Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

JF for the National Steering Committee OCIC

Forging the Party Spirit – A Beginning Perspective

Issued: September 22, 1979.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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The Marxist-Leninist forces in the US today, the anti-“left” tendency, exist as either separate individuals or members of organized forms which bring together only a small and very partial segment of our movement–study groups, collectives, and more developed organizations; both local and national. (For convenience in what follows all of these partial groupings will be called “circles.”[1] The OCIC has just begun to make its influence felt on a tendency-wide basis. Relations between communists are predominantly relations between members of a single center or relations between circles. This material condition of our existence produces a certain consciousness. There is a strong tendency to see communist work in terms of promoting the influence of one’s own particular circle. There are very good reasons for this. To promote the cause of communism in the mass movements in the present period means to promote the influence of a particular circle–at least if the “cause of communism” is not reduced to an empty abstraction. To engage in line struggle within the communist movement is, most often, to defend and promote the line of a particular circle. Our existence as communists in this period is predominantly a circle existence.

Yet we all know that we must put the interests of the working class as a whole above any narrow interests. To do otherwise is to deviate from the very essence of communist consciousness–proletarian class stand. It is opportunism. How is this contradiction between proletarian class interests and circle interests resolved? It can only be fully resolved through the creation of a genuine vanguard party which represents the true interests of the working class and the dissolution of all circles into the party. In the present period, the process of resolving the contradiction has two parts. First, we must strive to subordinate the interests of each separate individual and circle to the interests of the Marxist-Leninist tendency as a whole. Second, we must ensure that the Marxist-Leninist tendency struggles to fuse its conscious interests with the objective interests of the working class. The process of resolving the contradiction is complex and protracted because of the complex way these two aspects of the process interact. What one circle today considers a failure to subordinate certain interests to the Marxist-Leninist tendency as a whole, another circle may consider to be a crucial effort to uphold the interests of the working class.

There are no ready-made answers to the complex questions which arise. But we can say at the start that the answer does not lie in liquidating the role of circles in the party-building process–a solution advanced by some. This is akin to the ultra-left solution to the problem of avoiding right-opportunist influences in work in the reform struggle–refrain from the reform struggle. While it is certainly true that the forging of a party introduces a qualitatively higher organizational form and can only be achieved on the basis of a qualitative ideological and theoretical advance, it is incorrect to adopt a stagist view of the process and put off the question of building communist organizations which can intervene in the class struggle until after the question of political line is settled. In taking up the struggle to forge the party spirit, the role which local organizations have to play in building a Marxist-Leninist trend should not be belittled. A fundamental lesson of the entire history of the communist movement as well as of our own direct experience is that communists should work toward the highest level of organization possible in the given concrete situation.

Local organizations have a crucial role to play in training communist cadre and in advancing the theoretical struggle. It does not hold tack the ideological struggle for like-minded communists to organize themselves and attempt to translate their ideological unity into practical activity. In fact, it will only advance the ideological struggle as the results of this practical activity are summed up, the theoretical conceptions which guide the practical activity are subjected to the test of practice, and the real content of theoretical conceptions is revealed by the practice they generate. A national effort to foster the development of the anti-“left” tendency must build on the strengths of its component parts and qualitatively transform them to a higher form. It can no more succeed if the task of building its component parts is neglected than it can succeed if the task of raising the work to the national level is neglected. Building local organizations is a component part of building the tendency nationally. What we must demand is only that the task of building local organizations is undertaken from the correct standpoint–that of building the tendency and its ideological unity nationally. The part must be subordinate to the whole.

Having made clear that the struggle to forge the party spirit should not belittle the role of local organizations, we must make clear the measures which the OCIC can take to foster the subordination of the part to the whole.

The Need for Concrete Rules and Policies

Within the OCIC process itself we can begin to elaborate a concrete perspective on forging the party spirit. It is not enough to equip each member of the OCIC with the subjective desire to subordinate circle interests to tendency-wide interests. What are needed are concrete policies designed to ensure that, in a step-by-step way, the OCIC’s practice of the party spirit deepens. If these policies are not to remain abstract and meaningless intentions, they must be given concrete form. The concrete form which such policies must assume are, for the most part, specific rules governing conduct within the OCIC, and between the OCIC and other forces–rules governing the relations between local centers and local organizations, rules about the make-up of delegations to conferences, rules about voting, etc. It is one of the major strengths of the OCIC process of organized ideological struggle, as opposed to the anarchistic free-for-all proposed by some, that the conscious development of the party spirit can be concretized and developed through explicit rules of conduct.

