Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Opening Remarks from the General Secretary to the Second Congress of the CLP

First Published: People’s Tribune, Vol. 2, No. 23, December 1, 1975.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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Dear Comrades, Comrade Fraternal Delegates, Comrade Observers:

On behalf of the outgoing Central Committee, I want to welcome all of you to this Congress of our Party. We have called the Congress to sum up our experiences, concretize our political line and elect a new Central Committee to lead our Party in the coming period. We have in the past year amassed a considerable amount of experience in the political and theoretical struggle. In our drive to consolidate and expand the Party we have broken new trails in our country’s revolution. In the course of this struggle our Party has become consolidated both organizationally and ideologically. The outgoing Central Committee has performed this task well. That Central Committee was elected from the various pre-party formations to carry out that task. It is completed and now it is necessary to elect a leading body that more accurately reflects the class and national composition of the Party. I know I speak for the entire Party in expressing thanks for the job well done and for the selfless hard work accomplished by the outgoing Committee.

Comrades, we are living in a period of very rapid developments. No international alliance is stable today. It is clear that those who tie their political wagons to the stability of international alliances are bound to fail. And why is this so? Simply because almost all the alliances of the past years were made while the USNA imperialists were on the upsurge–while they were enjoying the hog’s share of the feast. Today, there has been a fairly sharp turn in world affairs. Instead of riding high on the road of profitability, USNA imperialism is in one way or another on the defensive in almost every area.

This situation is not the result of a weakening of imperialism as Khruschev and Foster described 20 and 30 years ago, but is the result of a process of history that has served to make some fundamental changes in the alignment of forces. On the one hand there has been the development of transnational capital and its expression–the neocolony. For us this means the ending of one stage of tactics of the proletarian revolution. The development of the neocolony means the end of the tactic of the two stage revolution. We are entering into a stage of development that takes us full circle.

At the beginning of the circle–the development of imperialism on through its maturity–conditions made it impossible to develop the proletarian revolution in the leading imperialist countries. The element of bribery of the working class in these countries prevented the necessary unity. Lenin noted that the era was characterized not simply by oppressor classes but also by oppressor nations. Today there are no countries without a proletariat; the neocolony has spelt the end of the feudal regimes. We are again approaching a time when the workers of the world stand face to face with the enemy without significant classes in between. In a word, the conditions for revolution–for implementation of the slogan workers of the world, unite are maturing.

Alliances that were made to accommodate one period no longer maintain their validity in another. This is the reason for the growing struggle around detente. Politicians are judged today on whether they are for or against detente. Hardly anyone takes time to ask “why” for detente or against it. Since this is a touchstone for the entire communist movement, we should examine this policy.

Detente is linked to tension between the USSR and the USNA in the pre-Brezhnev period. What were these tensions? They were carefully monitored struggles between the socialist camp and imperialism. These struggles were based on the very real life and death battle of the national liberation movement and imperialism. The brinksmanship practiced by both Khruschev and Kennedy terrorized the entire world with the threat of nuclear holocaust. These tensions and threats were the conditions for Khruschev’s betrayal and wrecking of the international communist movement. Confrontations and tensions in Congo, in Cuba, in the Middle East and in Asia were all utilized by Khruschev to consolidate the position of the privileged elite in the USSR. By presenting the Khruschev policy as the only alternative to nuclear war, the revisionist gang consolidated their social and political positions. Today, as in the past period, Brezhnev seeks to relax these tensions created by Khruschev in order to maintain and enjoy these privileges.

We believe these confrontations were phoney; nevertheless we are for the relaxation of tension. We are for the Leninist policy of peaceful coexistence between states with different social systems.

The historic facts are that detente allowed both sides to consolidate. The sharply changed economic situation, especially in the USNA, has gravely endangered detente. Detente is primarily the policy of the Wall Street gang. We shouldn’t be surprised that the leading spokesmen of both parties are spokesmen for Wall Street. The policy of Kennedy the Democrat did not differ from that of Nixon the Republican. With Prince Rockefeller at the helm, we see a Republican administration fully carrying out the tasks that used to be the job of the Roosevelt Democrats.

