Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Martin Nicolaus

Marxism or Klonskyism?

How the October League’s top circle, led by M. Klonsky, uses method of suppression and demagogy to consolidate Browderite line on way to its “founding congress.” A lesson by negative example in party-building.

1. The Methods of Klonskyism

Almost everyone knows Chairman Mao’s three basic principles:

Practice Marxism, not revisionism; unite and don’t split; be open and aboveboard, don’t intrigue and conspire.

Knowing them and being able to repeat them, on the one hand, and actually putting them into practice, however, are very different matters for the Klonsky circle. While the Klonsky circle has these and other fine words on its lips, experience shows that what it has in its heart is a different set of principles altogether. “Practice Klonskyism, not Marxism” is the first and most fundamental of its principles. From this follow its principles of method, which run like this: “why unite? It’s easier to launch ruthless attacks, make sweeping accusations, form blocs and force a split! Why risk being open and aboveboard? It’s quicker to suppress, lie, bluff, fake and bully your way through!” Revisionism in ideological and political line inevitably resorts to revisionism in methods of struggle, and thereby begins to expose its essence. Let us study the methods of Klonskyism.

At the very moment, roughly a year ago, when the decision was made to make the formation of the party the chief immediate task of the period ahead, the Klonsky circle decided to clamp the lid on the ideological life of the organization.

Without revealing anything that could hazard the security of the organization, I can say only that a drastic modification was undertaken in the vehicle by which OL members participated in the ideological life of the organization on a countrywide basis.

The modification, made on the proposal of the Klonsky circle, was said to be for “practical” reasons. Perhaps so. Whatever the motives, however, the objective result was that this former omnibus of criticism, self-criticism and ideological struggle was converted into something more like a four-seater, a de facto private vehicle for carrying the views of the Klonsky circle. Other views had to “walk” or “stay home.”

I opposed this proposal at the time, but did not take a firm enough stand. I allowed myself to be won over by the “practical” arguments and by the promises that the same functions would be taken over and continued in public organs. For this I criticize myself. I failed to see clearly at the time that this modification was, underneath its innocent appearance and perhaps innocent intent, a serious error of principle. The beginning of the immediate pre-party period required a broad expansion of ideological struggle, an invigoration of ideological life at all levels, if the right-opportunist deviation, the anti-party ideas, within its ranks, were to be pinpointed and corrected.

Where is the direct source of the right-opportunist deviation within the October League? As in any organization, bourgeois influences are continually active and can rear their heads at any point. I think that a calm, systematic survey of history will show, however, that the chief source, within the OL, of this deviation, has been the very top, the Klonsky circle.

Who promoted the erroneous line of helping to “unparalyze” the liberals in Congress against the “fascist tide” or “fascist threat” during the Nixon impeachment days? Who promoted the policy of singing the praises of liberal labor bureaucrats such as Miller and Sadlowski “against the fascist labor front”? Who was the source of the federationist “temporary leading body” scheme for building a party without a program or a congress? These gross right-opportunist errors, together with others what are not so widely known, originated with no other source than the top ;leading circle headed by M. Klonsky, and in particular their source is M. Klonsky himself. It was none other than the members of this same circle who fought for these right-opportunist ideas, who figured out whole systems of rationalization for them, and who spread them throughout the organization and the movement.

In short, as the organization entered the immediate pre-party period, the leading proponents of the right-opportunist deviation took over as their private property the only weapon with which that right-opportunist deviation could be exposed and criticized.

No wonder, then, that the public acknowledgement of “errors” was so brief and shallow, and that internal examination of these errors was even briefer and shallower!

No wonder that the label “rightism” has been flung here, there, and everywhere without rhyme or reason, but the bullseye of the target has escaped every blow!

No wonder that the “new” lines on party-building, on the liberals and on the trade unions, proposed by the same top circle in supposed “criticism” of the old right-opportunist lines, are just as right-opportunist in essence as before!

