Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

League for Proletarian Revolution (M-L)

Rectify Our Style of Work! Combat Spontaneity

First Published: Resistencia, Vol. 9, No. 8, October 1978
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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This is the third article on the Rectification Campaign recently launched by LFR (M-L). We present here excerpts from a three part report by the Central Committee on the need to Rectify Our Style of Work. We have copies of the previous articles available for those of you who have not followed the entire series.

In combating subjectivism in our way of thinking we cannot belittle the importance of also combating the manifestations of that subjectivism in our style of work. Contrary to opportunists and windbags of all hues, who see their style of work as something separate and apart from their political and ideological line, we see style of work closely connected with the line. For us then, it is not a question of attributing our faults to “poor style of work” disconnected from the line, but to see the dialectical relation that exists between the way of thinking and the way of doing. How the former is affected by the latter and in turn how our style of work affects our way of thinking.

We have unity in that the principal evils in our style of work are spontaneity, amateurishness, and sectarianism. There is a need then to develop consistent and systematic struggle against them. Without an all out war to rout out the evils of spontaneity, amateurishness, and sectarianism from our ranks we will not be able to carry out the great tasks ahead.


The fact that there is spontaneity and there is spontaneity makes it very important that we talk about it in the specifics of our organization’s life. In the main, the spontaneity in our style of work manifests itself in the lack of long-term and consistent planning that conversely brings us to a situation of continuous improvisation, tailing of the spontaneous mass movement, and the utilization of “tactics-as-a-process”.


For a revolutionary organization to be able to put its line into practice, to win people over to it, to provide communist leadership to the spontaneous mass movement; in short, to move ahead with all the revolutionary work, it is extremely important that the organization plan its work far ahead. In doing whatever has to be done today, we have to plan not only for tomorrow and the day after, but for months and years to come. Obviously this is not meant to be understood in a literal way – what we are going to be doing in February, 1982 – but in a dialectical way. That is, we are doing this today because in this way we are going to realize our aims, move the work in such and such a direction in order to create the specific conditions necessary for the realization of those aims.

Planning in this way allows us to develop a conscious plan that views every aspect of revolutionary work, not as isolated events or tactics, but as a comprehensive whole that sums up our strategic and tactical line for the period ahead. It goes without saying that in order for any plan to be conscious, it has to be developed in the light of scientific analysis of the concrete conditions (recall time, place, and conditions), and we have to correctly integrate theory and practice, correctly apply the mass line, and practice criticism and self-criticism all along. The timely sum-up of work utilizing the methods described above will allow us to determine strengths and weaknesses, the general direction in which the work is moving, what tactical changes have to be made in the plan in order to be able to accomplish its purposes, etc.

It is a sad reality, but reality is a stubborn fact that has to be accepted as it is, if we are going to be able to transform it, that our planning has been mainly characterized by its being subjective, narrow (a tendency to piecemeal just dealing with issues in isolation one from the others), and greatly divorced from the concrete reality of both the working class and the communist movement on the one hand, and our own organization on the other.

Such is what has happened when we have made attempts to map out a plan, because it is a fact that in many occasions we have engaged in particular activities without even attempting to develop a plan for them. Thus, on many occasions we are engaged in practice for which no clear political objectives have been agreed upon, for which no clear political direction has been established, no analysis of forces has been made, and so on. This is sheer bowing to spontaneity, which is one of the bases for incorrect lines and practice in the organization. Let’s briefly mention some of the particular evils in which bowing to spontaneity, as reflected in lack of conscious planning, is manifested in the organization.


Our subjective way of thinking, especially in its manifestation of voluntarism (see last issue) has led to a vicious circle in which we are consistently engaging in tasks that we cannot fulfill in a correct communist way, starting things to later drop them because of lack of resources; running like mad dogs from place to place, meeting to meeting, from this type of work to the other, etc. Many times we have concluded that in fact we don’t have the resources to do this or that, but independently of our analysis, we have tried to do them anyway. This is so important that we have to do it, even at the cost of . . . And very seldom the real cost is that we do not carry out the tasks correctly, nor do we complete other tasks which we have already committed ourselves to.


This is our greatest weakness in this respect. In a period in which party building is the central tasks of all genuine Marxist-Leninists, failing to have a real scientific party building plan is a crime. All the talk about tactical tasks, periods, key link, fusion, etc. become fruitless without a clear plan (used here in a programmatic sense) that gives direction to the process. It’s not enough, comrades, to lay down what we feel should happen if we don’t lay down clearly how it is that it’s going to happen. The characterization of us by ATM as parrots repeating Marxist-Leninists unite, propaganda is the chief form of activity, etc. although made with the purpose of covering for their own right opportunist line, is in fact a good characterization of us (and of any other force who, like us, is in the same boat of talking about tasks without putting forward how we are to accomplish them). It is clear, comrades, that the development of a conscious plan for party building has to be an organizational priority as of now.


Although in the section of the rectification campaign that deals with the methods of leadership we zero in on this question, it is good to mention it here, too. In the main, the lack of scientific planning being one of the primary reasons for it, our cadres definitely have more tasks over their shoulders than what they can really fulfill in a correct manner. The same is true of our leadership. Thus, this tendency of our organization of trying to bite off more than we can really chew has resulted in having our cadres running like track horses from task to task unable to dedicate all their attention to any of them.

