Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Communist Workers Group (Marxist-Leninist)

Guardians of “Socialist” Opportunism

First Published: Forward, August 1977.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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In June of last year the Guardian newspaper announced that since the bulk of the ’dogmatically’ pro-China ’Marxist-Leninist’ movement had “...read the Guardian out of their ranks...” and had become “..trapped in a political dead end...”, it therefore now became all the more urgent for the Guardian-related circles and sympathizers to organize their own Party-building effort. “...It obviously would be the height of political coyness...”, Mr. Silber cautioned, “...to proceed as though these two lines could be reconciled...” (Guardian 6-16-76 p.21). This belated declaration, coming more than a year after the major ’ML’ organizations had excommunicated the Guardian, has been supported by a number of circles who generally favor the Guardian, and consequently have begun to constitute themselves as a separate trend within the ’ML’ movement as a whole.

Thus the Philadelphia Workers Organizing Committee (PWOC) divides the movement into, on the one hand, “...unschooled Bible-thumpers…” who have retreated “...from the stormy seas of class struggle to the cushioned rooms of intellectualist study and debate...” (Organizer, Vol. 2 #1 Jan-Mar 1976) and who engage “...in endless polemics which are only of interest to other dogmatists...” (Organizer Vol. 2 #4 Aug-Sept 1976); and, on the other hand, “...opposed to these dogmatist forces are... activists who are searching for a different kind of movement…which bases itself primarily on the historical experience of the working class here in the US rather than in China or elsewhere...” (vol. 2 #1). Likewise, the Ann Arbor Collective (ML) notes the beginning of a “...new period (that) is characterized by the fundamental separation which has developed between two sections of what was formerly a unified movement” (On Party Building Apr 1977 p.1) and finds the emergence of the new trend “...the most promising development within the communist movement in recent years...” (Toward a Genuine Communist Party Nov. 1976 p.19). As a part of this ’promising development’, the Tucson Marxist-Leninist Collective (TMLC) agrees that “...dogmatism and sectarianism have become the main forms of opportunism within the communist movement...” (On Party Building, Fall 1976 p.3). El Comite/MINP also shares this view and includes itself among those that “...have distinguished themselves from the dogmatists by the positions they assume and in the process have exposed the dogmatists on a whole range of national and international issues...” (Obreros en Marcha, Vol. 1 #22 Nov 1976 p.3). And the Movement for a Revolutionary Left (MRL) warns that “...working class people.... are not receptive to those that preach ideological purity at the expense of working class solidarity...” (p.33) and states that with the rise of dogmatism ”...the formerly pro-Chinese movement has basically divided into two parts...” (A Critique of Ultra-leftism, Dogmatism and Sectarianism Jan 1977 p.9). Similar statements have been made by a number of other circles.

Aside from having reached a general agreement on what they are against, this collection of circles has also agreed that what they are generally for is, within limits, each other. The Guardian thus cites approvingly the PWOC’s attacks on the ’dogmatists’, while the PWOC, notwithstanding ”...differences with the Guardian on a number of questions” proclaims that “...the Guardian is indeed a bargain...” (Guardian 3-23-77 p.22). The AAC(ML) declares that “...today the Guardian is undeniably playing the leading role in the US communist movement’s party building process...” (On Party Building p.14); the Guardian declares in kind that the AAC(ML)’s work is “...on the whole...a very useful contribution...” and offers “...valuable lessons...” (Guardian 12-29-76 p. 10). The MRL is overcome with praise for the Bay Area Communist Union’s “...excellent booklet, Beginning Analysis...”, for the PWOC’s “...exemplary study Black Liberation Today...”, for the Guardian’s role in opposing ’dogmatism’, and for the PWOC’s “...brilliant...” polemics against the ’lefts’ (A Critique p.27).

This ’anti-dogmatic’ mutual admiration society is composed of (though not all agree as to who, exactly, should be included) the Guardian newspaper, the Philadelphia Workers Organizing Committee, the Potomac Socialist Organization, El Comite, the Detroit ML Organization, the Socialist Union of Baltimore, the Movement for a Revolutionary Left, the Ann Arbor Collective (ML), the Tucson ML Collective, many undeclared circles and individuals, and, as a ’comradely’ critic, the Proletarian Unity League. That is roughly one third of the formally declared ’ML’ circles, but since the ’anti-dogmatic’ groups are quite small, represents only 5-10% of the active ’ML’ population as a whole. The significance of these proportions will become clear when we compare the various fractions of the petty bourgeoisie which have given rise to the two main ’ML’ tendencies. For the moment we will simply note that the “anti-dogmatist/anti-revisionist trend”, standing as it does on the Right wing of the ’ML’ movement, appeals to the more passive, less militant sections of the radicalized middle class, many of whom are already organized in various reform and ’anti-imperialist’ groups more or less openly hostile to Marxism-Leninism and the working class.

The two main political positions that prop up this trend and demarcate it from the rest of the ’ML’ movement are: 1) the belief that ultra-leftism, dogmatism, sectarianism, or ’left’ errors in general are the main danger in the ’new anti-revisionist communist movement’ and are responsible for the movement’s fragmentation and isolation from the working class; and 2) the position that US imperialism is the main enemy of the world’s people. As for the threat of dogmatism and ’left’ opportunism, the ’anti-dogmatists’ agree that these deviations characterize the Revolutionary Communist Party USA, the Communist Party-ML (formerly October League), the Workers Viewpoint Organization, the Revolutionary Wing, and others, all of whom the ’anti-dogmatists’ oppose, but disagree as to what, precisely, ’dogmatism’ really is. Mr. Silber notes that although there are many anti-dogmatic forces, “...there is, as yet, little agreement on what they are...” (Guardian 6-16-76). And the PWOC states that “...there is a great unevenness in understanding of those who share an anti-dogmatic perspective...” (Organizer Vol. 2 #1). This ’unevenness’ and ’little agreement’ has been so pervasive, in fact, that the ’anti-dogmatists’ circles have recently taken to hurling the catchwords ’dogmatism’ and ’sectarianism’ at each other.

As for viewing US imperialism as the world’s worst enemy, this position conceals another, i.e. that the Soviet Union is still, despite revisionist leadership, a socialist country (or at least ’not capitalist’), has no imperialist economic ambitions of its own, and is therefore not a major threat. The ’anti-dogmatists’ thus generally support the Soviet’s involvement in various national liberation movements (e.g. Angola); view Cuba, North Korea, Vietnam, etc. as genuinely socialist countries; and oppose only what they view as ’excesses’ in Soviet policy (Soviet influence in Eastern Europe, lack of democratic freedoms in the USSR, emphasis on profits and material incentives, hostility towards China, etc.). While the ’anti-dogmatists’ attitude towards US imperialism is put forward as a major point of principle, their view of the USSR is advanced as a ’special question’, a secondary issue to be decided at some later date. Their position on US imperialism as the main or sole enemy is therefore a covert defense of Soviet social-imperialism a peculiar form of Russophile chauvinism that is meant to shift attention away from ’socialist’ (actually bourgeois-revisionist) imperialist aims and towards the Soviet’s main imperialist competitor. This has less to do with our ’anti-dogmatists’ infatuation with the USSR than with their fundamentally opportunist view of ’socialism’, i.e. their striving to create a ’socialism’ along the lines of the USSR, a ’socialism’ that secures and perpetuates the petty bourgeoisie’s posit ion above the proletariat, a ’socialism’ that offers the p.b. (petty bourgeois) an alternative to, on the one hand, being ousted by monopoly capitalism, or on the other, being ousted by the impending proletarian revolution.

That a ’third way’, a temporary alternative to both open monopoly capitalism and proletarian revolution, does exist for these p.b. strata; that it is in fact possible to artificially (by way of ’socialist’ opportunism) perpetuate capitalist relations, secure the position of the privileged classes over the proletariat, and sabotage the workers’ independent activity; that these elements can even, as has occurred in the USSR and East European countries and is currently occurring in China, mature into a ’socialist’ big bourgeoisie capable of demanding a re-division of spoils on a world scale; is the most important historical lesson of the past 50 years. This lesson has been taken to heart by both the openly Right revisionist p.b.’s (the Soviet-aligned and ’independent’ Communist Parties) and the ’left’ revisionists (the CP China and Albania-aligned ’ML’ circles and Parties), as well as by those who attempt to stand somewhere in between (the ’anti-dogmatist/anti-revisionist’ or ’anti-left’ p.b.’s). Although they may sharply disagree as to how petty bourgeois influence should be exerted over the working class and which fraction of the p.b. should play the leading role, they are unanimously agreed that such influence can and must be won.

The ’anti-dogmatic/anti-revisionist’ trend is attempting to gain a foothold in the working class not through any positive views of its own (since when stripped of the conceited and high-flown phrases with which they attempt to demarcate against each other, all the ’ML’ opportunists reveal the same crass striving), but simply by rejecting what they consider harmful ’excesses’ at either end of the p.b. spectrum. They are ’anti-revisionist’, in that they find the revisionism of the CPSU Eurocommunists, CPUSA and others too exposed, too openly reformist, too blatantly class-collaborationist. They are ’anti-dogmatic’ or ’anti-left’, in that they find the empty-headed, ’left’ phrase-making of the RCP USA, CP-ML, Revolutionary Wing and others, too restrictive, too sectarian, insufficiently empty-headed. They oppose the Soviet’s treatment of China, and China’s efforts to isolate the Soviets. They criticise the CPUSA’s condemnation of the ’ML’ movement, and the ’ML’ movement’s refusal to work with the CPUSA. They chastise the ’ML’s who oppose unity with themselves, and those amongst themselves who oppose unity with the ’ML’s. They take a sectarian stand against the ’dogmatists’, while making a dogma of their own ’anti-sectarianism’. They are, in short, unconscionable political hypocrites who, thinking they have discovered the golden mean, are attempting to declare a general cease fire among the ’socialist’ petty bourgeoisie on their own terms. It is a ’truce’ predicated on, on the one hand, avoiding the crass Right opportunist phrases that may offend the proletariat, and on the other, avoiding the ’left’. too ’proletarian’ phrases that may offend the p.b., and which thus achieves the ’fusion’ of p.b. and proletarian interests that other ’ML’ opportunists have sought by other means. This is not at all Centrism (as the CP-ML has charged), since it is the function of developed Centrism to provide a bridge between opportunism and Marxism-Leninism, whereas our ’anti-dogmatists’ merely wish to span two forms of ’socialist’ opportunism. The ’anti-dogmatist/anti-revisionists’ simply represent a ’unity trend’ within the radicalized petty bourgeoisie as a whole, an effort to “unite all who can be united” for the common p.b. good.

