Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Clay Newlin for the OCIC Steering Committee

Conciliationism in Command: An Analysis of Theoretical Review’s “Minority Platform”

First Published: National Steering Committee Bulletin, #1, April 1980.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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Theoretical Review (TR), an important member group of the Organizing Committee for an Ideological Center (OC) is testing the waters for the formation of an OC minority bloc under its leadership. To this end, TR has been circulating among its supporters–but unfortunately not to the Steering Committee (SC) or the OC as a whole–a document entitled “Minority Platform–A Draft.” This document briefly spells out TR’s critique of “the fundamental incorrect practices of the Steering Committee” and, in addition, TR’s view of “a way out of the present difficulties.” Beyond this, TR is not explicit as to the purposes of its “Minority Platform.” But since by its own admission the document is a “platform,”–that is, a set of principles around which to organize OC members–it seems clear that the TR seeks to establish itself as the rallying center for an OC “minority” opposed to the present SC.

For this reason alone it would be important to respond to the criticisms and proposals of the “Minority Platform.” Certainly all OC comrades will be interested in the SC’s views on these matters. But even more importantly, in its attempt to galvanize a minority bloc, the TR has appealed to certain ideological premises antagonistic to Marxism-Leninism. Unless the bourgeois essence of these premises is exposed and their influence over OC members eliminated, the whole future of the OC as a party-building formation could be called into question.

Thus we will not restrict our response narrowly to the criticisms raised and the solutions posed by the “Minority Platform.” Instead we will attempt to draw out the theoretical underpinnings of TR’s views and demonstrate the damaging impact that these views would have were they to be implemented in the OC.


The TR’s critique of the OC center;: around four main points: (l) the SC has failed to put “politics in command” but rather has consistently elevated organization above politics in its activities; (2) the SC has abandoned its stated goal of organizing movement-wide ideological struggle in favor of cultivating the acceptance of its own views; (3) the SC has a narrow conception of leadership causing it to ignore the existence of lines divergent from its own; and (4) the SC has fostered sectarianism within the OC’s ranks, writing off anyone not affiliated with the OC. We will respond to these points one at a time, incorporating into our response a treatment of TR’s proposed solutions.

“In all areas of work, internal and external,” TR writes, “the Steering Committee has placed organizational questions and practices above politics. This is contrary to the understanding of Marxism-Leninism which insists that politics should always ’be in command.’” For its internal example of this error TR claims that the SC has made “loyalty to the OC form more important than sharing a common political orientation.” As a result the SC has supposedly put off discussion of a “common political perspective” while holding up the OC as “the leading center of our movement.” Externally, the SC has restricted its struggle with the National Network of Marxist-Leninist Clubs (NNMLC) to merely denouncing their “organizational opportunism” while refusing appeals to make political questions primary in the dispute. It has also endorsed the exclusion from the National Minority Marxist-Leninist Conference of “a considerable number of minority Marxist-Leninists for the simple reason that they did not recognize ’the leading role’ of the OC.”

To “restore the correct relationship between politics and organizational form,” TR proposes two changes. First the OC, since its expressed task is party-building, “must begin to take up the issue of party-building strategy and tactics.” And second, “tendencies within as well as without the OC should be judged on the basis of their political line and their political practice and not on the degree to which they support our organization’s Steering Committee.”

