First Published: Resistencia, Vol. 7, No. 1, n.d. [January 1976]
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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The class struggle is the driving force of history. In the epoch of capitalism-imperialism, the working class is the most revolutionary class in society, the only one capable of fulfilling the great task of ending once and for all this oppressive system and of building a socialist society free of all exploitation. However, the working class, without its communist party to organize and lead it, cannot carry out its great historical mission. The so called “Communist” Party of the U.S. long ago betrayed the interests of the working class. Since then the central task of all communists in the U.S. has been the building of a genuine communist, Marxist-Leninist Party of the working class in the U.S. In our efforts to dedicate ourselves seriously and honestly to this task we publish as follows the results of the discussions that we have had in our organization around this question up to the present.
The party is not built overnight. The struggle to build the party is prolonged, complex, and does not take place in dark rooms, nor by decree. It is a fierce struggle against anti-party forces and against those who declare themselves to be the party, but are not. The building of the party is a process which takes place in basically 3 stages: ideological, political and organizational; each of which is determined by the development of the communist movement in relation to its main task; i.e., by the character of the priorities at a given moment.
What makes up these stages of development of the communist movement? The first stage is the ideological one in which the principles of Marxism Leninism are reaffirmed having been attacked and distorted by the sham Communist Party (CPUSA) in the U.S., and by the international revisionist movement, with the sham Communist Party of the Soviet Union at its head. In the ideological stage, Communists are united in the fight for such principles as: the need for the dictatorship of the proletariat and the complete destruction of the bourgeois state the need for armed struggle (substituted by the revisionists with the theory of “peaceful transition”), the role of theory (specifically Marxism Leninism Mao Tse tung thought) as a guide to action (substituted by the revisionists with economism and revisionism), the vanguard role of the working class and the role of the conscious element, that is to say the need of the party to lead the working class. In achieving unity of these questions, the ideological foundations of the future party and the basis for unity among communists are established. These basis for unity among communists are at the same time the lines of demarcation which allow us to determine which forces we are going to unite with in the process of building the party.
The next stage, the political stage, deals not merely with a description of a series of objective conditions, which are independent of our will, but rather with the transformation of these objective conditions. That is to say, how the communists, through their revolutionary practice, can change these conditions. In order to do this, unity of action is necessary, it is necessary that communists put theory into practice, to test in practice the strength of the theoretical unity and to modify or broaden their unities as need be. Thus in this stage the ideological unity achieved by communists are concretized applying the principles of Marxism Leninism Mao-Tse tung thought to the concrete conditions in the U.S. and internationally. This application takes concrete expression in the formulation of a political line, a plan of action.
It is not enough, however, to develop and apply a political line. To do this would be to forget the central task now before us: the building of the party. The goal in this stage is to develop a common political line. This is necessary because in this stage we must lay the foundations for the eventual formulation of the future party program (its goals and objectives) and the development of strategy and tactics for the implementation of said program.
Similarly, as the political stage is a consolidation of ideological unity in practice, the organizational stage is the consolidation of the already existent political and ideological unity in the superior form of organization, which has not existed up to now, that is to say: the party. In this stage the necessary organizational structures are created in order to implement the common political line. These organizational forms have as their main purpose the definite moulding of the unity of will and the unity of action in the party by establishing a central leadership, a single program, common rules of discipline which operate under democratic centralism once the existing organizations have been dissolved. Similarly, the superior and inferior bodies and criterion for membership of the party will be established as well as the proper organizational forms for revolutionary struggle, a combination of legal and illegal organization and political work, depending on the concrete conditions at the moment. By the end of this stage, a fierce struggle will have been carried out against the remnants of the narrow circle spirit of previous stages, against individualism, against anarchism, unresponsibility and other internal vices which today plague the communist organizations and thus at last we will raise the banner of the multinational party which the working class in this country sorely needs.
