Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Committee of Five

Draft Unity Principles for a Marxist-Leninist Conference

First Issued: January 31 1977.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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31 January 1977


For the past several months we have been pursuing the question of organizing a conference in order to establish an ideological center for the Marxist-Leninist wing of the party-building movement. As a result of our discussions with many organizations, collectives, study groups and individuals all over the US, we have reached the conclusion that such a conference would be both timely and, if properly organized, successful.

However, we do not feel that the conference should be called without taking several intermediate steps. To do so would either lead to a meeting where the forces were too diverse and ill-prepared to achieve any real unity or a meeting in which the forces were too narrow to provide the full range of perspectives from the positive elements in our trend.

As the first such step, we have decided to draft and circulate a set of principles of unity for the conference. The purpose of these principles is clearly not to provide a full definition of the Marxist-Leninist program for revolution in the US. Many of these questions will take more investigation to fully understand and explain. Rather they are merely principles around which to call this particular conference. We are trying to prescribe a level of unity which is, at once, not so high so as to eliminate those that could make a positive contribution at this point, nor so low so as to subject the conference to the kind of opportunist influences that would impede its efforts. This is not to say that people who do not agree with these principles are necessarily our enemies; in fact, many could be potential allies. We believe that an ongoing struggle against sectarianism must be maintained.

We would like you to examine these principles in this light. First and foremost, we are interested in whether you can express general unity with them. While we are aware that some comrades might have criticisms of our choice of words or style, we hope that you will focus your response on differences in principle. If you agree with the essence of what is expressed in each point, that should be a sufficient basis for unity. Second, if you feel that this draft is either too advanced or not advanced enough, please specify what you would add or subtract. If you feel that we would unnecessarily exclude some forces who could make a positive contribution, indicate as concretely as possible who you are talking about. Please be sure to be clear when you are expressing your differences and when you are discussing the possible disagreements of others.

The Potomac Socialist Organization has participated in all the discussions leading to these principles. It did not sign the first letter we sent out (9 June 1976) because it was not a public organization at that time.

This letter and the enclosed draft are for your organizational or individual use only; if you would like them to be sent to other individuals or organizations, send us names and addresses and we will mail copies to them. Please try to send us your response by March 18, 1977 (allow at least a week for the postal service). Address all correspondence to: W. Foster, PWOC, Box 11768, Phila., Pa. 19101.

Detroit Marxist-Leninist Organization
El Comité-MINP
Potomac Socialist Organization
Socialist Union of Baltimore
Philadelphia Workers’ Organizing Committee

* * *

Draft Unity Principles for a Marxist-Leninist Conference

1) The solution to the basic problems of our people in the United States can only come as the result of a profound revolutionary transformation of our society That is, only socialism can provide the context to build a society free from exploitation, racism, oppression and war.

2) The foundation of all the varied forms of oppression in our society is the socio-economic system called imperialism. The economic essence of imperialism is monopoly capitalism. Under monopoly capitalism, a handful of monopolies ruthlessly exploit the overwhelming majority of the population, chiefly the working class.

3) However, imperialism develops not only on the basis of exploiting its domestic population. Imperialism also exploits whole peoples and nations in other parts the world. This exploitation, like the exploitation of its own working class, is a fundamental feature of imperialism.

4) It is only the working class which has the capacity to lead the entire working and exploited population in the struggle to overthrow monopoly capitalism, in the struggle to consolidate its victory, in the building of socialism and in the struggle for the abolition of all classes.

5) The leading section of the working class, owing to its socialization and discipline which grow out of the material conditions of large scale capitalist production, is the industrial proletariat.

6) The economic exploitation by monopoly capitalism is preserved and protected by the US government. Taken as a whole, the legislative, judicial and executive branches, together with their subordinate bureaucracy and the military, make up the capitalist state. It is through this state apparatus that the monopoly capitalists exercise their dictatorship. The rule of monopoly capital cannot be ended without the overthrow of this apparatus. The entire history of the revolutionary struggle of the working class has demonstrated that this state can neither be taken over nor transformed. It must be smashed and replaced by the dictatorship of the proletariat.

7) While the working class will always choose the most peaceful road to power possible, as long as the military-bureaucratic capitalist state exists, there is no possibility of a peaceful parliamentary transition. Consequently, the working class and its allies must prepare for armed struggle.

