Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Successful CPML conference on nationalities work

First Published: The Call, Vol. 7, No. 28, July 17, 1978.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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“The stand of any party on the national question is a touchstone for determining whether it is a revolutionary Marxist-Leninist party or a reactionary party.” These words by CPML Chairman Michael Klonsky kicked off the recent broad Party Conference on Nationalities Work.

The Conference, which lasted two days, brought together cadres from more than 30 cities across the country who have been the backbone of the Party’s work in the movements of the oppressed nationalities. This highly successful national meeting was called for the purpose of summing up the CPML’s work, including criticism and self-criticism, while at the same time charting an expanded campaign of struggle for self-determination and full democratic rights for the millions of people suffering from imperialism and its policies of racial discrimination.

Discussion at the conference focused on: using Marxism-Leninism as a weapon against white chauvinism; broadening the Party’s nationalities work in the shops and communities; carrying on special work among white workers and fighting white chauvinism, and heightening inner-Party unity.

Conference workshops were held on: the crisis, its effects on the nationalities and the fightback; propaganda and agitation; and factory work and the united front within the national movements.

The conference also heard a panel presentation on the triple oppression of minority women, a presentation on the struggle of the Hawaiian people from a Hawaiian comrade, and a speech from veteran Afro-American communist Odis Hyde.

It was noted by various speakers that the CPML was born and grew up in the struggle for liberation of the Afro-American, Chicano, Puerto Rican and Native American peoples from national oppression. As the opening address of the Party’s chairman put it, the takeover of the once-great revolutionary Communist Party U.S.A. was accompanied by the most outrageous betrayal of the Afro-American and other oppressed peoples.

This betrayal is a hallmark of all revisionists. But our Party has inherited the fine communist tradition of struggling for liberation and defending Marxism-Leninism against revisionism, chauvinism and reactionary nationalism.

Through its plenary sessions and several smaller workshops, the conference summed up the Party’s work in the context of the current reactionary wave of attacks being launched by the ruling class against the oppressed nationalities and against all workers. From the Bakke decision to the cutbacks resulting from California’s Proposition 13 and the upsurge in Nazi and KKK activities, an atmosphere of white chauvinism and division of the working class is being promoted by the highest ruling circles in the country.


The Party’s strategic line of forging the anti-imperialist united front built on the alliance and merger of the general working class movement with the movement of the oppressed nationalities was strongly reaffirmed. At the same time, the chauvinist and narrow nationalist lines of the various revisionists and opportunists were soundly criticized by those attending the conference.

The strengths of the Party’s work were brought out in reports on the CPML’s literature and propaganda work, especially around The Call newspaper and the Party press. The broad popular agitation and propaganda in The Call/El Clarin and the use of different languages in carrying out Party work were praised, as was the major contribution made by the publication of Black Bolshevik, the autobiographical account by Comrade Harry Haywood of the Communist Party’s history in its struggle to emancipate Black people.

The Party was also commended for its mass work. One Party member pointed out: “From the rebellions of the Puerto Rican people in Chicago last summer to the day-to-day organizing against the racist Bakke decision, our Party was out there in the communities and the factories. We are fighters, not just talkers.”

The conference was bold in hitting at the Party’s weaknesses as well. It was pointed out that special work among the white workers has been often neglected. The Party, for example, has produced very little in the way of special literature addressing itself to the white workers, dealing with their problems and combatting the racist influence of the labor bureaucrats and the bosses. Participants also discussed how white chauvinism exists within the ranks of the Party itself and necessitates constant internal education of Party members and an ongoing struggle against white chauvinism and narrow nationalism.

As one speaker put it: “If our party is going to play its vanguard role in uniting the workers of all nationalities it must set a good example by its internal life and by its own high level of unity.”

It was recommended that the CPML increase special training of minority and working class cadre. The use of all Party units to carry out educational work on the national question within the Party was also discussed.

One speaker pointed out: “There is often too much subjectivity, one-sidedness and sectarianism inside the Party when we are dealing with the national question and the fight against white chauvinism. Marxism-Leninism is the most important weapon for liberation. Only by relying on Marxism can chauvinistic and reactionary ideas be defeated.”

In its plenary session, many concrete measures were adopted aimed at improving the Party’s work and rectifying its past errors. The session was marked by an extremely high level of unity and enthusiasm. Some comrades pointed to the fact that “our Party is the only one where a meeting of this type could take place. By mobilizing the Party members and drawing on their ideas to solve problems, our work is bound to move forward.”