Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Michael A. Miller

Against Revisionism


Even though some people treat them as advertising gimmicks, slogans are one of the powerful weapons of the class struggle. At the present time our slogans cannot express the mass movement, even if we try to adjust them to fit it. They will not represent masses of people until we succeed in winning over the vanguard ideologically. Before we can win the masses we have to educate many hundreds of thousands of workers, and before we can accomplish that, we have to organize the few thousands of revolutionary communists from among the workers and intellectuals.

The particular slogan above especially provokes the revisionists and opportunists. Not only do they hate it because it represents to them, “sectarianism”; they hate it double because it is the slogan of the Communist League, and the slogan now of all the organizations participating in the Congress which will “declare a party” this year. The closer we get to the Congress, the more the RU and OL rants and raves. Joining them is the Guardian and the American Communist Workers Movement, making up a jeering chorus of gesticulators. Why do they hate the Communist League so vehemently?

In the first place, it is because the Communist League has correctly identified them as petty-bourgeois “new left”ists, and especially petty as compared to the real revisionist danger, the CPUSA. While the OL and RU have contributed nothing to an understanding of our heritage and the struggle against revisionism in the CPUSA, the CL has made a contribution to this effort. The CL has taken the whole question seriously, while the OL, for example, believe themselves to be making a contribution by publishing William Z. Foster’s picture along with a letter to him from Mao Tsetung. The leaders of CL have tried to present a definite, consistent, and correct view, that Marxism-Leninism never was the dominant aspect of the CPUSA. Naturally the exposure of revisionism and opportunism, one of the prerequisites for building a party of a new type, is bound to make the revisionists and opportunists, and their conciliators, squeal and squawk.

Another reason they hate the CL is that the latter has made a serious application of Marxism-Leninism to the Negro National-Colonial Question, and is proving to people that “Free the Negro Nation” is the only correct slogan for the (multi-national) Anglo-American proletariat. While the OL and RU capitulate to the CPUSA approach to this question, CL has stood firm in applying the principles and tactics of Lenin and Stalin. The RU took tens of thousands of words only to end up finally “allowing” some “flexibility” in regard to Stalin’s criteria for nationhood. The OL has made no analysis, and while in words agreeing with the theory of the Negro Nation, finds no practical use for it.

Finally, they hate CL because it has refused to liquidate the independence and initiative of the proletarian revolutionary movement and transform it into an adjunct of some “united front” party. On the struggle against revisionism, on the Negro Nation, and on the international situation, CL has made a serious and independent analysis, adhering to the method and standpoint of Marxism-Leninism. The others apparently want to build themselves up by means of testimonials, just like they think they have contributed a political line on William Foster by publishing a testimonial from Mao. They know how to copy out the latest resolutions from China, but they do not know how to make a Marxist-Leninist analysis of the international situation. They cannot distinguish between the foreign policy of a socialist state and a revolutionary program for the U.S. proletariat.

It is for these reasons that CL has become an influential force in the communist movement. It is for these reasons that CL has had some success in establishing an organization with proletarian, multi-national composition. It is for those reasons that other organizations have joined with CL to organize the Congress, understanding that it is the oldest, most theoretically consolidated, biggest, and therefore the most influential of all the organizations.

Enthusiasm is high, and justifiably so. The road is long and difficult, but the direction has been settled, the road is now distinguishable from the marsh.

We are on the eve of the proletarian revolution. That describes the general features of imperialist society. In particular the communist movement is only now taking the first step–building the Marxist-Leninist party. The general theory presented here is not nearly enough. The split in the working class is the most important factor in splitting the proletarian movement in the imperialist countries from the national liberation movement in the colonies. The outstanding programmatic question for the party, therefore, is the Negro National-Colonial Question, which is only touched on in these writings. The split in the working class is also the most important factor in the development of fascism, another outstanding programmatic question, and this subject is not covered. Still another question for the party to analyze is that of the restoration of capitalism in the USSR.