8) The working class cannot accomplish its mission without the leadership of a revolutionary vanguard party. This party must base itself on the science of Marxism-Leninism which is the only consistently revolutionary outlook in the world. It must draw together all the most advanced fighters from the movements of the working class and the oppressed nationalities and unite them in a single, tightly organized, and well disciplined political organization.

9) In the United States today there is no such party. The chief claimant to this role is the CPUSA. However, because they have deviated from essential principles of Marxism-Leninism and have sought to revise its revolutionary essence, their claim is without substance. These revisionists have falsely argued that a peaceful parliamentary transition is possible, that imperialism can cease its tendency towards war and fascism, and that the dictatorship of the proletariat is an outmoded concept. The other and smaller claimants to the role of vanguard in the US are equally bankrupt. All have embraced opportunism and are therefore a incapable of leading the proletariat to victory.

10) Thus the building of a vanguard party remains the central task of all honest Marxist-Leninists. Such a party cannot be built in isolation from the great movements of the working class and the oppressed nationalities. It only becomes possible on the basis of the development of a correct application of Marxism-Leninism to the concrete conditions in the US and a fusing of the communist movement with the class struggle of the proletariat.

11) Since the US working class is multinational, it must have a single multinational vanguard party. While organizations of Marxist-Leninists of a single oppressed nationality have a certain historic justification, in principle, Marxist-Leninists must strive to develop a single multinational pre-party organization.

12) Multinational unity is impossible without a thoroughgoing struggle against national divisions in the working class. Any unity between oppressed nationality and white workers which is not based on a principled struggle against every manifestation of racism is fictitious unity. The white workers must be won to taking up the special demands, of nationally oppressed peoples. However, unity in the struggle against racism cannot be built on the basis of moral appeals to the white workers to ”repudiate their white skin privileges”; it must be founded upon their class interest in the struggle against capital. Unity also demands defeating narrow nationalism. However, because narrow nationalism is, in large measure, a reaction to racism, the struggle against narrow nationalism can only progress to the extent that real strides are made in the struggle against racism.

13) It is impossible to develop a revolutionary vanguard party without a vigorous struggle against all manifestations of sexism in every aspect of social life. The unity of men and women is critical to the victory of the working class and such unity demands a principled struggle against sexism, i.e. men must take up the special demands of women.

14) It is impossible to develop a revolutionary vanguard without an all-sided struggle against opportunism – the sacrificing of the fundamental interests of the masses to the temporary interests of an insignificant minority of the workers. Unless opportunism of all shades is systematically rooted out of the working class movement and its vanguard, the proletariat will never sustain a revolutionary struggle against imperialism and will never succeed in taking power.

15) While in the long run the main opportunist danger to the developing Marxist-Leninist forces is presented by modern revisionism as manifested in the CPUSA, in the present period, within the forces struggling to build a new revolutionary party, the main opportunist danger is presented, by modern dogmatism. Modern dogmatism in the US, which is ’left’ in form, right in essence, must be soon as the wages for the sins of revisionism; it is an over-reaction to the revisionist capitulation to the bourgeoisie. Modern dogmatism fails to apply dialectics to the US reality; it seeks to transform living science into a set of lifeless dogma. It has failed to understand both the generalities and the particularities of the class struggle; and it has failed to see any creative tasks for Marxist-Leninists. It is this dogmatism which provides the theoretical foundation for a political and organizational practice of ultra-leftism and sectarianism.

16) Trotskyism shares with both modern revisionism and modern dogmatism a petty-bourgeois essence. Given its purist positions on the question of socialism in one country, the role of the national bourgeoisie in the national liberation struggle, the united front and other central questions, it is a viewpoint which objectively coincides with the interests of the bourgeoisie.

17) The struggle in the United States cannot be seen apart from its context in the world. On the contrary the struggle here is only a single part of a worldwide revolutionary process, which includes not only the proletariat’s struggle for socialism in the advanced capitalist countries, but also the struggle of the peoples where the working class holds power to build socialism and a whole series of democratic and revolutionary national liberation movements. Thus the working class must see itself as part of a single worldwide united front against imperialism.

18) The working class must practice the principles of proletarian internationalism. Thus it must take up every struggle against imperialism anywhere in the world and champion it as its own struggle. In the present context, the practice of proletarian internationalism is impossible without correctly identifying the main enemy of the world’s people. By main enemy, Marxist-Leninists understand the main obstacle to the consolidation of national liberation, democracy, peace and socialism. Today that main enemy is US imperialism.

January 26, 1977