Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Red Dawn Committee (M-L)

Critique of OL’s Opportunism

Conclusion: The Crisis of the Communist Movement and the Road Ahead

It is clear that OL has fulfilled none of the tasks necessary to build the party. They have consistently belittled theory, yet have claimed to lay the ideological basis for the party. They try to revise the basic Marxist-Leninist laws on party-building, yet claim they are Leninist. They have avoided propaganda like the plague, yet have pretended to build an ISKRA-type paper. They have tailed after every spontaneous movement they could, yet have declared themselves the vanguard of the proletariat. They have a consistent record of unprincipled maneuvers end fear of open polemics, yet have congratulated themselves for their supposed ideological struggle against revisionism. They promote social-chauvinism, yet label themselves proletarian internationalist. They claim to have principles, yet defend the innumerable different forms of their bankrupt line at every step of their development. They do not train revolutionary leaders from among the advanced workers, yet they advertise all their coalitions and front groups as facilitating this training. They promote looseness and amateurishness, yet claim to uphold democratic centralism. They put their own small-circle interests ahead of the interests of the masses, yet claim to uphold party spirit.

This is no party; these are no Bolsheviks. The OL has been and remains an opportunist organization. Rather than mending their ways or heeding the endless exposure of their right opportunism over the years, they instead prefer to justify their treachery at every turn. Their declaring themselves a party only signifies the further consolidation of their opportunism.

It must be noted, of course, that OL is by no means unique in this regard. We can see a very similar brand of opportunism in such forces as RCP and WVO, among others. For this reason, although this paper focuses mainly on OL, we think it is important to point out the common features of all the right opportunists. We expose OL not so much to single them out, but to use them as an example of the kind of opportunism we face today. It is this overall revisionism that characterizes all the right opportunists and that presently has hegemony in the communist movement.

The dominance of right opportunism means that our movement still remains in a grave crisis. This crisis began, in this country, with the degeneration and victory of revisionism in the CPUSA, and, internationally, with the degeneration of most of the old parties. This process, especially in the US, deserves careful study in order for us to draw the lessons necessary to finally build a genuine party. On the one hand, many genuine new parties and organizations around the world have been set up. And the existence of a revolutionary trend in the US goes way back, to the first Marxist groups during the period of Marx himself. On the other hand, it is also a feature of the communist movement, both in the US and in a number of other capitalist countries, that no new party has yet emerged, while many pretenders have declared themselves such. The struggle of the US working class to build a new party is thus a part of the worldwide struggle against revisionism and other forms of opportunism.

Today the US movement has no authoritative theoretical center. Advanced forces remain scattered about. At the same time, the present organizations have less and less to do with each other. There is now only occasional contact and common areas of activity, with this occurring often unintentionally and unwillingly. We now have three “parties”, with a few more on the way. Only a minority of the organized forces have not declared themselves the “vanguard”.

All this disintegration and fragmentation exposes the erroneous “political line is the key link” analysis that claims that the ideological break with revisionism was in the main completed by 1972. Our movement has never yet completed this break, but is instead dominated today by revisionism. This analysis takes attention away from the prevalence of the theory of spontaneity, the ideological root of all opportunism, and instead diverts the line struggle into narrow questions, usually around tactics-should we support ERA, busing, etc. Naturally, such an evolutionary approach to achieving unity, one issue at a time, which does not aim at destroying the ideological root of all opportunism, has not proved effective, but has only resulted in greater disunity within the movement. As it did in the old CPUSA, the dominance of right opportunism mesas the dominance of factionalism. This was aptly pointed out by Stalin in his speeches on the CPUSA. Further, the “political line is the key link” analysis has led most of its adherents to spend most of their time fighting left or allegedly left errors, instead of the main danger of right opportunism. They insist that the break with revisionism has already been made, so since the groups all still have so many disagreements, the cause must be left sectarianism. This has led one after another to abandon openly the formulation that propaganda is the chief form of activity. Further, this erroneous analysis is related to the building of nationwide mini-“parties”, like O.L., RU, WVO, etc., instead of building a theoretical center and a network of agents devoted to building a new party. Since they each declare that they have completed the ideological break with revisionism, all that is needed is to follow their central committee and leave the theoretical work to them. A distorted version of democratic centralism is then invoked to demand that ideological struggle be restricted to inside their own group, where it can be readily squashed, to prevent the wide discussion through open polemics our movement so sorely needs. Further, since their CC has already supposedly finished the ideological work, the cadre in the movement needn’t concern themselves with study, but must deal with “practical” work alone. Thus, the theoretical work and practical activity of winning the advanced workers to communism and uniting Marxist-Leninists is totally disrupted.

