First Published: Unite!, Vol. 3, No. 1, February 1977.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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All the developments in the class struggle in 1976 indicate that the coming year will see great advances in the fusion of scientific socialism with the working class movement. Yet, at the same time, the fact that the US working class remains without its vanguard communist party as its guide, leader, and teacher, is an important indication that many problems remain to be resolved.
1977 began for the MLOC with a highly successful meeting of the Central Committee, in which a significant break was made with the “left” opportunist remnants which infect the working class movement, and existed as a definite tendency in the MLOC and the former Black Workers Congress. This advance for the working class movement, and other developments of policy taken by the Central Committee will be partially explained in the following report, and the thesis following this report on party building.
The most important basis for these advances lies in the struggle to know conditions and formulate policy actually based on the objective conditions of the working class movement. In the course of a year and a half, the MLOC has sought to promote the fusion of scientific socialism with the working class movement through the policy of concentrating a superior force in the strategic industrial and political centers of the country. Breaking from the infantile “left”-bloc of the revolutionary wing (WVO, PRRWO, RWL, and ATM), the MLOC sought to take up the task of study, propaganda, and organizing in the most important industrial areas, rather than confining our activities to a few large petty-bourgeois centers, as the organizations of the wing have done for several years.
Yet these advances for the MLOC – taking up the struggle for concentration, the development of UNITE! into more of an agitational weapon, the solving of same important theoretical questions and other developments – all pointed starkly to the one most pressing problem facing the working class movement today – the lack of a clear outline of strategy and tactics for the proletariat in our struggle against the capitalist class. Without firmly grasping the basic questions of strategy and tactics, no genuine vanguard party can be built – a party which becomes the main directing force in the dictatorship of the proletariat after the seizure of state power.
Strategy, as Joseph Stalin explained in Leninism, “is the determination of the direction of the main blow of the proletariat at a given stage of the revolution; the elaboration of a corresponding plan of the disposition of the revolutionary forces (the main and secondary reserves); the struggle to carry out this plan during the whole period of the given stage of the revolution.” Tactics, on the other hand, are subordinate to strategy. They are not concerned with the war as a whole, but with battles in that war. “The most important part of tactics,” stated Stalin, “is the determination of the ways and means, the forms and methods of fighting which best correspond to the concrete situation of the moment and are more certain to prepare the way for the strategic success.”
In future issues of UNITE!, the MLOC will unfold a basic line for the working class movement on the questions of strategy and tactics, their basis in the Party program, and their application to the relations of class forces in the class struggle. One point is certain – without this grasp of strategy and tactics it is not possible to forge a genuine vanguard party which is the guide, leader, and teacher of the working class. Without this grasp of strategy and tactics, party building becomes an end in itself – as it has for the “left”-bloc in recent years.
In seeking to sum up conditions in the working class movement, the Central Committee recognized the fact that the MLOC itself had not escaped from this “left”-opportunist line. A struggle had begun against this “left” tendency in the former UNITE! article which exposed the line of “political line is the key link”. But this, as we stated at the time, was hardly adequate.
In fact, looking backward, we can see that the struggle unfolded in the former Black Workers Congress against right opportunism was correct in as far as it went – but it did not go far enough. It did not correctly take up the struggle on two fronts against opportunism exposing and routing both right and “left” opportunist deviations and tendencies. This is the task the Central Committee shouldered in its recent meeting.
The essence of the “left”-opportunist line in the working class movement today is the Trotskyist formulation of fusion as the combining of the “communist movement with the working class movement.” In essence, this is the historic line that Lenin and Stalin defeated which if effected, identifies the dictatorship of the proletariat with the dictatorship of the party.
Trotskyism is not a one-man affair, but a social trend, being reborn on every stage of the revolutionary movement because it is the expression of the attitude of a certain class, namely, the petty-bourgeoisie. The petty-bourgeoisie, subjectively wishes to become rich and powerful, like the imperialist bourgeoisie; objectively, however, monopoly capitalism continually removes the ground from under their feet, by the economic destruction of the small business and professional strata.
Because of this situation, the petty-bourgeoisie is afraid of the big bourgeoisie, but it is also afraid of the revolution. Seeing their future interests represented by the rise of the revolutionary strength of the working class, the petty bourgeoisie seeks to find a place in the revolutionary camp, but then turns to denounce the working class nature of this movement and to don “extreme left” masks itself.
