First Published: Unite!, Vol. 3, No. 9, October 1977.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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The necessity to unite the genuine Marxist-Leninist forces that exist in the US around a correct party program is an essential element in the five tasks required to successfully prepare the conditions for the formation of a vanguard communist party.
Whether or not this takes the form of an organizing committee depends upon the extent to which genuine forces can unite on the main thrust of a draft program, while working out differences in the course of taking this program to the workers for discussions and criticism.
In previous articles in UNITE! we have discussed other elements of our five point plan to build the party. At this time it is important to sum up the lessons learned in the struggle for Marxist-Leninist unity and the possibility of forming an organizing committee.
The unity of the international proletariat, and the proletariat within each country, is both an historical necessity for the victory of the revolution and a basic desire of the working class itself. Genuine unity cannot be built except under the leadership of a single vanguard communist party.
The unity of Marxist-Leninists is based upon class unity built in the struggle against the class enemy for the goal of communism. The only theoretical and political basis for such unity is Marxism-Leninism. This unity can only be built in the course of assisting and leading the class struggle on all fronts.
Those that seek “unity” separate from the struggle of the working class and its allies will always fall into opportunism and defeatism.
In the US since the destruction of the Communist Party USA in the mid 1940’s, we have seen numerous efforts at unity which were not based on Marxist-Leninist principle.
The Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP) mistook its own reactionary chauvinist stands for those of the working class and was deaf to the just and correct criticisms of national based groups. In forming their party, they had to break with the Marxist-Leninist position on the national question as laid out by Stalin. Recently, they have discarded Stalin’s teachings on the question of the main blow and the main danger. The unity that binds the RCP together has nothing in common with Marxism-Leninism.
The Communist Party (ML) was founded primarily out of the CALL groups and small circles around the October League, although the OL alleged that unity was the main trend. Since forming the CP(ML), they have banded together around the view that the Soviet Union is the main danger and have turned the main task of the US working class into fighting the Soviet Union instead of the US bourgeoisie.
Others such as the Workers Viewpoint Organization (WVO) and the “wing” remnants have also declared the party a settled question. But what they have settled into is the worst Trotskyite combination of adventurism and denial of democratic rights.
There are several organizations that in the past have done some good work in some cities for the working class or an oppressed nationality. However, they have not escaped the confines of narrow nationalism, such as I Wor Kuen (IWK) Revolutionary Communist League (RCL), or August 29th Movement (ATM). After years of existence they still have no consistent work among the multi-national working class, across the U.S.
And others, such as the Workers Congress (WC) have followed a dogmatic right opportunist line, like their “Iskra plan”, which has led to extremely narrow and isolated work.
With many of these organizations, the MLOC has sought at various times to build genuine unity of action in the struggle against opportunism and imperialism.
This experience leads us to the necessity of explaining why such disunity exists, and the difficulty in building genuine unity. Certainly the rise and development of revisionism is the condition which has nurtured this disunity and prevented greater unity from being built. But the basis for this picture has been the inability of these organizations to abandon the stand, method and outlook of the petty bourgeoisie in their organization, and place the working class outlook in command.
Each of these organizations to varying degrees, was built on the basis of the upsurge in the student and national movement in the late 1960’s or early 1970’s. In particular the leadership of these organizations, and many of the rank and file, come from the student or intellectual strata of the petty bourgeoisie. In and of itself, as long as the proportion of workers to intellectuals is reasonable, this is not lethal. But when these petty bourgeois elements bring with them their individualism, vacillation, lack of discipline and do not carry out a consistent struggle to overcome this outlook and insure the hegemony of the working class in their organization, then we see the kind of arrogance, sectarian and careerist courses charted by these organizations.
This struggle has been successfully waged within our organization over the last year in an intense manner. Cadre in leadership who have been unwilling or unable to change have been either replaced or purged. Both because of our policy of industrial concentration from the outset and our current recruitment policies regarding the proportion of workers to students or intellectuals, we have made important headway in insuring that the working class has complete hegemony in our organization.
In the course of our struggle to forge Marxist-Leninist unity, several lessons have been learned which can now be summed up.
1 In April, 1976, UNITE! advanced four basic principles which must guide the struggle for Marxist-Leninist unity:
a. seek to unite, not split.
b. the principle of equality
c. the principle of independence
d. to resolve contradictions on the basis of criticism and self-criticism.
