First Published: Unite!, Vol. 3, No. 1, February 1977.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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A mutual confidence must exist between the vanguard communist party and the working class. This confidence is. built in the course of the party becoming the guiding leader and teacher of the working class through protracted struggle. Without this mutual confidence, there can be no genuine vanguard party.
Today many claim to carry the flag of Leninism as they prepare to form a party. But the question that workers will and do ask, is, what kind of party? Will it be a party which has earned the confidence of the working class?
This is the question that the working class movement raises squarely to the October League.
February marks one year since the MLOC sought to present its differences with the October League. This polemic summed up common practice, and pointed to numerous serious deviations from Marxism-Leninism by the OL on party building, trade unions, the Black National Question, and other questions facing the working class movement. We pointed to the nature of our differences, and the significance of these differences. We concluded that the line of the OL represented a definite right opportunist trend in the motion of consolidation.
Lastly, we invited the OL to “correct what is incorrect, and to deepen what is correct. We invite the OL to reply to this criticism in a Marxist-Leninist manner, in the spirit of criticism.” Many friends and even cadres of the OL remarked that they thought the criticism was presented in an honest and principled manner, even if they had disagreements with it.
This request was repeated to the OL personally and in numerous public meetings.
What has been the response since February, 1976?
The OL concluded that their original plan for party building which neglected the need for a party program and a party congress, required “partial modification”.
And the line of the OL on trade unions and the international situation has changed substantially, with no genuine self-criticism.
In the August issue of COMMUNIST LINE #9, TOWARD A PARTY PROGRAM, the MLOC repeated its request for a response to the criticism of February and raised further criticism of the OL’s Organizing Committee.
On August 16, 1977, THE CALL, organ of the October League, issued a series of slanders and accusations against the MLOC without any evidence or proof of such claims. This polemic, if it can be so called, contained virtually no discussion of substantial differences in line, but instead raised such statements as:
–That the MLOC’s line is that “no party congress or party organization can be spoken-of until we go through a joint stage of program writing” (p. 6). This was never stated by the MLOC and we ask the OL to point out this position;
–That the MLOC received a “special invitation to join in the efforts” to form an Organizing Committee. This never occurred, and the MLOC, as other organizations, were not informed of these “efforts”;
–That the MLOC “tried to smash the upcoming celebrations of China national day”(p. 7). This accusation never brought to light a single fact of the matter, nor spoke to the important political differences between the activities planned by the OL in October and those conducted by the MLOC;
–Stated that “the MLOC leaders have a long history of unprincipled splits behind them”. Such accusations require at least some shred of fact in substantiation.
Continuing on such a path, the OL then proceeds to directly attack Lenin by stating that, “the fight for the emancipation of the class demands communist leadership, not “assistance”.
On the question of assistance, we remind the OL of Lenin’s famous passage cited in a fine collection recently published by the October League, V.I. LENIN ON BUILDING THE BOLSHEVIK PARTY, p. 8; taken from “Draft and Explanation of a Program for the Social Democratic Party”, Collected Works:
The Russian Social Democratic Party declares that its aim is to assist this struggle of the Russian working class by developing the class consciousness of the workers, by promoting their organization, and by indicating the aims and objectives of the struggle.
In this case, it is clear that if the OL had any motive in mind other than the purposeful distortion and misrepresentation of the line of the MLOC they would have quoted the remainder of the paragraph in which we ourselves refer to such assistance, and in which we clearly state that the party “assists” the working class by (a) developing its class consciousness; (b) developing the party organization itself; and (c) by indicating the real aims of the movement (UNITE!, Vol. 2, #3, p. 10).
It is ironic that this particular “criticism” should come from the OL since the main criticism presented by the MLOC was precisely that they themselves have consistently failed to bring socialism to the working class movement and to actually provide the leadership which they so loudly defend in words.
Still further on this unprincipled road, the OL in the October 25, November 22, December 20 and 27 issues of THE CALL, characterize the MLOC as “modern day Mensheviks”, “opportunists”, and other such slurs. Not once, in this flurry of assault, does the OL bother to explain carefully and patiently to the working class movement and the MLOC, the basis of this conclusion.
From all of this we must conclude that the OL does not think it necessary to explain to the workers the basis either for its sudden changes in line or for its statements against the MLOC. We must also conclude that they are not interested in seeking to resolve differences.
For the part of the MLOC, we reognize that in the struggle with the OL, we have made mistakes. But the unprincipled activity of the OL is far from Marxist-Leninist criticism.
We recognize that in the protracted course of the class struggle, many things will change. Including, perhaps, the line of the MLOC and the OL. Changes in line will occur. This is not the point.
But what is more to the matter, when we speak of who will carry the red flag of Leninism in the working class movement, is the vile unprincipled nature of the activity of the October League, and their complete resort to insinuation, slurs, and slander rather than an objective presentation of facts.
We have little doubt why the OL refuses to deal with the facts. For as Engels pointed out, the facts are stubborn things.
What Marxist-Leninists and militant workers have seen from the OL in the course of the last twelve months is a serious disregard for the development of a genuine vanguard party. There can be no mutual trust when the OL resorts to such unprincipled, infantile forms of struggle. More and more, with the recent forums of the October League the sham formation of collectives to join the Organizing Committee – which simply recruit into the OL, the OL criticism of the book by Marty Nicholaus, THE RESTORATION OF CAPITALISM IN THE USSR, as if it were not the OL itself which published and promoted this incorrect analysis of the restoration of capitalism – these and other such activities can never carry the flag of a vanguard communist party, and most certainly will never win the trust and confidence of the masses.
That is why we once again call upon the honest cadres of the OL to cast aside such infantile forms, state your differences with other Marxist-Leninists in an objective, clear, and mature form, and lets get down to working out the differences in the interests of the working class movement. This is the essence of the “unity trend” which the OL is so fond of raising – yet which the OL has failed to live up to.
This is what the working class movement demands.
This is what the October League has failed to offer.