Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Resistencia Puertorriqueña

Sum-up of the Coalition for International Working Women’ Day

First Published: Resistencia, Vol. 7, No. 3, n.d. [1976]
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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IWWD this year was the scene of fierce class struggles around the burning questions facing the genuine communists around the country. In New York City a coalition was formed called by Workers Viewpoint Organization (WVO) which included many opportunist forces. In the course of the struggle within the coalition, the opportunist forces were exposed and purged. Some of these forces represent the main danger to our movement today – right opportunism. Thus we consider it important to present here our sum up of the two line struggle unfolded, draw the conclusions we have reached and the criticism and self-criticism, in order that other comrades and advanced workers pan draw from them important lessons on party building and move forward in the revolutionary struggle for the proletarian revolution in the U.S. The main achievements were that Party Building, our central task, was linked with the woman question, that WVO’s right opportunist line on Party Building was exposed aiding in the consolidation of advanced elements, and that a higher level of unity among Marxist-Leninists was forged. The main error committed was the temporary conciliation with WVO’s line.

The coalition sponsored a Forum on March 5th, 1976 (with the participation of Revolutionary Workers League, Revolutionary Bloc, Puerto Rican Revolutionary Workers Organization and Resistencia Puertorriquena, as well as student organizations, Puerto Rican Student Union and February First Movement. This Forum was the culmination of long and fierce struggles all centering around the two lines on Party Building which had been unfolding throughout the development of the coalition growing sharper and clearer as it went on. One of the most positive aspects of the Forum was that it concretely established that, being the woman question is in fact a class question, it must be linked with the burning questions faced by the working class today; in particular the question of the need to build a new, genuine communist party in the U.S. it is by linking up the woman question concretely with party building that a correct political line and program on the woman question can be developed so as to unite Marxist Leninists and win the advanced to communism.

In this sense the Forum of March 5th was a great step forward. In the course of struggle it was possible for genuine forces to further expose the main danger in the communist movement, right opportunism to further draw lines of demarcation and thus to further develop unity of Marxist-Leninist forces at a higher level. Although at some points in the Forum there was lack of communist discipline, it was characterized overall by a high level of polemics. It proved that at this stage it is political line that is key, political line around which we will be able to implement our primary tactical task of uniting Marxist-Leninists and our secondary (and simultaneously carried out) tactical task of winning the advance to communism.

Although there were various manifestations of the line struggles, underlying all was in the essence the struggle over party building line in its relationship with the woman question. As in any question, there is in the woman question two diametrically opposed ways of approaching the situation: the bourgeois outlook and the proletarian outlook. The bourgeois outlook manifested itself through the right opportunism of many forces involved in the coalition and the proletarian outlook guided the struggle against this right opportunist line and was able to over come, further purging this line from its ranks uniting Marxist-Leninists and winning over advanced elements around the correct line.

ORIGIN OF COALITION. The coalition was built as a follow up of the Feminist Conference held last year. This conference promoting a bourgeois outlook on the woman question pulled in mainly marsh forces (opportunists of all hues). The same marsh forces that were initially brought into the coalition under the leadership of WVO. What could result out of here was nothing but sham unity and a liquidation of the woman question as a class question. This was shown by the initial principles of unity proposed which were characterized by economic demands coming from a bourgeois outlook, not taking definite class stands on key questions, and representing imperialism as a vague phenomenon having little to do with the woman question nor with anything else.

