First Published: As a special supplement to Revolutionary Cause, n.d. 
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The League for Proletarian Revolution – formerly Resistencia Puertorriquena – is a small leftist group in New York and New Jersey. Earlier this year they wrote polemics against ATM (ML) accusing us of being “consolidated right opportunists”. It’s quite fashionable these days to simply label other groups “opportunists”; we don’t think LPR’s posturing will present much danger to the communist or workers’ movement. We write this polemic because the “left” political line espoused by LPR is the same line held by the Workers Viewpoint Organization, the “Revolutionary Wing” and other sects. That political line is a danger. In Red Banner #2, we expose LPR’s line on reforms and revolution, agitation and propaganda, and party building. In this polemic we further expose the Trotskyite line on party building while we also deepen our own analysis on the tasks facing communists. We hope that this polemic will aid in the drawing of “firm lines of demarcation” with opportunism so that genuine Marxist-Leninists can unite.
LPR insists that we are pessimists because we point out that today the opportunists are temporarily stronger than Marxist-Leninists. In answer to this obvious fact we call upon the communists to provide political leadership to the broad mass movement. We call for the development of nationwide political agitation, the creation of an organization of professional revolutionaries, for the development of party program, the training of the necessary cadres, for the ideological and practical exposure of opportunism, and for the unity of communists based on a line of ACTION. In other words we set before the movement the necessity for it to intensify their efforts to “organize and lead the class struggle of the proletariat”. LPR refers to this as “pessimism”. And what do they say? According to their sober and “optimistic” appraisal we should not even EXPECT that we might be stronger than the opportunists. We must resign ourselves to a secondary position, they say, because this “is the rule and not the exception in capitalist societies. And it will be such in the US for a long time even after the formation of the party”. And why must we resign ourselves to this miserable fate? Because, says LPR, “As Marx has taught us, the dominant ideology in any society is the ideology of the ruling class”. So here we have it comrades, we must not be pessimistic, after all even after we have the party of the proletariat the opportunists will remain dominant for a “long time”. We must narrow the scope of our work, not even setting for ourselves the task of political leadership, because of the dominance of bourgeois ideology.
LPR agrees with us when we point out that communists lack a real base among the working class. We all know that without a strong connection between the communist movement and the working class movement, both are doomed to impotence. Therefore we call upon all communists to intensify their efforts to form close connections with the proletarian movement. But LPR seems to think that this is impossible; or that we must resign ourselves to having only weak connections until we actually have our party. In other words we must resign ourselves to building a party which will not be backed up by the working class movement. In reference to our call upon Marxist-Leninists to build their ties with the working class LPR responds:
ATM-ML’s assessment and proposed solution negates the fact that in order to establish a real base in the working class, the emerging Marxist-Leninist trend must unite on correct ideological, political line that guides our work in the class.” (RESISTANCE, vol. 8, #1) After all, says LPR, “you cannot carry out revolutionary practice if you’re not guided by revolutionary theory”, (ibid) First of all, what Lenin actually said was that “without a revolutionary theory, there can be no revolutionary movement” (emphasis ours – ed.). LPR distorts this quote with EXACTLY the same words as the Workers Viewpoint Organization. But what is more important is that LPR “ignores” the fact that some communist organizations do have an ideological and political line, and they even have the audacity to go among the workers with this line, to carry out revolutionary practice among them. And what is worse, they even call upon other communists who unite with that line to do the same.
But according to LPR this is insufficient. We must not only have a correct ideological and political line, but all communists must agree with it BEFORE we can think about having “a real base in the working class”. This is the most blatant cover for sectarianism that we have ever heard. First of all, LPR calls upon the movement to create a party divorced from the working class movement (since we can have no real base in that movement UNTIL we unite); they tell us that we cannot even begin to develop that base until we are all united on ideological and political line.
