First Published: Workers Viewpoint Journal, Vol. 2, No. 1, May 1975.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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Today, within our young anti-revisionist communist movement, there appears two diametrically opposed conceptions of bourgeois democracy, of the nature of monopoly capitalist society as a whole, and of fascism. Should we strengthen the dying grip of bourgeois democracy or should we break it? Should we patch up, extend, and enlarge the figleaf of bourgeois democracy or should we tear it apart? Should upsurges in working class struggles in times of capitalist crisis be the best opportunity to open the eyes of the working class as to the true nature of bourgeois democracy, or should additional blindfolds be added? Is the liberal bourgeoisie a defender of “pure democracy?” Does Fascism drop from the sky or does it sprout from the ground of bourgeois democracy? Will fascism storm into the country out of nowhere, or is it necessary for the liberal bourgeoisie and their henchmen in the working class to first paralyze the working class with none other than bourgeois democracy? The positions of the OL on these questions reveal a most clear-cut revisionist trend on these burning questions of the day.
On the nature and limitations of bourgeois democracy, Engels saw things clearly in his book Anti-Duhring almost a hundred years ago. There he said:
The demand for equality in the mouth of the proletariat has a double meaning. It is either a spontaneous reaction against crying social inequalities, against the contrast between rich and poor, the feudal lords and their serfs... as such it is simply an expression of the revolutionary instinct, and finds its justification in that, and in that only, Or on the other hand, this demand has arisen as a reaction against the bourgeois demand for equality, drawing more or less correct and more far-reaching demands from this bourgeois demand, and serving an agitational means in order to stir up the worker against the capitalist’s own assertions; and in this case it stands or falls with bourgeois equality itself. In both cases the real content of the proletarian demand for equality is the demand for the abolition of classes.
The OL doesn’t see this. They don’t see that the real content of the proletarian demand for democracy and equality, the abolition of classes, can only be stifled and destroyed within the framework of bourgeois democracy. In Watergate, the OL equates the infights within the bourgeoisie to a people’s struggle for democracy, thus shoring up the discredited image of bourgeois democracy. By not exposing the trade union misleaders, the OL confines the demands of the proletariat within the trap of reformism, the main danger to the working class movement, thus diverting the class from the struggle for its emancipation. On the Boston Forced Busing Plan, the OL equates sham formal “equality” with the democratic rights of Black people. All these examples and more show how the OL has consistently imposed a liberal and revisionist conception of democracy upon mass movements, smothering the aspirations and revolutionary content of the proletarian demand for the abolition of classes with the straight jacket of bourgeois legality and bourgeois democracy.
On the question of fascism, OL only sees two metaphysical polar opposites: fascism and bourgeois democracy; the fascists, represented by the outright racists and fascists like Wallace, the KKK, etc., and the “anti-fascists”, represented by the liberal bourgeoisie, like Kennedy. To them, the liberal bourgeoisie is an immediate ally against fascism. They don’t understand that fascism does not come about solely due to the strength of outright racists and fascists. It is developed over a period of time, in a process of fascization involving the interplay and interaction between the fascists and liberal bourgeoisie within the framework of bourgeois democracy and legality, with the liberal bourgeoisie providing policies to weaken the proletariat through reformism, racism, and by binding the hands and feet of the working class with bourgeois democracy. Fascism in advanced capitalist countries comes out of the womb of bourgeois democracy and bourgeois legality. It is nourished and fed in each and every stage of its development by the liberal bourgeoisie and reformism.
To the OL, “fascist tides” are composed of only repressive legislation combined with individual acts of repression by racist cops against the minorities, and not the massive splitting up of the working class through seemingly progressive official policies such as the forced busing plan, which incites and inflames racism and divides up the working class. They don’t see the larger danger of the spread of fascist culture on a massive scale by the liberal bourgeoisie, but are horrified by the break-in of Ellsberg’s psychiatrist’s office!
Today U. S. monopoly capitalism is in an unprecedented crisis. Every period of economic crisis in the past has led to the further centralization of the ruling class. The recent reversal of the Telex antitrust case against IBM and the “emergency” merger of the Security National Bank with the giant Chemical Bank are both signs of “the bigger fish eating the big fish,” signs of centralization of the power of the monopolists. In the political arena and in the state apparatus a similar process is going on. Watergate served to consolidate the Rockefeller monopoly power. Replacement of the old and conservative Congressional committee chairmen by younger, more vigorous liberal representatives, massive firings of CIA agents, debate over the CIA charter – all in the name of “democracy”, “constitutionality”. All these are not signs of more “democracy,” but are actually steps toward centralization politically.
While we are vigilant towards the centralization process in the political superstructure, and can fight (and should fight) certain aspects of it, use it to educate the working class. Communists must be more vigilant towards the spread of fascist ideology and fascist movements in the base, among the masses. While the bourgeoisie may attempt to impose fascist rule, this attempt can be stopped if the subjective forces can halt the fascisation process among the masses, the base. This task demands that we expose the true nature of bourgeois democracy and reformism to the masses, to arm them against attempts to divert them from the road of proletarian revolution.
The revisionist “C”P and the OL, however, at each event and every infight among the bourgeoisie, support the “anti-fascists” against the ’fascists’, bourgeois democracy against fascist manifestations, thereby bypassing the whole essence of these fights and failing to lay bare the very nature of monopoly capitalism in front of the working class. This reveals nothing but a liberal’s conception of bourgeois democracy in the most vulgar sense. The OL fights “fascists” one at a time, as they are brought on stage by the bourgeoisie. They fight for “democracy” within the framework of bourgeois legality, regard the immediate movement as everything, bow to all events, chase after issues of “democracy” raised by the ruling class, drift with the tide, actually help along the step-by-step process of centralization and fascization.
In the following, we shall illustrate how this liberal and petty bourgeois outlook is being imposed on the mass movement by the OL in concrete individual cases and relate their deviations to what is generally and historically called revisionism.
The OL and the Guardian have always evaded taking a firm and clear position on the Boston Forced Busing Plan.
The Call has not yet taken a clear position as to whether they support or oppose the Forced Busing Plan. Davidson of the Guardian, however, said public ally both in the New York Busing Forum and at the Boston Rally that the only thing he disagrees with in the Forced Busing Plan is that it is not enforced forcefully enough by the government. Yet, even some of their own cadres tell others that they are opposed to the Busing Plan. Characteristically, the OL and Guardian vacillate between two mutually exclusive positions. In practice, however, they objectively support it through slandering communists who oppose the Busing Plan and by tailing after the Ford Foundation and the NAACP Legal Fund. But then why all this uncertainty and vacillation in their position? It is because of their revisionist-liberal conception of the monopoly capitalist society as a whole and their thoroughly metaphysical conception of the development of fascism and their opportunist tactics towards day-to-day movements.
Their position–that forces like Kennedy and the Ford Foundation are anti-fascist because they are pro-busing and hence, are opposed to reactionary forces such as Hicks and Kerrigan–represents a basic failure to see the class basis of fascism. In not applying “one divides into two,” in not correctly differentiating between forces which are “antifascist” in appearance and forces which are objectively anti-fascist, the OL and Guardian fall captive to the bourgeoisie and serve as an appendage to the liberal bourgeoisie.
The Call, for example, maintained that, “Busing to achieve integration of schools came to Boston as the result of a protracted struggle involving a broad spectrum of left and liberal forces, both Black and white.” This is, not surprisingly, a distortion of the real struggle. In confusing and concealing the facts, it is no wonder that the OL and Guardian view these “liberal forces” as strategic allies against fascism. But what were the real facts? The fact is that a “broad spectrum” of Black and white working class people in Boston never struggled for “busing to achieve integration of schools.” In 1963, some residents in the Black community, for example, put forward the demand that racist school committees recognize de facto segregation and called for a one day boycott along with a set of concrete demands. These demands and boycott were supported by many Black and white students. Were these demands for busing? No! They were demands which stated that the racist school committees recognize de facto segregation, that resources be equalized, that open enrollment and human relations training be implemented, that integrated educational materials be utilized, and that the community have a real participation in the choice of supervisors.
But then the State of Massachusetts intervened. It was then, and only then, that liberal representatives of the bourgeoisie pushed the forced busing plan and the dispersion of Black students as the solution to the problem of quality education in Boston. Who were these people?
They were: Thomas Hennessey, Vice-President of the New England Telephone and Telegraph Co. and Trustee of Charlestown Savings Bank; Carl J. Gilbert, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Gilette Corp (an influential member of the Boston Finance and Banking community who also was on the board of directors of the Boston Globe); Edwin Canham, editor and chief of the Christian Science Monitor and a member of the board of directors of the John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Co; and Ralph Lowell, another prominent banker and a member of the board of directors of the Globe.
Also among them were Mrs. Bruce Benson, President of the League of Women Voters, Trustee of New England Utilities and Director of the Dreyfus Third Century Funds; four university presidents; Edward Gourdin, Superior Court Justice; Herbert Tucker, and Assistant Attorney General; and Rev. John Burgess, an Episcopal Bishop.
This was the “broad spectrum of left and liberal forces, both Black and white” who in the form of the Kiernan Commission recommended busing and later became instrumental in formulating the forced busing plan that the OL is talking about.
The Boston Globe also reported that business donated $50,000 towards implementing Judge Garrity’s decision and that representatives from some of the largest corporations in Boston participated in neighborhood planning teams and provided public relations experts in advertisements and TV spots to implement the forced busing plan.
Was that a protracted struggle? Sure it was. It was a protracted struggle of the bourgeoisie to divert a grass roots fight for quality education into a legalistic battle in the superstructure. The genuine grass roots struggle for equality got boxed in by the bourgeoisie and reformism. That was the nature of the “protracted struggle.” Meanwhile, the original target of protest, the government and racist school committee, got off the hook and were even glorified as being the “neutral friend” of both Black and white parents, or even the “guardian of poor whites” (as in the case of Hicks and Kerrigan).
Lenin said that when, in 1890, the ruling class switched tactics to giving “concessions,” this change, as is always the case, proved to be an even greater threat to the labour movement than repression. There are parallels to the situation with the Boston Forced Busing Plan, a “concession” which objectively splits the whole working class and is an attempt to disintegrate the vanguard movement built up out of the struggles in the 1960’s (which is echoed in the bourgeois “reformist” opportunism found in the labor movement). Lenin said:
When, in 1890, the change to “concessions” took place, this change, as is always the case, proved to be even more dangerous to the labour movement, and gave rise to an equally one-sided echo of bourgeois “reformism”: opportunism in the labour movement. “The positive, real aim of the liberal policy of the bourgeoisie,” Pannekoek says, “is to mislead the workers, to cause a split in their ranks, to convert their policy into an impotent adjunct of an impotent, always impotent and ephemeral, sham reformism.” (Against Revisionism, p. 128) Not infrequently, the bourgeoisie for a certain time achieves its objectives through a “liberal” policy, which, as Pannekoek justly remarks, is a “more crafty” policy. Such is the case with the sham “concession” of forced busing.
For Davidson of the Guardian and the OL to come out and say that liberal bourgeois forces are allies against fascism is to distort totally the root and cause of the matter. Using poverty, racism, and destitution existing in the white working class as the basis and using the bourgeoisie’s forced busing plan as the condition, the bourgeoisie triggers greater hostility and greater racism. Davidson of the Guardian and the OL are misdirecting the mass movement in precisely the way the bourgeoisie wanted. And by considering the liberal bourgeoisie to be allies against fascism, they are repeating the exact same social-fascist deeds of the German Social-Democrats in the Weimar Republic – that bloody liberal “lesser of two evils” line which aided the ushering of fascism by misunderstanding the nature of bourgeois democracy.