Opposition to Soviet Social Imperialism of course did not appear. This was outright treachery. Our organization pointed out that imperialism was no vague remote threat but that it was the cause of all oppression and that soviet imperialism had to be opposed concretely, by opposing both superpowers, not just U.S. imperialism, their contention for world hegemony, and the consequent danger of imperialist world war. The apparently mild disagreements became immediately acute and the ensuing discussion helped to completely expose the true colors of the most outright opportunists who claimed that there exist only one superpower that is going to make a war all by itself, that imperialism is “abstract”, and that we should relate to what the masses are interested in. The two line struggle that was beginning to unfold here was the struggle between the opportunist line of belittling the role of theory and of the conscious element, tailing behind the masses rather than attempting to give conscious leadership, and the correct line of seeing the importance of the conscious element, and that, being the woman question a class question, this coalition should take a correct class stand on all questions including Soviet Social Imperialism. That is: either bowing to spontaneity and tailing behind the masses, or giving a conscious, proletarian character to IWWD. The opportunist line was defeated, its major proponents purged from the coalition. These were the trotskyite groups, revisionist fronts, lesbians and bourgeois feminists, opportunists of El Comite MINP and perhaps some honest confused elements who were unable to grasp the essence of the two line struggle.

NOT ALL OPPORTUNISTS WERE PURGED. Lenin teaches us that “Liberalism, rotten inside, attempts to rise again in the form of socialist opportunism”. And again and again as opportunism is exposed it takes new forms, reappears, fights and falls again. There were still hidden opportunists who had temporarily sided with the correct line in order to achieve their own opportunist interests. These opportunists were in the main represented by the OL who wished to coopt this coalition into its own IWD coalition and opportunist line.

As the struggle for correct principles of unity developed, so did the line struggle. Its manifestations were now around concrete aspects of third World liberation struggles and the oppression of women, and the role of communists in coalitions. The OL held the opportunist line that one does not have to support Third World struggles such as the Iranian peoples struggle against imperialism and against repressive attacks by the Shah of Iran, justifying such a position by smearing the name of the CP of China and claiming that it too holds that line. The OL insisted on watering down the demands claiming that this coalition had nothing to do with party building and that we should make “compromises”. The fact was that they disagreed with many of the Principles of Unity (such as the opposition to ERA, forced busing and superseniority), but refused to bring out their line in the open and struggle to defend it. And here again the two line struggle manifested itself to be in essence: whether to tail the spontaneous mass movement or to give conscious leadership to this movement by addressing ourselves to the most burning questions of our day, by striving to give them a correct resolution by dispersing from the masses all hope in bourgeois democracy. That is, whether we are going for reform of for revolution.

This in itself reflected the two line struggle on party building which was underlying all the different forms taken by the struggles in the coalition. In the case of the OL it was clear that what they are proposing is NOT a party of a New Type, but a Menshevik party, a party of all unity no struggle, a party with the lowest common denominator, (where you can make all kinds of compromises) catering to the lowest strata of the working class and the petty bourgeoisie, a party of reform, not a party of revolution.

It should be mentioned that throughout the struggle with the OL, of the forces remaining in the coalition only CAP sided with the OL’s opportunist line. CAP left the coalition with the OL without making any kind of differentiation of their line with the OL’s so we must assume they are the same. Up until the present CAP has not repudiated leaving the coalition with the OL so again we must assume that such line is still maintained in the CAP.

The OL’s right opportunist line was defeated in the coalition, and (although some errors were committed which did not allow a thorough line struggle to develop) right opportunism was again exposed and purged. Some of these errors were:

Not thoroughly exposing OL’s line and link it to its party building line. Instead, the Principles of Unity were designed to keep OL out of the coalition not because of its right opportunist line on party building, but because of its disagreements on the Shah of Iran, etc., which were only manifestations of that line. Thus the struggle with the OL was narrowed and limited. This aided in still providing a cover for WVO’s line, since in not bringing out OL’s line on party building, WVO’s line on party building also remained hidden and protected. Had this been brought out clearly, WVO’s line would have also come out in the open earlier, facilitating its earlier exposure and enhancing the political work of the coalition. As it was, the error held back temporarily the progress of the coalition. Specifically it aided our organization in later deviating by giving more importance to form rather than to essence, thus falling into the serious error of raising “left” errors over right opportunism.

