Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

The Split in the BWC. Leninism or Petty Bourgeois Democracy

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Published: The Communist, Vol. 1, No. 7, May 1, 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.

EROL Note: Two different editions of The Communist, Vol. 1, No. 7 appeared as a result of the split in the Black Workers Congress. The one from which this article is taken was published by the group that became the Workers Congress (Marxist-Leninist.) This article explains the split in the BWC from their perspective. The Black Workers Congress leadership’s explaination of the split is set forth in the article Two-Line Struggle in the B.W.C. (which was continued in parts two and three in the Revolutionary Workers Congress’ Movin’ On!).

Comrades of the Black Workers Congress, the communist movement, and advanced workers in the factories and mills across this country – we, the genuine lefts of the BWC present this issue of THE COMMUNIST to you! We take this time to give comrades a brief try of the recent split in the BWC, and the platform of the genuine lefts. In doing so, we call on all comrades to reject the line of the opportunist wing of the BWC, as represented in issues 5 and 6 of THE COMMUNIST, and to join with us in affirming the genuine left line of the BWC as represented in issues 1-4 of THE COMMUNIST, and the pamphlets of the BWC. Comrades, we lefts of the BWC are resolutely committed to once again establish THE COMMUNIST along Marxist lines and to continue publication in the spirit of Lenin’s ISKRA. We shall firmly oppose all those who would divert us from this path and turn us back in the direction of Economism!

* * *

Leninism or Economism? A petty bourgeois, democratic circle or a disciplined, centralized Bolshevik Party? This is the choice before us comrades, and a choice that demands an immediate and staunch answer on the part of every communist – particularly in this period of great upsurge and unrest among the US proletariat and revolutionary peoples of the world.

Economic and political crisis perils the imperialists of every capitalist country, including the social imperialists of the Soviet Union. The two super powers, the US and the Soviet Union – while at times colluding with each other, face a constant battle of contention for the hegemony of the world. This contention for control of the world’s peoples and resources is the source for the great disorder in the world today, and for the possibility of a world war. But both super-powers face resistance to their imperialist oppression. Reactionary puppet regimes, supported by these superpowers – like those in Vietnam, Africa, and the Middle East – face the righteous struggle of the oppressed peoples, and the immediate danger of being ousted and destroyed.

In the US, the ruthless attempts of the imperialists to thrust the burden of the crisis onto the proletariat and oppressed peoples has brought forward widespread resistance. Comrades, the unrest among the working class is growing, as is the ferment in other sections of US society. This struggle places vast demands on the communist movement. Of necessity, as Lenin teaches: “The greater the spontaneous upsurge of the masses, the more widespread the movement becomes, so much the more rapidly, incomparibly more rapidly, grows the demand for greater consciousness in the theoretical, political, and organizational work of Social Democracy.” (WHAT IS TO BE DONE?, p. 64)

Comrades of the BWC and the communist movement, in presenting our position to you, we call on each of you to join with us in battle against the rising tide of Economism in the US communist movement. Lenin teaches us that the fundamental error committed by Economists, both internationally and nationally, lies in their bowing to spontaniety, “and in failing to understand that the spontaneity of the masses demands a mass of consciousness from us communists. It is a theory which repudiates the leading role of the Party, and is opposed to the Party standing at the head of the working class. Economists belittle the leading role of theory, and consciousness, and are opposed to the Party raising the masses to the level of political consciousness. Economists adamantly refuse to independently work out a specifically communist policy corresponding to the general tasks of communists and to contemporary conditions in the US. It is therefore a line which is decidedly in favor of proceeding exclusively along the path of demands “acceptable” to capitalism, along the path of least resistance.

So it is that Economists inevitably find themselves dragging at the tail of the spontaneous movement, and are unable to divert this movement from the path of trade unionism and onto the path of communism. They therefore surrender the labor movement to the hegemony of the bourgeoisie, and their watchdogs, the labor aristocracy. In the organizational sphere Economists invariably justify amateurishness, which, as Lenin says, “denotes a narrow scope of revolutionary work generally, failure to understand that a good organization of revolutionaries cannot be built on the basis of such narrow activity, and lastly – most important – it denotes attempts to justify this narrowness and elevate it to a special theory... we shall never eliminate this narrowness in our organizational activity until we eliminate Economism generally (i.e., the narrow conception of Marxist theory, of the role of Social Democracy and of its political tasks).” (WITBD, p. 128, see also p. 51 and 64; and FOUNDATIONS OF LENINISM, pp.23-264 our emphasis above) Comrades, we need not fear that we are taking on this battle against economism and right opportunism alone. The struggle between Leninism and opportunism is by no means new, but one that has occurred continuously since the days of Marx and Engels. We have as our weapons and guiding light in this fight the glorious history of the international proletariat and the science of Marxism-Leninism, summed up in the works of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin and Mao Tse Tung.

