Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Committee for Scientific Socialism (M-L)

Smash Scholasticism and Bolshevize Our Ranks! Expose the Petty-Bourgeois Careerism of MLOC!

3. Our Party’s Line Is Forged In Struggle

The basic party building line of the MLOC is a perfect reflection of their petty bourgeois vacillating class stand. In the first place, changing a formulation or even a series of formulations on the most basic questions before the movement – questions of the character of the party, organization, periods and key link, and the struggle against opportunism – is for these Marxist pedants no more than grammatical and semantic juggling. In their most recent polemical sally, MLOC openly declares that the entire struggle over all these questions is itself a waste of time and that the way to fuse the communist and workers’ movements is to physically congregate (“concentrate”) in the vicinity of the factory, mine and mill districts and get busy “fusing”.

’Left’ sectarianism infects the communist movement, that is, focusing on disputes among communists to the point of failing to take communism to the masses, the failure or even refusal to fuse the workers and communist movements. (Unite! Vo.2, #5, p.11)

This bright idea of the MLOC’s coincides with their decision (if they make decisions) to drop the phrase “making a break with opportunism ideologically, politically and organizationally” from their definition of party building. Now, for the movement, they will have it that party building is fusion and fusion is simple proximity to the class.


All along, MLOC has been confused, shocked and dismayed at the sharp tit-for-tat ideological struggle which has characterized the communist movement in this period. This is connected not only to their weak stand but also to their idea that all they have to do to avoid opportunism and revisionism is “break” with it and carry on. Nowhere do they demonstrate even in words that they appreciate the fierce, protracted up-hill battle which Marxist-Leninists must wage to root out nationally specific forms of bourgeois ideology which inevitably pervade the communist and workers1 movement. Like the RCP, the MLOC thinks they can just “break” with this ideology and – presto – get on with fusing themselves to the working class. Indeed, the MLOC looks with pompous disdain and aristocratic aloofness upon the “violence” and “vulgarity” of the struggle between Marxism-Leninism and opportunism. They don’t trouble for a moment to distinguish between the two or do all the hard work of analysing the difference. Instead, for month after month, they go on repeating the same rubbish about the “left sectarianism” of WVO, lumping Marxism with dogmatism, combining two into one, and speculating on a philistine non-explanation of the split for all it’s worth.

In every period in the history of the international communist movement (without exception!) the struggle between genuine Marxist-Leninists and various shades and forms of opportunism has gone down amid the most extreme, the most violent, and from a revolutionary point of view, the most uncompromising polemics. The MLOC thinks that only official revisionists of the “C”PUSA and “C”PSU need to be isolated and exposed while all other contradictions in the communist and workers’ movement are “non-antagonistic contradictions among the people.” This non-antagonistic posture toward opportunism is expressed by MLOC in their statement:

There is no denying the significance of the ideological, political and organizational differences that exist in the US communist movement...Clearly there are two opposing lines...On the one hand is revolutionary Marxism-Leninism on the other is Modern Revisionism. The view of the MLOC is that those who seek to unite on principle must exercise sufficient patience and find ways to seek to eliminate these differences in order to strengthen the revolutionary fight against the common enemy.

There is only one basis to conclude that such struggle for unity cannot be conducted, and that is that these differences represent antagonistic contradictions between the people and the enemy.” (Unite! Vol. 2 #2, p 2)

Right again, MLOC, the contradictions between revolutionary Marxism-Leninism and Modern Revisionism is indeed a contradiction between the people and the enemy, and this is all the basis we need to conclude that your longstanding patience with opportunism is itself opportunist. For we cannot “eliminate the difference” between Marxism and revisionism, no matter how many patient, reasonable bilateral meetings we hold.

As WVO said about differences within the revolutionary wing:

PRRWO tried to interpret this (that differences between the revolutionary wing and opportunist wing were absolute while differences within the revolutionary wing were relative) to mean that differences within the revolutionary wing are insignificant, that ”unity is the principal aspect.” They interpret this to mean that differences between right and wrong, differences between dogmatism and Marxism-Leninism are not absolute. To us there are absolute differences, which if not properly identified and struggled out, will lead to a split. (WVO, July newspaper, p.16)

MLOC is much less selective than this. They see unity as the principal aspect of their relationship with all shades of opportunism in the communist movement.

The material basis for unity is greater than the subjective basis for disunity. (Unite! Vol. l, #l, p.4)

The way Marxism deals with revisionism is to wage the most ruthless and uncompromising struggle to smash it, utterly and devastatingly, replacing it and superceding it entirely. This is the fighting methodology of communist polemics which the “good boys” of MLOC find so “vulgar”.

