First Published: The Call, Vol. 6, No. 13, April 11, 1977.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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Chicago, Ill.–The Second National Call/El Clarin conference on Agitation and Propaganda Work drew more than 400 revolutionary journalists and organizers to this city on April 2-3. The Conference succeeded in its aim of preparing The Call workers for the task of developing this leading Marxist-Leninist newspaper into the political organ of the new Communist Party.
Delegates from approximately 40 cities heard keynote speeches on the tasks of the communist press in building the party by October League Chairman Michael Klonsky, Call editor Dan Burstein, and a spokesman for the Bridgeport Workers Organization.
In his speech, Klonsky urged The Call workers to prepare themselves to “skillfully and forcefully and militantly defend the line of our new Party.” He said that: “Our newspaper and our Party could never have been built to the level it is now, and certainly not to the level it has to be, without a daily and consistent fight against revisionism.”
He traced the history of this struggle from the early days of The Call to the present. Klonsky gave examples of The Call’s early polemics in support of party building as the central task of Marxist-Leninists and in support of the international struggle against imperialism and the two superpowers.
Klonsky also reported that the Organizing Committee for a Marxist-Leninist Party had unanimously agreed that “The Call must become the central organ of our Party.”
Burstein’s speech went deeply into the tasks of The Call in the present period and sharply criticized the right-opportunist line of Martin Nicolaus. He reported that the weekly Call was being distributed to twice as many people as the monthly and that “75% of the newspapers are sold to working-class and minority people.” He pointed out that “almost 50% of our total circulation is right inside the factories or at their gates.”
Burstein characterized the present period in our movement as one of primarily “preparing the working class for its revolutionary struggle through revolutionary education–agitation and propaganda.” “We must recognize,” he said, “that we are in a period of building the Party and getting it planted on its feet.” While calling for the closest unity between education and mass struggle, he pointed out that “in order to successfully storm the fortress, the troops first have to be trained and organized.”
Burstein stressed the unity of agitation (making one point clear to many people) and propaganda (explaining more complex series of ideas primarily to the most advanced). He said that The Call workers must recognize the special role that propaganda plays at this time in winning the revolutionary-minded workers to the Party.
Finally, Burstein exposed the revisionist stand of Nicolaus, who preached the separation of agitation and propaganda and who called for “reliance on the liberal capitalists rather than on the workers and oppressed nationalities.”
The representative from the Bridgeport Workers Organization gave a rousing speech in Spanish. He explained how The Call was instrumental in uniting their organization with the party-building trend of the Organizing Committee and in fighting revisionism in the revolutionary work. He denounced the revisionists like Nicolaus, who claim that there are hardly any advanced elements within the working class able to understand revolutionary propaganda.
“To these revisionists,” he said, “the only thing that the workers can understand is agitation.” He added, “We must criticize and self-criticize all revisionist lines that prevent or hinder The Call/El Clarin from being brought even deeper among the masses.”
Following the speeches, workshops were held on various aspects of Call work from “Labor Coverage” and “Writing Anti-Revisionist Articles” to “Developing Worker Correspondents” and “Multilingual Work.” Overall, 30 different workshops were held. The entire conference was carried on in English and Spanish. Reports of many of these areas of conference discussion will be printed in future issues of The Call.
The conference closed with reports and statements by representatives from various areas of the country who expressed the great enthusiasm of all those attending. One representative from the South summed up the conference well when she told The Call: “This conference shows the great advances that our newspaper and our movement have made in the past year. The level was very high and there was broad participation, especially from the workers.”