Comrades, we must vigorously study our science, and grasp these weapons firmly in our hands. Our strength lies in joining with the Leninist trend of the international communist movement, in standing shoulder to shoulder with the proletariat of the world in the battle against revisionism and all forms of opportunism and struggling forward to a Bolshevik Party!


The most recent struggle and split in the Black Workers Congress is a direct reflection of the struggle between Leninism and Economism in the communist movement as a whole. Historically,(from the Second International to the Mensheviks to the Modern Revisionists) this struggle in the anti-revisionist movement has its roots in the long standing alliance between petty bourgeois democrats and Marxists-Leninists. In our most recent struggle against Revisionism, we lefts maintain that there were at least four distinct political trends that came forward in the spontaneous upsurge of the late 1960’s:
1) a generally reformist petty bourgeois democratic trend closely allied with the liberal bourgeoisie, the labor aristocracy and the reformist Black bourgeoisie;
2) a radical “revolutionary” wing which went more and more over to calls for excitative terror (also often allied to the liberal bourgeoisie);
3) there was the revisionist trend of the CPUSA who heavily influenced the petty bourgeois democrats and ”radicals” even though the radicals were vocally anti-CPUSA often to the point of anti-communism, and
4) there was a genuine Marxist-Leninist and genuinely developing Marxist-Leninist trend, though it was weak and scattered.

In the struggle against “ultra-left” adventurism and terrorism, the petty bourgeois democratic trends in our movement joined with Marxist-Leninists. However, they did not openly do this as petty bourgeois democrats. Everyone called himself a Marxist-Leninist and as a result the actual objective character of the alliance was masked and hidden from view. This alliance could continue throughout the period where so much of our movement was involved in “building the mass movement,” that is. were involved in bowing to the spontaneity of this movement and failing to take up the task of leading the movement and giving it a planned and conscious character. But as the Marxist-Leninist line on the necessity of building a proletarian party of a new type began to be understood by genuine Marxist-Leninists, and as we grasped the significance of this line – that it meant changing the character of all our work, that it meant strenuous struggle to overcome our amateurishness and backwardness and to become professional revolutionaries–as we realized the extent of our backwardness in the face of the magnitude of our tasks in all areas – theoretical, political and organizational–as all this burst upon us, the alliance of the petty bourgeois democratic trend and the genuine Marxist-Leninist trend of necessity began to rupture.

This struggle rages ever more sharply today, as the genuine Marxist-Leninists deepen and develop their grasp of the task of party building, and the revisionists and petty bourgeois democrats more forcefully raise their right opportunist heads, in an attempt to prevent the formation of a Marxist-Leninist party. Comrades, this struggle, the BWC and the communist movement as a whole, is one that will determine whether we will indeed make WHAT IS TO BE DONE? and ONE STEP FORWARD, TWO STEPS BACK, the ideological and organizational foundations of our Party, or whether we instead will choose the ideological and organizational foundations of a Menshevik, opportunist party. Will we grasp the relationship between spontaneity and consciousness, and strive for a centralized disciplined party, and recognize the importance of organization to our work; will we strike our main blows at Economism, (and the justification for amateurishness that accompanies this trend) and revisionism – these are the questions before us. And it is. the adamant cries of our democrats saying “NO! NO! anything but that”, which has brought about the present split.

For the BWC, this struggle most directly has its roots with the expulsion of James Forman; but with the expulsion of this particular petty bourgeois democrat did not come the expulsion of the ideas he so completely represented.

This was clearly reflected in the direction the BWC took immediately after the expulsion of JF – tailing the RU’s right opportunist line on party building, and continuing to bow to the spontaneous workers movement while belittling the great importance and guiding role of theory. Our position was effectively one that denied the absolute need for a communist party, and particularly the necessity to make propaganda our chief form of activity. However, with the struggle and split with the RU, the BWC, along with PRRWO, developed what we lefts think is the kernals of a correct line on party building. With the general position that right opportunism and particularly economism was the main danger for us as well as the communist movement as a whole; the establishment of party building as our central task and the launching of an ISKRA-type newspaper; and concentration on the building of factory nuclei, the initial steps down a Leninist road to the party were taken.