As a summation of the OC’s history, TR’s contention that the SC has “in all areas of work” elevated organization over politics is an extremely one-sided, subjective and, frankly, self-serving analysis. Putting aside for the moment the struggle with the NNMLC (of which the controversy around the National Minority Marxist-Leninist Conference is merely a part), the SC has consistently placed politics over and above organization–the very opposite of TR’s contention. Our initiatives in the first year of the OC’s existence were primarily focused on establishing a political demarcation with the ultra-left trend in the party-building movement; we devoted utmost priority to the struggle around point l8. Nor is the TR correct when it asserts that the SC has “extolled” the OC as “the leading center of our movement” on the basis of its organizational form. On the contrary, we have repeatedly stressed the point that the OC’s leading role (nowhere have we ever called the OC “the leading center”) stems primarily from its political initiatives (see for example, “The OC’s First Year,” pp. 7-8). And finally the plan of work adopted by a margin of 70 to 1 at the OC’s national conference (and we might add, without a word of criticism from TR’s delegates) gives clear priority to politics. This plan stesses work around the “Draft Plan for a Leading Ideolgical Center”–a plan which according to “The OC’s First Year,” “assumes the pivotal position in the whole tendency’s struggle for a common party-building strategy” (ibid., p. 13), the theoretical summation of ultra-leftism, and internal consolidation of the OC around the l8 points, the centrality of the struggle against racism and the danger of federationism.

As for TR’s proposals for restoring the correct relationship between politics and organization, they are equally rooted in subjectivism. The OC has already taken up “the issue of party-building strategy and tactics.” The SC has elaborated in some detail a very definite party-building strategy–the “Draft Plan for a Leading Ideological Center.” Incorporated in this plan are an assessment of the state of the anti-revisionist movement, a description of the anti-“left” tendency, an identification of our immediate tasks and a concrete proposal as to how our tendency should proceed. Accompanying this document is an even more concrete presentation of our tasks in the next year along with a plan for how they should be taken up, all contained in “The OC’s First Year.” Now, of course, TR is free to disagree with the strategy and tactics for party-building outlined in both documents, but it is dishonest–and, frankly, demagogic–to pretend that they do not exist.

In addition, the SC has also consistently judged organizations primarily on the basis of their politics. Again leaving aside for the moment the NNMLC, we have continually stressed political questions in our relationships with other forces. Here again the point l8 process is the best, although not the only, example. We refused to put aside our political differences over point l8 even offered the promise of broader organizational unity. For another example, take our struggle with the Guardian newspaper. The SC has consistently struggled with the Guardian to join the OC precisely on the basis of our substantial political unity. In fact, apart from the NNMLC, we doubt that the TR can elicit a single example where the SC has not made political line the primary determinant for relations with the OC.

Before turning to the controversy around the NNMLC, there is one further matter that should be cleared up–the National Minority Marxist-Leninist Conference. Here two points should be made. First, TR insists on asserting that the “Steering Committee ... exclud(ed)” from the conference minority communists who did not agree with the OC’s views. As TR knows full well, the basis of unity for participation in the conference (though supported by the SC) was actually determined by a planning committee composed exclusively of minority Marxist-Leninists and organizationally independent of the SC. In the heated controversy raging in our tendency over the conference generally and its basis of unity in particular, this planning committee has repeatedly emphasized that it itself bears primary political responsibility for the conference. That TR refuses to even acknowledge the existence of this body–let alone address its criticisms to it–can only be read as a racist slap in the face of the minority comrades who made up the planning committee.

Second, TR claims that national minority comrades were excluded from this conference “for the simple reason that they did not recognize ’the leading role’ of the OC. This is not true. A considerable number of those who actually attended the conference–probably a majority–did not themselves recognize ’the leading role1 of the OC. In fact, comrades were only excluded on the basis of either differences with the OC’s 18 points of unity or opposition, in principle, to the struggle for a single leading center in the anti-“left” tendency. (At the OC’s national conference, there was not a single delegate–again including those from TR!–who opposed this as the basis of unity for the conference.) The only substantial group of comrades who were excluded were those who adhered to the NNMLC’s splittist “rectification” line and thus opposed any effort, either inside or outside the OC, to unite the tendency in struggle for a single leading center.


Once the subjectivism is cleared away, it should be clear that the nub of the differences between TR and the SC is our divergent tactical orientations towards the struggle with the NNMLC. TR feels that in order to put “politics in command” political differences should be targetted in the struggle with the rectificationists. Whereas, on the other hand, the SC does indeed maintain that the principal target should be the organizational opportunism of the leadership of the “rectification” line.

