Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

William Gurley

Party building: ’Against dogmatism, revisionism’

First Published: The Guardian, December 29, 1976.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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Local Marxist-Leninist groups are beginning to put forward statements and analyses on the current party-building movement.

One useful contribution is the paper, “Against Dogmatism and Revisionism: Toward a Genuine Communist Party, bv the Ann Arbor Collective (M-L). The paper offers a perspective on lessons of the history of the revisionist Communist Party (CPUSA) and attempts to demarcate the present party-building movement from past and present political errors.

Analyzing the role of left and right opportunism in the American communist movement, the paper discusses the history and influence of dogmatism and revisionism in the CPUSA. Thus Earl Browder, chairman of the CPUSA from the mid-1930s to the mid-1940s, is quoted: “the CP... gradually merged with the organized labor movement and the New Deal in all practical activities, while retaining the facade of orthodox Marxism for ceremonial occasions.”

Concerning dogmatism, the paper offers examples of the failure of much of the U.S. left to heed Lenin’s advice: “Do not copy our tactics, but think out for yourselves the reasons why they assumed these particular features, the conditions that gave rise to them, and their results; apply in your republics, not the letter, but the spirit, the sense, the lessons of the experience of 1917-1921.”

Discussing the current period, the paper describes the development of an antidogmatic and antirevisionist trend within the communist movement and proposes a number of points of unity as starting points of discussion and a basis for future cooperation. Among these are: U.S. imperialism as the main enemy of the world’s peoples; revisionism and dogmatism as the main errors to be overcome; recognition there is no longer an agreed upon center of the world communist movement; the central importance of the development of Marxist-Leninist theory, and the need to unite the broadest possible forces of the communist movement in the party-building movement.”

The paper contains some weaknesses. For example in one place it confuses the strategy of the united front against imperialism with “elevating class alliances to the principal aspect of the strategy.” In fact, one of the cardinal principles of the united front is that the working class does not relinquish political leadership. Nevertheless, the paper on the whole is a very useful contribution to the current party-building movement. It offers valuable lessons from the history of the U.S. communist movement and demarcates current errors which must be overcome if a genuine communist party is to be built.”

“Against Dogmatism and Revisionism: Toward a Genuine Communist Party” is available for 50 cents from the Ann Arbor Collective (M-L), P.O. Box 124, 4th flr., 530 S. State St., Ann Arbor, Mich. 48109.

1976 rotes to bookstores: 40% oiscount (postac«e odd i t i ona I ) Ann Arbor Collective (M-L) Box I24 4th Fl. 530 S. State Ann Arbor, Mi. 48 I 09