Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Report from the 5th Plenum of the Central Committee of the Communist Party U.S.A. (Marxist-Leninist)

First Published: Unite!, Vol. 6, No. 9, May 15, 1980.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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In early May, 1980, the 5th Plenum of the First Central Committee of the CPUSA/ML was convened. The main attention of the Plenum was focused on a detailed and scientific discussion of the history, tenets and motion of the Carter Doctrine and on the relative position of U.S. imperialism in the world today. Among the other points discussed was the Party’s continuing campaign Defeat the ’Left’ in order to Fight Right Deviations from Marxism-Leninism. This has taken place in the wake of the expulsion of the ’left’ liquidationist faction led by Albert Thrasher of Birmingham and Malcolm Suber of New Orleans.

The Plenum was attended by representatives of all Party districts, recently elected at District Congresses throughout the Party, and responsible comrades from Party fractions in mass organizations. The Plenum constituted an important advance ideologically, politically and organizationally for the Party, and reflected the growing unity of thought and action that is a hallmark of a genuine vanguard political party of the proletariat.

The Plenum resolved to forward messages of greetings to the Party of Labor of Albania and other fraternal parties, as well as comrades presently jailed by the state. The Plenum adopted the following report on some areas of the Party’s work:

I. The Crisis of World Imperialism Deepens

The period since the 4th Plenum of the CC has been marked by a profound sharpening of the basic contradictions in the world.

The deepening of the general crisis of capitalism is particularly noticed in the advance and victories of socialist construction in the People’s Socialist Republic of Albania, in the profound anti-imperialist struggles waged in Iran, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Zimbabwe and elsewhere, in the growing competition among the major imperialist powers for a redivision of the world and in the severe unemployment and underutilization of the productive forces characteristic of the major imperialist counties in crisis today.

The aggression against Iran and Afghanistan once again confirms that the two superpowers, U.S. Inperialism and Soviet social-imperialism, represent the greatest enemies of the people of the world today. They are locked today in a fierce international contention for hegemony, which is leading toward a new imperialist world war. Politically, ideologically, economically and militarily, on all fronts, this contention is escalating rapidly. But this contention does not prevent them, together, from conspiring against the proletariat and national revolutionary movements of the world, particularly the Marxist-Leninist parties and the People’s Socialist Republic of Albania.

In recent months the revisionist People’s Republic of China has taken yet further steps down the road of counter-revolution and imperialist reaction. In its union with the U.S.-backed International Monetary Fund and its new relations with the Eurocommunist party of Italy, the Communist Party of China reveals itself as an enemy of the people of the world. China is today actively seeking a new imperialist world war, from which it seeks to emerge the untarnished victor.

Since the 4th Plenum of our CC, the international capitalist class has aggressively taken up preparations for the temporary solution of the crisis of capitalism – the road of imperialist world war and fascism. The Carter Doctrine represents a bold hegemonic effort by U.S. imperialism to regain lost influence and intensify its plunder and aggression against the world. The invasion of Afghanistan as well represents for the Soviet Union its continued hegemonic policy aimed at global aggression and plunder. In several countries of the world, including the U.S., the most reactionary, chauvinistic sections of the monopoly bourgeoisie are preparing for fascism. The fascist menace today, particularly in the most advanced imperialist countries, represents a great danger to the working people.

U.S. imperialism has for some time utilized the illusions spread by Chinese revisionism that it is declining, relative to Soviet social-imperialism, in order to employ even greater neo-colonial and aggressive schemes with the aim of strengthening its position as the bulwark of the world imperialist system.

The Carter Doctrine stands for direct military intervention in all corners of the world under the demagogy of protecting the “strategic interests” of U.S. imperialism. It stands for abandonment of the old fascist dictators in countries such as Iran, Nicaragua, Brazil, Nigeria, in favor of new social-democratic and revisionist alliances which better serve the export of U.S. capital. The Doctrine stands for the strengthening of the competitive position of U.S. imperialism and the consolidation of its strategic alliances with Germany, Japan and others. The Carter Doctrine represents the active preparations of U.S. imperialism to launch a new imperialist world war, in order to defeat Soviet social-imperialism in a decisive manner, to intimidate the world revolutionary movement, and to threaten the socialist homelands.