Where, then, is the growing resistance to detente coming from? It stems from the main grouping of big industrial capitalists around the National Association of Manufacturers. There have always been contradictions within ruling classes. At times these contradictions break out into social struggles. The conditions for the development of the policy struggle between Wall Street and the NAM is the current depression and the fact that each grouping cannot get the same cut out of a shrunken pie. The NAM would profit from a resumption of the cold war and the arms race. Such a policy would inevitably threaten the security of Wall Street investments in both the colonies and the other capitalist countries. This is the basis for Ford’s cabinet struggle. It is becoming clear that the winner in that struggle was Rockefeller. The situation is such that some observers now are doubting that Ford will run in the next election. At any rate, a recent Harris poll shows that only 14% of the population has confidence in the White House and Senate–an all-time low.

Fascist Offensive

Comrades, such a situation provides a real opportunity for the Party to leap forward. It also provides a great opportunity for the fascists. Lacking faith in the government, the majority of the people are for socialism but there is no party of the working class. It is a perfect formula for the fascist offensive. The only way that we can meet that threat is by rapidly expanding the Party. The objective situation actually is in our favor if we move boldly. However, simply pushing for such rapid expansion in not enough. We have to find out where the resistance is. Such resistance from very good comrades is almost always the result of a philosophical misunderstanding. If we view our Party as the unity of the concepts of the vanguard of the proletariat on the one hand and as the body of theory of the emancipation of the working class on the other, it should be clear that we cannot interpenetrate these aspects like scrambling an egg. At this stage, such interpenetration is in the realm of mutual conditioning. That is why Comrade Mao Tsetung advised the Communist to walk on two legs. Naturally the comrades are responsible for whom they recruit and don’t recruit, but we cannot have the same criteria for membership as we did in the pre-Party formations. The other foot is now on the ground and our principal drive is to recruit the fighting section of the proletariat. If we attempt to walk on just one of our legs, or both at once, we are bound to bring trouble. We must continue to intensify the drive to recruit from the millions of vanguard proletarians on the basis of our antifascist program.

We want to reassert our basic approach to the working class of this country–that we must influence our class by working through the most oppressed and exploited. We must uphold the view that the main danger to our country is the rise of fascism; the most logical point of entry into that struggle is the struggle against the fascist gangs. As we all know, these groups have had a frightening growth in the past period. We have to spell out why during the I950’s the KKK and Nazi Party almost disappeared from the political scene and why they are re-emerging at this time. The answer lies in the fact that in order to industrialize the South the Negro had to be drawn into industry as a proletarian. To do this, certain Jim Crow laws had to .be taken off the books. This could only be done with a controlled victory of the Negro people over the reactionary state apparatus.

The laws have changed; an economic realignment has taken place. Now the KKK is being unleashed to guaranty that the Negro people’s movement does not get out of hand.

This is one of the aspects of the rise of fascism in our country. However, it would be a crude error to suppose that the resistance of the oppressed people is the only cause of the rise of fascism. Quite to the contrary, the disillusionment of the broad masses with capitalism forces the move toward fascism. A recent poll conducted by the Hart Research Associates showed that some 56% of the voters would support a presidential candidate who favored employee control and ownership of business; 66% of the people would favor working for employee-owned and controlled firms. This same survey showed that 49% of the people feel that big business is at the bottom of our economic troubles. It is clear that no group on the left has an accurate or objective estimate of the situation among the people.

Working Class Unity

Our experience over the past year shows us that if we do not rapidly bring a large number of Anglo-American workers into the struggle against fascism, the working class will be outflanked. As with any other problem, the solution lies in understanding the root of the question and the relationship of forces that will allow for its resolution. We could not help but inherit the forms and forces of the revolutionary organizations that preceded us. One of the legacies of the past has been that the Communist Party was not a real communist party at all but an unnatural combination of Anglo-American petty bourgeois and national minority workers. This suicidal combination has a long history. The capitalist class has always maneuvered in such a way as to make it appear that the real enemy of the Negro worker was the Anglo-American worker. In my generation the concept of “the best friend of the black man is a rich white man” was a prevalent one. That was the flip side of the rotten chauvinist current among the “white workers” that a “white skin” bound capitalist and worker together tighter than did the bonds of labor. The present day reflection of this is the composition of almost all the radical and revolutionary groups.

