Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Tucson Marxist-Leninist Collective

On Party Building


Issued: October 1976.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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The building of a new revolutionary communist party is the central task of the anti-revisionist communist movement, in the U.S. This communist party, which will be the vanguard of the proletariat, will lead the socialist revolution which win culminate in the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat which will guide the socialist transitional period to communism. The new revolutionary communist party will be composed of those with communist class consciousness from the working class and the movements of the oppressed .nationalities and women, and those communist intellectuals from the bourgeois intelligentsia. This communist party will adhere to democratic-centralism, be based in the working class through factory nuclei, and will be guided by the science of Marxism-Leninism. The working class needs an organized, disciplined revolutionary communist party to realize its historical class interests because the working class on its own can only spontaneously produce trade unionism, a specific bourgeois ideology and a trade union-type of organization. The communist party develops and injects the science of Marxism-Leninism into the spontaneous, ideological movement of the working class. The science of Marxism-Leninism which is brought to the working class by the communist party will make the unconscious working class, that is a “class-in-itself”, into a class conscious of its historical role, that is a “class-for-itself”.

Therefore, the primary task of the communist party is to develop Marxist-Leninist theory, and then concretize this Marxist-Leninist theory into Marxist Leninist ideology which workers will be able to grasp through communist propaganda and agitation. The development of Marxist-Leninist theory occurs outside the spontaneous, ideological movement of the workers. Lenin explained in WHAT IS TO BE DONE?, “There could not have been social-democratic [i.e. communist–TMLC] consciousness among the workers. It would have to be brought to them from without.” In order for the communist party to be able to provide correct leadership to the working class, it must on the basis of trained communist cadre become a unity of scientific theoretical, ideological, political, economic, and organizational practices. Of these distinct, but interrelated practices, theoretical practice is the determinate practice on which the correctness of the other practices are dependent. As Lenin wrote, “Without a revolutionary theory, there can be no revolutionary movement.”

Theoretical practice is the actual production of theory within the party and its dissemination outside the party. The production of Marxist-Leninist theory is an ongoing process, which extends into many areas or disciplines, and results in the concrete analysis of a concrete situation. Marxist-Leninist theory is not just the grasping of the principles of Marxism-Leninism, such as the dictatorship of the proletariat, and “political line” as the dogmatists of the anti-revisionist communist movement would have it. Marxism-Leninism is a “living” science, not a dead dogma, which is still developing and can only be advanced and applied through the scientific theoretical practice of a communist party.

The ideological practice of the communist party is its production of Marxist-Leninist ideology and its advancement of this ideology in an ideological struggle against the bourgeois ideology which dominates the consciousness of the masses. Marxist-Leninist ideology is the formulation of ilarxist-Leninist theory into the popular language of the masses which will precipitate an ideological struggle resulting from the contradictions with the masses’ consciousness.

The political practice of the communist party is the mobilization of the working class to destroy the bourgeois state and construct a workers state through a proletarian revolution which will transform the social relations of society. The economic practice of the communist party is its intervention into the working class’s production and struggles in order to change these struggles from simple trade union or economic struggles to communist struggles. The organizational practice of the communist party is democratic-centralism which is a dialectical unity of democracy and centralism and is necessary for the full development of communist cadres and the party’s practices.

A new revolutionary communist party must be built in the U.S. because the Communist Party U.S.A. (CPUSA) is a thoroughly opportunist and revisionist organization based on bureaucratic-centralism. The CPUSA has been a fully revisionist organization since 1944 when it was dissolved into the Communist Political Association (CPA) by the revisionist Earl Browder which was the result of the CPUSA’s incorrect application of the Comintern’s United Front strategy in that period, the general underdevelopment of Marxist-Leninist theory in the U.S. and specifically Browderite revisionism.

Since the degeneration of the CPUSA, there have been numerous unsuccessful attempts at building a new communist party. The first major attempt was that of the Provisional Organizing Committee (POC) which split off from the CPUSA in 1958, but which quickly degenerated into a small sect which proclaimed itself the American Workers Communist Party (AWCP) in 1968. The second major attempt was that of the Progressive Labor Movement (PLM) in 1962, which proclaimed itself the Progressive Labor Party (PLP) in 1965, and later degenerated into an ultraleft sect. Another major attempt was that of the Communist League (CL), whose leadership was expelled from the POC by 1968, which proclaimed itself the Communist Labor Party (CLP) in 1974, and degenerated into opportunism and revisionism. The latest major attempt was that of the Revolutionary Union (RU), which emerged from SDS in 1969, and proclaimed itself the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP) in 1975 after it had degenerated into a dogmatic, sectarian, and white chauvinist sect. These attempts, and many others, have failed to build a new communist party because the leading organizations did not develop correct Marxist-Leninist theory, they did not correctly apply Marxist-Leninist theory to the concrete conditions of the U.S., they did not develop the communist cadre necessary for the carrying out of the tasks of their organizations, and they did not have a correct understanding of the relationship between propaganda and agitation in a pre-party period so they were unable to win the advanced to communism.