Since the 4th Plenum, the CC also notes that its position that a new periodic crisis of capitalism has emerged in the U.S. has been confirmed. Layoffs and plant closings alone indicate, as stated at the 4th Plenum, that the current crisis shows many signs of surpassing in depth and breadth the periodic crisis which wracked the capitalist and revisionist world in 1973 and 1974.

In this period, the working class and revolutionary national movements are growing in consciousness and organization, fighting on the political, economic, ideological and military fronts for democracy and socialism, and scoring important, victories. This clearly is a period in which “revolution is a question to be taken up for solution” as described by comrade Enver Hoxha and the Party of Labor of Albania.

II. The Great Significance of the Iranian Revolution

The defeat of the fascist Shah of Iran in early 1979 and the advance of the Iranian revolution marks an extremely important step in the world anti-imperialist, national revolutionary movement. It has been the center of world attention for more than a year.

For nearly three decades U.S. imperialism lent its extensive support to the barbaric and reactionary regime of the Shah, providing nearly $40 billion in arms alone. The Shah of Iran represented and extended the imperialist designs of U.S. imperialism in the region, directly aided the reactionary Zionist regime in Israel, and became the bulwark of counter-revolution in the area. The defeat of the Shah is a historic and extremely courageous action on the part of the Iranian people, costing them hundreds of thousands of lives. It represents a major defeat for the Nixon Doctrine of support for outright fascist regimes, in particular. In general, the 5th Plenum assessed that the overthrow of the Shah represents the biggest setback for U.S. imperialism since its defeat in Indochina.

The great importance of the Iranian revolution stems from its major petroleum reserves, and for this reason, world imperialism has been forced to yield major concessions to the Iranian revolution.

The example of the Iranian revolution reveals the profound contradictions of world imperialism. The industrial, financial and military development provided to the reactionary Shah by U.S, imperialism are now turned against U.S. imperialism in the interests of the oppressed people of Iran and the world.

It is the duty and obligation of all progressive and freedom-loving people of the world to defend and support the Iranian people and revolution, and particularly the duty of the working and oppressed people of the U.S., regardless of how loud the fascist and chauvinist propaganda waged by monopoly capitalism against the Iranian revolution. In this situation it is necessary to state flatly that the actions of the popular revolution against all representatives of foreign domination and interference, including the U.S. Embassy, are justified. It is necessary to point out that in a great popular revolution such as that in Iran, history will not unfold smoothly or politely. A revolution is an intense class struggle which inevitably will take countless twists and turns. This revolution must be supported, for it objectively weakens world imperialism.

At the same time, with the interests of the international proletariat at the forefront, we recognize the importance of the Iranian revolution proceeding beyond its present feudal barriers, assuming a secular character, to be led by the proletariat. The success of the struggle for democracy and socialism depends upon the leadership of the Marxist-Leninists of Iran, not the mullahs.

The 5th Plenum resolutely condemns the continued interference and aggression by U.S. imperialism against the Iranian revolution, including the so-called “rescue mission”. This mission is only a continuation of the 30-year policy of intervention and aggression against Iran, and no doubt represents an effort by U.S. imperialism to stir up a counter-revolution in Iran.

In the U.S. today, it is critical to point out the small but growing segment of our country’s working people which supports the just cause of the Iranian people against intervention and aggression by U.S. imperialism, Soviet social-imperialism or any other imperialist power.

In this complex situation, the revolutionaries of the U.S. must closely guard against the counterrevolutionary chauvinism and ideological aggression by monopoly capitalism against the Iranian revolution. Any tendency which would raise criticism of the means or leadership of the Iranian revolution on the same par as “support” for the revolution must be rejected. Such a stand plays into the reactionary hands of U.S. imperialism, and prevents the mobilization of the maximum support for the Iranian revolution.