The result of the top leadership’s initiative to dampen ideological struggle was, in the end, that the October League entered the immediate pre-party period with the right-opportunist deviation within it covered up, slightly transmuted, and greatly strengthened and consolidated.

In sum, Klonskyism in methods means first of all stifling ideological struggle, usurping the party forum and turning it into a circle forum, blocking and diverting criticism, and perpetuating old opportunist lines in a new guise. But that is not all.


Not long after this initiative, the top circle proposed a modification in the previous role of the theoretical journal, Class Struggle. The argument this time was to broaden and to expand its scope so as to include views that were (it was claimed) not in line with the views of the October League, but formed part of the “Unity Trend.” This was not unreasonable in the abstract.

The particular case for which the new role was designed, however, was another matter. The item in point was the article “On Building the Party Among the Masses,” by the League for Marxist-Leninist Unity. (Class Struggle No. 4-5)

This article advocates an eclectic, opportunist, retrograde and essentially anti-party line on “party-building.” As far as our movement is concerned, the line of this article is the line of Workers’ Viewpoint, but disguised and “sugar”-coated.

I fought against the publication of this article. The top leadership of the organization fought for its publication. I yielded on condition that a criticism of the LMLU article be published. I wrote up such a criticism some weeks later, sharply exposing the right-opportunist essence beneath the “left” phraseology of the LMLU-WVO “party-building” line. The top leadership indefinitely postponed – killed through pigeonholing – my request that the criticism of LMLU be published in Class Struggle, anonymously or under a pseudonym if this was thought preferable.

It was clear that the scope of the theoretical journal was being “broadened and expanded” in one direction only: more “freedom of expression” for theoretical opportunism, but not for the critique of this opportunism.

This is a second basic feature of Klonskyism in its methods.

The reason why the LMLU’s camouflaged version of the WVO line on party-building enjoyed such powerful patronage soon became apparent. Not long after publication of the LMLU article, the OL’s top leadership appropriated the LMLU line, lock stock and barrel, and proposed it as its own line for adoption by the body empowered to make such decisions. Going against the opportunist tide created by the top leadership on behalf of this proposal, I wrote more papers, argued and fought, and went down to defeat. With the exception of my sole “no” vote, the entire leading body surrendered en masse to the theoretical misleadership on questions of party-building of the neo-“Wing.” Under the banner of “fighting rightism,” the Klonsky circle threw itself into the arms of the same right-opportunism disguised under “left” phrasemongering. To put it succinctly, under the banner of fighting Comrade Avakian’s line, Comrade Klonsky led the organization in a capitulation to Comrade Tung’s line.

Clearly, the root of the thinking which had led to the Klonsky circle’s “temporary leading body” scheme for party-building had not been pulled up. The OL’s top circle had not profited from this fall into the pit to sharpen its wit, to go deeply into the theory of building a Leninist party, and to elaborate definite, clear and comprehensive ideas of its own. Instead, under pressure to come up with “something,” to “define its stand,” the Klonsky circle clutched at a piece of fashionable “theoretical” gibberish and gobbled it up. Any rubbish for the sake of blessed “unity”! – with opportunism.


The definite viewpoint I had arrived at and consistently defended by this juncture was that Stalin’s famous sentence fragment from his rough notes on the Party, namely “propaganda as chief form of activity,” refers to propaganda work in the general sense – to the propagation of ideas, the preparation of public opinion – rather than to propaganda in the particular, narrower sense of “presenting many ideas to one or a few persons.” Further study of Stalin’s and Lenin’s works, and of the different commentaries on the question, led me to the conclusion that the Leninist answer to the question: ’what must be the Party’s chief form of activity in the first main period of party-building?’ is neither propaganda in the latter sense, nor economic agitation, but rather political agitation; and further, that in our own historic situation in the U.S. the cornerstone of the Party’s activity in the first main period must be political agitation for the dictatorship of the proletariat. In the second issue of this publication I intend to lay before the reader a full explanation of the grounds for this view, its practical implications, and the reasons for rejecting the alternatives. I mention here only this slogan-like main point “political agitation for the dictatorship of the proletariat” in order to provide the necessary background for understanding the next move in the struggle.


