First Published: Resistencia, Vol. 7, No. 3, n.d. [March-April 1976?]
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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The complete and deep analysis of the development of the communist movement in the U.S. is still to be done. Only brief notes have been done. We understand that in the absence of such an analysis the view that any of the Marxist Leninist organizations may have of the development and actual composition of the communist movement as well as of the level of fusion of the working class movement with the communist movement is fragmented, incomplete and unscientific. Dialectical and historical materialism teaches us that things have to be studied in their development, interconnection, motion and particularly in their internal contradictions.
It also teaches us that “It is not the consciousness of men that determines their being, but, on the contrary, their social being that determines their consciousness”. Therefore any analysis that we make of the communist movement in the U.S. has to be done in the light of the objective conditions of the material life and the class struggle in a given historical period and conditions.
This analysis takes an even greater importance at a time in which genuine Marxist-Leninists are centering their efforts in the task of building the vanguard of the proletariat (its Communist Party) without which to talk about revolution, the dictatorship of the proletariat and socialism is purely academic. We do not pretend that these brief notes be taken for such an analysis or even a substitution of that analysis. These notes only represent the conclusions which our organization has reached and which we feel are important to share with the rest of the communist movement and with the advanced and intermediate elements we reach with this form of propaganda.
Stalin clearly defines three periods in the development of the Bolshevik Party of the Soviet Union that we think are applicable to the development of any communist party of a new type. The first period is that of the formation of the Party, the second period is that in which the party wins the confidence of the masses and leads them in revolutionary seizure of state power, and the third period is that in which state power is consolidated and the party becomes the principal instrument of the dictatorship of the proletariat and the building of socialism. (See “The Party Before and After the Taking of Power, Stalin Collected Works Vol. 5).
In the U. S. we are in the first period: the formation of the Party. About this point Stalin say “the period of the formation of the vanguard (i.e., the party) of the proletariat, the period of mustering the Party’s cadres. In this period the Party was weak it had a programme and general principles of tactics, but as a party of mass action it was weak” (Stalin C.W. 5) He adds “The principal task of communism in Russia in that period was to recruit into the Party the best elements of the working class, those who were most active and most devoted to the cause of the proletariat: to form the ranks of the proletarian party and to put it firmly on his feet. Comrade Lenin formulates this task as follows: ’to win the vanguard of the proletariat to the side of communism’. (Ibid).
As Stalin points out that the first period goes from “the foundation of Iskra to the third Party Congress” (1900-1905), it clearly flows from the study of these works by Stalin that “winning the advance to communism” presupposes the unity of the genuine Marxist Leninists. This unity is forged in the Soviet Union around “Iskra”, is fortified in the Third Party Congress with the division of Bolsheviks and Mensheviks and is finally consolidated with the expulsion of the Mensheviks from the Party in the Prague Conference of 1912. (See Chapters 1-4 of the History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (B)) As in the U.S. such a unity of Marxist Leninists does not exist and as it has to be forged simultaneously with the task of winning the advanced to communism, it is clear that within the simultaneity of the two tactical tasks one has to be primary over the other and it is clear to us that this primary task is the unity of Marxist-Leninists.
Each period in the life of the party is divided in stages. The first period – of the formation of the Party – has three stages: ideological, political and organizational. As we pointed out previously:
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 basic 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. Resistencia Vol. 7, #1, P. 1
These 3 stages, which clearly point to three different tasks, are not isolated from each other but, on the contrary, they constantly interconnect.
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 ideological4 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 organisational 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. Resistencia Vol. 7 #1, P. 3.
At this time, the communist movement in the U.S. is in the second stage. In this stage, political line is the key link that will allow us to advance the process. It is necessary that we briefly outline how we got to where we are at this movement.
The United States which during the first half of this century had consolidated itself as the most powerful imperialist super power in the world, began to decline in the 1950’s. Its consolidation, which was closely linked to the results of the two world wars, made the United States the principal enemy of humanity. However, because of the fervor of the national liberation struggles, linked with the international communist movement, the situation began to change adversely affecting Yankee imperialism. The establishment of the Peoples Republic of China was a great blow to imperialism! Years later, the victory of the heroic people of Korea over Yankee imperialism clearly marked the beginning of the decline of the United States as the center of imperialist reaction. The triumph of the Vietnamese and Algerians over France (whom the United States had supported both financially and militarily) and the victorious Cuban Revolution accelerated the process and are the preamble to the decisive victories which the heroic Indo-Chinese people of Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam obtained.
