Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Marxist-Leninist Collective

In Struggle Against Left Sectarianism: Some Experiences with L.P.R.-M.L.


The setting up of a study group, by LPR-ML, to study the international situation and the economic crises (discussion of the economic crisis never occurred) was anarchic (in the way it was set up) and “left” sectarian in its underlying purpose. All of the contacts had just recently come into contact with LPR-ML and the study group waS the first occasion in which any of the contacts came under formal LPR-ML leadership (in fact, one contact was not aware that he was in a study group until the beginning of the first session; the contact was under the impression that he came to establish contact with LPR-ML). LPR-ML gave different reasons for setting up the study group. Some contacts were told that the purpose of the study group was to achieve unity on the international situation while others were told, or surmised, that the purpose of the study group was to deepen our understanding of the international situation. Finally,, long after the study group had been liquidated and in response to criticism from some comrades in the NLSSC (criticism for liquidating theory) LPR-ML stated that one of the purposes of the study group had been theoretical preparation for work in the NLSSC (preparation of LPR-ML cadre and those contacts who later went into the NLSSC).

The preparations that LPR-ML made for the study group involved presenting a list of readings on imperialism and the international situation. LPR also proposed its intention to present its position on the international situation as the focal point or basis of discussion. However, after repeated criticism during the study group and some eight or so months since the suspension of the study group, LPR-ML has not put out its position on the international situation (Aug. ’77).

In our opinion, LPR-ML established the study group for three reasons. First, after the break up of “the wing” (PRRWO, WV0, RWL, ATM) some Marxist-Leninists looked to LPR for leadership. However, in reality, LPR had no connections with the masses, no mass work, and was unprepared to give leadership. Consequently, the international study group was a diversion to keep Marxist-Leninists busy and give the illusion that LPR was serious about giving leadership. Second, LPR had no developed line on the international, situation other than what it learned from “the wing” and in books and the communist movement as a whole. Being in a position where some Marxist-Leninists looked to it for leadership LPR was hard pressed to put out to the movement a developed position on the international situation (among other issues). A study group on the international situation was a means by which LPR could develop its position, remove the various uncertainties and generalities, rather than presenting positions and ideas openly to the movement (and to their contacts) for comradely criticism and further development. This is, of course, in line with LPR’s view of developing positions in an intellectualist way – apart from the movement and in isolation from the masses; in short, for purely factional interests that have nothing to do with actually giving leadership to the revolutionary struggle of the U.S. proletariat. In this sense, the study group was a so-called “theoretical preparation” for the NLSSC. Third, LPR did have contradictions with contacts (including quite clear contradictions on the international situation) and the international study group was a means by which LPR attempted to show and prove its theoretical and ideological capabilities, impress contacts, get them in the habit of slavishly following and defending LPR, and thus consolidate its leadership. The international situation was also a subject that was sufficiently abstracted from the day to day issues and activity of the masses so this was a most convenient area for windbags or bookworshippers to attempt to prove and consolidate theoretical and ideological leadership. Conscious or unconscious on LPR’s part, these are the objective factors that we now see as having led to LPR’s setting up the international study group.

In our opinion it was incorrect to set up a study group on the international situation for the new contacts. The said contacts were attempting to develop or establish work within the working class with the view to developing Marxist-Leninist work. It was, therefore, important for LPR to conscientiously review the circumstances of each contact, discuss with all the contacts the need to develop communist work among the masses, and strive to unite Marxist-Leninists in the course of giving leadership to them at their work places. LPR-ML was incapable of providing this leadership and instead, struggled to unite the Marxist-Leninists in isolation from the masses and without regard to the particular contacts’ circumstances and was thus sectarian, not only towards the masses, but, to the communists as well. For LPP to view the uniting of Marxist-Leninists in isolation from the masses and their struggles is a stage theory of first uniting Marxist-Leninists and then winning the advanced and gaining influence among the masses after marshalling “sufficient” forces. Furthermore, the view that at present theory is primary does not mean debating theory in isolation from practical work among the masses. It means studying and developing theory in connection with this work and basing oneself on concrete reality (summing up the reality and practice) in order to develop theory which in turn is a guide to action.