After the session of the leading body I have referred to, the blossoms of political hypocrisy inherent in the Klonsky circle’s earlier moves opened up to their full poisonous splendor.

On the lips of the Klonsky circle were fine phrases about the rights of the minority, about the principle of resolving the political differences through continued ideological struggle with each side having the right to present its views through the proper channels, about continuing the study of the question, etc. etc.

The reality behind this display was otherwise.

The first step the Klonsky circle took was to carry to the ranks, in the forum the circle had usurped for itself, a so-called summary of my point of view that was both punitive in its form and false in its substance.

In its form and manner, this “summary” – as one member of the top circle personally admitted – dealt out a qualitatively sharper attack on me, who had done nothing improper, than is dealt out as a rule in cases where comrades commit serious infractions that endanger the organization as a whole. To disagree frankly and in the proper place with an idea of Klonskyism, to admit error on minor points but to hold your ground on the main points in face of the Klonsky circle’s arguments, to vote “no” when the Klonsky circle wants you to vote “yes” – this is an unforgivable “insult” to the self-esteem of Klonskyism. It is the worst crime in the book of the Klonsky circle, and its injured circle vanity is bound to seek revenge. As I found out shortly.

Worse than the punitive form of the sum-up was its political content. This summary asserted – and The Call No. 30 has now made it “official” – that there is no substantial difference between the line of economic agitation for trade union demands (a la RCP), and the line of political agitation for the dictatorship of the proletariat. The sum-up did not even refer to a distinction, much less a difference, but characterized my line as just “agitation” in general, and “therefore” accused me of “rightism.”

Holy smokes! Lenin spent more than five years and wrote four or five volumes fighting against the line of economic agitation and for the line of political agitation, and our chief arbiters of ideological struggle declare that the poor man was wasting his time, it’s all the same! Amazing. On one side the RCP’s “Worker” papers, chiefly economic agitation; on the other side Lenin’s Iskra, chiefly political agitation – and the Klonsky circle says both are “just agitation,” and “rightist”! Avakian’s line and Lenin’s line equally opportunist . . .

The deliberate intent of this sham “sum-up” (and, as I discovered some time thereafter, its effect) was to “whip up a storm” of prejudice among cadre throughout the organization, and to put the paper cone hat of “chief rightist” on my head.

Klonskyism is ready to sacrifice any principle in the interest of its narrow circle motives. The interests of the October League demand that ideological struggle be conducted in an open and above-board way in order that the correct line will emerge stronger from the struggle against the incorrect. The interests of the Klonsky circle demand, however, that the line that disagrees with it be suppressed and a sham substitute be hung out as a target, so that ideological struggle is diverted into tilting at windmills and knocking down straw men, for the benefit of the incorrect line of the Klonsky circle. The interests of the October League demand drawing a sharp line of demarcation between economic agitation and political agitation as forms of activity; but the interests of the Klonsky circle demand blurring over the differences. The interests of the October League demand distinguishing clearly between “Avakianism” and Leninism; the interests of the Klonsky circle demand muddying over the differences, and condemning Leninism implicitly as “rightism.”

In each case, the interests of the Klonsky circle prevailed over the interests of the October League and of Leninism. Klonskyism throws the interests of the October League and the principles of Leninism out the window, and is prepared to commit any kind of chicanery in pursuit of its narrow circle interests. This is another basic feature of Klonsky methods.


In reply, I drafted up a study guide intended for the members of the leading body, covering some key works by Lenin on propaganda, economic agitation and political agitation. It was my hope that deeper study of these questions – the amount of study had been very limited – would lead this body to rethink and to reconsider its earlier decision to adopt the “party-building” line of LMLU-WVO.

