Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Tyree Scott

Conference Presentation: Speech on Party Building


Prepared and Delivered: June 1979.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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Comrades:

The planning committee of this conference believes that as Marxist-Leninists in the United States at this time we are in a unique place in history, that this place in history has given us a special responsibility. These next two days we are going to struggle to unite around where we are in history, to find ourselves in that history. We are going to struggle to determine what our tasks are, and finally we are going to struggle to unite on the process that will move us forward as rapidly and deliberately as possible toward the achievement of our tasks.

I have the pleasant responsibility of presenting to you the planning committee’s perspective on our principle task as Marxist-Leninists. We did not request your presence here today to discuss the evils of racism, while we will most certainly speak to that question. We did not request your presence here to speak to the evils of sexism, yet we will address this question. Nor did we request your presence to talk about the oppression of the U.S. and the international working class and the evils of U.S. Imperialism though we will take up these questions. We came here united on the urgent need to address these questions. Our unity must now be deepened by taking up our differences to arrive at a solution to all the evils facing the world’s people. We requested your presence here today to begin that task.

We came here today to take up the question of building a vanguard party dedicated to the overthrow of U.S. Imperialism and the establishment of socialism here in the United States.

The kind of party we speak of is described as the advanced detachment of the working class, a party that is a part of the working class movement on the one hand, but the part that is detached to the front to guide and give leadership to that movement. This is the Vanguard Party.

Ten years ago, any one of us would have felt compelled to come to a conference to address any of the points mentioned above, and I dare say many of us will have to organize and attend many more meetings and conferences on just these issues. We represent a small minority; many of our brothers and sisters have not yet come to understand the limits of reform and the true nature of Imperialism. However, there are still many battles yet to be won within the context of the reform struggle, for it is in the struggle for reform that we must forge unity with Black, Brown and White workers, with men and women, the old and the young; and we .must build alliances between the petty bourgeoisie and the proletariat. It is in these struggles that we will come in contact with the future Marxist Leninists who will take their place in the leadership of our party, for it was in these struggles that we were forged. It was in the reform struggle that many Marxist-Leninists in our movement today saw the limitations of reform and the necessity for revolution, was in the anti-imperialist struggle that many more came to see the true nature of Imperialism, that it was not simply a foreign policy being applied wrong. It was among this new generation of revolutionaries that we would begin a new period, a period characterized by the struggle for a correct ideology.

For many of us this period was a very confusing and disjointed one. The civil rights, student, anti-war and women’s movements did not direct many of us straight to Marxism-Leninism. Many of us made detours along the way. Some of us stopped off at the Mosque, others stopped by to see the guru (in an effort to find a new you) while others of us found refuge in the notion that our race was somehow in some way superior to everyone else’s and that things would work themselves out somehow, some way. Still others went over to the side of the enemy and collected their handsome ransom.

A small handful began to look at the history of the international working peoples’ struggle and correctly took up the debate of whether or not Marxism-Leninism was applicable to the U.S. and its people, given the difference between the conditions facing the people of less developed countries where Marxism-Leninism had become a material force, and those facing the working class in an advanced industrial society.

It was among these comrades that the ideological period began to take on a conscious posture; And as the ideological period matured many of us who had made our various stop offs were won to the perspective that Marxism-Leninism was In fact the only road that could lead to the emancipation of the working class in the United States.

During this period of ideological struggle when the debate over which path to take was going on, every tendency and deviation that existed in the world international “communist” movement developed within the U.S. movement. Many activists joined the revisionist CPUSA; some were won to Trotskyism; others to social democracy; still others to anarchism; and many others to left wing communism. It was only when the ideas of Marxism-Leninism had begun to crystallize among activists in the U.S. and a widespread dissemination of those ideas had begun to take place, that a significant amount of serious activists, intellectuals, worker-intellectuals, national minorities and women revolutionaries began to consider, study and be won to the science of Marxism-Leninism.

This ideological period has now come to an end and given birth to a new period. This period is characterized by the principle task, the task of Theoretical Development. The perspective of the planning committee for this conference is that party building is the principle task facing Marxist-Leninists in the United States today, and in this context the theoretical struggle is the principle task.

THE PERIOD WITHOUT THE PARTY

We say today that we must build a party. We believe that we do not yet have a revolutionary party, though there are many who claim to stand at the head of the working class movement as its vanguard. So we say that we must build a party. Way?

The 1960’s was a period that saw the rise of the Black liberation movement, the student movement, the anti-war movement and the women’s movement,, all of which were led primarily by the petty bourgeoisie. The communist movement for all practical purposes was not a material force. The communist movement played no major role in these struggles. However, it was along side these movements that our movement, the anti-revisionist movement, started to take some form in the period we discussed earlier, the ideological period. And it is in these movements that the communist movement must give direction and stand in the forefront of. Further, it is from these movements that the communist movement must draw many of its leading cadre.

