Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Let’s Move Party Building Forward.

Collective Party Building line of:
Kansas Collective for Proletarian Revolution (KCPR)
Kansas City Revolutionary Workers Collective (KCRWC)
Wichita Communist Cell (WCC)

First Published: July 1978.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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Brief history of the Wichita Communist Cell (WCC)

The membership of WCC originates out of the mass anti-war and anti-imperialist spontaneous movements. After having engaged in spontaneous movements for several years and having realized that revolutionary theory was needed to guide practice, Marxist-Leninist (M-L) study groups were formed in the fall of ’75. Some members; after grasping the basic M-L ideology of the necessity and inevitability of socialist revolution, the working class as the only really revolutionary class which can lead the revolution and carry it through to completion, and the need for M-L theory to guide, and a revolutionary party to lead the class; went forward to put this into practice. A democratic centralist organization was formed in the fall of ’76 in order to begin carrying out the tasks of M-L’s and especially the central task of building the party.

Our work in the first year of our existence was marked by a low level of ideological, political and organizational line. At first we looked for leadership in such organizations as PRRWO/RWL, WVO, ATM, but in studying the lines and practice of these groups, we found them to be opportunist (we were already familiar with the opportunism and revisionism of the CPUSA, PLP, CLP, RCP, CPML and Guardian-types). We mainly struggled with the Kansas City Revolutionary Workers Collective (KCRWC) in this period, with both groups benefiting from the mutual leadership, criticism and self-criticism. In order to move forward in party building, we attempted an analysis of the state of the communist movement in the Spring of ’77.[1] This analysis was fraught with errors due to our metaphysical method, but served to clarify to us several tasks which M-L’s needed to carry out in order to build the party. These were: unite M-L’s on a principled basis; win advanced workers to communism; develop revolutionary theory as our guide to action, and theory is principal over practice in this period; carry out propaganda and agitation, with propaganda as the chief form of activity in this period; develop appropriate organizational forms to move forward party building (e.g. the center). Our main errors at this time were: to overemphasize the study of theory and struggle in the communist movement, and negate the practical work of winning advanced workers to communism and secondarily winning the broad masses to the side of communism (to separate theory from practice); to neglect the importance of understanding the key link in party building.

In the fall of ’77, due to criticism by KCRWC, we began to reexamine our line and practice. We saw that although theory was principal in this period, we were hardly doing any work in the working class movement and this had to be rectified. In the area of political line, although we had some idea of tasks, we saw that we did not have a conscious grasp of the importance of identifying the key link in moving party building forward, and that we objectively had been holding that the struggle against opportunism and revisionism was the key link. We began to reexamine our line on party building–tasks and key link. A rectification campaign was begun to root out the metaphysical and idealist viewpoint and method, and the ultra-leftism in our line and practice. (The rectification campaign is still under way and we will be summing this up to the movement.) Our study and practice in the past few months has produced our present views on how to move party building forward. Since we have been mainly struggling with the Kansas Collective for Proletarian Revolution (KCPR) and KCRWC, and the struggle has been principled, the KCPR, KCRWC and WCC have a high level of unity on party building tasks and key link. So we are also representing the KCPR and KCRWC’s party building line in this document.

The state of the communist movement

The disunity and confusion on ideological, political and organizational questions in the movement is a big stumbling block to uniting into a party. Lines of demarcation are not drawn or are drawn prematurely, and groups fall prey to opportunist and revisionist lines. The disunity and confusion is due to the low theoretical development and amateurish methods of work. Our amateurish methods of communication and struggle between groups, our lack of a forum to struggle over questions causes us to lag behind in development of common revolutionary lines. For example, it has been difficult to struggle over the international situation (the question of strategy and tactics for the world-revolutionary proletarian movement and leadership in the international communist movement), and the question of a revisionist take-over in China. This means that due to our low theoretical development, without a means of struggling out lines on a principled basis, groups can easily fall into opportunism and revisionism on these questions. The LPR, who in the past has had M-L lines on party building, has taken an opportunist centrist position on the international situation, trying to reconcile the M-L line and leadership of the PLA with the anti-Leninist line and practice of the CPC, and other groups have wavered on the question.

