Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

PRRWO: Anarcho-Socialism U.S.A. Expose PRRWO’S Hustlerism!



As Communists, we believe that being correct is only relative and making mistakes, especially in applying and not simply reiterating the general truths of Marxism, is absolute. In particular, in our article “Party Building and the Anti-Revisionist Theoretical Premises” (WV, Vol. II, No. 1) we made some incorrect statements. We will go into these now to trace the basis and conditions for these statements.

First of all, we have summed up that it was incorrect to coin a separate name, “anti-revisionist theoretical premises.” Doing so gave it room to develop its own relative independence, as if it were something separate from Marxism-Leninism. We should have simply stated what we meant: to study the aspects of Marxist theory corresponding to the ideological pitfalls in our communist movement necessary to concretely combat and prevent revisionism. This was not well explained because we lacked a deep understanding of this question.

One basis for our coining the particular name was our organization’s loose internal usage of terminology. As we discussed and struggled around this ideological question, particularly around the deviations of pragmatism and illusions of bourgeois democracy in our own organization, we gradually invented a term to refer to the prevention of and struggle against the development of revisionism, and the struggle against manifestations of opportunism. Another basis is that people assimilate Marxism one aspect at a time, and we tend to absolutize those aspects of theory we are just learning. This was particularly accentuated by the condition of combating the larger deviations on this ideological question in the Communist movement as a whole, not only of the RCP and OL, but of the “left” opportunists as well. Because we didn’t understand this aspect of the question of combatting and preventing revisionism, our study of this question led us to give particular stress to those aspects that we were just studying and only beginning to understand and apply ourselves.

No doubt, an added factor is some petty bourgeois class basis in our organization. This class outlook can lead to the tendency of not linking up these ideological weaknesses to their concrete manifestation in political lines. This deviation is reflected in our “Party Building and Anti-Revisionist Theoretical Premises” article, where there is a weakness in linking up the ideological deviations within the Communist movement with specific organizations and their political lines. In our other articles, however, like ”Marxism or American Pragmatism?” and “OL: a Most Dangerous Revisionist Trend,” we have shown this link.

In their day, Marx and Engels, in struggling against the idealist deviation, put forth a self-criticism for their overemphasis on economic aspects:

Marx and I are ourselves partly to blame for the fact that the younger people sometimes lay more stress on the economic side than is due to it. We had to emphasize the main principle vis-a-vis our adversaries, who denied it, and we had not always the time, the place, or the opportunity to give their due to the other elements involved in the interaction. (“Engels to J. Bloch,” Sept. 21, 1890, Selected Works of Marx and Enge1s, Vol. 3, p. 488)

We made a similar idealist swing in our fight against the main danger of empiricism, pragmatism and vulgar materialism of RCP, OL, and PRRWO.


We also had a tendency to over-generalize problems, which led to the simplification of a complex question. In turn, for example, this led us to belittle narrow nationalism as a main pitfall in the Communist movement, to belittle the impact of many of our own national backgrounds, with all their accompanying narrowness of scope and other weaknesses. In struggling against the much larger ideological deviation of chauvinism in this country, which also prevails in the Communist movement, we belittled the deviation of narrow nationalism, which inevitably arises in struggling against national oppression. For organizations like ours, which grew out of the national minority and anti-imperialist movements, to be vigilant is an especially crucial question for us.

The question of ideological superstructure is very complicated. Ideological questions in the U.S. arise out of class and deep-seated material conditions of bourgeois democracy and chauvinism, for example. There are also particular, ideological deviations and theoretical prejudices, arising from the present-day Communist movement which grew out of the particularities of the spontaneous movements of the 60’s and early 70’s. The social and class basis of today’s movement has given rise to particular ideological deviations inevitably reflected in political lines, such as centrist deviations around the international question, and narrow nationalism. It is not possible to clearly enumerate all the ideological deviations and trace them to their material roots, for the questions of economic development and national composition, as well as the relative independence of ideology, are all interwoven; these act as a whole on the Communist movement and present a highly complicated question.

One of the theoretical and ideological tasks of Communists is to identify and isolate political deviations and understand their inevitability due to class and a few main ideological characteristics. That is to say, we must elevate political line struggle to the ideological plane deeply and penetratingly in order to combat and prevent repetition of those political deviations.

