Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

People’s Democracy

On the U.S. Anti-Revisionist Movement’s Anti-Left Tendency

First Published: People’s Democracy, vol. 1, No. 3 May-June 1978.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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A most welcome new tendency has arisen within the 21-year-old U.S. Anti-Revisionist Movement. It is the Anti-Left Tendency.

The Anti-Left Tendency dates back to early 1976. Before then, of course, some independent collectives and un-affiliated individuals had already broken with the still-prevailing view that Right Opportunism is the U.S. Anti-Revisionist Movement’s main internal barrier to building an anti-revisionist revolutionary party. But they had done so largely in isolation from one another. In part a reflex against the sectarianism of the national “parties” and pre-party groups, this isolation gave rise to excessive involvement in local work and virtually complete abandonment of work on the national level. So long as this isolation dominated the anti-left forces, no tendency worth the name could emerge. When they began making concerted efforts to break out of this isolation, however, the Anti-Left Tendency quickly took shape.

Exiles from the three anti-revisionist “parties”–the Communist Labor Party (CLP), the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP) and the Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist) (CPML)–and the myriad of pre-party groups have helped generate this new current. So have long-independent and newly developed Marxist-Leninists. But the tendency draws its main strengths (and weaknesses) from a score or more of small collectives that have sprung up in recent years, a few of them with two or more local bases, most with only one.

The groups and individuals comprising this new tendency share many common experiences.

They have seen valuable mass organizations mowed down by ultra-left groups seeking to use them merely for cadre recruiting and training or to convert them into party-building auxiliaries.

They have seen ultra-left leafleteers hawking “the immediate and universal preparation for the dictatorship of the proletariat” at factory gates, noting the distain workers feel for this hucksterism and the disrepute it brings to the whole U.S. Anti-Revisionist Movement.

They have seen the ultra-lefts call rally after rally to which only their well-worn cadres rally.

They have seen the ultra-lefts call march after march in which only their well-worn cadres march.

They have seen the ultra-lefts stage “party-building” forums whose polemics are nothing but torrents of abuse, often exposing the cadres of rival sects to the state.

They have seen the ultra-lefts “answer” the most burning of international and domestic questions on the basis of practically no concrete investigation.

They have seen the ultra-lefts make very little movement toward winning the allegiance of the industrial proletariat, the rest of the working masses, and other allied classes and strata.

They have seen petty bickering, heated but empty polemics, intrigue and hegemonism split group after group, routing every drive to unite Marxist-Leninists.

In a word, they have seen the forward motion of the American revolution delayed far more by the errors of ultra-left revolutionaries than by the ideological, political, economic and military power of U.S. monopoly capitalism, though the two causes are intimately related.

Of course, the collectives and individuals comprising the Anti-Left Tendency have not observed this sad spectacle from the sidelines, but instead in the course of their participation in class struggle. Their own mass and pre-party ranks too have been torn by Left Opportunism, and they have watched many comrades lose heart and leave the movement. Fortunately, those with clearer heads and stauncher spirits have fought on to create what is now a distinct tendency opposed to Left Opportunism.

Notwithstanding the empty boasts of some of its forces, the Anti-Left Tendency is far from consolidating itself into a trend. It has attracted a wide range of followers, some of whom attack dogmatism to cover their own intellectual laziness, others who seek hegemony over what they think is the genuine Marxist-Leninist “wing”, and still others who are making honest, invaluable efforts to move the American revolution forward. As a whole, the Anti-Left Tendency is theoretically impoverished (though less so than the Ultra-Left Trend). Most of its adherents are sadly lacking in their understanding of dialectical materialism and therefore do not consistently apply its laws and principles to the concrete practice of the American revolution. Yet there is no doubt that working within the Anti-Left Tendency are forces who represent our most realistic hope of carrying the present period, the Period of Theory and Line, to completion.

With that in mind, let us now meet the principal forces in the U.S. Anti-Revisionist Movement’s Anti-Left Tendency.


A. The Neo-Revisionist Sub-Tendency

One of the first groups to recognize the existence of the Anti-Left Tendency, and attempt to spur on its development, was the Philadelphia Workers Organizing Committee (PWOC). Formed in 1971 by civil rights and anti-Vietnam War activists, PWOC set out to root itself in the industrial proletariat and “build an organization made up of the most politically conscious, dedicated, and militant workers.” This approach was clearly empiricist, and it also contained the seeds of economism and spontaneity. However, PWOC expressed the correct belief that the American revolution could not move forward without a correct revolutionary theory developed from a concrete analysis of the U.S. conditions. Had this belief been put thoroughly into practice, it would have set PWOC apart from the U.S. Anti-Revisionist Movement’s ultra-left “parties” and pre-party groups. But PWOC was not to be up to the task.

Soon after its founding, PWOC sought to confront the dogmatism of the two largest ultra-left formations–the Revolutionary Union (now RCP) and the October League (now CPML). But like its sometimes ally, the Guardian. PWOC challenged RCP’s and CPML’s dogmatism principally in the international arena. What CPML said in defense of China’s line on Portugal and Angola outraged PWOC far more than what PWOC termed as CPML’s and RCP’s penchant for “the cushioned rooms of intellectualist study and debate”. These polemics brought PWOC repeatedly to the defense of revisionist forces. Specifically, the Philadelphia group supported the Portuguese Communist Party which, though billing itself as a “people’s” party, was objectively the fifth column for Soviet social-imperialism in Portugal. PWOC also applauded Soviet intervention in Angola. Meanwhile, turning to a question of immense importance here at home, PWOC liquidated the Black National Question on much the same grounds as the thoroughly revisionist Communist Party of the United States of America (CPUSA) had done a quarter-century earlier.

And yet, PWOC was one of the first groups to expose ultra-leftists as the wreckers of the U.S. Anti-Revisionist Movement. It criticized the three “parties” for their dogmatism, and it began establishing ties with anti-dogmatist collectives in several east coast and midwestern cities.

Thus, as a leader of the new Anti-Left Tendency, PWOC brought to it an amalgam of empiricism, neo-revisionism, unpurged dogmatism, lip-service to the need for concrete analysis, and a few real insights into the nature of the main internal danger facing U.S. revolutionaries today.

At the start of 1976, PWOC announced that a “trend” had arisen among the forces fighting dogmatism. It characterized these forces as follows in the Jan.-March, 1976 issue of its year-old newspaper, The Organizer:

First, they identify U.S. Imperialism as the main enemy of the worldwide struggle for socialism and national liberation. Second, they regard dogmatism and ultra-leftism as the main forms of opportunism in the party-building movement. Third, they take the position that Black people are an oppressed national minority and understand the centrality of the struggle for democratic rights. And finally, while recognizing the centrality of party-building, they realize that our movement is not sufficiently mature as yet to take up the actual organization of such a party as an immediate task.

Taken together, these four attitudes express an embryonic Marxist-Leninist trend.

