First Published: The Call, Vol. 4, No. 6, March 1976.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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The recent full regular meeting of the Central Committee of the October League (Marxist-Leninist) proposed that all U.S. Marxist-Leninists should convene the founding congress of a new communist party later this year. The task of building a new party, the Central Committee concluded, is especially urgent at this time because of the growing danger of world war.
Last November the October League issued an appeal to “Marxist-Leninists Unite to Build a New Communist Party.” (Reprints of this article from the November Call are available in Spanish and English–Ed.) A report to the Central Committee on the progress of unity among Marxist-Leninists showed that unity is the strongest tendency today. It said that conditions for forming the party are now very favorable. Conditions will not remain favorable for long, however, mainly due to the growing threat of war and fascism, for which Marxist-Leninists must get prepared. The key step in getting prepared now is the formation of the new communist party.
The Central Committee discussed the question of the danger of world war, and noted the following:
Both the United States and the USSR today are capitalist, imperialist superpowers. These two robbers, armed to the teeth, can in no way live peacefully alongside each other or harmoniously share their loot. Sooner or later they must come to blows, aiming at a new division of the world. There can be no such thing as “detente” in the world in these conditions.
The danger of a world war between the two superpowers is now growing day by day. This war may not break out immediately or all at once, but so long as there are superpowers contending, war is inevitable. The present economic crisis gripping the capitalist world including the USSR deepens the general historical crisis of capitalism and sharpens the war danger.
While both superpowers are the same in essence, their strength and position are not the same. U.S. imperialism is on the decline, and it is generally on the retreat or the defensive. The Soviet social-imperialist superpower is growing stronger, has surpassed the U.S. in most areas of military strength, and is aggressively on the attack everywhere. Under the false mask of a “socialist” country and a “liberator,” it is stepping up its imperialist and neocolonialist drive to take over from U.S. imperialism the role of hegemonic world power. The case of Soviet intervention and aggression in Angola is a telling illustration of this trend.
As regards a world war, Soviet social-imperialism is the most ambitious and the most aggressive. It is the main source of the danger of world war. Just as Hitler in the past made the biggest noise about wanting “peace” in order to conceal the German fascists’ aggression so does the USSR make the biggest noise about “detente” today.
The Central Committee resolved to step up exposure of the capitalist, imperialist character of the USSR, and of the aggressive, belligerent role this superpower is playing today. It resolved to redouble work to defend and to popularize the example of the genuine socialist countries, particularly China. It noted that the U.S. government has also increased its military spending, thereby placing an ever greater burden on working people. It condemned the U.S. monopoly ruling class, which has stepped up its attacks on the democratic rights and the living standards of the people of the U.S. As part of war preparations, the U.S. ruling class is organizing a huge propaganda drive around the Bicentennial theme, trying to whip up a frenzy of phony patriotism and counterrevolution with the aim of getting working people to suffer without resisting. The Central Committee pointed to the formation of the National Fight-Back Organization at the end of 1975 as a historic concrete step in the direction of the strategic objective of overthrowing the rule of the U.S. monopoly capitalists.
Both world wars during this century, the Central Committee noted, produced great struggles and great advances within the world working class and communist movements. They also harbored dangers. In this connection the Central Committee noted the negative example of Browderism during World War II. A leader of the Communist Party of the U.S., Earl Browder distorted the party’s correct policy of building the united front against fascist aggression. He liquidated the class struggle, sacrificing the struggles of the workers and of the oppressed nationalities to the interests of a section of the imperialist bourgeoisie. Under the banner of “Everything for the War Effort,” the Browderite revisionists went so far as to liquidate the Communist Party itself, thus depriving the working class for a time of its indispensable general staff. The Central Committee noted that the present rapidly-changing world situation is likely to develop by way of further twists and still unpredictable turns, and underscored the importance for Marxist-Leninists of maintaining the revolutionary initiative and independence from the bourgeoisie.
The question of war, the Central Committee noted, is linked with the question of building a new communist party in the U.S. In this regard the Central Committee observed:
The existing so-called Communist Party has completely degenerated into an out-and-out revisionist party. This party faithfully follows the dictates of its Soviet social-imperialist master, and serves as a “fifth column” for the aggressive, expansionist aims of that superpower. To that end, the CPUSA tails behind and actively promotes a section of the U.S. imperialist bourgeoisie that tends to follow a policy of appeasement and conciliation toward Soviet social-imperialism. To curry favor with this section of the bourgeoisie, the revisionists – following the example of Browder – promote dead-end reformism, disarm the working class and otherwise sabotage the people’s struggle. By the class interests it serves, this party is a party of imperialism, of monopoly capital, of war, aggression and fascism. The workers and other progressive-minded people should not have illusions on this score. The treachery of this party to the working class is the fundamental reason why a new communist party must be built.
