Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist)

Harry Haywood’s Speech at Congress: ’We Have Taken First Step on a Long March’

First Published: The Call, Vol. 6, No. 24, June 20, 1977.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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I am proud and happy to be able to speak here today on this historic occasion of the Founding Congress of the Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist) of the U.S.

This is the first party congress I have attended since the 16th Convention of the Communist Party in 1957. So it is with great satisfaction that I come here to pick up the thread, which was snapped by the revisionist seizure of power in the old Party.

At the time of the 16th Convention, the revisionists were secretly conspiring to expel the Marxist-Leninists from the Party. We were not fully aware of the true extent of their intentions until immediately afterwards, when they began expelling us in earnest. By the time of the 17th Congress in 1959, the Dennis-Hall clique had consolidated its hold on the Party, stripping away its revolutionary line of class struggle and replacing it with open class collaboration.

With the expulsion of the left from the Party, Dennis and his gang had finished the work that Browder had set out to do 20 years earlier—the complete and total destruction of the vanguard Party of the proletariat. But while destroying the Party, the revisionists could not destroy communism or the real Marxist-Leninists, who never once gave up their struggle to rebuild the Party on a revolutionary basis.

Although there were some false starts, such as the Provisional Organizing Committee, which I was associated with for a short time, and which ended in failure, we have finally succeeded. Our Party has been reborn in struggle.

The betrayal of the revisionists occurred on the eve of one of the most significant events in this country’s history. Just at the time when the Black revolt in the 1960s exploded as a part of, and in unison with, the great revolutionary upsurge in the third world, the masses in revolt were left with no Marxist-Leninist vanguard to guide them.

The line of revisionism was a line of betrayal of the Black struggle as well as betrayal of all working people. The revisionists took the revolutionary guts out of the Party’s program of self-determination for the Afro-American people. The new revisionist Gates clique put forward their “Three Ps: Peaceful Transition, Peaceful Coexistence and Peaceful Competition.”

James Jackson and the other opportunist leaders in the Party claimed that “peaceful integration” was the path Black people should follow. Instead of a leading force for Black liberation, the CP became a tool in the hands of the capitalists to contain the Black revolt within the system.

The development of what was called the “Black Power Revolt” confirmed in real life our thesis that the Afro-American movement would eventually take a national revolutionary direction and that such a movement would inevitably culminate in the demand for political power in the struggle against imperialism.

We had seen that the Black liberation struggle would be, as it had always been, a spark, a catalyst pushing forward the whole working-class and people’s struggle in the U.S. Far from being simply a struggle for reforms, as the revisionists claimed, it was, as Chairman Mao called it, a clarion call to all oppressed peoples throughout the world to rise up and defeat imperialism.

This was born out once again in the ’60s, when the tremendous attractive power of the Black struggle helped spark the millions of people to rally for civil rights and in opposition to U.S. aggression in Indochina. It also brought forth a new upsurge in the workers’ movement through the development of Black caucuses in major industry, which mobilized tens of thousands of workers against the bosses and the corrupt labor bureaucracy.

Despite the attempts of the revisionists, the liberals and pacifist leaders like King to keep the movement under wraps, it burst forth and exploded in the mid-’60s with the flames of the revolts in Harlem, Watts and in Black ghettos throughout the country.

The imperialists were thrown into a panic by this explosion right in their heartland. They mobilized every weapon available to them to destroy the movement.

On the one hand they used their reformist misleaders and right-wing nationalists like Floyd McKissick and Roy Innis to coopt the movement and edge out the young militants. On the other hand they brought down a reign of racist terror and murder to assassinate and imprison the revolutionary fighters like Malcolm X, Fred Hampton and Rap Brown, to name but a few.

Without the science of Marxism-Leninism to guide them, and without the organized power of the working class under the leadership of its Party, the young heroic fighters could not stand up to these open and covert attacks. They were crushed under imperialism’s blows, but only after they had forced significant concessions from the corporate rulers.

If there had been a party with a correct line, during this period, much of the spontaneity and bourgeois nationalism could have been combated. If the CP hadn’t liquidated communist work in the South and in the factories, the 1960s would have seen a consolidated proletarian force emerge in the Black Belt as well as in the urban centers.

The Black revolt as well as the general revolt of the masses of workers in this country will inevitably explode again. But this time things will be different. Already the effects of the worst crisis in 40 years are taking their toll.

The international situation is filled with turbulence and struggle, especially by the peoples of the third world, as the two superpowers prepare for a new round of wars. Southern Africa has become a new storm center of revolution, and the African people’s struggle has won broad support in the U.S., especially from the Black masses.

It is our job to go out and build this struggle, to organize it and give it consciousness.

Comrades, I have pointed out some of the bitter fruit of the revisionist betrayal. But today is not a day for bitterness, but a day of celebration. People all over the world will be elated to learn of the formation of our Party. I can recall the revolutionary fervor of the Russian and other Soviet peoples as I knew them in the late 1920s, in the days of Lenin and Stalin. I am sure that in the other superpower today, too, there are both young and old Bolsheviks secretly preparing, in spite of fascist conditions, to rebuild the Bolshevik Party right under the noses of the new czars.

Today, this same leadership and revolutionary spirit is shining like a beacon from the People’s Republic of China.

Our Congress is proof that you can kill or expel Bolsheviks, but you cannot bury Bolshevism. I call on the old comrades who are still faithful to Marxism-Leninism, who remain today disgusted and disillusioned by the Gus Hall clique, to rejoin our ranks, to rebuild our Party in the traditions we were once proud of, and to rally to the Program of the CP(M-L).

Comrades, today we have taken the first step on a long march. You who have built the Party thus far had to do so almost from scratch. Now we are in the midst of a grave crisis and facing war preparations between the superpowers. Like the CP in the ’30s, the whole international communist movement today has the task of meeting this crisis in a revolutionary way.

We must make the preparations and lay the groundwork and organize the masses for the coming struggle. The formation of our Party is the first step. I am happy to be considered a founding member of the new Party. Thank you.