The course of the crisis in the communist movement has been marked by even more hostile relations among the various groups. Disunity and fragmentation is unfortunately the main trend. If these forces continue on their present path, as it seems they will, then they will land squarely in the swamp of revisionism. This clearly proves that many of our “anti-revisionists” are revisionists and that a definite break with revisionism was never made by the communists of the late 60’s and early 70’s.

We must build a new force, from both old and new elements, organized and unorganized, who want to hold the revolutionary banner of Marxism-Leninism high and smash right opportunism. There are many honest forces scattered about who have waged struggle in one form or another against opportunism. This emerging force is still weak and unorganized; circles and individuals are often not in contact or even aware of each other. Our task, then, is not to join hands with the opportunists, but rather, to build a center to represent the Leninist trend on the graves of our present-day economists and right opportunists. We must begin to deepen our unity on ideological, political, and organizational lines and seek to unite to end the dominance of right opportunism so we can build a vanguard party.

Lenin said in 1910, when the Bolshevik Party was in a crisis and bombarded by opportunism on all sides, that;

Nothing is more important than to rally all Marxists who have realized the profundity of the crisis and the necessity of combatting it, for the purpose of defending the theoretical foundations of Marxism and its basic propositions which are being distorted from diametrically opposed sides by the spread of bourgeois influence to the various “fellow-travelers” of Marxism. (Lenin on the Struggle Against Revisionism, p.93-94)

For us, likewise, nothing is more important than rallying the genuine Marxist-Leninists to uphold the Marxist-Leninist line on party building and to win the advanced workers to communism in the course of defeating the opportunists.

In order to nurture and develop the Leninist trend, we must, as we have explained in the article, “Why the Red Dawn”, take steps to develop a theoretical center for the genuine communists and class-conscious workers. We must recall Lenin’s analysis of the failure of the economists of his day in being able to defeat opportunism, when he pointed out that “First of all, they should have made efforts to resume the theoretical work” previously begun but never completed. (WITBD, p.23) For us, taking up the theoretical work so feared and hated by the opportunists must be a major focus of our work today.

To proceed successfully, we must strive to root out the ideological poison that plagues our movement. Stalin pointed out that in the struggle against the followers of the theory of spontaneity in the 1920’s “the demolition of this theoretical falsification is a preliminary condition for the creation of truly revolutionary parties in the West.” (Foundations of Leninism, p.26) How this lesson has been ignored and spat upon by the opportunists! And so it is for us today. Without making the ideological break with revisionism, we can defeat one form of opportunism only to fall into various forms of bowing to spontaneity, just as the “political-line-is-the -key-link” groups, all of whom criticize OL’s rightism, have done. This task is a vital prerequisite for building a party. If we do not fulfill it, then we will only add one more name to the long list of groups in this country whose attempts at defeating opportunism have ended in failure. Certainly we do not need any more “parties” of the labor aristocracy and the petty bourgeoisie.

We have said in Red Dawn #1 that creating an Iskra-type newspaper and developing a party program are also prerequisites for building a party. In the course of developing the Leninist trend, we must actively win the advanced workers to communism and make propaganda our chief form of activity. Tailism and belittling theory have prevented the right opportunists from being able to train revolutionary leaders from among the advanced workers. This has isolated them from the best elements of the proletariat, and thus, from the masses. The resulting petty-bourgeois character of our movement has greatly contributed to its crisis. A component part of the solution is creating a sound proletarian base for the Leninist trend and the vanguard party.

We can only end this crisis with an ideological, political, and organizational victory over opportunism. An encouraging sign is that in spite of the treachery of the opportunists, more forces are drawn into the movement and it is still growing, largely due to the objective conditions of the intensifying crisis of US imperialism as well as the prestige of Marxism-Leninism. The Red Dawn should play a role in building a center, a base of operations for building the party, and defeating the opportunists. Only then will we be able to build a party that is the advanced detachment of the working class both in word and in deed.