While we do not for a moment believe that our ’anti-dogmatists’ are truly conscious of what class interests they actually represent (on the contrary, lack of consciousness is one of their outstanding characteristics), we also do not believe that such opportunist ’innocence’ should in any way alter our attitude towards them. As with the other ’ML’ opportunists, these people have convinced themselves that they ’honestly’ represent the workers interests, ’sincerely’ oppose imperialism, and are ’earnestly’ following the proper course. But behind such ’tender’ sentiments is concealed (not always successfully) a glut of instinctive p.b. hostility towards the working class, shameless striving for privilege and social position, fear and jealousy of the imperialist bourgeoisie, vigilant defense of all the petty habits and vices peculiar to the aspiring p.b., and vain self-assurance that whatever is occurring in their heads at the moment is adequate for ’objective science’.

Such people are socialist in name only; in their motives, aspirations and deeds they remain wretched and incorrigible petty bourgeois. Just how incorrigible and how petty bourgeois we will see when we examine their views.


The circles that constitute the ’anti-dogmatist/anti-revisionist’ or ’anti-left’ tendency all agree, in common with the other ’ML’ groups, that the CPSU has been a bourgeois/revisionist party for more than 20 years. They thus, in common with the other ’ML’s, oppose the CPSU’s revisionist theses on “peaceful transition to socialism”, “party and state of the whole people”, the CPSU’s denunciation of China, and the established Parties, such as the CPUSA, that openly align themselves with the Soviets. They part ways, however, on the nature of the Soviet state, the USSR’s economy, and Soviet foreign policy, i.e. on the practical consequences of the CPSU’s revisionism. Where the RCP, CP-ML, WVO, WC(ML)and others have concluded (following the position of the CP China) that the Soviet state is in the hands of a revisionist bourgeoisie, that the USSR’s economy is monopoly capitalist, and that Soviet foreign policy is an expression of imperialist aims, the ’anti-lefts’ have rejected such views as “idealism” (TMLC), “internalized prejudice” (MRL), “dogmatist perspective” (PWOC), as questions still subject to debate (the Guardian). They thus admit to the obvious fact of the CPSU’s revisionism, while denying the equally obvious fact that revisionist rule is a form of bourgeois dictatorship, the oppression and exploitation of the proletariat by a ’socialist’ bourgeoisie.

It should be clear that when the CPC and PLA expose Soviet revisionism, class oppression in the USSR, and the Soviet’s imperialist ambitions worldwide, they do so from the standpoint of their own national/revisionist aims. This is demonstrated by both their social-chauvinist defense of their own ’precious’ national interests (as shown in Forward #2), and their failure to raise the cardinal question relating to revisionist rule, the question of soviet power. Soviet power, i.e. how the masses of workers and semi-proletarians are drawn into the active and direct exercise of state power, into the direct organization and implementation of day to day governmental functions, has been so thoroughly obscured, in fact, that it has been simply dropped from the contemporary conceptions of ’socialism’, ’socialist construction’, and the reversal of ’socialist’ relations via revisionism. The CPC and PLA cannot deal with the category of soviet power, cannot draw on Lenin’s views, or explain why soviet power is the main content of socialist development, without at the same time exposing the fact that soviet power is precisely what they themselves lack. They instead limit themselves to the most general phrases regarding which class holds power, and pass quickly and quietly to less volatile economic categories of material incentives, the role of profit, productivity, unemployment, economic strikes, unfavorable trade with Eastern Europe, etc. The CPC and PLA can thus emphasize the most ’striking’ aspects (most striking from the p.b. democratic standpoint) of the CPSU’s revisionist rule, while omitting altogether the most striking characteristic (from the proletarian standpoint) that they share in common with the CPSU.

The ’ML’ circles and Parties who follow closely behind the CPC and PLA have simply repeated this same opportunist ’omission’, as is shown by the RCP’s Red Papers 7: How Capitalism Has Been Restored in the Soviet Union and by M. Nicolaus’s Restoration of Capitalism in the USSR. The authors of both works agree that under socialism the proletariat must rule and that, of course, the Party plays the leading role, but they are at a total loss to explain how, specifically, proletarian rule is to be exercised, the relationship between the Party and the Soviets (workers’ communes or councils), or between the Soviets and governmental bureaus. And yet it is precisely through the soviet form of organization –the armed organization of the masses of workers and semi-proletarians, the direct election and recall of their representatives, the establishment of factory-level wages for all state officials, the combination of executive and legislative powers in the Soviets’ hands, the subordination of governmental functions to the Soviets’ control and direction, the creation of workers’ committees to patrol the state ’officialdom’ and eliminate the excessive development of bureaucracy, the drawing in of every worker and semi-proletarian into soviet participation and administration of the state– it is precisely through such means that a proletarian socialist state is constituted and its proletarian character preserved. Without soviet power, without the actual administration of the state by the masses of workers and semi-proletarians themselves, the dictatorship of the proletariat becomes a hollow and opportunist catch-phrase. That is what it has in fact become in the minds of our ’ML’ critics of Right revisionism. They are all for ’socialism’ when it is equated to ’good deeds’ towards the working class, abundant jobs, a rise in the standard of living, a benevolent Party that insures equality and keeps a clean line, a modicum of mass initiative, periodic shake-ups of the bureaucracy, good schools, clean streets, and so on. They turn against such p.b. paternalistic ’socialism’ the moment it matures into open bourgeois/revisionism and social-imperialism, when the Party and government bureaucracies solidify into unmistakable ruling elites, the economy stagnates, the standard of living falls off, etc. as in the USSR. And they cannot conceive of ’socialism’ or the threat of revisionism in any other terms. The soviet organization of power simply does not exist for these people! Thus the RCP and M. Nicolaus make meaningless gestures on behalf of the ’proletarian dictatorship’, and proceed immediately to bicker in print over the law of value, the role of commodity circulation, centralism vs. decentralism, export of capital, whether the CPSU controls the state monopolies or vice versa, etc., i.e. they dispute commonplace issues while leaving the main and most profound issue untouched. They are thus able to adequately expose the USSR and discredit its ’socialist’ pretensions, and at the same time save the CPC, PLA and themselves from a similar fate.

For our ’anti-lefts’, however, even this is not sufficiently opportunist. To oppose a few of the political characteristics of Right revisionism is one thing. The ’anti-lefts’ willingly join in denouncing Khrushchevite revisionism, the CPSU’s formulation on ’peaceful transition’, ’party of the whole people’, and so on. There is, after all, no harm in standing a little to the left of out-and-out revisionism, especially after it has already been exposed as such. But to oppose the practical, economic outcome of Right revisionism is, from our ’anti-lefts’ standpoint, simply going too far. If the Soviet Union is described, not simply as a revisionist and sometimes chauvinist power, but as a monopoly capitalist, imperialist and social-fascist superpower, then the nature of ’socialist’ countries which have ’comradely’ ties with the USSR might also be put into question. If the USSR is state monopoly capitalist, then what is Cuba? And if Cuba, then what is Angola, North Korea, Vietnam , etc? This could easily get out of hand. The ’critical spirit’ might accidentally slop onto China and Albania, and then what? With the entire opportunist heap exposed, our ’ML’s and ’anti-lefts’ would be hopelessly compromised. The ’anti-lefts’ therefore caution the ’dogmatists’ against drawing conclusions too hastily, urge ’further study’ of the USSR, pose innumerable ’economic’ questions, and stress that revisionism is, after all, primarily an ideological phenomenon.

“...We are not convinced...” Mr. Silber stated at a Guardian promotional speech last year “...on the basis of the evidence that this process (capitalist restoration) has been completed or that capitalism has been fully restored and consolidated in the USSR. We have a lot of questions, questions having to do with the following...” lack of private ownership of the means of production, private profit, unemployment, cycles of economic crisis, chaos and planlessness, export of capital, transformation in the superstructure, etc. (Guardian 6-16-76 p.3). A similar but more assertive position has been taken by the PWOC. It does not simply ’have a lot of questions’; it knows that “...while there are occasionally people out of work in the Soviet Union, unemployment is demonstrably not a structural feature of the Soviet economy. While there is a privileged elite...it is demonstrably not the case that this elite has property rights to the social surplus produced by the Soviet working class...” (The Organizer Vol. 3 #4 6-77 p.14). The PWOC does not bother to ’demonstrably’ demonstrate how it knows these things, but it knows them nonetheless. It knows further that “...profit is not the key determinant...” in Soviet planning, that stagnation of the Russian economy does ’not’ stem from a business cycle, and that although there is export of capital ”...it is demonstrably not the case that this export of money results from a situation in which capital is overripe...” (ibid). The Guardian poses questions; the PWOC simply denies everything. The one cast s doubt; the other reassures.

The PWOC’s position is, from a thoroughly opportunist point of view, the ’stronger’ of the two, since one cannot simply ’doubt’ indefinitely (as the Guardian’s more recent views show). The other ’anti-left’ circles therefore supplement the PWOC with statements to the effect that: “...Although revisionism has become dominant in the CPSU, the social relations and economy of the Soviet Union are still socialist with the absence of inflation, unemployment, economic crisis, private ownership of the means of production, and the transformation of labor into commodity labor power which are all characteristics of the capitalist mode of production...” (TMLC On the International Situation p.2) or that “..The Soviet Union is a socialist country. . .where the working class is better off in virtually every way than in the capitalist countries... There is far more equality in the Soviet Union, there is no owning or managing class which owns or controls great wealth...” (MRL A Critique p.45).

