First Published: The Call, Vol. 5, No. 30, November 29, 1976.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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The October League has purged a revisionist and opportunist from its ranks, Martin Nicolaus, a former member of the OL Central Committee, has been expelled following a long and successful struggle against his right-opportunist line.
Nicolaus was a bourgeois intellectual who refused to remold his outlook or accept criticism of his revisionist line from the masses. He unsuccessfully tried to split the ranks of the OL before being kicked out. Upon his expulsion, he stole some money and fled.
All this shows his basic bourgeois world outlook, his hatred of the working class and their revolutionary organization and his love for the bourgeoisie.
This love for the bourgeoisie was so great that Nicolaus openly advocated an alliance with the liberal section of the imperialist ruling class, which he regarded as “allies” although, admittedly, “wavering allies.”
Nicolaus’ line also called for a future alliance with U.S. imperialism to fight the Soviet Union, a line of liquidating class struggle by the proletariat against the main enemy within the U.S., the monopoly-capitalist ruling class.
In developing his revisionist analysis of communist tasks in the present period, Nicolaus went so far as to advocate that the proletariat could not make use of its direct reserves–such as the Afro-American people’s struggle and the struggles of other oppressed nationalities. He argued that the proletariat and its party could only make use of “indirect reserves,” such as the divisions in the imperialist ruling class between “liberals” and “conservatives.”
To Nicolaus, it was more important to snuggle up to the liberal imperialists than to forge the alliance and merger of the working class and national movements.
His preachings about “indirect reserves” typified his love for the bourgeoisie and his lack of faith in the masses. This chauvinist stand on the Afro-American question and other national minority questions ran throughout all his work.
Nicolaus put forward a revisionist line on the reformist trade union leaders and opportunist elements within the workers’ movement. This flowed from his view of the liberal imperialists. To Nicolaus, the labor lieutenants of capitalism, such as Sadlowski, Miller and the like, were also “allies” who should be united with.
Nicolaus only criticized their tactics, calling them “weak-kneed,” “spineless” and “wavering” allies. He claimed that exposing them as agents of the capitalists was “repetitive” and “unnecessary.”
Nicolaus’ revisionist line meant a serious underestimation of the danger posed by opportunism of all types. He claimed that the liberals and reformists were weak and that the crisis was “demolishing the House that Liberalism built.” From this he drew the conclusions that liberalism, revisionism and centrism posed no real threat to our movement and that the “CP could never get a base among workers.”
Opposing the line of the OL Central Committee, Nicolaus put forth the view that sectarianism and “leftism” were the main danger in our ranks, and thereby downplayed the struggle against right-opportunism. He considered the OL’s reliance on the proletariat itself instead of the splits in the ruling class to be a “sectarian” error, and he labelled as “leftist” our consistent exposures of the trade union reformists.
Nicolaus also placed the ideological struggle against revisionism in the category of “sectarianism.” He resisted with all his might the deepening movement to criticize right-opportunism and to forge a new Marxist-Leninist party formed on sound principles.
Nicolaus echoed the anti-party bloc in our movement, arguing sharply that it was “too early” to form a party; that “lines of demarcation” weren’t drawn; that there “aren’t enough advanced workers.” Instead of uniting with the main focus of our movement at the present time, which is to win the advanced workers to communism and to the party, especially through propaganda work, Nicolaus argued that “agitation should be the chief form of activity at this time.”
In an undialectical way, Nicolaus counterposed agitation to propaganda and argued that too much attention was being paid to propaganda and to consolidation. His reckless line would have drawn our forces thin, failing to train the leading core of cadres that at the proper time could move our party into mass action as the chief form of work.
The OL has always been active among the masses and has always defended the principle of forging our party in the heat of mass struggle. In doing so, however, decisive importance has been placed upon consolidation of the most advanced workers and the ideological training of the cadre. Nicolaus’ revisionist line on party building would have led to severe setbacks if it had won out in the ranks of our organization.
Nicolaus’ revisionism was also apparent in his widely-read book Restoration of Capitalism in the USSR. This book has been the target of internal criticism for quite some time, but Nicolaus, who regarded this subject as his own personal field of expertise, refused to accept criticism of the book from the rank and file or from the Central Committee.
The book was an attack on the dictatorship of the proletariat, claiming that for more than a decade under the rule of the Khrushchev revisionists, there were no “profound changes in the actual relations of production operative in the economic base of the society.” In other words, the society that Mao Tsetung referred to as a “dictatorship of the Hitler type” in 1964 was, to Nicolaus, still “socialist” in its essence.