Unity on political line is unity on our line of action. There can be no other type of unity, unless we are out to construct a debating society and not a fighting party of the proletariat. Lenin and the ISKRA organization united with those revolutionary Marxists who were serious about carrying out the task of organizing nationwide political agitation.
if we do not want unity in name only, we must arrange for all local study circles IMMEDIATLY TO ASSIGN, say, a fourth of their forces to ACTIVE work for the COMMON cause, and the newspaper will immediately convey to them the general design, scope and character of the cause... (What is to Be Done)
Now Lenin called for this prior to the Second Congress of the Russian Social-Democratic Labor Party, the Congress which actually united all the Marxists in Russia. What can we learn from this? (1) That it is correct to call upon our movement to set itself the task of political leadership of the working class movement; and (2) it is correct to demand that we unite only with those communists who are SERIOUS about undertaking this task in all of its aspects. LPR’s line that “Marxists-Leninists Unite” is primary calls for the creation of a party with weak ties to the working class. Lenin made it clear how we unite both Marxist-Leninists and advanced workers we will unite with those revolutionaries (be they workers or intellectuals) who uphold Marxism against any attempt to distort it, and who carry out the political tasks demanded by the working class struggle – which Lenin defined as “the organization of nationwide political agitation”. And we do not, as LPR suggests, call upon Marxists to carry on their political work without a political line. We explicitly say the opposite: “We caution comrades against seeing the REVOLUTIONARY CAUSE as merely something to be studied; it is meant to be used in conjunction with our day to day work in order to train and organize the class.” (RC #10) Admittedly we are lagging far behind the demands of the movement. But at least we try to provide comrades with a Marxist-Leninist assessment of important political and social questions so that they will have the material (political line) with which to train the class.
LPR would have us believe that our movement has no political line. Now certainly in the case of LPR they give us very little to work with. In all of last year they saw fit to print a total of 53 articles in the pages of their political organ. They averaged roughly 5 articles per issue, or about 1 article per week. Now it would admittedly be extremely difficult to train the working class in class consciousness on this paltry material. Not only did LPR fail to tell the working class what stand it should take on the elections in steel or during the auto strike, but it also “neglected” such small things as the presidential elections, the SALT talks, the Colombo conference, the miners wildcat, the Afro-American national movement, the Chicano national movement, the movement among Asian-Americans, etc., etc. And yet this is the same organization which shouts in all keys: “political line is the key link”. They haven’t proven themselves capable of answering any major political or social question in the past several years and now they want us to believe that they hold “theory is primary.” But LPR believes that because THEY have not been able to develop a thought out and comprehensive political line, that we must therefore WAIT until they do before we set ourselves the task of developing “a real base in the working class movement”. LPR will never grasp the reason for their scanty political line; nor will they understand what it means to bring scientific socialism to the working class from without until they understand these words of Lenin:
Working class consciousness cannot be genuine political consciousness unless the workers are trained to respond to ALL cases of tyranny, oppression, violence, and abuse, no matter WHAT CLASS is affected – unless they are trained, moreover, to respond from a (Communist) point of view and no other. The consciousness of the working masses cannot be genuine class-consciousness, unless the workers learn, from concrete, and above all from topical, political facts and events to observe EVERY social class in ALL the manifestations of its intellectual, ethical, and political life; unless they learn to apply in practice the materialist analysis and the materialist estimate of ALL aspects of the life and activity of ALL classes, strata and groups of the population. (What is to be Done)
We think that it is no accident that LPR condemns us for setting the task of nationwide agitation. Nor do we think it accidental that they believe it impossible to build a real base in the working class until all communists have united on political line. LPR is a sect, and they therefore have the ideology and politics of a sect. They have been in existence for over 7 years and yet in all that time they have been able to develop only a small amount of work in a few cities. This is a result, not only of their political line, but also of their ideological outlook as well. Their line that Marxist-Leninists Unite is primary, and that we must unite before we can have a base among the proletariat is only a theoretical justification for their sectarian outlook. Their own practice has proven that this is their outlook. Did not Chou En Lai say: “If one’s line is correct, even if one has not a single soldier at first, there will be soldiers, and even if there is no political power, political power will be gained”? Well LPR has accumulated very few soldiers in their 7 years of existence. This must stem from something – perhaps the dominance of bourgeois ideology? It is no accident that they formed the cosiest of relationships with the Communist League, and to this day, consider that the CL played a positive role in terms of Party building. In RESISTENCIA vol. 7, #3 LPR states:
The CL fought against the economist thesis of building a mass movement, emphasized the importance of the conscious element...