Some may object that focusing the question of forging the party spirit at this vulgar level of formal rules is “mechanistic.” Lenin faced exactly this resistance to the struggle to forge the party spirit in the infant Russian Social-Democratic Labor Party (RSDLP).

To people accustomed to the loose dressing-gown and slippers of...circle domesticity, formal rules seem narrow, restrictive, irksome, mean, and bureaucratic, a bond of serfdom and a fetter on the free “process” of the ideological struggle. Aristocratic anarchism cannot understand that formal Rules are needed precisely in order to replace the narrow circle ties by the broad Party tie. It was unnecessary and impossible to give formal shape to the internal ties of a circle or the ties between circles, for these ties rested on personal friendship or on an instinctive “confidence” for which no reason was given. The Party tie cannot and must not rest on either of these; it must be founded on formal, “bureaucratically” worded Rules (bureaucratic from the standpoint of the undisciplined intellectual), strict adherence to which alone safeguard us from the wilfulness and caprices characteristic of the circles, from the circle wrangling that goes by the name of the free “process” of the ideological struggle. (Lenin, One Step Forward, Two Steps Back, CW, Volume 7, p. 390)

While no one can deny the qualitative difference between the primitive level of the OCIC and an actual communist party, there are nonetheless important lessons to be learned from the experience of the RSDLP. We must give due weight to establishing the formal rules governing relations within the OCIC and between OCIC forces and the tendency as a whole. Members of the OCIC must take these rules very seriously and grasp that they are the concrete form in which the party spirit develops within the OCIC.

To say that such rules must be taken very seriously is, of course, not to suggest that they should not be questioned. Quite the contrary. Just as in other areas of its developing political conception, rules designed to build a genuine party spirit may be the subject of disagreement and ideological struggle. It is the responsibility of the SC not simply to make certain rules but to thoroughly explain the policy which they represent and why that policy corresponds to the true interests of forging the party spirit. In this regard the SC erred in failing to give a thorough argument in favor of the rules which it set to govern delegations to the Principle 18 conferences at the time those rules were circulated to the OCIC. It did correct the error, but only at the last minute. The SC’s initial error was to look at the rules narrowly, rather than as an integral part of a developing party-building perspective.

Alongside the error of the SC, there is another good example of an incorrect attitude toward such rules which relates to the rules governing delegations to the Principle 18 conferences. Apparently, two organizations did not follow the rule requiring minority positions to be represented in organizational delegations. For reasons which have been elaborated elsewhere, this interfered with the process of struggle over Principle 18 and, in all likelihood, damaged the process of consolidation around the importance of Principle 18 as a line of demarcation with “left” internationalism–although the damage was probably slight. But more important to the present discussion is the fact that neither of these organizations raised objections to these rules before the conferences. They simply did not take them seriously. Such an attitude must be combatted and thoroughly eradicated. It is only through grasping the importance of the OCIC’s rules and policies for the struggle to forge the party spirit, and full and open discussion of them, that we can begin to make real progress in replacing the circle spirit with the party spirit.

We now must examine the specific rules and policies of the OCIC and their contribution to forging the party spirit.

Responsibility for Criticism

Nothing is as important to the forging of a real party spirit and to the development of real unity than developing a good process of criticism. It is not possible in this short paper to discuss the process of criticism in an all-sided way. In particular, we omit a discussion of liberalism, the most serious obstacle to developing a good process of criticism. Here, we will discuss only the mechanism for raising criticisms within the OCIC.

Criticisms must be clearly formulated, written down so that they can be considered with some measure of precision, and communicated to the appropriate body for consideration. If criticism is left at a vague or only semi-formulated level the dangers of subjectivism are enormous. If criticisms are not written down, they can not be considered in a stable and precise way or communicated with any degree of accuracy. The result can easily be to set one circle off against another or against a central body. Most importantly, it is crucial that criticisms that have been formulated are communicated. It is only the communication of criticisms and their full and open airing which can eliminate all the traces of circle subjectivity which are so damaging to the process of forging a party spirit. And finally, it is crucial that criticisms be raised to the proper body. Criticisms which are made, but not communicated to the proper body, can be damaging to the process of building unity. Only by communicating criticisms to the proper body and engaging in a dialogue over them can subjectivism be eliminated and the real political substance of differences be uncovered. Two examples, the first negative and the second positive, will clarify these points.