The revisionist Davidson says much the same thing as the revisionist “C”PUSA. The Daily World states that “racist mobs” have tarnished the “progressive image of Boston.”! But have Davidson or the “C”PUSA ever thought about why this crisis happens in Boston, where the liberal bourgeoisie, the most cunning and sinister of all the bourgeoisie, happens to run their business?
Let’s examine the liberal bourgeoisie a little closer. In and around the time of the Racial Imbalance Act of 1954, some of Boston’s financial, business, and political leaders were discussing, in a series of seminars at Boston College, how to reorganize the city of Boston so as to have it better serve business and financial interests. At that meeting Erwin Canham, who was one of the influential men on the Kiernen Commission, put forth the following proposal:
Boston needs leadership... or rather it needs to reorganize and focus the leadership it already has... I am thinking of an executive committee of not more than five men... This should not be a group appointed by the mayor or governor, it should be a group appointed, as in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, by its members themselves... It should be a realistic action group, backed by a larger well balanced body. You and I know who the decision making men of Boston are.. .We cannot settle for deputies and second raters. We must have the key men... This is leadership in the democratic pattern. It has no conflict with politics and political representation. It helps to make politics and government work the way they were supposed to work. ..What are we and the men who hold the economic power in Boston waiting for?
This is the kind of liberalism and democracy that OL and Guardian respect so much. But the bourgeois democrats don’t even believe in themselves. What they believe in is how to best rule for their class interests; “democracy” or repression matter little to them – these are certainly not matters of principle to them. These are purely tactical questions according to the ebbs and flows of the working class movement. Yet the OL and Guardian leadership are so concerned with this “difference” between “democracy” and repression that they speculate on the “differences” within the bourgeoisie. Their speculations go beyond the liberal and conservative bourgeoisie. They even call the notorious Philadelphia and New York Plan a genuine concession from the bourgeoisie, and further speculate as to how to exploit the contradictions between the “police and the racist mobs” and the “federal troops and the racist mobs”.
From the point of view of the OL and Davidson, the overwhelming majority of the ruling class, because of their reactionary nature, is opposed to the busing plan. In their opinion, a small sector of the bourgeoisie who are liberals, such as Kennedy and the Ford Foundation (which is pro-busing and finances it) is a part of our strategic allies against fascism. The only problem with this conception is that the facts do not square with their position. For only last month, when the Senate debated the question of whether or not to withdraw Federal funds from local schools which do not comply with the forced busing plan, they voted 56-27 pro-busing. Recently, the Democrats similarly used the pro-busing position as a criteria to measure Congressmen and Senators as to how loyal they were to the Democratic Party! And needless to say, the higher courts, one of the more stable branches of the ruling class apparatus, have all along, ever since the busing issue became important, consistently voted for forced busing plans similar to the Boston type.
Now, it can be seen that the OL and Guardian position on the liberal bourgeoisie is nothing but liberal claptrap.
To the OL, on the question of fascism, there are again two metaphysical poles – one is fascist, the other is “anti-fascist.” There are fascists, and anybody against them, in whatever form, is necessarily anti-fascist. What they miss in this conception, and refuse to even think about, is the process of the development of fascism.
What is automatically assumed by them is that fascism comes in through legislation, such as racist laws pushed by outright racists and fascists. What they miss, and seem incapable of understanding is the process of interaction between those fascists and the “anti-fascists” such as Kennedy and other liberal pro-busing bourgeois elements. What the OL and Guardian hold on this question of fascism in this country is a vulgar, popularist conception of fascism. To them, Nixon represents fascism, yet Kennedy somehow doesn’t. To them, “fascist tide” means individual repressive measures of the individual bourgeoisie, and not the massive splitting up of the working class through racism activated by a policy which sets up the conditions to trigger off and intensify racism. Thus, to them, massive fascist culture, sanctioned by the liberal courts and liberal bourgeoisie, is not nearly as serious as an individual action of a killer cop. The liberal bourgeoisie’ forced busing plan is not nearly as fundamental as the direct violent attack of a white racist against a member of the oppressed minorities. Etc.
This approach to fight the “fascist tide” and this understanding of the development of fascism is nothing but eclecticism!
As a world outlook, this is nothing but a rotten to the core force of habit. This predilection of the petty bourgeoisie is baggage of the intellectuals of the worst kind in advanced capitalist society –and carried into the communist movement. Throwing around this garbage again represents nothing but an attempt of the petty bourgeoisie to impose their hegemony over the proletariat.
In the embryonic period of the development of fascism, history has proven in an abundance of examples that to see only conservative types such as Wallace, Hicks and the KKK as fascist and uniting with the liberal bourgeoisie to fight them, is to help the development of fascism. “The lesser of two evils” approach of the Weimar Republic ushered in Hitler in Germany, The German Social-Democrats alliance with Hindenburg, –“an anti-fascist” to fight Hitler, –directly pan the grounds for Hitler to seize state power. A similar approach of the Austrian Social-Democrats that supported the “anti-Nazis” democratic Dollfuss also was directly responsible for the rise of power of fascism in Austria. The Italian fascist, Mussolini, was also ushered in through faith in bourgeois democracy– to use the bourgeois democrats to fight the fascists. Whenever the renegade Kautsky’s centrist line on bourgeois democracy prevailed, there was unnecessary bloodshed and tragic reversals to the proletarian revolution. H situation is similar today. Whoever supports the liberal imperialist bourgeoisie, such as Kennedy, Harriman, Mondale, H. Carey, etc.,–in support for bourgeois democracy as the “lesser evil” against the “fascists” like Wallace, Reagan, Rockefeller and others, will divert the genuine spontaneous grass roots Struggles of the masses into legalistic, reformist struggle –such as the Boston busing plan and District One Community Control struggle. This is, in essence, the OL and Guardian line, which is based on infinitely greater faith in bourgeois democracy and bourgeois formalism, rather than the movements of the proletariat and of all the oppressed.
The forced busing plan can turn the struggle of the oppressed minorities into a trap of fascist attacks and cause the working class to lose initiative in struggle, only to tail after the bourgeois strategy. In this period of economic crisis, the working class will increasingly gain initiative in our struggle against the ruling class by shaking off the influence of reformism and gain political independence. However, in wanting to take tactical advantage “to provoke police to fight the fascist” etc., the way Davidson presented it, to “speculate on the difference between the bourgeoisie” the OL and Guardian is forcing the oppressed minorities and working class as a whole to tail miserably behind the bourgeoisie strategically. Why? Because by objectively taking the pro-busing position, the OL and Guardian are demanding the poor white and black working class children to change their places without gaining anything. It objectively adds to inflame the existing racism and give fertile grounds for racist and fascist forces to recruit among the white working class ranks and to inflame racism on a massive scale to attack the black community. The KKK and other fascist groups will meanwhile call rallies and spread this issue to suburban areas and elsewhere around the country to recruit and expand. Whether federal, state or local government send in troops (which Davidson and OL call for), National Guard, or police, this will either serve to further disarm and attack the black community based on law and order, thus leaving the black community even more vulnerable to future attacks or it will give another issue to fascist and racist forces to feed their “anti-government, anti-monopoly” demagogy on. This is, in essence, the feeding process that will enable the fascist to grow from the liberal bourgeois policy of “divide and rule” on a seemingly “progressive anti-racist” policy. And this is how the original demand of the minorities and the working class as a whole can be converted into a dead lock fight among the working class through the inflammation of the existing racism.
We support the right of all minorities to go to the schools of their choice. For we are being discriminated against. Concretely that means we fight for the admission of minorities to schools of their choice. The history of the civil rights movement from the 1950’s to the late 1960’s were essentially such struggles. But the forced busing plan as a plan never was the demand or the fight of the minorities. And this was never an issue until 1968. Thus to equate the nature of the struggles cf the period before 1968 against segregation and for the real democratic right of the minorities to the forced busing plan is totally incorrect. This approach basically takes out of context and character the struggles to confuse the two. It is an incorrect understanding of the struggle then and now and this difference the OL and Guardian have always tried to distort and gloss over.
In being so fond of ”speculating the differences between the liberal and conservative bourgeoisie” within the framework of bourgeois democracy–the OL and Davidson of the Guardian abandon the stand of the proletariat, in order to ally with one sector. Such is their revisionism!
But maybe the bourgeoisie themselves, and at that the “most” racist, imperialist, reactionary and conservative of them all–Nelson Rockefeller–whom the Guardian and OL regard as the head of the conservative fascist wing of the bourgeoisie, can again teach them something:
Such labels (conservative, liberal) are misleading, and out of date, in the context of the massive problems that we face. Rather I would say that today, we must be conservative in our loyalty to eternal truths that define the nature, the freedom, the dignity of man. We must be liberal in our constant and tireless quest to find ever new ways to meet ever new threats to this freedom and dignity. And we must be progressive in a spirit that rejects escape to yesterdays that perhaps never existed, while looking ahead with optimism and confidence to the tomorrows of ever more secure liberty, more universal justice, more fruitful peace...” (Unity, Freedom and Peace, by Nelson Rockefeller, P. 21).
Sometimes the understanding of the monopoly capitalists themselves, on the question of tactics, seem to far surpass the understanding of our “M-L” leaders. It seems from their own words that the ruling class’ sophistication puts our “leaders” to shame. And talk about “speculating on the difference between the bourgeoisie” it makes you wonder who is actually speculating on whom!!!
But are there differences between the monopoly groups? Of course there are. This is inherent by the very nature of capitalism. It is one of the fundamental and antagonistic contradictions in the world today. And Communists are obliged to use every rift, every difference and every conceivable discord among the enemies in the interests of the proletariat. But this must be done in the context of the larger strategy. Tactics must follow strategy! This has to be done in order to further the proletariat struggles, not to liquidate it. And to utilize these contradictions, we must first have initiative in the struggle, on our own grounds, to propagate proletarian democracy. We have to show the hypocrisy and caricature of “bourgeois democracy”– the hopelessness and class nature of bourgeois legality. Only in such a way can we go beyond the bounds of legality, and only in such a manner can the largest possible number of the masses be aroused –to prepare them for the final onslaught against the bourgeoisie!
Generally, all political liberties that are founded on present-day capitalist relations of production, are bourgeois liberties. The demand for liberty expresses primarily the interests of the bourgeoisie. Its representatives are the first to raise this demand. Its supporters have everywhere used the liberty they acquired like masters, reducing it into moderate and meticulous bourgeois doses, combining it with the most subtle methods of suppressing the revolutionary proletariat in peaceful times and with brutally cruel methods in stormy times. To this, the OL, blind by their prejudices, do not understand. And not understanding it, they still want to play out their role, still want to “speculate differences” on this and that and doing exactly what revisionists have been doing for over a hundred years!
The OL always justifies their rightist policy of not taking ML positions by saying that people have to learn from their own experiences. It is true that one of the fundamental laws of Marxism, of the working class movement and of the mass movement in general is that people must learn from their own experiences, and that communists should not substitute their understanding for the masses’ understanding. However, this same cardinal rule of Marxism can also be misused to justify abandoning ML, as a shield to evade taking a principled stand in the immediate struggle for the long term interests of the socialist revolution. This, historically, has been a far greater danger than its ultra “leftist” application.
Is it simply a matter of overestimating or underestimating the ripeness of the revolutionary situation that leads Marxists to commit left or right errors? If that were the case, these errors could be corrected through social investigation and through repeated practice. Unfortunately, it is not that easy.
The revisionists, and especially those revisionists in advanced capitalist countries (where reformism has historically been used by the bourgeosie as its main weapon to divert and disintegrate the mass movement) appeal to this Leninist rule. Not only have they used it to underestimate the people’s consciousness but in addition, it has been used to rationalize their own “maneuvers,” and their zigzags at the expense of the people’s understanding of the fundamental character of capitalism. This is nothing but an extension of their revisionist world outlook.
An outstanding example of OL/Guardian’s revisionist deviation is Carl Davidson’s constant appeal for the Federal troops to be sent to Boston.
