First Published: The Call, Vol. 5, No. 16, August 16, 1976.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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“Practice Marxism, not revisionism; unite, and don’t split; be open and above-board, and don’t intrigue and conspire. – Mao Tsetung
In a desperate attempt to split the rising - trend of Marxist-Leninist unity, a group known as the Marxist-Leninist Organizing Committee (MLOC) is promoting its own “new” plan to build a party.
Showing nothing but disdain for the genuine Marxist-Leninist forces who have made significant advances in forging unity, MLOC is trying to divert communists away from the unity trend. They aim to maintain the primitive state of the communist movement based upon small local circles rather than one unified party.
The crux of MLOC’s “plan” is to call for “joint theoretical and political work on the party program.” Their view is that no party congress or party organization can be spoken of until we go through a stage of joint program writing. They put forth this “plan” at the same time that the Organizing Committee for a Marxist-Leninist Party (OC) is presently drafting just such a program in its work to organizationally form the party.
In the June issue of their newspaper, Unite!, MLOC makes a “Call for Joint Work on the Party Program.” MLOC offers a whole series of revisionist and totally bankrupt ideas of party building. While claiming to promote “unity” and “joint work,” they liquidate the question of organization except in a brief reference which says that “a center will emerge” out of this program work.
There is nothing binding in this “joint effort”; no goals are set; no principles of unity are established to demarcate Marxist-Leninists from revisionists, Trotskyists or centrists. Instead, MLOC separates the task of program-drafting from the task of bringing the party into being. But we must ask, whose program is this going to be? Can separate and scattered groups have a common program? Is it possible for communists to unite simply around the work of program writing?
No. This is the line of academics and bourgeois intellectuals. The lack of principles and the “unity-with-all” line in program writing is especially ironic since MLOC has joined in chorus with the so-called “Revolutionary Wing,” Congress of Afrikan Peoples (CAP), and other splitters in denouncing the party-building of the Organizing Committee as being “too broad.”
The present Organizing Committee came about as a result of a call for unity which was extended to all U.S. Marxist-Leninists on the basis of principles put forth by the October League. These principles were published in the November 1975 issue of the Call and later revised at the May Unity Meeting in the statement “Marxist-Leninists Unite” (The Call, July 5), jointly issued by all the groups in the OC.
The purpose of this call to unite was to bring together the communist forces into a common effort to forge the party on the basis of Marxist-Leninist principles, MLOC was given a special invitation to join in the efforts and struggle out their view in the course of the program and organization discussions.
The MLOC claims, however, that the call to unite is “too vague, general and shallow” and that it is “incapable of drawing lines of demarcation between Marxism and revisionism. ..” (Unite!, August, p. 3). MLOC fails to see that the call to unite is a concise statement of unity needed to begin the work on the program rather than being the program itself. Instead, the MLOC critics call for the unity statement to put forth in-depth statements on the Chicano and Afro-American national questions and other theoretical questions.
Finally, MLOC claims that the formation of the OC and the united efforts to draft a program following the May Unity Meeting ”represents a deepening of right opportunism which is in motion towards consolidation.” (Ibid.)
But we must ask our readers to judge who the real rightists are, and who really is conciliating with revisionism? Did the call to unite claim to be a resolution on the Afro-American and Chicano questions (both of which OL has already developed – neither of which MLOC has even attempted)? Did we not clearly state that the principles of unity represented the level of unity of communists at the present time? Why then does MLOC cry about not including fully developed statements on the level of a party program or draft resolutions?
Experience has shown that the call to unite did just what it set out to do. It brought together Marxist-Leninists on a broader basis than ever before while excluding just those counter-revolutionary, revisionist and centrist elements it intended to exclude. Many more organizations are moving towards unity, and the second Unity Meeting scheduled for the fall will be even broader.
Within every group of Marxist-Leninists, the call to unite has influenced its discussions. Hundreds of papers have devoted themselves to the questions raised in the call. The unity trend is growing, and each group in the country is being viewed on the basis of their stand towards communist unity in the party.
Of course we agree with MLOC that no party can be built without a program. But we also insist, in opposition to MLOC, that the program cannot be “jointly worked on” apart from an organizational plan for uniting the forces into a party built upon democratic-centralism and Leninist structure.
We must ask the MLOC critics: “What are the principles of demarcation that separate you and your call for “joint work” from the revisionists and centrists, Trotskvists and social-democrats? Your readers can plainly see that there are none.
Calling Marxism-Leninism “revisionism” while promoting revisionism themselves– this is the tactic of the MLOC leaders, who have a long history of unprincipled splits behind them. They have often struck a super-“left” pose while trying to break the principled unity of communists and the fusion between the communist and the working-class movement.
It was MLOC who openly promoted the line that “communists do not build the mass movement, the objective conditions do that. We seek to lead it.“ (Unite!, Vol. 2, No. 1, p. 19). This “left”-sounding formulation, in practice, leaves the masses of working people under the sole influence of the reactionary trade union leaders and revisionists. It is a call to separate the vanguard from the masses. This is the kind of party MLOC wants to build. It is, in essence, right-opportunism in disguise.
Another example of “left”-verbiage cloaking a rightist line was MLOC’s insistence at the National Fight Back Conference last December, that the NFBO have “socialism” as its basis of unity. This line was thoroughly smashed as it was made clear that NFBO was a mass fighting organization of the workers and unemployed, not to be confused with the party.
The same tactics of splittism have again been brought into play as MLOC has tried to smash the upcoming celebrations of China’s National Day. Here again, these lefter-than-leftists tried to reduce broad united front celebrations to small meetings of only those who supported the dictatorship of the proletariat.
It is under this same “left” cover that MLOC has tried to claim that the call for Marxist-Leninist unity “is too broad.” Now we can see by looking at MLOC’s own plan to “jointly write a program” that they are the ones with no principles. They are the rightists.
When we examine the view of the party itself, as elaborated by MLOC, we can see their rightist essence still more clearly. After working overtime to make the National Fight Back Organization into the party and to base the October First celebrations on the “dictatorship of the proletariat” and “not building the mass movement,” they then turn around and reduce the party to the role of a tail on the mass movement. Says MLOC: “The drafting of such a party program which really applies to the concrete conditions of this country must state directly that the party will in every way possible directly assist (our emphasis–ed.) the working masses in their struggle for emancipation. ..” (Unite!, June ’76, p. 10).
Of course, communists have the task of assisting the workers in carrying out the economic struggle or building the trade unions. But the fight for the emancipation of the class demands communist leadership, not “assistance.” Here again, MLOC’s “left” sounding line once again covers a rightist essence. MLOC is very ”left” when it comes to splitting, but their political line is one of reformism and tailism.
The vanguard party of the proletariat is being forged in the heat of class struggle. It will not be an organization “to assist” the workers’ movement, but rather, to lead it ideologically, organizationally and politically. It will be a party of the advanced detachment of the working class united upon the principles of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought and upon a program of struggle for revolution.
This party can only be built in the fight against all forms of opportunism. We must expose MLOC’s phony call for “unity in writing a program” and all other attempts to divert the Marxist-Leninists away from the course of forming their party.
We call on all communists to unite together on the basis of the statement “Marxist-Leninists Unite” and join in the efforts of the Organizing Committee to bring the party program and party organization into being.