First Published: The Call, Vol. 3, No. 11, August 1975.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
Copyright: This work is in the Public Domain under the Creative Commons Common Deed. You can freely copy, distribute and display this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit the Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line as your source, include the url to this work, and note any of the transcribers, editors & proofreaders above.
Southwestern Alabama–Communists from every section of the U.S. gathered in the Black Belt South last month for the Third National Congress of the October League. This Congress, held amid conditions of great revolutionary turbulence in the world, summed up and reflected the growth, the great advances and the high level of unity of the October League.
The delegates to the Congress included large numbers of workers and people of various nationalities. The entire meeting was marked by a tremendous spirit of unity as the adoption of each resolution, report and leadership election was greeted with tremendous applause.
The meeting opened with greetings from fraternal parties and liberation organizations from around the world. Comrade James Meadowcraft presented a solidarity message on behalf of the Revolutionary Student Movement of Quebec (MREQ), who expressed the militant spirit of unity between the Canadian and Quebecois people with the U.S. working class and communist movement.
The theme of proletarian internationalism was evident in every discussion and the unity of workers of various nationalities was a central part of every discussion.
Special statements of greetings to the Congress were also given by several veteran comrades including Nannie Washburn, whose history of class struggle goes back 75 years, and Odis Hyde, a veteran of 40 years in the communist movement, and a member of the newly elected Central Committee. One after another, workers newly won to the communist movement, stood up and spoke on the significance of this Congress and what it meant to be a communist and a vanguard fighter for the proletariat.
The delegates included a healthy balance of young and old cadres, and over 60 per cent of the delegates were women.
In his Political Report to the Congress, OL Chairman, Michael Klonsky, said that this should be the last congress of the organization which was formed in 1972 with the primary purpose of contributing to the building of a new communist party in the U.S. Klonsky said that “we are now on the brink of accomplishing that task” and added that all the conditions for the formation of such a party are now in existence.
The delegates to the Congress warmly accepted this view and went on to adopt several basic resolutions which added to and deepened the general line of the OL. These resolutions were seen as important weapons in guiding the OL into the difficult and complex period ahead in which the party will be built.
The main resolution passed by the Congress was on “Party Building.” Its three main theses were that 1) party-building has become “a question of immediacy”; 2) that the OL should begin to accelerate its efforts towards the organizational formation of the new party, and 3) that the present period calls for a shift in our party building work to emphasis on the organizational forging of the party itself.
Klonsky’s political report stated that both the development of objective and subjective factors for party building have ripened. The objective factors include the deepening of the present crisis in capitalism in which all of the basic contradictions in the system are coming to the forefront and bringing thousands of revolutionary minded workers and oppressed people to Marxism-Leninism. Furthermore, the growing threat of war on the part of the imperialists as well as the increasing fascist threat serve as a warning that the present period of pre-party organizations cannot adequately serve the people’s complex and difficult struggle which lies ahead.
The political report to the Congress also pointed to the great advances in the ideological struggle within the communist movement against revisionism and all other forms of opportunism. As the party building resolution pointed out: “This early period, marked by the rise of communist collectives, study circles and local groups has drawn to a close.
A number of national communist pre-party organizations have replaced them, representing a general trend within the young communist movement. Through the struggle against revisionism, and in our work during this pre-party period, consolidated opportunist trends have been exposed and driven from the ranks of this young movement–aliens to Marxism-Leninism. This fight against national chauvinism, Trotskyism, anarchism, syndicalism and ultra-’leftism” in general, has strengthened the movement and set the stage for the organizational formation of the new party.”
The resolution points to the rise of a right opportunist trend of conciliation with the revisionists of the Communist Party, USA. It says: “In response to the ideological defeat for the “left” opportunists (e.g. The Communist Labor Party and the Revolutionary Union) the rightist influences are bound to gain more strength. The negative influences of the RU and CLP serve as a sounding board for those who wish to attack Marxism-Leninism to re-emerge on the scene.
“Within certain sections of the young communist movement,” the resolution adds, “we are experiencing new appeals to nationalism, legalism, and electoral cretinism. A line of ’centrism’ , particularly in relation to the Soviet Union and the split in the international communist movement, is being openly promoted. New theories of ’American exceptionalism’ are finding some welcome ears as are new efforts at conciliation with the modern revisionists on the national and international scene.”