In the last period (here we refer roughly to the period from December 1977 to the present) this tendency has been most acute and has affected every aspect of the organization’s activity (the regularity of the newspaper, the mass struggle we are involved in, the publication and distribution of M-L works, and most importantly of all, the theoretical development of our membership and contacts). Although definitely less of a problem, this bad utilization of cadres has been reflected in some cases in our not assigning enough work to some cadres but this no doubt is the exception, not the rule, and as a matter of fact, is an easier problem to solve.


Nobody can provide what they do not have. Therefore, if we lack conscious planning and suffer from poor utilization of resources, it’s only logical here that to a great extent the evils of our style of work affect our contacts and the different mass organizations, committees, etc., to which we attempt to provide communist leadership. In this respect we can say that in fact some of our contacts have given us valid criticisms that have helped the organization to understand this problem better and decide to immediately move to solve it.


Another manifestation of spontaneity is that of putting forward plans that are really far beyond what we can possibly accomplish with the resources we have today. (Recall the MAY DAY fiasco.) As we said earlier, it’s as if at times we believed that it is enough to wish something Very much for it to come true, into being. In a situation in which every new task involves the mobilizations of sectors of the organization which are already overworked, plans for big events, for fast results, for drastic changes, become mere illusions that only cause harm and disorganize further our already disorganized and scattered forces. In this respect, let’s say for a change, that the decision to plan this rectification campaign as a long term process that will step-by-step place the entire organization on more solid ground is the best thing we have done in a long time.


The absence of a conscious plan, spontaneity with its “tactics as process”, led to tailism of the spontaneous mass movement in many occasions. To begin with, of times we have involved ourselves in spontaneous mass struggles in a very spontaneous way. Something happens in the factory or workplace where we have cadres or contacts, or in a neighborhood where we have people, etc. and here we go to participate in that struggle without any previous analysis of what this struggle is all about, how we are going to place it in the context of party building, etc.

Although we can, in fact have analyzed the different lines that are put forward, criticize what is incorrect, etc., on the whole we have found ourselves in many of those struggles in the role of responding to whatever the particular leadership of the struggle puts out, more than providing direction to the leadership of the struggle ourselves, putting our concrete plans of action to the masses, etc. Although we carry out part of our communist line by putting forward our views trying to raise the political level of the masses, attempting to unite M-L’s and win the advanced to communism, bringing communist propaganda and communist agitation to the struggle, etc. this does not change the fact that we involve ourselves in many of those struggles without a conscious plan, and have to improvise on the road (“tactics as process”) and basically respond to what other people put forward (“tailism”) as opposed to proposing things, bringing plans, etc.

This we believe is a summation of how the problem of spontaneity affects our organization. Before we deal with the other main defects in our style of work – amateurishness, for instance, which is definitely closely connected to our spontaneity and sectarianism – we feel that it is proper to lay out some of the tasks we have ahead of us as a means to deal with, and rectify, the problem of spontaneity.

It is clear that we have to consciously plan all our revolutionary activity, establish priorities based on what are the needs of our movement and our own capabilities, etc. This need for planning is a general question that applies to each and every aspect of our work. Therefore what we are establishing here are specific tasks that we feel have to be carried out as a correct step in the direction of rectification.

1. Develop a party building plan. Already the Central Committee has presented the organization with a general outline of what has to be done to develop that plan. It is necessary to reach unity in methodology in order to be able to develop it. As pointed out earlier, this is a matter of top priority.

2. Examine the involvement and work of the organization in every area and at every level: theoretical, political, and organizational. We have to determine priorities, tactical plans for those priorities, time tables, distribution of forces, etc. In the main, it’s of particular importance to make a better division of labor and to try to stop the syndrome of people involved in many different areas many times even without a clear understanding of what is their primary task, etc.

3. Let’s establish priorities and then concentrate forces in those areas.

If we just establish a mechanical division of labor we will definitely continue the same vicious circle. It’s clear that at least momentarily we have to drop some of the things we are involved in. It is also clear that we cannot continue to add more and more tasks without first stabilizing our priorities and also taking account of our resources, both contacts and cadres. In this respect, there are various questions that have to be zeroed-in on.

a) The need to concentrate on some tasks. In dealing with this problem, Chairman Mao points out “Go deeply and concretely into the work called for, make a break-through at some single point, gain experience and use this experience for guiding other units. . .” It is crucial that we move in that direction. Let’s do less, but better, so that tomorrow we can do more and better.

b) Special importance has to be given to the question of training our forces (the section of amateurishness deals with this in full; see next issue).

c) We must recruit new people into the organization. Many of our contacts have fundamental unity with the line of the organization and have shown us that they are capable of carrying out that line in practice in the real world. Therefore, there is no reason why we have to wait until we clean house completely, so to speak, before inviting them to join us. In fact, very probably the best way to clean the house is with their fullest participation and help.

4. Need to reassess the question of the study of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought. We have to develop a plan that takes into consideration the question of the uneven development of our cadres and contacts. Study has to be designed not only taking into account the question of present theoretical development, but also social base (worker? intellectual? student?), area of work, etc.