It’s necessary that the communist movement pass by the three stages described. Shortcuts or attempts to by-pass stages in order to accelerate the process would in effect retard it with the eventual degeneration of the forces involved. An analysis of the deviations in this regard help to prove this. Let’s examine the most recent ones. The formerly Communist League’s attempt to by-pass the political stage and build a party in a rush without putting into practice the ideological positions it proposed. For them it was just enough to believe in the need to build the party and be in agreement with a series of their positions. Practice, joint action was not necessary, according to them. All contradictions, all ideological struggle would be carried out and resolved “after the congress.” Meanwhile it was necessary to place all forces under the democratic centralism of the C.L. Theory divorced from practice as proposed by C.L. created an organization alienated from the masses outside of the class struggle, an organization sectarian towards the masses as well as towards the communist movement. The C.L.’s attempt constitutes a left deviation in most recent efforts to build the party.
The formerly Revolutionary Union, on the other hand, represents right deviation. This organization belittled and underestimated the role of theory and the conscious element in the construction of the party. R.U. attempted to by-pass the ideological stage, and directed itself down the marshes of economism, substituting a spontaneous movement with what they now call the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP), an organization characterized by belittling theory. Both organizations, the C.L.P. and R.C.P., constitute deviations in the process of party building, both are characterized by their separation of theory and practice, by an attempt to by-pass stages, by their alienation from the communist movement. Both groups embody a valuable lesson on the strategy of party building and the dangers embodied in attempts to outstrip these stages, which sooner or later degenerate into opportunism and other pernicious tendencies for the working class.
In order to determine, which are the tasks which we face at this moment, it is necessary to determine the stage of development in which we are at the present time. In order to determine this it is necessary that we examine: (1) Which are the unities which have been achieved up to now (2) What is the main danger both within the communist movement and within the working class movement (3) What is the main obstacle that at this moment prevents the fulfillment of our central task.
(1) There exists, among communists in the U.S., a series of points of unity at the ideological level that can be summed up as a clear break with revisionism. There exists unity as to the need for the building of the party, the dictatorship of the proletariat, armed struggle, the vanguard role of the working class, etc. The communist forces now need to give political expression to this unity in order to move forward.
(2) The main danger to the communist movement at this time is right opportunism, revisionism, which in the working class movement mainly takes the form of economism, bowing to spontaneity, tailing behind the masses. Economism is the preponderant trend in the working class, under the leadership of the opportunists, and it prevents the fusing of the revolutionary movement with the working class movement.
It’s necessary to point out that in this stage, as the unity of Marxist Leninists begins to be forged in the struggle against economism and opportunism, there exists a second danger that can begin to gather strength and become the main danger for the communist movement. This danger is sectarianism, towards organization and towards the masses. This is the error of combating economism from without, refusing to get involved in the struggle of the masses; that is to say fighting economism in theory but not in practice. We have to unmask the opportunists and economists in the heat of the class struggle and not away from it. It’s necessary for us to understand that even though economism constitutes the main danger, we have to be alert and consistently combat every sectarian tendency that keeps us from the masses and prevents the task of winning the advanced.
(3) What stops then the unity of Marxist- Leninists from moving forward in relation to the task of party building? Having broken with revisionism, united in a series of Marxist-Leninist principles what stops the existing unity among communists from becoming greater? What is stopping the process of party building is the absence of a common political line through which communists can forge their unity in practice. For example, despite the unity that does exist among communists on the danger of revisionism, repeatedly we find ourselves in various coalitions or struggles in which we act separately, since we have not been able to agree in practice on the methods and tactics to be used in fighting the revisionists. Thus in many fronts of battle we find ourselves divided, which prevents us from effectively dealing with the enemy and results in our weaknesses in the present struggle against revisionist leadership in the mass struggle.