Neither in the above statement nor in any others did PWOC attempt to make a distinction between principal and non-principal contradictions. Which of the above four criteria was indispensable for breaking with ultra-leftism now? Which of the above criteria must serve to demarcate the “trend” now, and which might serve as lines of demarcation later? Which would help unite all who could be united against left opportunism, which would not do so, and which would drive out some of the very forces that should be united with?

On these vital questions PWOC was silent. Nor did it provide any concrete analysis supporting its announcement that the anti-dogmatists had consolidated themselves into a “trend”. Nevertheless, armed with its four-part shopping list, PWOC went looking for comrades who would help the “trend” take its first big step–the founding of a national ideological center.

A core group was formed during winter-spring 1976. Made up of PWOC, the Detroit Marxist-Leninist Organization (DMLO), El Comite, and the Socialist Union of Baltimore (SUB), it sent a letter to other anti-dogmatist groups On June 9. (Later that month, the core group was expanded to include the Potomac Socialist Organization (PSO), not yet an open Marxist-Leninist group.) The letter did not openly call for the building of a national ideological center, but it proposed a conference of Marxist-Leninists who associated themselves with the “trend” against “dogmatism”. Conceding that the “trend” was very undeveloped, the letter stressed the need to define “the unities and differences within it” through “principled discussions with other organizations and individuals throughout the country”.

Since the June 9 letter stated the issue broadly as a fight against dogmatism and sectarianism, it drew broad support. Enough support, in fact, for the Committee of Five to hold an anti-dogmatist party-building forum in September, 1976. Many groups, including the Guardian, participated, though the level of participation in the conference was quite uneven.

Nevertheless, in the wake of the September forum, the Committee of Five decided that the “Marxist-Leninist Trend” could now solidify on firm principles of unity. An 18-point draft of Principles of Unity for a Marxist-Leninist Conference was circulated in the first weeks of 1977. Many of the 18 points can be considered Marxist-Leninist-Mao Tsetung Thought boilerplate–i.e., they summed up the U.S. Anti-Revisionist Movement’s previously achieved unity on revisionism, Trotskyism, the need for a vanguard party, monopoly capitalism as the basis for imperialism, etc. However, some of the 18 points clearly reflected the Committee of Five’s neo-revisionism. And of particular significance were Points 15 and 18. The former point identified “modern dogmatism” as “the main opportunist danger” within the party-building movement in the present period–a poorly formulated, though basically correct position which the Committee of Five was to eventually abandon. The latter point identified U.S. imperialism as “the main enemy of the world’s people”–from the standpoint of both theory and practice, a clearly incorrect position which the Committee of Five was to eventually designate as the principal line of demarcation between its “trend” and the rest of the movement.

The more notable of the 18 points will be analyzed further on in this work. Here it suffices to note two facts. First, the Committee of Five prefaced its Draft Principles with a letter stating that their purpose was to lay the basis for a conference ”to establish an ideological center for the Marxist-Leninist wing of the party-building movement”. And secondly, not just the Draft Principles but also the Committee of Five’s claim to represent the genuine Marxist-Leninist “trend” soon came under fire from groups that placed themselves within the anti-left tendency.

One such group was the Guardian. Founded in 1948 as the campaign organ for independent presidential candidate Henry Wallace, this New York-based “independent radical weekly” defended the Soviet Union and the CPUSA until the late 1960s. Thereafter the Guardian began moving away from revisionism. It proclaimed itself an advocate of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought and in 1973 it organized a series of forums on party-building, the Black National Question, and other issues facing the Anti-Revisionist Movement. Its service to the movement has been considerable, especially as a forum for debate among anti-revisionist groups and as a source of information about Third World national independence and liberation struggles. Nevertheless, as a defender of Portugal’s Communist Party, Soviet and Cuban intervention in the Angolan civil war, and Soviet intrigue in the Horn of Africa, the Guardian has never made a clean break with revisionism. Its differences with the Committee of Five must therefore be seen as a two-line struggle within the Neo-Revisionist Sub-Tendency.

The Guardian’s role in this struggle has been to attack empiricism and to uphold the need for theoretical development of Marxist-Leninists as a necessary first step toward their “fusion” with the working class. Its principal targets have been PSO and PWOC.

On February 23, 1977, at a time when the Draft Principles were circulating within the “trend”, PSO published an article in the Guardian’s “Radical Forum” which glorified local work and proposed to win over working class leaders and to “radicalize” a “critical mass of the working class” – all in the absence of a Program and a Party! Given such a fat target, the Guardian couldn’t miss.

“Comrades of the PSO”, it replied, “what can you possibly mean by the above? Do you think forming a communist party is the same as building a united front or a popular coalition? Trade union militants, no matter how ’seasoned in struggle’, are not Marxist-Leninists.... Revolutionary theory and strategy will not be worked out at the shop gate, on the assembly line, or in the union hall. These are the arenas of struggle to which the communists must come already armed with revolutionary theory....To speak of ’the radicalization of a critical mass of the working class’ or ’winning working-class leaders’ (and the PSO cannot even say to what these working-class leaders will be won) in the absence of a communist organization based on a firm set of political principles is to make a virtue of vagueness and good intentions. In practice, it glorifies spontaneity and liquidates the role of theory. (Guardian. March 2, 1977, p.21)

Naturally this attack drew a response from the Committee of Five’s heaviest artillery – PWOC. In an April 13, 1977 “Radical Forum” article, PWOC argued that the Guardian had posed a false contradiction between ”the tasks of fusing communism with the working-class movement and party-building”. How could such a contradiction exist, asked PWOC, when party-building and fusion were one and the same thing? Thus did PWOC echo the “simultaneous and equal tasks” line of the Revolutionary Workers League (RWL), one of the most dogmatic and sectarian groups in the recent history of the U.S. Anti-Revisionist Movement. In other words, PWOC fused the two key tasks together, negating their dialectical relation – i.e., the unity and struggle of the two tasks. The philosophical manifestation of this error was empiricism, while the practical consequence was PWOC’s attempt to build the vanguard out of the mass.

Not surprisingly, PWOC tried to use Lenin as a cover for its empiricism.

For as Lenin pointed out,” it said, “communists must ’unite the...working class movement and Marxist socialism...into one integral whole.... Only when this contact has been established can a (communist) working class party be formed.’ (PWOC quote of a Guardian article, “On Combatting Straw Men”, which appeared in the paper’s April 13, 1977 edition. The Guardian was quoting Lenin’s Collected Works. Vol.IV, p.325. PWOC’s emphasis.)

Wrenching quotes out of context is one of the unprincipled habits of opportunists, and PWOC was surely being unprincipled and opportunist in its misappropriation of Lenin. For when Lenin wrote the above words at the turn of the century, Russian workers had already been exposed to a long period of “legal” Marxism, intermediate workers were more advanced than most “advanced” U.S. workers today, the trade unions had been created and organized by communists, all the major Marxist political tendencies were operating within the Russian Social-Democratic Party, and the major form of opportunism that communists had to fight was a threat from the right–i.e., Economism. None of these conditions can be found in the U.S. today.