This master move is based on the theory that “people have to learn from their own experience.” The historical parallel to this is the German Social Democrats demand that “Hitler’s coming to power will be the quickest way to expose him.” Davidson stated that the federal government is not on the people’s side unless they send troops into Boston and that we have to “speculate” on the difference between the Federal government and the local government. Not only that, he also wants to “speculate” and “provoke fights” between the local fascist forces, the racist anti-busing forces and the police!! (That’s precisely how Carl Davidson formulated it in the forum)
There are numerous examples in recent history, such as Jackson State and the experience of the Black communities during the rebellions of the 60’s, when Federal troops would start a riot themselves and massacre Blacks once they were sent into the ghettoes. Would the repetition of these massacres satisfy the OL/Guardian that the people have learned from their own experience that Federal troops will not protect them but will attack them? The Black people have learned from centuries of brutalization under this “impartial, democratic” state who the Federal Government really protects. It is the OL/Guardian and Davidson that have to learn that their intellectual “speculation”, in proving their special “theories” on the differences within the bourgeoisie on this particular question, may cost the lives of hundreds, if not thousands, of workers, primarily Blacks and other minorities.
How do people really learn from their own experience and what is the role of communists in this learning process?
While the communist cannot do much under bourgeois rule to accelerate the development of the objective factors in history, the communist can and must accelerate the subjective factors in history, that is, the people’s consciousness, organization, etc. The communist’s role in this process is to raise the masses’ understanding of the objective laws of social development, of the tempo of the mass movement, and to anticipate the ruling class strategy.
In order to achieve the correct fusion of the communist movement and the mass movement, in order for communists to gain respect and influence and lead the masses, we must play not only an exemplary role in the immediate struggle but also an exemplary role in educating the masses on the nature of class society and the ruling class. This must be done, even though the masses may not accept it right away. We have to go through those steps that they still see as necessary so that they will understand from their own experience the correctness of the communist line. But in going through this process, Communists must point out beforehand what will happen. A classical example of this is the lesson of “BLOODY SUNDAY”. In 1905, in Czarist Russia, tens of thousands of workers from all parts of Moscow, under bankrupt misleadership, marched to the Winter Palace with the portrait of the Czar and the Cross, to appeal to the Tsar for amnesty, civil liberties, fair wages, and a gradual transfer of land to the peasants. Before the march, Bolsheviks advised the people not to go, for they said the troops were called out and the Cossacks would open fire on the unarmed workers. The people, without real “experience” with the Government thought that the Czar would be benevolent and consider the appeal. The Bolsheviks marched with the people towards the Winter Palace anyway. The Czarist troops opened fire and killed over two thousand of them. The workers, and even some of the most backward elements learned through bitter experience the true nature of the Czar. The Bolsheviks, who warned the workers beforehand not to go, who marched side by side with the workers, even when the masses wouldn’t listen, who died side by side with the workers, gained tremendous respect and prestige. They were later able to play an influential role in the 1905 upsurge.
The deviation of the OL is that they don’t tell people beforehand the role of the troops, the role of the state and the state apparatus and negate the experiences of the militant black liberation movement of the 60’s. In so doing, they foster illusions amongst the people. Not only did they abandon the role of communists in accelerating the already learnt experience of the masses, they in actuality played a rearguard role and dragged the movement backward. This is a case in point where Black people are far more “experienced” than the “communists”.
So what their “people have to learn from their own experience” comes down to is nothing except the OL/Guardian’s leadership’s uncertainty as to the role of the state, their lasting faith in the “democratic” and “impartial” character of the state and the state apparatus, a typically revisionist mentality. It is they who have to confirm their belief that the state and the state apparatus does have a class character – that of the bourgeoisie.
Lenin concluded in “The Collapse of the Second International” the reason for the revisionists having revisionist illusions: the relatively good lives of the petty bourgeois intellectuals and labour aristocrats have “isolated them from the suffering, miseries and revolutionary sentiments of the ruined and impoverished masses.” And indeed, due to OL leadership and Guardian’s Davidson’s lack of “experience” and lack of faith in the powerful working class movement, they maneuver and speculate at the expense of the bloody history of the working class, particularly the oppressed national minorities. The petty bourgeois intellectuals have to fuss about the people’s experience, in order to impose their petty bourgeois liberal mode of thinking, emotions and world outlook onto the working class – only to smother the working class struggle.
The OL and Guardian also support the issue of “Community Control.” In the June, 1974 issue of The Call, the OL stated in their article, “Por Los Ninos Slate Runs in Community Control Elections” that “in New York’s Lower East Side, a community school board election is a focus of the continuing movement throughout the country demanding the right of parents, especially in minority communities, to have control over the education of their children.” This again clearly shows their miserable grasp of the essence of the “community control” issue. Instead of separating the demands of the parents for bilingual and quality education from fights between Luis Fuentes, the Superintendent, UFT misleader Shanker and the Jewish community misleaders, over who is to control the local school board, the OL sees their demands as the same thing.
As we have stated in Workers Viewpoint (No. 2) in the article “Community Control: Tailing the Bourgeoisie or Building the Revolutionary Movement?”
Community control, originally a demand of spontaneous mass movements in the late 1960’s, has become a potent tool of the American ruling class. In “community control” the ruling class appears to relinquish or to decentralize some of its power, but in essence, the community control tactic is used to:
(1) Divert and coopt the growing militancy of mass struggles, usually urban Third World struggles, through reformism, and
(2) Divide and weaken the working class struggle by sharpening national divisions.
Thus, the ruling class uses community control to strengthen the capitalist system, while attempting to disintegrate the people’s mass movements.
We claimed that the community control struggle is a “bourgeois box.” More specifically, it:
(1) Shifts the attack from the capitalist system to narrow institutional forms:
(2) Weakens the struggle against the State, representative of the ruling class, i.e. the State appears to play a neutral role in heated battles over funding – instead of uniting against the State as the common enemy and demanding more funds altogether, communities and groups fight each other;
(3) Divides the unity of the multinational working class, pitting oppressed nationalities against each other, and against oppressor nationalities;
(4) Divides the unity of the working class, pitting consumers against workers within the institutions (usually service workers);
(5) Diverts the mass movement into purely legalistic battles and electoral politics, often resulting in militant revolutionary potentials being exhausted in the midst of bureaucracy of bourgeois politics, and in leadership falling into the hands of petti-bourgeois or bourgeois nationalists, who can be controlled and manipulated by the ruling class.
By not differentiating between a genuine peoples’ movement and a ruling class strategy, the OL falls right into the bourgeoisie’s trap!
Six years after McGeorge Bundy’s Ford Foundation Decentralization Plan, when the public schools in New York City had proved to be unmanagable for the government, the struggle has been diverted from a revolutionary course into one trapped in the bourgeois box of reformism. As bilingual and other programs face cuts in staff and paraprofessionals from the community the ’fight’ still remains hopelessly entangled in the squabble for the spoils between the Third World community’s reformist misleaders and the misleaders from the Jewish community. The result has been one of heightened racial and national prejudices among the people, despite the favorable conditions for unity due to the massive attack by the government in the form of cutbacks in all essential services to all communities. Certainly the Lower East Side’s Puerto Rican, Chinese, Black and Jewish children’s education has deteriorated more and more. And all of this The Call has “failed” to report.
The OL saw Nixon as the representative of a section of the ruling class that was “trying to consolidate its power by using terror, sabotage, and harassment against the people’s movement as well as it’s own capitalist opposition” July 73 According to the OL, Nixon and his “regime” represented an attempted shift from bourgeois democracy to open terroristic fascism.
The Nov. Call described the firing of Att. Gen. Elliot Richardson and Archibald Cox (whom the OL had previously seen as chief architects of fascism) and the resignation of William Ruckelshaus as “bringing to light the depths of the current crisis within the ruling circles” “The current crisis within the ranks of the ruling class has many aspects, not the least of which is Nixon’s efforts to move rapidly towards fascist rule, dropping many of the democratic poses with which the ruling class has ruled this country for 200 years”
Carl Davidson of the Guardian puts forward the same position.
Despite the rising trend of class struggle, most of the bourgeosie is aware that the working class and its allies are still deeply split and reformism, far from being exhausted, still holds considerable sway within their ranks. The Nixon Administration is viewed–although none of the Watergate probers will expose it in precisely these terms–as incompetent because it panicked and pulled a weapon out of its class struggle arsenal that was not yet called for. Worse yet, they now have to hit back hard, since Nixon’s playing of the trump card of fascist-like terror too soon could have the opposite effects of becoming a radicalizing and unifying force in the developing UFAI. (July 1973)
The essence of this position is that Watergate represented a division in the ruling class over how to rule– bourgeois democracy or fascism, and that NIXON WOULD MOVE TOO QUICKLY. TOWARD FASCISM, which according to the OL had profound implications for the people. Therefore, the Watergate Committee, the Rodino Committee, and Congress had in mind to halt this process and turn the. country back to bourgeois democratic rule.
But let’s examine this position. As we said in the last WV,/p>
The menace of fascism does exist and we must fight it. But Watergate was never a battle between the fascist and more liberal sectors of the bourgeoisie. (p39)
The general capitalist crisis is presently aggravating all of the fundamental world contradictions. The struggle for high profit rates in the face of both the shrinking international pie and the deepening crisis at home forces the bourgeoisie into ever fiercer contention throughout business and government. Watergate was an intense struggle between the different monopoly groups in the US bourgeoisie, a struggle in which each contending group had and still has profound interests at stake. (p40)
In the course of these battles different representatives of the contending monopoly groups (the politicians) take different positions and put on different masks; particularly those supporting the Constitution and upholding democracy. The same Senator Ervin who today is appalled by Nixon’s violations of the Constitution, used the same constitutional rationale for opposing every civil right bill. The Supreme Court, through “interpreting the Constitution” changes its position and overturns its own decisions whenever it is convenient to do so. When infights occur in the bourgeoisie, all sections invariably point to the Constitution to prove that they are right. It is easy to see why the petty bourgeoisie can be fooled by such demagogy./p>
As Dimitrov said about fascism in the US, “In contrast to German fascism, which acts under anti-constitutional slogans, American fascism tries to portray itself as the custodian of the constitution and American democracy” (7th Congress of the Comintern)/p>
The OL “ignores” the fact that while certain moves were made to strip away the people’s democratic rights, attacks against these moves were supported by Senator Ervin, one of Nixon’s “opponents” who opposed every Civil Right Bill, voted to restore the death penalty, and opposed an anti-genocide bill, and Rodino is notorious for his attacks on national minorities via his Illegal Aliens bills. At the same time, the “energy crisis’ saw all sections of the ruling class support measures to make the working class pay. The secret war in Cambodia, attacks on the Black liberation movement, – in general all attacks on the people were never considered as “impeachable offenses” by any of the Watergate hearings or proceedings. These bourgeois opponents cared nothing for the rights of the people. Every section of the bourgeoisie always conducts acts of terror and repression against the people. What Ervin and Kennedy object to is the spying that took place against them. Their rubbish about democracy etc., refers to their own opposition to moves by other monopolists to consolidate against them, to take away their piece of the pie. This is why issues like the Ellsberg break in, phone taps by Kissinger on the National Security Council, or keeping of records on certain Congressmen were “impeachable offenses”.’/p>
But the OL saw the danger of fascism as coming from only one section – Nixon. By their logic, all those who oppose Nixon and who are also attacked by Nixon must also be against Nixon’s attacks on everyone else, his moves toward fascism etc./p>
They saw possible allies in these bourgeois opponents of Nixon. So, instead of completely exposing the nature of the whole bourgeoisie and its “democratic” cover, the OL wants us to ”seize the time and build up the revolutionary and democratic forces under the leadership of the working class in opposition to imperialism and its fascist , aggressive policies.” (Nov. 73)/p>
Let’s see in practice what they mean by “democratic” forces and “leadership of the working class”/p>
In spite of these outrages (the tax and tape scandals) the ruling class is still trying to shore up the Nixon administration, and those congressmen who had appeared to be calling for Nixon’s resignation have in large part toned down their statements and faded out of the news./p>
Therefore, according to the OL “The decisive factor in this situation is mass pressure and mass mobilization against the fascist crimes of the Nixon regime.”
