Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

League of Struggle (M-L)

The History of the League of Struggle

First Published: Journal, No. 1, mid-February 1977.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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The League of Struggle (M-L) was formed in the late Fall of 1974, and for the most part has been functioning as a secret organization. We formed the LS because we recognized that party-building was and is the central task of U.S. Marxist-Leninists. We viewed the establishment of LS as a step towards the building of the Party.

The formation of LS represented several positive steps. At that time, the predominant form of organization in our area was project-oriented, around such activities as newspapers, bookstores, or study groups. From the beginning we considered LS to be a higher form of organization which had to combine theory with practice and direct all our work. The organization had a defined leadership. Our class and social composition was predominantly petty-bourgeois, with some cadre of proletarian origin, and most of us coming out of the anti-imperialist student movement.

There have been three major questions around which the struggle and development of our organization have centered. The three questions are:
1) Establishing the correct dialectical relationship between theory and practice.
2) Breaking with small circle mentality and amateurishness in order to correctly implement the slogan, ”M-L Unite”.
3) Breaking with social-democratic, especially ultra-democratic, styles of work in order to implement the communist form of organization, democratic centralism.

The development of the League of Struggle (M-L) in these three areas has been the result of three key internal factors: our study, our practice in leading the class struggle, and our organizational work.(A key external factor was our relationship with the August Twenty-ninth Movement.) We have to grasp the relationships and what was decisive.

During the two years of our history, we have periodically summed-up our organization’s work. These sum-ups have served to consolidate our developments, and serve as the focal points for breaking down the history of the League of Struggle.


Our formation lasted for nearly 8 months. During that period, we were not in fact a Marxist-Leninist organization, nor were most of us Marxist-Leninists. Although we had a definite leadership, we were not functioning under democratic centralism. Although all our members accepted the science of Marxism-Leninism, the central task of party-building, the leading role of the CPC and the PLA, and the main danger posed by revisionism and right opportunism, not all of our members had made the ideological commitment to put building the revolution first in our lives, and most of us were not actively engaged in leading the class struggle. By the end of the first period our members had made that commitment.

The principal weakness of our organization was the low level of our members. Even our most developed cadre lacked the theoretical development and practical experience necessary to adequately direct our work.

Our work in the class struggle was primitive, and in the national struggles it was non-existent. A small number of our cadre were working in jobs which we viewed as the center of the comrades’ political work. Our organization, reacting to the right opportunist line of the R.U., followed the “left” line of divorcing theory from practice. This line manifested itself in the position that we could not play any significant role in the class struggle until after we built factory nuclei. With the worker contacts we had, this line meant we had to study with them until they developed an understanding of Marxism-Leninism and then we could engage in practice. We later recognized that this line objectively liquidates factory nuclei because the advanced come forward in the heat of the class struggle. Workers are consolidated around the science, at least in part, by the ability of Marxist-Leninists to provide direction for both the short term and long term struggles of the working class.

Our work with respect to the task of Marxist-Leninists Unite was non-existent. We had substantial unity with the lines of several M-L Organizations (ATM, BWC, and PRRWO), but we failed to seek out their guidance. We had informal ties with one of these organizations, but we made no attempt to formalize the relationship. And, although we studied the political organs of various M-L groups, we made no attempts to contact these organizations.

This error reflected petty-bourgeois vacillation, amateurishness, and small-circle mentality. We did not take ourselves seriously enough. We had the attitude of “why would these groups be interested in us?”. We summarize this as petty-bourgeois because if we were serious about revolution and party building, we would have moved immediately to struggle and unite with the more developed organizations. We also summarize this error as amateurishness and small-circle mentality because we took the attitude that unless an organization was active in our city we could not devote much energy to working with them. We saw ourselves as “developing our line” instead of searching for the most advanced line and uniting with it.

We feel that these errors are probably typical of the approach that many small groups take. We want to stress that M-L’s should unite in organizations with which they have ideological and political unity and they should always seek out the most developed form.

