Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

The New Voice

New Possibilities for Unity Among Marxist-Leninists: Make the Proletarian Line Central

First Published: The New Voice, Vol. VII, No. 7, April 3, 1978.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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The situation among Marxist-Leninist groups and individuals has improved in the last year. Events are battering away at some obstacles to unity in the movement.

This assessment is based on several developments. One is that the October League has renamed itself the Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist). This action, following a similar move by the Revolutionary Union, stripped the last dazzle off phony “party” shows. The CP M-L exists, and it has the money to publish a newspaper with lots of articles. And yet people can see that its claims are hollow. This is because the CP M-L still does not have the basic revolutionary program it needs.

Another development is growing criticism of disunity among communists. The existence of a “mountain-top,” petty chieftain attitude is apparent to many Marxist-Leninists. For example, what basic political differences keep the CP M-L and the I Wor Kuen apart? Or consider groups that repeat Lenin’s words about drawing firm lines of demarcation in order to unite–why are they stuck at demarcating differences; why do they never get around to uniting? People see no good reason for so many organizational strongholds among communists.

Also becoming clearer is the central need of a class analysis and a strategy for proletarian revolution in the United States. Disputes over important–but nevertheless secondary–issues have followed one after another for several years now without producing a basic line for revolution in the U.S. Interest in class analysis and a protracted, solid revolutionary strategy is growing. The desire of Marxist-Leninists to study these issues is one sign of it.


In this situation, the struggle continues between the two paths for the communist movement–the proletarian line and the bourgeois line. The CP M-L, the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP) and the Guardian newspaper are still the leading havens of the bourgeois, line. They share the same lack of a basic revolutionary strategy for the U.S. revolution. While the proletarian line recognizes the full size of the working class and the absence of any significant petty bourgeois economy, the programs of these groups create large, fuzzy “intermediate” or outright petty bourgeois classes. While the proletarian line deals with the problems of uniting the working class and leading it to socialism through proletarian revolution, these groups stumble about aimlessly with the slogan of a multi-class united front against imperialism in the U.S. Their programs are an invitation to both reformism and sectarianism in one campaign after another.

The New Voice has stated and practiced its views on these questions for a long time. We summarize them in our three key points: The Enemy Is Capitalism; The Fight Is For Socialism! Make the Workers’ Struggles the Party’s Struggles; Make the Party’s Outlook the Workers’ Outlook! Fight Racism!


In the last year a new trend of anti-“leftism” has developed. Billing itself as anti-dogmatist or anti-sectarian, this trend says it opposes ultra-leftism. The Guardian newspaper, the Philadelphia Workers Organizing Committee and some other collectives are the center of this trend, instead of clarifying the proletarian and bourgeois class lines, anti-“leftists” see things in terms of ultra-leftism and their answer to it.

When a deviation–a communist departure from correct revolutionary policy–is starting, this is the best time to point out in a constructive way that comrades are making right or “left” errors. They forget about revolution and concentrate on winning reforms to the point of reformism, or they satisfy themselves with revolutionary talk instead of doing real revolutionary work within class struggles. They are not keeping up with the movement, or they are leaping ahead of it. These are examples of right and “left” mistakes, and both are bad. Our second key point above is directed against them.

All policies and tendencies help either the working class or the capitalist class. To deviate heavily to the right or the “left” is eventually to circle around to the bourgeois line, which is diametrically opposed to the proletarian line. Then no one can untangle right and “left” forms of an error.

The important thing is to analyze the class essence of an error and expound Marxism-Leninism concretely. This helps increase the forces of the class-conscious proletariat. Both Marxist-Leninists and rightists will criticize a “left” error. Politically, this is a good thing. But communists should always make an independent exposition of Marxism. When a “left” error is criticized, you can tell the Marxist-Leninists from the rightists partly by this test: whether or not they expound the proletarian line, relate things to revolution and show us how to do some class thinking.


Dwelling on the sectarianism of the CP M-L and RCP, anti-“leftists” overlook these groups’ many rightist and reformist tendencies. For example, the CP M-L New Year editorial (Call, Jan. 9) managed to get through two pages of print without discussing questions of achieving socialism in the United States. With one exception, the very mention of socialism was confined to the example of China. And people know the RCP keeps workers tied to economic issues and little more. The basic strategy of these groups is non-revolutionary. They put forward a wide-ranging bourgeois line, not only a “left” line!

The anti-“leftist” trend is thoroughly bourgeois in ideology. It covers up at least half the errors of the CP M-L and RCP, their rightist errors. Often the sole basis of anti-dogmatism seems to be splittism within the international communist movement. Certainly, sectarianism is deeply rooted in the CP M-L and RCP, and it frankly affects much of the communist movement. But there are still two class lines. By concentrating on sectarianism as the main problem, the anti-“leftist” view lumps the two class positions together.

People trying to be Marxist-Leninists will not be taken in by the anti-“leftist” posture of the Guardian and PWOC. In fact, the anti-“leftists’” non-Marxist trading on sectarian problems will only encourage comrades with sectarian tendencies to persist in error.


What can Marxist-Leninist do to unite? The New Voice sees its tasks as follows:

+First, we expound the three key points. We invite struggle over them. If you think they are not basic, we invite struggle over that, too.

+We persist in applying and learning to use the three key points, particularly the second one. We cannot wait for a party to unite theory and practice.

+We maintain democratic centralism. Democratic centralism has no preconditions of size before being applied. It increases the strength of looser organizational forms. Democratic centralism combined with united front work rallies maximum energy at all levels for the class struggle. And only a democratic centralist organization can defend Marxism-Leninism, unlike mass organizations and loose study circles.

+We seek unity. Because The New Voice has focused on three key issues, allowing neither secondary disputes nor petty organizational interests to block unity, we are well-placed to unite wherever possible. We see basic principles as the important thing, not particular persons or groups. People can change; we have things to learn, too. Therefore, we welcomed the CP M-L’s proposal for a Unity Committee. We united in mass work with people attracted to anti “leftism,” too. Communists should be able to unite at even higher levels.


Expounding and applying the three key points, focusing on revolution, seeking unity–these are essential tasks of The New Voice. We will continue to give all our energy to them. If other groups and individuals strive hard to work on these lines, too, then the working-class struggle will surge forward to new victories!