First Published: The Call, Vol. 3, No. 4, January 1975.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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The last year has been one of great advances and inspirational victories won by the countries and peoples of the Third World for independence, liberation, and socialism. The events of 1974 have further exposed the U.S. and the USSR as imperialist superpowers, and the main enemies of the people of the whole world. The coming year of struggle is sure to bring even greater victories!
Here in the U.S., the capitalists find themselves in the midst of their worst economic crisis in forty years. With each passing week, this crisis reveals the weakness of capitalism, as all the basic contradictions in the system grow more intense. The sixth major crisis since the end of World War 2 hit the U.S. economy in 1974, with inflation reaching 12%, industrial production declining rapidly, and unemployment topping six million.
These conditions have caused the U.S. ruling class to act like a wounded beast–trying to survive the crisis by unleashing fascist attacks on the American people while at the same time threatening new wars of aggression in Europe and the Middle East.
The pace with which these developments have occurred has posed a challenge to the organized revolutionary forces including the October League to deepen political line and extend mass work in order to give genuine leadership to the working class struggle. In the next year, the communists in this country are faced with the duty to their class and the people of the world to forge a new communist party. This party must be capable of defending the working class against the rising fascist tide, and of leading the masses to a final victory in overthrowing the system of imperialist rule. It must break with the revisionism of the Communist Party (CPUSA), and boldly affirm the need to smash the existing state machinery, and establish the political power of the working class and its allies—the dictatorship of the proletariat.
As THE CALL goes to press, we recall the heroic victories of the last year which were marked primarily by the rapid development of the anti-imperialist struggle in the Third World: Yasser Arafat’s triumphant appearance at the UN; the overturning of 500 years of Portuguese colonialist rule in Guinea-Bissau and Mozambique; the consolidation of the liberated zones in Indochina; the heroic resistance of the OPEC countries to the domination of the superpowers – all of these events prove the vitality of the revolutionary trend which Mao Tsetung described in 1970 when he said, “Revolution is the main trend in the world today.” The struggle of the third world countries has become a motive force propelling world history forward. Only through fighting in solidarity with this force can the U.S. working class move decisively toward its own emancipation. The forward march of the socialist countries has given inspiration to revolutionaries in every country. The past year saw the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China, and the 30th anniversary of the People’s Republic of Albania.
In China, the campaign to criticize Confucius and Lin Piao mobilized the masses in defense of socialism, and opposition to reactionary ideas such as the “genius theory.”
In addition to the achievements of the socialist countries, the countries of the Third World have inspired the anti-imperialist struggle through militant solidarity with each other. The United Nations, formerly a propaganda house almost exclusively in the interests of U.S. imperialism, has in the last year become a forum for ideological struggle against the two superpowers and/or defense of the interests of Third World countries. This trend was demonstrated through major international meetings such as the Law of the Sea Conference, the Conference on Raw Materials, the World Population Conference, and the World Food Conference.
In the U.S., 1974 was a year of growing class consciousness and deeper ties between the organized revolutionary movement and the broad masses of people. The largest wave of strikes in forty years swept through the labor movement. It included strategic victories such as the Farah strike where thousands of Chicano workers won the right to organize after a 21-month struggle.
Many of the leading activists from rank-and-file auto movements, farm worker organizing, southern textile organizing, mine workers, and others came together at the October League-sponsored Southern Labor Conference in August. The theme of this conference was the national question and Afro-American self-determination. The numerous workers’ movements represented at the conference, and its high political level, indicated the growth of revolutionary work in the labor movement.
New advances were scored in 1974 linking the women’s liberation movement to the general working class struggle. In March, the largest International Women’s Day demonstration in recent times filled the streets of Chicago, while a few weeks later, in the same city, 3,600 women trade union activists came together to found the Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW). In many plants women workers sparked struggles against layoffs and other company attacks, and expanded the fight for equality in hiring for women in heavy industry. Minority women came to the forefront of the women’s movement around such questions as forced sterilizations of Black and Latina women. Among all the oppressed nationality people, 1974 was a year of victories, and development of working class and revolutionary leadership. The December Days of Resistance to Repression (see page 1), in which thousands of people participated indicated that Black, Puerto Rican, and Chicano people are organizing to resist killer cops in the community and other fascist attacks.
African Liberation Day demonstrations in May drew over 15,000 people, and were followed by a conference in Washington DC, in which thousands of Black revolutionaries debated the strategy for Black liberation. Works of major theoretical importance on the national question resulted from this conference, showing the growing role of Marxism-Leninism in the Black liberation movement.