After the Principle 18 conferences, comrades from one OCIC circle criticized the OCIC’s Chairperson for “going too far” in attacking Mao Zedong Thought at the conferences. The criticism, however, was not raised responsibly to the SC but to a member of another OCIC circle. Presumably the criticism was raised to forces outside of the OCIC as well. The result is that there is a contradiction within the OCIC which may or may not have a basis in reality. Without raising the criticism responsibly with the SC there is no opportunity for the SC to determine in what way the circle felt that the Chairperson had “gone too far,” what the real political differences were, and what concrete steps could be taken to progress toward resolving the contradiction. It is quite possible that if the criticism were raised directly and responsibly to the SC, unity could be reached on the extent to which rejection of the Theory of the Three Worlds calls Mao Zedong Thought into question. It is also possible that if the comrades had to defend their criticism in a responsible way to the SC, they would not have raised the criticism in the first place.

The second example is provided by the criticisms which the Milwaukee Socialist Union (MSU raised about the work of the SC (distributed with the minutes of SC meeting #4). They are a model for the kind of internal process of criticism which the OCIC needs in order to raise the quality of its internal relations from simply the relations between separate circles and the SC to a higher OCIC-wide level. The starting point for the MSU was real concerns about the leadership which the SC was providing the OCIC process. The concerns which the MSU had were not unique to them. Others within the OCIC had raised similar, but much less precise and clearly formulated, concerns. However, the MSU took up their responsibility to the OCIC process and did some real work (work not directed toward developing their own circle but directed toward the OCIC as a whole) in deepening the criticisms, clearly formulating them, and seeking out the SC to raise the criticisms. After discussing them with the Chairperson they took the responsibility of writing a summation of the process. If the MSU had not taken up their responsibility to the overall process, if they had not acted with a real party spirit, the results could have been simply that a degree of isolation of the MSU from the overall process could have set in. The circle spirit would have been reinforced. But by taking up their responsibility, the MSU did a service for the entire OCIC. A great many of the criticisms which the MSU raised were shown to be the result of empiricism on their part, an empiricism which is understandable given the circle existence of our tendency. The vision of the MSU was broadened, and the SC was made aware of its own error of not providing local circles with a more clear vision of the overall process so that they could approach it in a less empirical way. Furthermore, the entire OC could benefit from the exchange between the MSU and the SC because it was clearly formulated, summed up, and written up.

No Circle Discipline Within the OCIC

Key weapons in the struggle to forge the party spirit within the anti-“left” tendency are the specific measures which the OCIC can take to minimize the extent to which the fragmentation of the tendency into separate circles distorts the ideological struggle and other tendency-wide processes. The principle which governs these measures is: No circle discipline within the OCIC process. It has several applications–no circle discipline on members of OCIC bodies, no circle discipline in the ideological struggle, and no circle discipline on communications with higher bodies.

First, we will consider the constitution of OCIC bodies. By OCIC bodies we mean local and regional centers, their steering committees, conferences, the SC, etc. If any of these bodies is to best serve to break down our tendency’s circle existence and advance the party spirit, the individuals who participate in them must approach their work from the standpoint of the interests of the tendency as a whole. Because the experience which individuals in such bodies gain is broader than the experience of the separate circles they come from, they will naturally be able to take a broader perspective on the OCIC process than their own particular circle. This is all to the good and, obviously, is one of the positive features of the OCIC process. To tie such individuals down to be organizational representatives of their own circle–in the sense that their circle exerted discipline on their work in these bodies–would only retard the development of the party spirit and strengthen the hand of the circle spirit. It would subordinate the broader view to the narrower view. Members of circles who take part in OCIC bodies must be in as strong a position as possible to bring the broader OCIC perspective back to their local circles. Their ability to do this would be badly compromised if the role which they played in the OCIC body was restricted to representing their own particular circle.