Can you believe this, dear reader: the little circle at the top refused point-blank to distribute the study guide – a study guide! – to the other members of the leading body!? They did not even display the frankness, in stating their grounds, of admitting that the study guide led to a political conclusion with which they disagreed, but claimed simply that the study guide was “no good” and that they would produce a “better” one when they were ready. (Wouldn’t it have been wiser to conduct study before making decisions and launching a campaign to whip up a storm, comrades?)

Dear former comrades of the leading body: this study guide is printed on the back page of this issue of M-L FORWARD. It has its strong points and its weak points. Judge them for yourselves. Judge also whether those who do not think you competent to make this judgment, and who set themselves up as a wall between us, are leaders of the Party type.

Extreme arrogance is another basic feature of Klonsky methods. This little handful arrogates to itself the right to stand in judgment over the leading body of the organization and to block perfectly open, aboveboard and straightforward written communication between its members. It gives itself the right to act as a censorship over the leading body and to split and cut off its members one from the other.

Klonskyism is splittism; it is the opposite of democratic centralism; it strives toward the dictatorship of a bourgeois clique rather than toward the dictatorship of the proletariat.


Immediately after the top circle launched its punitive, demagogic “sum-up”, and in the same breath as the suppression of the study guide, the Klonsky circle launched a campaign of suppression and demagogy on The Call staff. For several weeks the circle had blocked publication in The Call of practically every article I wrote on current news developments. These articles consisted of topical exposures of U.S. imperialism, of the liberal ruling-class politicians, of the liberal trade union bureaucrats Sadlowski and Miller, and of the Guardian’s “centrist” talk about “party”-building.

In place of the usual process of criticizing and rectifying errors in the drafts of these articles, the Klonsky circle launched an extraordinary “campaign” of “struggle” over “political line.”

I put all these terms in quotation marks, because what the Klonsky circle initiated consisted of five per cent or less genuine and correct criticism and struggle over political line and 95 per cent or more demagogy, name-calling, invective, vilification and all sorts of other splittist, small-circle rubbish. It was not a Marxist-Leninist campaign but a retrograde, opportunist tide that they whipped up.

To stir up this storm, the circle leaders encouraged every kind of backward idea with words of praise, united with diametrically opposed lines to form an unprincipled bloc, offered promotions to those who engaged in the most unbridled, shameless opportunist attacks, cajoled and pressured those who vacillated, and used every other technique in the arsenal of opportunism.

It began with Chairman Klonsky, after a few hypocritical phrases about “unity-struggle-unity” and so forth, likening my humble self to Liu Shao-chi, Lin Piao, Teng Hsiao-Ping and Trotsky for good measure, by which M. Klonsky meant to imply that he was Mao Tsetung, Stalin and Lenin all rolled into one. From that point the progress was all downhill; by the fourth week, the earlier name-calling having lost its effect, Chairman Klonsky resorted to labels like “tyrant,” “mad professor,” “rightist trash” and similar profound things. Throughout this enlightening and instructive experience, which laid bare the full degeneracy of Klonskyism, ringleader Klonsky followed the method of multiplying the differences, of turning small things into big things, of opening up one area after another and of heaping “criticisms” and “charges” one on top of the other, faster than ten saints could have replied to them all.

The use of such methods indicates that the user no longer acknowledges the person at whom they are directed as a comrade, but wishes to achieve or to consolidate a break in organizational relations. This is their inevitable result. Used on behalf of Marxism-Leninism against die-hard, incorrigible counter revolutionaries (e.g. the “gang” in China), they serve a useful and necessary purpose. Used on behalf of Klonskyism, they are reactionary demagogy, splittist small-circle rubbish.

This “campaign,” claimed Chairman Klonsky, was a direct continuation of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in China. In reality, it was a resurrection of the sham tactics of factionalism and splittism with which the fake Marxists within the Cultural Revolution sought to undermine and sabotage the Cultural Revolution. And for my trying to point this out to the comrades, the Klonsky circle accuses me of “slandering the Cultural Revolution”! It is they themselves who slander the Cultural Revolution by wrapping their demagogic, retrograde windy nonsense in the great Cultural Revolution’s bright red banner.