But, as was the case with Forman, the leadership of the organization failed to thoroughly rout the opportunist views on the question of party building in our own midsts, and bailed to firmly consolidate and establish the Leninist line in the ranks of the organization. Thus the influence of the petty bourgeois democratic trend still remained, only now it hid under a more Marxist cover than Forman. But this poisonous right opportunist trend did not, and could not remain under cover very long, and it has now blossomed in its fullest colors, capturing the leadership of the organization.

Comrades we say could not remain, because the petty bourgeois democrats by their very nature could not continue side by side with a Leninist trend. These liberals could not remain silent as the BWC began to struggle to develop a truly Leninist organ, that concentrated on stretching a line to the advanced, on constantly striving to raise its standards and make a sharp break with the economist papers in the anti-revisionist movement (REVOLUTION, CALL, GUARDIAN). The idea of centralized authority, of development from the top down, of the need for iron discipline – in short the demand to Bolshevize our ranks and make organization a key aspect of all our work were all things utterly abhorrent to our dear democrats. Of necessity they rallied against the development along Leninist lines because it meant the end of the comfortable, liberal, petty bourgeois characteristics that had plagued the BWC since its founding.

In rising in defense of right opportunism, our comrades turned to a well known weapon of all opportunists – the attack on Marxism-Leninism as being “dogmatic” and “ultra-left.” Our BWC comrades demanded that we turn our attention away from Economism, amateurishness, and Revisionism and towards “sectarianism,” “dogmatism,” and “doctrinaire leaders,” as our main problems and main danger.

It is our view that the basis for this attack, and the main concern of our democrats was NOT to defeat “leftism” but to ENSURE THE FREEDOM AND DOMINANCE OF RIGHT OPPORTUNISM. We feel their line and tactics in this whole period fully demonstrate this fact. So let us briefly trace the history of this present struggle and the line now held by the democrats, who we refer to as the anti-lefts of the BWC.


The attack of the anti-lefts on the line of the BWC was opened up the organization by the unprincipled resignation of the chairman, and a majority of the National Secretariat (NS), from their posts on the NS. We say unprincipled because for a majority of a national leadership body to resign under the signboard that “contradictions had grown too great” cannot be called anything other than unprincipled. As communists they had only to exercise their authority – as a majority – and force the minority to submit. Instead, our democrats showed their dislike for ideological struggle and debate and went wimpering off the NS with cries of “intimidation,” “merciless blows,” “demagogy,” etc. Forces around MH (the chairman) also led a large number of cadre in splittist activities, calling on them to reject the leadership of the BWC and follow instead the “directives” of the resigned “leaders.” (These forces formed what is known as the “revolutionary” bloc, and engaged from the beginning in boycotts of the central bodies.)

In the five months since that time, the struggle has split the organization into three camps. One bloc of rights is made up of MH and his “revolutionary” bloc. The second bloc of rights stands behind what is known as the Interim Committee (IC). This body was set up at a November CC meeting of the BWC to replace the entire NS – which had been suspended for “factionalism.” Since its appointment in November, the IC has successfully brought all the work of the organization to a grinding halt and created a state of confusion and demoralization. They have failed to carry out a single one of their directives on time, and the majority have not been carried out at all. These comrades have shown that while they have no Marxist Leninist understanding of “left” or right opportunism, they have complete clarity on how to develop a Menshevik organization. They have rejected and stopped all steps taken – such as the building of factory nuclei, an ISKRA-type organ, and stronger centralized leadership – down the Leninist path to the party.

While claiming to oppose MH, as a right opportunist force, they in fact have tailed behind his line. MH from the beginning has said that the line of the organization must be changed, from right opportunism, to “left” opportunism is the main danger in the BWC. He has said that we had a “left line on party building; that to do anything other than “sum-up and repudiate” this line was conciliation; that the main solution to “leftism” was to “amputate” the leftists of the BWC. The IC, on the other hand, clamored for three months that the problem was a “left” deviation and that it was not “conciliation” to attempt to get clarity on the question of “leftism.”