We also criticized the form in which some comrades from PRRWO and PRSU related to criticisms while it was raised to them, such as reading newspapers or laughing while criticism was being raised and later not correctly answering it or justifying it by pointing to other errors. Another struggle we engaged in was against the manner in which PRRWO, RWL and WVO declared to be the “genuine wing of the communist movement” and that as such they would assume leadership in the coalition. All these errors we magnified, gave more importance to the form and conciliated with right opportunism, an error for which we self criticized within the coalition, openly at the Forum and at many public and private gatherings held since then.

AND STILL NOT ALL OPPORTUNISTS WERE PURGED. Again opportunists made their way up in a different form. The initial error on how the coalition was put together by WVO had been pointed out and superficially accepted by WVO, but criticism and self criticism had not deepened, it stayed at the level of “temporarily conciliating (to the bourgeois feminist line, (which) inevitably crept in and temporarily took over the women’s work in the organization. ” (Workers Viewpoint Vol. 1, #1), without ever recognizing the underlying basis being a right opportunist line on party building. WVO continued to cover and camouflage its right line now around IWK’s wavering political line on Party Building and the international situation, also exposed as opportunist. (At this point we feel we still need to deepen our study on IWK’s overall line).

Up to this point our organization waged resolute struggle against right opportunism to the best of our capacities. We struggled against right opportunism by opening the struggle around Soviet Social Imperialism, we engaged in exposing the OL’s demagoguery in attempting to justify its bankrupt opportunist line with the CP of China. We also waged struggle against IWK’s position of refusal to warn the masses on the real danger of war and fascism based on the rising factors for war alongside the rising factors for revolution.

As IWK left the coalition, the last cover for WVO’s bankrupt line was gone. All along WVO had been able to hide behind the incorrect line of others, it had been able to slip and slide, and escape from having to lay out its line in the open and defend it. As it was left naked it still refused to defend its line and resorted to all kinds of desperate tricks, to bourgeois maneuvering, turning to the supposedly “backward elements”, “the masses” in the, coalition in an appeal to save them through a vote of confidence. Of course, these “masses” were the people brought in by WVO in order to front for them, mouth their line and help them win a vote when politically they have lost a point.


Rather than being openly rightist, opportunism was now more learned in its tactics and still covered itself. We failed to see this clearly and relaxed our vigilance towards the right. Of course we fell in the trap and objectively conciliated with the right. Although we criticized WVO for shying away from ideological struggle and refusing to lay out their line clearly, we did not actively and resolutely participate in that struggle. Our error was manifested in two ways:

a) Covering the right by raising the “left”. Although we have held that the main danger to our movement is from the right and that we also have to look out for the secondary “left” danger (Resistencia vol. 7 #1), in practice we deviated from this line and failed to combat right opportunism by concentrating most of our efforts against the “left” danger.

b) Empiricism. We viewed the struggle against WVO as something “internal” between RWL, PRRWO and WVO which did not concern our organization since there were a lot of facts and details involved that we were not familiar with. That is, we did not take into consideration the experiences of other comrades and decided “not to jump into conclusions” on WVO based on insufficient experience. This empiricism in turn led us to not take a position, to centrism, on WVO as an opportunist organization until we discussed it further, thus not taking up a resolute struggle against the right opportunism in WVO.

In analysing these errors we were able to identify the following sources:

a) Sectarianism. Historically our organization has been sectarian towards the movement in general and towards PRRWO in particular. PRRWO has been historically sectarian towards our organization as well. We have repudiated this tendency in the past (Resistencia vol. 6 #7) which has affected the development of our organization but in practice we have yet to completely eradicate it from within our ranks. This was reflected in our work in the coalition giving place to subjectivism, fragmented views, giving more importance to form rather than to content, more importance to who said what and how, rather than to what is being said, to get lost in details and not see the essence, etc. We allowed sectarianism to take command over political line resulting in the errors committed.

b) Conciliation with right opportunism. This was the essence of our error, which aided by sectarianism led us to “raise the left to cover the right”, and allowed the right to gain strength from our weakness. By not combatting WVO’s right opportunism we allowed that WVO’s line and errors predominated for a long period of time throughout the coalition determining in many instances the character and direction of the struggle being waged within the coalition.


