Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Bill Evers

Maoists Attempt To Form National Party

First Published: The Standford Daily, Vol. 166, Issue 34, November 7, 1974.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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In recent months, former leaders of the defunct Venceremos organization from the Stanford area have been attending conferences on forming a new nationwide communist party. Local radical organizations like the UP Press in Redwood City have already split bitterly over affiliation with such a party. And a recent convention has given birth to one such new party, the Communist Labor Party, although observers differ as to its promise and life expectancy. These activities are the tip of the iceberg of the party-building movement that is the principal present focus of the diverse Maoist groups that evolved out of the political activism of the 1960s.

Important Groups

The important political groups involved fall into four sets: –the Black Workers Congress, the August 29 Movement, the Puerto Rican Revolutionary Workers Organizations and a group of collectives that survived the break-up of Venceremos, a Bay Area revolutionary communist group once active here; –the October League (Marxist-Leninist) and the Guardian newspaper; –the Communist League (CL), the Motor City Labor League, the National Continuations Committee and the Communist Labor Party; –and the Revolutionary Union (RU). All the Maoist groups engaged in party-building have certain elements in common. They oppose the Communist Party, USA as too reformist and linked with the Soviet Union. The groups also desire a multi-racial, centrally disciplined nationwide organization as a necessary preliminary to the revolutionary overthrow of capitalist rule. But it is by no means clear that they will be able to all unite in one new communist party. Interest in creating a left communist party has mounted in recent years. In 1973, the Guardian sponsored a symposium in New York City on “What Road to Building a New Communist Party?” which was attended by 1200 people. Now such an effort is the primary immediate goal of all significant Maoist groups in the U.S. But even in discussing this primary goal, differences begin to emerge. The RU, which is the largest American Maoist group, says that the creation of a nation-wide party is the “central task” during a “brief period ahead.” The RU emphasizes its labor union strike-support activities. In an interview with the Daily one RU member in Richmond spoke in very concrete terms about the RU’s aims in striving for a new party. The RU’s perspective is grounded directly in experiences like the recent Farah and DASCO paper company strikes. This concrete orientation toward “mass movement” activities is criticized sharply by groups such as the August 29 Movement (whose name comes from the date of a Chicano antiwar protest in Los Angeles). These groups complain that the RU neglects spreading communist ideas. The Black Workers Congress says, “We must continue to unleash all fire against RU line,” because the RU is insufficiently oriented toward building a “vanguard party.”

Exclusive Stress

In contrast with the RU, the Communist League almost exclusively stresses the task of party building. People formerly active in Stanford Venceremos say that the CL has a sectarian tendency to read out all other Maoist groups as heretical from the start, rather than looking for and attempting to develop possible bases of unity. In addition, former Venceremos members say that CL acts as if communist propaganda and study groups alone, detached from day-to-day political and economic struggles, can win the workers to communism. Yet the CL has been in the forefront of the party-building movement. All the Maoist groups that regard the larger RU as too reformist have had to respond and react to the CL’s ceaseless efforts to set up a new communist party. The CL was the main initiator of the “National Continuations Committee to Call a Congress to Establish a New Marxist-Leninist, Multi-National Communist Party.” This interim body dominated by the CL set up a convention that proclaimed the Communist Labor Party. But dissatisfaction with the new party is widespread. An RU organizer told the Daily “You can’t build a revolutionary party with a counter-revolutionary line.” Some former Venceremos members are worried that none of the groups now active in party-building stress urban guerrilla warfare and military organization along with political work. Such a perspective was a definitive feature of Venceremos’ ideology. The experience of antiwar organizing at Stanford influenced persons now prominent in the Palo Alto area collectives left over from Venceremos and in all levels of the Revolutionary Union. There is, at present, no Maoist group publicly organizing on campus, but the Revolutionary Union did have a table at Maples Pavilion during fall quarter registration. (The RU was co-founded by fired Assoc. English Prof. H. Bruce Franklin; but after he and his supporters left to join Venceremos in December 1970, the RU was no longer active on the Peninsula.)