But despite such positive remarks, the ’ anti-left s’ hast en to assure us that although they willingly and gratuitously apologise for Soviet revisionism, they are not blind apologists a la the CPUSA and ’certainly’ recognize ’certain weaknesses’, such as “...overemphasis on profit-making in individual enterprises, material or individual incentives, the relative underdevelopment of communist relations of production, and special privileges for managers who exercise more control over economic development than they should at this time. In the state there is a well entrenched, powerful bureaucracy which has resulted in a relative degree of separation of the state apparatus from the masses...” (TMLC ibid) or “...failure to press for the abolition of the division of labor, a too conservative attitude about mass involvement in struggles and conflicts, as well as a too slow approach to thoroughly democratizing popular institutions...” (MRL ibid). Though such “problems” may unfortunately give the illusion of a capitalist regime, “...American revolutionaries must for the most part treat the Soviet Union as a friend...” (MRL ibid).

Such bold apologies for the USSR are based on three main opportunist assumptions: 1) a revisionist and classically petty bourgeois conception of the nature and function of the State; 2) an inverted view of the relationship between political revisionism and capitalist restoration; and 3) an utterly superficial and distorted conception of the forms of capitalist exploitation under imperialism and ’socialist’ imperialism.

Firstly, to state, on the one hand, that the CPSU is “...the leading revisionist communist party in the world...” (TMLC), and on the other hand, that the Soviet Union is still socialist, is an attempt by way of eclecticism to deny the indissoluble connection between which class rules and the content of that rule, between the ruling power in political life and the ruling power in economic life, between the state and social relationships as a whole. From our ’anti-lefts’ point of view, the Russian state has somehow ceased to be an organ for the suppression of one class by another, has ceased to reflect definite economic relationships, has in fact ceased to have much relation to anything at all. We are not told whether this is the famous ’withering away’ we have heard so much about. We are told, however, that “...Revisionism...stops the movement from socialism towards communism...” that “...revisionist hegemony does not automatically restore capitalism...” and that “...the movement of Soviet society towards communism was stopped by 1956..”(TMLC ibid). Amazing, isn’t it? A revisionist bourgeoisie rules the Party and state, but to no avail. The Russian working class, despite lacking the means to do so, despite the loss of state power, despite ’overemphasis on profit-making’, despite the ’entrenched, powerful bureaucracy, despite lack of proletarian democracy, and so on, continues to ’have’ socialism. The USSR has not become capitalist; it has simply entered into suspended animation!

In point of fact, socialism cannot exist unless the proletariat actually wields state power, unless it possesses the necessary tools –the Party and Soviets– to revolutionize all productive and social relationships, and unless, moreover, the masses are constantly (not once every ten years) drawn into this revolutionizing process. Our ’anti-lefts’ have ’forgotten’ this, since ’socialism’ in their view is simply a system which pacifies the working class, makes things “better off in virtually every way”, but which continues the same old class antagonisms in a modified and ’harmonious’ form. They therefore easily fall into Social-Democratic and revisionist prejudice on the question of the State, since this accords perfectly with their sterile and ultra-opportunist view of ’socialism’.

Secondly, to state that ”...revisionist hegemony does not automatically restore capitalism...” is to make a supremely cretinous caricature of the relationship between revisionism and capitalist restoration. Granted, it would be extremely stupid if someone was to argue that the day after the XX Congress CPSU, stock exchanges were opened on the Nevski Prospect. But it is even more stupid to pose the question in such ’automatic’ terms in the first place. Revisionist hegemony does not automatically restore capitalism; the hegemony of revisionism is, on the contrary, a sign that bourgeois relations have already triumphed in economic life and have at last found their political expression. It is the process of capitalist restoration, the infestation of socialist construction by bourgeois habits and vices, the strengthening of privileged strata over the masses of workers and semi-proletarians, the establishment of a bureaucracy independent of the authority of the proletariat, the utilization of ’socialist’ means for bourgeois ends, that ’automatically’ and quite inevitably gives rise to political revisionism and the taking of power by a new revisionist bourgeoisie.

On the eve of the socialist epoch, when the imperialist bourgeoisie is far better organized and conscious of its interests than the proletariat, when genuine socialist revolutions necessarily occur in only several countries at a time and face a more powerful international enemy, it is far easier for bourgeois elements to liquidate proletarian power than it is for the proletariat to maintain it. When the proletariat seizes state power, it aims to create an entirely new social system, a system that requires new methods and new organs of power, historically new productive relations, that revolutionizes all existing social relationships. Everything must be built from the ground up. When a revisionist bourgeoisie assumes state power, on the contrary, it has no new nor difficult historical tasks. It must simply institute, in modified form, the old and familiar system, the old and familiar methods organs, productive relations and social relationships. Everything is already at hand. To secure its new order, the proletariat must combat a legacy, not simply of decades, but of centuries-long accumulation of petty habits, attitudes, strivings and prejudice - all the filth of class society that infests every pore of social life. A revisionist bourgeoisie, on the contrary, can count on this historical legacy to reinforce its rule. It simply calls upon and fosters the old, familiar, well-worn and habitual, and embellishes it with ’socialist’ phrases. Where the proletariat assumes the arduous task of asserting class consciousness against spontaneity, the revisionist bourgeoisie assumes the very easy task of abandoning proletarian class consciousness and allowing spontaneity to take its course. When the proletariat takes power, the creation of socialism is still a future task, an intention. When a revisionist bourgeoisie takes power, the triumph of capitalist relations is largely an accomplished fact, otherwise it would lack the social basis necessary for the seizure of political power.

Thirdly, to pose the economic categories of “lack of private ownership in the means of production”, “private profit”, “unemployment”, “export of capital”, etc., in defense of the USSR, is to fail miserably and opportunistically to take into account the special features of revisionist regimes under imperialism. Imperialism is the artificial prolongation of capitalist relations far beyond their historical necessity. Even in ’ordinary’ imperialist countries, the traditional features of capitalist production become subject, within limits, to distort ion, modification, concealment and transformation to suit new and more perverse social conditions. ’Socialist’ imperialism is the most sophisticated expression of this process, the ne plus ultra of political forgery, camouflage, duplicity and deceit. It is not at all necessary for ’Comrade’ Pavlovich to hold proper title to the means of production; his function as a bourgeois is fulfilled by his having seized practical control over them. His exceptional salary is still exceptional, whether it is marked “private profit” or not. It is not at all necessary for ’his’ workers to strike, for, as the police will readily remind them, they would only be striking against ’socialism’, against ’themselves’. This ’marvelous’ system, which duplicates all the features of ’ordinary’ imperialism in an even more psychotic and ’socialist’ form, has replaced the bourgeois-democratic republic as the most suitable political shell of capitalism. It is a thousand times more suitable since it claims to be everything that the workers have yet to achieve.

Instead of exposing this monstrous caricature of socialism, our Right-wing ’ML’s are overawed by it. After all, it does not ’display’ the...uh...’classic’ ’features’ ’essential’ for...uh.... ’capitalist’ ’production’. ’Comrade’ Pavlovich does not ’technically’ own the means of production, and therefore capitalism cannot ’technically’ exist. A contributor to the Guardian even wrote that capitalist restoration would be difficult in the USSR because “...it is against the law”! A small matter, that it is a revisionist bourgeoisie that controls the Party, the government, the trade unions, the courts, the prisons, the police, the army, the press, production, etc. Never mind which class rules. What is essential is that the Russian system ’cannot possibly’ be capitalist, because ft does not fit certain hidebound distortions of Marxist categories that our ’anti-lefts’ have chosen to employ.

Among the ’anti-lefts’, the TMLC, PWOC and MRL are clearly the most forthright and staunch defenders of Soviet revisionism. They thus stand on the Right of the ’anti-left’ tendency, challenging the others to take bolder stands. The Guardian, on the other hand, has drifted from befuddlement to a somewhat harsher stand, stating recently that “...In the Soviet Union itself, revisionism has curbed and eliminated many of the socialist norms of production and disenfranchised the Soviet working class. It has set the USSR down a capitalist road and liquidated the proletarian dictatorship...” (Guardian Special Supplement, 6-77 p.6). This puts the Guardian on the left of the ’anti-left’ tendency, a position it assumes not because its ’20 Questions’ have been answered, but simply as an effort to win over those who might be offended by the TMLC/PWOC/MRL’s brazen pettifoggery. Despite this slight shift, however, the Guardian maintains equally opportunist views on the State. It admits, on the one hand, to the liquidation of the proletarian state; it denies, on the other, that restoration has already occurred. This gives the Guardian both mobility in views and a slightly ’left’ posture, a combination that has become the Guardian’s hallmark of success.

Further to the left of the Guardian, the Proletarian Unity League has completely departed the ’anti-left’ tendency on this one question. Formerly, the PUL criticized the Guardian for ’agnosticism’ re the USSR, but stated that “...We do not fault the comrade organizations for not having an analysis of the USSR. Such an analysis is a long and arduous undertaking, one requiring a complex division of labor. We do not have one ourselves, and we realize that we will not have an adequate one.... without the benefit of prolonged, democratic and centralized debate...” (A Response to the Joint Statement of the DMLO, SUB, El Comite and PWOC 9-1-76 p.5). In its latest publication, however, the PUL has, “without the benefit of prolonged, democratic and centralized debate”, come to the conclusion that the CPC and PLA’s position “...correctly characterizes the USSR as a social-imperialist country in which capitalism has been restored...” and moreover that “...communist unification will require basic agreement around this...analysis...” (2,3, Many Parties of a New Type? Against the Ultra-Left Line 1977 p.218). As with the Guardian, the PUL’s metamorphosis from humble ignorance to bold position taking is both for personal and mass consumption, for on the one hand fulfilling its need to ’have’ a position, and on the other for attracting those who are put off by the TMLC/PWOC/MRL and the Guardian.