We’ll go into the two line struggle as it now unfolded and centered around WVO’s right opportunist line.

Underlying all its manifestations from beginning to end of the coalition, was their line on party building from which flowed such manifestations and which we are summing-up as follows.

1. WVO’s insistence on mass action as opposed to propaganda work. Although paying lip service to the importance of propaganda WVO in practice did all in its power to make sure that a march was held no matter what. Conscious on the importance of propaganda work, we had decided previous to entering the coalition to hold a Forum on IWWD and we proceeded to invite RWL, PRRWO and WVO to participate with us in this Forum. We made it clear to the groups invited that if the development of the coalition were such that it could take up the sponsoring of the Forum (the coalition was considering a demonstration and it was then composed of many opportunist forces) we would then channel our efforts for the Forum through the coalition. If not, we would go ahead and hold the Forum independently. RWL agreed to this and answered our invitation in the affirmative.

Later, it was agreed that the Forum would be sponsored by the coalition. It was also agreed that a march would be held around a working class community in the Lower East Side. Struggle broke out around this because WVO was in essence giving primary importance to the March, despite lack of preparation, time factor etc. for such march.

The position of our organization is that propaganda is primary, but not exclusive in this period. As comrade Lenin teaches us, the exaggeration of one aspect of our work at the detriment, or the total elimination of the others, is a serious mistake. In line with this position we made sure that a Forum was held and at the same time agreed to holding a march, as a secondary aspect. We believe that agitation serves propaganda, that they are intimately linked, and that, if following a consciously laid out plan, communists in this period can and should make use of both propaganda and agitation, particularly in relation to events such as IWWD.

However, this is not what WVO did, but rather, paying lip service to the role of propaganda and the conscious element, they continued to belittle the role of propaganda and the advanced elements, insisting on the march, the “masses ” and the need to go into the “marshes”. We believe that in combatting WVO the error of liquidating the role of agitation was committed particularly by comrades of PRRWO, but the main error was WVO’s liquidation of propaganda.

In the case of WVO their belittling of propaganda work flows from an aspect of its party building line which holds that an advanced worker is a worker “open to socialism”, but not a worker ”who consciously accepts socialism” and who “even elaborates independent socialist theories” (Lenin, A Retrograde Trend in Russian Social Democracy). This line that expands the definition of the advanced to include a wider strata of intermediate workers is nothing but an attempt to justify mass actions rather than give primary importance to propaganda work, and to lower the level of propaganda to such strata, negate the role of the advanced and eater to the less advanced. In essence this is nothing but the line on party building which says: “Build the mass movement”, as opposed to build the vanguard party... the economist line versus the Marxist-Leninist line.

2. WVO’s “Unite to expose”. Political exposure does not require unity with the opportunists. Political organizations are class organs. Constituencies and following are in the main, either advanced, or intermediate, or backward. Opportunists and revisionists cannot have constituencies of advanced elements. So, why “unite to expose”? Unless you are after such constituencies yourself... It is obvious that “Unite to expose” can only follow a policy of “win the backward ” rather than “win the advanced” – a task which at this stage needs to be given primary importance by honest Marxist-Leninists.

Political exposures are in fact necessary, but not by means of uniting with opportunists and they must be carried out with the purpose of winning the advanced. WVO has demonstrated consistently its line of “unite to expose” (see their participation in the PRSC-PSP ) and many other revisionists’ and opportunists’ fronts) where WVO tails behind opportunism spontaneism, economism and revisionism. Ironically in their line of “unite to expose” WVO exposes only itself in its line of party building which is “build the mass movement” as opposed to building a vanguard party.