However, at an emergency CC meeting in February, the IC made an about-face. They completely united with MH’s view of three months before, saying we had a “left” line, that we could only develop a “correct” line by repudiating the “left” one, and that the “amputation” of the left-liners was fundamental to our ’success. The IC led the CC in changing the line of the organization with no summary at all of the debate and absolutely no written analysis of our so-called “leftism.” They instead echoed all the cries of MH on “seeking hegemony,” “sectarianism,” “failure to sum-up and repudiate,” as examples of our leftism.

Comrades, what has become clear in the course of this struggle is that both MH and the IC were not arguing over differences in line, but instead were wrangling over seats on the CC. MH and his forces were justifiably angry at the blatant refusal of the IC to recognize that they(the IC) were, in fact, tailing the “revolutionary” bloc. MH and his two comrades demanded their reinstatement on the CC as the “leaders” of the fight against “ultra-leftism.” The IC, who held the majority refused, and insisted that the IC itself was the “true leaders” in the struggle against ”leftism.” Both camps claim that “leftism” is our main danger, and both are equally adamant in attacking the genuine left line of the BWC, and all those in the organization who have fought for this line.

So the split between these forces was completely unnecessary. It occurred only because of the rampant liberalism so characteristic of both these camps of right opportunists. Both camps have utterly failed to bring forward any differences in line–because they recognize only too well that they are fundamentally united. They have proven themselves incapable of struggling and engaging in criticism of each other and the shades of differences among them. It was precisely their fear to engage in sharp ideological struggle – their liberalism towards each other – that forced these two camps to split. Clearly in choosing to wrangle over seats rather than struggle over line, both camps of rights were concerned only with their opportunist strivings for power. And we hold both MH’s “revolutionary” bloc and the IC, which represents the bankrupt leadership of the BWC, fully responsible for wrecking and splitting the organization.


Comrades, the third camp in the BWC is that of the genuine lefts. We represent about half of the organization, and have districts in every region of the country. We reject completely the line and activities of all our anti-lefts, and refuse to be dragged back towards the marsh of Economism. We present to you here our fundamental opposition to the Economist trend of our movement, which our anti-lefts so readily became a part of, and what we feel is a Leninist line on the question of Party building.


It is our view that the central task of all communists in the US today is the building of a new Marxist-Leninist party, and that this has been our central task since the betrayal of the proletariat by the Revisionist CPUSA. We stand with Lenin in saying that party, building is the task of winning the class conscious vanguard of the proletariat to the side of communism. All our activities, both theoretical and practical, must be subordinated to the task of winning the advanced. The political focus of all our work is building the party.

A. Propaganda as the chief form of activity. In stating that winning the advanced to the side of communism is our primary task, we recognize that the main obstacle to this is opportunism and chauvinism in the ranks of the proletariat. In order to accomplish our task, there must be a complete ideological and political victory over opportunism and chauvinism. Ideological struggle is thus the primary form of class struggle at this time.

It is also our conviction, that for communists in the US today, the most important means for carrying forward the ideological struggle, and making propaganda our chief form of activity, is the development of an ISKRA-type newspaper that concentrates on stretching its line to the advanced: a newspaper that out of necessity concentrates on the development of comprehensive political exposures, as the only means to train the masses in political consciousness. Unless communists take up this activity on a systematic, nationwide basis, they will be unable to divert the working class movement from the trade union path it spontaneously follows.

B. On the spontaneous workers movement. The only way this can be done is by FIRST, winning the advanced to the side of communism. This comrades, is the first step in linking communism to the working class, and it is the only way to unite the communist movement with the workers movement. We believe that the main reason the communist movement today is in fact tailing and not leading the spontaneous upsurge of the masses is because communists have not set themselves the task of winning the advanced, have not recognized that opportunism is the main stumbling block to winning the advanced, and have failed miserably to take up the tasks necessary to achieve our goal – a new Party. We would say that we are disgustingly BEHIND in our tasks as leaders to train the masses through the organization of political exposures. Until we more firmly take up this task, and learn to staunchly apply the ISKRA principle (that of stretching a line, that is by putting politics in command) to all our work, we will inevitably continue to tail the spontaneous movement.

In putting forward this view, we stand diametrically opposed to the anti-lefts of the BWC and the Economist trend in our movement(as represented by OL and RU), that they have allied themselves with. We have made a sharp break with these comrades in demanding that we not have a MASS paper, directed primarily towards the average workers, but an ISKRA-type newspaper directed to the advanced. Only by directing ourselves to the advanced will we come close to doing our duty to the masses of workers in raising their political consciousness. Not one of the various Economists will unite with the necessity of centering our work around the development of an ISKRA-type organ, which organizes political exposures, and serves as a collective propagandist, agitator, and organizer.