Historically, these principles provided a correct basis upon which to build Marxist-Leninist unity. Where they were adhered to genuine unity has been built with small collectives.
But with the organizations mentioned above, each, in various ways, violated these principles after having agreed to follow them and have degenerated into the camp of opportunism or vacillation.
With few exceptions, it has been the MLOC which has initiated efforts at joint work and sought a protracted, patient approach to building unity. Without exception, this program was rejected or ignored – meetings cancelled, work discarded, accusations raised publicly, without struggle, and dishonest and careerist maneuvers took place.
2 In the course of these struggles, the importance of placing the struggle for unity on a conscious basis has been learned. The heart of this struggle has been the call for joint theoretical and practical work. Without such work no genuine unity can be built. This has proven completely correct.
Stark examples of opportunism in opposing this line included: the CP(ML)’s, formerly the OL, failure to promote common work on the Gary Tyler struggle; the failure of the RCP (in Georgia) or the ATM or WC to take up work on the Dawson 5 campaign. In August 1975, in Communist Line no. 9, we issued a call for joint work on the development of a draft party program. Overall, this call was a correct initiative on the part of the MLOC to promote common work as well as to point to the importance of the party program. At the same time, the failure to suggest any organizational form under which this was to be carried out was a right deviation to the call. A further right error was made because the MLOC did not proceed immediately on its own initiative to draft the program, but instead waited for others to come forward and join in on the work. This reflected a definite right conservatism in the MLOC and belittled the leading role that could have been played by the MLOC in coming forward directly with a correct draft program.
Recognizing this error, the MLOC is now in a position where it will issue a draft program in the next few months. Once the program has been issued Marxist-Leninist joint work must revolve around it.
3 The last vital lesson that we have learned in the course of the struggle for Marxist-Leninist unity is the importance of the party program. We have generally taken a leading role in pointing out its importance – in pointing to the fact that the wave of polemics in 1976 and 1977 were of little value because they were not geared to the party program. Also we pointed to the necessity for a party program to draw lines of demarcation, but we incorrectly failed to make every effort possible to issue a draft party program to the workers for discussion and criticism.
In conclusion, we can see that some very definite lines of demarcation have been drawn in the course of class struggle over the recent period. The RCP has not changed in any way on its revisionist course. The CP(ML) has firmly consolidated its revisionist and class collaborationist program on the international situation. And the WVO has completely consolidated around a Trotskyite line. With these organizations, what once constituted a contradiction among the people, has turned into an antagonistic contradiction.
No doubt there exist Marxist-Leninists within the ranks of these organizations today, but their task is to leave them and join with us.
Other organizations mentioned, have developed in a manner which carry out no industrial concentration, no work in the Black Belt Nation, no regular nationwide agitation and propaganda, little effort at forging any ties with the international proletariat. And for these reasons and others, it is now clear these organizations can not play a leading role in the formation of the party or in socialist revolution.
The MLOC has and will continue to pursue a consistent and principled course of struggling for Marxist-Leninist unity. We continue to call on these organizations to take up joint work with our organization in cities where we both carry out work. And we especially call on these organizations to join with us to build support for the Dawson 5.
The MLOC is continuing to carry out the necessary preparations for the formation of the genuine communist party. Most important in our ability to do this has been the correctness of the basic program of the MLOC on fundamental questions and our ability to take this program to the strategic centers of the working class movement. This, together with the important struggles which have been carried out against the narrow, social democratic and spontaneous methods of work characterized by others, has placed the MLOC in a position to play the leading role in the formation of the party.
The main outstanding task today, in preparing the conditions for forming the party is the publication of the draft party program.
With the publication of the draft program, an organizing committee should be formed only if there exist organizations with their own history and record of class struggle who can unite with the basic thrust of the program, but need to struggle over particular differences. The task of such a committee would then be to take this draft program widely among the workers.
The struggle for Marxist-Leninist unity is part and parcel of grasping the correct relationship between the party and the masses. Real unity can only be built in common struggle against imperialism, social-imperialism and opportunism. On this basis, real unity will be built, the party forged and strengthened, and the revolutionary war carried out until victory.