On Russian foreign policy, both the ’anti-lefts’ and ’ML’s agree that the USSR conducts its international affairs on the basis of national chauvinism and big-power hegemonism. The ’anti-lefts’ claim, however, that “...Although the foreign policy of the Soviet Union is guided by revisionism and national chauvinism, it has had the objective result of advancing the national liberation movements in certain countries, such as Angola, Vietnam, and elsewhere...” (TMLC On the International Situation p.5). Thus while the RCP, CP-ML and others have condemned, for instance, the sending of Cuban mercenaries to Angola, the PWOC, Guardian and others have hailed the “...heroic Cuban volunteers who came to the assistance of the Angolan people...” (Guardian 6-16-76 p.3).

From the standpoint of principle, there is nothing wrong with a particular liberation movement receiving aid from one imperialism to defeat another so long as such aid does not tie the movement to the ’friendly’ imperialist power and so long as the masses are shown the true motives behind such aid. In the case of Angola and Vietnam, on the contrary, Soviet support against US imperialism was bought with definite economic and political ties to the USSR and wholesale deception of the masses. In such cases, the national movement becomes a conduit for imperialist contention and results, not in a break with all imperialism but in the shifting of allegiance from one imperialist bloc to another. The national movement is compromised, and with it the valid democratic strivings of the masses. While the proletariat must always support such movements to the extent that they have a genuine, mass character, we are not at all obliged to support the opportunist political parties who, via revisionism and ties with social-imperial ism, are attempting to restrict the scope of the movement and prevent its maturation from a national to a socialist revolution. Just the opposite. We are obliged to oppose those parties and urge the revolutionary proletarian elements to take the lead.

This distinction is far too ’subtle’ for both the ’anti-lefts’ and pro-CPC ’ML’s. The ’anti-lefts’ in particular equate opposition to the opportunist parties as opposition to the national movement, and rather than be guilty of the latter, support the former. In so doing, they in fact support the perverting of the mass movement and, as in their support of the MPLA and the Cuban regime, support the penetration of those countries by social-imperialism. Such a position harmonizes perfectly with our ’anti-lefts’ disbelief that ’socialist’ imperialism poses any great or lasting danger and that somehow things will all work out in the end.

What is even more curious is our ’anti-lefts’ attitude towards the basis of the USSR’s foreign policy. If the USSR is ’still ’ socialist in some way, it follows that however chauvinist its actions may be abroad, its foreign policy is not motivated by imperialist economic interests. The PWOC chastises the USSR for “...its attempts to meddle in the internal affairs of other countries and its subordination of proletarian internationalism to the pursuit of detente with imperialism...” (The Organizer Vol. 2 #1 p.16). That is, the Russian revisionist bourgeoisie is still capable of ’proletarian internationalism’, but has simply erred in not employing it! The MRL, by any standards the ultra-apologist of the ’anti-left’ trend, explains further that ”...Soviet foreign policy has often been dictated by the needs of preserving and advancing the interests of the Soviet state, and thus can and has come into conflict with the needs of the world revolutionary movement, which increasingly, over time have come to diverge from the interests of the Soviet Union (although they remain fundamentally compatible with it)...” (MRL A Critique p.44). Such splendid ’dialectics’: the interests of the world proletariat ’diverge’ from those of the Russian revisionist bourgeoisie, and yet the two remain ’fundamentally compatible’. ’Socialist’ opportunism is thus ’fundamentally compatible’ with Marxism-Leninism.

This is in fact the main point our ’anti-lefts’ have been attempting to make all along. The USSR may appear to be a monopoly capitalist, reactionary and imperialist power, but it is actually only a ’socialist’ big bully. Open Right revisionism as advocated by the CPSU may appear to represent the interests of a revisionist bourgeoisie, a bourgeoisie that may appear to exploit the working class in the USSR, oppress other nations, and engage in inter-imperialist rivalry, but such revisionism is ’actually’ only an ’ideology’ which ’does not automatically restore capitalism’. In short, we may criticize the USSR’s chauvinist and opportunist ’excesses’, but must refrain from exposing the class reality behind such ’excesses’.

The basis of our ’anti-lefts’ criticisms of the USSR is in every respect identical to their opposition to US imperialism. They oppose the ’excesses’ of imperialism ...the open national chauvinism, hegemonism, oppression of nations, lack of democracy, monopoly privileges, perpetual crisis, and so on… but wish to maintain their own p.b. privileged position above the working class. Despite their high-flown ’socialist’ phrases, they cannot oppose capitalist relations as such since to do so would undercut their own class strivings. If they make US imperialism the main enemy, it is only because the US is a constant and flagrant display of all the crass imperialist features that grate on their ’precious’ p.b. sensibilities. If they take a somewhat kinder attitude towards the USSR, it is only because the CPSU has masked many of those features, concealed wage slavery and class oppression behind a barrage of ’socialist’ phrases, and has thus in part achieved what our p.b. ’ML’ democrats themselves dream of achieving.


The ’anti-lefts’ acknowledge that it was “...the critique of Modern Revisionism put forward by the Chinese in a number of documents in the early sixties...” that formed “...the starting point of the Marxist-Leninist movement today...” (PWOC The Organizer Vol. 2 #3 June-July 1976 p.6). But, from the ’anti-lefts’ standpoint, the CPC carried its critique too far when, in 1969, it designated the USSR as a capitalist and social-imperialist power on a par with US imperialism, and to extremes when in 1975 it made the USSR the main imperialist enemy.

To adopt the CPC’s analysis, the Guardian et. al. would have had, among other things, to abandon a considerable portion of their constituency, i.e. that strata of the p.b. that, being fairly secure economically, is only mildly perturbed by imperialist ’excesses’, that tends towards the grosser forms of ’socialist’ opportunism and ’anti-imperialism’, and that is offended by ’too left’ or ’narrowly proletarian’ phrases. And, since the more desperate p.b. strata are already overly represented by the CP-ML, WVO, WC(ML), Wing and others, abandoning the more ’respectable’ radical strata would have thrust the ’anti-lefts’ into a hopelessly competitive situation. The ’anti-lefts’ have thus taken as in relation to the USSR, a ’comradely-critical’ attitude towards the CPC, denouncing what they consider unwarranted departures from the opportunist norm while affirming ’basic unity’ with the CPC as part of the ’ML’ trend.

The ’anti-lefts’ do not oppose the class basis of the CPC s strategy, to the extent that it lumps together the proletariat, the entire p.b., ’progressive’ national-bourgeois elements of the developing countries, ’socialist’ opportunists, and in some cases the ’lesser’ imperialist powers against the main enemy. After all, they themselves are also attempting to rally the proletariat for p.b. and ’socialist’ reformist aims, and cannot fault the CPC for doing the same. All that is required is to advertise such an alliance in its ’proper’ terms, insure that its opportunist content is appropriately concealed behind the appropriate phrases, and ^correctly’ define the ’aggressor’. What they oppose in the CPC’s line is the fact that this ’excellent’ alliance is being aimed increasingly against the USSR. With the targeting of the USSR, certain friends of the USSR – Cuba, Puerto Rican Socialist Party, MPLA, Korea, SWAPO, etc, which incidentally are also friends of the Guardian & Co– likewise come under attack. In our ’anti-lefts’ view, these organizations and Parties have every bit as much ’anti-imperialist’ and ’socialist’ authenticity as the CPC or PLA, and thus it would be absurd and criminal to exclude them from the ’socialist’ camp. And in fact, our ’anti-lefts’ are on this one point absolutely correct. In principle, there is not a shade of difference between the CPSU’s revisionism and the CPC’s, between ’socialist’ Cuba and ’socialist’ Albania, or between the PWOC and the RCP USA. All are equally opportunist, all equally adapt ’Marxist-Leninist’ phrases to advance p.b. class interests, all ’oppose’ imperialism from a hopelessly reformist and reactionary standpoint. To sow dissension among the p.b. opportunists, to single out one form of revisionism while elevating one’s own, to turn p.b. against p.b., is to our ’anti-lefts’ an unpardonable breach of faith. It spoils the chances of the entire radical p.b. to transform vulgar imperialism into a palatable p.b. ’socialism’.

The PWOC thus regretfully announced that “...Today, while Chinese socialism remains as vibrant and electrifying as any in the world...” (as ’vibrant’ and ’electrifying’, for example, as the USSR) “....China no longer provides a sterling example of proletarian internationalism...”. We must “...part company with China’s international perspective...” but not “...break with China itself...” nor be blind to “..the overall progressive and revolutionary role of the CPC...” (ibid). That is, we must remain loyal to the CPC’s revisionism, just as we remain loyal to the USSR, but condemn its sectarian and ’ultra-left’ excesses.

Similar sentiments have been expressed by the other ’anti-left’ circles. The MRL bemoans the CPC’s ’unreasonable sectarianism’. The TMLC rejects the “fundamentally incorrect”, “incorrect nature” of the CPC’s “idealist view”. The AAC(ML) philosophizes that “...China, like the Soviet Union before it, is not perfect...”. The Guardian surpasses this banality with its own ’profound’ observation that “...No government or policy is capable of being entirely correct all the time…” and speculates that “....China, we are confident, will correct this error...”.

It is worth noting here just how the Guardian arrived at its ’comradely criticism’ of the CPC’s international line. As any attentive reader of the Guardian knows, that newspaper does not have, properly speaking, a political line of its own. Its ’line’ is, rather, the sum total of events beyond its control, the political biases of its contributors and editors, the criticisms leveled against it by other ’ML’ organizations, and most importantly the current mood of its subscribers. It is the Guardian’s subscribers and sustainers in particular who determine its ’line’, since in supplying the monthly donations, in encouraging their friends to subscribe, in shopping at the Guardian marketplace, in creating a ’demand’ for Guardian T-shirts, Chinese work jackets, Guardian calendars, Kim II Sung reprints, and so on, it is they who determine the Guardian’s existence. This ’irresistible historical force’, purchasing power, which supplies the Guardian with both its economic and political raison d’etre and occupies in its editors’ minds the space usually reserved for political integrity, drives them with the most extreme caution to seek the golden mean. Thus prior to or during a major political event, the Guardian’s editors nervously extemporize, avoid taking any ’extreme’ position in either direction, caution against drawing conclusions too soon, and await the inevitable flood of correspondence from their readers. These are given prominent display in the “Letters” column, so many letters adamantly for, so many adamantly against. After thus polling its constituency for a few weeks running, the Guardian’s editors simply split the difference, declare the discussion closed, and voila, its political ’line’. As a political mentor of the Guardian once wrote, ’From the masses, to the masses’.

