First Published: Revolutionary Cause, Vol. 1, No. 1, November 1975.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
Copyright: This work is in the Public Domain under the Creative Commons Common Deed. You can freely copy, distribute and display this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit the Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line as your source, include the url to this work, and note any of the transcribers, editors & proofreaders above.
Since the betrayal of the Communist Party USA, the central task facing the communist movement has been the building of a Marxist-Leninist Party. On this there is general agreement within the communist movement. This task can be broken down into three component parts–ideological, political, and organizational.
The ideological sphere has called for the reaffirmation of the universal principles of Marxism-Leninism which the CPUSA has abandoned. This task calls for relentless struggle against revisionism, and particularly the revisionism of the CPUSA. The CPUSA, once a party representing the interests of the proletariat, has now abandoned Marxism. Having become a reformist party which rejects the struggle for the dictatorship of the proletariat they have become guardians of the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie, condemning the working class to the rule of capital and wage slavery. By rejecting the necessity for armed struggle, they liquidate the basis for an end to all oppression – class oppression, national oppression and women’s oppression. By repudiating the fundamental principles of Marxism, they have in essence turned to and accepted the ideological outlook of the capitalist class. We must continue the struggle to expose and isolate them within the communist, working-class and revolutionary national movements. We must remember too that this struggle is not limited to the struggle against the CPUSA but must be waged against the ideology of the bourgeoisie within the communist movement, wherever it crops up. This struggle must therefore be waged internally and externally throughout the life of the new party.
In the Political sphere we must struggle to apply the universal principles of Marxism-Leninism to the concrete conditions in the USNA. We must further develop political line, and clarify line differences, through study, analysis, and polemics. Also through testing the line in revolutionary practice and summing up the results to further enrich or modify it. It will be unity on political line that will lay the basis for the unity of Marxist-Leninists. Political line, based on an analysis of the objective and subjective factors, internationally and nationally; taking into account the historical experience of the international working class struggle, will point out the tasks facing the revolutionary proletariat, who are our friends and who are our enemies. Political line, in laying out our tasks and providing direction to the communist movement, will forge that unity of will and unity of action without which no communist party can exist. It will be agreement on political line that will lay the basis for the unity of Marxists-Leninists.
Organizationally, we must continue the struggle against amateurishness, strengthen democratic-centralism, and establish the factory nuclei as the basic form of organization. Also we must rid ourselves of social-democratic traditions in questions of organization, transforming ourselves along illegal-revolutionary lines of organization, and conscientiously practice criticism and self-criticism. Only in this way will we be able to build a “new party, a militant party, a revolutionary party, one bold enough to lead the proletarians in the struggle for power, sufficiently experienced to find its bearings amidst the complex conditions of a revolutionary situation, and sufficiently flexible to steer clear of all submerged rocks in the path to its goal.
Without such a party it is useless, even to think of overthrowing imperialism, of achieving the dictatorship of the proletariat. (J.V. Stalin, Foundations of Leninism.)
THE KEY LINK While all these tasks must be carried out simultaneously, one must necessarily be primary, one must be the key link in the chain. One whose resolution will move forward the development of the others, who will move us forward in the struggle for the party. Unlike objective conditions, subjective conditions are necessarily created by the politically conscious element. The determination of the key link must be carried out by first defining this stage in the development of the party. It is by identifying this that we determine which course to follow and consequently are prepared to recognize ’left’ and ’right’ deviations.
A.T.M. views this period as one in which Marxist-Leninists, within the party-building movement, have in the main, made an ideological break with revisionism. We have reaffirmed the principles of Marxism-Leninism and arrived at unity and clarity on the question of the state, armed struggle, the nature of imperialism, etc. Why do we point these questions out? Because the entire history of the working class movement has taught us that the recognition of violent revolution as a universal law of proletarian revolution, of the necessity of smashing the old state machinery and of replacing the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie with the dictatorship of the proletariat, have always been the questions that distinguish Marxism from opportunism and revisionism, between proletarian revolutionaries and all renegades from the proletariat. These are fundamental questions which cannot be compromised. One might have a correct position on other questions (i.e. democratic-centralism, etc.), but without upholding these fundamental principles of Marxism, the revolution goes nowhere except into the pocket of the bourgeoisie. Having made this break with revisionism, however does not mean that the ideological struggle is over. The ideological struggle will continue throughout the life of the new party. What this does mean is that the primary task facing us now is the application of the principles of Marxism-Leninism to the concrete conditions facing the proletariat in the USNA—the further development of political line. A.T.M. sees that at this stage–Political Line is key!
