Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Revolutionary Communist Party

Ex-Member Exposes CPML: Blind Tagging Behind China Demanded

First Published: Revolution, Vol. 3, No. 13, October 1978.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
Copyright: This work is in the Public Domain under the Creative Commons Common Deed. You can freely copy, distribute and display this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit the Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line as your source, include the url to this work, and note any of the transcribers, editors & proofreaders above.

[The following is an interview with a former member of the Communist Party Marxist-Leninist. He recently left the CPML in opposition to their opportunist domestic and international line. The interview concentrates on the question of China and the CPML leadership’s behavior in imposing an opportunist line on this question in the CPML–Ed.]

* * *

Why does the CPML leadership feel they can get away with tailing behind the current revisionist leaders in China who are clearly reversing the revolution in China, selling out revolution everywhere and attacking everything Mao Tsetung stood for? What was the response among CPML members (and leadership) when the coup first took place in China?

I guess the best way to look at how the CPML views China and how it’s changed is that in the first place they don’t really take a serious view of the class struggle. When the situation came down in China, when the so-called “gang of four” was beginning to be attacked, the CPML members, the rank and file, themselves were not clear on what was happening in China. It was more or less up to the leadership of the CPML to try to explain what was happening.

How did they talk about Mao Tsetung, with the present rulers in China attacking Mao?

Well as I remember the CPML was very careful about talking about Hua and Mao. It was like one person told me that the thing was essentially to rally around the flag, that the Communist Party of China was a proven and tested Party, and who were we to say that something in China wasn’t right. When Klonsky returned from China they said they had raised with the Chinese what was going on in China, and Klonsky said what it amounts to was that they do have some questions, but that Hua was the genuine successor of Mao, and because of that the CPML was going to rally around Hua and the Chinese Central Committee and not raise questions. We aren’t in the position to question the leadership of China, who were we?

For a period of time the questions intensified, like around the “three worlds theory”–that was a tough struggle. But it came down to those who struggled against the ”three worlds theory” were accused of being against Mao’s line and China. That was the attitude of the CPML leadership and they let it be known to those in the CPML and those who were close to it that they wouldn’t tolerate struggle against the leadership in China. If you raised questions against China you were criticised or else blackballed and more or less slandered. That was the case with me. I thought that the “three worlds theory” was garbage. What they said to me about this was that I was attacking China.

Did they play on emotionalism around China?

Of course, it wasn’t a struggle based on politics. Anybody who made any kind of analysis about what went down in China would know this. The CPML went to great lengths to avoid the questions about what was going on in China –particularly the leadership of the CPML. This went to the point of not even mentioning the revisions in the Constitution of China at the 11th Congress, or about the revolutionary committees being abolished, or the very fact that Hua and Teng were saying that the Shah was a real revolutionary force in the world that cannot be opposed–that to oppose the Shah was in fact to oppose some kind of united front built to oppose the USSR. Even more recently with Hua making all kinds of overtures to Yugoslavia and Tito, to my amazement most folks in the CPML didn’t even know who Tito was, or those who did know Tito told me that Tito made some kind of miraculous change.

I talked to some people in particular about Yugoslavia and the overtures that China was making to it. I showed them this book–the polemic written against Tito in 1963–and they hadn’t even heard of this book. And I know one of them was a member of the CPML, and when they raised this book in the CPML, the CPML was more interested in where and who gave them the book than in the content of the polemic.

Did they claim it was a great thing that the CPML was carrying the banner of China?

For sure. Look at the Call and their article on the first anniversary of the party. In that article and several after that, one of the main reasons why the CPML claimed that it was a great and correct party capable of leading the working class was because of its close ties with the present leadership of China. Their whole claim to fame is their closeness to Hua and Teng and the revisionists of China.

What kind of struggle is there around political line in general inside the CPML? Is there any kind of study of line based upon Marxism-Leninism, Mao Tsetung Thought?

I think that the leadership of the CPML studies MLM works for the purpose of revising them, for the purpose of over-awing the cadre, for the purpose of putting the rank and file in its place. I think there are some honest people in the CPML who try and study Marxism-Leninism, Mao Tsetung Thought, who are trying to see what is going on in the world. But as for any ideological struggle inside of the CPML, I would have to say no.

From my experience, the most struggle goes on around people’s personal lives as opposed to political lives. It is a whorehouse for rumors, it’s a whorehouse for attacking people’s personal lives as opposed to dealing with people politically. If you’re going to talk about someone they try and dive off someone’s personal questions and turn them into a political thing by saying it’s his line on the woman question or his line on this particular question, but as far as any kind of ideological struggle–no.

How does the CPML rationalize this really rank social-chauvinist line of uniting with the bourgeoisie in the U. S. and other reactionaries around the world to defeat the Soviet Union? Isn’t there some struggle around this inside the CPML?