The publication of the October League’s pamphlet, “For Working Class Unity and Black Liberation,” lent clarity to the discussion of the national question in the U.S. It served to popularize the understanding that the basis for oppression of Afro-Americans is the oppression of the Afro-American nation in the South, and that Black people suffer national oppression, not only racism. This pamphlet, a resolution of the 1973 Congress of the October League, raised the slogan of “Afro-American Self-Determination.” It called for building a Black united front, which along with the general workers movement and other minority struggles, constitutes the core of the revolutionary forces in this country.
The Puerto Rican movement for independence and democratic rights made one of its most important showings in the U.S. as 20,000 people rallied in New York on the October 27th National Day of Solidarity with Puerto Rico. Similar demonstrations across the country upheld the demands of independence for Puerto Rico, and an end to U.S. colonial domination 6f the island.
In the Southwestern part of the U.S., the Chicano movement surged forward, led by the inspiring struggles of the Farmworkers and the Farah, Sloane, and Pay Less strikers. The Sloane strike is now ending its second year, and the Sloane workers stand as a heroic example to all workers because of their undying will to fight. In addition to these strike battles, thousands of Chicanos and Mexicanos have participated in actions of mass resistance to fascist roundups and deportations.
The movement of other minorities, including Native American and Asian-Americans, also surged forward, deepening the alliance between the working class and minority struggles. While the victory of Russell Means and Dennis Banks in the Wounded Knee trial was won through mass support, hundreds of other Wounded Knee defendants are still facing charges for their participation in the Wounded Knee uprising. These trials are just another example of the 400-year history of the struggle of Indian peoples against subjugation and genocide.
Besides the victory in the Banks-Means trial, other political prisoners have also won victories through mass mobilizations, such as the two Chicano Leavenworth Brothers and Gary Lawton. But the struggle to free Ruchell Magee, Chavez-Ortiz, the Angola 4, the Charlotte 3, the San Quentin 6, the brothers confined in the fascist CARE Program at Marion, Illinois, and all other political prisoners must continue as an integral part of stemming the fascist tide.
While fierce ideological struggle has raged among the newly emerging revolutionary forces, spurred on by participation in all of these mass movements, new political unity has been reached in the process. This growing unity is the main trend in the communist movement, as advanced workers and revolutionaries are learning to distinguish genuine Marxism from revisionism. The last year has seen both the sharpest ideological struggle, as well as the greatest influx of new blood in the communist movement, to take place in many years. Thousands of working class and minority fighters have begun to study Marxism, and assume leadership roles in the movement. This development has challenged the revolutionary forces to transform and proletarianize themselves; to carry out in practice a total break with the revisionism of the CPUSA.
One of the most important developments of 1974 was the ripping away of the masks behind which the leaders of the so-called Communist League and the Revolutionary Union had hidden for some time. In the Spring, the Communist League went on a frantic offensive attempting to split the revolutionary movement away from Marxism-Leninism. Set ting up “Continuations Committees” supposedly to build a “new party “the leaders of CL were soon exposed as offering nothing new, only warmed-over Trotskyism, attacking the third world struggles and socialist China.
In May, CL blatantly revealed the total deviation from Marxism that it was trying to establish as the political line of this “new party.” In “Report on the International Situation,” CL attacked the united front against imperialism, condemned the People’s Republic of China, and covered over the. social-imperialism of the USSR. In addition to these slanders, the CL revealed its petty-bourgeois class stand through its view that U.S. imperialism is “stronger and more consolidated than ever” and its pessimistic, defeatist attitude toward making revolution. In the end, CL split with all the forces it had temporarily blocked with in the Continuations Committees, and declared that it was now the “Communist Labor Party.” They promptly retreated into hiding where the people couldn’t find them.
Summing up this experience, the October League and others saw that an organizational structure is not the only factor in party-building. The decisive factor is political line, and a rotten, ultra-“left” line which attacks the united front and Mao Tsetung can never be the basis for a new party.
Following a similar path as CL, the Revolutionary Union also attempted to block with other groups to build a party along anti-Marxist political lines. But when these groups rebelled along with many RU members including its leading minority cadre, RU turned on its former allies, calling them all “the enemy.” Their “crime” was that they had learned through practice that the RU was a pack of chauvinists in Marxist disguise, whose line was-an opportunist continuation of the CPUSA’s liquidation of the Afro-American and other national questions.