Imperialist war, which had been one of the most lucrative business ventures for the Yankee imperialists became its opposite. Therefore, instead of helping to solve the internal crisis of imperialism they now intensify them. It is in this manner that the economic crisis of the 1960’s came into being, which will bring as a result the revolutionary development of the national movements in the United States. There movements united with the resistance to imperialist aggression against Vietnam and to a period of upsurge in the student movement, will give a new impetus to the struggle for a socialist revolution in this country.
While this is taking place in the U. S. while Asia, Africa and Latin America are in turmoil due to the fervor the struggles for national liberation, the Soviet Union, the birthplace of socialism, the proletariat in power, is defeated, bourgeois dictatorship is restored. Thus what used to be the center of proletarian revolution, became the center of reaction and counterrevolution. After the death of Joseph Stalin, a revisionist clique led by Nikita Khruschev usurps power in the U.S.S.R. unleashes a campaign discrediting Stalin and the universal principles of Marxism-Leninism and leads the new bourgeoisie (with remnants of the old) toward a complete restoration of Capitalism. Thus for the first time, revisionism is in power. These events adversely affected the development of the national liberation struggles as well as proletarian revolution the world over. Thus within a historical period in which the United States is in decline as an imperialist Superpowers, and the Soviet Union is in ascent as a Social imperialist superpower: in this period in which the factors of war as well as those of revolution are on the rise, in which fascism is a real threat, in which the capitalist world is in a deep economic crisis and in which the soviet social imperialists are the principal source of war, the genuine communist movement in the United States is centering its efforts in the creation of a communist party of new type (Bolshevik) which will direct the multinational working class to seize power build socialism and establish the dictatorship of the proletariat.
The point of departure, of the present motion to build a party is the consolidation of the communist Party of the United States as a counterrevolutionary and revisionist organization. In our study of the history of this party, we have come to the following conclusions:
1) The CPUSA, was never a communist party of a new type. All during the existence of this party Bolsheviks and Mensheviks co-existed within its ranks. There were always coexisting factions within the party.
2) It is incorrect to dispose of the CPUSA, by saying “they were always revisionist”, denying the contributions of this party before its complete degeneration. To say that the CPUSA was always revisionist, that there was nothing positive in it, is the same as saying that there never was a communist party in this country. Furthermore it is to say that the Communist International under the leadership of Stalin accepted consolidated revisionists in its ranks.
3) The revisionist consolidation of the CPUSA occurred in its XVI national convention held in 1957.
In its process of degeneration, the CPUSA for many years upheld the revisionist thesis of “American exceptionalism”. This thesis maintained that due to the development of the productive forces in the United States, it was possible to have peaceful transition to socialism in this country. In the 1940’s under the leadership of consolidated revisionist Earl Browder, the CPUSA was dissolved and the Communist Political Association was created. In the 1944 convention of this organization Browder called for “a national united front so broad as to include labor and capital”. Similarly, before 1957 the CPUSA liquidated its work within the national movement.
In its 1957 convention, the CPUSA united with the attacks of the Soviet revisionists against comrade Stalin and Marxism Leninism made at the XX Congress of the CPSU, calling this congress a “real historic event”. The convention approves a program which: advocates peaceful transition to socialism; denies the vanguard role of the party and consequently the vanguard role of the working class; did not mention the dictatorship of the proletariat; and advocated for the complete neutrality of labor unions. As a result of this convention, many of the most honest and advanced ambers and intermediate leadership of the CPUSA, resigned from the party. Many had previously been expelled from the party when they had defended the teachings of comrade Stalin (those of Marxism-Leninism) as the unifying element towards the building of a new party.