In part the source of the divergent tactics is two different orientations to the struggle against opportunism. From the SC’s point of view, the struggle against opportunism must proceed from a concrete analysis of the principal tasks facing the communist movement at each particular stage in its development. Once these tasks are clearly identified, then the bourgeois line (or lines) which impedes the taking up of those tasks is targetted for opposition. This approach ensures that the struggle against opportunism is always concrete–that is, that Marxist-Leninists avoid any tilting of windmills or shadowboxing. And it also mitigates against both sectarian and conciliationist errors; it encourages unity with those lines which contribute to advancing the communist movement and opposition to those views which prevent progress.

It is precisely this method that has led the SC to target the NNMLC’s organizational opportunism. Since the initial demarcation with ultra-leftism has been made, our-principal task is to organize the bulk of the anti-“left” tendency in a common process designed to foster the growth of a single leading center for our tendency. In our opinion, the OC’s l8 points of unity allow for principled unification in common theoretical work and centralized ideological struggle of all the genuine anti-“lefts.” On the basis of the ideological and political foundation provided by these points, joint theoretical work between comrades of differing views and centralized contention between different lines will tend to rapidly foster the emergence of an advanced line around which the bulk of our tendency can be united. It will draw together advanced elements presently isolated in local or regional groupings and it will ensure that most developed exponents of a given line are set face to face with their opponents. By encouraging all comrades to work in common and by breaking down existing organizational barriers, this approach will maximize the potential for principled communist unity and minimize the danger of the kind of unnecessary fractioning suffered by the ultra-lefts.

The main obstacle to achieving this goal is presented by the organizational line of the NNMLC. Because it is of the opinion that only those who subscribe to “rectification” can make a leading contribution to the development of program and strategy for the U.S. revolution, it demands the right to declare itself “the leading center™ of the movement. As a result, the NNMLC opposes all joint theoretical work and centralized ideological struggle which does not develop under its immediate control. It proceeds from the point of view that its leading circle of comrades contains, qualitatively speaking, all the necessary elements for our party’s future central committee. At best it need only add a few additional comrades and further elaborate its line. This approach to developing program and strategy for the U.S. revolution leads to the grossest forms of organizational hegemonism–that is, it subordinates everything to the goal of organizational supremacy for the leaders of the NNMLC.

Moreover, the “rectification” circle has not been content to just defend its own opportunist circle practices. Rather, they have attempted to elaborate a theoretical cover for circle hegemonism. They argue that “each line–a separate center” is a “Leninist principle.” Thus, in their view, each distinct line should establish its own separate center and contend will all others for influence. This view is nothing but a prescription for the most destructive and fractioning forms of circle warfare.

It would be a grevious error to underestimate the danger posed by the NNMLC line both on how to organize (or more accurately, disorganize) the struggle for revolutionary program and strategy and how to organize the fight for communist unity around it. If each and every little circle with its own views proceeds to follow the NNMLC’s prescription and establishes its own little center, then we can forget about joint theoretical work and centralized contention between dif-points of view. It renders impossible the struggle for a common party-building line to guide our tendency. In fact, the only thing that could be worse at present would be for our tendency to renege on its demarcation with “left” internationalism.

It is for these reasons that the SC has argued that the NNMLC’s organizational opportunism is key.


Objectively, the TR advocates a very different approach to the struggle against opportunism. The TR argues that the SC’s targetting of the NNMLC’s organizational opportunism violates “the understanding of Marxism-Leninism which insists that politics should always ’be in command.’” Given the fact that TR has never attempted to challenge the SC’s concrete analysis as presented above, it would seem that their point of view is that the Marxist dictum that “politics should be in command” means that one always emphasizes differences over political questions in the struggle against opportunism. Irrespective of the circumstances, to elevate organizational questions over political ones is to contradiction the primacy of politics in relation to organization.

