Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Science, Class, & Politics: Perspective and Goals

First Published: Science, Class and Politics, No. 1, Spring 1978.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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Since this is the first issue of a new Marxist-Leninist journal, it is necessary that its existence be justified. Why does the Marxist-Leninist movement need yet another journal? What is its theoretical orientation? A few words will be addressed to these questions.


First, let us sketch the background to our current situation. The Civil Rights Movement and the Anti-Indo-China War Movement which came later politicized many people. Both of these movements were originally liberal movements that used liberal theory and tactics. One after the other of these tactics turned out to be failures. When this happened more and more of these people turned to other (mostly Marxist) explanations and theories for guidance. Thus the Marxist-Leninist movement grew in the United States.

In the middle of these developments another major split developed in the international communist movement. Open polemics began in 1956 (initiated by the revisionist wing of the CPSU) and reached a peak in 1963.[1] In this struggle, one side was led by Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) while the other was led by the Communist Party of China (CPC). The Communist parties in non-socialist countries eventually sided with one or the other. In the great majority of cases, whichever side was chosen, at least one new communist party or organization was formed to support the other side. This resulted in a proliferation of communist parties and organizations. all claiming to be truly Marxist-Leninist; naturally, some were, and still are Marxist-Leninist.

In the United States, another factor added to the proliferation and fragmentation of leftist groups. The failure of the originally liberal anti-Indo-China War Movement to influence United States government policy was turning more and more people to a non-liberal, leftist orientation. This resulted in a great increase in the membership of ostensibly Marxist-Leninist organizations. However, this increase in membership was drained off into an increasing number of organizations. First, there was the increase in the number of groups brought about by the split in the international communist movement. Second, there was a proliferation brought about by the liberal background of most of the new recruits.

Some of these neophytes were either in too much of a hurry or didn’t understand the necessity of learning orthodox Marxist-Leninist theory. Consequently they had a tendency to found or join groups whose theoretical position allowed room for liberal (petty-bourgeois) positions as well as Marxist-Leninist ones. These types of groups differed mainly according to what kind of liberal formulas they supported. On one extreme was the semi-anarchistic, infantile-leftist, phrasemongering type (Weathermen, etc.), while on the other extreme was the liberal parliamentary, democratic socialist type (Peace and Freedom Party, etc.). Meanwhile all the old petty-bourgeois “communist” parties (CP., Socialist Party, Trotskyist groups, etc.) were getting their share of the new wave of semi-liberal recruits.

The result of all this was: (1)a substantial increase of people in “leftist” organizations, and (2) a substantial increase in the number of “leftist” groups and organizations, particularly after 1970. There was and is a great diversity of theoretical positions among them.

In the past few years we have witnessed a decline in the number of members in left-wing organizations. This decline has been caused by several factors. First, the end of the Indo-China War brought with it the end of the chief issue for many political militants. Once this issue disappeared, many marginal “leftists” lost interest in political activity and dropped out. When the Indo-China War was the chief attraction and politicizer, organizations like S.D.S., Progressive Labor, etc., used their strength and militancy to fight for democratic rights in many other areas. With the end of the war, progressive organizations shrank in membership and strength or disappeared altogether. When this situation became apparent to the ruling class, they launched a counterattack to eliminate the marginal democratic gains achieved during the period of militancy. Thus a period of reaction began, the period in which we now find ourselves.

Union busting tactics by big business are escalating daily. Blatant cooperation between union leaders and big business has encouraged an increase in union busting in the last year. Open shops are appearing in the construction industry while “right to work” states are favored with business expansion and increased exploitation. The welfare system, social security system, child care and abortion funding, civil rights gains—all are under attack. The big business groups with the cooperation of the government are making their plundering expeditions at the expense of the community more and more openly and brazenly. Running into a reduced resistance, they are stepping up their counterattack.

The initial successes of this counterattack have led to a demoralization among some less developed people on the left, and as a result they have dropped out. On top of this, the political turmoil in China following Mao Tse-tung’s death has added to this demoralization.

It looks as if this period of reaction will last for at least another year or two. What will get us out of it will be the irrationality of the system plus the arrogance of the ruling class. For instance, they will allow unemployment and inflation to intensify or eventually attempt directly to suppress a national liberation movement somewhere. Then more and more of the working class and “students of this country will be politicized for the first time or re-politicized.

Besides numerical and political losses, a period of reaction is usually marked by the increased penetration of the Marxist-Leninist movement by capitalist ideology. Correct theory is always important and necessary, but in a period of reaction it becomes doubly so. In this period all capitalist theoretical intrusion must be firmly met and exposed. The capacity of the Marxist-Leninist movement to go over on to the offensive in the most effective fashion when the time comes depends upon the success of this struggle against capitalist ideology. It can be seen that theoretical debate is crucial in a period such as we are passing through.