This is the meaning of ”leadership”. Since the ruling class won’t “lead”, people have to pressure them to “lead”. On another issue, they even alter their class stand to make it acceptable to the bourgeois allies./p>
We are concerned with Nixon’s blatant violations of the Constitution in his re-election efforts. We are concerned with Nixon’s tax evasions and his taking of bribes from the dairy millionaires, oil monopolies and IT&T. We are concerned with these “impeachable offenses because we are fighters for democratic rights and are revolted by the fact “that a poor unemployed worker can go to prison for 20 years for stealing some food to feed his family, while the real criminals live in comfort and luxury, rewarded for their crimes with high political office.” Like bourgeois liberals they express concern and revulsion, because they are fighters for democratic rights: Since when are communists equally concerned with attacks by the bourgeoisie on each other and attacks by the ruling class on the people? But let’s see how the OL puts this into practice. In The Call, they proclaim that/p>
These kind of demonstrations, which both expose fascism in general and call for Nixon’s ouster specifically are the only way to actually rid the country of Nixon and at the same time insure that there is a militant mass movement. Ready to take Ford or any one else who tries’ to carry out Nixon’s policies in new disguise.”/p>
This is the meaning of OL’s “leadership of the working class”. Since the ruling class won’t act we have to force them to move by applying ”pressure”./p>
Here again OL leaves the ruling class intact as long as it doesn’t follow ”Nixon’s policies in new disguise”. And if it does, OL is ready to “take them on” (and apply pressure?) This is a complete abandonment of anything resembling Marxism and is nothing more than weak-kneed “threats” of a petty bourgeois loyal opposition./p>
OL’s position is basically tailist. When the contradiction in the bourgeoisie reached a height, when the bourgeoisie initiated the impeachment drive, the OL SAID “Dump Nixon,” “Stop the fascist tide”. Before, the OL mentioned nothing about impeach Nixon movement or the need to work in it. In practice they saw that the main thing about impeachment was to stop Nixon’s fascist offensive by building the mass movement around this. Because of their position they can only tail. Since they saw an alliance between certain sections of the bourgeoisie and the people, and that since the real action that went on was in the Congress, their role remained to pressure the Congress because we cannot be sure “whether or not the Congress is going to act or use the impeachment question for their own immediate political needs while the country suffers the effects of the corruption ridden administration.” WE could only ask, “Didn’t the masses suffer the effects of every CAPITALIST GOVERNMENT?” Why else would Congress impeach Nixon-except to further its own immediate interests? Through statements like these, and like the proof that the system doesn’t work is that it won’t impeach the most widely exposed criminal of the day”, OL built and spread illusions about the nature of the bourgeois democratic system. What happens if the Congress impeaches Nixon? Does that mean that the system, does work? This is a real abandonment of M-L and very similar to the position of the ”C’PUSA. From the beginning the OL did not tell the people that the scandals of Nixon and Watergate were all part of the imperialist system and were all responsible for the suffering of the masses. By talking about the “paralysis” of the Congress, it “refused to act” etc. it actually obscured their class nature and disarmed the people. The OL also mention nothing at a time when conditions are so ripe to show people that what we need is to overthrow all of our oppressors. The mistake of OL was to use Watergate as a vehicle to expose part of the ruling class to the masses of the American people. ML organizations have the duty to show the masses that the entire class is unfit to rule and that Nixon’s resignation would give only an illusion of change. At a time like today, when the contradictions within the bourgeoisie are bound to sharpen, there is most disillusionment with the system that is openly corrupt and does not even claim to have a solution to inflation and recession. The conditions are ripe to expose to the masses that we live under a dictatorship of the bourgeoisie and that the only solution is socialist revolution and the dictatorship of the proletariat./p>
Finally, in retrospect let’s examine what finally came out of the whole impeachment movement, why Nixon resigned and what the effect of OL’s line was. By raising the slogan “Dump Nixon, stem the fascist tide”, the OL objectively built the idea, despite what they may have said later on ,that getting rid of Nixon would help to curb the fascist offensive. In the Sept. Call, OL put forward the analysis that the people “dumped Nixon”. But the dumping of Nixon was actually the capitalist offensive, which has not decreased but increased since Ford has become the president./p>
Because OL did not point out that it was the capitalist system that was the basis of the issue, because they did not expose Nixon’s opposition, the bourgeoisie who wanted to impeach him, they objectively obscured the real nature of the whole capitalist system. Now Nixon is dumped and Rockefeller, Mr. Monopoly capitalist himself, is taking over the driver’s seat, and it is clear that Ford is nothing but a cover for him. Taking the “dump Nixon” campaign as a whole, it’s clear that it’s objectively part of the centralization process which takes place during every cyclical crisis of capitalism. By not opposing “antifascist”, “anti-Nixon” opposition, the OL does exactly what the revisionists always do:/p>
To worship immediate movements, to adapt itself to the events of today and determine its conduct from case to case, to forfeit the primary interests of the proletariat and the basic features of the whole capitalist system, of all capitalist evolution, to sacrifice these primary interests for the real or assumedadvantages of the moment–such is the policy of revisionism. (Marxism and Revisionism)/p>
In the present economic crisis, the bourgeoisie is fighting among themselves for hegemony. All this is a process of centralization, of big fish eating up small fish, a process of stream-lining the bourgeois state apparatus in all levels–to prepare for different times ahead. All this is part and parcel of capitalism under the guise of “democracy” and “the constitution”. This is an attribute of the. process of fascization in the US. To take a side and attack a section of the bourgeoisie as “fascist” without attacking the “opposition” as part of the bourgeoisie itself, to tail after every incremental movement for “democracy” and “constitution”, to opt for the lesser of two evils, is to objectively aid the development of fascism. Behind the sorrow-man argument of the OL which consistently resorts to charges of “ultra-leftism”, lies the barrenness of their theory. And behind their juxtaposition of various mutually exclusive view points and arguments lies their opportunism, revisionism and fear of exposing the liberal bourgeoisie. Similarly, behind the OL’s and Davidson of the Guardian’s claims that all who oppose Hicks and Kerrigans are anti-fascist, lies their popular approach to the mass movement which is leading them to abdicate their communist duty to the working class and the oppressed minorities. On the surface, the OL appears to be unable to tell the difference between the ruling class’s strategy of sham reformism, which is aimed at diverting and disintegrating the working class movement, from certain reforms and concession from the bourgeoisie that communists can use to further the revolutionary movement. But in essence what is really behind everything is a liberal-revisionist understanding of the capitalist system as a whole and its development./p>
In the September, 1974 issue of the Call, the OL summed up their trade union strategy “to unite with the progressive sections of the labor leadership against the reactionaries.” To them, the progressive sections of the union leadership are a part of “the main and secondary reserves” of the proletariat. “What is it that will make certain reformist forces within the labor movement and the movements of nationally oppressed peoples unite with us?” the OL asked. “It is our deep ties among the masses gained through years of patient work, and our position as unifier of the class.” This, in a nutshell, is the essence of the OL’s trade union line. But why must patient work, deep ties among the masses, and organizing within the trade unions necessarily serve to unify the working class, when it is led by sell-out, reformist leadership? Why is the aim of the OL to “make certain reformist forces within the labor movement and the movements of the nationally oppressed people unite with us” such a key link in their trade union strategy?/p>
First of all, who are these “certain reformist forces” that they want to unite with? And why do they liquidate the strategic and fundamental task of educating the working class as to the role of reformism and reformist leadership? The OL negates this task by treating THESE LABOR REFORMISTS AS STRATEGIC RESERVES. The task of exposing these forces, these labor lieutenants within the working class, is what we see as the key link in a trade union strategy and the only way that the working class will ever achieve political independence and make socialist revolution. As Lenin said,/p>
Opportunism is our principal enemy... Practice has shown that the active people in the working class movement who adhere to the opportunist trend are better defenders of the bourgeoisie than the bourgeoisie itself. Without their leadership of the workers, the bourgeoisie could not have remained in power. This is not only proved by the history of the Kerensky regime in Russia; it is also proved by the democratic republic in Germany, headed by its Social-Democratic government. It is proved by Albert Thomas’ attitude toward his bourgeois government. It is proved by the analogous experience in Great Britain and the U.S. This is where our principle enemy is–and we must conquer this enemy. We must leave this congress with firm determination to carry this struggle onto the very end in all parties. This is our main task. (The International Situation and the Fundamental Tasks of the Communist International, Report Delivered at the 2nd Congress of the Communist International)./p>
Reformists are more dangerous if they have a mass following, for they are the real social props of the bourgeoisie. They hide the monopoly capitalists from sight and lead the mass movement around in vicious circles. The historical experiences of the labor movement in every advanced capitalist country has proven that reformists are more sinister enemies than outright reactionaries, for they will leech off of the working class movement and bloodsuck its political independence. Reformists no matter which “section” they may come from, are the same. The more seemingly militant they are, the more dangerous they are. They act as a block to prevent the fusion between the labor movement and the communist movement. For they deprive the working class movement of its political independence and divert it from the historical mission of class emancipation. The OL becomes indignant and starts to scream whenever we get down and polemicize against them for not exposing these elements. They say that maybe it is too soon to tell whether they are our enemies. On this point, the OL doesn’t distinguish between a trend that is characteristic in this country and individual particularities. Lenin addressed himself to that question in his famous article on revisionism; “Imperialism and the Split in the Socialist Movement.”
