Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Workers’ Viewpoint

Nicholaus vs OL: A Menshevik’s Criticism of Menshevism

First Published: Workers Viewpoint, Vol. 2, No. 1, January 1977.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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The latest squabble erupting within the “unity trend” bears testament to the disgusting depths to which the OL has sunk. In the December 13 issue of The Call, in an article entitled, “Friends and Enemies of the Revolution,” they continue their “left” feinting by blaming their historical, thoroughly right-opportunist (and thoroughly exposed) lines on Martin Nicholaus, a leading OL “theoretician” and former Central Committee member. The OL in another of their infamous about-faces, the “our line was never opportunist, it was the people we hung out with” explanation, is backtracking furiously, slipping around, hoping that people have short memories, on lines that have been exposed by the WVO. The OL is even forced to adopt superficial aspects of the WVO line in their “polemic” with Nicholaus.

Just like their phoney “break” with the Guardian (see WV Journals Vol. 2, No. 1 and Vol. 2, No. 2), the OL hopes that by “breaking” with Nicholaus, they “break” with their own revisionism. No such luck OL.


In WV Supplement, August, 1976, in “Once Again on OL,” we stated:

Nowhere has the OL ever done a thorough self-criticism for a single one of their blunders. Nowhere have they ever looked for the class and ideological basis of them and the method of rectification.

Their ’temporary leading body’ and ’push the trade unions to the left’ were such big, clumsy blunders that they were forced to call attention to them publically. In most cases, they have not even honestly pointed out their errors, not to mention thoroughly exposing and rectifying their roots, They have tried to get over by making the changes silently, hoping that nobody will notice, and by using strings of fake arguments and sophistry to cover up their rotten opportunist history.

Now, the OL gives the ̶real reasons” for their opportunism. “Don’t blame us for our belittlement of theory, our illusions of bourgeois democracy, “pushing trade unions to the left,” our Menshevik, bottom-up approach to party building, etc.,” shouts the OL. “WVO hasn’t been exposing our lines, they were really only Martin Nicholaus’ lines.”

The OL would like us to believe that they are genuinely “left” now. But if comrades would examine them more closely, they would find that the OL hasn’t changed at all:
– They say that they now have no more illusions about the “liberal” bourgeoisie – yet they support the forced busing plan – the plan and line of the “liberal” bourgeoisie.
– They say that they are now opposed to Arnold Miller, a thoroughly exposed union misleader, but they are wagging their tails for another trade union misleader in the United Mine Workers, Hays Holdstein.
– They say that they now oppose Chavez but they are going all out for Proposition 14, a piece of sell-out legislation personally drafted and promoted by Chavez himself.
– They say that they want to build a party from the top down and even pretend to study One Step Forward, Two Steps Back in which every word is opposed to their Menshevik, “unity trend.” But their party building plan remains identical –
A “coalition” Organizing Committee based on 8 general “principles of unity” and not even on a line of demarcation of the mutated OL line.
The members of the OC still have “one group-one vote” to decide the line reflecting their lowest common denominator approach deciding from the bottom up.
The OC is to write the draft program rather than the OL.
The OL still denies that they are fighting for the hegemony of their raggedy line for fear of “offending” the other OC members.


On the other hand, Martin Nicholaus, in his paper, Forward, amidst charges and countercharges of stolen money, poker games, expensive bourgeois restaurants that the OL Central Committee habituate, sexual jokes in the office, etc., longs to return to the “good old days” of the OL when they weren’t confusing him with all their “left” feinting. Just like the August Twenty Ninth Movement (ATM) with its “old PRRWO” and “new PRRWO” formulation, Mr. Nicholaus must resort to a totally metaphysical approach on describing OL as two separate organizations, the “old” one and the “new” one.

While there are differences between the degeneration of PRRWO (from at one point relatively correct to a frenzied otzovist clique) and the degeneration of OL (from a right opportunist tendency to the Khrushchovs of our movement), neither ATM nor Mr. Nicholaus has a grasp of the process of political degeneration and the dialectics of the class struggle within communist organizations.

Mr. Nicholaus fondly recalls the OL “break” with the revisionist Guardian, their FightBack Conferences, their “fight” against RU’s liquidation of the Afro-American national question (climaxed, of course, by the OL calling in the state against the Afro-American community in Boston – ed.), among other “bright spots”. In other words, he wants the OL to “return” to the lines they held when they wanted to build the party out of the united front, when they replaced party building by tailing the mass movement, when they considered “ultra-leftism” the main danger in the communist movement, when they said that the right-opportunist “RC”P-RU was “ultra-left”, when they tailed after the rest of the communist movement by “breaking” with the revisionist Guardian while at the same time bodily transferring the Guardian’s editors and authors of their positions on reform, the trade union question, the women’s question, as well as their petty-bourgeois ideological tendencies to the Call, when they helped the bourgeoisie usher in fascism by relying on the state and the “liberal” bourgeoisie in Boston, etc.