The first attempt to build a new party took organizational forms as the Provisional Organizing Committee (POC), which in its constituent assembly established as its goal the task of “re-constituting an authentic communist party”. The POC degenerated quickly, but its leading nucleus raised its head again years later and founded the Communist League and in turn this organization become the trotskyite organization known as the Communist Labor Party. A second attempt is the Progressive Labor Movement (1962) which in 1965 became the Progressive Labor Party (which is not progressive neither is it labor oriented). This stage is characterized by the need to reaffirm proletarian ideology place upright dialectical and historical materialism: Marxism-Leninism Mao Tse Tung thought, which had been betrayed and revised by the CPUSA. In its beginnings, PLP, made valuable contributions in this regard. Specifically, it was this organization which took the correct line in relation to Stalin, and on the break in the international communist movement between the soviet revisionists and their lackeys on one side and the genuine Marxist-Leninists on the other who were led by the Communist Party of China and its chairman, Mao Tse Tung and the Party of Labor Of Albania and its leader comrade Enver Hoxha.
PLP distributed the letters of the CP of China to the CPSU it wrote several articles criticizing the speech made by Khruschev at the XX Congress; it reprinted works by Stalin and Mao Tse Tung etc. However, due to the fact that they were basically an organization of intellectuals and petty bourgeois elements, without any ties to the working class or the national liberation movements and also because they had not completely broken ideologically and politically with revisionism, PLP began to degenerate until it became the counterrevolutionary organization it is today, winch has betrayed the interest of the international communist movement, attacked the great proletarian leader Mao Tse Tung and the Communist Party of China.
The last few years of the 1960’s and the beginning of the 1970’s are a period of intense action and agitation among the masse. Rebellion, marches, militant demonstrations, physical takeovers of schools, hospitals and universities are the order of the day. This was the response of the oppressed masses to conditions of exploitation and oppression to which they were subjected! The movement of the oppressed minorities and its revolutionary organizations were in the vanguard of this revolutionary upsurge of the masses, which also included the resistance movement against the war in Viet-Nam and the student movement. At this moment due to the betrayal of the revisionist CPUSA on the one hand and the failure and degeneration of the PLP on the other, there was little relation (fusion) between the small and fragmented communist movement and the gigantic, militant and revolutionary national movement. For a time during this stage, the Black Panther Party was the hegemonic center of the revolutionary movement in the U.S. Organization like the Young Lords, The Brown Berets, were in their beginning greatly influenced by the Black Panthers. It is during this period that various theories flourished such as that the lumpen proletariat is the vanguard of the revolution as well as other similar variants (the blacks, students etc. as the vanguard). Meanwhile, the most advanced elements within these and other organizations that arose during this time, Resistencia Puertorriquena is one example, searches seriously for answers to the problems that were raised daily by their practice. This has been correctly characterized by the comrades in PRRWO as of eclecticism. Searching for a revolutionary theory, we would study anything. We mixed Che, Fidel, Malcom X, Albizu Campos, Nkhruma, Fanon and Mao (because he was part of the Third World). The struggle against eclecticism and cultural nationalism (another strong tendency at this time) began to open the door to Marxism-Leninism Mao Tse tung Thought.
By 1972-73, an anti-revisionist communist movement had arisen in the U. S. Said movement was united around principles such 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 by the theory of “peaceful transition.”), the role of theory (specifically Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung 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 of unity among communists are established. These basis of unity among communists are at the same time the lines of demarcation which allow us to determine which forces we are going to unit, with in the process of building the party. Resistencia vol. 7 #1, p. 1.
The main battle which yet had to he waged was what was the principal task: build a party or build a mass movement. The Revolutionary Union was the leading organization at this time, and it was able to unite around its economist lines organizations such as I Wor Kuen, The Black Workers Congress, and P.R.R.W.O. which became part of the National Liaison Committee, It is in this committee where large and extremely important ideological struggles took place between the right opportunist Revolutionary Union (R.U.) and those organizations which defended Marxism-Leninism Mao Tsetung Thought, (B.W.C. and P.R.R.W.O.). The struggle centered around the National Question, the role of theory and what was the central task. At the same time, the Communist League (CL) maintained that building of the Party was the central task and, that it had to be built from above by the conscious effort of Marxist-Leninists. The C.L. fought against the economist thesis of building a mass movement, emphasized the importance of the conscious element, and made a call to hold a conference of Marxist-Leninists with the purpose of building a party. Our organization responded to the call, and we participated in the Chicago Conference of August 1973. There we actively participated in putting forward a resolution on the National Question which put forth the fact that the Puerto Ricans in the U.S. constituted a national minority, part of the multinational working class of the U.S. and not a “divided nation” as P.S.P. maintains.