The rulers of this country know very well that the death knell of their class and system will be the moment of unity of the millions of Anglo-American workers with the national minority workers and the liberation movements. This is precisely the task that we must address ourselves to. In the struggle to unite the working class we must proceed from the most oppressed and exploited, and herein lies the key. What section of the Anglo-American workers comprise the unskilled and semi-skilled? What section provides those who live in the slums, adjacent to the slums of the national minority workers? What section is most harassed by the police and most subject to social slander? It is the Appalachian worker who has migrated to the big industrial cities.

Our struggle for the unity of the class must start here. Do not think that this will be an easy task. It is precisely between the Appalachian and minority worker that there is the most competition for unskilled jobs. It is here that white chauvinism assumes its most violent forms. It is here that especially the Negro worker holds the deepest suspicion and distrust. The situation is that objectively the Appalachian is the closest to the Negro, while subjectively he is the furthest away. We can be sure that when all the doors are open, it is the closed one that holds the treasure. To get that door open we are going to have to deepen and sharpen the ideological struggle within the Party. In order to create a Party that such workers will feel at home in, we are going to have to do exactly as we did in the struggle to recruit the Negro and Mexican minority workers.

We have to launch a struggle against all forms of great nation chauvinism as well as against all forms of nationalism. We are beginning to understand how to carry out the ideological struggle – not by pat formula, not by repeating slogans but by digging up facts, establishing the truth and our ideology–system of ideas–as a reflection of that process; not, as the lefties do, stand it on its head by trying to find the facts that suit their pre-conceptions. We are going to have to dig back into the Appalachian question, come up with the correct slogans and win this fighting militant section of the class over to the position of the unity of the class. The recent strike of the miners in West Virginia broke out over the arrest of a Negro trade union official. This only indicates that the moment the question of unity is placed on a principled basis rather than on the basis of so-called racism, the Appalachian worker will unite. Any reading of our paper will show that our party is in a good position to carry out this struggle for the unity of the class. Small but active sections of the party are dug into every section of the class and only our party is in the position to carry this work forward.

International Communist Movement

Comrades, I would like to deal for a moment with some questions concerning the international communist movement and some political questions that have become points of debate within our Party.

Our overwhelming concern within the international movement is around the question of revisionism. And what is the scientific definition of revisionism? Revisionism is an anti-Marxist current within Marxism. Lenin wrote, ’Pre-Marxian socialism has been smashed. It is continuing the struggle not on its own independent ground but on the general ground of Marxism.” A considerable amount of confusion has resulted from the projection that revisionism is outside of theoretical Marxism and occurs only in the practical Marxist movement but not within theory itself. Underlying this confusion is the idea that Marxism is a set of formula or dogma that does not move or grow and develop.

Stalin once wrote, “What is Marxism? Marxism is a science. Can Marxism persist and develop as a science if it is not enriched by the new experience of the class struggle of the proletariat, if it does not digest this experience from the standpoint of Marxism, from the point of view of the Marxist method? Clearly, it cannot.”

This is our point of view–Marxism must grow, develop and change–we only demand that these changes and developments be from the Marxist point of view–the view of dialectical materialism. We struggle against and shall continue to struggle against those otherwise very good comrades who constantly refer only to the books for the appropriate quotes without ever extracting from these books the Marxist method of analysis of social phenomena.

To stray away from that Marxist method; to literally add on to Marxism rather than expand it; to revise it, is revisionism. Now when these theories are carried out in practice it is no longer revisionism–it is outright counterrevolution. Marxism in practice is revolutionary activity.

Along this line, some comrades are still making the error of equating revisionism with Social Democracy. Social Democracy is strictly outside the Communist movement. The Social Democratic movement is a conglomeration of everything from fascists all the way to the Walter Reuthers and legal Marxists such as Allende of Chile. Although there is no real Social Democratic Party in the US, its influence is quite widespread. Its organized base –the Americans for Democratic Action–includes a considerable number of the liberal Trade Union leaders and through them, close ties with the Negro people’s movement. So we see, that even here we cannot disregard Social Democracy–but the worst possible approach would be to confuse it with revisionism.

Our struggle against revisionism has taught us several things about the world’s Communist parties and the tactics and strategy of Communism.

First, we have had to dig for an answer as to why there was such a general victory of revisionism, especially in the parties that had gained state power. Although there is quite a combination of factors a few stand out clearly.