The anti-revisionist communist movement is surging forward today because of the all-sided victory of the leading line of WVO in the struggles against OL on the one hand and the “left” deviationist wing on the other. The line of demarcation between genuine and sham is uniting in deeds with the slogan “build the party on the proletarian ideological plane; grasp the key link of political line.” This means studying Marxism and criticising revisionism. It means engaging boldly and with complete honesty in criticism self-criticism and ideological remolding. With regard to the upsurge of the working class movement it means integrating theory and practice in the struggle to win the advanced elements of the movement to the correct communist line of WVO. At all times it requires communists to follow the mass line and to be like the fish in the sea of the toiling and oppressed masses, utilizing their wisdom and enabling it to enrich the correctness of the line in the heat of class struggle.

The MLOC is a sham socialist organization because they do not unite or struggle with the overall most correct line in the communist movement. They prefer, for their own philistine reasons, to lump it together with the “left” deviationist wing who WVO beat back and dealt death blows to. The MLOC is sham because in matters of line and struggle over line they manifest all the staunch, consistent, fighting qualities of a college debating society. The MLOC is a sham because they mutate their lines constantly to remain popular and up-to-date, and criticise themselves only in carefully worded metaphors which avoid all reference to actual struggles.

The MLOC is very fond of building castles in the air. Using light, airy – in short, unsubstantial – phrases gleaned from the classics and making up for the inadequacy of these constructions with mountains of reprints, they seldom have a harsh word for anyone. When they do, it usually is accompanied by an apology in advance and a reminder that comrades never use harsh words with one another.

The most notable feature of their literary physignomy is the plethora of reprints which so greatly outweigh their own contributions in terms of sheer volume. This attempt to combine the function of publicist with that of publisher obscures both, but especially the former. The fact is that MLOC’s own work is so thin, they have to try to stiffen it by relying upon the library. In evidence of this, comrades should try to think how many times they have seen MLOC link their reprints into articles which represent their own thinking. The corallary to this glut of reprints is a dirth of polemics, revealing that the MLOC is not even taking part, let alone leading the line struggle in the communist movement.

At the heart of the deviations of the MLOC on all questions is the cowardly philistinism of their petty bourgeois class stand. This lack of a fighting stand reflecting the combative revolutionary qualities of Marxism must (and does) inevitably manifest itself in all aspects of MLOC’s line and practice, and most particularly in their line on the central task. The MLOC has never figured out that this struggle itself is class struggle, or that in it there is a class enemy.

WVO, in expounding the thesis “study Marxism, criticize revisionism”, has stated:

Marxism is not some abstract truth to be retrieved in leisure, in a vacuum, in order to make it “central in Party building.” The struggle to build a party itself is class struggle, it itself is urgent and has immediacy. Marxism has immediacy, for its stand, viewpoint and method mean it has to be used to change the world, to wage tit-for-tat struggle against class enemies and bourgeois ideology within our ranks. That’s why Marxism is characterized by its combativeness against the bourgeoisie and all its influences.

To be sure, the MLOC studies Marxism; this is the constructive aspect. But what they fail to grasp – and it’s a fatal error – is integrating their study into criticism: revolutionary destruction of revisionism and opportunism. Chairman Mao said,

There is no construction without destruction, no flowing without damming and no motion without rest; the two are locked in a life and death struggle. There is no construction without destruction. Destruction means criticism and repudiation, it means revolution. It involves reasoning things out, which is construction. Put destruction first and in the process you have construction. (Quoted by WVO Journal #4, P.39; from On the “Correct Handling of Contradictions Among the People”)

According to MLOC,

Party building in the United States is fundamentally a question of fusing the communist and workers’ movement in the course of breaking ideologically, politically and organizationally with modern revisionism and all forms of opportunism. (Unite! Vol.2, #6, p. l)

Comrades, it is impossible to make some sort of clean, once-and-for-all “break” with revisionism as MLOC suggests. Revisionism, opportunism, bourgeois ideology, is not a body of dogma or any defined collection of erroneous ideas to be avoided. It is the sum total of all bourgeois “trends of thought, slogans, tendencies and habits as well as actual anti-Marxist theories. It is the hidden reef in our thinking. This bourgeois ideology, the breeding ground of opportunism, always co-exists in the minds of revolutionaries with proletarian ideology based on scientific MLMTTT.

We can never “break” with it in the sense MLOC means, leaving it behind or locking it up so we don’t have to worry about it any more. All the MLOC does is put a big flashy “warning” sign on the “gross political forms” of revisionism while they obliterate the uphill struggle to really combat and prevent nationally specific forms of bourgeois ideology and opportunism in the communist and workers1 movement.

The question is how to identify the process of turning revisionist and thereby understand the task of combating it in the context of class struggle.

