Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

William Gurley

Party Building: OL proposal criticized

First Published: The Guardian, April 21, 1976.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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A number of organizations which describe themselves as Marxist-Leninist are engaged in one degree or another in attempting to build a new communist party in the U.S.

At the moment, the October League’s proposal for the formation of a new communist party in the very near future is coming in for considerable criticism from those organizations which consider themselves a part of the “new communist movement.”

Following are some of the main criticisms from several groups, which gives an approximate idea of the diversity and struggle which exists in the antirevisionist left. The OL, of course, has equally strong reservations about most of its critics.

I Wor Kuen criticizes the OL proposal for “placing the expediency of forming a party now above the forging of a unified correct line. It is OL’s belittling of this struggle for correct line which is our fundamental criticism of OL’s past and present party building position.”

The Marxist-Leninist Organizing Committee (MLOC), one of the groups resulting from the split-up of the Black Worker’s Congress, disagrees with the OL’s contention that “there is now enough of a basis of unity for forming a party” and states that the seven points of unity put forward by the OL in their proposal are not a substitute for a party program. The MLOC disagrees with the position that “there are firm grounds among the majority of the young Marxist-Leninist groups and organizations now, and there is a plan [based on the seven principles] which can lead to this unity.”

The Workers Viewpoint Organization (WVO) accuses the OL of “wiping out the role of theory in party building” and attacks the OL for “going among the masses” when “theoretical work is the main way to build the new communist party.” The WVO attacks “the ideological and political indefiniteness” on the task of party building and “the lack of a program.” The Puerto Rican Revolutionary Workers Organization (PRRWO) considers the OL “the main danger in the communist movement, with their get-rich-quick party-in-six-months-campaign.” PRRWO criticizes the OL for “building the party from below,” for what they call “uniting forces at the lowest common denominator.”

The August 29th Movement, a largely Chicano Marxist-Leninist organization, echoes the criticisms made by PRRWO and accuses the OL of “making organization the key link to party building” instead of “uniting around political line.”

Several independent groups have also commented on the OL proposal. The Philadelphia Workers Organizing Committee (PWOC) questions “whether or not the subjective conditions necessary for a vanguard party had sufficiently matured” and calls for Marxist-Leninist forces “to demonstrate the viability of their political line through their practice in the working-class movement.” The main criticism PWOC makes is that “showing the need for a party, which is obvious to all Marxist-Leninists, in no way demonstrates the ability to actually form it.’’

The Proletarian Unity League states that “contrary to the OL’s view that unity constitutes the main trend, the facts prove that disunity is growing.” They criticize the OL for “calling for ’above-board and principled struggle,’ but then going on to dismiss every criticism of its political leadership as ’opposition to any and all efforts to concretely organize a new party.’” In the Proletarian Unity League’s view, the OL has “proposed a plan which has many faults. For some very good reasons, this proposal has excited little positive interest. Because of their own sectarianism, and because of certain hegemonistic ambitions, the OL refused to acknowledge the problems with their plan or to discuss politically any serious differences with their line. Consequently, they must redefine the communist movement and come up with a definition which excludes any recognition of other legitimate centers.”

The Bay Area Communist Union (BACU) agrees with earlier criticisms that the necessary “level of unity [among Marxist-Leninist forces] has not been achieved.” BACU calls the OL to task for “exaggerating the readiness of conditions among the workers (’millions of workers have been thrown out into the streets to starve”) and the degree to which they have succeeded in building up a base among the workers (’a significant number of workers have joined the various fightback organizations’).” The BACU concludes: “only as the Marxists today make some breakthroughs in the application of communist theory to the tasks before us—gaining political roots in the working class, building the national movements, building the united front, doing effective communist propaganda, developing forms for exposures among the broader sections of the people—will there begin to be a basis for distinguishing an idealist from a correct formulation of our tasks. Correct line can only come from correctly summing up experience in the struggle to link Marxism with the actual struggles of the working class and oppressed nationalities. If there were more serious attempts at this and less posturing and maneuvering among communists, a party might not be far off.”