Certain individuals among the present social chauvinist leaders may return to the proletariat but the social chauvinist or (what is the same thing) opportunist trend can neither disappear nor “return” to the revolutionary proletariat./p>
In evading the historical lessons of the wretched role of reformism within the labor movement.. .which diverts the working class away from emancipation as a class, the OL exhibits “a profound ignorance. In pronouncing their grand strategy for the labor movement, the OL and Carl Davidson of the Guardian repeatedly interchange the term “direction of the main blow” (i.e. the false leaders of the working class, the social props of the bourgeoisie) and the objective of the revolution. In fact, sometimes it appears that the function of the social prop of the ruling class does not exist for the OL and Davidson. It is no wonder then that the OL can unite with a certain sector of the reformist labor leadership as strategic reserves of the proletariat. As to those certain sectors, they cited Arnold Mille of the United Mine Workers. Let’s examine these individuals./p>
Who else besides Arnold Miller could have forced the miners to go back to work with 43% of them solidly against the contract? And with the mine construction workers left out cold without a contract ? Who e besides Chavez could have gained enough support to pit one sector of the immigrant workers against another to aid the ruling class’ racist and divisive campaign against the working class struggle as a whole? (though the United Farm Workers have played a vanguard role in organizing the minority workers, how does this differ from Miller’s role?) (See our article on Illegal Immigration,-Legal Exploitation) These are embarrassing questions for the OL. In not understanding the strategic role of reformists and the ruling class, in tailing after the “progressive” sector of the labor movement, and the oppressed minorities, the OL serves as the appendage to the bourgeoisie./p>
While the rank and file movement is growing rapidly and the old sellout leadership can no longer cope with this insurgent movement, these “progressive” misleaders with a militant facade will step in to play a role for the ruling class that no one else can play. This is the crucial point that OL doesn’t see. It is the responsibility of communists to educate the working class as to the class character of these reformists before, during, and after each and every spontaneous struggle. Of course, communist propaganda and agitation is not sufficient. People also have to learn from their experiences. That is why communists must actively engage in immediate worker struggles side by side with the misleadership in the immediate interests of the working class while at the same time using the lesson of their every maneuver, every trick, and every change of tactics to educate the working class and to accelerate the development of their class consciousness and to win the leadership from the opportunists. Naturally, this process can vary from one misleader to another, all this depends to the extent that he is already exposed or to the extent to which the rank and file has illusions of him. While this varies from individual to individual and depends on the ebbs and flows of the movement–thus making it a matter of tactics – the fact is that this has to be done consistently and generally to all reformist leadership, no matter how conservative or “progressive” or “militant” they may be, which makes it a strategic question – for this is an integral part of our strategy – i.e. the direction of the main blow against the social-prop of the bourgeoisie. In America and Europe, in advanced capitalist countries pregnant with revisionism, this kind of struggle is generally done through sharp criticism of each and every maneuver taken by the reformist misleaders. In this way, whenever the reformist opportunists try to sell out the people, the vigilance of the masses will sharpen through our criticism, and the opportunists’ deviations may be checked in time or minimized through pressure from the rank and file./p>
This is how we see the question of strategy and tactics. Strategically, reformists, no matter how militant they may seem, are enemies of the working people. Tactically, they have to be pressured in every twist and turn of events through criticism and exposure. But the OL would call this approach “Crystal Ball” approach to things, i.e. they would say “how do you know he’s a reformist or opportunist from the beginning?” Let us tell you, Ladies and Gentlemen, if you regard this as a “crystal ball” approach, you haven’t seen nothing yet. MLMttT is more than a “Crystal Ball.” It is a microscope and a telescope. Lenin saw concretely that generally and strategically/p>
.. .the higher the development of capitalism in a given country, the more unadulterated the rule of the bourgeoisie, and the greater the political liberty, the wider is the field of application of the “most up-to-date” bourgeois slogan: reform versus revolution; partially patching up of the doomed regime, with the object of dividing and awakening the working class and of maintaining the rule of the bourgeoisie, versus the revolutionary overthrow of that rule.” “One of the necessary conditions for preparing the proletariat for its victory is a long, stubborn and ruthless struggle against opportunism, reformism, social chauvinism, and similar bourgeois influence and trends, which are inevitable, since the proletariat is operating in a capitalist environment. If there is no such struggle, if opportunism in the working class movement is not utterly defeated beforehand, there can be no dictatorship of the proletariat. Bolshevism would not have defeated the bourgeoisie in 1917-1919 had it not learn before that in 1903-1917, to defeat the Mensheviks, i.e. the opportunists, reformists, social-chauvinists and ruthlessly expel them from the party of the proletarian vanguard. (The Constitution, Assembly Elections and the Dictatorship of the Proletariat)
This is part of the strategic preparation for revolution. How is it that our young communist movement, with its principal task of building an anti-revisionist communist party, can muddle this question? On how to work concretely with trade unions, the OL, in their usual style, pulls out a quote, (in Sept. Call) in this case, from “The Anglo-Russian Unity Committee” by Stalin that says,/p>
In order to gain access to the working class masses, in order to enlighten them as to the reactionary character of their political and trade union leaders, in order to sever from the reactionary leaders the sections of the working class that are moving to the left and becoming revolutionized, in order, consequently, to enhance the fighting ability of the working class as a whole” that “political agreements, political blocs between Communists and reactionary leaders of the working class are quite possible and permissible./p>
In order to justify their strategy of unity with a “section of the progressive trade union leadership”, they just pull any quote to make this position sound correct. But pulling quotes out of context justify nothing, and in this case proves exactly the opposite of what OL intended. This article was written in opposition to the Trotskyite dual unionist deviation. There is no disagreement, nowadays, in principle at least, that the dual unionist approach is incorrect. The question is how to work in trade unions. But in regard to the question of how to use this approach, the OL ignored a sentence right before the part they quoted. Stalin said, “In the first place, we have completely reserved for ourselves full freedom to criticize the reformist leaders of the British working class and have availed ourselves of that freedom to a degree unequalled by any other Communist Party in the world.” To further emphasize the point, Stalin quotes Lenin in the same article:/p>
The communist party should propose a “compromise” to the Hendersons and Snowdens, an election agreement.. .Let us RETAIN COMPLETE LIBERTY (his emphasis) of agitation, propaganda and political activity. Without this last condition, of course, we cannot agree to a bloc, for it would be treachery; the British Communist must expose the Hendersons, and the Snowdens, the Mensheviks. (our emphasis)/p>
The OL just “accidentally” failed to quote this passage on how to work within reactionary institutions./p>
What is the basis for OL’s opportunist tactics and revisionist strategy in the trade unions? It is their belief that they can “push the trade union to the left,” their belief that communists can influence or take over the trade unions automatically through day to day work, and their belief that democratic and socialist tasks are closely bound together. The Chinese comrades in one of their famous 9 polemics against the modern revisionists, The Proletarian Revolution and Khrushchev’s Revisionism refuted the Soviet revisionist A. Beliakov and F. Burlatsky, who said that “in the highly developed capitalist countries, democratic and socialist tasks are so closely intertwined that there, least of all, is it possible to draw any sort of lines of demarcation.”/p>
The strategy of pushing the trade union to the left, by forgetting the “direction of the main blow” against the social props– the crucial pillars of the bourgeois rule – is essentially, under today’s conditions, revisionism. Lenin once attacked the English Fabian’s revisionist conception of socialism and their corresponding tactics saying/p>
This socialism of theirs is then presented as an extreme but inevitable consequence of bourgeois liberalism; hence their tactics, not of decisively opposing the Liberals as adversaries but of pushing them on towards socialist conclusions and therefore of intriguing with them, of permeating liberalism with socialism.. .they do not of course realize that in doing this they are either lied to and themselves deceived or else are lying about socialism. (Preface to Sorge Correspondence-Lenin April 6, 1907)
Right now, a whole new bunch of “socialists” are popping up for sale in the political marketplace. The monopoly capitalists are buying and so are the labour hacks who have to find “solutions” and “bold Innovations” to pacify the rank and file insurgents. We are witnessing a rapid process of mutual assimilation between the labour lieutenants of the bourgeoisie and the social democrats. Out of this “happy” marriage there will emerge a Social-Democratic mass party to deceive the working class, to let the “steam out” of the working class movement and the struggles of the oppressed national minorities. First, the December Issue of FORTUNE magazine, in an article “Both Parties Need Restyling for the Political Road Ahead” predicted the emergence of a new Social Democratic Labour Party. The bourgeois spokesman said straightforwardly, “There is a sense in the country that we are approaching a new political era – that the system can be changed through elections has come to seem laughable!” that “the voters may soon be in a mood to consider radical remedies” and since ”The U.S. is alone among the major industrial democracies in lacking a genuine left-wing party with a significant effect on national politics. This is so partly because the organized labour has been politically more moderate than in almost any other country, and partly because the institutions of the electoral college and the direct primary have discouraged the development of ideological parties. The absence of a left party is unlikely to continue forever. At some point, a party committed to specifically socialist objectives will almost surely emerge as a serious contender for national power, as the Labour Party did in Britain during the 1920’s.” Similarly, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal have both recently run articles on “radical teach-ins on the economy” and given prominent space to Social Democrats in their columns. This is the state of affairs today. And it is precisely in this context that the OL’s trade union strategy to unite with “militant” S. D. reformists becomes particularly dangerous. The OL plays straight into the strategy of the “new responses” of the ruling class during this “new political era” of “new challenges ahead.” It is precisely these “new militants” who can act as a “brake” to the forward march of the working class movement while the process of fascization goes on. By steering the working class movement away from the course of class emancipation and straitjacketing it with “bourgeois legality” and illusions of bourgeois democracy, such “progressive” misleaders will open the road for fascism to come in. Objectively, this will be the fatal consequence of the trade union strategy of the OL.
Blinded by their faith in bourgeois democracy, “integration,” “community control,” and the Racial Imbalance Act, the OL and Guardian have consistently confused the genuine aspiration of the oppressed minorities and the working class with the “official issue” that the bourgeoisie has distorted it into. Failing to examine these issues deeply, probe into their concrete histories, and talk with the masses involved to see what their real demands are, the OL and Guardian just tail the “official issues,” by taking them at their face-value as given to them by the bourgeoisie, pronouncing their liberal and revisionist opinions accordingly. Worse yet, by palming off their positions as “proletarian strategy,” and denouncing everyone who’s against their position as “ultra-left” and “racist”, the OL and Guardian objectively aid the bourgeoisie in this period of increasing fascisation./p>
This revisionism applies particularly to their vulgarized understanding and simplistic slogans around “fascism” and “fascist tides.” The OL and Guardian yell and scream about the break-in of Ellsberg’s psychiatrist’s office being “fascism”. If these things are fascist, then comrades you ain’t seen nothing yet. This in essence is nothing more than a petty-bourgeoisie liberal’s conception of fascism. Indicative of the OL’s petty bourgeoisie outlook on the question are their alternate moods of exaltation and depression. One day the strategy for revolution is the United Front Against Imperialism, Fascism and War. Today there is a “fascist tide” and for the next couple of months you don’t see “fascist tide” printed in the pages of The Call anymore. This bowing to the chops and changes of petty politics, of drifting amorphously with the stream is nothing if not typical petty bourgeois revisionism.