Yes, it is true that CL fought against building the mass movement. They fought it with the Trotskyite line of the theory of cadres. They emphasized “the importance of the conscious element” by advocating that the conscious element completely sever itself from the mass movement, that it sit around in study circles and become “more conscious”. Everyone in the movement, except for LPR, has recognized this sectarianism and Trotskyism of the Communist League. So here we have an organization, LPR, which has been a sect for seven years and which glorifies the politics of one of the most sectarian organizations our movement has seen, developing and vigorously promoting the political line of a sect. They use every possible justification to keep us away from the working class – we’re not united, we have no line, we can’t expect to be stronger than the opportunists for a long time, etc., etc. But the LPR is not alone. In fact in the very same city where LPR is headquartered lies the center of their political bed partners – the “revolutionary wing”.
LPR gets very angry when we say to them that they have only shades of difference with the “revolutionary wing”, that they too hold that party building is the central and only task. LPR asks:
“How can you accuse us, who coined the now-popular term ’onlys’, of holding to an onlys line?” Well, we’ll show them how we can make such an accusation.
Here is how LPR polemicised with the “wing”:
They have a ’left’ opportunist line characterized by their ’onlys’: only party building, only propaganda (rejecting agitation), only line struggle (discarding all other forms of class struggle), only political line (ideology and organization are not important for them), only the advanced (it is incorrect to pay any attention to the intermediate or attempt to raise the general level of consciousness of the masses according to them), only theory (all practice is economism according to them), only the proletariat (denying the existence of allies of the proletariat like poor farmers, lower sectors of the petty-bourgeoisie, etc. In essence this is a Trotskyite line of isolating the proletariat in its struggle against the bourgeoisie from every other class and sector of class), only the genuine wing and eventually only PRRWO-RWL. (RESISTENCIA, vol. 7, #5).
1. First only: party building is the central and only task. LPR says that this is not their line, but we might notice that they never once mention in all of their newspapers and publications, what other tasks there are. Nor do they specify how these tasks are to be carried out, nor do they explain the relationship of these other tasks to the central task. Nowhere in their newspaper is there a single bit of guidance for any other task but party building (and we will later address ourselves to the nature of the guidance that they do give).
2. Second only: Propaganda. LPR says, “We hold that propaganda and agitation are inseparably linked, although we also hold that ’propaganda is the chief form of activity in this period’”. (ibid) But exactly what is the nature of their agitation? It is limited almost exclusively to local agitation, as evidenced by the fact that their only national publication carries almost no agitation. But the restriction of political agitation to purely local agitation amounts to the belittling of the role of political agitation, which Lenin said was the key to training the proletariat in class consciousness. Rather than expand the scope of their political agitation on a national scale LPR plans to keep its paper as “fundamentally propaganda”, while publishing a mostly propaganda journal I Political agitation? – that gets left for the few places in the few cities where LPR operates. It is clear then that what unites both the “wing” and LPR is the belittling of the role of political agitation. One negates it completely, the other (LPR) restricts it to local agitation. A mere shade of difference.
3. Third only: Political line. In this case it is only political line on party building (exactly like the wing). In checking over all of LPR’s newspapers going back to December of 1975 we find that they have printed a total of 60 articles. Of this total 24 were either polemics or articles concerning party building. 40 pages out of a total of 91 are devoted to this topic. They fail to address, except by way of exception the struggles of the working class, the national movements, students, youth, and women. While they do run some articles on Puerto Rico, they mention nothing about the actual struggle in Puerto Rico, nor do they give space to any current struggles by the Puerto Rican national minority. Needless to say, it is not only a failure to mention these struggles - that we are criticising, but the failure to give these struggles any direction. When they do mention a struggle in Puerto Rico (the struggle to free Cintron Fiallo) they confine themselves to criticising the October League without once mentioning what the wording class should have done to support this struggle. The “wing” devotes almost their entire newspaper to polemics. LPR devotes a little less than half. Neither addresses other significant political and social questions except to the smallest degree. If we subtract LPR’s 24 articles and polemics on party building from their total number of articles we see that they treat the workers to a communist view on other important questions at the rate of a little over one article every two weeks, (we checked through 13 papers covering a period of 15 months). One more shade of difference.