Two major episodes in this campaign, both reflected in the documentary record for anyone who has access to it to verify, particularly stand out as characteristic.


In one meeting, the Klonsky circle advanced the assertion that the Khrushchov revisionist clique’s usurpation of state power in the USSR in 1956-57 amounted, ipso facto, to the full restoration of capitalism in the USSR. In other words, that the bourgeoisie’s seizure of the superstructure, in and of itself, in the same stroke and instant, fully and completely created a capitalist infrastructure or economic base.

After citing historical and philosophical reasons why the transformation of a country’s economic base, even from socialism to capitalism, is not such an instant and automatic matter, I pointed out also that the Chinese comrades, to my knowledge, generally took the view that the restoration of capitalism in the economic base, begun by Khrushchov, was completed and universalized (i.e. that capitalism was fully restored) by Brezhnev-Kosygin. As evidence I pointed to the pamphlet “Khrushchov’ s Phoney Communism and its Historical Lessons for the World,” published by the Chinese comrades in the summer of 1964, shortly before Khrushchov’s ouster by Brezhnev-Kosygin. The pamphlet says that the Khrushchov revisionist clique has turned the proletarian state power into a fascist-type dictatorship and is using its control of the superstructure to restore capitalism. The USSR now faces an unprecedentedly grave danger of the restoration of capitalism becoming an accomplished fact, says the pamphlet – and the ink hardly had time to dry before this warning proved to be well grounded.

In rebuttal, the chief of the Klonsky circle, OL chairman M. Klonsky, launched into a half-hour diatribe against the pamphlet “Khrushchov’s Phoney Communism.” Puffing himself up, on the basis of his visits to China, as an alleged “expert” with “inside knowledge” of the Chinese comrades’ affairs, he asserted that this pamphlet, written before the Cultural Revolution, had in fact been inspired and perhaps even personally authored by Liu Shao-chi; that this pamphlet had been exposed as revisionist in the course of the Cultural Revolution; and that this pamphlet had been withdrawn from circulation by the Chinese comrades for this reason and could no longer be obtained from Chinese publications distributors. In concluding this speech, laced with sarcasms and with polemical hammer blows, Klonsky accused me of peddling Liu Shao-chi’s line, covering up for Khrushchov, promoting revisionism, etc. etc.

So powerful was this speech, so laden with alleged expertise, that I myself was taken in by it, and for three days I tried to reconstruct mentally the history of the USSR according to the foundations indicated by Klonsky. Then, driven by gnawing doubts, I went to China Books & Periodicals in Chicago to verify Klonsky’s claims. I found, contrary to my chairman’s fist-pounding assertions, a sizeable stack of the pamphlet “Khrushchov’s Phoney Communism” in plain view on the shelf, and that the item continues to be distributed by Guozi Shudian (China’s central book distributors). As far as anyone at the store could recall, the item has sold fairly briskly year after year through all the phases of the Cultural Revolution and the continuation campaigns.

Chairman Klonsky’s nuclear blitz against the pamphlet “Khrushchov’s Phoney Communism” was a crystal-clear, concrete and living example of ”waving the red flag to beat down Chairman Mao’s forces,” of shouting and yelling “Down with Liu Shao-chi” and “Down with Khrushchov” in order to attack Marxism-Leninism.

Some days after being confronted with the facts concerning the “Khrushchov” pamphlet and the Cultural Revolution, Klonsky admitted offhandedly that his assertions had been a “mistake.” But neither this passing acknowledgement, nor my attempts to seek out a basis of principled unity with him in order to prevent the differences from widening into a break, diverted him from the path of demagogy along-which he had been proceeding. My efforts to seek principled unity, to cool frayed tempers, and to work out compromises on secondary, non-principled questions, only made matters worse, because Klonsky misread them as signs of willingness eventually to submit on the major points as well, and thus took encouragement to resume fanning the reactionary storm with even more demagogic forms of struggle.