Close kin to the revisionists are the centrists. Centrists and other right-opportunist forces are increasingly harmful today because while calling themselves anti-revisionist, they conciliate with Soviet social-imperialism and revisionism and provide them with a cover. The centrist leaders have all but swallowed the Big Lie of “detente” and in practice are bitterly opposed to forming a Marxist-Leninist party. By trying (vainly) to prevent the Marxist-Leninist party from being born, the centrist leaders are in objective effect liquidating the revolutionary struggle against U.S. imperialism. How can U.S. imperialism be defeated without a Marxist-Leninist party? Those who try to liquidate the formation of such a party are walking in the footsteps of Browder and his fellow revisionists. This holds also for certain other groups who claim to be far more “revolutionary” than the obvious centrists, but whose anti-party opposition lands them in practice in the same bankrupt camp.
The strongest tendency today, however, is the drive toward Marxist-Leninist unity in the formation of a new communist party. This is a worldwide trend. The internal conditions in each country are the basis of the growing unity of Marxist-Leninists, but the mounting threat of world war adds an extra measure of urgency to the task.
The Central Committee found a growing desire for principled unity among Marxist-Leninists in many groups in different parts of the country. It observed that the desire to unite is especially strong among the rank-and-file cadre. Regrettably some of the leading figures of a number of groups merely pay lipservice to the struggle for unity. A few have even taken to slandering Marxist-Leninists in a most unprincipled, backward fashion, exposing themselves in the process as petty sectarians and opportunists. The Central Committee hailed the striving of all Marxist-Leninists, whether in rank-and-file or in leading positions, to unite in forming a new communist party.
The October League’s appeal to unite, published last November, has met with a wide and mainly positive response. The seven points contained in the appeal, the Central Committee reaffirmed, are the basis for ongoing and future unity discussions with other Marxist-Leninists. They are not meant as the program for the party nor as substitutes for the October League’s own full stand on the various questions.
As a result of further discussions, the Central Committee decided on a partial modification of the party-building plan put forward in the November appeal. The plan had as its first organizational step the formation of a “temporary leading body which can survey the organizational forces represented in the party, establish democratic centralism and prepare us for our first Party Congress, to be held within a year of our founding.” The Central Committee decided to omit this “temporary leading body” and instead to call for the founding congress of the party to be held later this year.
The weaknesses of the “temporary leading body” idea were: first, the “temporary leadership” would not have the full authority that it could have if elected by a congress, and this would open the door to federationist weaknesses and undermine centralist unity. Secondly, under “temporary leadership” the party would be without a program to guide the struggle for up to a year until the first congress. Third, the unification process would be based solely on unity from above, not also on unity from below.
The plan as modified calls for unity from above as well as below – by discussions on the leadership level as well as by the rank and file. This is indispensable. All Marxist-Leninists should struggle for unity on the basis of Marxist-Leninist principles in an open and above-board way.
To deepen this struggle and sum up the preliminary results, the October League proposes that the ongoing unity discussions (and unity discussions initiated between now and then) move on to a unity conference early this summer, open to all those who can unite on the basis of the November appeal.
Out of this conference will come a committee to prepare for the Founding Congress of the new party. Pre-Congress discussion papers and resolutions on the basic questions of the party program will be debated and circulated, leading up to the adoption of the full party program at the congress. The Central Committee chosen will be the leadership of the new party. The program and other documents adopted by the congress will be binding. Democratic centralism will be implemented and the party will immediately play an active, leading role in the mass struggles of the period ahead. Such, in outline, is the plan for party-building as modified in the light of discussions. The basic features of the plan remain the same. The modifications strengthen its basic purpose and make for a speedier implementation.
In conclusion, the Central Committee observed that the organizational questions of forming the party are part and parcel of the more general political outlook of each and every group in the movement today. Now is the time to put theory into practice, make new breakthroughs, and consolidate our forces. By putting Marxism-Leninism Mao Tsetung Thought in command and uniting with real friends to fight real enemies, we can build the proletarian vanguard party that the conditions demand. There are many contradictions, but the key to resolving them all is the formation of a new communist (Marxist-Leninist) party. This is the immediate task ahead.
ON TO THE PARTY!