4. Fourth only: The advanced. LPR will admit that their newspaper is mainly for the advanced. Ours is not – it is at the level of the advanced but the mass of our readers are undoubtedly middle strata workers, students, etc. The “wing” press is also mainly for the advanced, and not just at the level of the advanced. By giving it this restriction, LPR insures that the only vehicle which has any kind of national scope (limited though it is) reaches a small number of advanced workers. They fail to grasp that a communist newspaper must be written at the LEVEL of the advanced – not only to arm the advanced workers – but also to raise greater numbers of intermediate workers to the level of the advanced. As for the intermediate and lower strata workers? Well, they get treated to LPR’s LOCAL agitation, and even that on a tremendously restricted scale – the few places where LPR engages in mass struggle. What this all boils down to is one more tiny shade of difference with the “wing”.
5. Fifth only: Theory. Here the unity is of a different nature. What unites the wing and LPR as regards theory is the failure on the ^part of both of them to develop any theory, their confusion of dogma with theory. Neither organization has made a single theoretical contribution on a single important question confronting our movement. Even in the case where LPR attempts to do so, on the question of Puerto Rico, they fail. They never give us a detailed analysis of the development of the revolutionary struggle in Puerto Rico, the tasks of that movement, and the tasks of the US working class in relation to that movement. What we get instead is a brief historical chronology, a mention that Puerto Rico is dominated politically by the US, and therefore they must have a new democratic revolution in Puerto Rico. They don’t even seem to know the nature of the current struggle in Puerto Rico, much less its development. They also reveal their dogmatism: they initially held that New Democratic revolution was inappropriate for Puerto Rico. Why? The logic goes as follows – Puerto Rico is industrialized, therefore the bourgeois democratic revolution is completed, therefore New Democracy is inappropriate. If this isn’t dogmatic we don’t know what is; they merely “ignore” the complete domination politically of Puerto Rico by US imperialism. They quite correctly criticize this old line as Trotskyite. What they fail to see, however, is the dogmatic methodology in both positions. In both cases, LPR fails to make a concrete analysis of concrete conditions: the objective conditions, class forces in motion, etc. By comparison, we refer comrades to ATM’s Fan the Flames on the Chicano national question. Neither the wing nor LPR has developed any significant theory on the international situation, the Afro-American national question, the Chicano national question, the women’s question or any other important question of our movement, except the central and only task. Once more the merest whisp of a difference. Their essential unity – the substitution of dogma for theory, and the almost complete failure to develop any theory of their own.
6. Sixth only: The proletariat. LPR claims that the working class has allies like poor farmers, lower sectors of the petty-bourgeoisie, etc. In practice they devote not one inch of space in their paper to these allies of the working class. In words, fine talk about allies. In practice a complete failure to address their struggles or to show the workers exactly WHY they are their allies, and HOW they should relate to them. The “wing” of course is even more blatant – they negate the allies of the proletariat in both word and deed. Once more the differences are minimal.
PRRWO did not degenerate just because they had a nasty chairman, or just because they had a bureaucratic leadership. They degenerated because they had the ideology and politics of a sect, and they have had that ideology and politics as far back as 1974, when the National Liaison Committee broke up. By the admission of PRRWO’s own cadres and ex-leadership they began to liquidate their mass work at the time of the NLC – they were already withdrawing into their sectarian closet. By the admission of these same cadres and leadership PRRWO never had a base among the working class except to a small extent and they never really tried to build one either. For quite some time they had just about abandoned all work among Puerto Ricans, and they never did have much among Afro-Americans. Does this represent the ideology of a sect or not? And exactly what line sprang from this ideology: propaganda is the chief form of activity, two tactical tasks of party building, political line is the key link. This was the essence of their line on party building, and it is the essence of LPR’s line of party building.
And because LPR cannot, no matter how hard they try it seems, grasp the meaning of these FACTS, they cannot understand exactly why the PRRWO degenerated into “left#8221; opportunism.
We were dead wrong with our “old PRRWO-new PRRWO” analysis, which tried to make a case that PRRWO degenerated merely because some Trotskyites “usurped” the Leadership of the organization. The usurpers merely carried out the Trotskyite line to its logical conclusion–“the onlys.”
By making the phony “old PRRWO-new PRRWO” analysis we let ourselves off the hook for holding a left line on party building – we evaded the question: what really held the “genuine wing” together? It was not just a question of subjectively wishing for unity, but of actually being united on the “central and only task”.
