Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

I Wor Kuen

The Puerto Rican Revolutionary Workers Organization and the National Continuations Committee

First Published: in a supplement to the IWK newspaper Getting Together, February 1977.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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[EROL Note: This is an excerpt from a longer document entitled: Learn From Negative Example: Lessons from the Degeneration of the Puerto Rican Revolutionary Workers Organization]

1974 – PRRWO Unites With Communist League and Its National Continuations Committee

By 1974, only shortly after breaking with the RU, the PRRWO, as well as some other groups including the BWC united with the Trotskyite Communist League (CL) and its National Continuations Committee (NCC), supposedly to build a new communist party. This decision on the part of the PRRWO showed that even though it had broken with the RU, it had not successfully rectified its errors and gotten onto a correct Marxist-Leninist path.

PRRWO’s unity with the CL reflected their further move towards full-blown opportunism and idealism, for the CL clearly was not based on Marxist-Leninist dialectical and historical materialism. CL’s reactionary line was developed and well-known to the communist movement before the NCC began. In “Dialectics of the Development of the Communist League,” the CL openly promoted Hegelian idealism which viewed the communist movement and the world as the evolution simply of ideas, denying the existence of a material world and its primary role in determining man’s consciousness.

The CL held the reactionary view which called “socialist” the social-imperialist superpower -Soviet Union and condemned the national liberation struggles of the Third World as tied to imperialism. CL maintained the revisionist view that there was a progressive wing of the U.S. bourgeoisie which communists should unite with. On the national question too, the CL cooked up a completely opportunist view. As with their politics, the CL had a thoroughly bourgeois style of work, which included the rote memorization of Marxist-Leninist articles and phrases. The CL, too was known for its provocative physical assaults on communist and mass organizations and individuals.

Although all this was known to PRRWO, they still joined the National Continuations Committee because PRRWO supposedly had “the spirit of party building to further train cadres to be genuine Bolsheviks, in the interest of the proletariat.” PRRWO also admitted to being “impressed particularly with their [CL’s] training of cadre.” (In the U.S. Pregnant with Revisionism: The Struggle for Proletarian Revolution Moves Ahead.) What these words show, however, is PRRWO’s metaphysics and idealism, which separated party building from political line.

PRRWO rationalized that the NCC could be a genuine communist party building effort in spite of the CL’s revisionist line and practice. PRRWO was “impressed” with the dogmatist style of the CL cadre who were carrying out CL’s opportunist line. PRRWO separated the development of communist cadre from what line they upheld in practice, and promoted “style of work” in a self-cultivationist way.

PRRWO at this time was already strongly inclined towards the opportunism of self-cultivationism, which puts one’s personal development (or the “cadre’s” development) above making revolution and makes decisions (and excuses errors) by using the rationalization of the “furthering tempering” of the cadre.

This cultivationist view, for example, is expressed in the introduction of Pregnant with Revisionism, where they state, “One aspect of our movement is our amateurishness, unpreparedness, a definite lack of theoretical clarity on the burning questions of our day, a hasty grasp of the lessons drawn by the international proletariat, a beginning under standing of the correct relationship of the objective and subjective factors of the revolution, etc.”

The other aspect of our movement, and this is the side in motion, is the maturing of our movement, the struggle to become professional revolutionaries, devoting our lives entirely to the education and organization of the proletariat to achieve its goal. (emphasis added).

This is a self-cultivationist view for it puts “self” first, not revolution. To evaluate the development of the communist movement, we would have to evaluate the progress of the integration of Marxism-Leninism with the practice of revolution in this country, the linking of the communist and mass movement, and not focus solely on ”our theoretical clarity.” The PRRWO view is a subjectivist view, which understands the world only from its personal or organizational standpoint, not objectively from the standpoint of the proletariat.

PRRWO Leaves National Continuations Committee

PRRWO eventually broke its ties with the CL and left the National Continuations Committee in 1974. PRRWO presented its own reasons for leaving the NCC in its pamphlet, Pregnant with Revisionism.

PRRWO opportunistically rationalizes why it left the NCC. They state that it had “discovered that CL’s line attacked China and defended the Soviet Union as socialist. PRRWO wanted to “struggle” with CL over these points, but CL wanted to impose democratic centralism on all organizations in the NCC based on CL’s line. PRRWO could not agree with this, and split. Their reason for the split was that there as no room to struggle for unity as if it is correct to struggle for unity with a revisionist organization.

PRRWO then goes on to say that it was wrong to enter the NCC in the first place. “To expose the CL’s treacherous line and sham attempt to build the party, it was not necessary to join the NCC. CL has been out there for everyone to see for years (our emphasis).” But this is not the original reason why PRRWO joined the NCC! PRRWO joined the NCC to unite with the CL, not to expose them. PRRWO joined the NCC “in the spirit of unity to build the party,” and deliberately chose to “investigate” CL’s line from inside CL’s own party building alliance.

Rather than going to the roots of this error to analyze why they had sympathy with CL’s line and dogmatism, self-cultivationist style of work, PRRWO just listed some empty excuses. They stated that only in the midst of the NCC did PRRWO “begin to clearly examine” the line of CL; and that “we recognize that our responsibility was to have studied the CL line thoroughly, engaged in polemics over the burning questions facing the communist movement and proletarian revolution. Most especially, we should have studied what period we were in and the concrete road ahead toward party building.”

A thorough evaluation of such a major deviation as uniting with the CL should have included a serious study of the circumstances that led to the decision, and the actual unity in the outlook, line and style of PRRWO and CL. PRRWO should have assessed what originally attracted them to CL in order that they could root out those erroneous aspects in their own organization.

The actual roots of PRRWO’s errors lay in its developing “ultra-left” line and metaphysics. After its split with the RU, PRRWO was disoriented and without bearings. PRRWO was without mass ties and lacked a coherent grasp of reality. PRRWO tried to overcome these weaknesses through seeking answers increasingly just from book study. It therefore became susceptible to the dogmatist style of CL and its “cadre training.”

Politically, PRRWO also was developing a consistent ultra-left line such as denying the stage of winning national independence in the Puerto Rican revolution and calling for socialist revolution as the immediate objective. In its propaganda and agitation work it in practice mainly issued general slogans for the dictatorship of the proletariat and general calls to build a new communist party. It liquidated much of its remaining mass work and further retreated from integrating with the masses.

PRRWO could have corrected its ways after splitting with the CL if it had struggled and faced its serious weaknesses. Because it did not, it was destined to commit the same errors, become more erratic and finally, totally degenerate. And this is what happened next with PRRWO and the “revolutionary wing.”