But these lines were exposed years ago, primarily by the WVO and the experiences of the workers themselves in the course of class struggle, i.e., Miller, Chavez, party building with no program or congress, etc.

As for other crude blunders of the OL, Nicholaus, a self-described “proofreader” of the Call, wants no part of it either:

Who promoted the erroneous line of helping to ’unparalyze’ the liberals in Congress against the ’fascist tide’ or ’fascist threat’ during the Nixon impeachment days? Who promoted the policy of singing the praises of liberal labor bureaucrats such as Miller and Sadowlowski ’against the fascist labor front?’ Who was the source of the federationalist ’temporary leading body’ schemes for building a party without a program or a congress? These gross right opportunist errors, together with others ... originated. with no other source than the top leading circle headed by M. Klonsky himself, and in particular their source is M. Klonsky himself. It was none other than the members of this same circle who fought for these right opportunist ideas, who figured out systems of rationalization for them and who spread them throughout the organization and movement. (Ibid)

Thus Mr. Nicholaus, in pleading to the movement the fact that he had nothing to do with these notorious lines (or that he wasn’t in OL when they were developed) tries to evade responsibility for them.

He can only see the recent mutations, but is incapable of see them in the context of the entire opportunist history of OL, in which he played a major role.

Unable to understand that the historic unprincipledness of the OL must make them about-face as they stand exposed at every turn (because they are made of the same petty-bourgeois stuff), Mr. Nicholaus must then look for other, external reasons for the “left” feinting. The only explanation he can then offer is that it must be the fault of those “hegemones” the WVO.

OL – Forced to pimp off WVO’s line

In fact, Nicholaus is not far off in “recognizing” that all opportunists will have to cop to WVO’s line, at least in form. They will have to capitulate to its proven power, correctness, and its wide influence among honest elements and advanced workers. He writes:

The particular case for which the new role (of the OL journal, Class Struggle – ed) was designed, was another matter. The item in point was the article, ’On Building the Party Among the Masses,’ by the League for Marxist Leninist Unity...As far as our movement is concerned, the line of this article is the line of Workers’ Viewpoint...The reason why the LMLU’s camouflaged version of the WVO line on party building enjoyed such powerful patronage soon became apparent. Not long after the publication of the LMLU article, the OL’s top leadership appropriated the LMLU line lock, stock and barrel, and proposed it as its own line for adoption by the body empowered to make such decisions. (Ibid)


Our differences with the OL on their Menshevik party building line are well known, including their “new” approach. It is no different from their “old” approach, as Mr. Nicholaus seems to believe:

The OL’s call to form a party without a program, congress or central committee and democratic centralism, was no small slip. It was their pure, autonomous, petty-bourgeois spirit...Although the OL attempts to give the impression of having changed their line and orientation towards party building from that of a Menshevik bottom-up approach to a Leninist top-down approach, it is impossible...The OL, rather than call on groups to liquidate themselves based on the line of the leading representative of the “unity” trend, instead attempts to reconcile certain groups, individuals, persons, and bodies. (“Once Again on OL.” WV Supplement, Aug. 1976)

The OL claims that the OC is not their front. This shows their spinelessness again. The OC should openly be their commission to organize the party around a definite trend.

For them to deny that means two things. One, the OL has a “get rich quick” scheme they try to deny. Lenin said, in struggle against the Mensheviks, ’...the real work of creating the organized unity for the party was done entirely by the Iskra organization,’ while the ’organizing committee was mainly a commission set up to convene the Congress.’ (“One Step, Two Steps,” LCW, Vol. 7, P. 274) In other words, the party must be built by and from the leading line and circle developed in the struggle. In Russia the leading circle was the Iskra and the OC was the commission deliberately composed of representatives of different shades, to struggle out the line based on the recognition of the Iskra organization as the leading circle.

But the OL claims their OC is not based on a definite leading line or leading circle. They even say every circle regardless of their line has one vote to decide on policy. Even the program will be written by the OC based on the one group-one vote, policy and not on the leading circle with a definite point of view as the Iskra. The OL frowns on using the terms, ’leading line and circle.’ and purposely refuse to use it in fear of turning other Mensheviks and assorted careerists away from this ’joint stock’ venture.

Lenin wrote straight forwardly with bold proletarian stand, viewpoint and method, that ’Iskra became the Party and the party became Iskra...’ (To Alexandra Kalmykova, Sept. 1903, LCW Vol. 34) The Klonskyite revisionists dare not tell the forces he wants to lull into their revisionist party that the ’October League is the Party and the Party is the October League.’ Instead these opportunists wriggle around with all sorts of tricks like 8 general points of unity as the line of demarcation. By ignoring the lines drawn in the course of communist polemics in the last few years, OL exposed that it is actually OL’s bloody liberal line that is the basis of their Menshevik party. The OL is not open and above board as Chairman Mao said all Marxist-Leninists must be. The OL’s OC and their denial that they are the party is, in practice, building the party with ’intrigue and conspiracy’ which characterizes all revisionists, Trotskyites, and police agents in tne communist movement. (p. 12, WORKERS VIEWPOINT, Sept/Oct 1976)

The “left” feinting of the OL to cover its muddy tracks has been exposed in its relation to the consistent-right opportunism of the past. Mr. Nicholaus ought to know that because that was exactly what we laid out in exposing the OL’s “break” with the revisionist Guardian which he thinks was so “revolutionary.”


