S. anti-revisionist communist movement, or a section of it), thus liquidating the role of theory.

Our work within the student movement reflects this error. Based on the experience gained through our involvement at Hunter and Hostos College, we developed a general line for the work in campuses. In doing so, we did not carry out enough study and investigation on the youth and student question, nor did we sum-up the experience of the communist movement in this area. As a result, our line and approach to the student question was based exclusively on our own narrow experience.

Another error of subjectivism in our way of thinking has been that of voluntarism. By this we mean acting irrespectively of the objective and subjective conditions, as if we were capable of making things come into being, out of our independent will.

This error led us to place over our shoulder a series of political projects, activities, tasks, etc., that were beyond our actual capabilities. All the obstacles, and all the concrete conditions which clearly told us that we could not carry out those tasks were belittled and brushed aside. We set out to overcome them just with our enthusiasm and will power. But, obviously, this was not enough. Our May Day activity and the suspended Conference on Revolutionary Culture, are but two of the latest examples of this.

Our work provides many more examples of all of these evils in our way of thinking.


For a movement in which many consider themselves the new Lenins, Stalins, and Maos, talk about low theoretical development sounds like heresy. But it is enough to open any one of the communist newspapers to see that reality hitting us in the face. We know that we do not represent the less-developed formation in the movement, but the fact that we are more developed than others does not mean much at all. This is not a question of trying to be one-eyed in the land of the blind. Our incapacity to deal in a Marxist-Leninist way with fundamental questions, such as party building, the present crisis of imperialism, the danger of war and fascism, the national questions, is a stubborn fact that has to be accepted. If others want to call their writings on these questions the “application of Marxism-Leninism Mao Tsetung Thought to the concrete conditions of the U.S.”, let them continue to insist on being “top-heavy, thin-stemmed and shallow of root”, or “sharp-tongued, thick-skinned and hollow inside”, as Chairman Mao described them so well.

But we should know better. It’s a question of “shooting the arrow” (Marxism-Leninism Mao Tsetung Thought) at the correct target (the U.S. revolution). We have to honestly accept that we don’t yet have good control of the arrow, and that we have a poor understanding of the target. Thus, the study of the science with the target in mind is the only way forward. This, in a nutshell, means that we have to correctly integrate theory and practice, and take no short-cuts from the only correct path of seeking truth from facts. Chairman Mao explained what “seek truth from facts” means in the following way:

To take such an attitude is to seek truth from facts. ’Facts’ are all the things that exist objectively, ’truth’ means their internal relations, that is, the laws governing them, and ’to seek’ means to study. We should proceed from the actual conditions inside and outside the country, the province, county or district, and derive from them, as our guide to action, laws which are inherent in them and not imaginary, that is, we should find the internal relations of the event occurring around us. And in order to do that we must rely not on subjective imagination, not on momentary enthusiasm, not on lifeless books, but on facts that exist objectively; we must appropriate the material m detail and, guided by the general principles of Marxism-Leninism, draw correct conclusions from it. (“Reform Our Study”)

It is clear that in order for us to correctly use this method, we have to improve our knowledge in many areas.


One of our principal weaknesses is the lack of understanding of both U.S. society today, and of its historical development. Thus, when defining friends and enemies we resort to an analysis based mainly on book knowledge rather than on the concrete understanding that only a class analysis of the United States today can provide.

We talk about periods in party building without ever attempting to sum-up the development of the communist movement in this country. We talk about the general crisis of imperialism without being able to go beyond the most blatant manifestations of that crisis: unemployment, inflation, cut-backs, and so on.

The fact of the matter is that we know more – and talk more – of the People’s Republic of China (which has already been liberated and is already under the dictatorship of the proletariat) than about the U.S. Since it is us, and not the Chinese comrades, who are going to make the U.S. revolution, it is time that we pay attention to our target, and learn to aim at it well. In order to transform the world you have to know it first, and in order to wage revolution in the U.S. we have to first know the U.S. very well.


Although the areas in which we have to greatly improve our understanding of the concrete conditions in the U.S. are innumerable, we believe that the areas of primary importance are:

1. Analysis of classes in the U.S.
2. The national question, especially the Afro-American and Chicano national questions.
3. The history of the U.S. communist movement, with special emphasis on the degeneration of the CPUSA, the sham party building attempts of the CLP, RCP, CPML, the “wing”, etc. This is crucial in order to make a reassessment of the movement at this moment.
4. The development of the U.S. working class and its trade union movement.
5. The present economic crisis and its effects on the working class, oppressed nationalities and women.
6. The menace of fascism.
7. The danger of imperialist war.

Although we have done some study in each of these question, and have developed positions on some of them, it is clear that those positions were not developed in a thorough Marxist-Leninist way. Therefore, it is important to deepen our understanding of each of them, and that we submit our present position to the supreme test of the “concrete analysis of concrete conditions.”


Lenin talks about three component parts of Marxism. These are: political economy, historical materialism, and socialism. Although we are weak in all three areas, political economy is by far our Achilles heel. Without grasping political economy, it is obvious that no real class analysis can be made. It is obvious also that it is not possible to understand the present crisis of imperialism either, without a knowledge of political economy. Thus, our arrow cannot be as powerful when it is almost completely deprived of one of its components. And therefore, the study of the science, and especially of political economy, is a must in the immediate period ahead. This must be done without loosing perspective and becoming complacent about our grasp of the other components, which in fact also needs improvement.


In order to rectify our way of thinking, and therefore be able to rectify our style of work, we have to integrate the study with the doing, the words with the deeds. As Stalin teaches us: “Theory becomes purposeless if it is not connected with revolutionary practice, just as practice gropes in the dark if its path is not illuminated by revolutionary theory.” We have correctly emphasized the primacy of theory over practice in a period like the one we find ourselves in, where there is no guiding line, no leading revolutionary center that can guide us forward. Nonetheless, pointing to what is primary doesn’t mean that everything else can be liquidated, or is not important, or is only for whenever we have some free time, etc.

We all agree that although this is the line we have put forward, and that in the main we have stuck to it, we have also committed some deviations here. Of particular importance is the tendency to separate the study from the practice. On many occasions comrades have been studying materials which, although very important in themselves, were not related at all to their area of work in revolutionary practice. People were studying about what they were not involved in, and practising in another area without systematically studying it. This was rendering theory “purposeless”, a dogma, and not a guide to action. On the other hand, the practice was “groping in the dark” deprived of the theory to lead it.


1. Every unit should develop study related with the particular area of work they are involved in.
2. We have to assure that every contact of the organization involved in practical work is also involved in study. At the same time, we must be sure that we don’t have cases that only want to study, but not practice.
3. The Central Committee will develop a centralized study on the party building question for the whole organization, including contacts.

* * *

We are confident that in the discussion of this document, comrades will be able to deepen the understanding of the points raised here. Knowing the staunch proletarian stand of all comrades, your dedication to the cause of revolution, and determination to overcome all weaknesses in order to march forward, we look ahead towards a bright future.