Though the Guardian did not fully expose PWOC’s unprincipled quoting, it attacked PWOC’s empiricism with a barrage of questions whose answers, we believe, are clear:

In essence, the PWOC argues that it is not only possible to develop ’a communist current in the working-class movement’ without having a party to do it, they say that it is essential to do it before you can form the party. But is such a ’development’ possible? Can a local Marxist-Leninist organization ’develop’ a ’communist current in the workers’ movement’? Can a national organization do it–unless it has a firm set of ideological principles based on the theoretical legacy of scientific socialism, a large enough core of cadre functioning within a single democratic-centralist organization, a definite strategic plan evolving out of unified practice and a common political program? In other words, doesn’t the very concept of a ’communist current’ imply the need for a party? (Guardian, May 4, 1977, p.21)

This criticism was a positive contribution. Missing from it, however, was any hint that the Guardian had grasped the “living soul of Marxism” – the concrete analysis of concrete conditions. From what, after all, does the Party Programme arise? “A firm set of ideological principles”? “The theoretical legacy of scientific socialism”? No, not these alone. It arises from the application of the proletariat’s stand, viewpoint and method to the concrete (objective and subjective) reality of the U.S. and the world today. Having failed to undertake such an analysis, the Guardian could only fall back on the “political line is key” crutch with which most dogmatists and some anti-dogmatists have limped along in recent years. And in this abject posture, the Guardian not only united with PWOC as a neo-revisionist force but as a sectarian force as well.

Where does one direct one’s gaze when one has not taken up the arduous analysis of conditions in one’s own country – when, in fact, one recoils from such an effort? One looks abroad, naturally. There one finds most of the spade-work already done, courtesy of Chairman Mao or Comrade Hoxha. Neither of those great revolutionaries ever studied the United States thoroughly, but they produced volumes on their own countries and on the forces contending in the global arena. Thus, for our dogmatist and “anti-dogmatist” lazy-bones alike, international questions have served as the principal (i.e., most convenient) lines of demarcation within the U.S. Anti-Revisionist Movement. This fixed stare abroad has survived every twist and turn of the American revolution for the past two decades, wedding the Guardian to its arch-enemy CPML like a pair of Siamese twins who despise each other.

It was not enough, then, for the Guardian to hold that Marxist-Leninists had forged all the ideological and theoretical unity they needed to make political line the current focus of their struggles. No, this “radical” organ went even further; it made international line the “key” to a correct political line.

In its June, 1977 party-building supplement, the Guardian stated:

Among the Marxist-Leninist forces who, over the past five years have played the leading role in the party-building process, class collaboration around the question of international line has emerged as the principal opportunist tendency to be opposed.

The Guardian further declared that anti-revisionists had divided into “two definite trends primarily as the result of the struggle around international line.” One “trend”, the Guardian’s, saw U.S. imperialism as the chief oppressor of the world’s people, the greatest enemy of national liberation movements, and the principal potential source of a new world war. The other “trend”, led by the CPML but also including dozens of other anti-revisionist groups, saw Soviet social-imperialism either as the main danger and greatest enemy worldwide or as the main danger and greatest enemy in certain regions. Therefore, said the Guardian, the latter “trend” was collaborating with U.S. imperialism.

One need not even be in agreement with CPML’s international line to see the metaphysics behind the Guardian’s stand. At every point, the Guardian tried to sever things or processes which co-existed in real life. It could only grapple with reality by halves. Thus, it severed any connection between its “two distinct trends” and the working class movement, as if Marxist-Leninists could gather inside a closet and invoke a trend by sheer force of will! Lenin, who knew better, said:

We can call a trend only a definite sum of political ideas which have become well-defined in regard to all the most important questions of the revolution...and the counter-revolution; ideas which, moreover, have proved their right to existence as a trend by being widely disseminated among broad strata of the working class.... To confuse a trend with minor groups means condemning oneself to intrigue in Party politics. (Lenin, Collected Works. Vol. XVII, p.271)

Lenin, whom circumstances made expert at fighting sectarianism and recognizing its roots, would have quickly spotted the Guardian’s isolation from the U.S. working class. Thus isolated, our “radical” organ was free to divorce its ideas from the only human force that could consolidate them into a trend. This breach with reality condemned the Guardian to intrigue in pre-party politics, just as it condemned PWOC and the Committee of Five to sectarianism in their drive to build a leading ideological center.

With the same rampant idealism, the Guardian also tried to sever imperialism from its material basis in monopoly capitalism. According to the Guardian, “the coming to power of revisionism in the Soviet Union has transformed the USSR into a social-imperialist superpower which practices hegemonism and national chauvinism in its relation to other countries.” But did Lenin teach us that hegemonism and national chauvinism had poked up like weeds from the rotten bed of revisionism? No! He explained why imperialism – the export of capital to, and the economic/political/military domination of, other countries – was the necessary and inevitable outgrowth of monopoly capitalism. The USSR cannot be social-imperialist on the one hand and merely “revisionist” on the other. To put the issue this way is to revive Kautsky1s dangerous view that imperialism is a matter of “policy” and, as such, it can be revoked through political pressure or persuasion. How much deeper into Africa’s Horn, Southern Africa and Western Asia may the Soviet Union penetrate before the Guardian sees these thrusts for what they are–part of a monopolistic attempt to redivide the world?

Finally, the Guardian tried to sever the connection between U.S. imperialism and the U.S. monopoly capitalist class. It did not do this forthrightly, as with the USSR, but in an indirect manner through its slighting of a concrete analysis of concrete conditions in the U.S. To put it another way, the Guardian failed to link its international line to the most essential tasks of party-building here at home. It chose instead to fight our big bourgeoisie primarily in the global arena, where the U.S. proletariat could not be directly rallied except in times of war. Rallying the U.S. proletariat around a revolutionary program has never been the Guardian’s forte. Nor is it the forte of any group, “wing” or “trend” that draws its battle-lines more firmly against U.S. imperialism abroad than against U.S. monopoly capitalism in our own country.

Here we can anticipate a stern lecture from the Guardian, PWOC and other neo-revisionists on our “betrayal” of proletarian internationalism. Our rebuttal is two-fold. First, we do not argue that international line will never again be the primary line of demarcation between Marxist-Leninists and opportunists? we merely state that it is not, and must not be construed to be, primary now. Secondly, we assert that the Guardian. PWOC and all others in the Neo-Revisionist Sub-Tendency do not know the true meaning of proletarian internationalism.

