Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Workers Congress (Marxist-Leninist)

WC(M-L) Response to Criticism by East Wind Collective

First Published: The Communist, Vol. V, No. 4, January 8, 1979.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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We are reprinting below a letter which appeared in the December 15 issue of UNITY, the political organ of the League of Revolutionary Struggle (M-L). In the letter the East Wind Collective criticizes certain statements made this past fall in THE COMMUNIST. Although the East Wind Collective chose not to write their criticisms to us, it is important that our cadre, contacts and other readers be exposed to the criticisms of our organization. For by bringing these criticisms into full view, we sharpen people’s vigilance towards our mistakes and promote the struggle to correct them.

In his 1962 Talk at an Enlarged Working Conference, Mao Tsetung said,

Comrades, we are revolutionaries. If we have really made mistakes, mistakes which are harmful to the cause of the Party and the people, we should seek the opinions of the masses and of comrades and criticize ourselves.... Criticism and self-criticism is a method; it is a method of resolving contradictions among the people and indeed the only method. There is no other method.

In this same spirit we welcome this opportunity to promote principled relations between ourselves and the East Wind Collective. We are responding to their public criticisms of us in an open and above board manner before the movement as a whole.

In their letter, East Wind is referring to part of our recent polemics against ATM and IWK. It was in a public forum in San Francisco last July that those two organizations’ characterized our work in ABDC as “all talk, no work”. We answered that criticism with “Response to ATM & IWK” in the August 28th issue of THE COMMUNIST. We then put forward our “National Proposal to Build the Anti-Bakke Movement” in the following issue. Finally we responded to our expulsion from ABDC with “Unity in Word–Sectarianism in Deeds” in the October 9th issue of our paper. Copies of our articles are still available and will be sent, upon request.

We unite with some aspects of the criticisms and we disagree with others. We also disagree with East Wind’s evaluation of ABDC. Our main task though is to answer the criticisms.

East Wind makes two basic criticisms of us. First they say that we deliberately distorted facts concerning certain events that occurred in ABDC. Second they say that we idealized our own role in ABDC in an unprincipled way.

As for the first criticism, East Wind correctly identifies two misstatements of facts in our articles. Neither was deliberate distortion. Rather they both reflect sloppy work on the part of our Editorial Board, which failed to check up on those facts with our comrades in Los Angeles and San Diego. Our particular failure to check the facts in this case was fostered by a more general error of bowing to spontaneity in our newspaper work. This was the real source, of our errors – not our deliberate intent to distort those facts.

Bowing to spontaneity by its very nature obstructs disciplined, collective and thorough methods of work that are consciously guided by communist politics. It nurtures pragmatism, which sacrifices Marxist-Leninist principles and methods for the immediate goal of “getting the job done.” Our plan for rectifying these errors includes both our general struggle to overcome spontaneity and a particular struggle to always check up on facts used in the paper.

In the first case mentioned by East Wind, the October 9th issue of THE COMMUNIST stated, “independent forces such as the East Wind Collective and the Carlos Montes Defense Committee also refused to support the decision.” But as East Wind correctly points out, they were not officially represented, nor did their abstention mean that they disagreed with the decision to expel WC(ML) from ABDC. So in fact their role was misrepresented in our article and we are self-critical for that.

In the second case, the August 28th issue of THE COMMUNIST stated “in the Alico Pico housing project of some 2,000 units in LA our people have been leafleting and going door to door for the last four months talking with project residents about the Bakke decision. We are the only ones in LA who have done door to door work”. Again as East Wind correctly points out, this is wrong because others have done door to door work. Our statement belittles others’ work and we extend our self-criticism to all those people.

We want to expose a third case, not criticised by East Wind, which reflected the same error. It was criticized by someone in the ABDC local in San Diego. In the August 28th issue of THE COMMUNIST we said of our work in that local, “We have also taken the lead in expanding ABDC community outreach there.” In fact, our representatives were not directly involved in community outreach, although we had contact with some of the people doing that work. This statement belittled the contributions to that work by others in the San Diego local.

Despite our intentions, the effect of our errors was to overstate our role in these two locals. Rather than simply refute ATM’s and IWK’s slander of “all talk, no work”, our own work became exaggerated. This was obvious not only to East Wind, but to our own cadre and others in those locals. We take this opportunity to set the record straight. If there are other errors in our reporting on work in ABDC or elsewhere, we encourage those criticisms also, so that we can rectify them.

There are also criticisms from East Wind that we do not unite with. First, East Wind says, “In the August 28th issue of THE COMMUNIST, WC writes that ABDC work is limited to California in order to justify their criticisms of ’ATM’s and IWK’s narrowness’”. But our article says, “the emphasis of ABDC work has been limited to California.” We think the principle of unity referring to the UC Regents, the errors around the April 15th march in Washington, DC, the focus on California’s Proposition 13, and more recently, the focus on the 1968 student struggles at San Francisco State all support our view.

In addition, the fact that ABDC has some locals outside of California, in Atlanta, Chicago, New York and Boston, does not refute our criticism of where the emphasis of work has been. The question is what has been the character of their activity around affirmative action and has it grown or lessened? We have been to New York and Boston and from what we have found that work has lessened. The same is true in Chicago.

One last point about narrowness. When we criticize the narrowness of ATM’s and IWK’s leadership, we did not dwell on the question of where their locals are. We showed how that narrowness was reflected in their principles of unity, their tactical leadership of the political struggles, and their poor methods of organization. Our analysis has not been refuted by East Wind’s criticisms of our errors, nor has East Wind shown how our analysis is “based on distortions and unprincipled attacks” as they put it.

As another criticism East Wind refers to a so-called “WC attempt to take personal credit for ABDC efforts in that area” (regarding the National Blank Book Company strike). But what we actually said in THE COMMUNIST was “As members of ABDC, our comrades have also been involved in giving support to the National Blank Book Company strike.” Is this “taking personal credit”? Hardly.

In the last portion of their letter East Wind states their unity with the “formation of ABDC as a nationwide organization to fight national oppression”, and other aspects of ABDC such as the existing principles of unity. They say that WC “consciously practiced a line of disrupting and undermining the ABDC and the anti-Bakke movement.”

Our own views of ABDC, our role in it and the real needs of the anti-Bakke movement are presented in our polemics with ATM and IWK and in our national proposal. These polemics were not an “unprincipled attack” but rather the kind of principled line struggle that is required in the pages of the communist press if we are to hammer out a correct line that can truly lead the anti-Bakke movement. We certainly have substantial differences with East Wind on those questions of line.

The fundamental demand that has united the anti-Bakke movement is the demand to defend and expand affirmative action. That movement is still growing, especially in defense of affirmative action in employment. The mounting resistance around the Weber Case is a prime example. Under the leadership of LRS, ABDC has chosen to focus not on affirmative action, but on national oppression. For its part, WC has committed itself to the class-conscious leadership of the struggle to defend and expand affirmative action.

We welcome this opportunity to accept the correct criticisms of the East Wind Collective and to exchange views with the comrades over our differences. This kind of exchange is a vital part of any communist newspaper which seeks to live up to the model of Lenin’s ISKRA. The struggle around political issues in our newspaper helps draw lines of demarcation and consolidate our movement around a common line. Along with developing our political leadership among the masses and building our organizational network nationwide, this task is an essential part of party-building.

We are young and inexperienced in all aspects of our work and we are certainly going to make mistakes. The point is to criticize them and correct them rather than justify them. By keeping the valve of criticism and self-criticism always open, we are bound to deepen our grasp of Marxism-Leninism and to improve our work among the masses.