Nicolaus also covered up the source of the regeneration of the new Soviet bourgeoisie in the party and the state-bourgeois right. Inequality in the form of bourgeois right remains throughout the entire period of socialism. It can only be restricted but not fully eliminated. By expanding bourgeois right in the USSR, the capitalist-roaders were able to make themselves rich and powerful and to sit on the backs of the working people.
To protect their class interests, this new bourgeoisie headed by Khrushchev and his gang worked actively against the dictatorship of the proletariat and finally succeeded in restoring the rule of the bourgeoisie after Stalin’s death.
But Nicolaus claimed that bourgeois right was “meaningless” and that the capitalist-roaders received only ”one or another petty privilege that meant nothing...” He claimed that the representatives of the capitalists within the state and the party had only “minor material benefits” and no “political power.”
In this way, Nicolaus covered over the threat of restoration of capitalism and mystified its causes. Although he made one or two correct statements about bourgeois right, the vast majority of the book contradicts these bits of truth. In essence, he parroted the same line as the revisionists who tried to expand bourgeois right in China without success.
Nicolaus, like all revisionists, also slandered Stalin for his suppression of the bourgeoisie within the party. Nicolaus called Stalin’s attacks on bourgeois elements too severe, and claimed that “milder measures would have been more productive.”
While he praised Stalin to the skies one minute, claiming him to be a genius and the only man who could save socialism, Nicolaus turned around the next minute and repeated the bourgeoisie’s lies about Stalin “the tyrant.”
It is true that Stalin made some important errors in his defense of socialism, but not the errors Nicolaus claimed. Stalin was a great Marxist-Leninist who defended Marxism-Leninism against the Trotskyists and the revisionists and their attempts to restore capitalism in the USSR. Nicolaus’ call for “milder measures” in combatting the bourgeoisie revealed his own rotten class stand. He is a representative for the bourgeoisie within the ranks of the communist movement.
Combined with his attacks on Stalin and on class struggle against the bourgeoisie, Nicolaus launched into invective against the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in China, vilifying it as an ultra-“left” error where good people “had dunce caps placed on their heads and were pissed on.” Nicolaus repeated the slanders against China and the Cultural Revolution that have been spread around by every Trotskyist and revisionist in the world.
Frightened by the role of the masses in China’s Cultural Revolution, this revisionist had the same attitude towards the struggle against his right-opportunist line. He claimed that the two-line struggle which the OL Central Committee waged against his call for allying with the bourgeoisie was a struggle between “two Marxist-Leninist lines,” and that neither line was revisionist.
To prove his ludicrous point, Nicolaus drew elaborate charts to show how his line differed from that of the revisionists. But all his theatrics could fool no one. To liquidate the class struggle against the bourgeoisie is a line marked with the brand of a certain class–the bourgeoisie itself.
Nicolaus also slandered the rank and file of the OL, calling them all “pawns of the Chairman” and asserted that the OL was “revisionist.” When rank-and-file comrades wrote sharp criticisms against his revisionist line, he refused to respond to them, as if they had no right to criticize such an important intellectual as himself. He practiced the elitism and intellectualism of a bourgeois professor and talked down to the masses as if they were children.
At one point, he raged, “I don’t care if 10,000 people criticize me in unison, I will never change my views.” His disdain for the mass line was coupled with his hatred of organizational discipline and rules.
When his revisionist line could not win out within the Central Committee or in his unit, where it was rejected unanimously, Nicolaus tried to move outside of organizational lines and factionalize. Using false flattery and patronizing certain comrades, he tried to weaken their resistance to his opportunist preachings, but to no avail.
In the end, he was left alone, finding, as others have before him, that the October League is not so easy to split and destroy.
This revisionist lover of the liberal bourgeoisie and the revisionists has been purged from the ranks of the Marxist-Leninists. The Marxist-Leninists have been greatly strengthened by this action.
The struggle against Nicolaus’ right-opportunist line is being unfolded within the OL and the communist movement. Nicolaus has become a teacher by negative example, which will be used in the coming period to raise the level of all our comrades in the OL and throughout the entire communist movement.
LONG LIVE MARXISM-LENINISM-MAO TSETUNG THOUGHT!
DEATH TO REVISIONISM!
MARXIST-LENINISTS UNITE TO BUILD A NEW COMMUNIST PARTY!