In reality, the OL chairman’s red-flag-waving polemics against Marxism-Leninism, this frantic brandishing of the red flag as a club to beat down Chairman Mao’s line, was no accidental “mistake.” It reveals the essence of the entire political position promoted and supported by the Klonsky circle in the process of consolidating its grip on the October League.


A second episode in the struggle showed to what reactionary lengths this circle was willing to go. It took place in a side ring of the main arena of struggle, on a committee convened to finalize a list of selections for an anthology of Lenin’s writings on party-building, intended for publication as a book. I was present, having drafted the original list of suggested selections. The work went smoothly until suddenly the same Klonsky launched a vehement attack on one of the articles on the original list, demanded that it be struck out of the anthology, and with the support (as usual) of his circle, succeeded in having it cut out.

The target of this attack – can you guess it? – is Lenin’s “Political Agitation and the ’Class Point of View,’” in Collected Works Vol. 5, pp. 337-343. In this article, Lenin refutes the accusation that Iskra’s principles of political agitation allegedly violate the proletarian “class point of view” and that they “blur over class antagonisms.”

Not by coincidence, the so-called main criticism which the Klonsky circle was throwing at my banner of political agitation in its “storm” on The Call staff was precisely that of “abandoning the proletarian class stand” and “blurring over fundamental class antagonisms.”

The Klonsky circle’s “main criticism” was an almost verbatim repetition – practically a plagiarism – of the charges brought against Iskra by Martynov, the Economist, and by Nadezhdin, the Economist-terrorist. The Klonsky circle suppressed this valuable article of Lenin’s in order to cover up their political plagiarism of old opportunist rubbish.

Even Lenin cannot get his writings past the Klonsky circle’s censorship! Klonskyist suppression takes up where the old tsars left off – and Klonskyist reactionary suppression, because it wraps itself in the cloak of Marxism-Leninism, is all the more effective and dangerous.


On Oct. 11, the Klonsky circle’s “charges” and “criticisms” were put in the form of a paper, which defined also the circle’s own stand and line on a number of basic questions. It demanded I “accept the criticisms” and “unite with the line” of that paper. The line of that paper, which I will refer to hereafter as the “credo of the Klonsky circle,” is a revisionist line, specifically Browderite in type; it is a line of capitulationism and ultimately liquidationism. Marxist-Leninists have a duty to accept correct criticisms, to expose and repudiate their errors and unite with the correct line. But Marxist-Leninists likewise have the duty to refuse to accept opportunist ”criticisms,” to expose and to repudiate such “criticisms,” and to oppose and to break with the incorrect, opportunist and revisionist line. By its methods of demagogy and all-around suppression to protect its opportunist line, the Klonsky circle left me two choices: submit to revisionism or leave the October League. I left.

The October League as a whole and in general cannot be held directly responsible for the events I have described and for the revisionist political line analyzed below. Most of the comrades know next to nothing about this, or little that is true, in any case, and their means for fighting the opportunism of the Klonsky circle through normal channels are severely limited by the fact that the Klonsky circle controls these channels. Three or four individuals must be held responsible, who form a little circle that practices covering up for each other’s mistakes, applying a double standard to themselves and to other comrades, and the methods of hypocrisy, double-dealing and suppression of Marxism that I have described. They form a little handful that has concentrated and consolidated the power of the organization in its hands, and has set itself up above Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought, above criticism, above the October League arid above its leading body. The chief of this circle personally bears the chief responsibility for its reactionary thinking and doing.


It is more than a little ironical that the Klonsky circle is now singing the praises of Chairman Hua Kuo-feng and denouncing the “gang of four” in China. There is the heavy smell of hypocrisy about this. Chairman Klonsky, in particular, several times blocked my suggestion that The Call publicize and draw favorable attention to Hua’s important speech at last year’s National Conference On Learning from Tachai, which has been published as a pamphlet; Chairman Klonsky said he was “not impressed” with it. As for the “gang of four,” my experience with the Klonsky circle has been that this circle has been steadily degenerating into just such a gang, without principles or scruples, concerned only with their own positions of power and their own self-aggrandizement. The pretty phrases of this circle deceived me for quite some time, just as Yao Wen-yuan (the chief propagandist of the “gang of four” in China) took me in with his article about bourgeois right, which I quoted two years ago in my series of articles on the restoration of capitalism in the USSR.[1] It took some time of living and working in direct contact with the Klonsky circle day after day, and engaging in struggle with it, to see fully what lies behind the facade.

