Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

League for Proletarian Revolution (M-L)

Danger of War & Party Building

First Published: Resistence, Vol. 10, No. 9, September 1979
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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The increasing danger of an imperialist world war triggered by the superpowers’ contention for world hegemony is an objective fact that has to be taken into account in determining strategy and tactics in this period. In the main, it is a question of developing the broadest possible united front against superpower hegemonism and war preparations. Only the struggle of the workers and oppressed people and nations of the world can put off the inevitable war between the two superpowers.

In the United States, the task of organizing the struggle against war preparations is severely held back by the absence of a genuine (sham ones we have a record number) Marxist Leninist Communist Party. Without that party we cannot talk about a systematic, meaningful and successful struggle against the everyday increasing possibility of war. Thus, to a great extent the real commitment of communists and advanced elements to the struggle against war preparations can be measured in terms of whether or not they have facilitated the party building process or obstaculized it; whether they are really working for the building of the party or are sabotaging it.

There is no doubt about it. The party is needed today more than ever. The faster we build it, the sooner we will be prepared to be a real force in opposition to imperialist war, for peace, in support of national liberation struggles and for socialism. Without that party the US multinational proletariat cannot effectively participate, much less lead, the struggle against imperialist war and for socialism in this country. Thus, the deep concern for building that indispensable instrument of struggle before the superpowers impose a third world war on the peoples of the world has to be shared by all genuine communists and advanced elements in our country.

Understanding this, uniting with the extreme importance of this, is crucial. But not enough. We are to transform that understanding into a material force that in fact moves forward at a greater speed the party building process in the US. A process that has suffered tremendous setbacks in recent times, both by the complete degeneration of some formerly honest forces as well as by the reducing of party building to self-proclamations. The question that we are to answer is how we assure ourselves that to fight against the real danger of war we build a real communist party of the new type. No less.

But to “speed up” the process of party building can be understood, and in fact is understood, in many different ways.

“Speed up” can mean: forget about the differences, compromise by giving up principles, muddle and mutate lines in order to reach “consensus”, concilliate with all sorts of opportunism in order to build the “party” right away. Speed up can also mean: take head on the task of building the party, fight for the hegemony of a correct Marxist-Leninist line in our movement demarcate the different trends in a correct and principled way in order that struggle for unity can be waged and in fact unity can be achieved.

The first road will never lead to a real Marxist-Leninist Communist Party, but rather to a loose federation of groups that would be incapable of leading anything in a revolutionary way and would break in many pieces at the first sight of real class battles. The second road is a correct Marxist-Leninist approach to party building. The approach of establishing lines of demarcation in order to unite, of open and vigorous ideological struggle among the different trends, of open criticism and self-criticism.

In a nutshell, the first position calls for “Unite without demarcation” (or demarcate after uniting) because the “war is coming and this is the only way out”. The latter position reinstates the Leninist principle: “Before we can unite, and in order that we may unite, we must first of all draw firm and definite lines of demarcation.” (Lenin Selected Works, Vol. II)

This is a most fundamental question and not merely one of semantics. If you elevate “unity” to an abstract principle that is correct under any circumstances and under any ideological and political line you render it worthless. And the fact that those calls for unity are made in the name of Marxism-Leninism Mao Zedong Thought, of defending the correct three worlds theory, etc, do not change this at all.

If some comrades feel that it is necessary to develop some kind of common front, united front work, if you may, in defense of the overall correct line that historically has been pursued by the CPC, it is their right to do so. In fact, most probably we would unite with such an effort – in practice we are doing so – as long as our independence and initiative is not jeopardized by unprincipled manouvers and sectarian alliances (as is the case in our days). But to confuse unity on those general principles with the kind of unity in theory and practice that is needed to build a party is missing the mark by a lot. Especially when that “unity” is left at the level of general pronounciations like we all support the three worlds theory. Chairman Mao, the CPC, etc., but the necessary debate about what that means in the real world, in the USA in 1979, is smashed. Thus we have on the one hand defenders of the three worlds theory that didn’t move a finger to support the just struggles of the Iranian and Nicaraguan people against US imperialism, while on the other we have those who (ourselves included) took an active role in supporting such struggles showing concretely what the three worlds theory is really about.