The proletariat is internationalist or it is nothing”, the Proletarian Unity League has pointed out. “But proletarian internationalism does not consist simply in cheering on the world revolution or issuing correct communiques on the international situation. It consists first and foremost in making revolution in one1s own country while doing the utmost possible for the development, support, and awakening of the revolution in all countries. (Guardian, Jan. 25, 1978)

Though the Guardian stood fast with the Committee of Five on international questions and continued to help plan for a national ideological center, our “radical” organ broke more and more sharply with the Committee of Five’s empiricism. This development, combined with the sectarianism inherent in its world outlook, led the Guardian down a divergent path toward creation of a vanguard party.

The newspaper’s June 1, 1977 special supplement, “On Building the New Communist Party”, briefly laid out a neo-revisionist analysis of the world situation, criticized all existing U.S. “communist” parties as politically bankrupt, implied that political line was the key link in party-building, and offered the party-building movement a set of 29 “firm ideological principles” which were, in reality, a hodgepodge of ideological, theoretical and mostly political statements. Among the supplement’s more notable assertions were: “The working class is the only revolutionary class in U.S. society”; “The principal contradiction in the U.S. is between the monopoly capitalist bourgeoisie and the multinational working class”; and “Communists see work in the trade unions as the primary arena for political struggle in the working-class movement”. All three assertions, especially the mind-boggling first one, supported the dogmatic, incorrect view that the American revolution involves only one stage. Twelve weeks later, the Guardian’s Irwin Silber was even more explicit with regard to this latter point.

In imperialist countries, he declared, “Marxist-Leninists say that there can only be one stage in the revolutionary process–the revolutionary struggle led by the working class to seize state power, establish the dictatorship of the proletariat and build a socialist society. (Guardian, August 24, 1977 p.17)

Having rooted this and its other discoveries in virtually no concrete investigations at all, the Guardian nonetheless offered Marxist-Leninists a “plan” which, according to the Guardian, “would make a substantial contribution to party-building forces.” The “plan” called for establishment of a national network of Guardian Clubs linked together by the 29 Principles and the prior existence of “a national political newspaper”. Needless to say, the Committee of Five did not celebrate.

B. The Anti-Sectarian Sub-Tendency

The Guardian’s critique of the Committee of Five came from within the Neo-Revisionist Sub-Tendency and was therefore quite limited. Far more hard-hitting and profound were criticisms levelled at the Committee of Five by groups outside that nucleus but very much within the U.S. Anti-Revisionist Movement’s Anti-Left Tendency.

One such group was the Proletarian Unity League (PUL). Though little was known of PUL’s practice prior to 1977, the collective had already distinguished itself by exposing the ultra-leftism behind OL’s call for a new communist party and the ultra-left tactics which several anti-revisionist groups had used during the Boston busing crisis. PUL had also written an important paper on dogmatism and sectarianism in the Fall of 1976.

Now, just as PWOC was willing a new Marxist-Leninist “trend into existence, PUL published one of the most detailed and well-researched polemics against ultra-leftism in the literature of the U.S. Anti-Revisionist Movement, a 260-page book entitled Two, Three, Many Parties Of A New Type? – Against The Ultra-Left Line. It appeared in mid-1977, but a first draft had been written in early 1975 and a second draft had been circulated in 1976.

Two, Three, Many... is too flawed to stand as a definitive critique of the ultra-left forces in our movement. Its early chapters are extremely pedantic. Those who survive this verbal flatulence will find PUL making serious theoretical errors when, like PWOC, it equates the formation of a party with “fusion”. More significantly, PUL asserts that the chief form of ultra-leftism to be combatted today is sectarianism, thereby locating the source of the disease in the organizational sphere rather than in bourgeois ideology and bourgeois distortions of Marxist-Leninist theory. Where the sickness, there the cure. Thus, PUL offers an organizationa1 remedy for our movement’s ultra-leftism. It proposes mainly that we “centralize” our ideological and political struggles, though at a higher level of unity and with less of a rush than PWOC and the Committee of Five. Rushed or not, the call for solutions which are primarily organizational or logistical at this time is a sign of petty-bourgeois impatience. That is to say, it is a left error.

However, none of the above criticisms negate the great value of Two, Three, Many... for our movement. We will quote from this book at length, not only to convey its insights into Left-Opportunism, but also to show just what kind of group and line the Committee of Five wishes to banish from its “trend”.

The multiplication of “Left-Wing Communist’ parties, the accelerated fragmentation of a broad section of the Marxist-Leninist movement, and the failure to make significant advances among the working class have driven home to increasing numbers of communists the need for an all-out struggle against the ultra-left trend. A new tendency is emerging in opposition to ’left’ sectarianism, adventurism, revolutionary phrase-mongering, and other ’left’ errors.... These and other forces recognize that in order to combat ’left’ opportunism, in order to keep it from wrecking still more organizations, as it did the BWC, PRRWO, RWL, and others (as well as important mass organizations, such as ALSC), we need to examine the ’left’ deviation in a serious way.... (p.7)

The prevailing trend in the communist movement –the parties, parties-to-be, and a large section of the organized forces–has seen Right opportunism, particularly Right opportunism in political line, as the chief obstacle preventing the completion of our tasks....But directing the spearhead of attack against right opportunism and concentrating the attack around political line have not led the communist forces forward in overcoming either their disorganization or their isolation from the working class. On the contrary, the campaign against right opportunism, and the focus on political line, have clearly increased the division of Marxist-Leninists and probably increased their isolation as well.... (pp.40-41)

The ’Left’ deviation expresses itself in an exaggeration of the revolutionary possibilities of the current situation. ’Left’ sectarianism towards the working class in turn flows from this adventurism. Impatient with the present level of fusion of Marxism-Leninism with the workers movement, the ’Lefts’ race ahead in the vain belief that their ’exemplary behavior’ will excite a widespread ’socialist emulation’ movement....In our own movement, the ’Lefts’ typically pass over the building up of the masses’ consciousness and organization in favor of calls for mass revolutionary action. These calls naturally fall on deaf ears. Like the Rights, the ’Lefts’ fail to reckon with the uneven development of class consciousness under capitalism, equating that of the most politically advanced elements with that of the broad masses, and further confusing their own resolves with that of the most advanced elements....Though they assume the guise of ’concentrating on the advanced’, these super-revolutionary formulas either repulse the advanced themselves, or when they do manage to rally a few workers, destroy those organic links to the masses which identify those workers as the advanced of a definite class. With their slogans and orientation, the ’Lefts’ fence themselves off in sectarian fashion from the proletarian vanguard. (pp.50-51)

Owing principally to the ultra-left assumptions impeding their work, the parties and parties-to-be have not assimilated historical materialism and dialectical materialism in a thorough-going way, nor have they developed historical materialism in order to take account of our specific conditions. (p.40)

We have no program founded on a scientific analysis nor even simply an accurate descriptive one, of present U.S. conditions, and consequently, no overall guide to communist work. The few programs issued by the declared parties merely consolidate the sketchy analyses of their organized predecessors .... (p.29)