Even in the study group itself, LPR-ML proved that it viewed theory as dogma and not as a guide to action. We will cite a few examples to illustrate the dogmatic and sectarian methods of struggle of LPR... One contact attempted to bring out the necessity for discussing the strategy for world proletarian revolution. Despite the fact that LPR itself writes of world proletarian revolution, LPR had no understanding of the concept and instead of trying to clarify the issue, labeled the comrade’s position as Trotskyite. When asked why the position was Trotskyite, LPR could not explain, but merely gave a general description of the Trotskyite view of revolution, stated that “Trotskyism is a settled question”, and proceeded to present comrades with a list of readings on Trotskyism. LPR continually attempted, in this way, not to clarify the issues and engage in principled struggle in order to deepen comrades understanding and achieve principled unity, but to intimidate comrades so that they would slavishly follow LPR and blindly work under its leadership.

Another example of LPR’s dogmatic and sectarian method of struggle occurred when some comrades put forth the position that Soviet social-imperialism is more dangerous than United States imperialism because the USSR is a superpower that carries out its plans under the cover of being a “socialist”, “natural ally of the oppressed”, and it is also on the offensive mobilizing for war. LPR stated that the formulation “more dangerous” is the same as “main enemy”. Furthermore, some comrades stated that Soviet social-imperialism is “on the rise” while United States imperialism is on the decline. LPR then proceeded, attempting to defeat the line that Soviet social-imperialism is more dangerous, to wage a vigorous struggle over Soviet social-imperialism being “on the rise” because in general imperialism is declining. By focusing the struggle on the formulation “on the rise” LPR attempted to defeat the position of uneven development within the system of imperialism. This is shown by LPR’s reluctant acceptance of formulations commonly used to describe Soviet social-imperialism’s relations internationally such as: “an upstart”, “up and coming”, “ascendent”, etc. Comrades stated and conceded that the formulation “on the rise” can create some confusion, but, LPR made the struggle over this formulation the essence of the struggle and a question of principle rather than seeing the uneven development of imperialist powers as the essence of the struggle (The fact is one imperialist power can be on the defensive and another on the offensive. In 1939 Stalin spoke of the Axis powers as the aggressive states and the Western powers (U.S. Britain, France) – as the nonaggressive states).

In yet another example, most of the contacts held the view that national, liberation struggles “weaken imperialism” and at the same time heighten or intensify the rivalry among the imperialists (the two superpowers in this case) due to the fact that the imperialists are forced to fight over fewer markets. LPR opposed this view claiming it is a revisionist thesis that says national liberation struggles threaten peace and cause war and therefore national liberation struggles should not be supported. Comrades stated that even though they had used the word “caused”, what they meant was national liberation struggles heighten contention. But, LPR dogmatically equated cause with heighten. On a paper written to prove its point, LPR stated, “of course the shrinking of world markets (not solely as a result of national liberation struggles) creates the need for new markets. But is this equal to contention? No. The loss of markets only makes imperialism weaker, less capable of making war, thus less inclined to engage in contention”.

It is correct to study and have an understanding of the international situation and we feel it can only be done correctly when it is viewed from the standpoint of relating the study of the international situation to the struggles of the working class in the U.S. and utilizing our understanding to educate workers on the effects of imperialism and on the importance of supporting all struggles against oppression and exploitation.

In analyzing the international situation in Jan. 1925, Stalin made an analysis as to how the national liberation movement in Morocco was heightening the rivalry among the imperialists “Second fact: complications are maturing in North Africa, in the region of Morocco and Tunisia. That is causing a new regrouping of forces, new preparations for new military complications between the imperialists. The fact that Spain has suffered defeat in Morocco; Note (from the text) This refers to the defeat in the autumn of 1924 of the Spanish army, 150,000 strong, sent by Primo de Rivera, the fascist dictator of Spain, to suppress the national-liberation movement in the Riff, the Spanish zone of Morocco. As a result of the victory gained by the Moroccans, two-thirds of the territory occupied by the Spanish forces was liberated. (End of note). that France is stretching out her hands to grab Morocco; that Britain will not tolerate the strengthening of France’s position in Morocco; that Italy is trying to take advantage of the new situation to lay her hands on Tunisia and that the other states will not permit her to do so;”(J. Stalin, Works 7 P. 12 Speech delivered at the Plenum of the Central Committee of the R.C.P.(B). Jan. 19, 1925.) According to LPR, Stalin was saying that the National Liberation Movement of Morocco should not be supported because it “caused” inter-imperialist war. That is of course, ridiculous bourgeois logic.

After reading the above quoted document, some comrades pointed out that to view the national liberation struggles as creating “the need for new markets” is in fact to put forth that the national liberation struggles cause war. Contacts pointed out to LPR that capitalism itself creates its own need for markets – irrespective of national liberation struggles. LPR retorted that theirs was not a revisionist line and that comrades were focusing on a “weak” point of their (LPR’s) paper, but LPR would not even repudiate or admit to the incorrectness of this “weak” point.