Even in spite of the failure of these attempts to build a new communist party, the anti-revisionist communist movement in the last few years has grown in size, influence, number of organizations, and has been drawing the lines of demarcation on the important questions facing the communist movement. But corresponding with these developments, the anti-revisionist communist movement for the most part is still isolated from the working class, undeveloped theoretically and politically, and is becoming increasingly fragmented as dogmatism and sectarianism have become the main forms of opportunism within the communist movement. Dogmatism and sectarianism, which result from theoretical deviations from Marxism-Leninism, are especially dominant on the Black national question and the international situation. On the question of party building, there is a left-form of dogmatism represented by the “revolutionary wing”, now only composed of PRRWO and RWL, which sees party building as the only task and engages in only abstract, ultraleft propaganda. The right-form of dogmatism on the question of party building is represented by such forces as the RCP, which advocated building the United Front Against Imperialism as the way of building the party, and the October League (OL), which belittles the importance of theory and objectively builds the mass movement as the way of building the communist movement.

In addition to dogmatism and sectarianism, there are other forms of opportunism in the anti-revisionist communist movement such as white chauvinism, narrow nationalism, male supremacy, economism, revisionism, pragmatism, empiricism, and many other forms of opportunism, but dogmatism and sectarianism remain the dominant and most dangerous forms at this time. These various forms of opportunism are just variants of bourgeois ideology within Marxism-Leninism which have to be consciously struggled against. As Lenin wrote in IMPERIALISM, “The fight against imperialism is a sham and humbug unless it is inseparably bound up with the fight against opportunism.”

The TMLC views party building as the central task of the anti-revisionist communist movement, but realizes that in this period the necessary conditions for the actual organizational formation of the party do not exist. The central task in this pre-party period is to struggle to achieve theoretical and political unity within the genuine communist trend, to win the advanced workers to communism through Marxist-Leninist ideology which is done by communist propaganda primarily and communist agitation secondarily. On the question of the relationship between propaganda and agitation during this period, the TMLC sees concrete, communist propaganda as the chief, but not only, form of activity, but realizes that propaganda can only be carried out in mass movements and must be aided by agitation. But the communist movement must be clear that there is a qualitative difference between the communist movement and the spontaneous mass movement, and that in this pre-party period our primary task is to build the communist movement. This does not mean that the communist movement is built in complete isolation from the mass movement, but that we engage in the mass movement to win the advanced to communism and to build the party.

To accomplish these tasks, the development of Marxist-Leninist theory, the forging of unity within the communist movement, and the winning of the advanced to communism, the development of a national Iskra-type newspaper and a national theoretical journal is a necessary and important step which would also combat the tendency towards dogmatism and sectarianism, raise the general level of Marxist-Leninist theory, and provide the basis for the development of a party program and strategy for proletarian revolution in the U.S. The primary aspect of the Iskra-type newspaper would be propaganda whereas the primary aspect of the theoretical journal would be the development of Marxist-Leninist theory and unity within the communist movement. These journals and their distribution would be organized and led by a national organizing committee which would be formed by the genuine communist trend within the anti-revisionist communist movement, that is those organizations which are struggling against both revisionism and dogmatism. The development of a propaganda newspaper and a theoretical journal would not in themselves create the necessary communist unity to form a party, but would provide a basis from which the struggle could be waged against all forms of opportunism.

There must also be a conscious struggle against the dogmatism and sectarianism which has led to much unprincipled struggle between anti-revisionist communist organizations. As a basis for the relationships and for principled struggles between communist organizations;, the TMLC proposes the following principles: 1) the principle of Unity-Struggle-Unity, which recognizes that we engage in struggle only to build a stronger unity with which to struggle against the bourgeoisie, 2) the principle of equality between communist organizations, 3) the principle of criticism and self-criticism which is of the utmost importance for communists in order to resolve the contradictions between them, and 4) the principle of independence, which establishes the importance of independent organizations in the pre-party period but realizes that these independent organizations must consciously struggle for unity in order to build the new communist party.

It is of the utmost importance that the genuine communist trend, the anti-revisionist and anti-dogmatist communist organizations, begin to organize nationally, establish a national organizing committee, build a propaganda newspaper and theoretical journal, and begin the long process of building a vanguard party of the proletariat which will be able to lead the proletarian revolution and establish the dictatorship of the proletariat. This is of the greatest importance since the dogmatist trend, which the dominant trend in the anti-revisionist communist movement, has capitulated to bourgeois ideology by becoming dogmatists which means these dogmatist organisations will not be able to build a revolutionary communist party or provide correct leadership to the working class.