This petty-bourgeois trend introduces an element of hesitancy and opportunism, of disintegration and lack of self-confidence, factionalism and splits, disorganization and the undermining of the revolutionary movement from within. They bring a “purely rational”, meaning bourgeois rational, approach to the solution of problems of the revolution, an approach which has no relation whatever to the realities of life.
From this they come to believe that they are the driving force of the revolution, not the masses of working people. And because of their “self-importance”, they cannot place the interests of the working class above their own personal ambition. Based on their own self-image, on what they think they are, and not on what they really are, they then declare themselves “100% Bolshevik to the bone”, and “objectively the Party”, denying all the material developments which must be realized for the working class.
Through Trotskyism these petty-bourgeois elements try to disorganize and demoralize the forces which are mobilizing against capitalism. They come in the name of the “true Leninists”, the “left communists”, but the effect of their activities is the same – aid to capitalism by attempting to undermine all that is really revolutionary.
Obviously there are none today who openly wave this foul flag, but yet the stench remains, clothed in a new stripe. The trend which states that our dual tasks are to Unite Marxist-Leninists and Win the Advanced – two tasks derived from the existence of two movements – is nothing other than Leon Trotsky popping out in new garb.
Not taking up the pressing questions of strategy and tactics has resulted in a failure to grasp the basic relationship between the party and the masses, and the party and the dictatorship of the proletariat.
The task of the party is to fuse scientific socialism with the spontaneous working class movement in the course of leading the day to day struggle of the workers against the capitalist class. In so doing, the party acts as the guide, leader and teacher of the working class. But there is a dual relationship involved, each learns and benefits from the other. But in no sense does the party constitute some separate “communist movement”. Communists are part of the working class movement – there exists no separate communist movement which must be fused with the working class.
All social movements are based on a definite class. The working class movement – that part of the working class engaged in struggle against the capitalists – grows out of the working class as a whole. If there is a separate communist movement, then where does it grow from – either the proletariat, the petty-bourgeoisie, or the bourgeoisie. And if it is part of the proletariat then it cannot exist as a separate movement, separated from the working class movement.
Secondly, the relationship of the party to the masses must be seen in terms of the historic mission of the working class itself, the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat, and eventually, communist society. The relationship of the party to the dictatorship is as the main directing force. The party, itself, never exercises a dictatorship, nor does it substitute its program or action for that of the working class. It always works among the masses, for the masses, and together with the masses of workers.
Yet, look what has developed in recent years. Ever since the late sixties, several communist organizations have developed which today have very little influence or even presence among the masses -particularly the organizations of the so-called “revolutionary wing”. The main activity of these professed revolutionaries – to one degree or another, has been sterile debates and endless polemics with each other – not the fusing of socialism with the workers movement. With few exceptions, they are not concerned in any real way with the work among the masses, for the masses, or together with the masses. They do not lead working class struggles, and are nowhere to be found in steel, auto, coal, etc. where life and death struggles of the working class are daily being waged. They remain “100% pure Bolsheviks”, in a closet in New York or Los Angeles. When they do venture out, they are immediately rebuffed by the workers for their infantile antics. This tendency also existed within the MLOC – and has since been summed up and repudiated. Within the MLOC, as all organizations, there are always two lines on questions, Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tse Thought, and opportunism. No program of any organization or party is 100% correct.
In the program of the MLOC we have sought in the main to follow the course of Marxism-Leninism-Tsetung Thought. But at the same time, this “left” infection has weakened and held back advances that could have been made.
The manifestations of this “left” line in the MLOC and the workers movement that we repudiate at this time include:
–FUSION AS THE COMBINING OF THE COMUNIST MOVEMENT WITH THE WORKERS MOVEMENT: Rather than combining scientific socialism with the working class movement in the course of leading the day to day struggles the workers.
–WIN THE ADVANCED AND MARXISTS-LENINISTS UNITE. AS TWO TASKS CORRESPONDING TO TWO MOVEMENTS: Rather than recognizing that Marxist-Leninists do not exist separate from the working class movement, and can only be united in the context of winning advanced and other workers to the cause of communism – let alone the Trotskyist view that party building is in the main a question of uniting Marxist-Leninists.