As early as August 1975, a Guardian reader wrote complaining against the CPC’s support of the Shah of Iran and NATO. Apparently being only one of the first such letters, the Guardian editors confidently replied that ”...China’s policies are generally correct...” and explained that, contrary to what the reader might have heard (and contrary to what the CPC itself had said), “...China does not support Iran’s suppression of the liberation struggle in the Arabian Gulf...” and “...likewise, China does not support NATO...” (Guardian 9-13-75 p.4). In fact, it was not until after the CPC condemned the presence of Cuban mercenaries in Angola that the Guardian realized its untenable position. Its ’innocent’ defense of the MPLA and Cuban troops in Angola had already resulted in its ouster from the pro-CPC ’ML’ trend, with the CP-ML and others openly exposing what the Guardian itself was reluctant to admit. It could not continue to harmonize its apologies for the USSR and its defense of the CPC, and in supporting the MPLA it had inadvertently sided with the former against the latter. Something had to be done. By that time (May 1976), however, the Guardian readership had already made their pro-MPLA, pro-Cuba and pro-USSR sentiments well known. All that remained was to determine how harshly the editors should phrase their ’comradely criticism’ of the CPC, on what basis they should rationalize their support of pro-Soviet movements, and most importantly, how to recoup the financial losses incurred by the cancellation of pro-CPC subscribers, the Guardian China Tours, and so on.

Thus many months after the Guardian’s readers had been initiating discussions and criticisms of the CPC’s foreign policy, and well after the Guardian’s faux pas on Angola had made its positions abundantly clear, its editors boldly announced that ”...With this issue the Guardian initiates a discussion of China’s current foreign policy....” (Guardian 5-5-76 p.23). The official ’initiation’ of what had already been initiated resulted in such a tremendous outpouring of pro-Soviet apologetics that it took four full months for the editors to gather the harvest and turn the raw opinions of their readers into a refined and ’palpable’ line. In September the editors again announced that “...While the debate over our movement’s international line will, of course, continue to go on in the pages of the Guardian it is time to bring one aspect of the discussion we initiated –China’s foreign policy– to a close...” (Guardian 9-8-76 p.22). The ballots were in.

What the editors emerged with was a succinct and classic expression of our ’anti-lefts’ views, both on the international situation and the international obligations of the ’socialist’ p.b.. “...The determination of China’s foreign policy –as with the foreign policy of any socialist country– is, in the first place, a matter for the people of that country itself. We are not of that school of ’revolutionary’ thought which takes upon itself to intervene in the internal affairs of a socialist country...” (ibid). Quite right. The ’anti-lefts’ are not students of Marxism-Leninism, are not champions of the international interests of the proletariat, otherwise they would know that as a matter of principle, Marxism-Leninism rejects national exclusiveness and prohibits the partitioning of the world proletariat’s interests along national lines. The foreign policy of a truly socialist country is in fact a matter of vital concern for the workers of all countries since it directly represents their own interests, the common interests of an international movement. It is in fact absolutely essential that the class conscious proletariat ’intervene’ and ’meddle’ wherever its interests are being violated. What our ’anti-lefts’ mean by ’internationalism’, on the contrary, is to recognize the ’right’ of the ’socialist’ p.b. of every country to determine its own ’precious’ affairs, free from outside interference and subject only to ’polite’ milktoast criticisms. In recognizing the ’right’ of the CPC to deceive the Chinese proletariat our ’anti-lefts’ are in fact asserting their own ’right’ to deceive the US proletariat. And in limiting themselves to liberal reproaches they are hoping for the same kind treatment in return.

Thus after expressing their resentment and moral indignation at the effects of the CPC’s line, and after branding the obedient followers of the CPC in the US as ’class collaborationists’, ’agents of imperialism’, and so on, the most that our critics could muster against the CPC itself was to say that “...China has made an unsound assessment...” and that as far as the danger of Soviet social-imperialism is concerned, “...we do not think that the peoples of the oppressed countries….are so easily tricked...” (ibid). From such a perspective the world neatly divides into, on the one hand, US imperialism and a bare handful of allies, and on the other, the united front of ’socialist’ opportunism. And it is solely because the CPC’s international line breached that united front that our ’anti-lefts’ were forced to mobilize against “international ultra-leftism” (PWOC) and defend the ’noble’ cause of p.b. unity.

As for the ouster of the ’Gang of 4’, the ’anti-lefts’ have taken, via the Guardian, a positive attitude towards the purge and have expressed the hope that with the liquidation of the Party’s left wing the CPC will also liquidate its intransigence towards the USSR. But our ’anti-lefts’ have not limited themselves to simple support of the Party Right. They have in addition assumed the role of tactical advisers to the Hua leadership, urging it to show more couth while destroying the Left and apologizing for its unprecedented stupidity.

Those who followed the ouster of the ’Gang of 4’ as it was announced in the pages of Peking Review will understand the utter desperation of the Rights, their hysterical mania to obliterate the Lefts, and their unconcealed anxiety over legitimizing their consolidation of power. Never has a ’struggle’ been waged so cheaply, so outrageously, with such staggering pettiness, turning on such trivia, with such meagre resources, and with such undisguised contempt for the intelligence of the masses. What occurred was not simply political conflict, but political carnage; not the victory of one political line over another, but butchery of one’s opponents by a regime too incompetent to produce a coherent political line.

It was, however, the logical outcome of the entire p receding history of the CPC, a history dominated by the conflict between national bourgeois and upper p.b. elements on the Right, and a bloc of ’left’ p.b, nationalist and proletarian elements on the Left. It was precisely because the ’left’ p.b.’s led by Mao Tse Tung were able to subordinate the advanced proletarian elements, that the subsequent struggles against the Right were never carried to a decisive end. Instead, the ’left’ p.b.’s engaged in perpetual compromise with the Rights, restricted the struggle to concealed inner-Party diplomacy, polemical subtleties and innuendoes, to thwarted ’mass’ campaigns, and thus by those devices sought to retain their common interests with the Rights against the proletariat. It remains to be seen which of the ’Gang of 4’ represented ’left’ p.b. interests and which represented the proletariat. But this is far less important than the fact that the whole campaign against the ’Gang’ was aimed, not primarily against the p.b. ’lefts’, but against the advanced proletarians standing behind them. Only the class conscious workers could pose a serious and substantial threat to the interests of the Right. The blow against the Party left, therefore, had to be delivered quickly, even if clumsily, lest the advanced workers mature in the struggle and launch a decisive and fatal offensive against both the Rights and p.b. ’lefts’.

This is precisely the same class striving that motivates our ’anti-lefts’ to congratulate the Rights and provide them with the appropriate apologies for their embarrassing hatchet-job. To abort any principled criticism of the CPC events, the Guardian editors warned that “...there can be no suggestion of ’interference’ in the internal affairs of another people and party...”, the ’struggle’ being “...still primarily a matter for the CPC itself. In this sense, solidarity with People’s China means recognition of the ’legitimacy’ of the new party leadership headed by Hua Kuo-feng...” (Guardian 1-19-77 p.21). The editors do not presume to ’interfere’, because they are in complete agreement with what has occurred. But their friends in the CPC have bungled things so badly that they must qualify their support to the effect that “...such recognition does not imply the obligation to portray the event s in China or to interpret their meaning strictly by way of the ’official’ explanations that are being made...” (ibid). The need to translate the Right’s stupidity into a more credible version was so pressing and the task so impossible that the Guardian devoted more than ’0 belabored articles to the effort. And after thus supplying what they considered the most suitable alibis for the Rights, the editors even went so far as to cover for their ’dogmatic’ ’ML’ opponents, urging the October League and others not to simply reprint the ’official’ explanations but to be more ingenious, stating that “...such embarrassments are totally unnecessary” (ibid). Legitimizing the Hua/Teng regime would take the collective action of all ’ML’ opportunists, and the Guardian was not about to let the victory of the Rights be spoiled by simple tastelessness.

The ’independent’ interpretation that the Guardian gave was that the campaign against the ’Gang of 4’ was actually “...a legitimate campaign against left dogmatism...” waged not by the Right, but by a ’Center’. Hua Kuo-feng was thus welcomed into the ’anti-left’ camp on the grounds that he “... now presides over a party which has neutralized its right and now left wings...” (Guardian 11-3-76 p.24). The CPC had attained the golden mean at last. ’Neutralize’ the Right, i.e. rehabilitate it in a ’moderate’ form and restore it to positions of power. ’Neutralize’ the Left, i.e. to the firing squad with them. And by these means ’neutralize’, i.e. confuse and disorganize, the class conscious proletariat. This is what our ’anti-lefts’ have set their good housekeeping seal of approval on.

The ’critical mass’ to which the Guardian appeals was of course grateful for the editors’ swift response to the purge and their appropriately guarded defense of Right-wing opportunism. As one devoted reader wrote, “...Your articles have convinced me that the incident is not a rightist takeover. It certainly looked that way in the beginning” and that “...in the long run this may be a healthy development for China.” (Guardian 11-24-76 p. 24). No doubt the reader, just as the editors had hoped, finished his warm milk, donned nightcap and p.j.’s, and nodded off to pleasant dreams of further victories over ’left dogmatism’ on a world scale. A newspaper, after all, has definite obligations to its readership, and the Guardian knows its constituency well.