The OL and Guardian positions on the Forced Busing Plan and on Community Control never take into consideration the different conditions and content of these struggles from previous ones, and evades the question of “for Whom.” To them, wherever there are masses of people in the struggle, particularly Third World people, it must be good. They choose to ignore all concrete history and see no difference between the revolutionary struggle of the fifties and the early sixties against segregation and national oppression in the interest of the entire working class and the bourgeoisie’s Forced Busing Plan (which did not exist before 1968) which incites and furthers racism to the detriment of the working class struggle. By assuming that they are both the same struggle, they use the same argument which was correct for the struggles of the Civil Rights movement of the fifties to justify their support of the Forced Busing Plan today. Not bothering to differentiate the original character and demands of the spontaneous grass roots movement for democratic rights and equality from the bourgeois plan to incite racism, and mesmerized by their own quilt complex about racism, they substitute subjectivism for scientific socialism. But revolutionary struggles against national oppression and racism as part and parcel of the struggle for proletarian revolution demands icy objectivity. Petty-bourgeois reflexes, the baggage of the old world outlook, can only weigh down and smother the revolutionary struggle of the oppressed minorities and the working class./p>
It is pitiful to have to talk about the roles of liberalism in this period to the OL and Guardian, when the ruling class is increasingly less able to rely on liberalism and reformism to disintegrate working class resistance, when the role of reformism and liberalism is increasingly being stripped of its halo and when bourgeois democracy itself is being put on trial by the American people) when the masses’ illusions about it are increasingly shattered. But if we do, we have to tell them that bourgeois democracy was revolutionary when the bourgeoisie was fighting the feudalists. Now, in a period of parasitic, decaying and moribund capitalism–imperialism–when the capitalist system itself has been changed into its opposite and along with its corresponding ideology of liberalism, hypocritical and rotten to its core, is acting as a reactionary force through thousands of means (but particularly through its agents, the petty bourgeoisie) to drag backwards the proletariat’s ideology and struggle./p>
In an advanced capitalist state in irreversible crisis, if we consistently tail bourgeois democracy, formal democracy and legalism it will lead us into fascism. That was the manner in which the Social Democrats of the Weimar Republic, where there was 100% bourgeois democracy, protected reactionary institutions of the old regime, protected the old superstructure, protected the fascist ideology, and allowed Hitler to be “legally” appointed to usher in fascism. In that way, Social Democracy, reformism, and revisionism acts as a brake on the proletariat and simultaneously ushering in fascism in a period of centralization –in this sense, fascism comes straight out of the womb of bourgeois democracy./p>
That’s why Engels said in a letter to Bebel in 1884 that “pure democracy, when the movement of revolution comes, acquires a temporary importance...as the sheet anchor of the whole bourgeois and even feudal economy..(Thus) our sole adversary on the day of the crisis and on the day after the crisis will be the whole of the reaction which will group around pure democracy, and this, I think, should not be lost sight of.” And it is precisely this “formal equality,” as Lenin put it in his article on the renegade Kautsky,/p>
...proclaimed by the ’democracy’ of the capitalists and the thousands of real limitations and subterfuges which turn the proletarians into wage-slaves... It is precisely this contradiction that is opening the eyes of the people to the rottenness, mendacity and hypocrisy of capitalism. It is this contradiction that the agitators and propagandists of socialism are constantly exposing to the people, in order to prepare them for revolution. And now that the era of revolution has begun, Kautsky turns his back upon it and begins to extol the charms of moribund bourgeois democracy./p>
And it is just this bourgeois democracy– that aspect that is acceptable to the bourgeoisie that the OL and Guardian is pushing to the foreground and extolling, while the revolutionary essence of Marxism is being buried in all the issues and matters that they touch on, be they the trade union question, Watergate, the Forced Busing Plan or imperialist policies abroad. No wonder then Lenin said that the dialectics of history were such that the theoretical victory of Marxism obliged its enemies to disguise themselves as Marxist. Liberalism, rotten to the core, tries to revitalize itself in the form of socialist oppportunism. “No wonder, therefore, that the Marxist doctrine, which directly serves to enlighten and organize the advanced class in modern society, indicates the tasks facing this class and demonstrates the inevitable replacement (by virtue o economic development) of the present system by a new order – no wonder that this doctrine has had to fight for every step forward in the course for its life./p>
On the eve of the proletarian revolution, it is the petty bourgeoisie and labor aristocrats, imbued and infested with the disease of bourgeois illusions, these revisionists thoroughly filled with petty bourgeois prejudices about “democracy” and tailing miserably behind the experience of the masses themselves, who are dragging the proletariat and all the oppressed masses into the swamp of reformism and revisionism./p>
It’s clear from OL’s position on the Forced Busing Plan and on “community control” that what’s in command is not Marxism. It’s the doctrine that the “immediate movement is every thing.” And in regarding the immediate movement as every’ thing, they fail to educate the working class as to the nature of the monopoly capitalist system as a whole. This is the hallmark of revisionism./p>
What are the sources of this revisionist line? We think there are two. One is the lack of assimilation and their primitiveness in Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tse-tung Thought, as manifested in their extreme vacillation and inability to grasp certain essential aspects of Marxism, as we have outlined before, and allowing certain superstitions and prejudices to take hold of them, characteristic of the petty bourgeoisie./p>
Another basis for their extreme vacillation is the petty bourgeoisie’s half-assed manner of assimilating Marxism, day they lecture us about how the material basis determines everything to the exclusion of the superstructure’s influence, economic determinism, tomorrow) they advocate metaphysical culture and songs and absolutize the superstructure and realm of ideas. Today its all monolithic ruling class and the next day they are preaching about how the difference between such and such a monopoly group is the basis of this and that particular maneuver on this foreign policy, etc./p>
One day its all struggle, no unity another all unity, no struggle. Today, the period ahead is all practice and the party program is “fleshed-out of” practice, tomorrow they are hidden in closet collectives hairsplitting over this and that particular passage in Das Kaipital.
Another is the change in social conditions, of the objective factor and accordingly the zig-zag of bourgeois tactics, leaving all revisionists lost because of their inability to adapt. Lenin, in describing revisionists who are out of touch with the masses and who see reformism as a genuine change in class society, once said:
We are thus faced with a distinctive stage in the entire process of capitalist evolution of the country...(but) the changes that took place in this, as in all other spheres, do not remove the fundamental traits of the old regime, of the old relation of social forces. Hence the fundamental task of a politically conscious public man is clear; he must evaluate these new changes, “make use” of them, grasp them, if we may use that expression, and at the same time, he must not allow himself to drift helplessly with the stream, he must not throw out the old baggage (here Lenin means the “old” correct analysis of the essence of the society as opposed to the “new” amorphous and revisionist formulations), he must preserve the essentials in the forms of activity and not merely in theory, in the programme, in the principles of policy...Opportunists always and everywhere passively abandon themselves to the stream, rest content with answers ’from event to event’ (and) are satisfied to transfer their affiliation from one ’association’ to another... (The Social Structure of State Power, The Prospects and Liquidationism, 1911)
Generally, there were three periods in the movements of the oppressed minorities. The first period was the period of passive resistance and civil disobediance The second, during the middle and late sixties, was the period of massive urban uprisings. And the third period is the one now, when the bourgeoisie is taking back whatever concessions they have made before and becoming more repressive due to the fact that they can no longer make as many genuine concessions. In each of the different periods, the tactics of the bourgeoisie changes and zigzags according to the strength of the proletarian movement and the objective conditions. At each of these different periods, communists have to appraise the movement and adapt our tactics accordingly, within the context of the period’s characteristics. During the early civil rights movement, the anti-segregationist movement was revolutionary. It was, moreover, a massive grassroots movement. This grew and culminated during the middle and late sixties, and was the most significant movement aiding the class struggle as a whole. The ruling class responded by massive repression which killed, exiled and jailed the most militant leaders of the mass movement on the one hand, and on the other it gave certain partial concessions such as. the anti-poverty programs, ”Black capitalism,” etc. However, as another law of capitalism dictates, while the liberal bourgeoisie grants reforms with one hand, it must always with the other take them back,“...reduces them to nought, uses them to enslave the workers, to divide them into separate groups and perpetuate wage-slavery.” (Lenin,“Marxism and Revisionism,” 1913). This process was accelerated by the present economic crisis. Forced Busing was begun around 1969 to divert the Black people and pit them against white people, to disintegrate their struggle. Because of the present crisis, the ruling class aimed it specifically at the whole working class, to divert its attention away from attacks on their standard of living.
The OL, while swimming along with the stream with their liberal, petty bourgeois and revisionist conception of monopoly capitalism and how to fight it, attempts at the same time to “put a lid” on their revisionist line, to cover it in the Marxist-Leninist movement. In order not to appear that they are actually siding with the bourgeoisie, speculating on the differences between them, they appologized and put forth-the line that we must “expose Kennedy as a conciliator.” This shows that the OL doesn’t understand that the liberal bourgeoisie is part of the bourgeoisie, is a perpetrator of the Boston Busing Plan, and not only a conciliator. Our real task is to constantly expose to the masses the reactionary essence of the bourgeoisie in whatever guise it may take, and to teach them that the whole bourgeoisie has to be overthrown for the working class to gain its emancipation. If we were to take side with the liberal bourgeoisie, this would create even more illusions among the masses, help tie them with the chains of reformism, and in this period, help the fascisation process.
The CCP, in their polemics with the revisionist CPSU, wrote in the pamphlet “Leninism and Modern Revisionism” that
The tactics used by the imperialists and the reactionaries in dealing with the masses of the people are dictated by their needs: sometimes they resort to outright violence, at other times they adopt certain measures of reforms; sometimes they make use of crude threats, at other times they make seeming, petty concessions. These two kinds of methods are used either alternatively or together in some intricate combination, Generally speaking, the more powerful the proletariat, the more cunning the policy usually adopted by the bourgeoisie in order to instill illusions in the working class movement and evoke an opportunist response.
No wonder, then, that Lenin said that “The zigzags of bourgeois tactics intensify revisionism within the labour movement – and not infrequently exacerbate the differences within the labor movement to the point of a direct split” (“The Collapse of the Second International,”1915). ”The principal reason for their bankruptcy,” as Lenin accused the revisionists of the Second International, “was that they were hypnotized by a definite form of growth of the working class movement and socialism, forgot all about the one-sidedness of that form, were afraid to see the break-up which objective conditions made inevitable, and continued to repeat simple and, at first glance, incontestable axioms that had been learned by rote... (Left Wing Communism, An Infantile Disorder, 1920).
The “C”PUSA turned to their revisionist line of “peaceful transition to socialism,” ”peaceful competition,” etc., because of Its “new factor” of the atomic bomb, which “altered the nature of class struggle”, under the influence of international Khrushchev revisionism. But that was at least on the heels of the McCarthy Era and Cold War anti-communism. The OL and the Guardian today talk loudly about how we need to “speculate on the differences between the bourgeoisie,” “provoke fights between the fascists and the police,” how “Congress is paralyzed” by Nixon, and how we should support the imperialists scheme of a Palestinian “mini-state” when imperialist bourgeois democracy is increasingly being exposed, and when the hypocritical bourgeoisie are pretty much stripped of their cover and running naked!
So talk about tailing! Talk about being hypnotized by old forms! Just as the legalist-parliamentarian orators of the Second International – developed out of a period of the relative peaceful development of capitalism between the Paris Commune and the eruption of the First World War–proved themselves incapable of adapting to the times of stormy class war, just as the Economists of 1894-1902 referred to the “masses” to justify their taking the path of least resistance, just as the Mensheviks of the period between 1903 and 1908 who in the name of every striker and every professor justified their aristocratic anarchism, and just as the Liquidators of 1908-1914 who, with the slogan “an open party,” succumbed to opportunism and revisionism, so the OL and petty bourgeois New leftists in the name of “fighting racism” and “ultra-leftism” forgets all about the conditions, time, and objective demands of the revolution. In this way, they are following in the footsteps of their wretched ancestors.
Our strategy for proletarian revolution has to be one of accumulating revolutionary strength and organization through defensive struggles on various fronts (in various forms) and turning this defensive fight into an offensive to seize state power when the revolutionary condition is ripe. This strategy requires that we conduct these immediate struggles in a revolutionary way and raise the aim of socialism, the final solution to capitalist oppression, during these immediate struggles. And what is this revolutionary way that Lenin talks about? He says:
It is of greater advantage to the bourgeoisie if the necessary changes in the direction of bourgeois democracy takes place more slowly, more gradually, more cautiously, less resolutely, by means of reforms and not by means of revolution ... if these changes develop as little as possible the independent revolutionary activity, initiative and energy of the common people...(“Two Tactics in Russian Social-Democracy”)
These demands of the minimum program themselves, are insufficient because as Lenin said, “Not only the demand for self-determination of nations but all the items of our democratic minimum programme were advanced before us, as far back as the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, by the petty bourgeoisie. And the petty bourgeoisie believing in “peaceful” capitalism, continues to this day to advance all these demands in a Utopian way, without seeing the class struggle and the fact that it has become intensified under democracy. (“The Socialist Revolution and Right of Nations to Self-Determination (Theses)”, 1920.).
For Communists in the immediate struggles,
.. .it is necessary to formulate and put forward all these demands not in a reformist, but in a revolutionary way; not by keeping within the framework of bourgeois legality, but by breaking through it; not by confining oneself to parliamentary speeches and verbal protests, but by drawing the masses into real action, by widening and fomenting the struggle for every kind of fundamental democratic demand, right up to and including the direct onslaught of the proletariat against the bourgeoisie, i.e., to the socialist revolution, which will expropriate the bourgeoisie. (ibid)
This “revolutionary way” also presupposes a certain nature and character of these immediate struggles. We must be vigilant toward these immediate struggles, whether they be on the democratic rights front, the standard of living front, etc., because the ruling class and misleaders hip always distort the spontaneous demands of the masses by reformulating them to cut the revolutionary soul out of them. As Lenin said, “There is not a single democratic demand which could not serve, and has not served, under certain conditions, as an instrument of the bourgeoisie for deceiving the workers” and that “in practice, the proletariat will be able to retain its independence only if it subordinates its struggle for all the democratic demands, not excluding the demand for a republic, to its revolutionary struggle for the overthrow of the bourgeoisie ” (ibid). We must never be pulled into the revisionist mire of ”advanced democracy” as revisionist parties around the world all advocate, “consummating the bourgeois democratic revolution” which by its very nature, as dialectics dictate, can never be consummated. We must base our policy not on the abstract and formal “democratic principles” of the bourgeoisie, but on an exact estimate of the specific historical situation and, primarily, of the economic conditions, on a clear distinction between the interests of the oppressed classes. (Lenin, “Preliminary Draft of These on the National and Colonial Questions” 1921). (As we have shown, the OL has failed to do this.)