We recognize that, since we were not a M-L organization, it would have been difficult for us to engage in work to unite Marxist-Leninists. Furthermore, given our own primitive level, we were not in a position to establish principled unity with another organization. However, we also recognize that our development could have moved forward faster and the work of building the party better served if we had moved to establish formal relations with the organizations with which we believed ourselves to have substantial unity.

Our own organizational work was characterized by a social-democratic style of work. Our organizational discipline was minimal and the decision-making process was ultra-democratic.

To summarize this first period of our formation, we correctly saw the central task before us and tried to carry it out. Our formation was a positive step at the time and we held to the leading role of theory. However, because of small-circle mentality, amateurishness and petty bourgeois class outlook, we made left errors, manifested in excessive secrecy, divorcing theory from practice, remaining isolated from and sectarian towards the communist and workers’ movements, as well as clinging to ultra-democracy internally.

Our study in this period consisted of the fundamental works of Marxism-Leninism and the political organs of various Marxist-Leninist organizations. We believe that our study was the principal source of our development in this period. The first task which we had to accomplish was developing our own members into Marxist-Leninists; this required that we develop an adequate understanding of Marxism-Leninism. Therefore study was the principal work that moved LS as a whole forward. The culmination of this first period was the summation meeting of Oct. 1975.


In this second period, we again should study the 3 main questions. In terms of theory and practice, we had corrected the left deviation and now combined theory and practice, but in a mechanical rather than dialectical way. Our study with workers was not linked up with our practice with them. The workers saw this and wanted study that would guide their work. Externally, with other advanced elements, where we had cadre working in study groups, the error of not linking the study with practice also was made. These study groups were all-theory and no-practice. Internally, our study was good. We began to overcome our weaknesses through study, criticism/self-criticism and hard work.

Our cadre were instructed to lead the struggles and we studied with workers but we did not combine theory and practice in a living way.

In our M-L Unite work, we firmed up and formalized our relationship with those organizations with which we had substantial unity, particularly ATM, and began to make contacts with organizations we saw as ML. However, generally this was not done systematically, with a definite plan and consistency, and as a result we allowed things to muddle along, ignoring some groups all together, again reflecting petty-bourgeois tendencies towards vacillation and small group mentality.

Our study of Marxism and our concrete practice caused us to understand why political line was key. Our study focused on the burning questions of the movement – party building, the national question, the international situation, and so on.

But what was decisive in this period? It was our practical work. Our practice raised the questions that forced us to move forward on the three questions of democratic centralism, theory and practice, and M-L Unite. On democratic centralism, people’s practical work forced us to adopt firm communist methodology. The cadre were involved in things to the extent that regular guidance was needed, and the organizational forms necessary for that were adopted. We moved to concentrate in key industry and consciously stepped up our organizing efforts. We participated in coalition work, like May Day Coalition-1976, and the Committee for Angolan Independence. Our involvement in the class struggle forced us to examine how we were relating theory and practice and move the resolution of that forward. The need for practical, current discussion of work with other Marxist-Leninists was one factor that moved us to take a more serious approach to Marxist-Leninist Unite. Our political line and practical work of leading the class struggle, that is, the concrete application of the science of Marxism-Leninism to the concrete conditions, moved all spheres forward.


As our work deepened and moved ahead on all fronts, it became necessary and correct to find ways to provide even more guidance to our work. We changed our form of organization to that of units, nuclei, and fractions, strengthened democratic-centralism, and moved to establish an open presence. However, secrecy still held us back from coming Into contact with the majority of the Communist Movement locally. The third period lasted from July 1976 until Jan. 1977. During this time, we came to a clearer understanding of the meaning of political line is key, and our work advanced in many respects. However, we were also making errors, some serious. These errors held our work back substantially.

In our Marxist-Leninist Unite work, we tried to actively pursue contact with Marxist-Leninist organizations, for the purpose of determining and strengthening unity or clarifying and struggling over disunity. However, our Marxist-Leninist unite work was still not as good as we would have liked it to be. This was because it was not based on a plan and a scientific analysis. We still had no open member, and had not erased all remnants of small-circle mentality.