In summing up the struggle to criticise revisionism, WVO points out that:

The essential world outlook of communism is the world outlook of one divides into two, the philosophy of struggle. This is the methodology which governs the internal development of the communist movement.

To study Marxism and criticize revisionism is our long-term task for strengthening the building of our party ideologically. This dialectical unity between destruction and disclosing, making conscious what’s unconscious bourgeois ideology through criticism of revisionism and bourgeois ideology; and, in the process, construction–study of Marxism, assimilating proletarian ideology, that have to be combined to remold comrades ideologically. (WVO Journal #4, p. 41)

The MLOC is an organization for pedants and liberals who want nothing to do with a movement the internal development of which is determined by struggle. The MLOC doesn’t know the meaning of the word struggle. Revolutionary destruction, criticism and remolding is totally alien to them. They bridle at the very suggestion that they, the MLOC, might deserve sharp and uncompromising public criticism and they prefer to stand on their bruised dignity and offended virtue when confronted with it. They take the view that everyone has, after all, “broken” with the “C’PUSA and as much as cry out ”what is all the fuss about? They are so cut off from the real two-line struggle they don’t know what’s going on, and therefore grumble that “disputes among communists” are taking up too much time! Imbued equally with the hopes and fears of the petty bourgeois democrat, the MLOC never tires of chastising the “splittist”, the disgraceful ruffians who seem to always want to upset the apple cart and spill their store of “Unity”.


Only the MLOC or scholastics of equal calibre would take a word, mystify it and enshrine it to change its essential meaning into its opposite. To them “principle” means bourgeois good manners and never upsetting anyone else’s private affairs and “norms”. What a contrast this bears to true Marxist-Leninist principles which begin by upsetting “all the established conditions of society” and ruthlessly condemn and expose any retreat from such a stand, even he smallest or seemingly insignificant.

In defense of their position the MLOC has latched dogmaticly onto the one historical situation in the whole history of the international communist movement which bears any – even the most superficial resemblance– to their activities. This is the CPC-CPSU polemics of 1960 to 63. The MLOC seriously suggests that the “norms” which guided the parties of the great socialist camp of the 1950’s,(with its world historical victories fresh in hand and its lead personally by Stalin and Mao Tse-Tung) are the same norms without modification by any difference in circumstance, that these are the essence of how to achieve unity here and now! Comrades, please note that MLOC does not dwell with any care upon the content of the polemics which took place but has an eye only for the form. What they perceive to be a mechanism, a formula, in short, a scheme which they would like to place between themselves and all the ruffian splitists who are in fact Marxist-Leninist critics.

In the original struggle the CPG was entirely correct in its conduct of polemics with the CPSU. The most cursory examination of them, however, would reveal to the MLOC that they pulled no punches but rather, from the very beginning, drew out sharply and critically and combatively all differences which existed fighting for the correct line. To be sure, the existing, solid unity of the socialist camp was nothing to trifle with anymore than any advantage of the proletariat is let go for nothing. But the historical significance of the polemics is that they revealed the necessity of the split over the course of many years, on every point and in the most comprehensive way, which is to say they minimized the damage done by the revisionist in the split which was inevitable. Because of CPC’s staunch Marxist-Leninist principles, revisionism was recognized in good time and criticized fiercely, uncompromisingly and with the aim of utterly defeating it, a struggle which gains in strength throughout the world to this very day.

But what alone impresses the MLOC is the restraint which prevailed (in the purely formal sense not in the quality and content of the criticism) between 1960 and 1963. From this aspect MLOC derives their entire system of views on the subject of polemics and “relations” between Marxist-Leninists, absolutizing and distorting what appeals to their petty-bourgeois proprietor mentality and liquidating the proletarian content of the struggle to the death against revisionism.

Because the MLOC has no strategic conception of “study Marxism, criticise revisionism” but sees only the “constructive” aspect of everything, they blind themselves to the rich lessons of the international communist movement with regard to the value and revolutionary role of open polemics and the rich content of our own movement’s polemics. There is nothing in MLOC’s philistine, cream-puff style to protect them from themselves in distorting the historical lessons of the CPC-CPSU polemics. To contrast MLOC’s work, comrades should try to imagine the great Lenin on the eve of the showdown with Kautsky’s social-chauvinists or Trotsky’s centrism reminding himself that there are formal requirements which must be seen to like bi-lateral meetings which must be set up and attended, warnings to be issued in private, consultations to seek unity, etc. How painstakingly he must have edited his writings to be sure there was never any “element of scorn or looking down upon other comrades who had gone astray! As everyone knows, the polemics of the great Lenin are most notable for their “restraint”.


