Published: Palante, Vol. 6, No. 1, Janunary 8-February 8, 1976.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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With the present economic and political crisis of imperialism sharpening, with the threat of a third imperialist world war and the increased danger of fascism, the working class and the masses of oppressed people within the United States have been drawn into a spontaneous upsurge of resistance against all the attacks coming down. Students and youth, as part of this upsurge, have begun to wage battles against the present manifestations of the imperialist crisis.
Within the communist and revolutionary movements there have been a few conferences and conventions addressing themselves as to how to work in the student-youth movement. We, the PRRWO, have addressed the revolutionary student-youth movement as to how we believe this revolutionary movement should proceed in this upcoming period in light of the present objective and subjective situation (see article in this Palante, issue). But as we know, the bourgeoisie, aware that communists, advanced elements and revolutionary-minded people will address themselves as to how to utilize this period to advance the revolutionary struggle, has been increasing the use of their paid and unpaid agents, the revisionists, trotskyites, and opportunists of all sorts to spread confusion into the ranks of all the movements of the masses, including the student-youth movement, as to what is the correct political line and tasks to follow in this upcoming flow period. Such were the tasks of the conferences of the revisionist Young Workers Liberation League (the “CP”USA’s youth group) held on Dec. 13, 1974, the 15th convention of the Young Socialist Alliance (the SWP’s youth group), held in Dec. of 1975, the Revolutionary Student Brigade’s third national convention (the “RCP’s” youth group) held in October, and the founding conference of the recently formed “Communist” Youth Organization (the youth group of the “party” that the October League will form) which was held on November 29-30th, 1975.
We’d like to present what the CYO has, and will, represent in the revolutionary student-youth movement.
It was the October League who initiated and provided “political leadership” for the formation of the CYO. The O.L., who has not done “communist” organizing in the student-youth movement, in their careerist plans called for the creation of CYO’s in various cities about four months ago.
But before examining the bureaucratically-formed CYO, let’s examine what political line the CYO will represent. Essentially, the CYO will represent the lines of the O.L. What are these political lines? In analyzing the political line of the OL for the past three years, it’s obvious to all genuine Marxist-Leninists that the line of the O.L. is a Kautskyite, reformist, bourgeois political line. In our pamphlet, In the U.S. Pregnant With Revisionism: The Struggle for Proletarian Revolution Moves Ahead, we analyze the following about the October League:
The October League has gone from one form of opportunism to the other form, from “left” to right, though, in essence, the line was right opportunism all throughout.
Lenin, in his essay, The Proletarian Revolution and the Renegade Kautsky, elaborated as to how Kautsky attempted to transform Marxism into liberalism, totally distorting the class nature of bourgeois democracy, distorting what the state apparatus was and is, distorting what proletarian internationalism is, thereby promoting bourgeois reformism which paved the way for fascism.
We analyze that the O.L. represents this Kautskyite, bourgeois trend in the anti-revisionist communist movement.
On the analysis of the bourgeoisie of the United States, the O.L. (despite their phrasemongering about the principle contradiction in the U.S. being between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat) calls for unity with the liberal and Afro-American sectors of the bourgeoisie. For example, during their “Dump Nixon” campaign during the Watergate scandal, the O.L. analyzed that Congress was “paralyzed,” and therefore called for building a campaign which led to lines of having a more “responsive congress” or bourgeois dictatorship. More blatant is the O.L. call for a united front with the Afro-American workers and the bourgeoisie.
It is impossible to build unity with the Black workers without taking up the struggle for the right of Black people to own business and to contend as equals with the white capitalists. (from For Working Class Unity and Black Liberation, O.L., P. 13, our emphasis)
It is this bourgeois analysis and line of the O.L. that leads them to uniting with the Black bourgeoisie such as the NAACP in the busing struggle.
Another example of this reformist line is the following which was a polemic by an O.L. cadre against the revisionist Revolutionary Union (now the RCP) at a forum of the R.U.
...Now I’m not saying that the people I just mentioned (Jesse Jackson and Hosea Williams – Editor) are not opportunist at times, but I’m saying that Jesse Jackson called a demonstration in Chicago and more than 2,000 people came out. Now, I’m saying that he’s got quite a bit of power... And so what I’m saying is that our strategy for a Black united front is to unite with whoever you can on whatever issues you can to your advantage. Now they might be opportunists, but to unite with Hosea Williams to lead people on a march, on a demonstration to get rid of Chief Inman, who is a fascist, that is not opportunist and so that is why we could work with Hosea on that. Hosea has more people, he has more leadership than we do....What you got to do is, you got to work with the people – unite with and expose it to the people when you see it. But they are not opportunist when they are serving the people, then it’s not reformist to work with them; it’s common sense. (our emphasis.)