ATM ceased to be the main external factor in our development in the third period. We finally broke with our tailism and started to study and think and be independent. We came to regard LPR and especially WVO as having important contributions to make.

In terms of recruitment, individuals unite with us on the basis of our line, and potential recruits are tested In practice, the practice of leading the class struggle We began to change our class basis by recruiting proletarians into our ranks.

In the third period, we initiated work in the national movements, something we had shamefully neglected in the past. Among other work, we began to function in PUFO, People United To Fight Oppression, a coalition doing work around the case of the Camp Pendelton 14 and against the KKK.

In our agitation and propaganda work, while there were errors and unevenness, we have done a good job, especially in the plants. However, we failed to make propaganda the chief form of activity.

Another serious weakness was the failure to polemicize against opportunists (particularly local ones) – which is one of the most important tasks of communists.

Internally, we failed to organize ourselves to the point where deep and regular cadre training could be given. Thus, we left many of our cadre weak and unable to win people to our line, conduct work and combat opportunism. There was a poor division of labor, high workloads and inadequate concern for priorities.

Overall in this period, we see the main weakness was in the organizational sphere: poor cadre training, inadequate priorities arranging, and weaknesses in organizing and carrying out Marxist-Leninist Unite work. The main strength that moved us forward was the deepening of our grasp of agitation and propaganda and the beginning of work in the national movements.


Beginning in January 1977, we have been struggling to overcome our errors and make qualitative changes. We have established an open presence, with both literature and a public spokesman, initiated public polemics (verbal and written) against the opportunists and those holding incorrect lines, developed and begun to put forward publicly our positions on the burning questions of the Party Building Movement, and taken steps toward regular and extensive cadre training. Our Marxist-Leninist Unite work has finally been made primary and is much more planned, conscious and regular.

On the negative side, we have still not made propaganda the chief form. We have come to see that it would be incorrect and big-headed (to say the least) to think that we (as a small circle) could/should attempt to publish a political organ. What this means to us is that, we are incapable of making propaganda the chief form, short of liquidating all the good work we are doing with our lower level propaganda (aimed at the masses rather than at the advanced) and political and economic agitation, until we can start using the political organ of some other organization. And this will only be possible when we are sufficiently close to that organization that there is a good deal of line unity. So we see here too, why Marxist-Leninist Unite work is so important and this is one more cause for our putting heavy stress on it. Other weaknesses include: that there is still room for improvement in our M-L Unite work (we have had some difficulty in maintaining contact with some organizations); this problem is reflective of the fact that there is still some hang-over of the view that sees the formation of the party as a “protracted struggle”...something that will take years more – this is the pessimistic outlook of the petty-bourgeoisie; and though we have consciously rejected it. Objectively it is somewhat still reflected in our work on this question.

The party is a question that needs to be solved and the masses in the US demand their party. Not the unprincipled get-rich-quick schemes of the opportunists (such as the OL’s Org. Committee ((menshevik-liberal)) and Workers’ Congress trotskyite “august bloc” “Iskra Principle” and editorial board); but the principled unity of the genuine Marxist-Leninists and advanced workers and other advanced elements. This takes hard persistent work and as a small organization we are very aware of our limitations and the long history of small-circle outlook, amateurishness, etc. that has plagued our history. But by firmly grasping the proletarian stand, method, and outlook, applying the science of MLMTTT, and working hard, we are certain that the U.S. multi-national proletariat will gain its party and its victory.

Lastly, we must mention a key external factor which has been of tremendous help in moving us forward. It was only in very late 1976 that we got in contact with the WVO Workers’ Viewpoint Organization). Up until that time, partially because of all the slanders against that organization, partially because WVO itself had not worked hard enough at spreading their literature around the country, partially because of a local bookstore pulling their literature off the shelves, and partially because of our amateurishness and small-circle mentality – we had not been checking out their literature at all. But as soon as we began to study their stuff, we realized that they had much to contribute. Since then, joint discussions and further study have played a huge part in our forward development and new lines.