III. The United Front

Despite minor differences in interpretation, all the ’ML’ circles and Parties accept the united front as a valid component of their political strategy and tactics. By united front they mean a multi-class alliance uniting the working class, the petty bourgeoisie, ’anti-imperialist’ and ’progressive’ elements of the intelligentsia, and in some cases ’progressive’ anti-monopoly bourgeois elements who side with the ’peoples’ against the imperialist bourgeoisie; or, in more familiar terms, ’uniting all who can be united against the main enemy’. The differences center on whether the united front is strategical, i.e. is recognized as the pivot of all ’ML’ activity, or tactical, i.e. is viewed as only one among several major forms of activity; and on whether an international united front, which theoretically could include even the ’lesser’ imperialist powers, contradicts the national united front in both the major and ’lesser’ imperialist countries. As shown by the practical programs of the contending ’ML’ groups, however, there is little disagreement as to which classes are included in the united front and on what terms the multi-class alliance is to be forged. There is so much unity on these two points, in fact, that our ’ML’s themselves have formed a de facto ’united front’, a united front of opportunism pivoting on the desire to forge the ’unity of classes’ by any means necessary.

The original usage of the term “united front” was not nearly so generous. Lenin used the term rarely (one can from this appreciate the nature of its current popularity) and then only in reference to those tactical maneuvers necessary to achieve the unity of the proletariat; to, by creating joint actions between communist and Social-Democratic workers, raise the class consciousness of the latter and isolate the Social-Democratic leadership. The united front was meant as one means to overcome the split in the workers’ ranks caused by ’socialist’ opportunism and to assert the class independence of the proletariat. Currently it is being used by ’socialist’ opportunists to further widen that split and thus liquidate the proletariat’s independence.

As for durable alliances between the working class and other strata Lenin very precisely demarcated which strata could be considered allies and on what basis their alliance with the working class was formed. It is not enough for potential allies to be ’anti-imperialist’, since elements of the petty bourgeoisie are often both ’ anti-imperialist’ and anti-proletarian. The working class must therefore make a materialist estimate of which social classes are moving in what direction and for what reasons, and on that basis determine which are marching not only against the imperialist bourgeoisie but are marching with the proletariat. In countries on the eve of socialist revolution, only the lower strata of the p.b. and individuals from other strata are capable of siding with the proletariat since they alone are capable of abandoning their p.b. strivings and breaking completely with capitalist relations. The working class must insure, through its tactics and propaganda, that such a break is actually made. The proletariat does not lower its struggle to the level of its allies; it urges its allies to struggle at the level of the proletariat. It does not fight for the half-hearted demands of its allies to ’improve’ capitalism, but demands that its allies abandon all half-heartedness and fight resolutely to abolish capitalism. The tactics employed to forge such an alliance naturally differ from those used to forge the unity of the working class, for the obvious reason that in multi-class alliances contrary class Interests are involved. The working class must not simply create unity, but unity on its own terms, unity that requires its allies to fight for its own broad and revolutionary interests.

By a long a circuitous process, several generations of opportunists have completely distorted the class content and conditions of this alliance and have married it to an equally distorted version of the united front. Where the original united front referred to the unity of the working class alone, the revised ’united front’ was broadened to refer to the unity of the proletariat plus the petty bourgeoisie and other ’enlightened’ strata. The term ’united front’ was thus used as an ’above class’ category of tactics, tactics that could be employed regardless of what specific class interests were involved. Where the original united front was conditional on the freedom to expose and criticize the Social-Democratic leaders, the new united front, over a period of time, abandoned all conditions and tacitly dropped any ’offensive’ criticism. Where Lenin’s revolutionary alliance was restricted to the lower p.b. and elements of other strata and demanded that such allies abandon their narrow interests in favor of the proletariat’s, the new united front brought in all and sundry and demanded, on the contrary, that the proletariat abandon its interests in favor of its new ’allies’.

This opportunist distortion of united front was initiated just prior to and during the IV Comintern Congress in 1922 (primarily by Radek, Zinoviev, Trotsky and the German Rights) and reached maturity by the VII Comintern Congress in 1935 (Stalin, Dimitrov, Thorez, Mao and the Rights in every Party). The united front of the working class, in Dimitrov’s view, amounted to the fusion of ’communism’ and social-democracy, to the point of organizational fusion and the creation of new Communist/S-D parties. With the revolutionary proletariat thus neutralized, the united front could then be extended to include the entire p.b. plus other ’progressive’ elements. And with the unity of the proletariat and p.b. thus assured, a further extension could embrace the ’progressive’ and patriotic national bourgeoisie. On the basis of the Popular Front, a Popular Front government would then be possible, with the obligatory participation of communists in ’progressive’ bourgeois ministries. With such a ’progressive’ and patriotic state of affairs, the defense of one’s bourgeois government in the event of war was of course taken for granted. What was achieved in the Second International via ’evolutionary socialism’ and Millerandism and was crowned by social-chauvinist betrayal in WWI, was achieved in the Third via the United Front and was consummated by the chauvinist alliance of WWII. It resulted, as graphically demonstrated by the dissolution of the Comintern itself, in the liquidation of the world proletarian movement and its replacement by a loose international federation of ’socialist’ opportunists. The term ’united front’ has thus become a euphemism for outright betrayal and deception of the working class, a means to ’unite’ it behind p.b. and ’socialist’ opportunist leadership.

Although these various united fronts were referred to as tactical forms, their formulation actually presupposed a new strategic situation and therefore new strategic alliances. The line elaborated at the VII Congress was predicated on a ’new phase’ of imperialism in which the next historical stage was not socialism, but a more ’refined’ capitalism not the overthrow of bourgeois democracy, but its defense; not the subordination of the p.b. to the proletariat, but the subordination of the proletariat to all propertied classes; not the transcendence of national barriers, but their glorification and fetishism; not the transformation of imperialist war into civil war, but alliance with the imperialists to fight the war more efficiently; not the joint action of the workers of every country, but their mutual slaughter. However well concealed behind ’socialist’ phrases, this Kautskyite and ultra-opportunist view of imperialism and defense of p.b. interests in fact forms the mainstay of all ’socialist’ opportunism. It is the common meeting ground on which the Right revisionists, ’left’ revisionists, Eurocommunists, Trotskyites, and ’independent’ opportunists all stand, and from which they contend for influence within the working class.

Our ’anti-lefts’ are therefore remarkably correct when they state that “...in fact there is great continuity in the international communist movement in its general analyses, strategies and attitudes towards classes and organizations since 1934 (sic) when the radical break was made with previous theory and practice...” and that “...both the Soviets and the Chinese have diverged a bit from the 7th Comintern statements, but neither very greatly...” (MRL A Critique p.9-10). But far from opposing this “radical break” with Marxist-Leninist principle, our ’anti-lefts’ defend it enthusiastically. The MRL (the most theoretically ’advanced’ of the ’anti-left’ detachment) in fact proposes a return to the VII Congress line and the creation of a new ’socialist’ opportunist unity, free of the ’sectarian’ distortions that have developed among the CP’s and ’ML’s in the interim. Though the other ’anti-lefts’ may not express themselves with the MRL’s opportunist precision, they are in fact the true inheritors of the VII Congress tradition and the Dimitrov’s of the ’ML’ trend.

“...Sectarianism...” the MRL observes, “...is the opposite of united front and unity politics...” (ibid p.29). Our ’anti-lefts’ are incapable of seeing, however, that sectarianism (which does for them what the devil does for Christians) is in fact the logical and inevitable outcome of their ’precious’ unity politics. It was, after all, with phrases of ’socialist’ unity that the VII Congress launched the United Front. But because of the opportunist class basis of that United Front the VII Congress in fact launched the final destruction of the world movement, its fragmentation into a number of nationally distinct revisionist trends, and the endless sectarian feuds among them. The United Front bore such awful fruit because, in subordinating the proletariat to p.b. and ’socialist’ bourgeois leadership, the initiative was passed to parasitic and hopelessly competitive social classes, classes which want nothing more than to retire to the comfort of their respective national shells and quietly exploit ’their own’ proletarians, unless, of course, the option presents itself, as with the CPSU, to exploit and oppress other nations. The United Front is the common denominator of all the ’socialist’ opportunists only to the extent that it expresses theoretically the common desire of all p.b. and bourgeois to subordinate the proletariat to their own class interests. Thus all ’socialist’ opportunists maintain some variation of it: the Anti-Monopoly Coalition, the United Front Against US Imperialism, the United Front Against Fascism, the United Front Against the Two Superpowers, or the United Front against Soviet social-imperialism. Behind this united effrontery is, however, the most intense national-bourgeois and intra-p.b. class rivalry, national jealousy and narrow national defencism, expressing the desire of each ’socialist’ bourgeoisie and p.b. to safeguard ’their own’ sphere of economic influence. Each cries out for ’unity’, but for ’unity’ against and at the expense of all the others.

In advocating the unity of all ’socialist’ opportunists, our ’anti-lefts’ are attempting to create a reactionary and p.b. utopian millennium, a p.b. paradise guided by pious wishes and laissez faire. But in fact they are about 40 years too late. The unity of ’socialist’ opportunists has already been achieved. It is precisely because the CPSU, CPC, PLA, et. al. have remained faithful to and ’not diverged much’ from the VII Congress line, that each has subsequently matured into a revisionist bourgeoisie and taken as their standard national self-interest and the laws of capitalist competition. They can avoid stepping on each others’ toes as little as one monopoly can resist swallowing up another. This may not be the sort of offspring our ’anti-lefts’ hoped the United Front would bear, but with such a promiscuous union of class interests one could not expect much more.