This view has not always been dominant in the OCIC. The discussion of forging the party spirit within the OCIC was begun in relation to the election of its first SC. But it did not progress far and as a result, the first SC which was elected was composed of a Chair and a Secretary elected as individuals, but with the other positions alloted to organizational representatives of local circles. The (not explicitly stated) rules allowed these local circles to exert discipline over their representatives to the SC and even to change these representatives if they desired to. Since the weaknesses of this approach to building the OCIC were soon broadly realized throughout the OCIC, the SC did not actually function in this way. The election of the SC at the second national meeting of the OCIC proceeded on a totally different basis and was a real advance. SC members were all elected as individuals and those that belong to local circles will participate in the SC under no discipline from their own local circle. The possibility of electing more than one SC member from the same local circle was also recognized, although this did not actually occur.

The rule which was adopted for the Principle 18 conferences to the effect that delegates should not be placed under binding instructions by their circles is an application of the rule of “no circle discipline on members of OCIC bodies.” Each delegate was forced to take full responsibility for their own participation and was not able to evade this responsibility by simply identifying their views with the views of a particular circle. This contributed significantly to breaking down the circle barriers which distort and inhibit ideological struggle within the tendency and often prevent it from taking on the character of a tendency-wide two-line struggle. The result was that the consolidation which came out of the conferences, and the ideological development which it contributed to each of the participants, was much deeper than would have been the case if the essential character of the conferences had been the interaction of separate circles.

Next, we will consider application of the principle of no circle discipline to the ideological struggle within the OCIC. This policy has only begun to be developed. Its only concrete application to date has been the rule formulated for delegations to the Principle 18 conferences which required minority positions within circles to be represented in delegations. (The rule forbidding binding instructions to delegates can also be looked at in this light as well as from the standpoint of how OCIC bodies are constituted.) But the application of this policy should be explicitly expanded to include the ideological struggle local and regional centers as well as the OCIC as a whole. In preparation for local, regional, and national OCIC meetings; written comments on the major items of discussion are circulated. Inevitably there will be significant differences within circles over these questions and viewpoints. A consistent application of the policy of no circle discipline in the ideological struggle within the OCIC demands that minority views on these questions have the ful1 right to be circulated along with the view of the circle majority. In fact, the demands of resolving the ideological contradictions within the OCIC make it essential that the views of minorities within circles are made known to the larger body.

Finally, we will consider the policy of no discipline on communications with higher bodies. This policy has never been made explicit within the OCIC. The idea is simple. Suppose a minority within a circle wants to make its views (a criticism, political perspective, etc.) known to a higher body–a local or regional center, or the OCIC as a whole. Can the majority of a circle prevent a minority within the circle from making its views known? In our opinion, it should not be able to do so. This is a clear violation of the principle of no circle discipline within the OCIC. The precise organizational rules governing this will have to be worked out as the work and organizational structure of the OCIC deepen. But an outline can be sketched. The views should first be raised within the circle and discussed. If unity is reached, the views can be made known to the higher body in a straightforward way. But if a contradiction develops within the circle and unity cannot be reached, the two points of view both be communicated to the higher body for consideration and a response. It is important that such views be considered on the circle level before being raised to a higher level. While it is clear that circles must be subordinate to higher bodies, insofar as OCIC activities are concerned, the role of circles as an important collective form should not be liquidated. The party spirit does not belittle lower organizational forms, it simply places them in the proper relation with higher forms and, ultimately, with the whole.

Freedom of Organizational Form

Intimately bound up with forging the party spirit is adopting a correct view of the extent of the Marxist-Leninist tendency and firmly consolidating the view that the OCIC must reach as deeply into the tendency as possible. The OCIC cannot progress toward its ultimate objective, forging a Marxist-Leninist trend, if it does not struggle to incorporate the full scope of the tendency. Any other course is objectively sectarian and self-defeating.

The OCIC must be open to the participation of all who unite with its principles of unity and agree with its fundamental perspective of building a common process to foster the emergence of a leading ideological center. In this period of ideological and organizational disarray, we must recognize that only a small fraction of the tendency’s forces are organized into Marxist-Leninist organizations or even into less developed organizational forms such as study groups and collectives of one kind or another. To approach the task of organizing the tendency with a bias toward more highly developed organizational forms will only damage our ability to put the interest of the tendency as a whole in the forefront of our perspective.