The resolution on “Party Building” aims itself at giving guidance to the organizational tasks in the new period. “First,” it says, “we must consolidate around party building and combat the conservative forces within and outside our ranks who will try to keep us from moving forward. All aspects of small-group mentality, sectarianism and localism must be defeated; as well as the tendency towards ’all unity and no struggle.’ Our unity with other communist forces must be principled and not of the federative type. A new party must be built upon democratic centralism and not federalism. It must have one center, with leadership of all the units of the party.”
The resolution also criticizes those forces who still “peddle the line of ’separate Marxist-Leninist parties’ or national organizations instead of a multi-national party.” The paper adds that: “This line objectively represents a step backward today.”
The resolution concludes with a call for Marxist-Leninists to unite in one multi-national organization, a party of the Leninist type and puts forth seven general areas of minimal unity on: 1) The Dictatorship of the Proletariat as our Strategic Objective, 2) Party Organization, 3) The International Situation, 4) The National Question, 5) Trade Unions, 6) United Front Against Imperialism, 7) The Woman Question.
These unity principles are put forth in an effort to reach broad unity among Marxist-Leninists while at the same time being particular enough to demarcate the new party from the various revisionist and opportunist trends. They also include a plan for a newspaper which would serve as the party’s central organ.
The resolution on Party Building was unanimously adopted and greeted with a thunderous standing ovation on the part of all the Congress delegates which shook the whole meeting hall.
Other resolutions passed included:
The Chicano National Question–A comprehensive historical analysis of the development of the Chicano people as an oppressed national minority including some important material on the question of regional autonomy.
The International Report–This report clearly defines the present world situation in which the factors leading to both world war and revolution are both developing rapidly. The increasing contention between U.S. and Soviet social-imperialism pose the greatest threat to peace while-the increased role of the Third World in world affairs is pushing the revolutionary struggles of the world’s peoples forward at a rapid pace.
Afro-American National Question–This resolution is a further development of OL’s revolutionary line on the Afro-American question which views the Afro-American people as an oppressed nation and supports the right of self-determination in the Black Belt South, the historic homeland of Afro-Americans. This resolution deals particularly with the Afro-American national minority concentrated in the urban ghettoes outside the Black Belt South.
The Woman Question–This paper deals a blow to the various petty bourgeois lines which divide the struggle of the women from the working class revolutionary movement, while at the same time reaffirming the OL’s committment to the cause of women’s equality.
Puerto Rican National Question–This resolution lays out the OL’s basic view of the struggle for Puerto Rican independence as an essential part of the U.S. workers’ struggle and the struggle of the Puerto Rican national minority in the U.S. for full democratic rights.
The Congress also elected its new Central Committee which will guide the organization through the next period. The new CC includes the basic core of the previous leadership plus new comrades who have developed through the course of class struggle during the previous period.
There was a thorough discussion which consolidated the delegates around the direction of the labor work of the OL. The great gains in labor work were noted, especially the growing fight-back against the present economic crisis and the attempts by the imperialists to place the burden of the crisis on the backs of the working class. From every district came reports of the growth and development of the workers’ solidarity committees which have been organizing both employed and unemployed workers to meet the capitalist offensive head-on.
Also stressed in the labor discussion was the continued struggle against the labor aristocracy and its influence within the trade unions. The discussion called for an intensified struggle to organize the rank-and-file within the unions in organized opposition to overthrow the reformist, revisionist and fascist labor leaders and to make the unions into organizations that fight for the complete emancipation of laboring people. Key to this is the winning of the vanguard workers to the party and to Marxism-Leninism as well as the fight against all forms of national chauvinism and racism.
In a closing address, Odis Hyde spoke about the significance of holding the Congress in the former slave area of the Black Belt South. Hyde said that he could think of no more fitting a place for communists to meet than in this historic area of Black slavery and resistance where thousands of Black people had laid down their lives in the struggle for liberation. Hyde stressed the extremely important task of winning the white workers to the cause of Black self-determination and socialism.
The meeting ended in a chorus of songs and the singing of the Internationale. The Third Congress of the October League was a Congress of great unity and a call for all communists to unite, move forward and build a new party.