First Published: The Call, Vol. 3, No. 11, August 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.
The following is an interview conducted with a delegate to the October League’s Third National Congress from the southern California area. This comrade, a young Black woman was elected as a delegate on the basis of her activism, dedication to the cause of socialism and her earnestness in studying Marxism-Leninism in the short time she had been in the OL.
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As a new member of the OL, what were your impressions of the Third National Congress?
I think I was most impressed by the organizational aspects, of the Congress – the idea that you could accomplish so much without unnecessary formality, get everyone’s ideas heard and summed up at the same time. This was certainly not like any other organization’s meeting I’d ever seen.
Another thing that struck me was the unity of the many different nationalities among the delegates. The whole Congress had a theme of being multi-national and internationalist. But you didn’t notice it in terms of people “representing” different nationalities. Really, everybody was representing the October League and Marxism-Leninism. This led to a great spirit of unity. You could really see the unity and the seriousness of the people when a huge thunder storm struck and the power in the meeting hall went out for several hours, in the night. The whole meeting just went right on until business was done. No one hardly said a word about the lights until they came back on.
I also liked the fact that we held the Congress in the Black Belt South, the former slave area of this country. Many delegates had never been there before and seeing the conditions of life and meeting the people around there helped them understand better, our analysis of the national question and the history of Black oppression.
Also our reliance on the strength of the people was shown in the fact that the security was based on them – while it wasn’t a public meeting, the farmers in the area knew we were there and showed their support for us by offering to help in the event of any trouble.
The biggest thing was afterwards – sitting back and thinking what we did there. At the Congress we took a really big step towards building a party and towards guiding millions of people in the struggle for socialism. At the same time we criticized the old Communist Party, to make sure we wouldn’t go down the same road.
How did democratic-centralism function at the Congress?
Actually, democratic-centralism at the Congress was a process which began long before the actual meeting. All the documents and resolutions were distributed long before the actual meeting. All these documents and resolutions were distributed throughout the whole organization for discussion and debate. They were added to, developed and amended by some of the leading people who had done the main work of writing them, but also by people from all levels of the organization like myself. Leadership played a big part in organization of discussions, in making sure that different views were heard, that unity was reached and that every .minor point wasn’t argued over forever. Also the delegates to the Congress elected the Central Committee which will lead the OL in the period ahead.
What role did some of the older, veteran comrades play at the Congress and what were you able to learn from them?
A lot of them had a broader overall view of the struggle. The real veterans like Odis Hyde and Nanny Washburn, they teach you the length of the struggle. Their dedication shows that as long as you’re living, you’ve got to keep struggling. But even with all the difficult things they’ve been through, they were among the most optimistic people there. They showed what it means to really devote your life to revolution – not just out of moral commitment, but out of a real revolutionary understanding of Marxism.
In your opinion, what was the main accomplishment of the Congress?
The Call for Building the Party was certainly the most important thing. It was a decisive step forward. It shows the sincerity of our organization in what we’re about; not just reading books, but really giving leadership to the working class struggle.
Now that you’ve returned from the Congress to your local work, what are your responsibilities as a Congress delegate?
The first thing is to make sure that every member of the organization from the newest to the oldest gets the information about what happened there and what decisions were made so that they can be as inspired as we were to go out and fight.
But we also have to take the main points of the Congress to the masses and I want to explain to the people the things I learned there. We have to be bolder in taking the party- building struggle to the masses and we have to be out among the masses so that we can teach them about Marxism-Leninism and the need for a party. I think that coming back from the Congress, I’m in a much better position to do that and so are all the other delegates.