Because of our “left” line on party building we were prepared to overlook differences on other questions. After all, if party building is the central and only task, what does it matter if you have differences on other questions? That is why PRRWO could embrace WVO even though they had differences on the Afro-American national question, the trade union question, etc. And that is why you now see WVO going around screaming, “we are the leading circle”, while the “wing” is raving, “we are the Bolshevik party”. We don’t, of course, ignore the element of careerism among the leadership of PRRWO and WVO, we are referring here to the main political glue which held it together.) The “leftism” had gotten so deep within our organization that even after PRRWO degenerated we could not see the actual cause of its decline, nor explain to ourselves the real reason we had had such a “high level of unity” with such a sect. The result was, of course, that we started to repeat the same error with LPR. Fortunately we have caught ourselves in time.
Lenin said very simply that the task of nationwide political agitation was necessitated by the fact that the working class movement in Russia was far outstripping the capacity of the Communists to lead it. The spontaneous movement was, he said, “sweeping over us leaders and organizers of the movement”. We believe that a similar situation exists in this country. The advanced workers are not waiting for Communists to catch up with the movement. The strike wave among miners, autoworkers and others which has swept the US over the past several years attests to this. The masses of the workers have proved to be much more active than the Communists. And this is also true for the movements of other classes and strata – particularly the revolutionary national movements. There can be no doubt that we lack adequately trained Communist leaders who possess a thorough knowledge of the mood prevailing among the workers, and who are capable of turning their spontaneous strikes into political ones, to broaden the political scope of the workers, etc.
And of course, our unpreparedness to give leadership is being utilized by the opportunists and social props who are able to influence large sections of the workers – not because their line is correct – but because their are no Communists capable of countering them. In response to their situation in Russia the economists set for themselves the task of restricting the movement to economic agitation and leadership of the economic struggle of the workers alone. They castigated Lenin up and down for even setting the movement the task of the organization of nationwide political agitation. The economists formulated their task as leading “the economic struggle against the employers and the government”. Lenin was quick to point out that such a task does not require an All Russian centralized organization, and hence the struggle can never give rise to such an organization ”as will combine, in one general assault, all the manifestations of political opposition, protest, and indignation, an organization that will consist of professional revolutionaries and be led by the real leaders of the entire people. What WAS required, said Lenin, was “an organization of struggle and of political agitation among the masses”.
Lenin knew that to organize NATIONWIDE political agitation, (which eventually leads to nationwide political uprising), would call for an organization of professional revolutionaries. If a group is serious about developing nationwide political agitation it must, for example, develop a regularly appearing weekly press – this in itself means that we must train people to write for this press, and not only professional writers, but most especially; correspondents who can keep us informed of the workings of the entire movement, all of its moods, vacillations, etc., so that we are prepared to lead it in all of its aspects – from strike to uprising.
It also requires the training of propagandists, who will be required to write and speak on all the numerous topics covered by our political agitation. For instance, we will need propagandists who can prepare materials on the history of the struggle in the steel union, and the tasks of the working class. Or perhaps a propagandist who can sum up for the politically active workers the significance of the recent elections in steel and the attitude the workers should take toward the victory of McBride. In other words, the field is limitless – agitation will open the field to broad and qualitative propaganda – from the land question, to the national question, to health and safety, to the woman’s question, to the question of the danger of war, the struggle in the military, etc. We will be FORCED by the demands of the advanced workers to answer all of these questions in depth. But all of this presumes that we have tapped the well of political striving with nationwide political agitation.
Our task will also require the development of a regularly functioning distribution apparatus – not only in the few cities where Communists now operate, but throughout the country. This apparatus will prove invaluable in times of uprising (and it will be, of course, impossible to build it during the time of uprising, work must begin now). We must stop thinking about literature distribution in terms of thousands of copies and begin to think in terms of hundreds of thousand and even millions – otherwise we will inevitably be the victims of localism and narrowness which flows from this localism.
And of course, as our mass influence expands, so does our danger to the state, which will naturally respond with massive infiltration and provocation – we will need “specialists” who can track down and deal with such spies and provacateurs. Our task will necessitate the training of full time organizers who can go among the working class, the national movements, the students, the women, the youth, etc. In other words, the organization of nationwide political agitation will call upon us to send out our army of organizers to all classes and strata – if we are to be in a position to lead the proletariat in guiding the struggle of all the oppressed in society.
