Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Marxist-Leninist League

Joint Statement on Party Building


First Published: Mass Resistance Vol. 11, No. 4, July 1980.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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The near completion of the merger process of the League for Proletarian Revolution (M-L) and the Colorado Organization for Revolutionary Struggle (M-L-M) is a concrete step forward in the struggle for the building of a genuine multi-national Marxist-Leninist party in our country. This struggle is the central task of all genuine communists in the U.S. and the uniting under a correct ideological and political line of two organizations that are part of that movement can only help achieve that task.

THE CENTRAL TASK

The recognition of party building as the central task is crucial for our movement. But, obviously this recognition by itself is not enough. Our deeds must conform to that understanding to move the process forward. In upholding party building as the central task we not only recognize the absence of such a party in our country and the undeniable necessity of building it, but we also see the need to place all our ideological, political and Organizational work in the context of party building. This means concretely that the immediate task we have is one of contributing to the development of the correct ideological and political line that would allow for the principled uniting of Marxist-Leninists and the winning over to communism the most advanced elements of the working class so that the necessary conditions for party building can ripen in our country.

Both our organizations hold that the necessary conditions for the formation of a genuine party do not yet exist in the U.S. There is no basis for now for the organizational uniting of different organizations as the immediate step in party building. This would liquidate the importance of a correct line on which to base that unity and would belittle the importance of recruiting into the Marxist-Leninist movement a significant number of advanced workers in order to begin to change the social basis of our movement and the future party. An organizational unity-now approach would only give greater strength to incorrect or partially incorrect lines, thus making the party building effort a more difficult and longer process.

And we both recognize that to make joint mass practice among different groups the principal vehicle for forging M-L unity is incorrect. While upholding that joint practice is definitely important as one element in any serious party building effort, we know that this has to be subordinate to, and in fact be developed as the result of, the struggle for unity on a correct line. The question is not simply one of doing things together, but of doing the necessary and correct things in a correct way, together. Were we to over-emphasize joint practice, this could be accompanied by a belittlement of the ideological struggle necessary among different organizations. For the sake of joint practice, important tactical and even strategic differences can be swept under the rug, negotiated and compromised in an unprincipled fashion. Thus, while we actively strive for carrying out joint work with other Marxist-Leninist organizations, we state that such practice has to be subordinate to a common striving to achieve principled unity on a correct ideological and political line.

Likewise we know that party building as the central task is not something insignificant that can be subordinated to the task of fusion. While upholding the need for the whole movement to create a base in the working class, this cannot be done in a one-sided fashion, thus liquidating the importance of developing a common correct line and principled Marxist-Leninist unity. Such unity cannot be the simple addition of a large number of forces in order to facilitate the fusion process and thus make “fusion” the principal task.

The party building process is one that includes the development of a correct line, the uniting of Marxist-Leninists on that line and the winning over of a significant number of advanced workers to such a line Those tasks are linked one with the other, while none have to be completely accomplished to then start with another. On the whole, this is not yet the dominant line in our movement.

WHY THE NEED FOR ONE CORRECT LINE

Ideologically, our party will have to be soundly based in the science of revolution, in Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought, on historical and dialectical materialism. We need to master the teachings of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin and Mao in order to be better equipped to make a correct analysis of the problems facing the U.S. and world proletarian revolution. Thus, the adherence to and mastering of this science must be the basis of our ideological line. The application of that ideological line to the specific conditions of the United States and the world is the basis for the political line. For it to be a correct political line, it cannot be in contradiction to our ideological line and has to correspond to the concrete conditions we are out to change. In that way, line is not a dead dogma, but rather a guide to our actions. Its correctness is not so much determined by our ability to defend it, but more on whether or not it proves to be correct when tested in practice. If a line helps to forge the unity of genuine Marxist-Leninists, to win over the advanced workers and to provide leadership to the spontaneous struggles of the masses, then that line would have been proven correct. And conversely, if it proved incapable of helping us fulfill the tasks for which it was developed, then it would have to be repudiated as incorrect.

NEED FOR OPEN POLEMICS

In the past, while being strong advocates of open struggle, both LPR and COReS made serious errors in carrying some polemics. To begin with, we did not take up seriously enough the task of doing the polemics, and did too little systematic polemicizing. We did not always center the polemic on the most important and pressing issues of the day. Thus, a major weakness was the failure to clearly distinguish the character of the contradictions between us and other organizations. In most of the polemics we tended to raise every shade of difference to antagonistic levels that only applied to differences between us and the enemy. There were also many instances of phrasemongering and sloganeering, labeling, etc. in some of the polemics. On many occasions, this resulted not in helping some comrades to correct their errors but instead to defensive-ness of those errors and aided in the adoption of sectarian attitudes towards one another. We have reaffirmed the need to rid ourselves of these incorrect methods of struggle.