Thus, the most urgent problem faced by Marxist- Leninists in this stage is: formulating a common political line to advance the unity of Marxist- Leninists and win the advanced elements to the side of communism. This is why we say that we are now in the political stage, the stage in which the formulation of a common political line is the key to advance the process of party building. This political line constitutes the key link of the chain in the process of party building and on which the solution to all the other problems now faced by the communist movement is dependent.
It’s also necessary to point out that the transition from the ideological stage to the political stage in which we now find ourselves, is determined by both subjective and objective factors. The need to break with revisionism and reaffirm Marxist-Leninist principles to establish the ideological foundations of the party determined the magnitude of the unities to be reached during the ideological stage. These are subjective factors. But likewise the objective factors, that is to say the concrete conditions of the U.S., play an important part in this process.
The political and economic crisis, the upcoming upsurge of the masses, gives a sense of urgency to the process off party building. The crisis has found a disorganized communist movement and one that is not adequately prepared to deal correctly with this crisis. To be able to deal with the spontaneous uprising of the masses it is necessary to develop a common political line that will give correct leadership to The masses and that will expose and isolate, the revisionists, reformists and opportunists that at this time have hegemony over the masses.
As in all natural and social processes, the process of party building cannot escape the laws of dialectics. The stages of development of the communist movement are closely linked. To go from the ideological to the political stage, for example, does not mean that the ideological struggle has ended, nor does it mean that we have reached the maximum level of development and theoretical unity possible among communists. It means that certain problems have priority over others and it indicates to communist forces in which direction their greater efforts should be channeled in this stage. The process of gaining political unity is at the same time a process of gaining greater ideological clarity. The correctness of the idea is proven in practice by the application of political line. This process forces communists to deepen the foundations of their ideology, to further their study and sharpen their ideas. The process of gaining political unity is at the same time accompanied by the process of achieving a greater and more solid ideological unity. Similarly during this political stage we cannot brush aside the organizational problems that arise, such as practicing democratic centralism criticism and self-criticism, etc., and developing organizational forms such as factory nuclei which will be embryos of the future organizational forms of the party, and in particular, developing the organizational forms which respond to the needs and conditions of the given movement.
In this stage consolidation of political unity among Marxist-Leninists requires the formulation of a correct political line on the present conditions in the U.S. and internationally.
The international situation: In spite of the fact that each case requires an independent analysis, this analysis must be based on the world situation in general, which is characterized by the following:
1. The growing menace of a third world war as a result of the contention between the two superpowers for hegemony and re-division of the world. Also, the need for communists to be prepared and to prepare ideologically the proletariat under the principles of proletarian internationalism for such a war.
2. The existence of two imperialist super-powers (yankee imperialism which is presently in decline, and Soviet social imperialism which is in ascendancy.) Soviet social imperialism constitutes the main enemy of the world. The revisionist clique usurped state power and restored capitalism in the Soviet Union, and is now paving the way for world war, while attempting to act as “champions of freedom and of socialism”.
3. The Communist Party of China and the Party of Labor of Albania constitute the vanguard of the international communist movement.
4. The Third World, fighting for freedom and national independency, against, imperialism, hegemonism, colonialism and neo-colonialism, constitutes today a great and powerful force capable of weakening imperialism and weakening the tendency towards war. The Third World is key in order that “either war brings revolution, or revolution stops war.”
The situation in the U.S.: The capitalist world is undergoing an economic and political crisis which is deeply felt in the U.S. The capitalist class, in an effort to insure their profits, tries to resolve the crisis by placing the burden on the backs of the workers. The standard of living of the working class is constantly threatened by attacks such as massive lay offs, rising prices for food, medicines, clothes, the elimination of basic services such as day care, education, hospitals, etc., and laws such as Title XX and the SI Bill, and intensive repression of the working class and its most alert sectors. All of this further undermines the already limited rights gained by the working class through years of struggle, sacrifices and even lives. The capitalists are paving the way for fascism (while preparing for imperialist war) as a way out of the crisis.