One of these is the fact that the pre-WWII struggle of the European and Asian parties had a distinct anti-feudal, anti-imperialist and antifascist character. In order to prepare for the inevitable war, in order to defend their homelands, these parties had to gather a large number of alien elements into their midst. As we had pointed out before, the struggle against the invaders, against the hangovers of feudalism, had allowed and even demanded some identity of interest between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie. It is inevitable that the effects of this period are to be felt for quite some time–at least until there is a general social or severe economic crisis to arouse the workers to a new wave of struggle.

We cannot disregard the impact of the fact that the parties within the socialist camp have had to address themselves to the task of rebuilding their countries. There has been a steady and stable rise in the standards of living of the people. Added to these factors is the memory of the terrible suffering of the people under the heel of the fascist invaders. It is small wonder that for the time the workers accept a policy that promises them peace and the continuation of the rise in their cultural and living standards. This combination of factors at’ least somewhat accounts for the extreme nationalistic turn of some of the leading parties. We are referring to the tendency to do even the correct things from the standpoint of what is in the national interests of their country. Such a policy and the subsequent softening of the revolutionary spirit of the workers has had devastating effects on the revolutionary movement of the world.

The result has been that those Parties that have been pressured from the left have tended to move to the right while those Parties under pressure from the right have tended to move to the left. An example of this is the disgusting spectacle taking place in Europe in a few weeks where the Communist Parties of Spain, Italy, and France are meeting with the Social-Democrats under the leadership of Soares of Portugal to plot further moves against the vanguard of the Portuguese proletariat – the Communist Party of Portugal. It should be clear that especially the Communist Party of Spain is reading themselves out of the international Communist Movement. On the other hand we see the CPUSA and to a certain extent the CPSU appearing to take a new grasp on revolutionary activity and pronouncements. Well this is old hat and we have no intention of being fooled by this maneuver.

The facts of the matter are that the economic crisis has begun to arouse the working class and as has happened before, the CP shifts toward the left so as not to lose contact with the masses. We do not and experience shows us we should not approach the CPUSA in the classical cliches of its being simply a tool of imperialism or rely on any of the other ideological formulations we have used too freely in the past. Our experience shows us that the CP must be described as a militantly pro-labor anti-monopoly organization that believes in socialism.

They are not based on Marxism and consequently give only lip service to the concept of the dictatorship of the proletariat. The CPUSA is thoroughly penetrated by the FBI, and bourgeois intellectuals have gone far to thoroughly corrupt the top strata. But we must have a two-sided approach to the CP because they will not go away and we doubt that there will be any more large scale defection of decent people from the CPUSA at this time. We are used to finding them at nearly every point of struggle. They have deeply rooted connections with the middle strata of trade union officials and a section of the leadership of the mass movement. You can be sure that a combination of historical struggle along with the tactics of the FBI have guaranteed that. We have learned that in the mass movement, we must have a very principled approach in our struggle against the revisionists. For example, in dealing with the current war in Angola, the CPUSA has put forth the line that this is a racist war, therefore leaving out the fact that the struggle is over the untold wealth in Angola. This has to be pointed out, and all the name calling in the world will not substitute for the patient explaining of facts to both the rank and file of the CPUSA as well as the advanced section of the mass movement.

Comrades, we are facing a very difficult period. The best of the pre-World War II organizations are not good enough for the tasks that lie ahead. We dare not set our sights on a Bolshevik Party, but on a party of Bolsheviks.

In other words, we must struggle for the clarity and individual development of every single comrade. We dare not construct simply a correct center. We must have a correct party wherein each individual is cultivated in every sphere of Party struggle and capable of assuming any task within the Party. The concentration of the enemy, the modern methods of control that they possess, the qualitative levels of the struggle, demand a party in this country as far above the parties of the Comintern as the parties of the Comintern were above those of the Second International.


In a very real sense this Congress is the beginning of our Party. We have a line, a ling wrung out of our participation in the class struggle. We have developed and recruited a core of cadre – cadre who are qualitatively different and above those of preceding movements. We are on the road to the development of a Party of politically equal communists – a party of fighting communist leaders. We are a party able to combine love of country with love of our class; a party capable of combining revolutionary passion with scientific analysis. Such a Party, comrades, the Party that you represent is truly invincible.

This Congress dips its red banners to the proletarian heroes – here and abroad, who have fallen on our far flung fields of combat. Our Party has accepted the historic responsibility for our class. Onward comrades to the resolution of these responsibilities.