First Published: Workers Viewpoint, Vol. 2, No. 4, May 1977.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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Our organization, the Organization for Bolshevik Unity, was formed in July, 1976, on the basis of unity with the ultra-left opportunist line of the PRRWO/RWL. Since that time, we degenerated to centrism on the major questions in the communist movement and pulled ourselves back from the marsh to unite with the genuine trend in the communist movement. In the struggle against centrism, we have come to grasp the stand, method, and viewpoint of the proletariat, as well as the struggle to root out centrism in our organization.
We have learned much in this struggle and are resolute to put this learning to good use, to help build the Party of a new type. We stand with the genuine trend of the communist movement, under the leadership of the overall most correct line of the WVO, and the guidance of the leading circle of the WVO, The genuine trend is now building the Party through liquidation to the WVO, and deepening our work through the key link of the organizational sphere, and carrying the most advanced line to the masses, particularly the advanced. The sham organizations are trying to postpone the Party by wildly attacking the history of struggle of the communist movement and the line that these struggles have produced. They are given to cries of “hegemonism” against WVO, as they support their “coalition” organizing committee approach, or their “sober reality” pessimism, trying desperately to uphold equality of organizations (read: equality of line). They are sinking deeper and deeper into the marsh as the formation of our Party comes nearer and nearer.
Comrades, the Party is being built on the nine years of struggle within the communist movement. These struggles have laid the basis for the Party. These struggles have brought forth the most advanced application of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought to the U.S. conditions, the line of the WVO. They have brought forth the best representatives of the working class, as the basis for the Party.
The question before us is: will we stand on the history of these struggles and grasp correct verdicts in order to form our Party and lead the revolutionary masses in overthrowing the bourgeoisie and establish, consolidate and defend the Dictatorship of the Proletariat, guided by our noble goal of communism; or will we rewrite history, reverse correct verdicts, to oppose the Party, oppose the revolution, and strengthen the rule of the bourgeoisie. Broadly speaking, these are the two roads.
The OBU has overcome centrism to take a stand on this question. We believe the WVO is the only organization capable of forming our vanguard Party, to lead the onslaught against the bourgeoisie and establish the Dictatorship of the Proletariat in the USA.
The question of history is one of the fundamental questions of Marxism. Comrade Stalin pointed this out succinctly:
Historical materialism is the extension of the principles of dialectical materialism to the study of social life, an application of the principles of dialectical materialism to the phenomena of the life of society, to the study of society and its history. (History of the CPSU(B), page 105)
This is a concrete lesson for us. Without studying history, we cannot hope to know social life, and without using dialectical materialism, we cannot study history correctly. But such a lesson is not grasped by everyone today. Opportunists such as October League (OL), Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP) and August 29th Movement (ATM) rewrite and distort history hoping to cover their tracks and fool people. But history contains its own laws, independent of our will (or the opportunists will) and those genuine forces who grasp the laws of history will lead the working class and oppressed peoples forward to smash the opportunists, the bourgeois state, and establish the Dictatorship of the Proletariat.
The history of our movement is predicated on the demise of the “Communist” Party USA (“C”PUSA), and its betrayal of the proletariat and Marxism. Succumbing to a historic lack of clarity on the question of building the Party on the proletarian ideological plane, the influence of the usurpation of the Party and state power by capitalist roaders in the USSR, and the resulting split in the international communist movement, the “C”PUSA went over to the side of the bourgeoisie and left the class without leadership. Both the Progressive Labor Party and the Provisional Organizing Committee, which opposed the shift of allegience, broke with the “C”PUSA, but were unable to reconstitute the Party and degenerated to Trotskyism.
By the mid 1960ís, the mass movements had spontaneously brought many people forward against different manifestations of imperialism and monopoly capitalism. These movements were at a clear disadvantage in their struggles, due to a lack of correct communist leadership. In such a situation, many theories came forward to explain the world, giving rise to the characterization of this period as the eclectic period. These theories ranged from “student as vanguard“ to ”lumpen as vanguard” and Third Worldism. The struggles of this period centered around the question of which class can lead the revolution. And it was the Revolutionary Union (RU) which lead the struggle for the correct line on this question and pushed it particularly in the student and national movements.
