First Published: Unity and Struggle, Vol. V, No. 2, February 1976.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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The October League’s National Fightback Conference was held in Chicago, December 27-28th, which brought together over 1500 workers and unemployed committees from around the country. The purpose of the National Fightback Conference was to organize a national Fightback Organization in mass struggle against unemployment, the layoffs, budget cuts, in health, welfare, housing etc.
On December 27-28, 1975, the October League held their first national Fight Back Conference in Chicago, III. for the purpose of uniting the many local Fight Back workers and unemployed committees which they had been organizing around the country into a mass national Fight Back organization. The Congress of Afrikan People participated and endorsed the Conference which registered approximately 1,300 people, despite the fact that there was a glaring absence of other anti-revisionist formations.
There were 16 workshops set up at the conference with some of the main ones being Busing, National Oppression, Trade Unions, Police Repression, and Women. The one factor that characterized all workshops was that the O.L lines dominated all PREPRINTED RESOLUTIONS and were not to be altered by democratic ideological exchange in the workshops. CAP holds the position that there should have been more principled ideological discussion between the participants to insure that the CORRECT LINE is developed and maintained. This did not happen even though CAP repeatedly struggled against lines that were being put out that were not proletariat lines. All that was allowed was “discussion”, all voting was deferred until the plenary session in those workshops where the middle forces seemed to be swaying away from the O.L. line. But where there was a clear support for O.L.’s line, the workshops were gotten to vote support of the resolutions and make “friendly amendments” as in the Busing workshop. CAP cadre maintained principled discussion and struggle in the workshops and did not attempt to disrupt or obstruct their movement whenever they decided to invoke the “rules and regulations” to avoid discussion around the lines. The undemocratic handling of the workshops smothered any real attempts at active ideological discussion and we see this as being very detrimental because if there is no thorough ideological discussion how is the correct line to come about?
Some of the major workshops were:
Busing Workshop – The Pre-printed resolution in the packet took a straight out bourgeois integration line that supported busing and equality in education. They did not deal with the democratic rights of Black people that were violated when they were bused, they did not discuss Black people’s right of self-defense, nor did they raise the question of why there is no quality education in working class communities. In fact the moderator, who was a O.L. cadre took advantage of his position to play up anything in support of busing and squash everything that was against it. People were told to vote on this resolution and if they had any opposition they would have to raise it on the floor. CAP cadre were only allowed to speak once, not allowed to clarify or answer questions and not called on again.
Role of Women Workshop – Most of the time was devoted to discussions around the different struggles that the panelists were involved in. Was a brief discussion on feminism whereas the word “bourgeois” was added to say “bourgeois feminism” so that the class nature of the cry that men are the enemy is known. This was not clear in the pre-printed resolution but near the end of the workshop it was pushed through anyway. Both the workshop and the resolution tended to overlook and gloss over the special oppression of 3rd World women and women from oppressed nationalities in the U.S. One positive aspect was that the fact Imperialism is the root cause of women’s oppression was made clearly and agreed upon. Also the call by the Black Women’s United Front for a Multi-National Women’s Conference in March was raised.
Trade Union Workshop – In the trade union workshop, discussion was geared towards different economic struggles and exposure of some trade union caucuses at different workplaces. But very little discussion was allowed to develop on the other approaches in doing trade union work, besides forming rank and file caucuses. Principally, there was little discussion around the burning question of the need to fight economism. In fact, one could characterize the way the workshop was handled as being economism because when various participants raised the question on economism, building factory nuclei, and methods of bringing Communism to the workers, this was cut off several times by the person conducting the workshop.
Police Repression Workshop – There was no discussion on the pre-printed resolution but it was passed because they said most of the things that were discussed were included in the resolution. CAP raised the use of Civilian Complaint Review Board as a method of struggle to raise the contradictions and to expose the class nature of the state. The O.L. and their forces, which was 90% of the workshop, voted it down stating “the masses and the mass movement was the method of struggle for today” then proceeded to ratify the National Fightback organization. The resolutions committee later met and decided that they would include the PRB resolution but the O. L. forces would struggle against it when it was raised on the floor. One constructive thing was that they supported the Robert Williams Defense Committee.
Overall CAP feels that the conference was a positive step towards building a national workers, welfare recipients, and unemployed mass organization, though as we stated before there still remains the need for more principled ideological discussions (especially between anti-revisionist forces) to in sure the correct political line is being put out when we don’t have those discussions it actually helps to push and promote bourgeois ideology which we are supposed to be struggling against.
“DEFEAT BOURGEOIS IDEOLOGY”
“STRUGGLE FOR IDEOLOGICAL CLARITY”
“BRING MARXISM-LENINISM-MAO TSE TUNG THOUGHT TO THE MASSES”