–FUSION IS AT A LOW LEVEL: Rather than recognizing that the level of socialist influence in the working class movement is at a high level as indicated in the analysis of the state of the working class movement in COMMUNIST LINE #3. This erroneous line saw fusion as a question of the presence or existence of communists in the working class, rather than the fusing of scientific socialism with the workers movement, which has been taking place for 12 years through various forms and is today at a relatively high level.
–PROPAGANDA IS THE CHIEF FORM OF ACTIVITY: Rather than recognizing the relationship between propaganda and agitation, and how they serve the development of the working class movement. By their proper relationship in educating and mobilizing the masses of workers, agitation and propaganda both come into play. What is most needed today is the use of agitation and propaganda in leading and mobilizing the workers in the practical tasks of organizing the class struggle. What we need is better quality agitation and propaganda, more forms of it, with wider distribution and circulation with an emphasis on the practical tasks facing the class struggle.
The Party Program, for instance, should be the main basis of agitation and propaganda, and was considered by Lenin to be one of the main practical tools of the working class struggle, not primarily a “theoretical work”.
These have been some of the main manifestations of this “left” opportunist line in the MLOC, which have been reflected in a disdain for questions of strategy and tactics, the failure to push UNITE! forward more rapidly into a weapon
–THERE IS A NEW ANTI-REVISIONIST COMMUNIST MOVEMENT: As if the present activities of communists are separate from historical struggle of the workers, let alone to view that the struggle against revisionism is “new”.
–POLITICAL LINE AS ONE’S VIEWS ON ANY PARTICULAR QUESTION: This takes political line and severs it from the program of the party, relegates it to what one thinks rather than what one does. Political line is the sum total of tasks in the working class movement needed to move forward to the ultimate goal of communism. Within this sum total of tasks the grasp of the true nature of the relationship between the central task and the ultimate goal will be decisive in determining the correct priority, content, and character of all other tasks. That is why the incorrect “left” line on party building has led to an opportunist deviation on other questions facing the working class movement. A further vulgarization of this is the simple confusion of political line with program – without grasping that the political line flows out of the program. That is why in the absence of a program, political line cannot possibly be the key link.
These, as well as the failure to distinguish contradictions among the people from contradictions between the people and their enemies; the emphasis on polemics; the failure to take up agitation; the failure to follow a policy of industrial and political concentration; the lack of attention to questions of program – all reflect this “left”-opportunist trend which must be summed up, exposed, and repudiated in order to advance toward the formation of a genuine vanguard communist party.
This report from the Central Committee briefly summed up the major repudiation of the “left” line which existed in the MLOC and the working class movement as a whole. To make a clean break with opportunism – right and “left” opportunism – to grasp how “left” opportunism so easily becomes right, requires further summations and self-criticism to get to the ideological source and the political and organizational manifestations of this line. This will be taken up further in the future issues of UNITE! But what is most important, is the rectification of this “left” line – not only in the MLOC, BUT IN THE ENTIRE WORKING CLASS MOVEMENT.
Within the MLOC, rectification requires the mobilization of the cadre to mobilize the masses, to rout and expose, ideologically and politically, this “left” opportunist trend.
The program, tactics, and organization of this infantile “leftism”, of this Trotskyite trend, has been wholly condemned by the experience of history.
In the past, the MLOC has underestimated the harm and the damage that this reactionary line has wrought. The harm caused by the unprincipled nature of this trend is clearly visible in the working class movement, perhaps the starkest expression of which has been the wrecking of the African Liberation Support Committee by the RWL and now its once-upon-a-time bedfellow, the Workers Viewpoint Organization.
While it is true that this “left” bloc, the so-called “revolutionary wing” does not have a considerable following among the masses, what is important is not the strength of their following, but the essence of the viewpoint.
This “left” opportunist trend is a real enemy of the international proletariat, and of the historic development of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought. Real struggle must be waged against real enemies. That the MLOC has not shouldered this responsibility to the working class up to this point is a measure of the extent to which the MLOC has itself been infected by the foul teachings of this “left” bloc.
The cornerstone of our difference with this “left”-opportunist trend is a question of the relationship of the party to the masses, and the party to the dictatorship of the proletariat.
The cornerstone of the “left” opportunist trend is the stand of the petty-bourgeoisie in the working class movement, the stand of the individual. Their cry is “everything for our party”.
The cornerstone of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought is the proletariat. Our cry is “everything for the masses.”