We also stand opposed to the view that our most important task is “building the mass movement.” By this we mean that we will raise a constant struggle against the fundamental error the Economists make, that of bowing to the spontaneity of the mass movement. We too want to build the mass movement, but we want to build it in a revolutionary fashion – we want to raise the level of the masses to political consciousness. This can only be done by directing our work in the mass movement to the task of winning the vanguard to the side of communism. We must build the spontaneous movement by standing at its HEAD, and diverting it off of the path of trade unionism!

While of course all the Economists will claim that they ARE building the revolutionary mass movement, their failure to concentrate on winning the advanced, and their denial that propaganda must be our chief form of activity, betrays their opportunism. Our Economists still have not grasped that the masses can be trained in political consciousness only through the organization of comprehensive political exposures. That these exposures must be topical, and bring forward a Marxist-Leninist response to events occurring around us. We repeat, the primary means to organize these exposures must be a regularly published, nationwide newspaper of the ISKPA-type.


We lefts stand with the slogan that organization is key in this period, and recognize our sloppy and amateurish methods as a sore spot, as a burning question that demands attention.

As Lenin teaches us:

The improvement of revolutionary organization and discipline, the perfection of our underground technique are an absolute necessity...Without improved organization there can be no progress of our working class movement in general and-no establishment of an active party with a properly functioning organ in particular (AN URGENT QUESTION, Vol. 4, pp.221-222)

We believe that the only way to develop a Bolshevik party is to organize NOW against the democratic and liberal tendencies rampant in many of the communist organizations, and to struggle instead to build a fighting organization with iron discipline and centralized authority. We stand on the need to make centralism in the revolution absolute. To truly develop a communist party we demand more and more centralism, which under a Marxist-Leninist line transforms itself into more and more democracy for wider sections of the working class and oppressed masses.

We recognize the importance to fiercely take up the struggle against liberalism, against our inability to persevere against our general sloppiness in matters of organization, and against a state of affairs where districts in various cities resemble far more a “regular jumble of persons,” rather than an organized district committee of a communist organization. The careless ness of the BWC in the area of organization – which should be easy for comrades in other organizations to see and admit – is a shameful and unpardonable state of affairs.

We lefts are dedicated to eradicating these petty bourgeois characteristics, and therefore stand directly opposed to the anti-lefts of the BWC, who claim we have “too much centralism” and that amateurshness isn’t a problem. Like the Mensheviks before them, the anti-lefts claim cadres will become nothing but robots if they are forced to carry out the line of the organization in a disciplined manner. They say instead that we must have endless discussion and debate – that there is no time when debate ends, a decision is taken, and cadres must move into action under the leadership of the organization. They rail against the idea of ever making organization key, and say openly that we need far more democracy(really more individual freedom for our democrats!).

In particular, we lefts stress the necessity to develop a solid core of propagandists, trained to watch and observe events occurring around us, and to develop topical political exposures. We join with Lenin in saying that a newspaper is also a collective organizer, that gathers both cadres and active workers and revolutionaries in the common activity of producing and distributing a newspaper.


Of all the Economists in the communist movement, the anti-lefts of the BWC appear to be the only ones presently attacking the strategic tasks necessary to make proletarian revolution, in particular the United Front Against Imperialism, and armed struggle. On these questions, the genuine lefts of the BWC stand with what was the line of the BWC: “We see the following strategic tasks absolutely necessary for victory of proletarian revolution:
1) Building a genuine Communist Party
2) Building the mass revolutionary political and armed struggle of the working class
3) Building the anti-imperialist united front under the leadership of the proletariat and its vanguard party.” (BWC Constitution)

We stand on the position that the united front against imperialism is our strategy for making proletarian revolution.

We say that while party building is our central task at this time, and must be grasped as the main link, work must also be done on our other tasks, in order to ensure that all three are solved, in the long run, simultaneously.