By 1972 the situation had changed, the wave of mass movements had subsided, and those who were drawn to the movement by its motion but lacked revolutionary stamina had withdrawn, leaving behind the best elements generally, those consolidated around the leading role of the proletariat. Here, the movement became conscious of the need for the Party, and the formation of this Party became the orientation of our work. Within this context, the question of how the communist movement relates to the mass movements became the central question: whether the Party leads the class or tails behind became the two lines.
This second period came into being under the dominance of RU, due to their prestige from the first period, who put forth the erroneous line of “build the struggle, consciousness and revolutionary unity of the working class.” This was the infamous blind practice line which denied the importance of theory to the development of the movement and negated the changed conditions of ebb in the mass movements.
It pitted building mass movements against studying revolutionary theory and the tasks of Party building. Against this negation of Marxism, the revolutionary trend, including Black Workers Congress (BWC), Puerto Rican Revolutionary Workers Organization (PRRWO) and WVO, developed, holding the first period, grasping the lessons, and preparing for the coming flow.
WVO’s major polemic against RU and pragmatism (see WVO Journal 2) was part of this struggle, and helped to further isolate the RU within the communist movement.
Under cover of this right line, in supposed opposition to it, the Communist League (CL) came forward with their Trotskyite line, the “hot house” theory of cadre, developing and training cadre separate from the mass movements. This ultra-left line carried some weight for a time, but was struggled against and defeated by WVO, BWC and later PRRWO.
During this time, the OL came forward as the greatest revisionist danger to the new communist movement. They, like their big brothers, the RU, pushed abandoning the tasks of study, but their opportunist emphasis is different. Unlike the RU which mainly uses blind practice and motion to organize, the OL mainly builds itself on open reformism and appeal to bourgeois democratic illusions. They actively tail the social props and liberal representatives of the bourgeoisie, present-day “left” feint not withstanding (see Supplement on OL in WV, March 1976). On the burning questions of the day during this period, Busing, ERA, UMW elections, Watergate, etc., the OL became notorious for their wrong stand, and their slander against the revolutionary forces.
The defeat of the pragmatist RU line, the line of their junior partners, the OL, and of those who tail these tail-ists (I Wor Kuen and Guardian, and the Trotskyite CL) showed the correctness of the revolutionary trend. Having drawn clear lines of demarcation against such right and left opportunism within the communist movement, the central question for the genuine forces, WVO, PRRWO, ATM, RWL, became the question of political line, the strategy and tactics of Marxism for the U.S. revolution. This is the question of which line will lead us successfully to the Dictatorship of the Proletariat. This was the task of the third period.
During this time of transition, we in the OBU were not yet communists. We were an informal group struggling to remove ourselves from radical experimentalist and petty bourgeois indignation trends and concepts through study of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought. For us, the principal contradiction was our isolation from the communist movement, and our principal task was to take a stand with the communist movement and the proletariat, to come forward in the struggles and help build the Party of a new type. This meant drawing lines of demarcation with petty bourgeois socialist ideas, particularly utopian and anarchist ideas of local community self sufficiency, and the belittling of the importance of seizing state power. It meant breaking with our past of not taking up struggles resolutely and with a sense of urgency. It meant becoming active in the revolutionary movements.
We were unable to break with all of these things, and in particular were held back by our belittlement of line, but we began to recognize some of the aspects of the backward nature of our situation. We began to see our lack of theoretical training, and our lack of leadership. This helped us pursue the path of studying lines in the movement, and attempt to analyze who was correct and who we should seek leadership from. We had many difficulties. We did not grasp the stand, method and viewpoint of the proletariat. We did not have an understanding of the history and struggle of the communist movement. We had not rectified our belittlement of line.
