Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

The Role of Science in the Struggle for the Party

First Published: Science, Class and Politics, No. 1, Spring 1978.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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With the collapse of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union as a revolutionary Marxist-Leninist organization and the attendant tendency toward revisionism in other parties throughout the world, the world-wide communist movement suffered a temporary period of disarray. Splits occurred and still occur. New organizations were created. Polemics surrounding the issues raised by revisionism and the formation of new parties were produced in seemingly endless quantities.

All this was necessary. A period of confusion, fostered by revisionism itself, inevitably lends itself to such developments. The “new” theories that were created, such as the supposedly non-revolutionary nature of the working class and the new vanguard of students and intellectuals or that of the spontaneous development of the party, are nothing more than products of this period. The communist movement has seen such developments before and will probably see them again. But now a new trend is emerging. Increasingly, the call is for unity. The question, though, is unity around what?

What we observe is that the various groups, particularly larger ones such as the Revolutionary Communist Party (Revolutionary Union) or the Communist Party, M-L (October League) tend to call for unity around themselves. “We have the correct position –our relative size, the fact that we have a national newspaper all indicate this fact. Smaller groups are not all that effective. Therefore, merge with us around our line.” So goes the argument.

Such an approach will never lead to the formation of a Marxist-Leninist party in the United States or in any other country. This position puts non-Marxist principles in the leadership. It places the party itself in an almost sacrosanct position. The party is the thing, the only thing that counts. Never mind what it stands for. Just make certain that it is big and that it is my party.

Yet, as Lenin teaches us in What is to be Done, the party is nothing more than a tool, a necessary tool to be sure. Without the party to lead the working class, to organize the working class around revolutionary principles, there can be no revolution. But there is nothing sacred about the party or any organization in itself. People organize because individual opposition to capitalism is ineffective. Honest people want to organize in effective groups. But to have organizations arise and then operate so as to place the organization as primary– my party right or wrong–regardless of what the organization stands for or does, is clearly incorrect. The party or organization is not above classes. It is a tool made necessary by the class nature of capitalism itself. The struggle, then, must not be between this or that organization. The struggle is always over theory or line.

Around what must unity take place? As the party is a tool, it must develop itself around that purpose for which it is to be created. The only way in which one can discover this purpose and understand the solution to capitalist society is to study the science that has developed to analyze capitalism in particular and all societies in general–the science of Marxism-Leninism. One does not understand the task at hand on the basis of reading various polemics over the last twenty years or so. A correct analysis of these polemics and the theoretical positions behind them demands an understanding of the science that is Marxism. It demands an understanding of what Marxism means and how to apply the general laws of Marxism to particular situations. Marxism is science, a general approach to the study of society in order to discover its laws of motion and in order to use this knowledge to solve problems. It does not depend upon what this or that person or group says. It is not some caricature in which someone memorizes some pet phrases and then trots them out at the appropriate time. Nor is it some mechanical cure-all, some panacea, which magically transforms one after having read Capital.

Marxism is independent of any group. Marxism is that to which groups and individuals must come if there is to be a party. This is why careful study of the “classics” as well as the current literature is important. And this study must not be undertaken to support some position held by some group, but to determine whether that position is or is not correct, now many polemics have we seen where some monstrous analysis is “supported” by the “appropriate” quote? One does not read Marx or Lenin or whomever to support his or her position, but to discover truth. And it is truth around which the tool for working class liberation must be built. Any organization that does not build itself on scientific lines, on truth and the continuing search for truth, is not a Marxist-Leninist organization. And in present society that inevitably means that it is a capitalist organization. A capitalist party will not overthrow capitalism. The task is to build a communist party.

To this end, then, every individual considering himself or herself a Marxist must develop a healthy regard for scientific honesty, critical evaluation and independence of thinking. One must not follow blindly the “leaders” of one’s group merely because that is the group to which he or she belongs. Rather, one must develop the confidence to challenge, to question, to argue the bases upon which various positions are taken. This can only be developed on the basis of intelligent thinking, the result of careful study. If it is discovered that a group’s practice is incorrect and not in keeping with its theory or what it saws its theory is, then something is fundamentally wrong. It is necessarily the individual members who must right time situation. If one observes incorrect positions toeing taken time after time with a refusal to accept criticism that proves these positions incorrect, then it becomes clear that this group is anti-working class, anti-scientific.

Groups themselves must take it as a social obligation to constantly involve their members in study groups, study groups designed to analyze the basic works of Marx, amid others, to critically evaluate them in the course of pursuing political activity.

Principled struggle must be carried on. Groups must get their position out to other groups and must expect and accept correct criticism. There are no vested interests in the real struggle for a party. It does not matter who argues correctly. The important thing is the correct argument itself. And around this argument, this theory, groups must then merge and form a party. It is through this process, that honest groups will be separated from dishonest ones; that real Marxist-Leninists will be separated from opportunists and liberals. This process, though, demands thinking, it demands work, it demands individuals who view the liberation of the working class, the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat, as the task to be completed and not the self-aggrandizement of some individual or group.


Lenin, What is to be Done

The State and Revolution

The Three Sources and Three Component Parts of Marxism

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

The Proletarian Revolution and Renegade Kautsky

Wells, Harry K., Pragmatism (Books for Libraries Press, 1954, 1971)

Stalin, et. al., History of the C.P.S.U.(B.)

History of the Party of Labor of Albania

The Party of Albania on the Building and the Life of the Party