First Published: The Call, Vol. 4, No. 2, December 1975.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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Is it possible to unite the different Marxist-Leninist groups into one party? How can the present differences which separate these groups be resolved? What form would such unity take at the present time?
These are some of the questions that have been raised following the publication last month of the October League’s call to form a new Marxist-Leninist party in the U.S. The article, “Marxist-Leninists Unite to Build the New Party,” calls on communists to move forward on the basis of the present favorable conditions and “carry out the actual organizational work of party construction.”
In response, several groups and organizations, along with many individuals have expressed unity with the aims of the call. Others have raised questions and disagreements.
One point raised in opposition to the call was that the political differences among the various groups were “too great to be overcome” at the present time. The holders of this view maintain that the time for the organizational construction of the party is not yet here and that for the next period of time (possibly years) the emphasis must be on “ideological struggle.”
We fully agree that differences among some groups are too great to be overcome. There are groups within the ranks of the young communist movement that have shown through practice their bankrupt character and their opportunist nature. Groups like the “Revolutionary Communist Party” and “Communist Labor Party” have taken their stand with the die-hard chauvinists or revisionists. The formation of their parties represented their formal break with the rising Marxist-Leninist trend.
On the other hand, there are firm grounds for unity among the majority of the young Marxist-Leninist groups and organizations and now there is a plan which can lead to this unity. Of course even among these groups, differences are bound to exist or emerge later. At this time unity can be built even with some allowable differences. The seven principles of unity laid out in the caD to unite form a minimum basis to enter into discussions. Through the course of these discussions between the Marxist-Leninists, the inclusion and exclusion of other points along with a summary of past practice, can be used to deepen the initial unity.
There are some who would make abstract or minor points principal in these discussions and lose sight of the real burning questions thrown up to our struggle today. Minor points should not be used to prevent unity, but rather should be used to further the unity-struggle process inside the ranks.
It is true that in this period, the most decisive factor in party building is political line. Only on the basis of a correct political line which combines the principles of Marxism-Leninism with the concrete conditions of today, can the new party be firmly established. Furthermore this struggle between Marxism-Leninism and revisionism doesn’t end with the formation of the party. Throughout the entire development of the party, two-line struggle must be carried out. Mao Tsetung wrote:
Opposition and struggle between ideas of different kinds constantly occur within the Party; this is a reflection within the Party of contradictions between classes and between the new and old in society. If there were no contradictions in the Party and no ideological struggles to resolve them, the Party’s life would come to an end.” (“On Contradiction”)
So we can see that the organizational formation of the party does not mark the end of active ideological struggle. It in fact heightens it and brings the struggle within the bounds of one unified central organization, with its own democratic centralism and its own organ as well as internal life. Democratic centralism, combining both democratic style and unity of will and action necessitates a bold faith in the masses. It is with this faith that the OL has put out this call to unite.
This method of building unity is the communist way. It is at odds with various schemes of party-building based upon federalism or autonomism which would disrupt the iron unity needed for the working class to lead the struggle of all oppressed people.
Our party is being built in opposition to various forms of this federationism which in the past have kept our movement scattered and divided along national lines or on a regional basis. One argument of the federationists is based on the necessity of “freedom of criticism.” By entering into party unity they fear that their independence will be compromised. On this subject, at the 10th Congress of the Russian Communist Party, Lenin said: “We are not a debating club. We of course, can and will publish collections or articles, special literature, etc., but we have to fight under most difficult conditions and therefore we must be combined.”
The conditions ahead also necessitate the highest level of unity. With the sharpening crisis of capitalism and the growing danger of war between the two superpowers we must be prepared to carry out communist work under new conditions. To meet these difficult times, unity and discipline is of the highest importance.
But even faced with these conditions, these “independents” still insist upon their “freedoms.” This shows their petty-bourgeois character. What are they trying to remain independent from? From what class forces are they trying to remain free?
Secondly they underestimate the level of the ideological struggle carried out so far. Over the past five years, great advances have been made in the course of the ideological struggle against revisionism and ultra-“leftism.”
While there are still many shortcomings in our theoretical work, the growth of our movement has sparked a large-scale revival of interest in Marxist-Leninist theory. It has produced several widely-read theoretical journals. Significant steps forward have been taken in the development of communist theory on the questions of burning significance, such as the national and woman questions, the restoration of capitalism in the USSR and the fight against revisionism. There is a growing number of Marxist-Leninist works being published and distributed throughout the country.
Next to this can be weighed the theoretical contributions of those “independents” who are constantly baiting the Marxist-Leninist movement about its “low theoretical level.” What contributions have they made? The main thrust of their limited theoretical work has been aimed at attacking or revising all of the basic Marxist-Leninist stands on the burning questions mentioned above.
The gains made in isolating the opportunist trends, as well as the break made recently with the Guardian and other rightists who still conciliate to the revisionist Communist Party (CP), by no means have ended the struggle. Nor has the ideological break with the CP been completely made. In fact, this autonomism and decentralist trend has its roots in the line of the CP on organization.
The revisionists for example, repudiate in practice the communist line on building the party primarily at the point of production among the workers and instead put forth the line of community concentration based upon electoral districts. The revisionists also stand for autonomy rather than democratic centralism, while the revisionist leadership imposes their line upon the disorganized local groupings.
To those who agree with the primacy of political line in party building, we must also ask, what about political line on the organizational question? Those who oppose the formation of the party under the present conditions are in fact taking the line of opportunism and many centers, a political line opposed to Leninism. It is a line aimed at preserving primitivism and keeping the communist movement from playing its vanguard role in the coming period.
The question of federationism has also come up around the plan for a weekly newspaper. Should the newspaper be a federative one, with all the groups entering into its editorial board maintaining their own separate organizations? We strongly oppose this approach. Our plan calls for Marxist-Leninists to liquidate the present organizations and unite into one party. The paper will be the central organ of that party, under the direction of a temporary central committee until the first congress can be called.
The line of the paper will be determined on the basis of the unity program of the party with active ideological struggle taking place within the organization. Through this work, the policies of the paper would reflect the stand of the entire organization.
In conclusion, it is not only possible but absolutely necessary for Marxist-Leninists to unite in the immediate future. This is one basic part of the overall task of party-building. While differences exist and will continue to exist, there is now enough of a basis of unity for forming the party. This formation is also dictated in large part by the changing world situation and the growing danger of a new world war. With one center and one party, upholding democratic centralism and opposing revisionist organizational lines as well as political lines, the party will grow strong and unified through struggle.
MARXIST-LENINISTS UNITE! ON TO THE NEW PARTY!