We therefore view the line that “Ideology is Key”, as a right deviation, for it negates the advances made by the communist movement and attempts to hold back its development, tries to take us back to a stage we have already passed. This line underestimates the development of the subjective factor.
The line that holds–“Organization is key”, is a left deviation which overestimates the level of development, clarity and unity on political line of the communist movement. Only after unity has been reached on ideological and political line will organization become key.
Having determined that political line is key, we must grasp the corresponding tasks and slogans. The slogan–“Marxist-Leninists Unite!”; is guiding our work within the communist movement, while the slogan–“Win over the advanced!”, guides our work within the working class movement.
Within the communist movement, as we struggle for unity, theory is primary. This means we must grasp the science of Marxism-Leninism, the theory of proletarian revolution, and apply it to the concrete conditions in the USNA in order to further develop political line. The unity we achieve within the communist movement, based on line must come about through discussion and polemics, through common work and through the testing of our different lines in practice. Summing up the results will further enrich or modify the line.
One further point on the question of theory. In our pamphlet Selected Speeches 1974-1975, we lay out what historically has been a low regard for revolutionary theory within the U.S. communist and working class movements. At this stage in the development of the party we must pay particular attention to this question. The break with revisionism, which genuine Marxist-Leninists represent, does not in the least imply that a firm or thorough grasp of revolutionary theory has been attained. It can only be in the struggle to grasp and apply the revolutionary theory of the proletariat–Marxism-Leninism, that we will achieve further clarity and ideological unity in our ranks. The upsurge of the struggle of the masses demands more consciousness in the communist movement. That is the ability to understand what the spontaneous process represents and to lead it in a revolutionary direction. This consciousness cannot be attained by studying our limited experience but by grasping the lessons of the revolutionary experience of the international struggle of the proletariat:
Theory is the experience of the working class movement in all countries taken in its general aspect. Of course, theory becomes purposeless if it is not connected with revolutionary practice, just as practice gropes in the dark if its path is not illuminated by revolutionary theory. But theory can become a tremendous force in the working class movement if it is built up in indissoluble connection with revolutionary practice; for theory, and theory alone, can give the movement confidence, the power of orientation, and an understanding of the inner relation of surrounding events; for it, and it alone, can help practice to realize not only how and in which direction classes are moving at the present time, but also how and in which direction they will move in the near future. (J.V. Stalin–Foundations of Leninism.)
Of the two slogans mentioned, one must necessarily be primary. It is the slogan–“Marxist-Leninists Unite”, which is primary. For these forces represent communists who have made an ideological break with bourgeois ideology, a break with revisionism. They have committed their entire lives to the struggle for socialism and the dictatorship of the proletariat. They have embraced the science of Marxism-Leninism as their guide to revolutionary action and are carrying out daily political work. They represent the conscious element, those forces which will make the masses conscious (at this period the advanced elements) of their role as the makers of history. Now if we say that one of our main tasks is to seek out and win over the advanced workers, who by Lenin’s definition are not yet communists, who must be raised to the level of communists, who have not yet dedicated their entire lives to proletarian revolution, then how much more important is uniting all those who have made such a commitment. Obviously we must make it primary.
Yet we must understand the relationship between these tasks and the slogan–“Win over the advanced!” The experience of the international proletariat teaches us that every working class movement brings advanced workers to the fore. Advanced workers whom we must win over in the heat of class struggle, on the basis of our practical political work, which is guided by our political line. What then is the relationship of “Win over the advanced!” to “Marxist-Leninists Unite!” when political line is key?1. Winning over the advanced can only be done on the basis of correct political line. 2. The process of winning over the advanced is the test of our line in practice and the lines of other Marxist-Leninists, verifying it as correct or incorrect. 3. The advanced help to develop the line through their practice sum-ups and criticisms. 4. The advanced help us to perform the essential task of isolating the opportunists and revisionists—theoretically through their study and grasp of Marxism-Leninism. Practically by the correct application of this science, the advanced will win the masses away from the leadership of opportunism and revisionism.