On the trade union front, for example, the ruling class and misleadership recently came out with all kinds of rationalization plans to divert the working class movement. Under the massive budget cuts and layoffs, the New York DC37 municipal workers union president, Victor Gotbaum, came out with plans to cut worker welfare funds, to make them work without pay for a certain period of time to pit the provisional workers (who, in many public sectors, such as hospitals, make up more than 90% of the workers along with minorities and many who have been “provisionals” for more than two decades) against the workers with Civil Service titles. These are the demands of the bourgeoisie and labor misleadership, their distortion of the spontaneous struggle against the cutbacks and layoffs. This the OL hopefully can see.
Under this kind of situation you can’t simply pick up these demands as minimum program and fight around it. For the more you fight around these distorted reformulated demands the further will be the distance between our minimum and maximum program – socialist revolution. This is because these distorted demands will divide the working class and immobilize the working class movement within the vicious cycle of reformism, helping along capitalist rationalization and fascism.
In the area of national minority democratic rights, similar distortions by the bourgeoisie take place. Genuine spontaneous struggles for democratic rights are distorted and mutated by an official plan offering a bourgeois “solution.” This is the case for the Forced Busing Plan in Boston and for the Community Control Plan in New York.
This the OL is blind to. If we were to do what the OL does by picking up any such immediate struggle and push it along (such as on busing), then the oppressed minorities will never be able to achieve any genuine democratic rights. If OL continues to push their so-called “anti-racist” position without exposing the ruling class’s plan, they will help to increase racism by giving the racists and fascists an issue by which to win over the middle elements of the white working class. That’s why we say that the Forced Busing Plan is not a democratic rights issue of the Black people and all the oppressed.
Neither of the above examples are genuine democratic right issues in their present forms or ones that Communists should adopt as parts of our minimum program. We should, based on our overall understanding of ML strategy and tactics, use the methodology of the mass line, “from the masses, to the masses,” to concentrate the original, spontaneous demands of the working class and all the oppressed and put them forward as our minimum program, so as to further these struggles and to build them in a revolutionary way into an independent working class political movement which itself is consciously revolutionary.
There are two different methods and two different approaches to revolution. And the end results are entirely different. There were revolutions and revolutions. There were revolutions of the upper strata-incomplete or curtailed revolutions with the minimum of changes and with maximum of the old structure and system preserved. Such was the English Revolution in the 1640’s. That was a curtailed bourgeois democratic revolution. It finally ended up with a Constitutional Monarchy. But that as a whole was a bloodless revolution which the bourgeoisie has extolled so much as an ideal, because as Lenin put it, “these changes develop as little as possible the independent revolutionary activity, initiative and energy of the common people.” The 1918 Revolution in Germany ended up that way because the Social Democrats prevented the people from smashing the old state apparatus and political superstructure in the name of “pure democracy.” Some other revolutions are peoples’ revolutions. They are like the Paris Commune, the October Revolution and the Chinese revolution. Whether they consolidate the gains or not, these revolutions were first of all , real locomotives of history. The characteristics of these revolutions were first of all that they come from the grass roots and they unleashed the creative energy of the masses. These revolutions have lasting effects and push world history forward in qualitative leaps.
Communists don’t absolutize work in the superstructure or the base. But generally it is necessary to stress the work in the base – the grass roots movement – and we do work in the superstructure only and in order to facilitate the development of work in the base in the grass roots mass movement. Revisionists, however, stress work on the superstructure and are mesmerized by it. Such is the case with the revisionists’ obsession with Watergate and infights at the top but ignoring the fascization process which affects the masses. They capitalize on the grassroots movement in the base as “pressure” in order to facilitate their position in the superstructure.
The OL and Guardian’s reliance on the old reactionary superstructure is their opportunist approach and relationship with the misleaders. This is exemplified by their unity with the liberal bourgeoisie against the fascists. The more dangerous one is their attitude towards the “progressive” sector of the trade union misleaders. Their reliance on the old ideology superstructure is exemplified by their reliance on bourgeois democracy, their “two combining into one” approach to bourgeois democracy” and acceptance of the bourgeois plan and “concessions” to disintegrate “revolutionary movements” domestically and internationally.
On the question of party building, the OL, despite their criticism of the RU, suffers from the same tendency. The OL has actually used the RU line that “experience” is the only road to a party to justify their theoretical primitiveness. Their shallow understanding of the role of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought in this period of party building is revealed in their attitude toward polemics. They only polemicize when criticized and never subject themselves to the process of ideological and political struggle. In this period of party building, with the theoretical premises of anti-revisionism now fully set up, this is not an attitude of unity, but an opportunist attitude of liquidating theory. They fear the dialectical process of struggle over the development of a correct line and program and refuse to engage in that vigorous process. As Lenin said in the “Draft Declaration of Iskra and Zarya,”
Open polemics, conducted in full view of all Russian Social-democrats and class-conscious workers, are necessary and desirable in order to clarify the depth of existing differences, in. order to afford discussion of disputed questions from all angles, in order to combat extremes into which representatives of various views, various localities, or various “specialties” of the revolutionary movement inevitably fall. Indeed, we regard one of the drawbacks of the present-day movement to be the essence of open polemics between avowedly different views, the effort to conceal differences on fundamental questions.
On the one hand, the OL admits that ”... the main weakness of the movement is (as historically has been in this country) the lack of conscious leadership and a high theoretical level” (from OL’s pamphlet Party Building in the U.S., part three, “Tasks of the Communist Movement”). On the other hand, they reprint Carl Davidson’s article on party building, which says that the party can only be built through practice, practice, practice under a mass line. By vacillating between the importance of theory and mass work, they, in fact, liquidate the strategic task of forming the crucial theoretical premises of the anti-revisionist party. In doing this, OL reveals their opportunist tendencies. As Lenin said, “An opportunist will put his name to any formula and as readily abandon it, because opportunism is precisely a lack of definite and firm principles.” (What Is To Be Done?, 1902), and also
When we speak of fighting opportunism, we must never forget a feature that is characteristic of present-day opportunism in every sphere, namely, its vagueness, diffuseness, ellusiveness. An opportunist, by his very nature, will always wriggle like a snake between two mutually exclusive points of view and try to “agree” with both and reduce his difference of opinion to petty amendments, doubts, good and pious suggestions, and so on and so forth. One Step Forward, Two Steps Back, 1904
In their New Year Editorial Statement, OL claimed that 1975 will be a year of “decisive importance” to the building of the party. They justified their version of the “brief period ahead” line by saying the most important trend in the ML ’movement is unity. But on what basis does the unity of present communist movement lie? Certainly not on the sheer subjective desire for a proletarian party!
Our strategic conception of party building sees as the first step the setting up of anti-revisionist theoretical premises based on the understanding of revisionism in general and its concrete manifestations in the US in particular. This has to be developed in every aspect, every line, and against reformism. This is done through repudiation of the line, program, strategy and tactics of the revisionist “C”P, and through relentless struggle against revisionist and reformist tendencies within the communist movement.
The OL/Guardian line, however, as we briefly discussed before, represents everything that is revisionist and everything that would blur the line of demarcation between the communists, revisionists, reformists, and even certain sectors of the bourgeoisie. In other words, the line and practice of the OL/Guardian is in essence moving in the opposite direction – away from the strategic task of building an anti-revisionist communist party of a new type. Just like the Mensheviks in Czarist Russia around 1910, during the difficult period of the Stolypin reaction who raised the banner of “struggle for an open party” in order to liquidate the illegal work of the party, the OL/Guardian today, in an advanced capitalist country where the tradition of reformism and revisionism is strongest, raises this slogan of anti-revisionist party building in order to abdicate the responsibility of fighting against revisionism.
The OL/Guardian as we have shown before, are better defenders of revisionism than the revisionists themselves. For they masquerade as ML who want to build an anti-revisionist party of a new type. Just like the Menshevik liquidators who disguised themselves under the slogan of “struggle for an Open Party” just to liquidate the party, the OL/Guardian are the present day liquidators. They are similarly liquidating the essence of anti-revisionism, the Party we want to build -an anti-revisionist proletarian party of a new type – by capitulating to the revisionists ideologically and politically.
Revisionism within the U.S. is nothing new. It has been and still is the plague of the working class movement. As the Albanian comrades put it, Europe and the US are pregnant with revisionism. Revisionism reflects the old, obsolete and reactionary world outlook of the ruling class developed during the bourgeois democratic revolution. (In general, that outlook still is the basis of the spontaneous action by the proletariat.) As we stated in the article on the RU, “Marxism or American Pragmatism,” “this ideology ...can be bodily transferred from the bourgeois superstructure – the realm of ideology – to the ML movement and superstructure of ML ideology in the form of determining short cuts, rules of thumb, expediency, demagogy, sophistry, etc.” This revisionism is represented organizationally mainly by the “C”PUSA. Although there have been attempts such as POC and PLP to build an alternative for the working class, these have failed miserably. They failed precisely because they saw revisionism only on the perceptual level – not in essence. Summing up these experiences and studying the basis of these deviations are part and parcel of the principal task of party building.
Our OL comrades conclude very definitely that the main danger for the communist movement is “left” deviation. They single out the “left” political position and not the revisionist, rightist ideological line and pattern of most organizations. They don’t even attempt to dig a little deeper and pin down the nationally particular ideological basis of these deviations. In fact, they don’t even seem to understand the difference between ideology and politics.
Is there ultra-leftism in the communist movement? There is plenty! But we must seek out the ideological roots of “ultra-leftist” political positions. There is ultra-leftism that’s nothing but a cover for revisionism and there is ultra-leftism due to the primitiveness of the struggle against the revisionists. Lenin, in Left-Wing Communism, an Infantile Disorder, pointed out that in the era of imperialism and on the eve of proletarian revolution, revisionism is a most dangerous international trend, that “Left doctrinairism in communists is at present a thousand times less dangerous and less significant than that of Right doctrinairism.” He said that forces like Rosa Luxembourg, Liebknecht, and others, though they made left errors, are so much more valuable compared to the Social Democrats of the Second International, that compared with them the rest of the Second International were stinking corpses. Today the OL is attacking genuine Marxist-Leninists as well as ultra-lefts from a thoroughly revisionist angle and outlook. With our anti-revisionist theoretical premises barely formulated and our party not yet formed, it is this trend within the young communist movement that is most dangerous, for it will contaminate and deteriorate the very fabric of the young communist movement. During the second general step of the movement, after the party is formed, after the ideological consolidation of the class-conscious proletariat on the side of socialism, ultra-leftism can be very dangerous in preventing the communist movement from fusing with the mass movement. But in the period of party building before its formation, it is not the main danger.
Revisionists are hypnotized by old forms. They are empiricist – slaves to their own experiences. The parties of the Second International were hypnotized by their understanding of legal struggles and legal forms developed out of a long period of “comparatively” peaceful capitalism. The young communist movement here developed out of the spontaneous struggles of the sixties (with Malcolm, the Black Panthers, the Young Lords, the anti-war student movement, SDS, etc.) Even though it took a big stride forward in throwing the revisionist “C”P to the roadside due to our movement’s grassroots character, it was still insufficiently trained and equipped to shoulder the task of proletarian revolution.
