Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Workers’ Viewpoint

Rebuild ALSC by Correcting Methods of Leadership

First Published: Workers Viewpoint, Vol. 2, No. 4, May 1977.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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Over 300 workers and students of all nationalities participated in a lively forum on the International Situation and Southern Africa. The event was sponsored by the Southern Africa Anti-Imperialist Coalition made up of the African Liberation Support Committee (ALSC), New York City chapter, Iranian Student Association, Ethiopian Student Union of North America, Eritrean Student Organization, Turkish Student Association, Asian-Americans for Equal Employment, May Fourth Coalition of Brooklyn College, and the Workers Viewpoint Organization. The forum was most timely, given the present international situation and the struggle to defeat the Revolutionary Workers Congress’ obstructionist activity in the ALSC.


The forum was a giant step toward rebuilding the ALSC, which in the early 70’s had played a leading role in raising the consciousness of the Afro-American people about the need to support national liberation struggles abroad, particularly in Africa, how the struggles of Africans and Afro-Americans were against the same enemy, U.S. Imperialism, and how both struggles needed the science of revolution, Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought, to guide them. Some of our best fighters against class and national oppression today were born and trained in the struggle to carry out the noble aims of the ALSC. The ALSC also played an important role in representing the sentiments of the Afro-American people to the oppressed nations and peoples of the world, particularly in Africa. These traditions of the ALSC are especially important to uphold today when the liberation struggles in Zimbabwe (Rhodesia), Namibia (S.W. Africa) and Azania (S. Africa) are reaching new heights and the reactionary Smith and Vorster regimes in Rhodesia and South Africa are becoming more isolated and desperate. It is especially important when the U.S. Imperialists are attempting to use Afro-American boot-lickers like Andrew Young to further their imperialist schemes, launching racist attacks on anti-imperialist national bourgeoisie like Amin of Uganda, and plotting how to utilize the recent tensions between Zaire and Angola to their interest. The revolutionary traditions of the ALSC must be boldly carried on and fiercely defended when the Soviet social-imperialists (“socialist” in words but imperialist, in deeds) like Podgorny and their bootlickers like Castro of Cuba have grown more and more arrogant, strutting around Africa as if they owned the continent as the old-time colonialists thought they did.


Everybody thoroughly enjoyed the various speeches, songs, and other cultural performances, the film, the informal dinner, and the vigorous debate on the international situation at the end. The audience listened eagerly as a member of the ALSC spoke on the liberation struggles in Southern Africa today, were thrilled by the variety and skill of the cultural performances of the Iranians, Turks, etc., and cheered excitedly when a WVO spokesperson spoke of the need to “settle accounts” with the sell-out line of the Revolutionary Communist Party on the international situation and the Marxist-Leninist concept of the direction of the main blow. After the debate with comrades of the Revolutionary Communist League on the concrete implications of the growing danger of World War today, one worker commented, “Now I know why polemics are so important.” This remark showed the greater understanding gained by all on the questions of the international situation, Southern Africa, and the need for vigorous debate to clarify views. This was a fine example of carrying out our propaganda tasks in winning over the advanced to communism and to the WVO. The overwhelming success of the event is concrete proof that the only way to rebuild the ALSC is under correct communist leadership!


The task of rebuilding ALSC is making tremendous progress with new ALSC chapters blossoming everyday all around the country. For the first time in three years, African liberation support work is developing vigorously and systematically! This is all due to the correctness of the line of the WVO and the hard work and stubborn persistence of comrades and friends everywhere to turn this line into a material force in our concrete support for struggles in southern Africa today.

While the successful forum was a big step toward rebuilding the ALSC, we still have much to do before the ALSC reaches its full revolutionary potential. The key to this task for communists and advanced elements in this period is to improve our ability to link theory with practice, apply mass line and practice criticism/self-criticism, particularly in our method of leadership. But in order to know concretely our strengths and shortcomings we must first sum-up our work using Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought as our guide. Only in this way can we know our positive and negative aspects, promote the positive and transform the negative concretely, step-by-step, in the course of the struggle against class and national oppression. Timely and deep sum-ups help us to evaluate our progress, to see how far we’ve come and how much more we have to go before we reach our goals. Good, meticulous, Marxist-Leninist sum-ups are a pre-condition for transformation. Whether or not we struggle for timely and deep sum-ups is objectively a two-line question reflecting two world outlooks of two classes. This is a most important question as we struggle to grasp more tightly correct methods of leadership and the three great styles of work.


A very important thing in practicing correct methods of leadership is to grasp major political issues. Major issues like the international situation and Southern Africa have to be understood in order to be clear on the direction and orientation of our work. We must link the particular knowledge of the masses of the international situation and Southern Africa and their day-to-day experiences of class and national oppression ,such as the killing of Afro-American youth by the police, with our broader Marxist-Leninist views, the similarities and differences between police repression in the U.S. and Azania, between the rising national movements in both countries, and how it all ties together under the imperialist system. This aspect of correct methods of leadership has been and is our strength. This is why we were able to unleash the initiative of over 300 people to come out for the forum.