The same can be said about where the main blow should go, what our attitude towards US participation in NATO should be, how to evaluate the SALT II treaty and so on. All these questions relate clearly to the question of war preparations and it would be ridiculous to pretend to build a party immediately –supposedly in order to lead the struggle against the imperialist war – without first establishing clearly what are our positions on these questions. (Undoubtedly, the same holds true for many other fundamental questions mentioned elsewhere in this article)

Obviously, the comrades that are using the boogey man of the war to put forward their get-rich-quick schemes would argue that in no way they are proposing such unprincipled thing. They claim that in fact all lines of demarcation have been drawn between genuine and sham Marxism in this country. Furthermore, they claim that whatever other discussions that may be necessary can be carried out among the organizations in private.

This line reduces ideological struggle to something to be used only when struggling with the enemy, and among “comrades” things are not to be discussed openly It is no accident that despite clear differences on may questions the different organizations that understand the “speed up” of party building in this way do not carry any open polemics among themselves. And with this view that open polemics are synonymous to sectarian attacks, and that you are to polemicize only with the “enemy” (concentrating only on the CPUSA, the RCP and as of late the WVO), the scenario is prepared to disregard every criticism as the work of the enemy or as the “sectarian attacks of a sect.”

Despite their claims to the contrary, the comrades pushing that “the war is coming, the war is coming, we have to unite right away” are also practicing the “left-is-the-main-danger” line. They cover it today by in words saying that right opportunism and revisionism is the main danger, then proceeding to identify the CPUSA as the main proponent of that line, calling on comrades to intensify the struggle against the CPUSA and presto!, the right danger within our midsts, within the US anti-revisionist communist movement, disappears. When referring to problems within our movement all they mention is the “left”. And “left” is supposedly the sectarianism, “left” is the economism, and so on. Central to this position is as we mentioned above, the liquidation of open ideological struggle which objectively amounts to the line that says that ideological struggle is “leftist”, and that the “left” is the main danger within the anti-revisionist communist movement in the U.S.

The question posed is how to build a genuine communist party as soon as possible. We are dealing then with two main considerations. One is a matter of time (when, how long). The other of content (a genuine Marxist-Leninist communist party of the multinational US proletariat.) Obviously, the content of the party is the fundamental question here. Any method which, although really fast like self-proclamations, sacrifices the quality of that party in any way, has to be discarded. There are many fundamental questions that are to be taken into consideration in determining the way ahead, such as the relation between theory and practice, between agitation and propaganda, between legal and illegal work, between open ideological struggle and private discussions among organizations, etc. as well as concrete ideological and political lines on the international situation, the national question, the woman question, the trade union question, the struggle against revisionism and all forms of opportunism, etc. Whether we are to forget all differences to keep them quiet, independently of their being in some cases fundamental, or to struggle in a principled and aboveboard manner for higher unity, will in fact determine if we are going to have just another phony party, bigger and “unified” but still phoney, or the genuine, multinational M-L communist party that is so badly needed.

Puerto Rican peasants have an old saying that goes: When in a hurry, dress up slowly (Visteme despacio que voy de prisa). We can learn a lot from this. If because you are in a hurry to get somewhere you dress yourself up so fast that you forget your coat, your boots, your gloves, your pants, etc, and you go out in a freezing weather, you know damn well that the only place you are going to get to in a hurry is to the hospital or the cemetery. And asking to build a party without establishing firm and clear lines of demarcation is in fact to dress yourself very poorly for a real cold and storming weather.

Let’s get dressed properly comrades, to be sure that at the first battle we don’t find ourselves with the bourgeoisie advancing over our naked bodies!