Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Proletarian Unity League

On The “Progressive Role” of the Soviet Union and Other Dogmas: A Further Reply to the PWOC and the Committee of Five

V. Conclusion

In the paper, “Bring Home the Struggle Against ’Left’ Sectarianism,” we asked the question of the Committee of Five, “What kind of Ideological Center?” The events of the past year have made a response to that question more possible and more necessary.

Among those who have come to oppose the dominant line in the communist movement, great ideological and organizational confusion reigns. Their resources are weak. Their tasks are formidable. We all seek a direction forward under complex and changing international and domestic conditions. We all seek answers to problems no one else faces in quite the way we do, and no one else can face in our place.

How we handle contradictions among these anti-“left” forces gives a fair idea of how we conceive of various contradictions and how we will handle them in the wider communist movement, and more importantly, in the workers’, national revolutionary, and women’s movements. Do we try to produce concrete analyses of concrete conditions? Do we conduct struggle in a principled way? Do we distinguish clearly and correctly between what we believe necessary in order to set a basis for productive discussion and what throws up barriers to discussion, and fences us off from other revolutionaries and the people unnecessarily? An ideological center, a tendency, or a single organization which cannot resolve these kinds of problems and the contradictions among the anti-“left” forces in an appropriate way will not be able to provide real direction to a movement suffering from rampant factionalism, semi-anarchism, and careerism.

In the earlier paper cited, we said that:

A center which stifles rather than promotes, reverses positions rather than clarifies them, disorganizes rather than centralizes, and formulates a plan which suppresses rather than resolves this struggle would not push forward the fight against modern revisionism and contemporary ultra-leftism, (page 3)

That center exists, and the PWOC is building it.

It has sought to stifle ideological struggle among the anti-“left” forces by drawing up lines of demarcation which left many of the most controversial questions outside the realm of debate. Even when it has junked its previous position on points of unity, it has stuck by its sectarian exclusion of other organizations. It has sought to avoid ideological struggle over international line by not allowing anyone who openly opposes its views of the Soviet Union and its role in the world today to attend any of its conferences. It has tried to ignore repeated criticisms of its views, refused to subject them to an open debate, and when finally forced to reply by mounting pressure, resorted to selective non-quotations, various red herrings, and outright denials of its own spoken and written materials.

The PWOC’s vision of the “ideological center” reverses its views on many of its most characteristic points. It has dumped “dogmatism as the main danger” as a line of demarcation, dumped the “anti-dogmatist trend,” dumped “dogmatist opportunism” and most references to “dogmatism” altogether. It has stopped saying that the so-called “trend” is on the “threshold of maturity,” stopped for the moment saying that the Soviet Union is part of the united front against imperialism, stopped for the moment openly terming the Soviet Union socialist, an ally and a “sort of friend,” all without quotation marks. Rather than working to clarify its polemical opponents’ real arguments and its own, it denies, denies, and denies again.

The PWOC’s vision of the “ideological center” does not undertake to organize a broad debate among all representative anti-“left” forces. It does not work to ensure that a true “common literature” in the Leninist sense comes into being. It does not encourage an open exchange of perspectives, and then work to synthesize those perspectives into a definite program of action for those anti-revisionists who also oppose the ultra-left line. Instead the PWOC’s idea of an ideological center has to be dragged, tempted, and endlessly negotiated with in order to get them to make one response to polemics already over a year and a half old.

Finally, the PWOC’s vision of the “ideological center” will formulate a plan which, while it may allow for some debate provided certain of its adversaries cannot participate, will finish by suppressing the struggle rather than resolving it. World events will not bear out the PWOC’s conceptions about those “socialist economic laws” which ensure the USSR’s “generally progressive” role in the world today. World events will instead demonstrate, through blood, tears and tanks, that the Soviet Union today stands as one of the two main enemies of the world’s peoples. To ensure adherence to its erroneous estimations, the PWOC will have to resort to more extreme organizational measures within the Organizing Committee for an Ideological Center. For unless the PWOC reconsiders its present line, then as its true views become apparent, as its true actions become known, as its inability or unwillingness to practice self-criticism for its errors or undertake the “unswerving pursuit of their rectification” becomes more and more obvious, many comrades will simply not go along with it.

The twenty-year history of organized anti-revisionist activity in the U.S. shows that no one has managed to build a viable revolutionary organization using such methods. The PWOC ought to reflect on that fact.

July 18, 1978