These factors brought our centrism to the fore preventing us from accomplishing our tasks and moving forward. We separated into two on the question of the OL. One part developed close ties with the OL, while the rest stood opposed. The attraction was based on pragmatism, and trying to rush to the class to rectify our isolation. The opposition was based on negative minor aspects, such as opportunist style of work, and to a lesser extent, but more correctly, on opposition to the OL defence of forced busing. On the whole, we developed only a perceptual level of understanding on the communist movement. We were not firmly consolidated on a definite trend, but uniting here and there with positions and arguments that sounded “logical” to us. We were not actively struggling in the communist movement, but were passively struggling among ourselves, and were maintaining our isolation. We were waiting for the correct line to emerge and win us to it.
In May 1976, we entered a new stage of development. The first RWL forum locally made a profound impression on us, in what appeared to be simple clear lines put forth. We were taken in by the staunch, harsh, disciplined style of presentation. This line gave us the appearance of orientation on what needed to be done, and we took up the task of deepening our understanding of the line, and using it as our guide to action to struggle in the movement.
By this time however, major developments had taken place in the communist movement. The revolutionary wing was formed as WVO, PRRWO, ATM and later RWL united on a proposal for a Party-building commission to promote unity and struggle for the correct line. This represented the consolidation of the genuine wing of the movement on the lessons of the 2nd period, and the tasks of the 3rd. This was a step forward, that enabled events to move swiftly. Opportunism broke out on the question of the merger between WVO and RWL, as PRRWO claimed that all organizations in the wing should “stand abreast.” All were equal, no one could have overall correct line, and that the merger of two organizations was against the “interest” of the others. This was a floodgate that unleashed the opportunism of PRRWO’s ’left’ tendencies, which now came free flowing in the new conditions of the third period. Struggle within the revolutionary wing escalated as PRRWO failed to move forward and correct its mistaken ideas. RWL degenerating from unity with the WVO line, became centrist in this struggle between WVO and PRRWO, finally uniting with PRRWO around the opportunist line against merger and in opposition to the hegemony of the overall most correct line of the WVO. This led to full degeneration and complete unity with PRRWO. This was a time when many comrades were taken in by the militant, but empty, style of the PRRWO-RWL form of sophistry.
With leftism as the main danger within the revolutionary wing, WVO consistently exposed the line of these ultra-leftists. WVO led the struggle against PRRWO and RWL pointing out the disdain for the necessary day to day work in the class, the inability to apply the line of building the Party on the proletarian ideological plane, exposing revisionism, fighting bourgeois ideology, winning advanced workers in the course of giving communist leadership to mass struggles, and digging roots among the masses.
We were consolidating ourselves around this ultra-left line in the midst of these struggles. Our principal contradiction now became our incorrect line, and our task was to repudiate it and take up the correct line. But we were hindered again by deviations we brought with us into the movement.
As we came to see later, our unity with the ultra-left line of PRRWO/RWL was not really a negation of our lack of stand with the movement, but based on a continuation of it. In fact it was a flip from not siding at all, to siding 100% without grasping the forward motion of struggle or the relation of stand to viewpoint and method. In struggle we took up the “left” style and “left” arguments and got over on shallow analysis. These struggles were based not on one divides into two or “put destruction first, and in the process you will have construction.” They were based on all destruction. Dogmatic Marxism negated living Marxism.
Most decisive in our failure to grasp our situation was the wrong line of PRRWO/RWL. On such a basic question as the summation of periods of the new communist movement, the anti-Marxist, mechanical materialist world outlook came forward to gloss over the particularities of history and obscure the lessons of the past and orientation for the future. In contrast to the materialist sifting of facts and grasping the essence through detailed study, this bankrupt approach uses the dogmatic application of the triad, “ideology, politics, and organization,” to the facts of our movement, distorting the history and negating many of the lessons learnt. The question of building the Party on the proletarian ideological plane was reduced to a question of “reaffirming the fundamentals of Marxism,” cutting away the theoretical basis for correct criticism and self-criticism, and the orientation on correcting mistaken ideas, as well as the linking of theory with practice. This stands in opposition to the view of mistakes as absolute and inevitable, while correct ideas are relative, and it stands in fundamental disagreement with the necessity to strengthen the Party in all spheres through the method of the Three Great Traditions and the Five Criteria for Party Members in a systematic and protracted struggle against bourgeois ideology in the context of fighting against the bourgeoisie. And in denying the reality of two contending trends in the world today, either world war will give rise to revolution or revolution will prevent world war, the PRRWO/RWL put forth an opportunist approach to the international situation, which negated the rising danger of war under the view of revolution as the only trend in imperialism, effectively disarming the class by keeping us backward to the growing danger of world war. Such a view hindered understanding the question of the bourgeoisie’s fascization process in the U.S. and the necessity for the bourgeoisie to create mass support for fascist rule, so as to attempt to prevent its collapse and solidify war preparations.