Within the communist movement there have been errors made in confusing the tasks to be carried out in the communist movement with the tasks to be carried out in the working class and the primacy of the former. In practice this has meant that these comrades have committed the sectarian error of placing the winning of the advanced to their particular organization over the burning task of uniting all genuine Marxists-Leninists. They have placed the growth of their organization above the task of building the party. This is the logical extension of the line that organization is key—that because we have so much unity, our task is now “to unite in the process of winning over the advanced.” By not making the unity of Marxist-Leninists primary, these comrades too are belittling the role of the conscious element. So that while criticizing the economists for belittling the role of the conscious element on the right, these comrades belittle the role of the conscious element from the ’left’.
ATM has not yet put forward a plan for the unity of Marxist-Leninists. This is a task that still confronts the entire communist movement, not just ATM. However, there are four areas in which we must have fundamental unity on line in order to unite: l) the international situation; 2) the national situation 3) the national question; 4) party building.
In future issues of Revolutionary Cause, we will expand further on the four areas pointed out above. Here however, we will outline them briefly. 1. The international situation: we must unite on the four main contradictions in the world today and the principle contradiction as layed out by the Communist Party of China. We must unite on the question of the restoration of capitalism in the USSR and on the role of Soviet Social-Imperialism, the main danger in the communist movement internationally. There must also be agreement on the leading role of China and Albania in the international communist movement.
2. The national situation: We must unite on the main contradiction in U.S. society; the principle contradiction; an analysis of classes, and the program, strategy and tactics that flow from this analysis. Further we must unite on the main danger in the communist and working class movements. And finally on the two main questions facing the working class today A) the shifting of the burden of the crisis onto the backs of the working class, and B) the increased social and political oppression of the oppressed nationalities.
3. The national question: We must unite on upholding the right of the Afro-American Nation to political secession; the right of Puerto Rico to independence, and on the Chicano National Question. We must further unite on developing our line on the national questions of all peoples oppressed by U.S. Imperialism within and outside the borders of the USNA in the spirit of proletarian internationalism, and adhering to the principles of Marxism-Leninism on this question. We must pay particular attention to this question, not only because confusion, opportunism and chauvinism still reign on this question in the communist movement as a whole but also because the communist movement as a whole has failed to grasp this question. That is, that this question is the principle contradiction in the world today, that the oppression of nations is_ the political essence of imperialism.
4. Party Building: We must unite on the leading role of the new communist party. “Our position on the other hand is that a Communist Party is a union of the working class movement with socialism but that the subjective factor is the leading factor in the revolution, i.e. consciousness (socialist ideology), organization (the party), and direction (theory), and this is precisely the revolutionizing and guiding force of the working class movement.” (ATM Unity Statement,p.9)
We must unite on the present stage in the development of the party–where “Political Line is Key!” and on the tasks that flow from this as encompassed in the slogans, “Marxist-Leninists Unite’” and “Win over the advanced!” and on the primacy of the former.
We must unite on upholding the organizational principles of democratic-centralism; establish the factory nuclei as the basic form of organization; rid ourselves of social-democratic traditions in questions of organization; transforming ourselves along illegal, revolutionary lines of organization and conscientiously practice criticism—self-criticism.
We must unite on who are the advanced workers and on the main danger in the communist movement, right opportunism and revisionism.
And in summary, we must unite on upholding the ideological, political, and organizational principles of a Leninist party as summarized in, What is to be Done?, One Step Forward, Two Steps Back, Foundations of Leninism, the terms of admission into the Communist International, and Stalin’s 12 points of Bolshevization.
At the time of A.T.M.’s Unity Congress in May of last year, we stated that the central task facing the communist movement was the building of a new Marxist-Leninist party. Since then we have further developed our line on this question by defining the stage that this pre-party period of the communist movement is in. We have seen that having made an ideological break with revisionism, that the theoretical struggle is primary in the struggle to unite Marxist-Leninists and that “Political line is Key”. We have defined the tasks that must be carried out within the communist and working class movement and put forward our two main slogans–“Marxist-Leninists Unite.”, and “Win over the advanced.” We have also laid out the basis for the primacy of the former and the relationship between the two. Within the columns of Revolutionary Cause we will continue the struggle for theoretical clarity and unity of the communist movement and will contribute to bring that movement forward so that all genuine MARXIST-LENINISTS UNITE!!