“...The question of building a new communist party...”, Mr. Silber told his readers, “...demands to be heard. There is no avoiding it...” (Guardian 12-29-76 p.20). Mr. Silber was forced, despite himself, to make this frank admission simply because the Guardian had run out of excuses for delaying its entry into the party-building competition. The Guardian would just as soon continue as an ’independent’ newsweekly, quietly pandering its radical chic and boosting its subscription lists, and leave this ’party’ business alone. But in claiming to be Marxist-Leninist, it must at least go through the motions of building a new communist party, swear by the principle of democratic central ism, elaborate tactics of trade union work, the development of party cadres, propaganda, mass work, and so on. At the same time it must be especially careful not to offend its constituency or place ’outrageous’ demands on their fragile dedication to the cause. It must assure them that ’party-building’ is not, after all, such a frightful thing; that however much the Party principle may run against the grain, ’there can be no avoiding it’ if one claims to be ’ML’; and that, besides, the readership can carry on their usual business as easily under the ’party’ label as they can under the title ’Guardian Sustainer’.

As long as the ’ML’ movement procrastinated on the Party question, our ’anti-lefts’ were content to act as a Right-wing opposition, urging the others to hold off on declaring ’the party’ until the entire ’ML’ p.b. could be grouped into one loose formation. With the declaration of the RCP, CP-ML, ’US Bolshevik Party’, and others, however, the ’anti-lefts’ have been suddenly left on their own. In order to make themselves attractive they must pose the Party question, and yet the question of the Party is what they themselves find least attractive. The Guardian, whose only ’practical’ work is fund-raising, is discomforted by the idea of trade union work. The PWOC, which has trade union work, is put off by the notion of ’theory’. The AAC(ML), which has the most bizarre ’theories’, is intimidated by ’going amongst the workers’. The PSO, which has already ’gone amongst the workers’, worries over the ’party’ appearing ’too soon’. And so on. Each suspects that ’the party’ will rob them of their ’precious’ peculiarities, and so each asserts, on the one hand, that their peculiarities are the essence of party-building and on the other hand, that the actual creation of a ’party’ is so far in the future it is impossible to say now on what basis it should be formed.

By ’party-building’, our ’anti-lefts’ mean an even looser version of what has occurred in the ’ML’ movement to date. In their view, even ’parties’ as incompetently organized and brazenly reformist as the RCP and CP-ML are ’too rigid’ and ’too left’. They therefore advocate under the heading of ’party-building’ a level of work that is usually associated with the activity of fellow-travelers, i.e. ’anti-imperialist’ support work, p.b. ’consciousness-raising’, developing sustainers and subscribers, etc. Collectively, the ’anti-lefts’ have added absolutely nothing new to the ’party’ debate, but have resigned themselves to repeating in miniature the pointless disputes that were exhausted long ago by the rest of the ’ML’ trend. What passes for ’new’ material (the contributions of the AAC-ML and the MRL) is actually only an ’ML’ rehash of ideas current in the 1960’s movement, an attempt to sneak even more blatantly p.b. conceptions of the ’party’ into the debate. On every issue our ’anti-lefts’ call for a retreat from Marxist-Leninist principles on the Party, failing to see in the meantime that the ’dogmatic’ ’ML’s, in parodying those principles to the nth degree, have already carried that retreat to its outermost limit. The difference being they have done it slightly to the ’left’, whereas our ’anti-lefts’ want it squarely on the Right. They thus make bickering over form the content of their activity.

Just what sort of ’party’ our ’anti-lefts’ have in mind is graphically demonstrated by their attitude towards the advanced workers, their view of the ’communist’ intelligentsia, and their concept ion of the ’unity’ necessary for such a ’party’ to be brought into being.

In order to make themselves useful, the ’anti-lefts’ must reduce the level of advanced workers to at least several steps below their own. A real advanced worker, one striving consciously for an independent grasp of Marxism-Leninism, might ’inadvertently’ discover that our ’anti-lefts’ are in fact nothing but wretched petty bourgeois opportunists. Our ’anti-lefts’ are therefore better served by a conception of ’advanced worker’ that does not rise above the level of a militant trade unionist. In the PWOC’s view, the ’advanced worker’ only recognizes that ”...there can be no lasting peace between the workers and the bosses...” (a commonplace among trade unionists), and is only “...open to socialism...” (The Organizer, Vol. 1 #1 p.12). Being only ’open to socialism’, the PWOC thus hopes they will be open to its rendition of ’socialism’. The MRL agrees with the PWOC’s (actually the RCP’s) formulation, and ’enriches’ it with the observation that ’advanced workers’ recognize that “...strength lies in numbers and unity...” and that they “...may not be all that sympathetic to communism...” (A Critique p.41). ’Not all that sympathetic to communism’ is in fact our ’anti-lefts’ guarantee that they will be able to make inroads among such ’workers’. What they must avoid like the plague are those workers who are ’not all that sympathetic’ to p.b. opportunism.

The ’anti-lefts’ are content to substitute trade unionists for advanced workers, the trade union struggle for class struggle, and hackneyed trade union phrases for class consciousness, since the struggle for reforms is what they themselves view as the sum and substance of ’communist’ activity. They embody this conception in their practical proposals by various combinations of the terms ’class struggle’ and ’trade unionism’. As the PWOC states, “...we must attempt to draw the broadest possible forces around a basic program of class struggle unionism...” (The Organizer Vol. 2 #3 p.20). The content of this ’class struggle’ is not, however, the struggle for state power, but simply the “...militant defense of our standard of living...trade union democracy., opposition to all forms of racial, sexual, political and religious discrimination...” (ibid), i.e. for demands entirely acceptable to the bourgeoisie and which do not touch the foundations of capitalism. The AAC(ML) too calls for a “... new unionism, built on class struggle” (Towards A Genuine Communist Party p.21). The AAC(ML), which mistake themselves for opponents of economism and reformism, nonetheless advocate the economist catch-phrase “...bringing of a political content to the economic struggle...” (ibid). Evidently in their ’re-reading’ of Lenin (these people ’re-read’ everything according to ’structural fields’ ’methodologies’ and ’problematics’, i.e. like tenured professors) they ’overlooked’ the fact that ”...the phrase ’lending the economic struggle itself a political character’ means nothing more than the struggle for economic reforms...” (What is to be Done?). It is hard to imagine what goes on in our ’anti-lefts’ minds when they read Lenin. Lenin irrefutably trounces the opportunists, and yet our modern opportunists, still stinging from the blows, simply cannot bring themselves to see what is being said. They pick up the phrase ’against economism’, and yet cannot resist gravitating to economist phrases.

Having nothing in the way of objective political knowledge to offer the working class, our ’anti-lefts’ excuse themselves on the grounds that the workers are not ready for it anyway. The AAC(ML) speculates on “...the ability of the bourgeoisie to ’buy off potential working class intellectuals...” (ibid) and comments that “...the US bourgeoisie has been particularly favored in this respect...”. For the majority of workers “..militant trade union consciousness would be a great advance..”.

And this ’great advance’ within the framework of capitalism is precisely and solely what our ’anti-lefts’ have to offer. The MRL, however, takes the cake with its observation that “...feminism, nationalism, reformism, etc. are mostly progressive since the revolutionary alternative is so underdeveloped...”, that “...it is better that these groups reach working people for it at least softens them up to a revolutionary analysis...” and that “...nationalism, feminism, reformism, pacificism, etc. still serve as bridges, way stations and transmission belts from mainstream to revolutionary politics because the gap is too wide to bridge without this intermediary step...” (ibid p.30)!!! Imagine. The working class is so hopelessly backward, so incapable of understanding ’revolutionary polities’, that even the filthy, reactionary striving of the ambitious petty bourgeoisie would be a step ’forward’ for it. But this is only wishful thinking on the MRL’s part. It hopes to ’soften up’, i.e. pollute and contaminate, the proletariat with the grosser forms of p.b. outlook, and then, by proving its own steadfast dedication to every sort of disgusting p.b. prejudice, win the workers over to a more refined, ’socialist’ opportunism. The bourgeoisie is indeed ’particularly favored’ to have the likes of the AAC(ML) and MRL available to invent such opportunist drivel. Imperialism ’softens them up’ so completely, they have convinced themselves they are for the working class, and yet when it comes down to it they have nothing to offer except petty bourgeois cunning and contempt.

Despite their pessimistic attitude towards the working class, our ’anti-lefts’ are much more optimistic, if not downright excited, about the ’communist’ intelligentsia and hence themselves. All make some token reference to the p.b. class basis of the ’ML’ movement and the 1960’s movement from which it was drawn. But in order to harmonize their present p.b. status with their ’ML’ pretensions, they must somehow deny their origins and declass the movement. Thus the AAC(ML) states that “...intellectuals do not constitute a class themselves nor do they together form a strata of some other class...” (ibid p.5). Being ’above’ social classes, the intellectuals need not bother abandoning their own narrow interests. They must only express their ’good intentions’ towards the proletariat and thus become “...organic intellectuals of the working class...” (ibid). In point of fact, the ’intelligentsia’ (and we must hang it in quotes, since in bourgeois society education by no means implies intelligence) under capitalism is always, through its habits, social position, means of subsistence, attitudes and outlook, permeated with bourgeois and petty bourgeois vices and petty strivings. The ’anti-lefts’ cannot truly confront this fact, since to do so would place ’unreasonable’ demands on their credibility as ’communists’. They must instead attempt to ease themselves into positions of leadership over the proletariat on the strength of a brazen and transparent lie. ’We’ do not represent the interests of any particular class; ’we’ therefore have nothing to abandon or repudiate. The ambitions and moods we exhibit may appear alien and foolish to the working class, but they are actually the purest, ’organic’, you understand, proletarian sentiments. And if you will kindly swallow this ’organic’ matter, ’we’ will prove just who the real fools are.

As for the 1960’s movement, the ’anti-lefts’ view it as a dress rehearsal for their entry into big-time ’socialist’ opportunism. The Guardian admits that “...True, the resurgence of Marxism-Leninism in the US did not emerge directly from the mass workers’ movement. But then again, it rarely has in the past in other circumstances...” (Guardian 12-1-76 p.21). But the Guardian is reluctant to say just what sort of movement the ’ML’s did emerge from, except for the euphemism ’spontaneous mass struggles’. There is no question that the 1960’s movement was spontaneous and had a mass character. The relevant question is, however, which masses were in motion and what classes and strata led them. The 1960’s was in fact such an eclectic outburst of so many social strata, and represented such a wide spectrum of contrary interests and demands, that its only common denominator was the class character of its organized leadership. Even those sections that had, as with the civil rights movement, valid democratic demands were led exclusively by petty bourgeois elements, elements whose interests lay not in furthering and deepening the movement, but in using it for leverage in their own bargaining with the bourgeoisie. Those sections which had no valid basis whatsoever, as with the bulk of the student movement, had not only p.b. leadership but a purely p.b. constituency as well.