In the past the CPUSA/ML has erred in this regard, and has committed ’left’ deviations which weakened its support for the Iranian revolution. In its agitation and propaganda, the Party has often focused on criticism of leadership in Iran rather than on support for the popular revolution. These deviations were rejected by the 5th Plenum and the line of the Party was placed on a solid course. The Marxist-Leninists of the CPUSA/ ML and all progressive people must step up their solidarity with the Iranian revolution and guard against still further aggression by U.S. imperialism against Iran.

III. The Capitalist Offensive Against Our Living Standards and Democratic Rights Prepares New Ground for Fascism

The inflation rate striding forward at 20%, the broad layoffs and plant closings, the cuts in unemployment benefits, the skyrocketing credit rates....all these and more events reflect the growing impoverishment of the working class and the deteriorating standard of living. At the same time, basic democratic rights such as the right to organize in the workplace and the right to strike are under vicious attack. The monopoly bourgeoisie is stepping up its ideological campaign of national chauvinism and white supremacy, coupled with various anti-working class theories and ideas. The growing metaphysics, terror and religious evangelicalism are spreading an ideological foundation for fascist culture.

These all reflect the growing foundation for fascism in the U.S., as the monopoly bourgeoisie is unable to extricate itself from the capitalist crisis.

In the U.S. a polarization is taking place within the spontaneous movement, between a small but growing section of the working class and its allies who are moving towards revolutionary struggle against monopoly capitalism, and the majority of the working people who are moving toward the right. There exists in the U.S. today a highly fluid and volatile situation, in which the subjective factors of the proletariat are lagging far behind the advance of the objective conditions. The 5th Plenum fully recognized the necessity to make careful and detailed evaluation if the alignment of class forces in the present period. It pointed out that characteristic of the fascist forces in the U.S. is the motion toward consolidation, while the forces for revolution remain, in comparison, fragmented.

In this context, the Plenum agreed that the main importance of the elections in November will be their reflection of the extent of fascist consolidation and the pace of the fascist menace.

In this situation, the conscious workers must oppose actively both the Browderite illusions of the decline of U.S. imperialism, and the central fascist slogan to “Make America Great Again.”

Both the reformist forces, such as the Citizen’s Party and the revisionists and Trotskyites, headed by the CPUSA, represent little helpers of monopoly capitalism, parading as the “lesser evil.” Today, there exists no candidate for President of the U.S. who represents the interests of the working people, advocating a revolutionary program to solve the crisis of capitalism.

In such a political climate, where social forces at work promote a mood of liquidation-ism, fatalism and anti-communism the so-called Revolutionary Communist Party has jumped forward with its social-fascist infantile behavior in direct service to the monopoly capitalists, by propelling a swell of anti-communist sentiment among the people.

Given the objective and subjective conditions, the task of the militant workers is to fight a defensive fight, to prepare the consciousness and organization of the working class to defend past gains and prepare for future advances. The immediate concern for all those who cherish freedom, peace and democracy is to unite to fight against fascism and imperialist world war.

IV. The Tasks of the Party

Today we are at the beginning of the process of building the Party. This is a period of creating the Party in the wake of over three decades of modern revisionism and petty bourgeois leftism. It is a period of forging close ties with the masses, and particularly the industrial workers, through the proper combination of revolutionary propaganda and revolutionary action.

The struggle to Defeat the ’Left’ in order to Fight Right Deviations from Marxism-Leninism is properly a period of purging the Party of conciliationist and liquidationist elements, such as the ’left’ liquidationist faction led by Al Thrasher of Birmingham and Malcolm Suber of New Orleans, last year. As events confirm, the leaders of this counterrevolutionary faction worked as infiltrators to attempt to sabotage the Marxist-Leninist principles, strategy and tactics of the Party, to sever it from the international communist movement. Facts have emerged that these infiltrators acted as operatives of another organization which they formed at least 3 to 4 months before they emerged as an open faction within the Party.

The tasks of the Party today are to deepen the struggle on two fronts, against both the ’left’ and Right deviations, ideologically, politically and organizationally. In this protracted struggle to deepen the gulf between Marxism-Leninism and opportunism, the Party has taken important steps to correctly apply its tactical line through working to build the united front of the working class and the popular front of the working class and its allies against the fascist menace. An important sectarian deviation in the work of the Party was noted, in which the Party tended to narrow the united front or popular front to the existence of a particular mass revolutionary organization. Rather, such organizations are part of these fronts, and their mission is to unite with other appropriate forces. The task of the Party is, by example and through revolutionary propaganda and action, to struggle to lead the popular masses to victory on the basis of its revolutionary program and tactics.