Our practical work in the working class suffers due to the above problems. Uniform M-L lines on communist work in the trade unions, the creation of factory nuclei, winning and promoting the advanced workers into professional revolutionaries, propaganda and agitation, the National Question and Woman Question have not been produced in the movement overall. This is part of the reason why the number of advanced workers in our organizations is so small. Our work in the working class is isolated and the experience and knowledge of one group is not conveyed to others, resulting in a continued low level of propaganda and agitation and fusion with the working class.

Our current organizational forms are not adequate to deal with our theoretical and practical work. We need to develop uniform organizational forms which will enable us to better carry out struggle and unite M-L’s on a principled basis, to win and train advanced workers, to develop programmatic elements, weld the main core (build the center), and secondarily win the broad masses. We need organizational forms which can deal with the state and reaction, and for legal and illegal work. These organizational problems are a result of the isolation and scatteredness of the movement, and lack of M-L lines on organizational forms.

We have shown the major problems the communist movement faces which must be overcome if we are to move forward in party building. In order to solve the problems, we must find the key link. As Lenin says in What Is To Be Done? (FLP Peking p. 201):

Every question ’runs in a vicious circle’ because political life as a whole is an endless chain consisting of an indefinite number of links. The whole art of politics lies in finding and taking as firm a grip as we can of the link that is least likely to be struck from our hands, the one that is most important at the given moment, the one that most of all guarantees its possessor the possession of the whole chain.

What is the key link in party building?

Until recently, the line most commonly held among genuine forces has been “political line is key link.” We have not examined this line in an historical context, and this should be done, but we have examined it in light of the current situation. What occurs in practice when we hold to political line is key link? To hold this line is to concentrate on the development of one’s own group or circle, independently doing the theoretical study and development of lines, and spending much time in the study of the lines put forward by other groups and In struggling with other groups. Political line is key link sees M-L unity developing through the struggle over the independent lines of the numerous groups and circles. This concentration on one’s own group is small-circle mentality and does not solve the problems of amateurishness and disunity, ideological confusion and fragmentation, the lack of a genuine M-L center to lead party building. With this line, the study and struggle for a revolutionary theory can’t be carried out properly. Because there is not an overall plan or division of labor, certain theoretical tasks are duplicated while others are left untouched. The unity of M-L’s is not furthered adequately since the theoretical development remains low and there are not good ways of carrying out struggle. Our ability to win advanced workers is lowered due to the above problems and because practical M-L work does not take on a nationa1 character. The identification of theoretical tasks vital to the further development of our work, a proper division of labor to carry them out, proper communications, development of a form to carry out ideological and political struggle, the sharing of views and experiences of comrades on a national scale, the development of a newspaper and journal and corresponding network really capable of serving the whole movement, the development of uniform and consistent practical work; these tasks cannot’ be carried out by a local group or circle.

It can be seen that under the current conditions, “political line is key link” is a line which does not provide solutions to problems, and therefore holds back the development of the party. The key link must be something else. We see the principal contradiction in the party building movement as the contradiction between the absence and presence of genuine M-L centralized leadership, with absence being the principal aspect. We hold that the building of the genuine center is the key link in the party building chain. The center which is needed is not one of the COUSML or MLOC type. COUSML and MLOC have declared themselves to be the center, but along with tailing behind the working class movement, they are not actually providing centralized leadership to help in the solving of the above problems. The type of center which the movement needs is one that will provide centralized leadership and move forward our party building tasks. The center will provide ideological, political and organizational leadership. It will be able to coordinate theoretical work and provide a division of labor for it. Systematic relations will be established between groups and the major questions upon which groups disunite will be struggled out (through a political organ and meetings). The center will provide leadership in the struggle against revisionism and opportunism, to isolate and expose opportunist and revisionist leadership and win cadre away from this leadership through the struggle for the M-L line and practice. In this way a principled basis of unity will be established and lines of demarcation between genuine and sham drawn. At this time, when some of the genuine forces are disunited and confused as to the international leadership, the center will be able to give ideological leadership to show the correct leadership of the PLA and the revisionist “theory of the three worlds,” and will provide the means for struggling this out. Practical work will take on a systematic and national character. Common organizational forms will be developed which will move forward our work. The center will move forward both the content of the communist movement through the development of M-L unity around line, programme, and practice, and the form of the movement through qualitative advances in organization. When comrades truly make the building of the genuine center the key link, we will be able to bring into being genuine M-L centralized leadership, move forward the solution of all the tasks and problems facing our party building movement. We are at a point of development in our movement in which the development of the center is the thing which moves the whole movement forward.