’Left-wing’ communists have...little use for the concept of the non-monopoly bourgeoisie.... This leads them to merge the non-monopoly bourgeoisie with the monopoly bourgeoisie.... The ahistorical and undialectical notion of a monolithic bourgeoisie denies the scientific basis for utilizing contradictions among the enemy....’Left’ analyses of capitalist social formations generally recognize only one, all-embracing contradiction, that between wage-labor and capital, besides which all other contradictions, economic and political, pale into insignificance.... (pg.148-149)

As regards bourgeois democracy, metaphysical dogmatism reasons as follows: the proletariat seeks to overthrow bourgeois dictatorship and establish its own dictatorship. Under bourgeois dictatorship, we have bourgeois democracy; under proletarian dictatorship, proletarian democracy. Therefore we oppose bourgeois democracy. In a relative sense, this is true. We oppose democracy for the bourgeoisie and dictatorship over the masses. But metaphysical dogmatists, like the WVO, raise this relative truth to an absolute. They therefore reject the truth that in capitalist society, the proletariat cannot help but march side by side with bourgeois democracy in certain situations. They spurn the necessity to fight for the most consistent democracy even under bourgeois rule, to extend and defend the bourgeois democratic rights which the masses possess against the bourgeoisie’s perpetual attempts to limit those rights, to take them back, to reduce them to nothing....Metaphysical dogmatists...cannot see how we can both march side by side with bourgeois democracy and prepare to overthrow it; more –how we march side by side with bourgeois democracy in order to overthrow it. (p.184)

From the foregoing, it can be seen that PUL offered our movement a far more useful analysis of ultra-leftism than anything put before us by the Committee of Five. Armed with the lessons of their protracted theoretical study, PUL thus began to criticize the growing sectarianism in the Committee of Five’s work during the Winter, Spring and Summer of 1977.

Three issues were under dispute – the Committee of Five’s view of the Anti-Left Tendency as a consolidated “trend; the Committee of Five’s designation of “modern dogmatism” as the movement’s main internal danger; and the Committee of Five’s elevation of a particular international line to a major line of demarcation within the U.S. Anti-Revisionist Movement.

On the first issue, PUL took strong exception to PWOC’s boast that “the anti-dogmatist trend” had crossed its “threshold of maturity”. This vain pretense was dealt with earlier in this article. If the “trend” had indeed matured, it was in mimicry of that forlorn youth who, according to Ripley’s “Believe-It-Or-Not”, became a wizened old man at the age of 10 or so without the consolation of also becoming wise. Wise and wizened are not the same thing!

Regarding the second issue, PUL disagreed with the Committee of Five’s view that the movement’s main internal danger was ”modern dogmatism”. Whether modern or old, said PUL, dogmatism is a philosophical error that accompanies both right and left deviations, and as such it cannot identify the main obstacle to our work. What, then, is the movement’s main internal danger? PUL’s answer is given in Two, Three, Many...:

The inflated estimate of the communist movement’s own importance, the completely subjective picture of a working class ready for the revolutionary offensive, the adventurist tactics and raging phrase-mongering all stem in the final analysis from an anarchistic exaggeration of the role of the conscious element. From anarcho-syndicalism too springs the sectarian intransigence towards almost every non-communist organization in the national movements, towards the women’s movement generally, towards all trade union officials, towards any alliance, however temporary, with petit-bourgeois democratic trends, and finally towards other communist organizations. (p.177)

Here, however, PUL had wandered far off the mark. For while it was true that the U.S. Anti-Revisionist Movement’s ultra-left forces brought semi-anarchistic and sectarian outlooks to all their struggles–outlooks stemming from their petty-bourgeois intelligentsia class origins – such outlooks could have survived to the present day only if they had been rooted in a more profound philosophical error. And without question, the philosophical error characteristic of all the ultra-left sects was and is dogmatism – the failure to analyze concrete conditions thoroughly and concretely.

To put it another way:

Our dogmatists are lazy-bones. They refuse to undertake any painstaking study of concrete things, they regard general truths as emerging out of the void, they turn them into abstract unfathomable formulas, and thereby completely deny and reverse the normal sequence by which man comes to know truth. Nor do they understand the interconnection of the two processes in cognition–from the particular to the general and then from the general to the particular. They understand nothing of the Marxist theory of knowledge. (Mao Tsetung “On Contradiction” (Selected Readings, pp.97-98)

Regarding the above, many in the Anti-Left Tendency hold the shallow view that dogmatism is a fetish for book learning or wrenching “odd quotes” out of context from the works of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin and Mao Tsetung. However, Mao’s criticism of dogmatism went much deeper. It exposed the dogmatists’ bourgeois methodology, their one-sidedness, their neglect of the particularity of contradiction, their failure to undertake serious research and creative theoretical work, etc. Without question, then, Mao’s criticism also applies to our contemporary American dogmatists. It lays bare the root of their dreaming, their voluntarism, their sectarianism and their anarchistic exaggeration of the role of the conscious element.

Finally, PUL criticized the Committee of Five’s attempt to raise a particular international line (U.S. imperialism as the main enemy throughout the world) into the principal line of demarcation for the Anti-Left Tendency. Not even the Guardian, said PUL, insisted that the U.S. was the main enemy of Eastern Europe.

Deepening its criticism, PUL noted PWOC’s claim in The Organizer that capitalism had not returned to the Soviet Union in any significant degree. Therefore, claimed PWOC, the Soviets did not need to wage war or return to capitalist relations of production. But what was the theoretical basis for this claim? According to PUL, PWOC uncritically embraced the revisionist argument that socialism could “leave” a country only by the same route that it entered – i.e., by way of a violent revolution. Not only did PWOC*s thesis defy dialectics and negate the transitional nature of socialism, it also ignored the profound lessons of the capitalist restoration in Russia and the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in China. Socialism, as both the Russian and Chinese experiences clearly demonstrate, is a protracted and tumultuous stage. Depending on the masses’ level of consciousness and the extent and character of the party’s relations with the masses, something less than an all-out violent revolution may suffice to install revisionists in power and thus lay the basis for the eventual restoration of capitalist relations of production.

But, in a sense, PUL’s argument went so deep that it missed its primary target. For none of the adversaries in this debate had proved that the question of Soviet social-imperialism was a major litmus test at the present juncture. In reality, all the Committee had done was dogmatically assert that international line in general, and a neo-revisionist international line in particular, separated genuine Marxist-Leninists from sham.

This assertion should have been PUL’s main focus of attack, but PUL only dealt with it in passing. Fortunately, however, other groups within the Anti-Sectarian Sub-Tendency took up the challenge. Two who did so most forcefully were the Boston Party-building Organization (BPO) and the Communist Unity Organization (CUO), but they were not alone. In essence, BPO and CUO both argued that a particular international line on Soviet social imperialism ought not to be a “splitting” issue within the anti-left tendency at the present time. An “incorrect” line on the issue would not necessarily raise a barrier against the tendency’s most vital work. In other words, to elevate the matter of international line to the level of a splitting issue at this time would drive a wedge between groups who could otherwise unite on the tendency’s main tasks, including the creation of a national ideological center.