For a long time the CPML has been screaming that the U.S. bourgeoisie is “appeasing” the Soviet imperialists, and because of the U.S.’ appeasement the Soviet Union is able to be aggressive all over the world. The CPML, like the Chinese revisionists, wants the U.S. bourgeoisie to get tougher. This has been their line for some time. I think in the main the social chauvinist line of the CPML is the really serious thing, not just on the international situation, but on minority nationalities in this country as well. I think it all flows from a line that says there’s a decent section of the bourgeoisie that can be united with, negating the class character and real nature of the bourgeoisie, similar to the “three worlds theory.” Look at Iran– the CPML has always held the Shah is a progressive dude.

In fact, like the RCP pointed out, you can never forget the class character of national liberation movements, that is, whether or not proletarian elements exist inside that movement. And as the RCP said, the only reason communists support a national liberation movement is to the degree and to the extent that it weakens imperialism. I think here it’s clear that the movement led by the Shah does not weaken imperialism one bit but strengthens it. The movement being led by the Iranian people against the Shah is what really is weakening imperialism.

But the CPML downplays the struggle of the people of Iran, to them the people’s struggle is only a secondary thing. It’s like Hua–he sees the struggle of the people as secondary, the main thing is the deals he can make with the Shah. The leadership of the CPML doesn’t understand the character of national liberation movements, and especially that these movements are part and parcel of the overall struggle against imperialism.

It’s particularly clear when you look at the national question here in the U.S., in particular the struggle of the Afro-American people in this country. They downplay the revolutionary struggle of the Afro-American people and play up folks like Jesse Jackson and a dead preacher, Martin Luther King, who was more reaction to the militancy of the people than anything else. Folks like Malcolm X and H. Rap Brown they mention to stay in step with the national aspirations of their more militant cadre within the party.

A specific example was here in the city where I live. Here there was a thing where the folks new to the CPML and independent of the CPML had to force them to do an event around Malcolm X. The CPML for all practical purposes gave no leadership and did not participate in the event. People went ahead to do the event, a number of people came, and only one member of the CPML outside of those of us involved showed up.

So the question is how do they get over with this kind of politics?

By bourgeois politics. Klonsky is deep, Eileen Klehr is deep, they’re deep people, know more Marxism than you. How dare you challenge the Chairman. How dare you challenge the Central Committee. How dare you raise questions. Or the other way–attacks on a personal level. It’s like when the bourgeoisie decided to ice Eagleton [during the 1972 election campaign], they went for the mental record. Or for new workers coming in, their level of Marxism is low and they use that against you– quoting Marx and Lenin to make it seem like they know more.

Most CPML people you catch selling papers in the parking lot, you can ask them a question and they can’t give you an answer; many of them don’t even read the Call. Most of the folks close to the CPML or who were eventually won to it have never really known what was going on in the international situation because it’s not a thing that’s really discussed among the people in the CPML. When there were questions among the masses that were reflected in questions among the cadre, these were never brought forward for discussion and more struggle. They never relied on the masses to search out these questions.

Do people inside the CPML think there’s an impending world war, and what do they think their role in it should be?

That’s something that’s really unclear. I think on the one hand the CPML recognizes there’s an impending world war. They don’t recognize the possibility of turning this imperialist war into a civil war and because of that they don’t organize in that direction. As far as they are concerned world war is inevitable, there’s nothing that can be done to stop it. They disagree with Mao’s line that there’s a tendency towards both war and revolution. As far as they are concerned, a revolution before a world war is impossible and inconceivable. Why even think about it? People inside the CPML–their minds get clouded with all the threat of fascism, and there’s no showing of the bright future of proletarian revolution.

The main force they rely on to turn the threat of world war around is the U.S. bourgeoisie–which has to get tougher with the Soviet Union, and that’s the view they put out among the people.

That really ties in with the view of the average worker that comes around the CPML, that the U.S. has to get tougher and the workers can’t really go up against these odds of the Soviet Union, the U.S. and the threat of fascism.

So the CPML really hasn’t broken in any way from the bourgeoisie?

Yes, I think you got to look at it that the CPML is no different from the revisionists of the Second International. More and more as the situation develops toward war, you are going to find the CPML saying quite openly that the working class should be prepared to go to war under the banner of U.S. imperialism to stop the Soviet Union’s attack against China.

Is there any organized discussion within the CPML of opposition lines? For example, the Call simply takes on the RCP by slander and distortion. Is there any serious analysis within the CPML of these lines?

I would say off hand, of course not. People inside the CPML don’t study the RCP’s line. The CPML cannot really have a serious comparison between the programmes. The main reason that cannot go down is because there would be a clear distinction between what is Marxism and what is not. I think it’s to the RCP’s credit that they have done this on different questions. This would raise serious questions for the leadership of the CPML that they could not answer.

The main reason they can get over with this now among many cadre is because of the principled position the RCP has taken in regard to China. The leadership of the CPML says that anybody who opposes the present leadership in China is opposed to proletarian revolution, opposed to proletarian internationalism, and that within the CPML that will not be tolerated. People who differed with the CPML leadership around China could not bring it up, because whether you want to quit or not they will get you thrown out.

For example, when the whole situation came up around China, and the Albanians published their “three worlds” polemic, any kind of politicizing, talk, questions about whether or not the “three worlds theory” had any weaknesses was attacked–not from the standpoint of political line but because this was “Mao’s theory” and how could you go against Mao. Is that ideological struggle or is that suppression?

