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Milwaukee Socialist Union

The Split in the Milwaukee Alliance: A Struggle Against Empiricism

Cover Letter

July 4, 1978

Dear Comrades:

On March 24, 1978 the minority faction of the Milw. Alliance (which constituted about 40% of the organization) met and decided to leave the MA and form the Milw. Socialist Union, The following paper is our analysis of the political struggles that culminated in this split.

Due to the length of the paper we would like to summarize the main points for you:

(1) In general we see the split as primarily a split with empiricism, and secondarily with dogmatism. The empiricism of the MA was deep. It extended back to the founding perspectives of its predecessor the Wisconsin Alliance, Work in the MA became increasingly an internal struggle against empiricism. As the MA achieved unity on Marxism-Leninism, it carried its empiricism on into its views on party-building. As our party-building work led us into increasing contact with other Marxist-Leninists around the country we became convinced that the MA would have to break more decisively with its empiricism if it were to make a contribution to the party-building process, The MA refused to make this break.

Secondarily, due to the long existence of empiricism some of the more theoretically developed comrades in the MA began to latch onto dogmatic formulations on the question of international line.

In our struggle as the minority faction we developed a political line in opposition to both the empiricism and the dogmatism. We then struggled that the MA should take up this 2 line struggle until a resolution was reached. We lost this struggle as the majority felt that the official line of the organization had not yet been sufficiently tested in practice.

The MA disagrees that the split resulted from a 2 line struggle that could no longer be resolved within the confines of the organization, Instead, they feel it was caused by the minority having a sectarian view of democratic centralism and a flunkyist attitude to the PWOC. We feel that although we had very real differences over the relationship of struggle in local organizations to struggles nationally, and we had different assessments of the PWOC, that these differences resulted from differences in political line – not different views of democratic-centralism in the MA, or flunkyist vs. objective assessments of the PWOC.

(2) The 2 line struggle in the MA revolved around differences over 3 key questions in the Marxist-Leninist movement:

(a) party-building line; Our view is that fusion is the essence of party-building, but more importantly, that the struggle for unity on political line among M-Lists is the motive force of fusion, its most central aspect. The view of the MA is that party-building has 2 stages; that in the present stage fusion is primary, and in a 2nd stage M-L unity will become primary. We feel that the MA’s separating out of unity on political line as a separate stage after fusion leaves them with empirical views of their present fusion work, and dogmatic views of the struggle for unity on political line.

(b) the root of left-opportunism; Formally the MA has no position, but in reality operate from the perspective that pre-mature consolidation on political line is the root of ’left’-opportunism. We hold a tentative hypothesis that the root is dogmatism, but strongly feel that only by putting the struggle for unity on political line as primary will ’left’-opportunism be defeated.

(c) the question of the main enemy to the world’s people: The position of the MA is that it is premature for M-Lists to unite on this question. However, one of the leading cadre in the MA holds a position that ’the 2 superpowers are the main enemy, and of the 2 the USSR is the most dangerous’ and other leading cadre in the MA are open to this position.

Our position is that it is both possible and necessary for M-Lists to hold a hypothesis that the US is the main enemy to the world’s people; and that one of the most immediate theoretical tasks of our movement is to develop a complete and thorough position on this question. We feel that M-Lists who do not see unity on this question as essential are operating either out of a fear of breaking with the Chinese Communist Party, or from an empirical downplaying of the centrality of political line in party-building and a tailist view of communist tasks in the mass movement.

(3) We felt it was necessary to leave the MA when we did rather than stay and struggle because the empiricism in the organization was not only very strong, but was supported by dogmatism. It was virtually impossible for us to defeat the empiricism as long as it had the support of the dogmatism; and the empiricism served as too thick of a screen for us to be able to get at the dogmatism. We felt that only by removing ourselves from the organizational discipline of the MA would we be able to concentrate on the development of a political line to confront both empiricism and dogmatism.

These are the main points presented very briefly. We hope that you will have time to read our complete analysis and welcome any comments or criticisms that you may have.

In solidarity,
Mickey Q.
for the Milwaukee Socialist Union
PO Box 12184
Milw., Wise. 53212