The Committee of Five ignored nearly all of these criticisms from PUL, BPO, CUO and other anti-sectarian groups. Ironically, the one criticism that left its mark on the Committee of Five was PUL’s incorrect argument that dogmatism did not lie at the heart of the U.S. Anti-Revisionist Movement’s ultra-left errors. Accordingly, the Committee of Five redrafted Point 15 at a Trend Conference Planning Committee Meeting in August, 1977. The 15th Point’s new formulation identified “left” opportunism, not dogmatism, as the main danger to the U.S. Anti-Revisionist Movement. It was an unfortunate step backwards!

C. The Anti-Dogmatist Sub-Tendency

Just as the Neo-Revisionist and Anti-Sectarian Sub-Tendencies arose in opposition to Left-Opportunism, so too did the Sub-Tendency which identifies dogmatism as the root cause of the U.S. Anti-Revisionist Movement’s currently scattered, disunited, isolated state. However, contrary to the forces in the other sub-tendencies, those comprising the Anti-Dogmatist Sub-Tendency refused to rest content with simplistic, superficial explanations for the movement’s currently chaotic state–namely, that the movement’s problems were the result of a wrong line on the international situation (the Neo-Revisionist Sub-Tendency) or the result of sectarianism (the Anti-Sectarian Sub-Tendency).

From the beginning, in other words, those now part of the Anti-Dogmatist Sub-Tendency were acutely aware of the fact that incorrect political lines and organizational sectarianism (as well as strategical and tactical errors) have a philosophical root. Therefore, what had to be done was 1) identify the philosophical deviation at the root of the movement’s problems and 2) initiate the process of overcoming that root, which, in turn, would lay the basis for overcoming the problems.

Initially, what united those who are now part of the Anti-Dogmatist Sub-Tendency was the belief that the U.S. Anti-Revisionist Movement’s principal malady was one-sided thinking – i.e., the absolutization of theory to the virtual exclusion of practice, and visa versa. CLP1s “cadre development”, RCP’s “single spark theory”, CP(M-L)’s “Fight Back”, Workers Viewpoint Organization’s “Anti-Revisionists Premises”, Workers Congress’s “Iskra Plan”, the line of innumerable groups that “the proletariat is the only revolutionary class in American society and therefore is without allies”, etc., etc., – all are practical manifestations of onesided thinking. This realization led to an investigation of one-sided thinking’s philosophical manifestations. This investigation revealed the following:

To be one-sided and superficial is at the same time to be subjective. For all objective things are actually interconnected and are governed by inner laws, but, instead of undertaking the task of reflecting things as they really are, some people only look at things one-sidely or superficially and know neither their interconnections nor their inner laws, and so their method is subjectivist. (Mao Tsetung “On Contradiction” Selected Readings, p.102)

Having determined that to be one-sided is to be subjective, it then became the task to learn the forms in which subjectivism can manifest itself.

There are two kinds of incomplete knowledge, one is ready-made knowledge found in books and the other is knowledge that is mostly perceptual and partial; both are one-sided. Only an integration of the two can yield knowledge that is sound and relatively complete....

T It follows that to combat subjectivism... those with book learning must develop in the direction of practice; it is only in this way that they will stop being content with books and avoid committing dogmatist errors. Those experienced in work must take up the study of theory and must read seriously; only then will they be able to systematize and synthesize their experience and raise it to the level of theory, only then will they not mistake their partial experience for universal truth and not commit empiricist errors. Dogmatism and empiricism alike are subjectivism, each originating from an opposite pole. (Ibid., pp.216-217 Our emphasis)

The following question then arose: Which of the two forms of subjectivism, dogmatism or empiricism, was the principal reason for the chaotic state of the U.S. Anti-Revisionist Movement? Prior to 1976, that is, prior to the emergence of the Anti-Left Tendency, the U.S. Anti-Revisionist Movement undoubtedly was guilty of both errors. However, the principal error, the one primarily responsible for the movement’s chaotic state, was dogmatism – in the particular case being dealt with here, manifesting itself in the form of abstract study of abstract theory divorced from both the concrete analysis of concrete American conditions and concrete practice in the American revolution. (Ironically, and undoubtedly partially as a result of overreacting to the movement’s pronounced dogmatism, the principal error of at least some of the forces in both the Anti-Sectarian and Neo-Revisionist Sub-Tendencies is empiricism.)

Further study revealed that “sectarianism is an expression of subjectivism in organizational relations.” (Mao Tsetung “Rectify The Party’s Style Of Work”, Ibid., p.224) This understanding allowed the fledgling Anti-Dogmatist Sub-Tendency to quickly recognize PUL’s and the remainder of the Anti-Sectarian Sub-Tendency’s principal error – i.e., the error of blaming an effect (sectarianism) for that effect’s cause (subjectivism, in this case manifesting itself in the form of dogmatism).

But if nearly the entire movement was dogmatic in the philosophical sphere and, as a result of that dogmatism, sectarianism reigned in the organizational sphere, surely there must also have been a political manifestation of that dogmatism common to nearly the entire movement. Indeed there was – the movement’s nearly universal belief that the socialist revolution in the U.S consists of one stage. Subsequent study having revealed the existence of no theoretical or practical bases for that line, some future members of the Anti-Dogmatist Sub-Tendency thus drew the following conclusion: the one-stage revolution line is the U.S. Anti-Revisionist Movement’s most grievous political error.

In other words, the overwhelming majority of contemporary Marxist-Leninists incorrectly cling to the belief that socialist revolutions in advanced capitalist countries consist of one stage. But the fact of the matter is that socialist revolutions have only occurred in either developing capitalist or feudal or semi-feudal countries and, without exception, have always involved two stages (i.e., the democratic and socialist stages). Conversely, a socialist revolution – one stage or otherwise – has yet to occur in any advanced capitalist country. Therefore, the proposition that the transformation to socialism in advanced capitalist countries is a one-stage revolution has no material basis. In other words, socialist revolutions in advanced capitalist countries are two-stage revolutions. (People’s Democracy Vol.1, No.2 p.59)

And so, the Anti-Dogmatist Sub-Tendency emerged on the basis of the following general understanding: “Contrary to popular opinion, which holds that Right Opportunism is the main danger confronting the U.S. Anti-Revisionist Movement, the main reason for the U.S. Anti-Revisionist Movement’s scattered, disunited, isolated state is Left Opportunism, manifesting itself philosophically in the form of dogmatism, organizationally in the form of sectarianism and politically in the form of the line of one-stage revolution.” (People’s Democracy Vol.1, No. l p.4)


After the first Draft Principles were circulated in the Winter of 1977, the Committee of Five moved to consolidate its status as a genuine “trend”. This development culminated with the holding of a Conference in February, 1978.

