Issued: July 1976.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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EROL Note: This was a flyer handed out at an October League Forum in Washington DC, in July 1976.
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In this period we must all be judged by our stand on the struggle for unity and for the party. The Call, Declaration of the Organizing Committee for a Marxist-Leninist Party, July, 1976, p. 4.
This, comrades, is exactly what we must do. And we must begin with the October League, itself. The OL’s stand on the struggle for Marxist-Leninist unity has been a thoroughly bourgeois stand from the very beginning. As we will demonstrate in this brief polemic, the OL has yet to show that it possesses the basis for elaborating a program to unite Marxist-Leninists because it has yet to show in word or in deed that it has a firm grasp of the essence of proletarian revolution–the dictatorship of the proletariat, itself.
This forum is the third phase of the OL’s propaganda tour for the “party.” First Nicholas on the restoration of capitalism in the USSR, then Davidson on party-building, and now Miller on the Black National Question. Next, no doubt, will be someone on the woman question. Very impressive, right?
Wrong! This is a sham, a substitute for genuine struggle. It is now eight months since the OL issued its party-building call–and still they have yet to issue a draft program for discussion and criticism from the spontaneous and communist movements. Even these tours would not have taken place had the OL’s philistine, no-struggle approach not been so thoroughly exposed by most of the communist movement. These tours are simply an effort to placate the middle forces–to convince them that the OL does struggle–while, on the other hand, confining struggle to the most narrow forum of open, public meetings to discuss the OL’s program piece by piece as they unfold it in conditions which they completely control. Well, the OL can not escape so easily.
As communists we all desire unity. However, we want unity based upon uncompromising struggle against incorrect lines, unity around a line forged in the struggle against the best arguments of the opportunists and bourgeois lackies. The very essence of Marxism is its combativeness–its ceaseless struggle to drive the bourgeoisie from the stage of world history. The proletariat in the US stands toe-to-toe with the bourgeoisie. In order to establish the dictatorship of the proletariat, it must thoroughly smash the bourgeoisie politically and ideologically. The OL has distained such struggle, labelled it sectarianism, and played upon the worst instincts for unity in all of us to build a party rapidly not on proletarian ideology and political line, forged in struggle, but rather around the vagueness and generality characteristic of the de-classed petty-bourgeoisie.
Ever since their Third National Congress (TNC) in August of last year, the OL has claimed that “the subjective conditions are ripe” and that party-building is a question of “immediacy.” At the TNC the OL made it plain that the ideological line of the emerging party motion they were leading had been forged in the struggle against “leftism” and “sectarianism.” (See the Call August, 1975.)
Comrades, please take note of this–a party whose ideological line has been forged in struggle with “leftism.” This despite the fact that internationally revisionism and right opportunism hold state power in the Soviet Union and are waging a fierce struggle to defeat Marxism-Leninism everywhere in the world; despite the fact that decades of imperialist superprofits have provided the basis for bribing a strata of the US working class which will constantly push reformist solutions to the problems of the class; despite the fact that the consolidation of monopoly capitalism is daily driving elements of the petty-bourgeoisie with their “above class” solutions into the working class; and despite the fact that historically the CPUSA led the rise of modern international revisionism in theory and in practice. Despite all this, the OL thinks the ideological line of our party can be forged in the battle with “leftism”!
We must fight on both fronts, against both “left” and right, but we must never forget that the right danger is the main danger. In battling the “left” all those years and ignoring the right, the OL undoubtedly opened its doors to the ideologically corroded elements of the labor aristocracy and the de-classed petty-bourgeoisie. These forces, once inside, have thoroughly corrupted the OL, turned it into a force for social democracy, and eliminated all possibility that the OL will lead the formation of a genuine communist party.
The OL has never led ideological struggle in the communist movement. Despite Davidson’s distortion (at the OL party-building forum in DC on May 1) that the OL has struggled historically, the fact is that the OL never waged struggle until it was attacked and exposed by others such as the CL and the RU. The OL has never initiated struggle for the correct line. The best example is their conciliation with the Guardian. Their break with the Guardian tailed by several months the exposure of its centrist line by other forces, particularly the RU and WVO.
Also, the OL has never systematically addressed any major question of the communist movement (except their economist analysis of the restoration of capitalism in the USSR) until the publication of the position on the Black National Question recently. Fundamental issues such as the class analysis, the nature of the general and cyclical crisis of capitalism, and the reasons for the degeneration of the CPUSA have never been studied and summed-up by the OL (despite the ex-CPUSA cadre in its ranks).
