Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Motor City Labor League

What road for party building?

First Published: The Guardian, June 5, 1974.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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The following contribution to the Radical Forum is written by the Motor City Labor League (MCLL), a Marxist-Leninist organization based in Detroit, Mich., which recently published a position paper entitled, “The Political Line of the Motor City Labor League [M-L]. The forum addresses the question of building a new communist party in this period.

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The most burning question facing honest Marxist-Leninists in the United States of North America is the building of a communist party of a new type; only with such a party can the working class defeat the bourgeoisie and establish the dictatorship of the proletariat.

The formation of the party can and must occur within the next few months. It is not now and never has been necessary to first build a “worker’s movement” or a “united front against imperialism.” The first order of priority is to build a new communist party.

The position of the Motor City Labor League is that this party must be a multi-national, anti-revisionist communist party. The formation of the party involves first the revolutionary training of the advanced workers among the most oppressed and exploited sections of the working class; simply stated advanced workers must be taught the science of Marxism-Leninism for without this training they cannot then move to form the base of the new party.

But that process is well developed; by reason of the leadership of the Communist League, accomplished Marxists now occupy important and strategic positions of leadership within the industrial proletariat. Of course, this process of grounding ourselves in the working class necessarily involves precise clarification of the theoretical (not strategic; not tactical) questions of the nature of the. party, its class base and the process of its formation. That is, it requires the intensive, constant and unrelenting study of the science by the advanced workers within the class and then the drawing of lines in order to determine who will ideologically unite and precisely where the revisionists stand.

There is no question of the immediate necessity of a party. “The movement” now has years of “practice” but only a scintilla of revolutionary theory. We have had too many leaflets and too little systematic study, so that what we have now is a fragmented working class movement, a movement of more or less skilled, more or less experienced fighters with no guiding center, no party to keep us out of the turdy muck of spontaneity, economistn, opportunism and revisionism.


It clearly has been necessary for Marxists-Leninists to base themselves in and upon the industrial proletariat and within the most oppressed and exploited sections of the working class. The concentration that we now have in the large factories has enormous importance: a) the large factories and railroads are the nerve centers of the economic life of the country; b) here the proletariat is the most highly socialized, and it is precisely this organization, this discipline, this socialization that must make these workers the very foundation of the new party; c) these workers have enormous influence throughout the class. And it is this very concentration that defines the type of organization that is now demanded because only a Leninist party can bring the science of Marxism-Leninism to these workers.

The basic concept is that the party must concentrate on the most exploited and oppressed sections of the working class; it is the dialectical relationship between the exploitation and the oppression that provides the revolutionary content to that sector of the class. It has a high concentration of national minorities and their class struggle has been an important point of leadership for us. With a solid and substantial base in that sector of the class, with highly developed Marxist-Leninists from that sector of the class, then unity can be forged throughout the class and with other classes such as the petty bourgeois and the peasantry–but all that can only be accomplished through the party–in terms of base building we have gone as far as we can go without a party.

All this should be theoretically self-evident, so that we confess our amazement at the continuing advocation of a “mass socialist movement” by the latter-day Menshiviks, the Boytes, the Ackermans, the Kinoys, the New American Movement. The perspective of the “mass socialist movement” is the perspective of petty bourgeois vacillation, the Menshevism of those who strive to avoid the proletarian discipline of party rules and practice in order to maintain their own comparatively privileged position in the imperialist order. These people are apparently frightened at the prospect of “the dictatorship of the proletariat” for that is a phrase which is never seen or heard in their public pronouncements. Instead, we are given the inclusion of socialist analysis in the Nixon impeachment struggle and the Gorzian revisionist theory of “anti-capitalist structural reform.”

The new party must be a Leninist party, i.e., a party of democratic centralism, a party with a central committee, one organ, one line and one set of rules to which all members are bound. We hesitate, indeed we almost blush, to put forth this theoretical commonplace to sophisticated and experienced comrades but it seems we must for there appears to be many who have not studied Lenin and Stalin or if they have, are unwilling to believe what they have read.


The new party (which will surely be formed in the very near future) must be a Leninist party, a democratically centralized party, for it is only such a party that can effectively combat the bourgeoisie. The enemy, if nothing else, is certainly centralized and able to move with certainty and precision against our movement. We must be able to move with identical power and facility and only a party structured in the Leninist form of organization can do this.