In addition to setting up an Organizing Committee for an Ideological Center and agreeing on related organizational tasks, the conferees adopted the 18 Points of Unity as amended at the August, 1977 planning committee meeting. Additional debate on the 18 Points was ruled out, but the conferees did pull back from the Committee of Five’s extreme sectarianism in one respect. While they continued to uphold the substance of Point 18 (the Point identifying U.S. imperialism as the main enemy of the world’s people), they agreed to go on working with any group that merely opposed the use of that and other points as lines of demarcation within the “trend”. This more flexible view of the 18 Points still serves to exclude the Anti-Dogmatist Sub-Tendency and such Anti-Sectarian groups as PUL, who criticize the substance of the line that U.S. imperialism is everywhere the main enemy. The status of BPO, CUO and a number of other groups remains to be seen.[1]

Here it becomes appropriate to comment on the more notable of the 18 Points.

1) “...Only socialism can provide the context to build a society free from exploitation, racism, sexism, oppression, and war.

This Point incorporates an unexamined assumption – namely, that the American revolution involves but one stage. No detailed evidence based on a comprehensive investigation of conditions in the U.S. and the world has ever been given our movement by any group, whether of the ultra-left trend or the anti-left tendency, to justify this assumption. It is pure dogma. Moreover, it is dogma of a very fundamental sort, a dogma which does not come from books. In other words, there is nothing to support the one-stage line in the classics of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tse-tung Thought. In fact, as made clear in Vol.1, No.2 of People’s Democracy, the classics indicate the exact opposite. Thus, in its very first Point of Unity, the “trend” epitomizes the essence of dogmatism – the failure to analyze concrete conditions through the scientific method provided by Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought.

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

Here, sloppiness in writing is a virtue! The “trend” has inadvertently (and crudely) given us a scenario for a two-stage revolution: the proletariat leads several other classes and strata against monopoly capital, establishes a revolutionary-democratic dictatorship of the people, consolidates its victory by destroying monopoly capital and then, in the second stage, attacking all remaining capital, establishing the dictatorship of the proletariat, building socialism, and eventually abolishing all classes. Needless to say, the “trend” will advise us that this is not what it meant, so we applaud it in advance for saying what it did not mean.

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

The truth of this Point is quite often strained to the breaking point by U.S. Anti-Revisionist groups of both the ultra-left trend and anti-left tendency. The proletariat is our most socialized and disciplined class, and these qualities do arise from its work in large-scale, highly integrated production. That is incontestable. But, in the U.S., the proletariat’s socialization is weakened by such diverse factors as isolated work stations, divisive work rules, noise, national and sexual chauvinism, etc., while its level of discipline does not spontaneously rise above that of trade-union discipline.

Many ultra-left and anti-left groups verbally recognize this fact. But verbally recognizing a fact is not the same as making one’s practice accommodate that fact. Thus, among the main body of ultra-lefts, we find the delusion that the proletariat already possesses sufficient class consciousness and organization to launch the final armed assault on capital. On the other hand, among those anti-lefts who have succumbed to empiricism, we find a great urge to rub shoulders with the proletariat, to absorb its sweat and discipline and yes, even its programmatic insights – but for no other purpose than furthering the daily economic struggle.

Of course, the leading sector of the working class, the proletariat, will not actually lead until it embraces the kind of discipline (democratic-centralism) which does not arise spontaneously from its own ranks. This discipline must be brought to the proletariat from without, by the same forces that will have already brought it the necessary ideological and political training. Thus, a more scientific formulation of Point 5 would be: “The leading section of the working class, owing to its socialization and discipline which grow out of the material conditions of large scale capitalist production, and which in turn make possible the attainment of a higher, revolutionary discipline, is the industrial proletariat.”

6) “Along with the economic base of our society, monopoly capitalism, there exists a superstructure which advances corresponding politics and ideology. This manifests itself in various forms and institutions such as culture, education, and government. Taken as a whole, the legislative, judicial and executive branches, together with their subordinate bureaucracy and military, make up the capitalist state. It is through this state apparatus that the monopoly capitalists exercise their dictatorship....

Though recognizing the existence of the superstructure’s ideological, political and military branches, this is a very abstract and superficial view of U.S. monopoly capitalism’s superstructure. For the class rule of monopoly capital has two related aspects–coercion and persuasion. But missing in the above Point is any indication of the relative roles played by coercion and persuasion in maintaining the rule of monopoly capitalism in the U.S. In other words, of the two related aspects, persuasion plays the primary role in propping up the U.S. monopoly capitalist class today, while coercion plays the secondary role. It is mainly by spreading bourgeois-democratic illusions, (national and sexual) chauvinism and anti-communism among the masses that U.S. monopoly capitalism forestalls its overthrow. Because of this ideological warfare, which is carried out by the mass media, schools, churches, political campaigns, etc., on a continuous basis, the superstructure now shapes the social consciousness of workers much more decisively than the economic base. This fact is not grasped by the vulgar materialists of either the ultra-left trend or the anti-left tendency.

8) “The working class cannot accomplish its mission without the leadership of a revolutionary vanguard party. This party...must draw together all the most advanced fighters from the movements of the working class and the oppressed nationalities and unite them in a single, tightly-organized political organization.

Here, our neo-revisionists have taken a sectarian stance toward most allies of the proletariat. That is, even if the American revolution consisted of only one stage, the U.S. proletariat would have to unite with more than just the most advanced fighters from the oppressed nationalities. And in the first stage of a two stage revolution, the proletariat would have to seek unity on an even broader basis. For example, small family farmers are at least conditional, temporary allies of the U.S. proletariat and the most advanced fighters among them should be united with. So should the most advanced fighters from all other friendly sectors.

12) “Multinational unity is impossible without a thoroughgoing struggle against national divisions in the working class. Any unity between oppressed nationalities and white workers which is not based on a principled struggle against every manifestation of racism is fictitious unity.

The “trend” has not made an open case for Point 12, but undoubtedly it is based on PWOC’s infamous liquidation of the right of self-determination for Afro-Americans. Having decided that the historically constituted Black Nation in the Black Belt South no longer exists, PWOC dogmatically assumes there is no basis for granting Afro-Americans the right of self-determination up to and including secession within a reconstituted territory. Our neo-revisionists thus reduce the Black National Question to a fight against racism and for democratic rights. Unintentional though it may be, this is the epitome of national chauvinism!

15) “While in the long run the main opportunist danger to the developing Marxist-Leninist forces is presented by modern revisionism as manifested in the CPUSA, in the present period, within the forces struggling to build a new revolutionary party, the main danger takes the form of ’left’ opportunism....

