First Published: The Call, Vol. 4, No. 7, April 1976.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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Several communist organizations, groups and individual Marxist-Leninists are organizing a representative unity meeting in May. Its purpose is to plan and coordinate the discussions and work leading up to the founding of the new Marxist-Leninist party.
Those attending the meeting will base themselves generally around the statement of principles appearing in the November, 1975 issue of The Call, entitled “Marxist-Leninists Unite To Build The New Party.” The representatives will heighten their unity around questions of ideological and political line and move forward towards the goal of organizational unity within one party.
This meeting will be a qualitative step forward in communist unity efforts, which have often been limited to unity around principles without also being linked to organizational unity.
The principles stated in the November Call have provided a basis for discussion and have summed up the level of unity that presently exists among a majority of Marxist-Leninist forces in the country. But these principles were not put forth to be and should not be taken as the program for the new party. The programmatic statement which will guide the new party forward in its work must come out of discussions and summations during the period leading up to the founding congress. The unity meeting in May will help organize the program discussion and the circulation of resolutions.
Along with other organizations, the October League will put forward its own proposals and views as to the content of the program. These will be based on a deeper elaboration of the November principles and on the resolutions of the OL’s Third Congress, held in July, 1975.
In the months leading up to the founding congress, it will be necessary for all communists supporting the efforts to build the new party to study hard and hold discussions on the resolutions and bulletins produced on the basis of the May meeting. Struggle over line will play a decisive role in these efforts, which must also be aimed at the selection of delegates to the first party congress. These delegates must be prepared to make the most important decisions on program and leadership. Broad discussion and study is already taking place among communists around the questions raised by the November Call.
The May meeting and those that follow it will also establish rules for the congress. The participants will discuss representation and elections. They will oversee the organization of individual communists who are not presently affiliated with any pre-party organization into collectives for the purpose of taking part in the discussions.
The May meeting will also write a new draft of “Marxist-Leninists Unite To Build The New Party,” incorporating the correct additions and criticisms of all participants. Good criticisms have already led to some corrections in the OL’s approach to the organizational formation of the party. For example, in a recent meeting of the OL Central Committee (See the March issue of The Call), Section 5 of “Marxist-Leninists Unite ...” was modified to call for the congress and leadership elections in the immediate future. The previous view, calling for a “temporary leading body” and a year-long pre-congress period, was rejected.
The May meeting will operate on the basis of democratic centralism, at least to the highest degree attainable. In other words, once political unity is solidified and decisions are taken, the minority will be subordinate to the majority. To those who would accuse OL of practicing “organizational hegemonism” in this matter, we can only say: “Take part in the work and judge for yourselves.”
At this time there are both right and “left” opportunists who are frantically attacking the efforts of the Marxist-Leninists to unite. These opportunists include the centrists around the Guardian newspaper as well as the sectarians of the so-called “Revolutionary Wing” and others.
The centrists and “Wing” both oppose the formation of the party because of their conciliatory views toward modern revisionism. The Guardian, for instance, has called the party-building effort “flawed because of our movement’s principled stand against Soviet social-imperialism and modern revisionism. They have openly supported the Soviet invasion of Angola and have covered up for the new Soviet bourgeoisie by claiming that capitalism has not yet been restored in the Soviet Union. Likewise, in its March 24 issue The Guardian claims that the Soviet social-imperialists are only a “secondary enemy” of the world’s peoples and that the principle of “no united action with revisionism” and with the CPUSA is an “essentially empty slogan” stemming from a “silly cuckoo-bird’s eye view of politics.” These hysterical comments only show how far and how fast the Guardian is abandoning Marxism-Leninism, which has always stood for a decisive break with all forms of opportunism.
The “Wing” and groups like Workers Viewpoint have likewise colluded, in practice, with the revisionists. At the same time, they call the OL and other party-building forces “the main danger” in the movement. This anti-party opposition demonstrates how one opportunist tendency can cover for another. Neither the “left” sectarians nor the centrists can accept even the basic principles of unity in the November Call, and both tendencies have been consistent in their refusal to unite with anti-imperialist activities such as those on International Women’s Day. Instead they have been playing the role of splitters and disrupters.
The “Wing” has an idealist view of party-building. It emphasizes only the ideological break with revisionism while opposing every attempt to carry through the break on organizational questions as well. The Puerto Rican Revolutionary Workers Organization (PRRWO), the leading force within the “Wing,” for instance, has attacked the formation of a new party as “hegemonism” on the part of OL, suggesting that OL is simply trying to impose its leadership on the movement by waving a baton or by sheer force of numbers.
Anyone who has worked with the October League knows this is false. What the charge does reveal, however, is the petty-bourgeois idealism of PRRWO. These intellectuals are afraid of proletarian methods of organization and democratic centralism. If, as they claim, they are the “only correct trend,” why are they afraid to test their line before these cadres? Why are they afraid to put forth in the disciplined context of the party-building process and, on the basis of the ideological and political unity set forth, accept the will of the majority of Marxist-Leninists? Instead of spreading slanders about “OL domination,” let them come forward with their views in the form of pre-congress resolutions and bind themselves to the collective will of hundreds of communists organized in cities across the U.S.
But no, these sectarians prefer instead the road of least resistance. They prefer their own narrow circles, free from the supervision of both the majority of communist cadres and the masses of the people.
The sectarians refuse to do their communist work in the heat of the actual class struggle. They choose to place this “work” in opposition to progressive struggles for better living standards and for the defense of democratic rights, most notoriously in the battles against segregation and for women’s rights. By saying, an effect, that the struggle for socialism is the only struggle the masses should engage in, they refuse to link Marxism-Leninism with the immediate struggles of the working class.
This is why they are bound to fail. This is why they are unable to unite even among themselves. This is why, when they do take up some immediate struggles, they end up tailing the most lightest, conservative policies of the labor aristocrats, such as opposing busing and the Equal Rights Amendment for women. And this is why the first differences that emerge in their ranks lead to immediate splits.
Marxist-Leninists hold to the following principle for the ideological and political struggle among communists: “Practice Marxism, not revisionism;” “Unite and don’t split;” and “Be open and above-board, don’t intrigue and conspire.”
In contrast, the sectarians raise splittism to the level of a principle. In a speech in Boston quoted in the April 8 Palante; (organ of PRRWO) for instance, a representative of the “Wing” goes so far as to condemn the OL for not having splits. It concluded: “Of course the OL has never had a split, as only firmness and ideological definiteness based on the principles of Marxism-Leninism-Mao-TseTung Thought provides the basis to draw lines of demarcation and purge our ranks.” So this is what the “left” anti-party opposition has to offer: disunity, demoralization, pessimism, and the actual lack of any alternative plan to build the party.
No party can be built apart from the two-line struggle to establish a genuine proletarian line. But for the first time since the degeneration of the CPUSA into a revisionist and social-imperialist party, the basis to form a truly revolutionary party exists, in the sense that the basic lines of demarcation have been drawn and communists have been organized into well-developed pre-party formations across the country.
But the two-line struggle does not cease with the formation of the new party. The road will still be full of twists and turns, and in fact it will be within the new party that the two-line struggle can take place in a deeper, broader and more thorough-going manner, not only winning the leadership of the proletarian line, but also uniting and consolidating the vast majority of party members around it.
The struggle for communist unity will likewise continue outside the party. The task will still remain of uniting with those genuine communists who are still working alone or within other formations such as the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP).
But the May meeting and the congress it works toward will certainly represent a great step forward in accomplishing this task. We call on all Marxist-Leninists to transfer words into deeds and unite to build a new party. Supporting and taking part in this meeting is the task of all communists.