The liberation movements in socialist Cuba, Southeast Asia and Southern Africa also played a large part in bringing many activists to the realization that we must look closer at Marxism-Leninism. Our conscious development was first one of anti-imperialism. This objectively put many of us in a position of rooting for the communists, i.e., Fidel Castro, Ho Chi Minh, Amilcar Cabral, etc.; while essentially harboring anti-communist ideas. This contradiction forced many of us to take up the question of communism.

Many of us look at the Communist Party U.S.A. when the leadership said that they were in fact the vanguard. However, when we looked at the role the Party played in the liberation movements of the oppressed nationalities, we saw that the party had not stood in front of those movements. When we asked for the Party’s position on the Race/National Question, they showed us a document that had not been touched for 30 years. We looked for the Party in the Anti-War Movement to show the movement that Imperialism’s nature was to go to war and not just the policy of JFK and LBJ. But the Party was not in the front of that movement. The party was not leading the Women’s movement nor was it tailing it. The party was in fact opposing one of the women’s movements most important struggles: the Equal Rights Amendment.

Our conclusion is that we once had a revolutionary party In the United States and that this party lea the U.S. working class to many victories in the 1920’s and ’30’s, namely organizing the CIO, struggling against Jim Crowism, taking up the special demands of Black people in the ’30’s and calling for the violent overthrow of U.S. Imperialism. But the CPUSA began to make serious errors during the ’ 40’s under the leadership of Earl Browder and never regained its revolutionary balance before the McCarthy Period drove it underground. However, it was not the errors of Browderism or the repression of the McCarthy Period that put an end to the history of the CPUSA as a revolutionary part. It was in 1957 that the CPUSA consolidated its political line into a revisionist line that mirrored the line of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. The CPUSA revised Marxism-Leninism essentially by saying that class struggles was no longer the motive force and that there was a peaceful road to socialism.

THE ANTI-REVISIONIST MOVEMENT

Our movement correctly began as a reaction to revisionism but in many ways the most damaging errors to date in our movement have flown from this reaction. Revisionism was a departure from Marxism-Leninism. The response by our movement assumed that to be anti-revisionist was to be Marxist-Leninists. As a result our movement failed to conduct an all-sided critique of revisionism in order to make a complete break with these errors. This failure to thoroughly critique also led our movement to over estimate the dangers of revisionism. Further, our movement failed to make an elaboration of the concrete conditions in the United States facing Marxist-Leninists. As a result of this error our movement went forward without a conscious positive program for struggle. Overestimating the state of the working class movement, comrades in the new anti-revisionist movement made communism central to every struggle. They failed to see the relationship between reform and revolution and concluded that the struggle for democratic rights was inherently bourgeois. The failure of our movement to arm itself with Marxism-Leninism led many comrades to approach questions with a static dogma, trying to resolve problems with only a book. They failed to apply the principles of the science to the concrete conditions in the United States. On any question they had to find quotes to back them up. In Seattle we once had the COUSML come to a meeting on school integration quoting to Black parents and liberal whites what Lenin had to say about school integration.

We believe that there are four main features of the ultra-left lines practiced by our left wing comrades: l) party building; 2) reform vs. revolution? 3) democracy, and 4) the international question.

On the question of party building primary emphasis is placed on building large organizations, ignoring the relation between the communist movement and the mass movements. Political line is not based on an elaboration of the concrete conditions in the US, summing up history and presenting today’s state of the working class movement and the movement of the oppressed nationalities. They reduce the party building task to one of uniting Marxist-Leninists in a common effort to generate a correct political line.

On the question of reform vs. revolution our comrades fail to grasp the dialectical relationship between reform and revolution and liquidate the reform struggle for revolution. They do not see the importance of winning the vanguard or the advanced who are leading the fight in the reform movements. They do not grasp the need to build an alliance between the petty bourgeoisie and the proletariat. In fact, they have a very developed hatred for the petty bourgeoisie, having themselves committed class suicide. They do not understand that the crisis of capitalism forces the petty bourgeoisie to take a stand that oftentimes drives them back into the ranks of the proletariat. Our comrades treat the petty bourgeoisie as if they are inherently the enemy of the working class, refusing to engage in broad united front work, etc.

On the question of democracy our comrades assess that the democratic struggle is a trap to confuse and buy off the working class, national minorities and women. This error has led them to oppose various struggles for democratic rights such as bussing. Many of these left wing communists have been opposed to bussing, the ERA, the voting rights bill, etc. If we analyze this left wing perspective we will see that on the question of democratic rights their position has been covered with a left form but is right in essence.

It is on the international question that our comrades convince us that they are hopelessly mired in dogmatism and cannot make an analysis on the basis of the material conditions we are faced with. They have become flunkies to the Chinese Communist Party and carry out China’s line blindly. It was during the Angolan People’s struggle that these left wing communists followed the CPC into a united front with US imperialism and the racist apartheid government of South Africa.

It is in this context that we call this conference of national minority Marxist-Leninists. It is in this context that we say the principal task facing Marxist-Leninists is party building in this period which is characterized by the theoretical struggle.