How we can move forward tasks and make building the center the key link

Our main reason for distributing this paper is to struggle with comrades over the tasks and key link in party building. We feel it is important for comrades to closely examine this question. We analyze that our party building tasks in general are: unite M-L’s on a principled basis, win advanced workers, work out a programme, and weld the main core (build the center),[2] and that building the center is the key link. When we make something the key link, it means to focus on this key task, not giving up other tasks, but seeing tasks in light of the key task. In the following passage, Lenin shows the relationship between the tasks of Russian Social-Democrats and the key link of founding a Party organ and developing the network (the building of the center in the Russian experience):

We believe that the most urgent task of the moment consists in undertaking the solution of these questions, for which purpose we must have as our immediate aim the founding of a Party organ that will appear regularly and be closely connected with all the loca1 groups. We believe that all the activity of the Social-Democrats should be directed to this end throughout the whole of the forthcoming period. In speaking of the necessity to concentrate all Party forces–all literary forces, all organizational abilities, all material resources, etc.–on the foundation and correct conduct of the organ of the whole Party, we do not for a moment think of pushing other forms of activity into the background–e.g., local agitation, demonstrations, boycott, the persecution of spies, the bitter campaigns against individual representatives of the bourgeoisie and the government, protest strikes, etc., etc. On the contrary, we are convinced that all these forms of activity constitute the basis of the Party’s activity, but, without their unification through an organ of the whole Party, these forms of revolutionary struggle loose nine-tenths of their significance; they do not lead to the creation of common Party experience, to the creation of Party traditions and continuity. The Party organ, far from competing with such activity, will exercise tremendous influence on its extension, consolidation and systematization. (“Our Immediate Task,” LCW Vol 4, p. 218, 219.)

In order to understand the tasks and key link in party building, comrades should make the study of party building their principal theoretical task. It is good to be examining other areas of ideological, political and organizational line, but party building should be the study we focus on. It is time we overcome our bowing to spontaneity on party building and develop M-L theory to guide us in building the party. It is time we overcome our pragmatic approach of developing theories because they “work,” and take a serious attitude toward developing theories which reflect objective reality, which are M-L. (Pragmatism, which holds that something has value if it is useful or “works,” that what is true is anything which achieves immediate success, is a bourgeois-revisionist philosophy which is especially prevalent in the U.S. due to the need of U.S. imperialists to justify imperialism.) There is much we need to have a line on in party building. An important area to come to an understanding on, in order to have a deeper grasp of tasks and key link, is the periods in this stage of the development of the party. When we have a good grasp of periods, our past and present, we can better see the future. We need an historica1 understanding of our movement, tasks we have completed, tasks left to complete, errors made and why they were made in order to correctly move forward. We will then be able to develop a scientific plan for moving party building forward, especially a plan for building the center. All of the lines we develop should come from a study of the early party building experiences of the CPSU(B), CPC, PLA, CPUSA, applied to an analysis of the general objective conditions and our movements’ party building effort.

Recently, two groups have put forward plans for party building. One plan by the comrades of the Pacific Collective, calls for a “network” in the absence of the center. Although a network is important in developing the party, it will not move things forward if it is decentra1ized, it will retard the development of the unity around line and programme and common practice and the organizational forms. The other plan by the comrades of the Marxist-Leninist Collective calls for a multilateral committee of genuine forces with the object of setting up an organizing committee (o.c.) to form the party. This plan leaps ahead of the content of the movement, which with the lack of unity around line and programme and common practice, is no way near ready for an o.c. Both these incorrect plans were put forward precisely because of bowing to spontaneity and pragmatism, because of the disdain for theory of party building. Only through a concrete study of concrete conditions will we know where we are at in party building and specifically how to move forward. Through our initial analysis of conditions, we hold that it is neither a decentralized network or a multilateral committee leaping into an organizing committee that is the key link in party building, but the development of centralized leadership–the building of the center. But as we say above, there is much more we need to study in order to have a scientific plan for party building and for building the center.