3. WVO’s unity with marsh forces. If WVO honestly holds that political line is key, and that at this stage Marxist Leninist must above all unite Marxist-Leninist and win the advanced, why does it put into practice the complete opposite, attempting to form a coalition by going first to trots, revisionists lesbians, etc. Again WVO’s line on party building was totally exposed as right opportunism: preaching one thing and practicing another. And this, again, flowed from its “build the mass movement”, line which leads them to unite with everybody instead of building a vanguard party by uniting M-Ls and wining the advanced. As comrade Lenin teaches us “Unity is a great thing and a great slogan. But what the workers’ cause needs is UNITY OF MARXISTS, not unity between Marxists, and opponents and distorters of Marxism”. (Lenin, Unity, Coll. Works, vol. XX).

4. WVO’s “anti-revisionist premises”. By placing Marxism Leninism Mao Tse Tung Thought on an equal footing as an anti-revisionist premise itself, along with other premises, WVO is telling us that MLMTTT is not enough, that it is lacking what WVO has added to it now! Great inventiveness and creativeness, WVO! But fortunately, one does not fight revisionism by revising, but by applying MLMTTT, which to us is quite sufficient as a guiding ideology in building a truly anti-revisionist party, not a mass party.

5. WVO’s attitude towards self criticism and open polemics. WVO in self criticism never touched upon the source of the initial error of uniting with marsh forces nor linked it with their line on party building. We hold that the correct party building line demands from honest communists that we implement in practice, and not just pay lip service, the task of “unite Marxist-Leninists and win the advanced”, which WVO has put upside down by its approach to the marshes. The negative attitude displayed by WVO towards self criticism is indicative of the opportunism which distinguishes it from true Marxist Leninists. Also, its refusal to lay out its line openly and clearly, claiming that “this is a mass coalition and we have to deal with practical tasks” was also clearly opportunist. Practical work with the masses, ideological struggle for after the masses have gone: what is this but disdain for the masses, in particular for advanced elements? And why the demand for a vote when asked to clearly lay out their line? On such serious questions as party building and the tasks of communists, the question is put up for vote for the masses to decide what communists should do. This is nothing but rotten tailism again flowing from their “build the mass movement” Menshevik line on Party Building.

WVO’s right opportunist “build the mass movement” line on party building was reflected throughout the struggles in the coalition and it was in opposing this line that the proletarian line finally overcame. We must conclude that WVO does not in practice uphold that party building is the central task of all genuine communists, that while it pays lip service to this task, WVO consistently bows to spontaneity and dedicates itself to building the “mass movement”, and for this reason we no longer consider WVO a genuine communist organization, but rather an opportunist one. Besides WVO does not uphold that propaganda is the chief form of work in this period, nor that we are to unite Marxist-Leninists and win the advanced, as they have shown in practice. This incorrect practice by WVO has already begun to make a dent in the ideological sphere, as we can see in their “anti-revisionist premises”, other new “theories” of theirs, and in their attitude towards criticism and self criticism.

This separation from WVO should not be seen as a bad thing but rather as a good thing. It is a law of historical and dialectical materialism that always “one divides into two”, by the swallowing, the victory of the true over the false, the correct over the incorrect, and so on. Thus as our Chinese comrades have pointed out: “Revolutionary ’separation’ is not a bad but a good thing. It helps raise the people’s ideological consciousness, enhances the unity of the revolutionary people, promotes the development of the proletarian revolutionary cause and impels society forward.” (Three Major Struggles on China s Philosophical Front, p. 58).

In essence, the two line struggle on Party Building was reflected not solely with WVO but as well with the other forces that left the coalition one by one, as we proceeded “from outside to inside”, deepening in the analysis of contradictions finding the root in the two line struggle on party building: the most burning question of our day!