For the WVO, the major issue is the organizational sphere, particularly the question of correct methods of leadership necessary to turn our relatively correct lines into more of a material force, winning over and training the advanced workers, so as to build up_ the Party, in the course of leading mass struggles. To grasp the major issue is to grasp the principal contradiction, which at this time is winning and training the advanced workers, the key link to building up the Party and pushing everything else along, including deepening the ideological and political line.


While grasping major political issues is a most necessary part of correct methods of leadership, it is not sufficient. After unleashing the initiative of the masses we must organize this energy, channel it into concrete tasks and persevere in carrying them out. At all times we must be ready to defend the enthusiasm of the masses for revolution. For example, after the initiative of the ALSC chapter was unleashed, concrete tasks were assigned such as leafleting, helping to write the speech, and preparing to participate in the debate. This was a positive thing. But we forgot that the program of the forum would also unleash the initiative of the masses there and that this initiative would need to be directed and organized, otherwise it would be lost. Thus, when we circulated among the audience during the forum and found the masses hungry for knowledge of the situation in Southern Africa, anxious to support the struggle, and enthusiastic about the work of ALSC, we did not have concrete plans and suggestions as to how they could participate in the future. Things like a list of upcoming ALSC events, the time and place of our next meeting, a schedule of our leafleting activities, plans on how to contribute money to the liberation movements in Africa, or the availability of ALSC speakers they could invite to their union meetings, clubs, get-togethers, etc. would have been concrete guidance to go along with our general call to support African national liberation struggles. In addition, the key link was not grasped tightly as many contacts made at the forum were not meticulously followed up.


A big shortcoming was our failure to successfully defend the enthusiasm of the chapter and the audience. Only with the correct methods of leadership can the initiative and enthusiasm of the masses be unleashed. After members had helped to write the ALSC speech and practice it, plans were changed at the last minute and the speaker was replaced and the speech rewritten. To have collectively worked on the speech with the participation of the masses was definitely a good thing. It was more directly their own product. But having unleashed this initiative, we then squashed it by our poor planning and style of work. This was commandism in our relations with the masses, and reflected our lack of faith in the masses’ ability to carry out tasks, their ability to accept criticism, their outlook towards mistakes and ability to correct them quickly as we point them out clearly.

The organization of the program itself also reflected two-line struggle, whether to unleash and defend the enthusiasm of the masses for revolution or to frustrate and dampen it. Though the program was overall good and people left wanting to know and do more, there was one serious shortcoming. The film shown had not been screened beforehand; it was gotten at the last minute. The film was not in English and we had made no arrangements for translation. The masses struggled to understand the message of the film but the language barrier was a real problem. Such incidents turn off the enthusiasm of the masses and turn them away from us and communist ideas rather than drawing them nearer. Lack of planning and attention to detail reflect our outlook toward the masses and our tasks, our lack of concern and responsibility. The program was not carried out in such a way as to apply mass line in its development, and step by step take care of any disorganizing element that arose, and reflected looseness in organization.

Another shortcoming in the program was some unnecessary overlap in many of the speeches. Concretely, we learned that, in coalitions with other mass organizations, meticulous planning can lessen repetition, deepen and sharpen the content, and rouse the spirit! This concrete lesson will help make future forums more lively and to the point, concise and less repetitive. And most important, speeches that are rousing, agitational, sharp, and informative serve to help win over the masses, particularly the advanced, by cutting through right to the burning questions that are on their minds and by giving a clear presentation of the line. Throw out the stale, repetitive style of the petty bourgeoisie, and take up the inexhaustibly rich, lively style of the working class!

On the other hand, the creativity of the masses is boundless! Under the leadership of the WVO, workers eagerly jumped in and took up the task of planning for how the forum could serve and benefit our class and show concern for our needs. For example, in order to serve the needs of working class families with kids, workers joined in to concretely suggest how daycare could be set up. In order to meet the rising cost of food and to care for the well-being of the masses, workers planned the meal carefully, brought their own pot luck, got their kids to help in serving the food, etc. By actively encouraging participation by everyone, even workers who came out for the first time to such an event contributed to the success of the forum. Workers, through deeds, gained a sense of involvement and contribution to the forum, which was helpful in consolidating them to support the struggle for national liberation and the line of the WVO.

Through criticism and self-criticism and with the outlook of “saving the patient, cure the disease,” we are attempting step-by-step to rectify our method of leadership by grasping more tightly how to apply mass line, and these have brought us rich results. We are beginning to understand the deep knowledge the Afro-American masses have of liberation struggles in Africa and of oppression in the U.S., their boundless enthusiasm for revolution, communist ideas and literature, and the ALSC and its traditions. The more we correctly apply mass line and correct our method of leadership, the more confident and enthusiastic the masses become in our ability to lead and in the masses’ ability to overthrow the criminal rule of the U.S. monopoly capitalists.

By improving our method of leadership and training the advanced around us in correct methods of leadership, all in the course of class struggle, we will certainly succeed in rebuilding the African Liberation Support Committee into a broader and more deeply-rooted mass organization than it has ever been before!