Our anti-lefts have come up with a completely new position. They claim on the one hand that all three strategic tasks are in fact strategies, and rather than have one strategy for a given period, we must have three. They hold that the United Front Against Imperialism is not the strategy for making revolution in this country. According to them, building the party, building the political struggle of the proletariat, and the united front are all strategies that must be carried out at the same time. This is a complete mockery of a Marxist-Leninist understanding of strategy and tactics. The anti-lefts continue that the United Front serves only the “democratic” tasks of the revolution and not the socialist ones. They add to this that the proletariat STANDS ALONE in the struggle for socialism, and the masses ONLY support the struggle for democratic demands. So, while denying the United Front as a strategy, they also deny the necessity of a united front against imperialism at all – the proletariat has no need for any allies in the fight for socialism!! We remind our comrades that by saying this they necessarily deny the worker-peasant alliance, which is the cornerstone of the dictatorship of the proletariat.

Our Economists also claim that armed struggle is only a TACTIC, and not part of our STRATEGIC tasks. This comrades, is a blatant turn in the direction of revisionism and peaceful transition. If armed struggle is reduced to a tactic, it is not something absolutely necessary for the victory of the revolution, but has become something that might be used given the ebb and flow of the movement.

Our petty bourgeois democrats, by denying that armed struggle is a strategic task, make it just like participating or not participating in parliamentary forums, or using a wildcat, or a sit-down as a means of struggle. Comrades, to deny that armed struggle is necessary for the victory of proletarian revolution is to bow down to the Revisionists and disarm the proletariat in the face of the armed power of the bourgeoisie!! We caution all who so quickly unite with this Economist trend of the BWC to be well aware of the dangerous path you have chosen.


Comrades, we believe it is absolutely essential to recognize right opportunism – and especially Economism – as the main danger in the anti-revisionist communist movement. Historically, we point to the long standing dominance of right opportunism in the ranks of the communist movement. And we recognize that generally, in capitalist countries, the material basis(strength a and influence of bourgeois ideology, illusions of “democracy”, a large proletariat, with a bribed, opportunist labor aristocracy, as opposed to a large peasantry) for right opportunism is far greater. In particular, in the communist movement today we would say that the failure to produce communist propaganda through an organ of the ISKRA-type is a reflection of right opportunism. We would say that failure to concentrate on winning the advanced through such propaganda, and ideological struggle to defeat opportunism, is also a reflection of right opportunism. We would say that the fact that our anti-lefts in the BWC, the RU and OL all completely belittle the role of the labor aristocracy, and its influence on the intelligentsia (the fact that there is an alliance between the intelligentsia and the labor aristocracy) is also right opportunist. (Note that the RU says nothing about the labor aristocracy and the upper stratum of bribed workers in the US in their Draft Party Program. They say nothing about the split in socialism, the fundamental question of modern socialism as Lenin puts it We would say that the refusal to concentrate on the building of factory nuclei and developing cores of communists in the factories and mills and turning instead, to focus primary attention on caucuses of average workers is a reflection of communists taking the line of least resistance. We would say that the denying the importance of organization, to rail against stronger centralization of leadership, is nothing more than the petty bourgeois democrats whining against proletarian forms of organization. We would say that when all the Economists in our movement deny that WHAT IS TO BE DONE? and ONE STEP FORWARD, TWO STEPS BACK are the ideological and organizational foundations of our Party – under the guise of “new conditions,” “dogmatism,” etc. – that they are pushing straight up Revisionism!

We call all these things right opportunism because we stand with Stalin and the CPSU(B) on the distinction between “left” and right opportunism:

The fall of the Utopians, including the Narodniks, anarchists and Socialist-Revolutionaries was due among other things, to the fact that they did not recognize the primary role which the conditions of material life of society play in the development of society, and sinking to idealism, did not base their practical activities on the needs of the development of the material life of society, but independently of and in spite of these needs, on ideal plans and “all-embracing projects” divorced from the real life of society...

The fall of the Economists and Mensheviks was due among other things to the fact that they did not recognize the mobilizing, organizing, and transforming role of advanced theory, of advanced ideas, and sinking to vulgar materialism, reduced the role of these factors to nothing, thus condemning the Party to passivity and inanition. (HISTORY OF THE COMMUNIST PARTY OF THE SOVIET UNION, BOLSHEVIK-CPSU-B), pp. 116-117)

Comrades, it is our view that the failure to take up the tasks of winning the advanced, centered around the development of an ISKRA-type newspaper, and closely connected to the building of factory nuclei; the belittlement of the role of the labor aristocracy and the split in the workers movement; the love for bowing to the spontaneity of the workers movement and to rise against the idea that we must give all our work a planned conscious character – is the blatant reflection of failure to recognize the mobilizing, organizing and transforming role of advanced theory. It has nothing at all to do with all-embracing projects that do not reflect the material needs of society.