Comrades, we don’t claim that ATM (M-L) alone can accomplish these tasks. We are not the party; the REVOLUTIONARY CAUSE is not the party’s newspaper. But we think it critical that all honest Marxist-Leninists set themselves the tasks of developing along revolutionary lines. It is entirely possible that other organizations will outstrip us in their ability to accomplish these tasks. In such a case, we will make every effort to strive for principled unity with them.
The picture which we have sketched actually only scratches the surface – it gives only an incomplete picture of what the organization of nationwide political agitation calls for. At the same time we must keep in mind that the organization of political agitation is the only way that we can train the masses in political consciousness.
A basic condition for the necessary expansion of political agitation is the organization of COMPREHENSIVE political exposure. IN NO WAY except by means of such exposures can the masses be trained in political consciousness and revolutionary activity. (What is to be Done)
If the L.P.R. (M-L) would only take their line to its logical conclusion they would see that they completely fail to carry out the task which Lenin said is ALWAYS the task of Communists. But how in fact does LPR carry on their political task?
Propaganda, like agitation, takes many different forms. The newspaper, leaflets, “forums, conferences, study circles, (chief form used to consolidate the advanced elements), discussion of its paper, etc. are the forms we use most. We also consider important the propaganda value of conversations with advanced workers, contacts, neighbors, etc. Finally, so far as propaganda is concerned, we want to point out the publication and distribution of Marxist-Leninist works. (RESISTANCE, vol. 7, #6)
So this is how pitifully LPR degrades our tasks; and this is how we are supposed to build a fighting party of the proletariat. NONE of the tasks that they mention require an organization of professional revolutionaries, it can only call for exactly what LPR has managed to create – a narrow propaganda sect.
We just want to make clear that our new formulation (propaganda to the forefront) which we put forward in REVOLUTIONARY CAUSE, vol. 1, #10 suffers from the same defect as “propaganda is the chief form of activity” – they both belittle the role of political agitation, lead to the restriction of its scope, and fail to answer the question of HOW are we to train the workers politically. Our study of the HISTORY OF THE COMMUNIST PARTY OF THE SOVIET UNION (BOLSHEVIK) leads us to believe that Stalin used the term ”propaganda as the chief form of activity” in describing a certain period of the Bolshevik party’s development – not in the sense that they disseminated mostly propaganda to the advanced. He was using the word propaganda in the sense of the activity of disseminating the ideas of Marxism – encompassing the organization of both propaganda and agitation. A close reading of the HISTORY OF THE CPSU (B) and of Lenin shows this to be true. (We would also recommend that comrades read A HISTORY OF THE BOLSHEVIK ORGANIZATIONS IN TRANSCAUCASIA by L. Beria for more insight into this question.)
So we have on the one hand, the economists who wanted to limit the scope of political agitation, and who thereupon were satisfied to create an organization for this work – that is, trade unions or workers organizations. On the other hand, we have LPR, which also desires to restrict the scope of political agitation, and who are therefore satisfied to create an organization for this work – a pedantic study circle. IN BOTH CASES THEY LEAVE THE WORKING CLASS UNDER THE POLITICAL AND IDEOLOGICAL HEGEMONY OF THE CAPITALISTS. And then, of course, there is ATM, which calls upon our movement to “retreat” to fusion – to intervene actively in all manifestations of social life. To undertake the mass education of the working class through the organization of nationwide political agitation, and which will not be satisfied until they have helped to create an organization which can carry on this work – an organization of professional revolutionaries. We leave it to our readers to decide exactly WHO wants to fuse economism with the working class movement, and who desires to fuse communism with that movement.
Much water has flowed beneath the Bridge since ATM developed its views on political line as the key link to party building. We began to lay out this position in the first issue of our newspaper, and we presented the analysis leading us to this conclusion on the “key link” in the fourth issue of REVOLUTIONARY CAUSE. We believe that we played no small part in influencing a number of groups, including LPR,’ to adopt this same position. This position is wrong. We not only viewed the question of key link much too narrowly, but our analysis leading to it was wrong as well. The kernel of our analysis, and that of LPR, can be reduced to two main questions: At some point in the “first” period of party building the main danger was eclecticism, and it was primarily in the struggle against eclecticism that the anti-revisionist movement developed. Secondly – the “first period” was brought to an end with the split in the National Liaison Committee, (a committee composed of the Revolutionary Union, the Black Workers Congress and the Puerto Rican Revolutionary Workers Organization, which came together for the purpose of forming a communist party.)