Not only its basic political line and its political methods – its methods of promoting opportunism and suppressing Marxism-Leninism, its methods of heaping abuse, flinging labels and wild accusations, its methods of waving the red flag as a club against Marxism-Leninism, its methods of threatening and strong-arming when it has no arguments – but also its work style and lifestyle approach those of a degenerate “gang.” Under the guise of “liaison work,” or even for no reason at all, it makes a habit of wasting the organization’s money by stuffing itself at expensive bourgeois restaurants. It promotes and organizes poker games not only in evening hours that would be better spent studying, but also on important working occasions. It pressures cadre who live on subsistence budgets into taking part in this gambling and pockets their food and rent money. It delights in pasting up a certain kind of obscene pictures and making a certain kind of sexual jokes in its working quarters. Its habits have been the subject of quiet complaints and criticism by many comrades for a long time. It is overdue to expose this degeneracy and sweep it out.


In The Call No. 30 (Nov. 29) the Klonsky crew has finally carried its windy nonsense – or parts of it – into public print. Good! The more the Klonsky circle presents to the public its wild accusations and fabrications, its hypocritical flinging of the label “revisionist” and its shouts of “Death to Revisionism,” the more it will contribute to its own exposure and its downfall.

The only thing that is wholly accurate in this frenzied howling and shouting by the Klonsky crew, which bears the inimitable personal stamp of M. Klonsky, is the spelling of my name. Even the “expulsion” is a mere grandstand play. They “expelled” someone who had already ceased to belong to them, having resigned in protest against the line and methods of the Klonsky circle which controls the October League. This they prefer to cover up.

The Klonskyite insinuation that I took away some property of the organization – Klonsky alleges I “stole some money” without saying allegedly whose money – is a libel and a slander. I took not a dime, not a ballpoint pen nor a roll of scotch tape of the organization’s property. On the contrary, my allegedly revisionist book and other activities have brought quite tidy sums into the coffers of the organization, which the Klonsky circle has been content to appropriate without a murmur of complaint. The only “money” to which the Klonskyite insinuations could be referring is the community property of my marriage; so low has Klonskyism sunk that it is reduced to emulating bourgeois scandal sheets like the National Enquirer and Midnight Special by printing onesided tittle-tattle from divorce cases, knowing that they are printing less than the whole truth. I warn the owners and publishers of The Call (who are, of course, the same Klonsky circle in its capacity as sole stockholders and directors) that when they descend into the gutters of bourgeois journalism, they must be prepared to be sued under the bourgeois laws regarding use of the press for defamation of character with malicious intent. Can you find no other means to boost your stagnant circulation?


Some will say that the Klonsky circle has always been a hypocritical, degenerate “gang,” and that nothing has changed in this regard. I do not share this view. There was always a “seamy” side; there were always persistent weaknesses – but let those who have no weaknesses cast the first stone. In the case, of the Klonsky circle, there has been a qualitative degeneration into revisionism, a transformation of secondary aspects of weakness into principal, dominant characteristics.

In the whole party-building movement in the U.S. there was once no organization which had as much potential for leading the way to the construction of the single, unified Marxist-Leninist Communist Party of the U.S. as did the October League. Recall, for example, its leadership of the fight against the RU’s liquidation of the Afro-American national question, recall its exposure of the CLP at a time when most of the so-called “theory trend” was infatuated with that sham; recall its principled struggle against the Guardian’s “centrism,” its accurate prediction of the breakup of the “Wing”; recall the Nov. 1975 Call Conference, the Fight-Back Conference in December, the achievement of a weekly newspaper; recall the strikes and other struggles to which the October League gave leadership . . . recall all these and other strong points and you will see why, for a certain period of time, the October League, despite all its weak points, was the number one hope for the future and the number one preoccupation for almost every other group in our movement.

