Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

A self-criticism: Overcoming sectarian errors in Call coverage

First Published: The Call, Vol. 7, No. 44, November 13, 1978.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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Since the first of October, the CPML has been engaged in a campaign to build The Call–to expand its size and scope and increase its distribution.

This campaign is a good time to publicize not only the strengths of The Call, but to frankly inform our readers of the problems and weaknesses as well. In this way, our supporters can be mobilized to help us overcome these problems. Our work can be better put under the supervision of the masses as a result.

One problem that we have targeted as a weakness in The Call is that of sectarianism. Sectarianism means having a narrow view of things–such as looking only at one’s own accomplishments, and ignoring the. work of others. It results in seeing only those issues and questions immediately surrounding you, and not the big picture of the class struggle as a whole. Sectarianism leads to splits and divisions, rather than unity of the communists and the masses.

Take the issue of uniting U.S. communists into one single party for example. The Call, through more than six years of publication, has consistently played a leading role in calling for such unity.


In the last few years in particular, The Call was able to become the collective voice and the collective organizer of the 11 groups that joined together in 1976 to found the Organizing Committee for a Marxist-Leninist Party, and subsequently merged together to found the CPML in June 1977.

Within this mainly positive work, there has been a counter-current of sectarianism which we ourselves want to criticize and be more vigilant against in the future.

In a recent issue of The Call, for example, we referred to our newspaper as “the only paper that stands firmly with the working class and oppressed peoples.” Such a characterization simply isn’t true and doesn’t reflect the reality of the U.S. class struggle today.

There are many other newspapers being published today– by those in the Committee to Unite Marxist-Leninists, by activists in the trade union struggles, by fighters in the national liberation movements and others– which certainly stand firmly with the working class.

For our part, we must not only recognize the existence of such newspapers, but learn from them as well. In both its style as well as its content, The Call could be much improved by learning from the many positive achievements of other papers.

The Call should do much more work to promote the ideological and organizational unity of the communists into a single party, as well as in uniting the masses and building the united front against imperialism. In order to improve our efforts, we must be on constant guard against errors of sectarianism and narrow-minded thinking.

Sectarianism has cropped up in other ways. Sometimes the paper is guilty of “stereotyped party writing” which means writing in a style alien to the masses. This type of language sounds like it is taken straight from Marxist texts with no effort to apply it to today’s situation. Although we have made some good progress towards getting away from this kind of writing, it still appears from time to time. We need our readers to criticize our work so that we can improve, and develop a style of writing that really reflects the experiences and vitality of the American working class.


Sectarianism has also taken the form of failing to write about certain important issues and struggles. Recently we have made efforts to improve our youth coverage, our reports on the environmental struggle, the fight around taxes and other key issues of concern to working people which had been largely ignored in The Call previously. Good criticisms have also been made by readers about insufficient coverage of the struggles of Asian-Americans, Native Americans and other minority nationalities and we are now working to rectify these errors.

For the current Call campaign to be a success, we must not only ask our readers to distribute more papers and contribute more money, but we must also listen to their criticisms and call their attention to the problems we face. With the collective strength and wisdom of our supporters, we are confident that we will be able to surmount all difficulties and overcome these mistakes.