We’d also like to speak to two of the favorite arguments of our economists on the question of “leftism”. Both our anti-lefts and OL are fond of saying that the large number of petty bourgeois forces in our movement are the source for “leftism.” Now while it is true that the petty bourgeoisie does provide fertile soil for “leftism” this by no means denies that the petty bourgeoisie isn’t also fertile soil for right opportunism. What all our Economists so love to ignore is the fact that in the US, there is an ideological alliance between the intelligentsia, the labor aristocracy, and the liberal bourgeoisie, which breeds bourgeois views of class harmony, individualism, illusions about democracy, etc. The political expression of this alliance is the emergence of intellectuals and “theoreticians” who feign acceptance of Marxism-Leninism, but in reality cast aside the revolutionary content of Marxism-Leninism taking out only what is acceptable to their own liberal democratic interests. It is this right opportunist trend which prattles and dreams about an end to the antagonisms within the communist movement, whose aggravation, they argue, can only lead to harmful consequences. They seek to weaken the struggle against bourgeois distortions of Marxism, and promote unprincipled peace, by raising an attack against “sectarianism” and “dogmatism.” They cry out against all who demand a fierce ideological struggle against these liberal petty bourgeois democrats.

Secondly, our Economists complain on end about the sectarianism of our movement, that we lefts are intolerant, and thus we are constantly splintering and dividing the movement. To this we ask our comrades to turn to Lenin: “The principal feature of our movement which has become particularly marked in recent times, is its state of disunity and its amateur character.” (Lenin, “Declaration of the Editorial Board of Iskra, Vol. 4, p. 352)

He re-emphasizes this point in “Our Immediate Tasks”: ”All that is now lacking is the unification of all this local work into the work of a single party. Our chief drawback to the overcoming of which we must devote all our energy is the narrow amateurish character of our local work.” (Vol. 4, p. 216)

Our Economists would do well to listen to Lenin and begin paying attention to the amateurishness that affects us all. Lenin explains that the SOURCE of disunity in our movement which is still in its infancy – is its fragmented, locally limited and narrowly practical character. Our movement reflects all the inevitable characteristics of the spontaneous workers movement. We can overcome this disunity, but not by crying about sectarianism. Only by the conscious effort to link socialism to the working class movement, by winning the vanguard to communism, can we overcome this obstacle. Our answer to the Economists is the same as Lenin’s: “...yes, our movement is indeed in its infancy, and in order that it may grow up the more quickly, it must become infected with intolerance against those who retard its growth by their subservience to spontaneity.”(WITBD, p. 51)


Comrades we would say that the Economist trend in our movement is destined to deny, and struggle against founding our party on the ideological and organizational principles of a Marxist-Leninist party, as established in Lenin’s, WHAT IS TO BE DONE?, and ONE STEP FORWARD, TWO STEPS BACK.

The RU, while claiming right opportunism is the main danger is unable to defeat it because of their own revisionism and economism. Our anti-lefts, OL and the GUARDIAN on the other hand, have chosen a different path to the same end.

Comrades, the attack of these forces on “left” opportunism as the main danger, is in fact only a new way to attack “dogmatic Marxism”. It is a cloak under which our comrades hide their attempt to make a resolute turn away from Leninism and to bourgeois reformism and a bourgeois criticism of Marxism-Leninism. The concern of all our Economists is not to defeat “leftism” but to ensure the freedom and dominance of right opportunism. What better way to allow Revisionism and right opportunism to flourish than to turn our attention away from these errors? Who hasn’t seen the complete failure of OL, for example, to criticise the right opportunism of the RU on questions of party building, when they are screaming about their so-called “leftism”?

Comrades, we need only remind each of you that the tae tic of attacking Marxism-Leninism under the guise that it is “ultra-left”, “dogmatic,” and “sectarian,” is nothing at all new. It was used by the advocates of “freedom of criticism,” in Lenin’s day. And it has been used time and time again as a prime weapon of the Modern Revisionists, both internationally and in the communist movement here in the US. The only response of communists to these false and bourgeois attacks on Marxism-Leninism is for comrades to rise up in defense of ORTHODOX LENINISM!

To our petty bourgeois democrats: