First Published: The Call, Vol. 5, No. 4, May 24, 1976.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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The so-called “Revolutionary Wing” is in shambles. Racked by internal divisions and splits, the remaining leadership of the “Wing” is resorting to purges and physical assaults on its own leaders and rank-and-file members in a vain effort to halt the growing trend toward Marxist-Leninist unity.
The May issue of Palante, organ of the Puerto Rican Revolutionary Workers’ Organization (PRRWO) reveals the sectarian and “left”-opportunist form as well as the rightist essence of this anti-party bloc.
PRRWO along with the Revolutionary Worker’s League (RWL) and August 29 Movement (ATM) currently make up the “Wing.” In a fit of name-calling in February which amounted to little more than thieves falling out, the “Wing” expelled the Worker’s Viewpoint Organization. Now PRRWO has turned its guns on itself, blaming the rank and file for its own failures and rapid decline. According to Palante, PRRWO “has purged the unrepentant renegades.. .who attempted to wreck the party building motion from within.”
According to reports from New York, a number of those expelled were physically beaten and had to be hospitalized. What were the main issues in the debate that led to these expulsions and beatings, and what do they mean to the future of the “Wing”?
The first charge is that those now expelled from PRRWO wanted to “build the mass movement.” The remaining PRRWO leadership accuses them of wanting to combine propaganda with agitation and to build the party simultaneously with the united front against imperialism. PRRWO, on the other hand, has held that party-building is the “central and only task of communist and advanced workers in this period.” (Palante, May 1, p. 5).
PRRWO and their partners in the “Wing” have long opposed the October League’s line of linking party building with the struggle of the masses. They falsely maintain that the struggle for immediate demands is to be put off until after the party is formed and that any struggle involving reforms is opportunist. PRRWO’s remaining leaders claim that those expelled committed the crime of being “busy.. .building the mass movement around open admissions at Brooklyn College, etc...” In fact it appears in Palante as though these “mensheviks” had the nerve to say that the advanced workers had to be won to the party through the course of mass struggle and that the workers had to learn in part through their own experience.
The “Wing” has always stood opposed to practicing the mass line (“from the masses to the masses”) which is the real communist method.
In place of the Leninist style of combining propaganda with broad agitation, they promote the line of “propaganda only.” Their newspaper Palante is void of any agitation as a matter of “principle.” This “principle” is false. Even in a period such as this one when party building is the central and immediate task and when propaganda (directing a great many complex ideas towards a relatively small number of advanced workers) has a crucial role to play, broad agitation among the masses is necessary as well. It is this broad agitation that gives life to propaganda and that links the work among the advanced workers with the broad masses.
PRRWO’s method is to isolate the advanced workers from the masses, to look at them individually rather than seeing them as an advanced group among millions, and winning them through the class struggle. As a result their groups are practically void of any advanced workers and confined almost exclusively to former students and intellectuals.
The dogmatist style of these ultra-“left” sectarians can be seen in their attack on those purged. They accuse their hospitalized victims of attacking “the directive laid out by the Comintern that especially in advanced capitalist countries, communist parties must organize themselves along factory nuclei.” The October League strongly agrees with the line of basing our party on the organizational lines of factory nuclei but not because the Comintern (which hasn’t existed since 1943) directed us to. Instead we uphold this Leninist method of party building because it is in accord with the concrete conditions in this country.
In PRRWO’s view, however, the factory nucleus is a haven apart from the class struggle and from the masses of workers. Rather than using the nucleus to train and develop communist workers in the heat of revolutionary struggle, they view the nucleus as a small isolated study circle of intellectuals.
Finally, we must comment on the method used by the “Wing” to resolve their contradictions. Brutal beatings of comrades who disagree are a poor substitute for real communist ideological struggle, which the “Wing” claims to stand for. PRWWO’s sinking to the goon mentality can be seen from the fact that those expelled were accused of “attempts to blunt the two-line struggle by calling for peaceful debates.”
PRRWO confuses the two types of contradictions – those among ourselves and those between ourselves and the enemy. The only thing their frenzied attacks against the October League and their own members has exposed is their own degeneration into anarchism and left-wing infantilism.
Their activities are a cover for their essentially rightist line which opposes party building in the concrete and has led the way into “united action” with the revisionists on a number of occasions. At the same time, the antics of the “Wing” help people see their petty-bourgeois line and show many that they offer no alternative to the genuine efforts being made to build Marxist-Leninist unity and a new party in the near future.