Here is how LPR formulates these positions:
The struggle (in the ’first period’) against eclecticism and cultural nationalism (another strong tendency at this time) began (our emphasis – ATM) to open the door to Marxism-Leninism Mao Tse tung Thought.
...In our judgement, it is the division within the National Liaison Committee which separates PRRWO and the BWC from the RU and the withdrawal of all Marxist-Leninist organizations and individuals from the Continuations Committee established by the Communist League which definitely puts an end to the first stage within party building, strengthens the unity of genuine Marxist-Leninists and gives rise to the second stage where political line is the key link in the development towards the building of the Party. (RESISTANCE, vol. 7, #3)
The only essential difference between LPR’s analysis and our own is their mention of the break-up of the National Continuations Committee (or its partial fracturing) as another event signalling the start of the “second period”. What is wrong with this analysis?
First it says that the anti-revisionist movement developed mainly in the struggle against eclecticism. LPR draws a distinction between the struggle against revisionism waged by the Provisional Organizing Committee and the Progressive Labor Party (both born out of the old Communist Party USA), and that waged by what has come to be known as the anti-revisionist Communist movement, and which was born primarily out of the student and national movements of the 1960’s. These “eclectics” were the revolutionaries who developed in struggle AGAINST THE REVISIONIST CPUSA AND THE PROGRESSIVE LABOR PARTY – upholding armed struggle, revolution, and proletarian internationalism against the line of the former; and upholding proletarian internationalism and support for the socialist countries against the line of the latter. Was there eclectism, was it a danger? Of course there was eclecticism, and of course it is always a danger to be combatted. But to say that it was the struggle against eclecticism, and not the struggle against Trotskyism and revisionism, which “began to open the door to Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tse tung Thought” is not only historically incorrect, but is a guarantee that any line, based on this analysis is bound to be wrong.
Secondly, to say that the period when political line became the key link began when PRRWO and BWC split from the National Liaison Committee, and when PRRWO, ATM, BWC, and Resistencia Puertoriquena (now LPR) broke from the Continuations Committee is also incorrect. If we say that it is because PRRWO and BWC “upheld” party building in the face of the economist line of the RU, facts “fly in the face”, as LPR would say. PRRWO and BWC (and ATM and LPR) “upheld” party building by joining the Trotskyite initiated and dominated National Continuations Committee. All organizations “upheld” party building with some version of the “theory of cadres” (we cannot even EXPECT to have “a real base in the working class” until we have a party).
PRRWO followed up the National Continuations Committee by practically merging with BWC. Shortly after this fell through, BWC split into 4 small groupings. PRRWO moved “up the ladder” to the genuine wing, “the onlys” and onto Trotskyism. BWC and its offspring have never been a force since their split. Ultra-“leftism” has characterized at least two of the groups born out of this split – Workers Congress (M-L) and the Marxist-Leninist Organizing Committee. ATM went from the Continuations Committee to the ”genuine wing”, finally beginning to break with its “left” line on party building in its struggle with PRRWO.
As for LPR, it went from the National Continuations Committee, toward continuing warm and friendly relations with the Communist League, to a brief fling with PRRWO and RWL which it characterized as part of the genuine Marxist-Leninists in February 1976 (two months later they were neo-Trotskyites). Now as we have seen, LPR is happily dancing on the stage of the “onlys”. So, by no stretch of the imagination can we tie any movement from one “period” of party building to another to the twists and turns of these various organizations (and we include the twists and turns of our own “left” period). Unfortunately, we are left to guess as to why the break with the NLC and the NCC moved us into the period where “political line is the key link” since LPR in its views on the Communist movement in the United States never tells us WHY those events “propelled history forward”. And it is on this mishmash of distorted history and glaring omissions that LPR bases its views.
ISKRA was the key link to party building in Russia.
In the period of the formation of the Party, when the multiplicity of circles and organizations had not yet been linked together, when primitive methods and small circles were disintegrating the Party from top to bottom, when ideological confusion was a characteristic feature of our inner Party life, the master link in the chain and the principal task of all the tasks then confronting the Party proved to be the establishment of an all-Russian illegal newspaper. Why? Because under the conditions then obtaining an harmonious Party nucleus capable of uniting these innumerable circles and organizations into a single organization could be set up only through the medium of an all-Russian illegal newspaper. Only in this way could the conditions prerequisite for ideological and tactical unity be created and the groundwork for the formation of a real Party be laid. (Stalin, FOUNDATIONS OF LENINISM.)