Comrades, we believe that we have a task of critiquing left wing communism. The very comrades whom we now call ultra-left started out opposed to ultra-leftism but they failed to thoroughly sum up left wing errors. We must place at the center of our theoretical work a critique of ultr-leftism lest we too fall into left wing communism, substituting ourselves and our views for those of the working class, lest we too become a party for communists.

The perspective of the planning committee is that the process of elaborating the conditions in the U.S. is the next step that Marxist-Leninists must take up in this party building period. We believe this process should be an open one, involving all genuine Marxist-Leninists in the debate. We believe that among the pressing questions facing us are the state of the U.S. working class movement, the various race national questions, the woman question, the class character of the Soviet Union and the relationship of our movement to the national liberation struggles of the oppressed nations of the world. Finally, we believe that this debate must take place publicly, using the principle of criticism/self-criticism to guide us toward the most correct answer to these important questions.

In addition to the errors of our movement mentioned earlier, our movement is held back by racism among white communists, sexism among male communist, localism, underdevelopment and the small circle spirit. Already comrades who have united with us against revisionism and dogmatism are calling for the existing stock of Marxist-Leninists to unite, rectify the line, in secret verify it among themselves and reestablish the party.

Comrades, it is the perspective of the planning committee that in the final analysis verification of the correct line can only come through social practice, and that only the incorrect line falls from the sky.

Finally, it is our perspective that secrecy in the party building movement only has a place when repression by the bourgeoisie forces it upon us and that it is a question of tactics - secrecy should never be raised as a principle.

The perspective of the planning committee is that of the OCIC. We believe that a center should be established, a center that stands above our movement as a whole. This center would be a vehicle for the dissemination of the most advance theoretical work In our movement. This center would be a focus for our movement for spot lighting and synthesizing the most advance experiences of our movement and other movements in the world. This center would bring together those forces capable of developing a systematic overview of the state of our movement as a whole. As an Ideological center, the center would provide a common forum to address our movementís most paramount theoretical task. The independent elaboration of Marxism-Leninism for the U.S. revolutionary process. By this process we mean that we would take up all the pressing question facing our movement the race national questions the class character of the United States working class. The women question, the nature of the Soviet Union, etc., we would go to the root of these problems and put these perspectives out for the entire movement criticism only after these questions have been debated in a thorough way would in the full view of our entire movement should we feel that we have made progress toward and elaboration of the conditions facing us, or that we have made a step toward establishing a vanguard party.

NATIONAL MINORITIES AND MARXISM-LENINISM

My presentation on party building today has been one for Marxist-Leninists. We do not believe there are any fundamental differences for national minority Marxist-Leninists and white Marxist-Leninist in the party building movement. However, the struggle of the oppressed nationalities in the U.S. has placed the national minority objectively In the more advanced posture today. These advanced fighters are prepared to join our ranks once we take up the task of developing a system of politics and applying these politics. This important task cannot be achieved unless national minority Marxist-Leninists take up the task of party building.

If we look at our history, we see that many of us had an anti- communist reaction to the racism and the opportunism of our left comrades. We watched them liquidate our just demands for democratic rights. We watched them raise the demands to socialist revolution now, ignoring the conditions around them.

Our response often was to mistakenly judge communism by these left comrades. Often we failed to recognize the advanced nature of our own struggles and of national minority people based on our oppression. We often belittled theory as a white as a white armchair exercise. Most of all we often failed to understand Marxism-Leninism as a science.

Our history also speaks to the fact that many national minorities were won to communism in spite of our left comrades, often because the national liberation struggles in Africa, Asia and Latin America were led by Marxist-Leninists. But even though many of us grasped the science of Marxism-Leninism we still did not join our white comrades in communist organizations because they failed to adequately take up the question of racism. Often our reaction fed into a narrow nationalist perspective.

Our perspective is, only a multi-national party can develop a correct strategy on the struggle against racism. Our failure to take up this task is to surrender to the bourgeoisie. To continue to stand outside the party building movement is objectively a posture of surrendering all hope for a socialist revolution and insuring the continuous rule of the bourgeoisie.

Many Marxist-Leninists have recognized the advanced nature of the movement of oppressed nationalities and the Black Industrial proletariat, have not yet taken up the task of laying the basis for winning the advanced to Marxism-Leninism, i.e., addressing the questions of racism, the special oppression of national minority women, etc. Our white comrades are unable to win white workers to the struggle against racism. These inabilities have forced us to realize that the only way to overcome these grave shortcomings is to become active participants in the process of forging a vanguard party that Is multi-racial in character.

I began this presentation by saying that we are in a unique place in history. I would like to end on that theme as well. One reason we are In this unique position Is that history has also put capitalism In a unique place – it is in its last and final and most advanced stage, the state of Imperialism.

Our comrades in the national liberation struggles are beating back Imperialism all over the world and their struggles will have a direct effect on the conditions in our country. Therefore, Imperialism must now step up the oppression of the American working class and go to war to develop new spheres for exploitation.

In our country there is a saying, “You’re over a barrel”. We know that being over a barrel means you are prone to having your ass torn. History has put Imperialism over a barrel and the national liberation movements are the motive force putting Imperialism over a barrel. It is our unique responsibility to finish the job.