Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Two Letters on Burstein-Loren Debate

First Published: The Call, Vol. 9, No. 16, April 21, 1980.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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Referring to the debate (“What Road for Communists in the ’80s?” Feb. 11, Feb. 18) between Daniel Burstein and Charles Loren, we are glad to see The Call opening up its pages for other Marxist-Leninist groups to express their views. However, we were not satisfied with Burstein’s response to Loren.

First of all, rather than really uniting with Loren’s views (some of which we think were correct), Burstein says he agrees and then proceeds to demonstrate how he disagrees with almost everything. In debates with other Marxist-Leninists, we must seek out our points of unity and make them a firm foundation for polemics.

Secondly, Burstein read into Loren’s response more than actually was there. For example, Burstein implies Loren is calling for an analysis of U.S. class society divorced from class struggle. Nowhere does Loren say that this analysis is separate from developing a program that would attract the broad masses. (If Burstein’s response is based on knowledge of New Voice’s practice or other information, he should let the readers in on this.)

We agree with Loren on the importance of developing a class analysis. Too little attention has been paid to this, and Burstein’s caution to make practice the basis of such analysis is unfounded and actually postpones making long-range commitment in this direction.

There has been a wealth of practice accumulated within the last ten years of the Marxist-Leninist movement as well as historically. Much of it is digested in books, etc. Would it be an error to determine “definitions, size, economic importance” through use of this material?

Let’s not confuse book study with book worship. Let’s not equate dogmatism and doctrinairism with the kind of assiduous study of facts that is sorely needed in our movement.

We hope to see a continuing public airing of differing views around Marxist-Leninist principles and tactics, but feel that this must be done in a way that really fosters unity. If readers feel that CPML’s response to contributors is in anyway dishonest or devious (e.g., criticizing them for something beyond what they have written), it will discourage further contributions to the debate and the unity movement will suffer.

A study group, Chicago

* * *

I was pleased to read the article in The Call (Feb. 11) by Charles Loren of the New Voice. For several years I’ve felt that dialogue between the different Marxist-Leninist organizations should go on in the pages of a newspaper. This way the entire movement–independents, those in organizations, those in big and small cities, workers, intellectuals can read, think and, if they choose, respond to what is said.

Many questions such as a class analysis, sumups of mass work, the Chicano national question, the Afro-American nation, the state of the economy, should be discussed.

I hope the CPML invites other organizations such as the League of Revolutionary Struggle and Workers Congress to use The Call for such a dialogue. I also hope the CPML considers writing articles in other Marxist-Leninist papers.

Call reader, Chicago