In our judgment, it is the division within the National Liaison Committee which separates P.R.R.W.O. and the B.W.C. from the R.U. and the withdrawal of all Marxist-Leninist organizations and honest, advanced individuals from the Continuations Committee established by the Communist League which definitely puts an end to the first stage within the period of party building, strengthens the unity of genuine Marxist-Leninist and gives rise to the second stage where political line is the key link in the development towards the building of the Party. As we stated in our previous issue,
In the Woman Question, as in the National Question, the Youth Question and in our work in trade unions, coalitions, etc., we communists must develop a correct political line. We must apply Marxism-Leninism Mao Tsetung Thought to the concrete conditions in which these questions arise, and within the movements that give us shape. Concrete analysis of concrete situations, putting into practice the analysis of those concrete conditions, going from theory to practice and again theory and so on until forging, in heat of the class struggle, the correct political line in each and every one of the burning questions we face – these are ways in which we more forward in the struggle to build the Party.
Key in the process at this moment is the forging of political line. To the extent in which we grasp, this we will be successful in the task of building the Party: in uniting Marxist Leninists and in winning the advanced elements to communism. Resistencia Vol. 7, # 2, p. 5
We have failed in publicly stating our ideological, political and organizational differences with the C.L., which led to our resignation from the Continuations Committee and although it is very late, we are in the process of publishing a booklet which contains a study of CLP’s current line as well as a severe self-criticism for not having carried out open polemics with the C.L. at the time that the differences came about, as well as an open repudiation of a series of incorrect positions which we held and put forth at that time.
Many comrades maintain that from the struggle against eclecticism and economism there emerged two clearly defined wings within the communist movement: the genuine or revolutionary wing and the sham or opportunist wing. We differ from this analysis. In our judgment, there exists within the communist movement genuine Marxist-Leninist organizations, which practice Marxism and not revisionism and there are opportunist organizations which are headed down the road toward revisionism. Among the first group we include August 29th Movement, P.R.R.W.O., the Revolutionary Workers’ League, Resistencia Puertorriqueña and a number of organizations and collectives across the U.S. which we either don’t know of their existence, or are ignorant of their political and ideological line. Among the other groups, the opportunists, we include the October League, Workers Viewpoint, the Guardian, El Comité-MINP, Revolutionary Workers Congress. We consider the R.C.P. as well as P.S.P. as revisionist and as such are outside the communist movement. The same applies to the Trotskyites of the Communist Labor party. As it can be seen, there are many organizations which we have not included. The reasons vary from not having completed our analysis of their line, to only knowing of them by name or as we said earlier because we are ignorant of their existence. We know that the same thing happens to other comrades with our organization. This is a result of the fragmented state of our communist movement and the small size of many of our collectives which are not known outside of their immediate area of work. However, if they are genuine, we will find each other on the road towards the building of the party.
To say that there exist genuine organizations and to say that there exists a genuine wing in the communist movement are two different things. The first is an objective fact, which is undeniable. The second will not withstand a concrete analysis of concrete conditions of the communist movement in the U.S. What does the concept of a genuine wing signify? It means the establishment of a hegemonic center for the organization of the Party; it means that the genuine wing is the organizational center for the party that is to be built. This in the absence of a clear and defined political line of the so-called genuine wing in fundamental issues such is strategy and tactics, the national question, the woman question, the trade union question, the struggle for reforms (such as E.R.A. and busing) seems to us to rush ahead of the situation, to substitute reality for illusion, to view reality as we would like it to be and not as it is. Yes, the genuine wing is in the process of formation, but it is not formed yet. That is why it is so important that we make the much needed class analysis of this society, that we clearly establish friends, enemies and reserves, that we develop in the ultimate analysis a general political line for our revolution which translated into a program will allow us to put an end to this stage and pass on to the third stage of the building of the party in which the key link will be the organizational tasks and which will allow us to put an end to the first period with the building of this party. In no way does this mean that there will hot be a genuine wing until the party is built (this would be equivalent to advocate for a party of Bolsheviks and Mensheviks, and this is definitely not our position). Also it does mean that a definite program has to exist previous to the existence of a genuine wing, however, there must be a great deal more than ideological unity. There must be unity based on political line, based oh the application of Marxism-Leninism to the concrete situation of the United States. It is in this manner that the wing in the process of development will be able to test both in theory and in practice that there does exist an organizational center for the party. Anything else would be a repetition of the errors committed in the previous stage – a step back to National Liaison Committee and other committees and coalitions of the same type.