In the article, there are two other points which are incorrect. On page 31, we talked about the RU using the “experience” of the petty bourgeoisie as the criteria to end the pre-party building period, rather than using the objective demands of the working class and the whole Communist movement, the need for Marxist-Leninist theory. There, we referred to the study of Marxist-Leninist theory, corresponding to the ideological weakness in the U.S. Communist movement, as an ideological task, as the “ideological foundation” of the party. This is narrow because while the theoretical tasks have to be linked up with the ideological tasks, the task of preventing revisionism is broader than “study Marxism and criticize revisionism.”


However, we would like to point out that the term “ideological foundation” in the History of the CPSU(B) and the Foundations of Leninism is not used simply as the enumeration of general principles of Marxism-Leninism, as PRRWO and RWL insist. When Stalin referred to Lenin’s WITBD as the “ideological foundation” of the Bolshevik Party, he didn’t mean it as a bookish enumeration of the “general ML principles on the state, etc.” as PRRWO objectively claims it to be. Stalin called WITBD the “ideological foundation” precisely because it criticized the specific form of bourgeois ideology in the context of combating revisionism in the Russian Social-Democratic movement, and disclosed for the first time the dialectical inter-relations between bourgeois ideology and socialist ideology in the working class and Communist movement. WITBD is the “ideological foundation” in the sense that it points out that the slightest belittling of ML, the theoretical basis guiding our thinking, leads to bowing to spontaneity, to regarding the immediate movement as everything, to following the path of least resistance and hence automatically strengthens bourgeois ideology in practice. WITBD also pointed out that the form and content of bourgeois ideology varies from country to country, depending on concrete historical circumstances.

Used in this sense, to refer to forms of concrete bourgeois ideology in the U.S. Communist movement that need to be criticized in order to be able to fight and prevent revisionism, the content of our last article is correct. In fact the criticism of ideological sources of revisionism to prevent revisionism was further developed by Chairman Mao in building the party ideologically. And it was this teaching that we applied to the concrete conditions in the U.S. PRRWO either does not understand this point, or distorts it. This is reflected in their formulation of “periods” as well as their recent “polemics” against WVO.

On p. 27, we stated:

. . .the generality (of revisionism) exists in the particularity (of specific manifestations) and correct lines are developed in the process of combatting incorrect ones. But these different political positions have to be systematized and generalized into their roots and theoretical premises. Having a firmer and stronger grasp of these theoretical premises is the only safeguard against degeneration, the only guarantee to detect shades and forms of. revisionism...

We repudiate this statement, that to criticize revisionism in general and concrete bourgeois ideology in particular is “the only safeguard against degeneration.” This statement is idealist, for it reduces the question of prevention of revisionism to simply an ideological task. The ideological task must be accomplished, as we stated in other places in the journal, in the context of changing the objective world (although all particular questions have to conform to, as well as be guided by, the general truths of the stand, viewpoint, and method of MLMTTT.)

Historically, we have struggled with PRRWO from the days of the RU party building motion, through the CL motion, and around practically every political question. For a while, PRRWO was combating their “left” opportunism and dogmatism and was moving in a good direction. They themselves have admitted that their own main danger is “left”. They have admitted in their own latest publication, “Party Building in the Heat of the Class Struggle,” that WVO “are up front with us and have given us many valid criticisms to help us move forward.”


With regard to deviations, although the main and principal aspect has been PRRWO, we think that we also made deviations in our relations with them. Principally, we summed up, was narrow nationalism. We were impressed by their “style” their form, their “staunchness,” and so-called good “ideological physiognomy” but devoid of a correct political content. When Lenin spoke of “ideological and political physiognomy,” he spoke of them and placed them together. In our relationship with PRRWO, we separated them. The basis of that was our own narrow nationalism and a tendency to separate ideological and political manifestations. As a result we have been taking the full weight of all their words, without seriously digging into their deviations and challenging their “get-it-over” type pragmatism and demagogy.

Narrow nationalism was the glue that held us to PRRWO, despite broad political differences and many serious conflicts that came up in practice (e.g. their scabbing of a job action that WVO helped to call with over 150 workers participating.) We also fell into the deviation of absolutizing social and class basis. It also reflected how we saw some of our own cadres. We tended to see oppressed national minority cadres from working, class backgrounds as “strategic guarantees.” Although working class and oppressed nationality backgrounds do provide better conditions for people to develop a proletarian world outlook and stand – for they have more “proletarian kernels” or class instincts and traits – they can never be a guarantee against opportunism and revisionism. In class struggle, especially in the midst of heated, complex struggle, there is no guarantee you will be able to differentiate lines and take a correct stand, no matter what your background may be or how many campaigns you’ve waged.