With this reformist, bourgeois strategy of the O.L., they’ll have the masses of people uniting with the Black or Liberal sectors of the bourgeoisie against the “fascist” bourgeoisie, which is essentially the same type of bourgeois organizing that the revisionist “CP”USA does.
So here we have a few instances where the O.L. distorts what the bourgeoisie as a class is.
But let’s examine more of these Kautskyian distortions.
The O.L., not only unites with sectors of the bourgeoisie but calls for the masses of people to support the bourgeois reforms of busing, community control and the Equal Rights Amendment.
The O.L. calls for support of the busing plan, of forced integration, a bourgeois plan to divide the working class along national and racial lines, deviating the struggles of the oppressed Black masses into reformism. As a matter of fact, the O.L. even calls for the National Guard and police to supposedly “protect” the oppressed Black masses from fascist forces, totally ignoring the fact that the National Guard and police are part of the state apparatus which maintains the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie, and have a history of fascist attacks on the Black masses.
But the O.L. believes the Black masses are too stupid to understand this and therefore believes that Black people, through their direct experience will learn that the police are a “backward strata of the working class.” (Note: At the CYO conference, an O.L. cadre put forth that police are part of the working class, but are a backward strata.)
Again, the O.L. supports a fascist, bourgeois reform, and at the same time, distorts the nature of the state apparatus.
As for community control, again the O.L. channels the masses of people to support a bourgeois reform which has the aims of dividing the working class along national and racial lines. The O.L. supports busing and community control under the mask of “support of the oppressed nationalities’ struggles for democratic rights”. (For more analysis on busing and community control, see the articles in Palante, Vol. I, No. 2 and Vol. II, No. 1.)
In the present economic and political crisis, the O.L. has initiated a nationwide Fightback workplan to combat he economic crisis. They’ve called for the creation of a nationwide Fightback Organization, which is to be their United Front against Monopoly Capital. Like their “Dump Nixon” campaign, this workplan will further promote reformism and economism, placing the mass movement under the leadership of opportunist leadership like themselves, or under the wing of the supposedly ’liberal’ sector of the bourgeoisie, fighting against the ’monopoly and fascist’ sector of the bourgeoisie.
It is with all of these bourgeois lines and economism that the O.L. will transform itself into a bourgeois reformist party of the Kautskyian type in about five months. And it is clear to genuine communists that the O.L.’s party will be a Menshevik party for what the O.L. calls for is unprincipled unity of sham Marxists, etc. That’s why they will form the party before a program exists, with “minimum principles of unity” that all sorts of opportunists can unite around. O.L. is definitely keeping with the opportunist tradition of compromising on Marxist-Leninist principles and eventually discarding Marxist-Leninist principles And it is around these bourgeois, reformist lines that the O.L. bureaucratically formed the CYO. (In future articles, we’ll elaborate more in depth on O.L.’s bourgeois reformist lines.)
So that, for the CYO, they’ll be promoting the O.L.’s line in the student and youth movement. As part of the O.L.’s nationwide Fightback campaign, the CYO will strive to build the youth sector, primarily concentrating on a “Jobs for Youth” campaign, (which is very similar to the YWLL’s youth campaign of “Youth United for Jobs”).
The O.L., as stated by their chairperson, Mike Klonsky, at the CYO conference, comes from the empiricist viewpoint that all communist movements and communist parties develop out of the student movement. Klonsky, in his speech to the CYO, distorting how the communist movement in the U.S. developed, stated that “the SDS (Students for Democratic Society) was the forerunner of the communist movement and now the CYO will be the forerunner of the “Communist Party” in the U.S.” Klonsky announced and stated to the CYO that “in six months, the new communist party will be born in the U.S.” and that “the CYO must build firm ties to that party.”
This distortion of the origins of the communist movement leads one to conclude that according to the O.L. analysis, the social basis for the party is the student movement and the petty-bourgeoisie. This, in fact, will be the social-basis of O.L.’s party. We view that the Bolshevik party will be formed with its social basis being the proletariat – that the creation of the party signifies fusion of communism with the working class movement.
The O.L., in their competitive, hegemonist, and careerist plan is completing the motion of changing their name soon, thinking that they’ve transformed themselves into a party. With their empiricist analysis of the development of the communist movement and their slipshod “dialectics,” they claim that the CYO will be forerunner of the party–that the CYO will aid in party building.