There are two additional points we would like to make in this regard. It seems to us that the formulation of a genuine wing sets a base for the development of sectarianism in the communist movement. Not having scientific criteria, clearly defined lines, that allow us to determine who is or who is not part of the genuine wing, opens the door to the possibility of excluding honest and genuine forces, while we include those who neither in theory nor in practice has proven to be a genuine organization. The case of WVO, which up to last month was considered part of the genuine wing and is now outside the wing speaks eloquently in this respect, given the fact that WVO’s line has not changed fundamentally in the last year. Today we all accept that WVO is an opportunist organization based in their anti-revisionist premises, in their position of “unite to expose”, in their erroneous conception of revisionism, in their right opportunist line on party building, etc. However, we all have to accept, that these are not questions that WVO has developed recently, but that have always been part of their line. Those who put forth that WVO was part of the genuine wing helped to give credibility to that organization and thus allow it to push their opportunist line among our ranks.
The second case that speaks eloquently of this situation is that of the Revolutionary Bloc (RB) – one of the organizations that according to PRRWO and the RWL is part of the genuine wing. After more than a year from the split of the Black Workers Congress from which RB emerged, this organization has not even published its position on this split and the ideological and political basis on which they constituted themselves an organization.
Recently, the RB participated in the IWWD coalition, but they did not exercise any initiative there and their participation in the struggle between two lines was limited to the repetition of arguments presented by others. The RB does not do any propaganda work despite the fact that all genuine organizations within the communist movement agree that propaganda is the chief form of work at this time. Despite, of these undeniable facts, the comrades from P.R.R.W.O. maintain that the R.B. is part of the so-called genuine wing. We say that this is pure idealism.
To determine if an organization is genuine, it is necessary based on a series of criteria, to make a scientific analysis of their ideological and political line. This analysis can proceed from our own organization, or it can be our study and acceptance of the analysis that we consider correct made by another organization. But, objectively, none of these two situations is the case here. There are no sufficient bases to determine that RB is a genuine organization, much less part of a genuine wing. What we are dealing with is a declaration based on an “article of faith” that this organization exists and that it is genuine. But fideism is anti-scientific, anti-Marxist-Leninist, and we reject it.
It seems to us, that it would be incorrect to point out as lines of demarcation between genuine and opportunist Marxist-Leninists the acceptance or rejection of the existence of a genuine wing in the communist movement. We also disagree with those that maintain that to say this formulation is incorrect is to take a centrist position. Comrades and friends, centrism is an attempt to conciliate two antagonistic concepts, to try and conciliate the interests of the proletariat with those of the bourgeoisie, metaphysics with dialectics. Centrism would be to say that there does not exist both genuine and opportunist organizations. It would also be centrism to try and conciliate the struggle between a revolutionary organization and an opportunist one. This however, is not the case. The issue at hand is the building of a Bolshevik Party, thus clear lines of demarcations must be established between revolutionaries and opportunists, between mensheviks and Bolsheviks. However, to say that one of these lines of demarcation is the acceptance of the existence of a genuine wing composed of XYZ would clearly be left-wing infantilism.
We are aware of the need for us to deepen our analysis of the communist movement. However, this article represents a further development of our line on party building, and can serve as a basis of struggle for unity with honest and genuine Marxist-Leninists. We welcome criticisms, polemics, questions and struggle from all comrades. Only through principled struggle, based on the Marxist formulation of “unity, struggle, unity”, can genuine Marxist Leninists move forward to the Party. In words of comrade Mao: “Practice Marxism” and not revisionism; unite and don’t split; be open and aboveboard and don’t intrigue and conspire.”