The CSS consolidated in the fall and winter, 1975-76, by bringing together the leading elements of what was, objectively, the theory trend among the cadre pool of the old anti-war movement in D.C. In this process our leadership was mainly WVO (they had done a forum here in Sept., 1975, exposing the OL) and, through their voluminous press, the MLOC.

Our published line (Feb., 1976) recognized the central task of party-building and upheld the decisive role of theory. In this we expressed the clear unity of the theory trend nationally, gleaned from study of most of the lines in the communist movement press.

However, on the questions of the character of the party, periods and key link, and organizational line, our study had revealed the definite struggle then in progress (though we never identified the specific areas of struggle). In addressing these questions on which there was no clear unity, we displayed the particular bourgeois ideological baggage which we (and others like the MLOC) have brought into the communist movement – scholasticism and petty-bourgeois class stand.

Unable to grasp the absolute necessity of a most overall correct line (and corresponding leading organization), we assumed that the struggle in the theory trend signified general confusion. And believing the source of all wisdom to be the M-L classics (the ones we had read), we sought to rectify the confusion through theoretical elucidations. Thus, we produced “A Proposal Concerning the General Line on Party Building for the Communist Movement in the U.S.” (GL)

Our “Theory of the Party” was nothing more than a rationalist scheme to explain the four foundations of the party (theoretical, ideological, political and organizational) linked up to a one-sided view of the relationship between the subjective and objective factors in revolution. Together it absolutized the vanguard subjective factors and belittled the role of the working class in revolution.

Our rationalist theory of the party muddled together the Marxist theory of knowledge and the relationship of the vanguard to the class. While on the one hand correctly upholding the party as the vanguard consciousness, leadership and organization of the class it went on to incorrectly assert that the party, as the organizational form of the development of social knowledge by the class, could be analyzed in terms of the theory of knowledge.

In our explanation of the theory of knowledge we absolutized the role of ideas divorced from social practice. Our view of the “dialectics” involved completely failed to bring forward that line is the product of a process of cognition, the reflection of the objective motion of class struggle in one or another sphere, and that it is always in a process of further development (one dividing into two) through revolutionary practice. We also failed to grasp the absolute dependence of rational knowledge on perceptual knowledge (concrete experience in class struggle) and how theory, as the basis of our thinking, serves us in continuously raising perceptual knowledge to rational knowledge.

By all our discourses on the “dialectics” of consciousness and conscious activity, theory and ideology and politics and organization we helped obscure and obstruct the revolutionary line on the character of the party embodied as it was emerging in the WVO. Our entire “theory of the party” is specifically repudiated.

All our “theories” obscured the genuine nature of ideology as the reflection in our thinking of the objective motion of class struggle. We saw ideological line as the product of thinking rather than the process of cognition itself. Thus, our polemics (as evidenced in Forward!) could go no further than to show a clear pattern of deviation in line and practice and to link it to theoretical errors or shallowness. We thought this was ideological struggle. However, with the leadership of WVO, we have recognized that ideological struggle is struggle over two fundamentally different ways of viewing (and methods of engaging in struggle over the views of) the objective motion of class struggle. Ideological deviations are historically conditioned, nationally specific ways of viewing the objective motion which are fed, fostered and obscured by specific class and social relations. To engage in genuine ideological struggle requires that comrades take up the best lines of opponents, show specifically how those lines fail to accurately reflect the objective motion of class struggle, and, over a series of line struggles, show how the various lines reveal a pattern of deviation in viewing objective motion – the ideological deviation.

All our deviations taken together make up a particular ideological affliction best characterized as petty-bourgeois scholasticism. It has been brought into our movement, hidden within the theory trend, by elements of the radical intelligentsia and student strata coming, in our case, from the anti-war movement. Many forces such as ourselves have played a progressive role in the struggle with the old practice trend; however, as the leading line emerges more clearly, as concrete organizational leadership calls on these forces to grasp party-building on the proletarian ideological plane and the key link of political line by more fully integrating with the growing working class upsurge, some of these forces are jumping out and calling on us to “do more theoretical preparation before getting involved in concrete class struggle.”

Counterposing theory to practice; absolutizing theory, and using it out of context of time, place and conditions to support its own particular view of reality and scheme for party-building (actually cementing a nitch in the communist movement); taking the center path between Marxism-Leninism and straight-up, blatant dogmatism while covering it all up with a thin veneer of “striving for principled unity on firm theoretical foundations” – this is the ideological trend which has been holding back the CSS from clearly and firmly uniting with the genuine revolutionary trend of our movement. Petty-bourgeois scholasticism, like hustlerism, has been exposed now in our movement, and the struggle against it, too, has propelled genuine Marxist-Leninists into the third period.