Does establishing the party as a national organization with a program mean that the vanguard has been own ideologically? Can we then turn to mass agitation, united front activity, etc.? No. The Congress is an historic event; it means we have taken the first step in winning the vanguard ideologically, it is the beginning of the “first period” of the party’s history. It means that agitation on a mass, national scale, is now possible, but it does not mean that such agitation can become our primary work. The party’s work will still be centered around education; the building up of a national communist press, a body of scientific theoretical literature, and an organized, trained body of cadre whose unshakeable revolutionary unity will be a material weapon in the class struggle.

Similarly, the establishing of the party does not mean that we are ready to win over “the middle forces,” go among all classes of the population, etc. First, we have to begin to make “every factory our fortress.” Making use of the fractional method of work, we have to truly integrate communism with the working class movement. Our communist core groups in the shops, in the unions, etc., must be able to find their own bearings and hold steadfast to the proletarian line, while at the same time being able to unite with non-communist activists struggling for reforms.

Our task is still mainly educational because the revisionists never wanted to and therefore couldn’t educate the workers in Marxism. The revisionists and opportunists, and all the conciliators, will scoff at “education.” Philistines cannot be expected to envision a proletarian intelligentsia.

And if indeed we succeeded in reaching the point when all, or at least a considerable majority, of the local committees, local groups, and study circles took up active work for the common cause, we could, in the not too distant future, establish a weekly newspaper for regular distribution in tens of thousands of copies throughout Russia. This newspaper would become part of an enormous pair of smith’s bellows that would fan every spark of the class struggle and of popular indignation into a general conflagration. Around what is in itself still a very innocuous and very small, but common effort, in the full sense of the word, a regular army of tried fighters would systematically gather and receive their training. On the ladders and scaffolding of this general organizational structure there would soon develop and come to the fore Social-Democratic Zhelyabovs from among our revolutionaries and Russian Bebels from among our workers, who would take their place at the head of the mobilised army and rouse the whole people to settle accounts with the shame and curse of Russia. That is what we should dream of!

“We should dream!” I wrote these words and became alarmed. I imagined myself sitting at a “unity conference” and opposite me were the Rabocheye Dyelo editors and contributors. Comrade Martynov rises and, turning to me, says sternly: “Permit me to ask you, has an automonous editorial board the right to dream without first soliciting the opinion of the Party committees?” He is followed by Comrade Krichevsky, who (philosophically deepening Comrade Martynov, who long ago rendered Comrade Plekhanov more profound) continues even more sternly: “I go further. I ask, has a Marxist any right at all to dream, knowing that according to Marx mankind always sets itself the tasks it can solve and that tactics is a process of the growth of Party tasks which grow together with the Party?”

The very thought of these stern questions sends a cold shiver down my spine and makes me wish for nothing but a place to hide in. I shall try to hide behind the back of Pisarev.

“There are rifts and rifts,” wrote Pisarev of the rift between dreams and reality. “My dream may run ahead of the natural march of events or may fly off at a tangent in a direction in which no natural march of events will ever proceed. In the first case my dream will not cause any harm; it may even find support and augment the energy of the working men . . . There is nothing in such dreams that would distort or paralyse labour-power. On the contrary, if man were completely deprived of the ability to dream in this way, if he could not from time to time run ahead and mentally conceive, in an entire and completed picture, the product to which his hands are only just beginning to lend shape, then I cannot at all imagine what stimulus there would be to induce man to undertake and complete extensive and strenuous work in the sphere of art, science, and practical endeavour . . . The rift between dreams and reality causes no harm if only the person dreaming believes seriously in his dream, if he attentively observes life, compares his observations with his castles in the air, and if, generally speaking, he works conscientiously for the achievement of his fantasies. If there is some connection between dreams and life then all is well.”

Of this kind of dreaming there is unfortunately too little in our movement. – WITBD?*, LCW, 5:508-10