The 5th Plenum, evaluating the needs for greater revolutionary propaganda and action, determined to conduct a series of Party schools for friends and supporters of the Party on U.S. imperialism and the November Presidential elections. These schools will serve to heighten the work of the Party to popularize the call for No Vote in November! and will also launch a series of new activities by the Party in the coming months.

In evaluating the objective and subjective conditions of the revolution in the U.S., the 5th Plenum concluded that it was necessary for the Party to greatly deepen its evaluation of the position of U.S. imperialism internationally and domestically and to take steps to launch a broad discussion of this question through the ranks of the Party and among the masses. Toward the implementation of this policy, all Party members are called upon to take up the study of The State and Revolution by V.I. Lenin, and to apply its teachings to the day-to-day propaganda and agitation required to educate and mobilize working people to support the call of the Party for No Vote in November!

The 5th Plenum of the CC recognized the necessity to overcome all ’left’ sectarian tendencies within the Party which prevent it from aggressively linking itself to the masses in struggle, to organize and lead the building of the united front and the popular front against the fascist menace, and to learn through experience how to prepare for the revolutionary situation which will unfold in the U.S. one day.

The 5th Plenum confirmed through the summation of experience the correctness of the central task of the Party, to forge real revolutionary cadre in order to provide a real revolutionary center for the leadership of the proletariat, capable of leading the millions of workers in the U.S. into revolutionary class struggles for political power and socialism.

V. The International Communist Marxist-Leninist Movement

The 5th Plenum of the CC expressed its deep admiration and love for the fraternal Marxist-Leninist parties of the world who stand today in the forefront of the class struggle against imperialism and opportunism.

The recent period has expressed both the significant problems which must be taken up and solved to advance the unity of the Marxist-Leninist parties of the world and the actual advances which shine out as a bright light in this period.

Events confirm that Khrushchevite revisionism remains a grave ideological and political danger to the Marxist-Leninist parties of the world and that it has not abandoned in the least its counterrevolutionary intentions and activities. Similarly, the initial exposure and continuing battle against Mao Tsetung Thought has taken an important stride, but remains to be deepened. While several Maoist parties today show signs of disintegration, the fact remains that many Marxist-Leninist parties have taken only the first steps toward ridding the influence of Maoism from their strategy and tactics. Today this is a pressing responsibility.

Since the 4th Plenum of our CC, several revisionist currents have emerged to consolidate their ranks internationally, centering their venom on the Party of Labor of Albania. At the same time, others have emerged to take a clear centrist stand, urging “freedom of criticism” within the ranks of the international communist Marxist-Leninist movement.

Such developments only intensify the need for bold, new aggressive measures to be taken by the Marxist-Leninist parties to overcome existing difficulties, to strengthen the bonds between the parties in both a bi-lateral and a multi-lateral manner, and to actively prepare the groundwork for a new Communist International. While the conditions do not yet exist for such a step, there can be no complacency which belittles the great historic importance of a new Marxist-Leninist Communist International, and the great advance for the class struggle that this would represent.

The 5th Plenum noted with satisfaction the deepening relations that have developed between our Party and a number of Parties in the recent period, and the advances which have been scored in the struggle against incorrect views which temporarily spread confusion about the nature of the socialist revolution in the U.S., and the CPUSA/ML.

The 5th Plenum expressed its complete confidence and deep admiration and support for the working people of Albania, the Party of Labor of Albania and comrade Enver Hoxha, which today provide the people of the world with a magnificent example of victorious socialism in the march toward communism.

The events of the recent period confirm the absolute necessity for every Party to consistently work for the interests of the international proletariat, to deepen their reliance upon the teachings of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin, and to follow the road of true proletarian internationalism, first and foremost, which requires each and every communist to work for the overthrow of the existing capitalist order and the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat in one’s own country.