The fundamental error committed in the coalition was conciliation by communist forces with right opportunism, in particular with WVO’s line. This led to two other serious errors that we must raise and correct. Our basic criticisms of work by the coalition are the following:

1. That it liquidated to a great extent the chief form of work in this period, that is, propaganda work. The coalition was only able to produce one piece of propaganda apart from the work of the Forum itself and the verbal propaganda carried out in the course of struggles in the coalition. This propaganda piece was distributed very scarcely for the period of one week previous to the Forum. This propaganda piece was in itself inadequate in many respects and did not fill the requirements of propaganda work at this time. To have the correct political line is not enough, as comrade Stalin teaches us:

Some people imagine that it is quite sufficient to map out a correct party line, to proclaim it so as to bring it to everyone’s attention, to set it forth in general theses and resolutions and to vote it unanimously, and victory will come by itself, so to say of its own accord. Of course this is quite wrong. This is a big Illusion. Only incorrigible bureaucrats are capable of such reasoning... Fine resolutions and declarations in favour of the general policy of the party are just the beginning, because they only indicate a desire for victory, not victory itself. After the correct policy has been outlined, and the correct solution indicated, success depends on organisational work, on the organization of the struggle to implement the party line, and the proper selection of workers, on the control over the. implementation of the decisions on the part of the leading organs. If these are lacking, the correct party line and correct decisions stand a great risk of being seriously impaired. What is more, after the correct policy has been hammered out, everything depends on organisational work, including the political line itself – its implementation or its failure. (Dimitrov On United Front.)

Thus, to have the correct political line is not enough; it has to be taken to practice to link up the communist movement with the working class movement: to engage the advanced elements in the ideological and political struggles to help the advanced take a correct stance on all burning questions that are being struggled out, and to move the advanced to become communists and the intermediate to become advanced. This is the work of propaganda as seen in its practical aspect.

2. That the coalition objectively, and up to a certain degree, liquidated the work among the advanced elements. It is chiefly through propaganda work that the advanced are won over to communism at this period. There was no propaganda forthcoming in the heat of the class struggle, except that made independently by organizations among their contacts. This was necessary so as to enhance the understanding of advanced elements when the lines that had been struggling throughout the coalition now clashed openly in the eyes of all to see at the Forum. Had the advanced and intermediate been sufficiently prepared to understand what was happening and take a correct stand? Many advanced elements were fully aware of the line struggle taking place and could truly grasp it as such, that is, those advanced elements who are in close contact with communist organizations that had made sure that such work was done. Others (many advanced elements did not even attend the Forum as they were not reached by propaganda) were not sufficiently equipped to handle that struggle, grasp its essence and actively participate in it. Fortunately, as is to be expected, advanced elements there were able to recognize “the true from the false, the correct from the incorrect”, saw WVO’s line naked for what it is, right opportunism on party building, and were able to side with the correct line.

This process however takes time, is not a one night’s job, but required, still does, the conscious, prolonged efforts by communists, in order to consolidate advanced elements, make them communists, and make advanced elements out of the intermediate.

Coalitions can serve to complement the independent work carried out by communists, by pooling together our scarce and limited resources. This aspect of the coalition was not maximized, resulting in the liquidation of one aspect of our work among the advanced.

3. That communist forces in the coalition conciliated consistently with right opportunism in various ways, either (a) initially tailing behind WVO’s sham coalition of marsh forces without investigating first the nature of this coalition and concretely proposing to other communist forces the correct way of developing work independently for IWWD; or (b) continuing to conciliate even after it was clear what was the nature of the coalition; and finally (c) conciliating by continually bowing to spontaneity, allow, the line struggle to unfold itself without conscious direction, not bringing concrete proposals or plans, as to what exactly had to be done, and waiting to last minute practically to address ourselves to the work among the advanced through written propaganda. It was conciliation to right opportunism that prevented the coalition from effectively dealing with these two important aspects mentioned above. This partial liquidation is a serious error for communists at this period that must be corrected immediately.

The anti-imperialist coalition for IWWD has decided to continue its work on to May Day. This is a good thing. This coalition achieved a higher level of unity of Marxists Leninists and this being our primary tactical task it is a great achievement. We must now sum up, deepen our self criticism, determine the source of our errors and correct them, so we may move ahead!