It was precisely from such organized leadership –from SNCC, SDS, Black Panthers, Young Lords, the various anti-war committees, feminist circles, and so on –it was precisely from these that the new ’ML’ movement emerged, bringing with it the same people, the same habits, the same p.b. class prejudice, and the same aspirations. Everything is so similar, in fact, the only thing that distinguishes the new movement from the old is the abbreviation ’ML’ and the recognition that the p.b. is politically impotent unless it rallies the working class to p.b. aims. As the PWOC put it, “...the practical education we received in the 1960’s pointed to the conclusion that capitalism could not be reformed into a humane social system that served the people. It had to be overthrown through a socialist revolution that could then reconstruct US society along genuinely popular and democratic lines...” (The Organizer Vol. 1 #1 p.2), i.e. along the lines of the USSR. One hundred years after Marx had proved that capitalism could not be reformed, these numbskulls are finally forced by ’practical education’, i.e. by countless futile attempts, to recognize the obvious. But instead of kicking themselves for such p.b. stupidity and striving, instead of resolving to abandon their old petty ways and wholly adopt Marxism-Leninism, instead of devoting themselves entirely to the working class, instead of this, however, they proceed to justify their former activity, plead innocence and ’spontaneity’, and ’improve’ on Marx by way of ’socialist’ opportunism. They must in one or another way defend their activities in the 1960’s, because they still engage in them.

As for the ’party’ itself, our ’anti-lefts’ hardly know where to begin. After all, as the PWOC states, “...Lenin did not outline how to lay the foundations for a revolutionary party...” (The Organizer Vol. 2 #5 p.23). “...Not that Lenin offers us a blueprint for party-building. Far from it...” Mr. Silber slobbers in agreement (Guardian 10-20-76, p. 21) In fact, “...Our movement has literally had to build from scratch its ideological and political foundations...” (El Comite, Obreros en Marcha, Vol. 1 #21 p.2). Quite right. One cannot help thinking when going over our ’anti-lefts’ line that it is exactly as if it was put together ’from scratch’, with no conscious plan, with no pretense at continuity, with absolute indifference to principles, from cheap and shoddy materials, out of consideration for momentary convenience alone, in short, as a testimonial to petty bourgeois incompetence and ’make-do’. Lenin devoted his entire life to outlining and blueprinting the tasks of the revolutionary proletariat, to exposing every conceivable shade of opportunism, and to indicating precisely the foundation and activity of the communist Party, and yet our ’anti-lefts’ remain deaf, dumb and blind to it. Evidently what they meant to say was that Lenin did not outline how to lay the foundations of a petty bourgeois and utterly opportunist ’party’. And that is correct. They will get no help from Lenin for what they have set out to do.

On the other hand, the fact that they are not bound by Marxism-Leninism suits them just fine. They are so jealous of their ’independence’, they even resent the ’ML’s who look to the CPC or PLA for opportunist guidance. The ’anti-lefts’, in the PWOC’s words, “...seek a movement which bases itself primarily on the historical experience of the working class here in the US rather than in China or elsewhere....” (The Organizer Vol. 2 #1 p.14). The AAC(ML) makes this a point of unity for the ’anti-left’ party effort, asserting that “...There does not and should not exist an international center in the world communist movement...” (Toward a Genuine Communist Party p.32). The AAC(ML) explains that “...there is something wrong with the very notion of looking elsewhere for guidance and theory itself...” (ibid p.6). As could be expected, the AAC sees no contradiction between saying this, on the one hand, and recommending that we ’look elsewhere’ to the academicians Althusser, Gramsci and Bettelheim ’for guidance and theory itself, on the other. What our ’anti-lefts’ have in mind is to be free not only from Marxist-Leninist principles, but also free from outside interference by other ’ML’ opportunists. With no binding criteria to follow for creating their ’party’, and with no ’orders from Peking’, they are free to do exactly as they wish.

And what do our ’anti-lefts’ wish to do with their ’party’? In the main, each wishes to do what they are doing at the present, only on a ’grander’ scale. The PWOC has ’gone amongst the workers’ and engaged in local coalition politics, and so thinks the ’party’ should accumulate more ’workers’ (if the features in The Organizer are any indication, their ’workers’ are actually college dropouts) and create a mass ’People’s Party’. El Comite, which is occupied almost exclusively with reformist activity for Puerto Rican independence, views this as its future chief activity. The TMLC, which has composed a ’line’ simply by repeating what all the others say, places a premium on its own role in any potential ’party’. The AAC(ML) is content with its ’campus communism’ and academic digressions and so opposes the “...workerist notion which evaluates communist organizations on the basis of their degree of participation in workplace organizing...” (On Party Building p.7). They are especially hostile to the PWOC on this account. The Guardian also lacks ’workers’, and so proposes that the ’party’ be built without them, to the chagrin of the PWOC. In addition, as shown by their Special Supplement On Building the New Communist Party, the Guardian has come to appreciate the potential market that ’party’ building promises, and so now proposes that the ’party’ be built on the basis of Guardian Clubs in a number of cities, a ’basic activity’ of which will be “...Circulation, promotion, fund-raising, news-gathering and public events for the Guardian...” (p. S-7). And the MRL, not wanting to pressure or offend anyone, is even willing to wait until after ’the revolution’ before the ’party’ is formed. All that it asks is that the ’anti-lefts’ exercise “...great care...in avoiding the mistake of hostilely attacking reformist forces...” (A Critique p.33), and that the ’party’s ranks be open to all and sundry: ex-’ML’s, ex-CPUSA cadre, ex-Trotskyites, ex-terrorists, a few representative ’people of color’, Marxist-Feminists, homosexuals, and social-democrats. In short, that the new ’anti-left’ ’party’ be true to its ’ideals’ and represent the ’best’ the p.b. has to offer.

The ’anti-lefts’ agree that the basis of unity for the ’party’ should be sufficiently low so as to “...promote unity among all forces on the side of reforms...” (MRL A Critique p.34). Their characteristic points of unity are therefore: 1) Anti-sectarianism, i.e. the unity of the entire p.b.; 2) Anti-dogmatism, i.e. the protection of the US p.b. from both Marxism-Leninism and any ’alien’, CPC or CPSU, opportunism; 3) Rejection of international leadership, for the same purpose; and 4) Opposition to US imperialism, in order to transform it into a ’humane’ p.b. ’socialism’. At the same time, each of the ’anti-left’ circles hopes to play a predominant role in forging their collective ’party’. They cannot resist pointing to one another’s weaknesses and, by contrast, their own ’considerable’ strengths, and so invariably begin to take sectarian and ’dogmatic’ stands against each other. The sectarianism of the ’ML’ movement throws them into a ’comradely’ embrace; their own sectarianism makes them wriggle free again. Thus the PWOC and Guardian, which only moments ago looked each other so fondly in the eye, have now fallen into mutual recriminations. They forget that within the radical petty bourgeoisie, all alliances are marriages of convenience, and that what they may at first mistake for affection is actually only naked self-interest.

However much they preach ’unity’, then, it is not at all certain that our ’anti-lefts’ will end up in the same ’party’. It is much more likely, in fact, that they will be swept along by the same narrow and competitive striving as the other ’ML’s, and create two or three new ’parties’ covering the ’anti-left’ tendency alone. Numerically, they cannot hope to match the RCP or CP-ML in size. The latter represent much more desperate strata of the radical p.b., those already ousted from more comfortable p.b. occupations and forced by economic circumstance into factory work, who have little hope of reclaiming the ’good life’, and who are therefore more prone to ’left’ and ’proletarian’-sounding phrases. Such people cannot take a passive view of ’ML’ activity, since it is in fact their only promise, their pis aller(last resort), of p.b. salvation. It is precisely because the RCP and CP-ML provide such a steady and reliable diet of such ’activity’ that they have already absorbed into their ranks the bulk of such strata. The ’anti-lefts’, on the other hand, appeal to the more comfortable strata of the ’anti-imperialist’ p.b., whose conditions of life are fairly secure whose discomfort is moral rather than physical, and who thus have no need of ’left’ phrase-making. Such people in fact demand passivity, wish to restrict their ’ anti-imperialist’ fervor to petitions and statements of solidarity, and by ’activity’ want nothing more strenuous than opening the pages of the weekly Guardian. They are thus content to let the ’anti-lefts’ form ’parties’, but do not want to be bound by anything more than a monthly donation. As the circulation of the Guardian shows (over 20,000), this strata constitutes a sizeable portion of the p.b. left. Only, it cannot be roused sufficiently (as it was in the 1960’s) for the ’anti-lefts’ to steal the advantage from the more active ’ML’s. Hence the Guardian & Co.’s underdog status within the ’ML’ trend, and yet their persistent popularity among the left p.b.’s as a whole.

The development and fragmentation of the ’anti-left’ trend signifies the final stage in the maturation of ’ML’ opportunism. It was on the basis of just such a p.b. ’unity’ that the ’ML’ movement was initially formed. In calling for a retreat to its starting point, after the break-up of the movement into a number of distinct trends, our ’anti-lefts’ are finally bringing this collective opportunist farce full circle. Their desperate pleas for the old ’unity’ is an inadvertent admission that the ’ML’ movement has nowhere to go, that it has succumbed to the classic p.b. striving for each to be master of his own dung-heap, that the dung-heaps have been mastered, and that there can be no further ’redivision’ of heaps without intra-p.b. warfare. However disheartening this development may be for our ’anti-lefts’, class conscious workers can only welcome it. With the united front of opportunism thus split apart, it will be all the easier for the revolutionary proletariat to march ahead.