But the crowning proof of the OL’s failure to grasp the necessity of struggle for the correct line in order to forge Marxist-Leninist unity is their Nov., 1975 call to form the “party” without a leading line, without a program. Here was starkly revealed the OL’s conception of the party not as the consciousness and leadership of the class, but rather as the big organization of the spontaneous motion. This is the culmination of the OL trend. It is now clear, the OL has not struggled all these years because it has not understood the vanguard role of the party. Thus, in essence, the OL call to form the party is a call to liquidate struggle for the dictatorship of the proletariat.
A hallmark of the party must be a bold and open attitude towards criticism and self-criticism, enabling it to correct mistakes and carry out a constant struggle against all forms of opportunism within its ranks. (Ibid.)
Pious words from the OL. Where is their self-criticism for calling for the party without a program? Comrades should study the OL’s admission that they made a “mistake” and check out the depth of their self-criticism. (See the Call, March, 1976.) They did take the time to announce a new version of their party-building plan, taking into account the “mistake.” However, in the absence of an effort to get to the roots of this crucial deviation and in the absence of acknowledgement of the correct criticisms of their ideological line given by many organizations in the communist movement, the OL’s “new version” can be viewed only as more of the same, as a slipping and sliding effort to keep going without correcting bourgeois tendencies.
What is necessary in self-criticism is that comrades attempt to establish the ideological cause of their deviations. Comrades must recognize that errors are the products of concrete, historical class and social conditioning. Only by boldly attempting to ascertain the class and social patterns of present and past deviations can one steel oneself against similar errors in the future. If criticism is not taken to these ideological roots, the error necessarily will be repeated.
The OL, of course, cannot go so deep without exposing the entire basis of their organization. Their deviation, not surprisingly, runs throughout their entire line and practice. It is the failure to grasp the party as the consciousness and leadership of the class, the product of their pragmatism and bourgeois-democratic illusions. As a result, their party will not be the party of the proletariat, but simply a big bourgeois organization in the working class.
The OL has never put forward a line on advanced worker thereby providing no practical leadership to cadre and allowing themselves the option of working anywhere with anyone they please. In essence, this liquidates scientific practice.
Whatever they think the advanced are, the OL has always belittled the importance of the program and leading line in winning them to communism. Rather than engaging in mass practice primarily to develop perceptual knowledge upon which to struggle with other communists for a correct line and to win the advanced to communism, the OL has engaged in mass practice exclusively to build up the mass movement. Thus, they rely not upon a leading line forged in struggle with other advanced forces (communists), but upon a line developed solely form their own narrow experience. This is empiricism, pure and simple. Whatever forces the OL does win over are won not on the strength of a sound Marxist-Leninist line, but rather on the relatively large (but illusory) organizational clout of the OL.
Since they have no genuine leading line, the OL cannot raise scientific proletarian class consciousness among the masses. Inevitably, they end up opposing those who do. Thus, at their National Fightback Conference in Chicago in December, 1975, the OL openly opposed resolutions which supported socialism.
When they do consolidate advanced elements, they bring them into their local fightback organizations where they are led to support all kinds of momentary flarings of class struggle. To the degree that these elements are advanced, the OL organizational line seeks to remove the advanced from the struggles in which they emerged and put them in the fightback where the OL can use them more readily. The net effect is to divide the advanced from the intermediate and liquidate the possibility of relying on the advanced to win over the intermediate and backward. At the same time this approach makes it possible for a large section of the OL to avoid the hard work of going among the masses in their own spontaneously-arising organizations, winning the advanced and building communist cells. In essence, the OL line is dual unionism, the same bankruptcy Lenin fought in Left-Wing Communism, an Infantile Disorder and the same organizational line the bankrupt RCP uses in its mass practice today.
The OL also avoids hard work among the masses with the mechanical, absolute line of “no united action with revisionists.” This line negates the reality that many honest forces are temporarily under the influence of revisionists and opportunists of all shades and that in some circumstances it is most correct tactically to unite with the revisionists in order to expose (to hang, as Lenin said) them. This “no united action’ line allows the OL to constantly take the path of least resistance while maintaining a loud, “revolutionary” cover. In essence, it’s the same line used by the PLP to attack Viet Nam for accepting aid from the Soviet Union and it’s the same mechanical, one-sided no struggle approach to practice that the RWL and PRRWO are running with their “no unity with opportunism” line.
However, the OL’s “no united action with revisionists” line hasn’t prevented them from uniting with liberal politicians and trotskyists (without exposing their lines) in many situations, particularly in Boston where the OL has joined and supported trot marches “against racism.”