Revealing his own ideological poverty, Mr. Nicholaus then states the problem of OL’s party building scheme was in its chronology (!). For Mr. Nicholaus, party building is not a question of principle, but rather just an “order of progression.” He states:

The Klonsky circle’s order of progression toward its founding congress has followed a rather different chronology (from the Leninist method of party building). After a false step (the ’temporary leading body’ proposal for founding a party without a congress and without a program) at the start, corrected in appearances in March, 1976, the Klonsky circle convened the Organizing Committee in May, and set plans full steam ahead for the founding congress, prior to (emphasis original) the publication of the October League’s draft program... On this point of party building procedure, it is the critics of the Klonsky circle – regardless of their own definite lines – who stand on the ground of Leninism and the Klonsky circle that stands on the ground of opportunism. (Ibid)

Party building is a question of “chronology, progressions, and procedure?!!” And that a criticism of “procedure” regardless of the line on party building is ”standing on the ground of Leninism?!” Mr. Nicholaus has reduced Marxism-Leninism to a time-table. How can you separate the line on party building and any criticism of “procedure?” How can you separate the line on party building with Leninism? The line on party-building is what determines whether one stands “on the grounds of Leninism!” Not an isolated criticism of “procedure!” This is, of course, a Menshevik criticism of Menshevism. This is the lowest, crudest, form of philistinism. It is the line of crude, consistent revisionism “struggling” against OL’s crude, eclectic revisionism. Comrades, this is the mud revenging on the marsh.

OL Naked in its Electicism

In fact OL’s eclecticism is so obvious that even a low life like Nicholaus can recognize it! He writes:

It (the OL – ed.) lacks any integral, comprehensive, ideas of its own, and is forced to buy, beg, borrow and steal the work of others. It consistently follows the method of making decisions, drawing lines and whipping-up campaigns first, and trying to conduct study and theoretical work only afterward, with the inevitable results. Every polemic ...Klonskyism produces is a new certificate of its own poverty. (Ibid)

Klonksyism, however, has been summed up by the WVO. In our August, 1976 Supplement, in the article, “Once Again on OL,” we said:

Klonsky revisionism is the Khrushchov revisionism in our movement, the OL Klonskyism. The WVO over the years has pointed out this representative of modern revisionism in our movement has ignored theory and strive not to achieve their aims in open polemics, but by gradual, imperceptible, and unpunishable corruption.

Just like the OL who must cop to our line to cut Nicholaus, Nicholaus must pimp off the power and correctness of our line to cut the OL.

In sum, this is the level to which the OL and philistine Nicholaus have sunk. It is instructive to read these tragi-comic disputes within the “unity trend” to concretely see the degree to which both have degenerated and to see as well the low forms which are in the “leadership” of the OL. The historical ideological and political bankruptcy of the organization has reached full flower. In the middle of OL’s sham party motion, we witness the inevitable bourgeois politicking and manuevering of different circles clinging to their circle spirit (“powerful patronage”), the slipping and sliding, ’ cover-ups and intrigues (“Three or four, individuals ... covering up for each other’s mistakes.”), the hysterical searching for something on which they can blame the OL’s political degeneration.

This “line struggle” between the consistent OLer, Martin Nicholau, confused by the “left” feinting, yearning to “return to the old days” when OL was naked in its right opportunism, and the “new look” OL, desperately trying to strike an orthodox pose while firmly rooted in its past rightism and reformism, is the latest stink to come up out of the marsh.


Pretending that “both” OL’s haven’t already been exposed as one and the same, Nicholaus and the OL try to find some pseudo line of demarcation. The Marxist-Leninist line of the WVO is cutting these opportunists both ways as they both attempt to adopt the lines of the WVO but are unable to grasp it.

The inevitable mutations of the opportunists toward the line of WVO is a testament to its strength and confirms the correctness of Chairman Mao’s teaching that “the correctness or incorrectness of ideological and political line decides everything.”

Like the RCP (see article on RCP’s latest “discovery”), stagnating, drowning in their own backwardness, the social democratic liberals of the OL are grasping for some kind of life line. But lacking the life line of MLMTT, their doom is assured. Thus we witness the “old” reformists getting “reformed” out of the OL, and the “new” OL, dizzy from repeated exposures of its sham “left” feinting, just plain fainting, in the heat of class struggle.

On the other hand, the WVO, grasping the science of MLMTT, fusing with the working class movement, is growing stronger daily – readying ourselves to lead the proletariat in its final assault on the crumbling walls of monopoly capitalism for the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat for the noble cause of Communism.