Isnít the slander against the RCP of being “racist” and “liquidating the national question” the bottom line used to close people’s eyes to the RCP?

That’s it. The RCP is a racist organization. Doesn’t support busing. The CPML puts forward unequivocal support, that in every instance and every situation you support busing. They had to attack the RCP on the question of national oppression. The CPML’s view is in the main that the bourgeoisie, through busing, can overcome its problems, that it’s just a question of mass integration, that it’s not a question of destroying the material base for racism and discrimination and national oppression. They’re saying the same thing as Teng Hsiao-ping, they’re unable to distinguish the difference between Marxism and imperialism.

And as for the Afro-American cadre, they appeal to their nationalist views, the fact that they are looking for someone to take up their fight, for someone who will lead the Afro-American movement to victory. So the CPML glosses over the whole question of national liberation and proletarian revolution by saying that anybody who doesn’t uphold busing in every case is a racist, and the RCP’s stand against busing [in some instances, such as the Boston busing plan–Ed.] fueled a lot of the narrow nationalist sentiments of the cadre within the CPML itself.

How do they get over with the line on Martin Luther King and the Crown Heights business?

It’s easy, coming off their whole “three worlds theory,” to justify the line of trailing behind the petty bourgeoisie, and in some cases the bourgeoisie, because China says you can do this.

Think about the Crown Heights situation [referring to a struggle in a New York neighborhood against police murder and national oppression–Ed.]. The CPML is uniting with some of the most reactionary forces in the Black community today. Because, they say, for the time being, these people are uniting against the racist attacks coming down inside Crown Heights, forgetting that it’s these same people, like CORE, who continuously attack the more militant and revolutionary elements inside the Black community, time and time again.

For the CPML, it’s “we’re going to support these reactionaries regardless of the fact they’re reactionaries, because they’re Black and this is a struggle against racism. Damn their political line. And anybody who comes out opposed to this is opposed to the struggle against racism.” Rather than analyze the class forces inside the struggle and who must be relied on, the masses or the bourgeoisie. For the CPML, the masses, the revolutionary forces, and developing the revolutionary sentiment of the people inside the Crown Heights community are the secondary thing. Who do we unite with? We unite with the well-known leaders.

Do they have to make any rationalization for obeying the Central Committee or is it just the way things are?

Any time there is an enforced situation inside the so-called party of the proletariat where the political level is kept at a very low level; and you are always involved in the practical work but not knowing where it’s going or coming from, but simply following the directives of the CC, there is bound to be over a period of time a situation where people will be in fear of raising differences they have within the party itself. Inside the CPML that has happened for quite some time. Talk to members of the Fight Back and they’ll talk about fighting for reforms in a revolutionary way, but ask them what about the whole system of capitalism, what about destroying the material basis for these problems, and you will find that most of the people inside the CPML and their mass organizations don’t know. Because communism is something the CPML does not talk about to a large degree.

The proletariat, which is the most capable and the only class within society that is committed to overthrowing the bourgeoisie, they don’t talk about. For them, the working class leading the struggle against capitalism is a secondary thing. And therefore, the logical conclusion arising out of this is that within the party itself, the proletariat is incapable of giving any leadership to it. It is only these great brains and geniuses who can give leadership to the party. In fact, when you start talking about ideological struggle inside the party, you are talking about ideological struggle as led by these great brains and geniuses. The role of the masses is to merely study the line of these great brains and geniuses and go along with it, or be thrown out whichever comes first.

When Hua and Teng took over it must have filled them with joy.

The revisionism of China fit the CPML like a glove. It was really easy for them to go along with what is going on inside of China now. It might not be too far-fetched to think that Klonsky might have given Hua some lessons.

Surely there are some people in CPML who are serious revolutionaries who really want to make revolution. What is the glue, the internal life, holds the CPML together in the face of this outright opportunism?

The CPML always says, with all of our problems, we are the party of the proletariat, and some people honestly believe that. They believe that Marxism-Leninism is the answer, that proletarian revolution is the answer, and the CPML is able to hold itself together because it is able to play on the fact that these people believe this, even though they don’t have a deep understanding of these things, obviously. And the leadership makes a point of keep these people’s political level very 1ow. Because the CPML leadership does that, many people believe that on the one hand you have to overcome your “subjectivism” about what’s on going inside the party, and on the other you have to uphold this party among the people because we have to make revolution.

If the CPML is weak it’s not because the leadership of the CPML is screwed up or the line of the CPML is messed up, it’s because you’re messed up. When the work is not going good, it’s not because the people haven’t been educated to understand what the work was, or what this political campaign was about –even though that’s true–but it’s on you, that you didn’t make the effort to understand this particular program, you didn’t make the effort to take the program out among the masses a develop it.

In the main what holds the CPML together is, on the part of honest people, unclarity; and on the part of leadership, opportunism. The leadership of the CPML is united in terms of misleading the working class and keeping the level of the party cadre low, and because the level of the cadre within the party is low, they are unable to struggle against the opportunism of the leadership.