Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Jack A. Smith

More thoughts on Guardian Clubs proposal


First Published: The Guardian Sustainer, May 1977.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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Response from Sustainers to the idea in last month’s newsletter about organizing a nationwide network of Guardian Clubs has been positive and enthusiastic.

We’re convinced now that as a beginning we should have no difficulty in establishing about 10 Guardian Clubs in as many cities.

The Guardian is waiting until it publishes its party-building supplement and does a little more investigation before taking the next concrete steps. The supplement, which should reach you in about a week, will contain 29 general unity principles for bringing together various party-building tendencies. The principles will also form the specific political basis for membership in the Clubs.

We urge all Sustainers who are seriously interested in participating in a Guardian Club to read the principles very carefully. They constitute a codification of the various positions the paper has taken over the years. If you are in agreement with them and want to join a Club, please write to us immediately inquiring about membership.

Address your letter to: Coordinator, Guardian Clubs, 33 W. 17 St., New York, N.Y. 10011. In the letter please include any ideas you might have about building Guardian Clubs nationally and locally, activities you think the Clubs should get into, etc.

Once we study the responses and get response on the unity principles and the party-building supplement, we’ll be getting back in touch with you in a more formal way about the possibility of establishing a Club in your area and other related matters.

We recognize what has been communicated so far about the Clubs idea has been rather general and tentative. We’re trying to proceed cautiously and at the appropriate time more information will be forthcoming. It’s important to emphasize that we see the Clubs progressing by stages and that to a certain degree practice is going to be our guide for future development once the organization is established.


The first stage, as indicated earlier, we will have Clubs organized in only 10 cities with a limitation on the number of members in each area.

There’s a very good reason for this: we’re new at organization and don’t want to start something that would fall apart because we made mistakes. The Guardian is confident it could organize and administer a 10-city network with our existing resources and that productive political activities, study groups and other endeavors we project could go well in this limited set-up.

Further steps would depend to a certain extent on how well the initial plan was working out. It might turn out some cities are ready for a larger and more sophisticated Guardian organization, while others should stay a while longer within the more limited framework. After an initial period of experience, we might find it possible to expand membership in existing Clubs and charter additional Clubs, for instance, as well as consider some of the longer-range implications of such an organizational entity.

In response to your mail and to additional discussion here and with our friends in many areas, we’ve refined somewhat our conception of the tasks of the various Clubs. We see three main duties:


•Party-building. The Clubs would be an organizational vehicle for helping to develop a distinct political trend within the Marxist-Leninist movement, a trend based on the 29 principles of unity. The Clubs would engage in discussions, debates and forums with other Marxist-Leninists. They would, in some cases, help initiate local Marxist-Leninist organizing committees or other appropriate organizational forms. The Clubs would engage in organized study of theory and also set up Marxist-Leninist study groups for workers and local activists.
•Local political action. The Clubs would join in and initiate political work in trade unions, community organizations, local coalitions and demonstrations on a broad range of urgent questions from strike support to solidarity work around southern Africa and Puerto Rico, for instance. It would be entirely possible for us to mount simultaneous actions in 10 cities at appropriate times. The Clubs could bring to these actions– which they would initiate or participate in–the Guardian’s general political perspective which would be applied to the concrete conditions in each locality.
•Work to help build the paper. One of the great strengths of the Clubs is that they would be linked together in a network, with a large-circulation, serious and politically influential newspaper as their focus. Building that newspaper in the areas of circulation, promotion, fund-raising and news-gathering would be an important Club responsibility.

This would include such activities as placing bundles in local bookstores and newsstands, distributing at work places and demonstrations, obtaining new subscriptions, sending in news reports on local and regional developments, organizing fund-raising parties and other events, appearing on local radio or TV to discuss stories from the Guardian and constantly evaluating the paper itself and sharing criticisms with the Guardian staff. The Clubs would sponsor local speaking engagements of Marxist-Leninists, representatives of national liberation movements and Guardian staff members.


A number of people have questioned the name “Guardian Clubs.” We’re not wedded to it and could work the problem out. Others have asked about the relationship of the Clubs to party-building. Right off the bat we can tell you we don’t see the Clubs, at the stage we’re talking about, as a pre-party formation. Essentially, the Clubs will try to build the antirevisionist, antidogmatist trend along with the 29 points we’re putting forward, recognizing that we do not possess the Alpha and Omega of political wisdom. The Guardian is part of a trend. Within that trend it has its own specific point of view on a great many questions. The task of the Guardian and the Clubs would be to build that trend and influence it as much as possible in the direction of Guardian Clubs politics.

There are many other questions (such as the specific form of structure-organization, how to deal with supporters of the Clubs idea in areas where we are not yet prepared to organize, the relationship of Clubs to existing Guardian bureaus, the precise stages of development for the Clubs idea in general, etc.) that we will address in detail in the coming weeks and months.

Be assured that when the time comes to officially launch the Guardian Clubs organization sometime this year all of these problems and questions–as well as specific tasks for the Clubs, study-group materials, etc.–will be dealt with in detail. We have our own views on many matters, of course, but if this is to work it’s going to have to be a synthesis of our views and your views–and that’s what we’re waiting for. In your letters to us, be as lengthy and explicit as you feel is necessary.

We’re taking a while on this because we’re aiming for results, not empty rhetoric or a paper organization. For obvious reasons, we are proposing a relatively small, tightly-knit organization at first. But we have every expectation it will grow, not just In size but as the organized expression of a political tendency that has a real future in this country. We begin with a tremendous asset–a significant, established radical newspaper that is determined not to isolate itself from the broad progressive forces, even as it moves to define itself organizationally. If we do this correctly, the Clubs will make a very large contribution toward developing the revolutionary forces in this country. Let’s hear from you!