Revisionism being the main danger for us today and our principal task being party building, we must retrieve the science of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought and apply it to the concrete conditions here. But groups such as the OL and Guardian, by pointing their finger at the “C”PUSA and calling it “revisionist” seem to feel that this act alone makes them automatically “anti-revisionist.” But anti-revisionism is an up-stream swim against the tide. It requires the spirit of “fight self – combat revisionism” and “one divides into two.” The OL and Guardian, however, are satisfied just to drift along with the stream and occasionally put a lid on criticism of them with some “left” phrase-mongering. By holding on to their opportunist lines on trade unions, the Forced Busing Plan, bourgeois democracy, and the international situation, all based on the opportunist theory of “combining two into one”, the OL and Guardian are “locked into” the revisionist methodology and outlook. The OL and Guardian must repudiate their revisionist lines, or never return to the ranks of communists.
To build the proletarian party of a new type, the OL comrades should ponder deeply over Lenin’s words:
Revisionism and opportunism... first as a mood, then as a trend, and finally as a group or stratum of the labor bureaucracy and petty bourgeois fellow travellers. These elements were able to gain the upper hand in the working class movement only by recognizing in words, revolutionary tactics. They were able to win over the confidence of the masses only by solemnly vowing that all this “peaceful” work was only preparation for the proletarian revolution. This contradiction was an abcess which had to burst some day, and it has burst. The whole question is: is it necessary to try... to re-inject the pus into the body for the sake of “unity” (with the pus), or whether, in order to help the body of the working class movement fully to recover, to remove the pus as quickly and as thoroughly as possible, notwithstanding the acute pain temporarily caused by the process.
Marx and Engels said that communists must make two “radical ruptures” the rupture with traditional property relations and the rupture with the reactionary traditional ideology – bourgeois ideology. The massive and intense anti-Confucian movement, which embraces over 700 million people in China in struggle against the old and reactionary ideology manifesting itself in the forms of forces of habit, unspoken customs, language and what Engels referred to as the “pre-historic stock”, “the realms of ideology which soar still higher in the air – religion, philosophy, etc.” (Letter to Schmidt, 1890). The lessons of the struggle against the forces of habit, emotion and predilection of the old society was one of the most important historical experiences derived from the dictatorship of the proletariat in China. Such struggle is an indispensible part of the fight against the restoration of capitalism. In China and Russia, where due to the concentration of contradictions in those areas and due to the fact that they were the “weakest links” in the imperialist chain, communists were able to use the momentum of anti-Czarist and anti-imperialist struggles to successfully bring about the dictatorship of the proletariat. Under those conditions it was necessary and correct for them to seize power first and consolidate it later.
However, in the U.S. and other advanced capitalist countries, the situation is different. Here, due to the historical conditions that the bread crumbs of imperialism and reformism have been smothering the proletariat movement for decades, it is necessary to bring the task of relentless exposure and struggle against reformism, bourgeois democracy and other illusions to the foreground. As we said earlier, only successful struggle against illusions, these elements of the old ideological superstructure of monopoly capitalism, can prepare the successful conditions for making proletariat revolution. For this country, reformist influences, whether they take the form of outright reformism, (that’s the less dangerous kind, for it is overt and detectable), Social-democracy, revisionism, or even “ML”, (be they based on the labor movement or based on the petty bourgeoisie, their force of habit and intrinsic faith in “democracy”, their emotions and predelections, or their overt and covert prejudices) all act like a shackle upon the proletariat and prevent them from gaining political independence from the bourgeoisie.
We have seen the OL and Guardian’s bankrupt trade union strategy, their unity with the liberal bourgeoisie, their posing the alternative of bourgeois democracy or fascism in this period, their passive and unquestionable acceptance of bourgeois plans and “concessions”, and their tendencies toward petty-bourgeois liberalism, and internationally, their opportunist attitude toward Puerto Rican Independence, their support of the Superpowers “concession ” of a mini-state in Palestine, their desire to “speculate” on the difference between fascism and police, bourgeoisie and troops, and so on and so forth, reveal a pattern of the force of habit – revisionism. These all indicate their full reliance consciously or unconsciously on the Whole of the “old world” ideology and superstructure. And it is this “old world that gives them strength. There fore, the OL builds on petty bourgeois looseness in organization, and their populist non-sectarian organizing approach to politics. Stalin said,”the Party cannot be a real party if it limits itself to registering what the masses of the working class feel and think, if it drags at the tail of the spontaneous movement, if it is unable to overcome the inertia and the political indifference of the spontaneous movement, if it is unable to rise above the momentary interests of the proletariat, if it is unable to raise the masses to the level of understanding of the class interests of the proletariat The party must stand at the head of the working class; it must see further than the working class; it must lead the proletariat, and not drag at the tail of the spontaneous movement.
The OL today is doing exactly the opposite. The OL just adopts “common denominator positions” and whatever sounds good and fashionable and even drags behind the masses’ tail. Such is their “path of least resistance” approach to politics. And such is their utilization of everything that is old and obsolete and that’s being abandoned by the masses themselves. This is the ideological essence of their revisionism.
Revolutions are the festivals of the oppressed and the exploited. At no other time are the masses of the people in a position to come forward so actively as creators’ of a new social order as at a time of revolution. At such times the people are capable of performing miracles, if judged by the narrow, Philistine scale of gradual progress. But the leaders of the revolutionary parties must also make their aims more comprehensive and bold at such a time, so that their slogans shall always be in advance of the revolutionary initiatives of the masses, serve as a beacon, reveal to them our democratic and socialist ideal in all its magnitude and splendour and show them the shortest and most direct route to complete, absolute and decisive victory. Let us leave to the opportunists of the Osvobozbdeniye bourgeoisie the task of inventing roundabout, circuitous paths of compromise out of fear of the revolution and of the direct path. If we are compelled by force to drag ourselves along such paths, we shall be traitors to and betrayers of the revolution if we do not use this festive energy of the masses and their revolutionary ardour to wage a ruthless and self-sacrificing struggle for the direct and decisive path.
Let the bourgeois opportunists contemplate the future reaction with craven fear. The workers will not be frightened either by the thought that the reaction promises to be terrible or by the thought that the bourgeoisie proposes to recoil. The workers are not looking forward to striking bargains, are not asking for sops; they are serving to crush the reactionary forces without mercy. Two Tactics of Social Democracy in the Democratic Revolution (Lenin, 1905)
This year’s International Women’s Day is another example of OL’s liquidation of the struggle against revisionism, but in a new “left” disguise, under the cover of “No United Action with Revisionists.” (See their April 1975 Call editorial). In dealing with the OL’s position on IWD, we must deal with two aspects. The principal aspect is a line question, the question of how Communists struggle against reformism and revisionism directly within the mass movement. The second related aspect is the question of OL’s opportunistic slander, manipulations and distortions.
OL says that through events such as IWD ”a new Communist party is emerging, its forces gathering and its foundations being laid in the course of revolutionary struggles of the people.” This is exactly why we must cut through their slander and look clearly at the OL line. OL throws out a seemingly left line “no united action with revisionists” but in essence it is the right line of “no struggle with revisionism’.”
First, instead of fighting for leadership of the broad coalition around the N.Y. Union Square Rally, which represented all the right and left positions within the women’s movement, the OL dismissed this coalition as “revisionist” and went off to have a pure ”anti-imperialist” rally. It rejected the Leninist premise of going wherever the masses are to be found. It liquidated the Communist responsibility to provide and build proletarian leadership in the mass movement against women’s oppression. The OL not only called a separate, purposefully conflicting event but attempted to sabotage and split other anti-imperialists contingents such as the Lower East Side contingent. It lied and manipulated to pull all anti-imperialists out of the Union Square rally.
In justification of their ‘left’ feint the OL says “quality over quantity” as their approach towards united front work in the women s movement. In order to compensate for their rightest positions in mass work and their conciliatory attitude toward reformist leaders, they have to physically “break” with the revisionists, to look “left.” To “break” with the revisionists they have to split from all mass coalitions in which the “C”PUSA participates. The International Women’s Day was just such an example.
The IWD Coalition had the full spectrum of left, center and right forces within it. Over 40 organizations, including PSP, El Comite, CLUW, District 1199, Coalition of Asian Women’s Groups, the Third World Women’s Alliance, New York Women’s Union, Women’s Caucus of New York Taxi Rank and File, LEMPA and many other anti-imperialist and Marxist-Leninist organizations were in it. The OL called it a “revisionist coalition.” That’s what we mean by ”breaking with the revisionists by breaking with the mass movement.” But in fact this break means no break at all for it involves no exposure of revisionism in front of the masses, to win the left and center to the side of communists.
In the March 8th rally, anti-imperialist speakers directly attacked US imperialism and Soviet social-imperialism. In speaking to issues concerning working class and oppressed minority women, the anti-revisionist anti-imperialist speakers exposed trade union misleaders and all social reformists in the women’s movement and called for militant rank and file movements to overthrow capitalism. We would like to ask the OL, who really exposed and struggled with the reformists in the women’s movement and the revisionists in the coalition? We would like to ask the OL, who really educated the masses about the nature of US imperialism and Soviet social-imperialism? We would like to ask the 0L, who really aided the national liberation struggle around the world? If the OL is so interested in being anti-Imperialist, then why are they supporting the “mini-state” plot of US imperialism and Soviet social-imperialism? If the interested in supporting national liberation struggles, then why do they support the Shah of Iran instead of the struggle of the Iranian people against imperialism and domestic reaction?
And the OL has the audacity to accuse Workers Viewpoint of “conciliating” with revisionism!
In another event, the OCT. 27th Rally in solidarity with Puerto Rican Independence in Madison Square Garden, a broad range of forces took part, including the revisionist “C”PUSA whose speaker at the rally was Angela Davis. The OL also took part in the action(unity with revisionists?) But did they take up the struggle against revisionism and opportunism? Let’s see.
One of the main political issues around the event was the struggle against the opportunist slogan of “Bicentennial without Colonies” which hides the real nature of U.S. imperialism and colonialism in Puerto Rico. The OL, instead of struggling against it, chose instead to defend it (while at the same time, opportunistically avoiding using it in their literature). At a public forum in New York held before the event, OL Chairman Michael Klonsky; said he “had no trouble uniting with the slogan” and attacked anybody who criticized it as “sectarian”.
At the rally, Jerry Tung, a member of Workers Viewpoint, in a three minute speech in front of 17,000 people, after presenting statement of support, linked up the fight for Puerto Rican independence with the struggle for socialism. In his statement he also warned of the danger of neo-colonialism and Soviet social-imperialism coming In the guise of supporting the national liberation struggle. For this principled stand, he was attacked by the “C”PUSA’s revisionist Daily World and many other opportunist forces who ride on the bandwagon of national liberation struggles because of its mass support. Among these forces was the Guardian who also attacked openly the Workers Viewpoint speech, while themselves evading the question of Soviet social-imperialism by wriggling around it. The OL, too, said it was “sectarian.” In this case, their line again was “all unity, no struggle.” They refused to take a clear stand not only against Soviet social-imperialism but by their staunch defense of the “bicentennial” slogan even stood for U.S. imperialism.
This year’s IWD event was similar to the Madison Square Garden solidarity event. While the revisionist and opportunist forces played the initiating role for the rally, the broad range of anti-imperialist and honest elements that were drawn to the call for a Women’s Day demonstration created a much better condition for struggles to isolate and expose revisionism and give leader, hip to this event.
It is crystal clear that this is the same OL of October 27th fame, known also for the right line on Watergate, Boston Busing, etc. This is only old wine in a new bottle. In both events, the OL shows clearly that they don’t understand a shred of what Lenin meant when he talked about the necessity to expose misleaders of all stripes to the masses, of the dialectics of uniting in order to expose. Does working in trade unions mean unity with labor aristocrats? In OL’s new facade it does. To us it means ruthless exposure and ruthless struggle against the misleadership. 0L again uses the reactionary “two combine into one” ideology, not differentiating between the masses from the revisionists in the coalition.
Comrades, don’t drink this old wine in new bottle; it’s the same old poison!