The CSS has yet to develop a full position on the Black National Question, but we accept the leadership of the Commitern and the US communist movement on the existence of the nation in the Black-Belt South. Despite the lack of a full position, we are clear on at least on thing the OL has ignored. The existence of the Black nation requires that communists uphold the right of self-determination up to and including the right to secession and that they guarantee it by words and deeds. The OL does neither.
In their program, the main document upon which communist propaganda and agitation is carried forward to the masses, the OL never mentions once the right of self-determination for the Black nation. (See The Struggle for Black Liberation and Socialist Revolution, OL, March, 1976, p. 70-76.) A mere omission? Like forgetting that the party needs a program?
No. The OL fails to advance and guarantee the right of self-determination in words precisely because they believe that the list of “democratic” demands in their program amounts to guaranteeing the right of self-determination. That is, the OL, in essence, maintains that by fighting for partial, “democratic” demands the proletarian revolutionary demand of self-determination of all nations will be fulfilled. This is nothing more than “tactics-as-a-process.” It negates the necessity of leading and training the proletariat in proletarian internationalism and negates the fact that self-determination for the Black nation will only be the result of a qualitative change in class power in the US–the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat. By failing to guarantee the right of self-determination and by fostering the illusion that the fight for “democratic” rights amounts to the fight for self-determination, the OL reveals its complete confusion, its reliance upon bourgeois, formal democracy to achieve revolutionary goals, and, thus, it complete betrayal of the Black nation and the US working class.
But the OL doesn’t stop at selling out national minorities and the working class in words alone; it carries this forward in deed as well.
On the question of forced busing the OL has completely ignored the principal aspect of the struggle in Boston–the struggle for quality education–and focused entirely on the secondary aspect–the struggle for integration. By absolutizing integration the OL is following in the footsteps of the CPUSA and moving toward a vulgar assimilationist solution to the problems of national minorities. This is evidenced in the OL’s support not of voluntary integration at the option of the oppressed minority, but rather forced integration at the whim of the oppressor.
Further, the OL position fails to recognize that monopoly capitalism and its bureaucratic-military state will provide NEITHER quality education or genuine integration, and, thus, fails to raise proletarian revolution and the dictatorship of the proletariat as the only guaranteed solution to the problems of quality education and national oppression.
Instead the OL is running around spreading the illusion that the forced busing plan ’as well as other bourgeois schemes like the ERA and compensative seniority) are progressive steps toward democratization of society. This is a complete hoax! These plans are the divide-and-rule tactics of the bourgeoisie and compradore elements of the Black nation. They must ceaselessly be exposed as such.
Communists must ask of any “reform,” is it raised by the working class, what does it give to the working class, and what does the fight for the “reform” do to build revolutionary working class consciousness? Judging the forced busing plan by this standard, what do we find?
First, the demand of the working class was for quality education and genuine integration. Busing was the solution offered by the bourgeoisie through their liberal politicians and Black lackies. Second, as even the OL admitted at the IWD workshops this spring, forced busing will do nothing by way of improving the quality of education, and history shows that forced busing, at best, provides only token integration. Third, the fight to implement the forced busing plan leads inevitably to Blacks viewing white workers and racist attitudes as the problem and liberal politicians and the NAACP as allies, on the one hand, and to whites viewing black workers as the problem and fascists as their friends, on the other hand.
This is exactly what the bourgeoisie had in mind, and they are eternally thankful to the OL for it assistance.
Communists, on the other hand, must subject the OL to scathing criticism and demand an immediate correction in their practice. However, recognizing that despite principled Marxist-Leninist criticism, the OL has insisted on consolidating its reactionary line and practice, communists must seize this unfortunate turn of events and use it to steel ourselves against similar degeneration. Most importantly, we must use every means to overcome our own bourgeois-democratic illusions, avoid every tendency to rely upon or extol the virtue of any section of the US ruling class, and make every effort to weld class unity behind the struggle to establish the dictatorship of the proletariat.
The OL is the most dangerous opportunist trend in the communist movement. Only a complete rupture with their own party-building motion and a thorough self-criticism can save them from total degeneration. All honest forces must heighten the struggle with the OL and each other and forge unity on the basis genuine struggle and genuine Marxist-Leninist principles.
EXPOSE THE OL’S SHAM PARTY-BUILDING MOTION!
MARXIST-LENINISTS UNITE AND WIN THE ADVANCED TO COMMUNISM!
FORGE PARTY UNITY IN FIERCE STRUGGLE WITH BOTH “LEFT” AND RIGHT OPPORTUNISM!