As mentioned above, this formulation represents a major step backwards. By stating the main danger as a diffuse “left opportunism” instead of dogmatism, Point 15 covers up the root of most errors made by the ultra-left groups in the U.S. Anti-Revisionist Movement.

Having already exposed the problem, we now propose the solution.

During the present phase of the Third Period, Point 15 should be our movement’s fulcrum. That is, it should be the point around which the struggle against the backwardness and errors of the past 21 years turns or, to put it another way, should be the Anti-Left Tendency’s principal line of demarcation at the present time.

18) “In the present context, the practice of proletarian internationalism is impossible without correctly identifying the main enemy of the world’s people. By main enemy, Marxist-Leninists understand the main obstacle to the consolidation of national liberation, democracy, peace and socialism. Today that main enemy is U.S. imperialism.

In other words, the “trend” wishes to have two fulcra, not one; two means of excommunication, not one. Mechanistically, it tries to give equal weight to each, but this tour de force cannot last. With the “trend’s” neo-revisionism clearly stronger than its opposition to left opportunism, Point 15 will inevitably be sacrificed to Point 18!


The Anti-Left Tendency has emerged through an initially scattered, increasingly coherent struggle against the U.S. Anti-Revisionist Movement’s principal ultra-left groupings. For the most part, the differences between the various ultra-left sects and the independent collectives and unaffiliated individuals who make up the Anti-Left Tendency have not deepened into antagonism They are still “contradictions among the people”.

As these contradictions intensify, however, a struggle with in the arising Anti-Left Tendency is intensifying just as fast. It is the clash between those who would unite the broadest and most principled array of forces against the ultra-lefts and those who would weaken this effort by holding it hostage to false principles of “unity”, mainly on international line. The Anti-Dogmatist Sub-Tendency is very much a part of the former grouping, while PUL, BPO, CUO and other Anti-Sectarian forces seem to work within it as well. The leading representatives of the latter grouping are the Guardian and PWOC.

We have identified the latter grouping as the Neo-Revisionist Sub-Tendency because of its consistent apologizing for Soviet social-imperialism. Grave as this error is, however, it does not by itself point to the neo-revisionists’ key deviations In order to recognize these deviations, let us briefly review what we have learned about the Guardian and PWOC.

The Guardian and PWOC differ on the issue of fusion versus uniting Marxist-Leninists, the Guardian generally viewing the latter as primary and PWOC viewing the two as simultaneous, equal tasks and even as one and the same task.

The Guardian and PWOC in reality both hold that international line is the key line of demarcation within the U.S. Anti-Revisionist Movement.

The Guardian and PWOC both identify U.S. imperialism as the main enemy of the world’s people.

The Guardian and PWOC both fail to concretely link their key line of demarcation (U.S. imperialism as the main enemy) to the central and most immediate tasks of party-building here at home.

The Guardian and PWOC both believe they embody the most advanced motion of a genuine Marxist-Leninist “trend”, even though they do not pretend that a large section of the working class has rallied around said “trend”.

The Guardian sees the proletariat as the U.S.’s only revolutionary class, while PWOC implies that the only revolutionary forces in the U.S. are the working class and the oppressed “national minorities”.

The Guardian severs Soviet social-imperialism from its only possible material basis, Soviet state monopoly capitalism.

PWOC behaves as if the vanguard is built from the mass and the Party Programme arises from the workers movement.

PWOC draws no distinction in urgency and weight between Points 15 and 18 as lines of demarcation within the Anti-Left Tendency.

PWOC identifies “left opportunism” as the main internal danger to the U.S. Anti-Revisionist Movement, thereby giving equal weight and urgency to Left Opportunism’s philosophical, political and organizational manifestations.

And so on. What are we to make of this litany? Is it not riddled with dogmatism, and here and there with empiricism – that is to say, with a subjective way of looking at life? And does not this subjectivism betray a pronounced failure of method? On the one hand, the Guardian and PWOC both see no connections at all! A “trend” floats through the ether all by itself, far from the masses who can give it life. Proletarian internationalism has nothing to do with proletarian revolution in the U.S. On the other hand, PWOC also sees the lifeless connection of equal things. Point 15 = Point 18. Dogmatism = sectarianism = left opportunism. Our neo-revisionists are both metaphysicians and vulgar materialists!

We have identified the second major anti-left force as the Anti-Sectarian Sub-Tendency principally because it opposes the splittism of the Guardian and PWOC. Important as this has been, however, it does not represent the sum total of the contributions made by PUL, BPO, CUO and other Anti-Sectarian groups. They have generally–though somewhat inconsistently–upheld dialectical materialism in their differences with the neo-revisionists. They have shown–and this is especially true of PUL– an ability to carry out fresh investigations and to study things concretely. However, they cling to the belief that sectarianism is the principal cause of the movement’s problems, when in fact sectarianism is but the manifestation of the principal cause (dogmatism) in the realm of organizational relations.

Finally, we have identified the third major anti-left force as the Anti-Dogmatist Sub-Tendency because it believes dogmatism to be at the root of the U.S. Anti-Revisionist Movement’s currently scattered, disunited, isolated state. Anti-Dogmatists further believe the movement’s most grievous political error to be the line of one-stage revolution. However, in the present phase of this Third Period, the Period of Theory and Line, the task at hand is the assimilation of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought’s basic laws and principles. Thus, the key task in the chain of tasks currently confronting the movement is that of uniting as many forces as possible in opposition to the movement’s principal philosophical deviation–dogmatism.

In the Third Period’s second phase, during which MLMTT’s basic laws and principles are applied to the U.S.’s concrete and peculiar conditions, as well as in the Third Period’s third and fourth phases, during which the Programme and strategy for the given stages of the American revolution are elaborated, the key task will become that of winning the maximum number of the forces previously united in the battle against dogmatism to the line of two-stage revolution. The Anti-Dogmatist Sub-Tendency is of the belief that most members and supporters of the other Anti-Left Sub-Tendencies, most unaffiliated individuals, most newer forces coming into the movement and, yes, even most members and supporters of the “parties” and pre-party groups in the Ultra-Left Trend, will eventually be won to the struggle against dogmatism and will eventually embrace the line of two-stage revolution.

Of course, uniting forces for the struggle against dogmatism will be relatively easy compared to the difficulties surely to be encountered in the process of winning forces to the line of two-stage revolution. This is so because the destructive nature of dogmatism is already widely known, whereas the line of one-stage revolution is nearly universally accepted as gospel. But since the one-stage line has survived largely because it has not been examined, Anti-Dogmatists believe widespread examination of that line will lead to its eventual repudiation. In other words, the one-stage revolution line will surely be replaced as the U.S. revolutionary movement’s general line by the line of two-stage revolution.


[1] It should be noted that other groups may withdraw from the “trend” because these groups believe the “trend” has failed to achieve a high enough level of unity and theoretical development to be a leading ideological center – which is exactly what the “trend” proposes to become. El Comite has already withdrawn for this reason.