Let us see briefly just how ISKRA took up logical, political and organizational tasks, IN THAT WAY created the basis for the party.
The ISKRA accomplished the task of waging an irreconcilable struggle against the ideology and politics of economism – the principle danger to the working class movement at that time. At the same time the ISKRA won the workers away from the ideological and political influence of the bourgeoisie, by educating them on all important political and social questions from a communist viewpoint. It provided a common line of activity for all revolutionary Communists; while at the same time providing a vehicle for the widespread dissemination of the draft program of ISKRA (later adopted by the Party) to facilitate discussion among the advanced workers. Organizationally it allowed for the creation of a tightly knit group of professional revolutionaries, with a strict division of labor, a stable core of leaders, etc., etc. In other words the ISKRA was the link which moved the movement forward in all spheres to their maximum. Lenin never singled out one sphere of activity (ideological, political, organizational) as a key link in and of itself – what he sought was the link that developed all spheres, recognizing the interrelatedness of the different spheres of activity. And, of course, to forestall more quotes from LPR we must add that Lenin did not forget that “the correctness of the ideological and political line determines everything” – he simply saw that the line alone was not enough unless it could become a material force through the creation of an organization of professional revolutionaries.
LPR is wearily trudging along the same path as the “Bolshevik Core of the Revolutionary Wing.” Their general line–as represented by their political history, their political views and their methods of struggle–is “left” opportunist. As we stated earlier, they have the outlook and politics of a sect. The LPR line on party building is essentially a “theory of cadres.” It is a line born of the self-cultivation of the declassed intellectual, and it is a Trotskyite line. It has its roots beyond the revolutionary wing, back into the dark and almost forgotten time of the Communist League. The LPR has never broken with the old CL. They absorbed its outlook, its stand and its methodology. It is over three years and LPR has yet to genuinely repudiate the Trotskyite party building line of the CL. They cannot and they will not repudiate that line, because it is THEIR OWN.
We do not consider LPR or the few “left” opportunist organizations who unite with them to be the main danger in our movement. Far from it; right opportunism and revisionism remain the main danger. However, the LPR line can mislead honest forces, particularly small collectives around the country honestly searching to build a new communist party. LPR actively plays on the “local spirit” of these collectives by claiming there can be no leading circle in the communist movement. They say that under US conditions, the party will have to be formed by merging communist organizations. We would certainly unite that there is no leading circle in the US today and that mergers of two or more M-L groups could lead to the formation of an anti-revisionist communist party. But to say there can be no leading circle is pandering to localism.
What is the situation most small collectives find themselves in? They cannot politically agree with any of the national communist organizations. They are usually working in one city, doing very limited theoretical and practical work. Many of these small circles are honestly struggling to bring Marxism-Leninism to the working class and are willing, in principle, to unite with other communist organizations to help form an anti-revisionist communist party.
Along comes LPR. According to them every national organization is opportunist (RCP, OL, WVO, ATM, IWK, etc.) And indeed, these collectives realize that some of these groups are opportunists. Because there can be no leading circle in the US, says LPR, the obvious solution is to unite the disparate small circles into a new and “genuine” trend. One small Denver collective, an LPR ally, has taken the LPR line to its logical conclusion: they say that the small circles must now play the leading role in forming the new party. In practice, this led them to invite a series of small collectives to speak at an ATM-LPR forum in Denver. One group just happened to believe that the revisionists had seized power in China and were busily restoring capitalism. Although this group was quickly “dis-invited”, it made one point perfectly clear: the basis for uniting groups to struggle was their size, not their political line. The LPR seeks to become the leading sect of the small circles.
Having held our own “left” line on party building we feel a particular obligation to fight this line, or any of its variants whenever and however it may show itself. Fortunately, our history, our general line, the strength of our leadership and rank and file enabled us to break with our “left” line on party building. We have struggled with LPR to root out their leftism on many questions. Unfortunately LPR seems incapable of doing so – indeed they have become more intransigent. They seem happy to be dancing to the tune of the CL fiddle and the flute of the “revolutionary wing.”