While recognizing the negative aspects in our polemics and in the whole movement especially in the mid 70’s, we believe that in the main the polemics did bring positive results. The open polemics did represent a step forward in our movement. They helped to identify the major areas of unities and disagreements, to identify different trends in the movement, to share our views on the major questions facing the U.S. revolutionaries. And the polemics were over-all influential in correctly pushing the issue of party building to the forefront. The polemics against the national chauvinism of the RU, the neo-trotskyism of the CL, the ultra-leftism of the Wing, the anti-revisionist premises of WVO, the economism of the OL and on aspects of the ATM line were positive contributions in which several genuine organizations participated in an open way.

To seize upon the errors of the past as a justification for liquidating open polemics would be to deny the importance of principled Marxist-Leninist struggle. Both our organizations see that we must focus the polemics not on forces outside the communist movement, but rather that principled polemics within the movement are crucial if we are to unite to build a genuine party. We unite on utilizing many methods of achieving communist unity, including the use of forums, bilateral meetings and multi-lateral meetings, however at the same time see that the substitution of one method such as meetings for open ideological struggle is an incorrect method for resolving our differences. In order that the movement as a whole benefit from whatever forms are being utilized, it is necessary that the open polemic be used in a consistent way. Through newspapers, journals, etc. the whole communist movement can become educated to eliminate incorrect lines and ways of thinking, thus making them a part of the struggle for a new party.

UNITING MARXIST-LENINISTS

To rectify the movement’s past errors, it is crucial to concretely define who is and who is not part of the anti-revisionist communist movement. Once this is defined, this will determine the character of the struggle with them. With the revisionists, trotskyites and consolidated opportunists, the struggle will be one of exposure, isolation and defeat. They must be run out of our movement, we must win from their influence whatever honest elements follow them, and we must combat their influences in the workers’ and other mass movements. With comrades within the movement, the struggle will be one that must be carried out from the approach of unity-struggle-unity.

Our point of departure will be the desire for unity with those comrades. We of course are not advocating a method of unity-struggle-unity like the liberal criticism that some comrades today call polemics. The ideological struggle represents in the final analysis the struggle between a bourgeois and a proletarian line and will be as sharp as the situation requires. Only in this way can our purpose be fulfilled of correcting our mistakes, repudiating erroneous lines and developing one correct line for the movement.

In the past we were very prone to putting labels on organizations and individuals. Whatever differences arose, we tended to treat as antagonistic ones and immediately would label someone a revisionist, trotskyite, centrist, windbag, or any of the other labels so abundant not only in our press, but in the whole communist press of this country for many years. For the purposes of determining who makes up the genuine communist movement, it is these labels and this approach that we are repudiating. In advocating the need for a reassessment of that movement, we are not putting ourselves forward as the condescending saviors for no longer can we accept the idea that any organization or groups of organizations have the monopoly on Marxist-Leninist credentials in this country. Who is or is not in the movement is a question of the line and practice, words and deeds of the different organizations in relation to the fundamental questions facing our movement.

We consider it necessary to differentiate sham from genuine Marxism in this country in terms of the line of groups on the following fundamental questions:
A. Their stand towards the U.S. bourgeoisie.
B. Their positions and practice on the International Situation.
C. Their party building line and practice.
D. Their approach to the National Question.
E. Their treatment of the Woman’s Question.
F. Their stand on the Working Class.

To consider an organization as honest and strive to seek unity with it, we need not have fully developed lines on each of these questions and agree on the particulars of each question. But a general unity in the basic approach and general line unity on these questions should exist.

In general terms, the communist movement is located within the boundaries of a correct line on these questions. So long as deviations from a correct line are not fully consolidated and there is some reason to believe incorrect lines can still be repudiated, such forces represent part of the movement and whatever differences exist among them and with us need to be struggled out in the hopes of arriving at unity.

In summation, we see the necessity in the immediate future for our new organization and the whole movement to reassess the experiences of our movement in the last decade, reassess the movement based on the results of that sum-up and the political points raised above, the need to develop open and above-board struggle with, comrades around the burning issues facing the movement. Only with such an analysis based in reality and an all-sided approach can we begin in the 80ís to rectify the errors of the past and advance the creation of a new communist party.

POLITICAL LINE AS KEY LINK

In the past both LPR and COReS held the position that political line was the key link to party building. Today, neither organization upholds that view. On the other hand, we both unite that the development of a correct ideological and political line for our movement is of decisive importance. Because the two organizations have arrived at this conclusion at different times and by different processes and summations, we consider it better to establish here separate presentations of our views on this.

In COReS’ view, taking up the slogan of ’Political Line is the key link’ helped our organization move forward in our early formative years. It aided us in understanding the importance of taking the struggle to the political questions rather than letting them remain in the realm of generalities. We better understood the importance of applying the theory to the particular conditions in the US to help develop a revolutionary program.

Today we see that this slogan was not specific enough to provide us or the movement with the direction to really move the party building forward. Consequently, we are; more on the lookout to discover what is it in the specific that will move this process forward based on a real investigation of the movement.