Thus another theoretical journal that will discuss the basic theoretical questions from a Marxist-Leninist perspective should be able to contribute something to this goal.


Theoretical debate is the foundation for forming a sound basis for unity among those groups which are now or are in the process of becoming truly Marxist-Leninist. Real unity can only be forged on the basis of unity in theory. We are not interested in unity merely for unity’s sake; merely for appearances sake; merely because that is the thing to do. It is necessary to keep in mind the question: “Unity for what?” For unity to be real, to last, and to be effective, all those who are participating in union should have the same goals and have the same ideas about how to achieve them. This can only be achieved through discussion and theoretical struggle. Once it becomes clear that a theoretical unity has been achieved among a number of groups, then a basis has been laid for the formation of a Marxist-Leninist revolutionary party that will be truly effective in its task of leading the working class in its struggle to overthrow capitalism and establish the dictatorship of the proletariat. It should be clear that we think that the level of theoretical competence of the Marxist-Leninist movement in this country can stand some improvement.

A theoretical journal which opens debate and encourages an exchange of ideas in light of evidence based on the principles of dialectical materialism will benefit the left. One of the real problems in this country among left groups is tailism.[2] There are a number of organizations which uncritically take a part of their theory and tactics, particularly on international affairs, from sources they consider prestigious. Presumably they think a part of the prestige and authority will rub off on them by this unprincipled tailing. But nothing of the sort happens. All they do is to expose to public view their lack of theoretical resources and self-confidence. There is nothing wrong with agreeing with other groups or parties in all or a part of one’s theory. However this agreement should be reached as a result of careful analysis and theoretical conviction. Our journal is to help build theoretical competence and confidence necessary for unity among Marxist-Leninists in the United States, and thus aid in the struggle against tailism.


What is the theoretical orientation of this journal? This will become clear over time as we address ourselves at length to various issues that concern the movement. However, we can point out a few things at the outset. We consider ourselves to be an orthodox Marxist-Leninist organization and will attempt to apply this Marxist-Leninist theory to the present-day situation. We do not believe that the last word in theory or its application has been said. Tie contributions of Mao Tse-tung are an example of this.

Each new contribution must be judged on its own merits. Since the world is always in a process of change, theory and its appropriate application will be subject to modification too. Even though we recognize the necessity for modifications in theory, we do not think that the basis of class society (as long as it exists) can change. That is to say, we are Leninist, revolutionary, and anti-revisionist.

We stand unalterably opposed to racism, sexism, bourgeois nationalism, and all other systems of fraud designed to divide wage and salary workers and to support exploitation and injustice. This includes our opposition to the “bribe theory” which is used to pit workers of the industrialized capitalist countries against the workers and peasants of the colonial and neo-colonial countries.

On international affairs, we hold what might be called a variation of the super-power theory. We will present our position on this at length in one of the forthcoming issues. In general, our position is closer to that held by the Albanian Party of Labour and the Communist Party (M-L) of Britain than the positions held by either the Chinese or the Soviet Parties.


As for future plans, we hope to put out a newspaper as soon as our resources permit it. A newspaper is just as necessary as a theoretical journal. We are putting out the latter first only because it requires fewer resources.

Lenin’s analysis of the different roles of the journal and the newspaper was correct for his time and remains so today.

The distribution of these themes and questions between the magazine and the newspaper will be determined exclusively by differences in the size and character of the two publications—the magazine should serve mainly for propaganda, the newspaper mainly for agitation. But all aspects of the movement should be reflected in both the magazine and the newspaper, and we wish particularly to emphasise our opposition to the view that a workers’ newspaper should devote its pages exclusively to matters that immediately and directly concern the spontaneous working-class movement, and leave everything pertaining to the theory of socialism, science, politics, questions of Party organisation, etc., to a periodical for the intelligentsia. On the contrary, it is necessary to combine all the concrete facts and manifestations of the working-class movement with the indicated questions; the light of theory must be cast upon every separate fact; propaganda on questions of politics and Party organisation must be carried on among the broad masses of the working class; and these questions must be dealt with in the work of agitation. V.I. Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 4, p. 326.

Even though the two media serve different roles, they are both for the same audience—the wage and salary earner class, from blue collar worker to scientist.


[1] See, for example, The Polemic on the General Line of the International Communist Movement (1965) and More on the Differences Between Comrade Togliatti and Us (1963).

[2] We realize that tailism (Kvostism) traditionally means the economist tactic of tailing the trade union movement in theory and practice. We are using the word in a different sense.