The consistent thread in the thoroughly bankrupt line of PRRWO/RWL is subjectivism, the negation of historical and dialectical materialism, the use of dogmatism and also empiricism, to develop and propagate their “left” opportunist views. WVO has pointed out the main form of PRRWO’s subjectivism:
Reductionism is a methodology of reducing every question under analysis into generalities, principal aspect, principal contradiction, the base, the final product, its so-called “essence.” As we have shown throughout the article, this is precisely what PRRWO does on virtually every ideological and political question. This is a particular form that their vulgar and mechanical materialism takes, which is the epitome of the worst kind of one-sidedness and dead dogma. (WVO Journal 4, p. 120)
We came forward at a time of “great purges” within PRRWO/RWL, and were won to the Collective for a Bolshevik Party, a group of ex-RWL who stated that they were in dis-unity with the RWL-PRRWO clique, but who were in reality a “faction of supporters” of the Otzovist clique (see BWO’s Two Roads in WV II, 2, Feb. 1977)
In the heat of two line struggle in the communist movement around the line of PRRWO/RWL, full unity with this line became obviously wrong, but we maintained the “correctness” of the ultra-left line and demarcated ourselves on aspects, such as the “Party building is the central and only task” formulation and the “Simultaneity and equality of the two tactical principles, uniting Marxist-Leninists, and winning the advanced” formulation. To accomplish his we had to reverse correct verdicts, denying that the correctness or incorrectness of the ideological/political line decides everything, and the leading role of theory, we instead put forward “political line is mere formulation”, meaning that unity of Marxist-Leninists was not question of unity on line, but a question of unity on “common practice”, i.e., based on partial, narrow practice, like just “going through the experience of being in a coalition together”.
From here, degeneration was only a matter of time. We began to more firmly oppose the WVO because of various slanders about their practice which we were susceptible to, and more firmly consolidated ourselves around circle spirit, remaining isolated from the struggles of the communist movement. We developed a centrist position on the split in the revolutionary wing, and maintained a centrist position on the question of building the Party on the proletarian ideological plane. We repudiated the line of PRRWO/RWL aspect by aspect, line by line, but were not facing the fact that we continued to maintain fundamental unity with that line. We had again fallen into the orientation of unity with this or that position, but took no position on the overall character of the line struggle.
In fact, in our circle spirit oppositional mentality to the correct line of the WVO, we even sunk to the level of looking at the degenerate lines of the League for Proletarian Revolution (LPR). But due to our having some knowledge of the split in the revolutionary wing and what happened between the proposed merger of WVO and RWL, and through studying the decisiveness of the ideological and political line of the WVO, this complete opportunist LPR (though they tried their opportunist best to keep us from the overall correct line of the WVO) could not get over with their lying and distortion of reality and proved themselves to be the slimy isolated sect of fruitflies that they are.
We were not alone in such degeneration. The ATM, first unprincipledly sided with PRRWO/RWL and then flipped to the right and abandoned the stand, viewpoint and method of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought. They called the struggle within the genuine forces a struggle between “leftists,” and made a full flip to the right, backsliding into the second period. The sorting out of the revolutionary wing enabled them also to maintain centrist positions on major questions in the communist movement. They too reversed the correct verdict of the leading role of theory and put forth a new version of the bankrupt RU blind practice line.