Now, obviously such a party cannot and will not arise from the spontaneous and current struggles of the working class. Nor will “diving into the fray” (Revolutionary Union) or a united front vs. imperialism (October League) build such a party. No, it can only be formed by a process of intense study, internal and external, of Marxism-Leninism combined with the most precise clarification of “shades of difference” between various theoretical perspectives.

“Before we can unite, and in order that we may unite, we must first of all draw firm and definite lines of demarcation.” (Lenin, quoted in “The Bolshevik Short Course.”)

The MCLL does not believe, as does Carl Davidson (Which Side Are You On? Guardian, March 27) that an emphasis on the study of Marxism-Leninism is a form of “getting our own heads together.” To us, study is a form of class struggle and in fact, is the most important form of class struggle in this period.

Grounding ourselves in the class means political grounding. Propaganda means taking the science to workers and intensely struggling with them around the world view of Marxism-Leninism. Through education we develop a world view and thereby struggle against bourgeois influences such as white chauvinism, male supremacy, individualism, etc. The slogan, that we use in the Motor City Labor League is “fight for education.” It is clear that it is more enjoyable to be handing out leaflets or organizing a demonstration and we have spent thousands of hours doing both. It is more fun and it is not more fun; because after you have done these things so long without any perceptible purpose or direction, it gets tiresome and demoralizing. That is one clear example of opportunists: they get people to do the work of leafleting etc. because it is easier than carrying out the intense struggle to get people to study–some opportunists assume that the working class as a whole is probably too dumb to learn anyway.

Study and ideological struggle are the keys to the consolidation and development of the unity of will necessary for building a new communist party. Our primary workplace activity must be the development of Marxist-Leninist study action circles. This process must be the essence of our party-building strategy, that is developing class consciousness rooted in Marxism-Leninism among the advanced workers we work with everyday. Otherwise, the class will be robbed of its most effective weapon, the science of Marxism-Leninism.

Intense ideological struggle is the other primary aspect of the party building process in this period. The Communist League has asserted absolutely correct national leadership in this part of the process through the May 1973 party building conference, publication of “Marxists-Leninists Unite;” the continuations committee and the upcoming party congress. The MCLL has now joined this process and will participate in it fully until (and after) the successful formation of the new communist party.

In May 1973, a conference of North American Marxist-Leninists was held at which various honest revolutionaries and communist organizations united around the principles of 1) adherence to the science of Marxism-Leninism; 2) a struggle against revisionism which is headed by the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the CPUSA; 3) the struggle to build a multinational Marxist-Leninist communist party to lead the U.S. working class to overthrow capitalism and establish the dictatorship of the proletariat; 4) the nine resolutions which were approved by the May conference and printed in “Marxist-Leninists Unite.”

The continuations committee was formed at the Conference of North American Marxist-Leninists. It had the task of organizing a congress in which all serious Marxist-Leninists and revolutionaries would come together to form a proletarian party of a new type in the USNA. At the conference, draft resolutions were passed in order to stimulate discussion and form a part of the party program and resolutions. These resolutions were written up in the document called ”Marxist-Leninists Unite.” Since the resolutions were tightly written in the first place, it is of course impossible to summarize them in the space alotted. But for those who are interested in studying them, the document can be obtained by writing China-Albania Books, 12024 Linwood, Detroit, Mich., 48206.


The following is a list of the resolutions that were passed: 1) Call for a party of a new type, a Leninist party. 2) A position that the Negro people face national as well as class oppression. In this case, a minority resolution was passed which contended that the Negro people face racial oppression. 3) A call for the independence of Puerto Rico. 4) A call for the independence of the Philippines. 5) A position on the woman question. 6) A position on youth–a strategy for a young communist league. 8) A resolution on Native Americans. 9) A position on factory work–make every factory our fortress.

While the resolutions are one of the points of unity (and should be distributed by all those interested in the congress), they also serve as the basis for polemics in order that we can achieve the most scientific, Marxist-Leninist position on the main questions facing the USNA proletariat.

All honest Marxist-Leninists have the responsibility to study “Marxist-Leninists Unite,” join the continuations committee and unite with the process of study and struggle to create a new multinational, anti-revisionist communist party at the upcoming party congress.