The O.L., coming from their opportunism and careerism, wants to pretend that the party that they’ll create is leading the “broad masses” of people–so they proceed from no practice among youth, to the bureaucratic formation of a CYO. The O.L. even formed a “United Front against Monopoly Capital” as seen in their nationwide Fightback Organization. (More on this in future articles.)
The CYO was formed supposedly under democratic centralism without the CYO members knowing or even understanding the need for ideological and political line unities before having a democratic centralist form of organization. This led to the CYO members blindly adopting the O.L. positions without really fully understanding the bourgeois, reformist essence of those lines. Let us proceed to show why the CYO is just a bureaucratic formation uniting revolutionary-minded youth on revolutionary sentiments alone, blindly (due to the belittlement of Marxist-Leninist theory) following the opportunist line of the O.L.
As put forward by the O.L., the two key tasks of the CYO conference were to: “form a national organization”...and to form this organization with “close links to the masses to provide revolutionary leadership.”
The keynote speech, or the opening address to the CYO, made by Roy Smith (an O.L. member and the chairperson of CYO), was a disgrace to Marxism-Leninism.
One would think that for the formation of a CYO, the main speech, which addressed itself to “Why we need a National Communist Youth Organization” would do a theoretical summation of the development of the youth movement, explain scientifically the present objective and subjective conditions, explain concretely the key advances made and on that basis, why the objective and subjective factors call for the creation of a CYO. Neither Roy Smith, nor anyone else who initiated the building of the CYO did anything of that nature. On the contrary, Roy Smith, Mike Klonsky and all the other O.L. cadre leading workshops, provided a very good example of the revisionist, liberal method of “popularizing Marxism,” resorting to a simplistic analysis of phenomena and phrasemongering, throwing around catchwords such as “we’re to be closely linked to the masses.”
Roy Smith in his “popular Marxian,” simplistic speech on why the need for a CYO started out with explaining how he used to live in the Bronx, remembering how he used to see the masses of oppressed nationalities “pick up the gun” (referring to the Young Lords), concluding that “we can no longer fight along national lines solely, but must fight on multi-national lines.” He went on to explain how “we can’t fight just one or two cops...but must fight the whole system.” Elaborating on how we must proceed to fight for a “socialist system,” he stated that “the show will get better.” In explaining that the working class is the leading class in the revolution, he analyzed it by saying that, “It’s the people that have power, the ones that make the soup, that has the forks” that will lead the revolutionary struggle. Then he went on to do a simplistic, reformist analysis of socialism, saying that it’ll be a “dictatorship of the majority of people” and then did a comical analysis of the state apparatus, stating how, according to the bourgeoisie, “the police can fly,” etc.
The O.L.’s “popular Marxian” analysis of the dictatorship of the proletariat and the nature of the bourgeois state is a revisionist analysis. To revise the dictatorship of the proletariat and call it a “dictatorship of the majority” is the same as Kautsky and Khrushchev-Brezhnev clique’s “state of the whole people.” The state apparatus is an instrument for the forcible domination of one class by another. It is either the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie, maintained by their state apparatus, or the dictatorship of the proletariat, maintained by the proletarian state–not “the dictatorship of the majority” or the “state of the whole people.” These are just cover-ups for the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie. O.L.’s “humorous” analysis of the bourgeois state also reveals their class conciliationist stand, robbing Marxism-Leninism of its revolutionary content, making it acceptable to even the bourgeoisie. Their call for the National Guard and police to “protect” the Black masses is the extension of their revisionist analysis of the state.
From this “objective” analysis of concrete conditions, Roy Smith went on to explain how the masses in the U.S. “used to have an organization that was super bad”, that said “we won’t work for 16 hours, but for 8 hours”, and that due to this organization (i.e., the “CP”USA – editor), “we have social security”, etc. Then he went on to explain that today “things are still messed up.”
However, our present understanding is that in order to build a YCL, there must exist some firm and definite ideological, political, and organizational line unities expressed in a program of a YCL following the program of a genuine communist party (which as of yet does not exist). That, as a matter of fact, the communist party must take on the task of building a YCL and not vice-versa, like the O.L. would have us believe. We believe that there has to be a higher level of fusion of the communist movement with the working class, national, and student-youth movements for the creation of a YCL form of organization.
We believe that the present existing YCL forms of organization (RSB, CYO, etc.) are in fact, not YCL’s, but rather bureaucratic forms of organization uniting revolutionary-minded students around revolutionary sentiments alone, and under opportunist, political lines, rather than under the lines of a genuine communist party.
We call on all communists, advanced and revolutionary-minded youth to break with these opportunist swindlers, and unite with the genuine wing of the communist movement to build a truly Bolshevik party and a genuine revolutionary student-youth movement!