Through struggle with genuine communists, we gradually began to recognize the bankruptcy of our centrist position. WVO was shown to uphold the most correct position on the split in the wing, and the question of building the Party on the proletarian ideological plane. But the major point that won us over, was the question of strategic outlook. Our narrow, conservative, oppositional, destructive line could not provide any sort of leadership. It could not prepare for twists and turns or strategic successes. These things are embodied in the political line of the WVO. From the line on the character of the Party, to the immediate and universal preparation for the Dictatorship of the Proletariat and what it concretely consists of. This line, and it alone, reflects the conditions of the U.S. and the needs of the U.S. proletariat.
The fact that our Party is being built on the nine years of struggle within the communist movement means that these struggles are the basis for the Party. They are of fundamental importance for our work, our strategic successes, our inevitable victory over the bourgeoisie. For our Party to be a strong Party, a general headquarters, it must be consolidated around the lessons of these nine years of struggle.
Opportunists do not agree with this, and try again and again to hold back the formation of our Party by distorting the history of struggle, distorting the lessons learned, and opposing the line these nine years of struggle produced. For us, there are three important opportunists: the RCP, the OL, and the ATM. These are important because unlike some, they have a history in the struggles of the communist movement, and participated, either negatively or positively, in the development of many important lines They are also important because, unlike others, they have hit on a popular form of bourgeois ideology, and can muster forces and propagate their erroneous views, doing a great deal of harm to the working class. Thirdly, they are important because “everything reactionary is the same: if you don’t hit it, it won’t fall.”
The ATM, the most recent and last organization to be sorted out, has adopted an opportunist position on the state of the U.S. communist movement. On the one hand, they maintain a fierce antagonism to the correct line of the WVO, and therefore stand outside the developments in the movement, and the motion towards forming our Party; on the other hand, they continue to demarcate themselves from the RCP and the OL, claiming that the ATM is not revisionist and reformist, as are these two. The ATM thinks it is pursuing a third path towards revolution, and is trying to consolidate other centrist forces around this centrist position.
In fact, there is no third way. The ATM is lying to who ever will listen by babbling this sort of thing. In fact, the ATM is raising up errors of the RCP and the OL and claiming them as their own. No one can claim that this is a temporary loss of bearings, or a short-lived diversion on the part of the ATM. Their backsliding has gone too far for that. This is, instead, thorough, complete, unrepentant degeneration. There is no hope that the ATM as a consolidated opportunist trend will ever again be in the forefront of our movement, and take the lead against capitalism.
The situation we are faced with today is the resolution of the third period. The OBU made many attempts to avoid the leading line of the WVO and maintain centrism, but in the end we were confronted with the fact that “the formation of the Party is a settled question.” Today the WVO stands alone as the leading organization with the correct line. WVO is the Party; the Party is WVO. All who are genuine communists have grasped and are continuing to grasp the lessons struggled for and dedicate themselves to the class, stand with the WVO and herald the coming events as the greatest single step towards fusion. All who are sham communists try to reverse correct verdicts and oppose the advance of communism, cry out against this success and wildly attack the WVO. Having been defeated, they take their case to the petty bourgeois social-democrats and revisionists and try to build support. But this only foretells coming victories for the Party. In this fourth period, as we grasp the key link of the organizational sphere, and build the Party on the ideological plane, we increase our strengths and overcome our weaknesses through redoubling our efforts and fusing more actively with the class, guided by the correct line of the WVO. May Day 1977, is a great celebration of these strategic advances and a great celebration of the imminent formation of our Party. As we intensify our work and build our movement, under the leadership of the new Party, the dregs of past struggles within the communist movement will be rooted out and smashed as we expose opportunism and revisionism, reformism and anti-communism, and lead the working class and oppressed peoples to seize state power, and establish, consolidate and defend the Dictatorship of the Proletariat against remnants of these forces, guided by our “northern star,” our noble goal of communism.
As our great teacher and leader, Lenin teaches in One Step Forward, Two Steps Back, the “slaughter of circles” has proved fierce for the history of the OBU. Comrades, the OBU overcomes centrism and prepares to liquidate to the foundation of the genuine Communist Party of the U.S. – the Workers Viewpoint Organization!