That peak of the October League’s influence, that peak of deserved near-hegemony acknowledged by friend and foe alike, occurred barely a year ago. Undoubtedly, if the road to the Party were a level road or a downhill slope from that peak, the October League would still be leading the whole movement toward the Party today. If the political qualities adequate for scaling the peaks of pre-Party influence were adequate for reaching the Party as well, if a group of climbers could advance toward the Party while remaining the same, then the Klonsky leadership would not have degenerated into the Klonsky gang. Unfortunately, the road to the Party runs steeply and tortuously uphill from even the highest pre-party peaks. You cannot coast to it, you cannot rest on your laurels and fly to it like in a dream. You must climb; and this final ascent is more difficult, more demanding, than the climb from the plains to the pre-party foothills. It puts each mountaineering group to the most severe test. Weaknesses of secondary importance on the easier stretches turn into major impediments here, and often prove fatal. You cannot be victorious in the struggle for the Party by remaining the same as you were when you were building and multiplying circles. Either you progress in keeping with the new tasks, or, by staying the same, you degenerate and fall backwards.

The difficult ascent to the Party proved too difficult for the leading team of the October League. As Lenin said, “It is one thing to sacrifice the circle system in principle for the sake of the Party, and another to renounce one’s own circle.” (Steps.) The Klonsky circle tried to advance toward the Party while clinging dearly to its circle, its circle weaknesses, its circle mentality and all the rest of its circle baggage. And why not, it reasoned, since, despite these weaknesses, it had climbed so high already? Lacking a scientific map of the trail, overloaded by opportunist baggage, ideologically flabby and complacent from its earlier successes, and too accustomed to the stuffy comforts of small-circle life, the guiding team of the October League lost its balance on the tortuous ascent and has slid relentlessly down the slope, like quite a few others. And now, also like others, it is tugging hard at the rope to its followers, trying frantically to persuade them with all kinds of yelling and shooting off flares that down is really up, that mud is really snow, and that the pit where it is stuck is really the bright summit of the mountain.


And so, farewell, dear “guiding team” of the October League! I did my level best to keep you from throwing yourselves into the swamp. If you must go, however, you must go; this is your perfect right, and I do not dream of preventing you from promoting your methods and your line as widely as you can. On the contrary, I hope to give your methods and your line even wider publicity so that all who are concerned with the defense of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought and its application to the concrete conditions of the U.S. may form an independent, informed judgment of your nature. The line of agitation for the dictatorship of the proletariat, which you have tried by every means to suppress within the October League, is a correct line. It is in accordance with Leninism, and it is in accordance with the objective and the subjective conditions in the U.S. All your measures of fakery, hypocrisy and suppression directed against this line are so many cases of picking up a rock only to drop it on your own feet. The more you rant and rail against this line, the stronger will it become; the more you throw mud at this banner, the brighter will it shine. Keep it up, comrades! Fire away not only with your own “original” ammunition, but also with the arguments you have borrowed and are borrowing from Avakian and from Tung! The more you fire, the more you will expose that you have sunk into revisionism, that you have become reactionary, and that the forward march toward the single, unified Marxist-Leninist Communist Party of the proletariat must proceed without you and over you.

And now, in order to speed this forward march, let us have a look at the ideological and political line which all your reactionary measures have served to protect and to promote; let us have a look at the political content of Klonskyism today.


[1] Yao’s article, “On the Social Basis of the Lin Piao Anti-Party Clique,” was aimed, according to Peking Review #50, p. 13, at undermining the Party by whipping up a campaign “against empiricism,” in order to diver the campaign to study the theory of the dictatorship of the proletariat, initiated by Chairman Mao.