Key to overcoming this bias is to grasp the many valid reasons individual communists in this period have for standing outside of some of the organized forms within the tendency. First is racism. Because of the pervading influence of racism in our society, many predominantly white groups in the tendency have neither thoroughly eradicated racist influence in their internal practice or in their political perspective. It would be the height of objective racism to deny those national minority comrades who presently stand outside any of the organized forces as full a role in the development of the OCIC as possible. This is no abstract moral judgement. The full participation and leadership of national minority Marxist-Leninists in the process of forging a Marxist-Leninist trend is absolutely essential for its success. There can be no talk of building a Marxist-Leninist trend whose politics truly represent the interests of the multi-national working class if the leadership of that process is not itself multi-national.

Second, we must recognize that apart from racism, which is a particularly important and prevalent obstacle to unity, there are a range of other valid political reasons which tendency comrades have for standing apart from local OCIC circles in their locality. Sexism, important political differences, and the narrow character of the practical work of some circles are all examples. Can we say that the political perspective of any of the organizations which are presently in the OCIC is so mature and has been verified to the extent that a failure to join that particular organization puts one outside the bounds of the genuine Marxist-Leninists? Of course not. But many comrades within the OCIC approach the task of organizing the tendency as if the only task involved is to “build up the local organizations which now constitute the bulk of the OCIC’s forces. This is a short-sighted and objectively sectarian policy. Its result is to narrow the bounds of the OCIC in a period when all efforts should be directed at broadening the scope of the OCIC and engaging as many of the forces in the tendency as possible in its efforts.

Thirdly, we should recognize the weaknesses of the OCIC’s geographical distribution. There is not a single OCIC member in Houston, Pittsburgh, or Montgomery. Certainly it should be clear that even a single individual in any one of these cities, an individual who could serve as an organizing center for the tendency in the city, might be more valuable to the effort to organize the tendency than an organized group in any of a number of places. An organizational bias towards organizations over individuals will only damage our efforts to expand the influence of the OCIC process throughout the US.

All of this speaks to the need to firmly adopt the principle that the OCIC should be open to the participation of individuals as well as the full variety of organized forms. This participation cannot be limited in any way. Any OCIC member should be accorded the same consideration for membership in any of the higher OCIC bodies which are elected.

Some words of caution, however, are necessary before concluding this section. First, the ability of national minority communists to participate in the OCIC without belonging to local organizations must in no way be allowed to deter these organizations from carrying through the most determined struggle to eradicate their own racism–in both their mass work and internal practice. It is a perpetuation of objective racism for organizations which have not been able to build real multi-national unity to rely on the larger process to overcome this obstacle to their development. Second, the clear recognition that there are valid reasons for individual communists to stand outside the existing organizations within the OCIC should not be taken to mean that all reasons are valid. Serious communists have the responsibility of attempting to maximize the potential for joining in higher organizational forms. Differences which are advanced are sometimes simply a cover for individualism. The ability of individuals to participate in the OCIC should not deter organized forms from attempting to build unity with individuals or be used as an excuse by individuals for refraining from building unity with organized forms.

Local and Regional OCIC Centers

In the conception of the OCIC process which has developed, local and regional centers (both will be referred to simply as “OCIC centers”) play a dual role. Although the actual members of these centers must be OCIC members so that their direction is determined by the OCIC, these centers will conduct many activities which bring together OCIC forces with anti-“left” forces from outside of the OCIC. On the one hand, OCIC centers bring together OCIC individuals and circles together for common work toward building a Marxist-Leninist trend and common discussion of the questions’ before the OCIC. On the other, they serve as a focal point of interaction between the OCIC and anti-“left” forces outside of it, drawing sections of the anti-“left” tendency who do not choose to join the OCIC into active relationship with the OCIC process. The precise balance between these roles depends on the particularities of the locality or region.

In both roles, OCIC centers serve to break down circle barriers to the organization and development of the anti-“left” tendency and provide a concrete way for individuals to fully participate in the OCIC. Their development is a concrete realization of the party spirit. It is vital to develop a correct approach to building such centers, an approach which will ensure that they can realize their full potential to overcome the circle barriers which now impede our tendency’s development.

