First Published: The Call, Vol. 5, No. 2, May 10, 1976.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
Copyright: This work is in the Public Domain under the Creative Commons Common Deed. You can freely copy, distribute and display this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit the Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line as your source, include the url to this work, and note any of the transcribers, editors & proofreaders above.
In our last issue, we began reprinting the statements of groups and individuals who are responding to the call for Marxist-Leninist unity.
Below, we reprint the text of Harry Haywood’s statement in support of the May Unity Meeting. Haywood is one of the communist movement’s foremost theoreticians on the national question and played a prominent role in some of the most important working class battles in this century.
I joined the old Communist Party U.S.A. in 1923 and worked actively in many of the great struggles led by that party. But since the Party’s 16th convention in 1957, the Party has been controlled by revisionists, and the U.S. working class has been without a communist party to lead them.
Many genuine Marxist-Leninists inside the party opposed the revisionist takeover. The leading clique systematically slandered and expelled them, attempting to discredit them.
In 1959, I was expelled from the CPUSA. I participated in the P.O.C., the first of several efforts to form a new communist party. But these efforts were unsuccessful. They lacked a full understanding of the revisionist enemy or a rounded program and tactics which could overcome ultra-“leftism” as well as revisionism.
In the years after 1956, it became clear that the degeneration of the CPUSA was not an isolated case. Over 100 formerly revolutionary parties around the world fell to revisionist leadership by 1960.
A new bourgeoisie seized power in the USSR, using the state and the Soviet party to restore capitalism. Today, behind the rhetoric of “socialism,” the Soviet Union has become a full-blown imperialist power, vying with the U.S. for world hegemony. Therefore our international strategy must be a united front against the two superpowers.
Our main task here is to overthrow U.S. imperialism. But this is inseparable from the struggle against the other superpower and its agents. The CPUSA, which is closely bound to the Soviet party, is no longer simply a party with a wrong line. It is the political surrogate of Soviet social-imperialism inside the U.S. working class movement.
As we began to grasp the international ramifications of revisionism, we also found that we were part of an international movement opposing revisionism and social-imperialism. Mao Tsetung and the Chinese Communist Party gave important ideological leadership to this movement, as did the Albanian Party. Today the movement to build a new party in the U.S. is part of this large international movement.
Many hundreds of new communists developed during the 60’s. They rejected the CP because of its betrayal of the Black liberation struggle, its slavish bowing to liberal politicians, its capitulation to chauvinism and Zionism. During the 70’s, this new communist movement struggled against the ultra-“left” ideas which had undermined earlier party-building efforts. While much theoretical work remains to be done, the ideological foundations for a new party have been laid in the course of this two-line struggle. The time is ripe for the May Unity Meeting to bring together the advanced forces and lay the organizational foundations of the new party.
There is a common misconception that McCarthyism and repression in the 50’s destroyed the CP. But a party which is ideologically sound and firm in principle cannot be torn up by the reactionaries. The most important aspect of party-building is political line.
One of the first places the revisionists attacked the old party’s correct line was on the Black national question. In the 20’s, we studied the Marxist-Leninist theory of nations and the concrete conditions of Black people in the U.S. We set our goal as the alliance of the working class with the Black liberation movement. We understood that this unity was crucial to victory in the struggle for major reforms as well as the struggle for power. We concluded that we must uphold the right of self-determination for the oppressed Black nation in the South as the crowning point of the struggle for equality throughout the country, if unity was to be guaranteed.
In practice, we upheld this right and consistently opposed all national oppression and chauvinism. We even carried on public self-criticism when party members deviated from this stand, as in the Harlem trial of August Yokinen. On this basis, the party became the recognized leader of the Black struggle for equality during the 30’s.
The new communist movement has revived this revolutionary position and defended it against all sorts of opportunist attacks. This has prepared the way for a sound party program on the Afro-American question and helped the movement in tackling other national questions–Chicanos, Puerto Ricans and other nationalities.
The May Unity Meeting must reaffirm this strategic line of building the alliance between Black people and labor, and pledge itself to fight for proletarian internationalism. It must uphold the right of self-determination of the Black oppressed nation in the South. Doing so, it will pick up the communist tradition which was trampled by revisionists like Browder, Dennis, and Gus Hall.
Besides abandoning Marxist-Leninist principles, the CP dissolved its ties with the masses, breaking up important strong points like the shop nuclei, trade union fractions and mass organizations like the National Negro Congress, the National Negro Labor Councils and the All Southern Youth Congress. This dispersed hundreds of strong Black and working class cadre, and left the CP isolated and irrelevant to the Black revolt and other struggles of the 60’s. Part of building a new party is building strong mass organizations.
Today there are millions of Black and working class young people looking for revolutionary leadership. The party must do for them what the old CPUSA once did for us–train thousands of oppressed people in the highest ideals and scientific theory mankind has come up with–scientific communism: Marxism-Leninism.
But it is not only for the young generation that the May Unity Meeting and movement for the new party are a step forward. There are many like myself who took part in the great struggles of the 30’s and 40’s in the U.S., Spain and elsewhere. Today the spirit that fueled those struggles is absent from the CPUSA. But this revolutionary spirit was reborn in the struggles of the 60’s, and it inspires the young fighters who are coming together around the new party.
I call on other veteran communists, comrades-in-arms of earlier struggles, to join with the party of the future. Unite to build the new communist party.