To ensure that the study of party building is done in a systematic way in the movement, we need a nationa1 joint study. Groups participating in the national study would benefit theoretically from the national input, national line struggle and national unity achieved on the questions studied. The goal of the study would be to gain a deeper understanding of party building, especially tasks and key link, and to work out a scientific plan for building the center. The study would investigate periods, tasks, key link, fusion and other questions of party building. As described above, we would use the revolutionary theory of M-L parties applied to our concrete conditions. There are many organizationa1 questions which remain to be answered as regards the study–how will the study be organized on a national basis? What principles of unity will have to exist to participate in the study? We ask comrades to study what we have put forward and send their ideas to us–unities and disunities with our line on this, suggestions on other party building questions to study, ways to organize the study, etc.

As we gain a better theoretical understanding of party building, we need to put this into practice. We need to combat “political line is key link” and small circle mentality and/or sectarianism at the base of this. We must understand that small circle mentality and sectarianism are manifestations of petty bourgeois individualism which we have to struggle against. Our struggle against political line is key link must be concrete not just in words. For example, we can not say we are struggling against political line is key link if we concentrate on developing lines individually and in isolation from other comrades. In order to uphold building the center as the key link we must concentrate on seeking ways to develop principled ties between comrades, to develop centralized leadership in the movement. We need to begin making the needs of the whole the principal aspect rather than the part the principal aspect. Lacking a scientific plan for building the center, we must prepare the way for this plan. The KCPR, KCRWC and WCC see the joint national study on party building as a practical way to advance the building of the center. Through the joint effort of those groups participating in the study and the common political line which will come from the study, groups will begin to move away from small circle parochialism. We have to work for the center; it cannot be declared. “To establish and consolidate the party means to establish and consolidate unity among all Russian Social-Democrats; such unity cannot be decreed, it cannot be brought about by a decision, say, of a meeting of representatives; it must be worked for.”[3] All genuine forces must make building the center the key link if we are to move forward party building.

To understand our basic approach to the party building question and particularly to grasp the need to develop the M-L line and practice on the key link in the party building chain, we recommend that comrades study or restudy the following works by Lenin:
1. “Our Immediate Task,” LCW, Vol. 4, p. 215-220.
2. “An Urgent Question,” LCW, Vol. 4, p. 221-226.
3. “Draft Declaration of Iskra and Zarya,” LCW, Vol. 4, p. 320-330,
4. What Is To Be Done?, FLP Peking 1975, partic. Sec’s IV, V, and p. 201.

The above list is by no means exhaustive. In the future, we plan to develop and distribute a more systematic study guide to the party building question.

We urge comrades to study the question of tasks and key link and to struggle over this in the movement. We see the best way of doing this is to form a joint national study on party building. We urge comrades to begin building the center in practice as our theory of the key link of building the center deepens. We see the joint national study as a way to advance the building of the center, a way to begin eliminating our low level of theoretical development and ideological confusion, amateurish methods of work, small-circle spirit, disunity and fragmentation. We will keep comrades up to date on the study we are doing on party building and the deepening of our line and practice.


Kansas Collective for Proletarian Revolution (KCPR)
Kansas City Revolutionary Workers Collective (KCRWC)
Wichita Communist Cell (WCC)


[1] This analysis, “The Situation in the U.S. Communist Movement,” was to have been presented at a party building forum in Denver in March ’77, but because of our view that the revisionists had seized power in China, we were, at the last minute, opportunistically excluded from the forum by the host, Colorado Organization for Revolutionary Struggle.

[2] See J.V. Stalin, “Political Strategy and Tactics of the Russian Communists,” LPR ed. of Stalin on Strategy and Tactics, p. 24, 30.

[3] Lenin, “Draft Declaration of Iskra and Zarya,” LCW Vol 4, p. 323.