These centers are only in a beginning stage of development and much more experience will have to be gained before we can develop an all-sided policy for them which will maximize the potential for eroding the circle spirit and replacing it with the party spirit. But we can adopt a conscious policy to combat one particular manifestation of the circle spirit which has already clearly shown itself. Inevitably, organized OCIC forces will tend to identify building the OCIC process with building their own particular circle. Building and strenghtening the various circles in the OCIC certainly does build the OCIC. But it is short-sighted and ultimately self-defeating to do this at the expense of building a broad OCIC process which reaches deeply into the anti-“left” tendency. The future of each circle within the OCIC depends upon the development of the OCIC process as a whole. The development of OCIC centers puts this to the test. Our policy must be that the interest of bringing the widest possible forces into the process (on a principled basis of course) must take precedence over the interest of building any particular circle. The development of centers cannot be bent to suit the needs of particular circles. This would inevitably narrow the scope of a center and compromise its ability to encompass the full scope of the anti-“left” tendency. This is not at all to say that it is incorrect for a circle to recruit members to itself out of an OCIC centers or that it is incorrect for circles to form out of OCIC centers. It would be backward to oppose the formation and building of local circles. But building local circles must be kept carefully in perspective in undertaking the work of building centers. It is valid only as a byproduct of the basic tasks of centers, not as the objective in fostering their development.

Apart from compromising the development of OCIC centers by bending them to suit the needs of local circles, the same underlying manifestation of the circle spirit has shown itself in another way in relation to centers. Some circles within the OCIC have been reluctant to take up the work of building OCIC centers because they fail to grasp that building the OCIC process and building their own particular circle are distinct tasks which cannot be equated. Comrades should review the valid reasons which were spelled out in the last section as to why many individuals in the anti-“left” tendency stand outside its organized circles and review their local and regional situation carefully. It is hard to imagine that there are many circles which do not have a basis for attempting to build an OCIC center in their locality or region.

External Relations

As the OCIC process develops, the proper handling of relations between forces within the OCIC and forces outside of it will have to receive conscious attention as part of our effort to forge the party spirit. Most important at this point are relations with that section of the anti-“left” tendency which remains outside of the OCIC. An extensive perspective on this area will have to be elaborated in the future as our experience broadens. There is, however, one particular concern that can be addressed at this point.

This is the question of the proper approach to take toward criticism of the OCIC and forces within it which are raised by forces outside of the OCIC. Such criticisms must be carefully handled if a sectarian dynamic is to be avoided. Such a dynamic will interfere with our ability to place the interest of the tendency as a whole in the forefront. Forces critical of the OCIC’s efforts will inevitably attempt to exploit (or even create) differences within the OCIC in order to weaken its efforts. This, in and of itself, is not something that should be criticized. Exploiting contradictions within an opponent’s perspective is part of the facts of life of the ideological struggle. There are, however, principled as well as unprincipled ways in which this can be done. Of central importance is the requirement that criticism be open and above board. Concretely, this means that criticisms directed at certain OCIC members must be raised clearly and explicitly to those members. OCIC must demand this standard in their relations with forces outside the OCIC. They should demand that any significant criticisms of other OCIC forces be submitted in writing to the forces being criticized so that their response can be considered along with the criticism. Any other course is certain to produce a factional dynamic both within the OCIC and between the OCIC and forces external to it.


The struggle to forge the party spirit will be protracted, continuing after the formation of the party itself. The material conditions of our existence in the period before the party is formed will place limitations on our ability to place the interest of the anti-“left” tendency as a whole in the forefront. But at each step we must strive to maximize the potential for elevating tendency-wide interests above circle interests. This is done not simply by emphasizing this crucial ideological point; but by adopting clear, concrete, and effective policies and strictly adhering to them. These policies are an integral aspect of our party-building perspective and merit the same conscious attention as its other aspects. We urge the OCIC to consider the views in this paper in that light. If there are disagreements with these views, your criticisms should be communicated to the SC. They will receive prompt consideration since the SC considers formulating correct policy for concrete steps forward in breaking down the circle spirit to be a vital aspect of our work.

22 September 1979
Steering Committee OCIC


[1] The term “circle” derives from the historical experience of forging the Bolshevik party. In forging the revolutionary vanguard in Russia, a crucial step was the transformation of the relations which existed between revolutionaries. Loose and informal relations existed between the many small groupings which made up the movement. The Ideological struggle consisted, for the most part, in “wrangling” (to use Lenin’s description) between these groupings. These relations had to be transformed into a single organic party in which the interests of the whole were clearly and consistently ? placed above the interests of any of its parts. Since the earliest and most primitive of the forms which made up the movement were called “circles,” backwardness in breaking down the primitive pre-party relations was called the “circle spirit.” Its main feature was placing the interest of the part above the whole. Lenin’s One Step Forward, Two Steps Back is the best single source for an analysis of the circle spirit.