This crisis profoundly affects the working class, intensifies the existing contradiction between labor and capital. The oppression of national minorities and nations, of women, of youth and students, becomes particularly intensified. The crisis has caused a stirring in these four large movements that make up the most progressive sectors of this society and which are showing the beginnings of an upcoming upsurge.
However, the crisis, and the spontaneous upsurge of the masses, has found the communist movement disorganized, unprepared to confront it. On the other hand, reformists, opportunists and revisionists hold the upper hand in the spontaneous upsurge. As a consequence, economism is the predominant trend in the masses, and the main danger. These are the objective conditions at the time of the building of the party in its political stage, conditions that intensify the need of the party and underline the need for a common political line among communists in order to effectively deal with the crisis, provide correct leadership and expose the opportunists, reformists and revisionists.
These conditions point to the necessity for unity on political line around: (1) the political and economic crisis. This line must be geared towards the removal of the burden from the back of the workers placing the working class on the offensive in order to stop fascism and wage the proletarian revolution. (2) The Trade Union Question. (3) The National Question. (4)The Youth and Student Question. (5) The Woman Question.
The need for unity on the latter four questions corresponds to the need to win the advanced elements within the four great movements mentioned in order that the party we are going to build faithfully represent the best interests and aspirations of the masses of workers and oppressed peoples so that the party be linked to the masses through its advanced elements.
How does the communist movement fuse itself with the working class movement? Because of their leadership position within the class, the advanced workers are key in this process. By winning over the advanced to communism, these movements begin to fuse into one powerful working class movement for proletarian revolution. It is because of this that to win the advanced around the correct political line is paramount at this stage of party building.
The task of building the party is the task of uniting Marxist Leninists and winning over to communism the advanced workers. These are two aspects of one process that although simultaneous, one of the two must have primacy over the other. It is important that we recognize which aspect is primary for this aspect plays a decisive role in the process. The development of these two aspects is uneven at times one may seem primary over the other, however, overall, that which determines the development of the process is primary.
We uphold that the unity of Marxist-Leninists is the primary aspect. Why this? In the first place, it is almost impossible to win over the advanced in the absence of political unity among Marxist-Leninists. Communists by their independent efforts could win for their organizations some advanced elements. Although this is positive for their organizational growth and consolidation, in the light of our central task the communist movement would continue to be dispersed, the working class would continue without central leadership. In effect, without a party.
In the second place, the communist movement’s capacity to win over the advanced, to fuse with the working class movement, to lead the masses, to combat the opportunists, reformists and revisionists, and fight capitalist oppression, is greatly reduced in the absence of political unity among Marxist-Leninists. On the other hand, with unity around fundamental questions of line, the capacity to win over the advanced increases thousand-fold as a direct result of this unity and the common efforts of communists. And so long as communists remain unable to present a united front in the struggle of the masses, the masses will continue under the leadership of opportunists, revisionists and reformists, and our central task will remain far removed in the future.
This does not mean that we will desist from efforts to win the advanced. This would constitute a left and fatal error to our movement. Both aspects complement each other. As political unity of Marxist Leninists moves forward, winning over the advanced is facilitated. As the advanced are won over to communism they themselves will compel Marxist Leninists to strengthen their ties, put their lines forward and test them out jointly, etc. Thus one does not exclude the other, as long as they are seen in the proper perspective.
We have attempted to present our points of view on some of the pressing problems in party building. We are very conscious of the fact that there are still many things to be discussed and resolved, and which we expect to deal with in future issues. In particular, we consider that communists should address themselves to the problems around the political unity. In previous editions of RESISTENCIA we have suggested to develop a process for communication and consultation among communist organizations, exchange of information and experiences, common study and research and joint actions.
In the search for further ideological unity and clarity, we encourage our readers to comment, suggest or criticize any of the various positions presented here. It is our aim that the pages of this paper serve to advance the enormous task facing us at this moment: the building of the new, communist, Marxist Leninist Party which we so urgently need!