The basis for the split in RU’s ranks was its chauvinism and its attempts to dominate other communist groups with an opportunist line. Minority members led the rebellion. To cover its tracks, RU hastily began assembling new theories to prove that all its minority cadre were “nationalists” and that narrow nationalism, rather than white chauvinism, was the “main danger” in the movement.
As RU grew further isolated its leadership grew adamant and refused to make any self-criticism. Instead they began to launch frantic, social- fascist attacks on revolutionary groups. It became apparent that at the heart of this sectarian style was RU’s anti-Marxist political line, which like CL, was ultra-“left.” RU too, launched attacks on the international united front, which includes the Arab people’s struggle for economic and political independence. They further proclaimed that revolutionaries should not work in the trade unions, except to “jam” them. While all this sounded “super-revolutionary” it is in fact a strategy that strips the working class of its allies, and is therefore a revisionist strategy which will lead to defeat.
The clearest manifestation of RU’s “leftist” talk, but rightist action has centered on the Afro-American struggle for democratic rights in Boston. There, RU has objectively sided with the racist anti-busing movement and has lost any credibility it may have had previously.
The October League was founded on a break from the revisionism of the CPUSA, articulated in the “Unity Statement” from the OL’s 1972 Congress. It is the CPUSA which is still the main ideological danger in the working class movement. But the negative examples of RU and CL have shown us that revisionism can adopt an ultra-“left” mask among the anti-revisionist groupings trying to build a new party. This disease of petty-bourgeois “leftism” is the most immediate threat to the development of the communist movement.
In the course of furthering our break with the CPUSA and its ultra-“left” mirror images, the October League has seen that proletarian internationalism must be the touchstone in drawing up a new party’s program. In today’s world, this means resolute opposition to both imperialist superpowers, and firm solidarity with the struggles of the countries and peoples of the Third World for independence and revolution. We thoroughly reject the apologies for social-imperialism and the attacks on third world countries which have filled the newspapers of RU and CL.
Within the U.S., no party can be built without a scientific understanding of the national question. This question has “historically undermined revolutionary organizations which refused to take up the struggle against white chauvinism, including the CPUSA and now RU. The last year of study and practice has confirmed that the right of self-determination for Afro-Americans and all oppressed nations, must be upheld while demanding full democratic rights for all oppressed minorities.
A revolutionary party must lead the working class and work actively in the trade unions. The starting point of all work in the labor movement must be the emancipation of the working class, and not simply winning some reforms or building stronger unions. This is part of the break with the CPUSA which for 20 years has tailed after the labor bureaucrats, practicing class collaboration, and denying the workers revolutionary leadership.
On the question of fascism, we cannot accept the view of the CPUSA that the new fascist danger comes from “right-wing extremists” and fringe elements. The events of the past year have shown the signs of a rising fascist tide, which comes from the mainstream of monopoly capital. While rejecting CL’s overestimation that “fascism is inevitable,” we must also reject RU’s insistence on disarming the people by saying “there is no fascist threat.” The fascist tide, while not consolidated or victorious, yet must be opposed. It can be defeated by the working class and a broad united front movement with communist leadership.
In the battles for reforms, democratic rights, peace, and in opposition to fascism, the communist movement must enter into struggle boldly. These questions must be linked to the overall revolutionary struggle. We cannot have an air of detachment or an attitude of disdain towards the major battles for democratic rights which women, minorities, and workers are fighting. We cannot simply say, “Wait until we have socialism.” Our organization must be in the vanguard of the reform struggles, while at the same time showing their limitations and organizing the people for revolution.
The fight against women’s oppression must be a central part of a revolutionary program. We must fight for both equality under capitalism (a struggle with which RU and CL both don’t wish to be tainted) and the real equality which can only come about under socialism.
We must fight to defend and advance the role of women in production and all areas of social life and clearly expose the ideology of male chauvinism as an anti-working class outlook. Every obstacle to women’s participation in the revolutionary movement must be combatted.
These principles are all extensions of the break with revisionism which the new communist movement has been deepening. They go hand in hand with opposition to the essence of revisionism which is the liquidation of the need for violent revolution and the theory that the state need not be smashed to bring about socialism.
We believe that the next year will be a decisive one in the establishment of a new communist party.
In this period, every organization, and every individual will be judged by their willingness to take the stand of the proletariat in the class struggle, and their concrete contributions in bringing the party into being.
Despite any weaknesses our movement may have, it is our revolutionary duty to overcome them in the course of building a new communist party. Our brightest hope for the new year is that this work can be consolidated and that such a party can be formed in the coming period.