Underlying this view is a rather crude dogmatism. Instead of viewing the principle that politics is primary in relation to organization dialectically– i.e., recognizing that what is generally primary is not necessarily always so– it is viewed as a dogma. All need for concrete analysis is immediately jettisoned since the “primacy of politics” principle answers all questions without ado; the principle means quite simply that it is never correct to target organizational opportunism as key. How easy it would be to make a revolution if the world worked this way!!

Irrespective of one’s views on the NNMLC, such an attitude towards the relation between politics and organization can only disarm our tendency. It can only lead one to scoff at organizational matters as if they had no real political import. However, particularly at present, the very opposite is the case. Whether or not we adopt a correct approach to the question of how to organize the struggle for communist program and the forging of principled unity on the basis of that program is not at the moment a secondary concern. Given the continued influence of ultra-left conceptions, the extraordinary difficulty of the theoretical questions posed by the U.S. revolution, the isolation of many advanced comrades in numerous local and regional competing circles, and the overall ideological impoverishment of our tendency, a correct approach to forging unity is of utmost significance. Without it our tendency cannot develop the system of politics which will allow it to grow into a mature trend. In fact, a correct organizational line can mean the difference between a tendency that succeeds in re-establishing a revolutionary vanguard in the U.S. and one which consigns itself to political oblivion.

But in this particular case, “politics is primary” dogmatism also leads to conciliation of NNMLC opportunism–and not just its organizational opportunism. The “rectification” circle has an objective interest in avoiding joint theoretical work and centralized ideological struggle. There are strong components of ultra-leftism in its political orientation. This “leftism” has led them to deny the existence of a historic “left” line on party-building, to adopt as their own a party-building line which incorporates some of the worst features of that of the “lefts,” to attempt to revise the dialectical materialist view of perceptual knowledge, to eschew united front tactics in anti-racist work, and to make numerous other “left” errors. But these comrades recognize that the banner of Marxism-Leninism is definitely on the rise in our tendency. And they further understand that joint theoretical work and centralized ideological struggle can only hasten the eradication of all vestiges of our “leftist” past. Thus, their own “leftism” drives them to attempt to preserve circle forms of struggle at all costs.

In order to conceal both their attachment to narrow circle forms of struggle and the ultra-leftism underlying that attachment, the “rectification” circle has attempted to erect a smokescreen out of its political differences with leading forces in the OC. At first, the rectificationists attempted to fashion differences with the l8 points, but this effort was soon abandoned for a more advantageous tactic. Instead oŁ calling for movement-wide ideological struggle around the common interests of our tendency and how to best advance it towards its goal of a single leading center, they attempted to elevate such questions as “rectification vs. fusion,” differences over Vietnam’s invasion of Kampuchea and other such, at present, secondary questions. And, somewhat ironically, they, like TR’s platform, have also accused the OC of raising organization above politics for its refusal to allow debate to be diverted onto these questions (see, for example, “Rectification vs. Fusion,” p. 33).

In such circumstances, to demand that the OC “make ... political differences (i.e., ”rectification vs. fusion,” Vietnam/Kampuchea, etc.–CN) primary in its polemics with the NNMLC,” as TR does, is to advocate conciliation of both organizational opportunism and*, objectively, ultra-leftism. It conciliates organizational opportunism by putting aside the struggle against the circle spirit and for the genuine common interests of our tendency as a whole. And it conciliates ultra-leftism by failing to fight for that which most endangers the future of “left-wing” communism–joint theoretical work and centralized ideological struggle by means of which Marxism-Leninism is bound to triumph.

While TR makes use of “politics is primary” dogmatism to defend their point of view, we do not believe that this form of dogmatism is really the driving force behind their advocacy of conciliation. Rather, it serves primarily as a means of rallying supporters. The real root of conciliation can be found in the TR’s own ultra-left conceptions. Their “leftism” was manifest at the OC’s national conference, for example, in one of their supporter’s attempt to prevent the OC from explicitly identifying the need to reexamine Mao Zedong Thought. TR fears (correctly, in our opinion) that a reassessment of Mao Zedong Thought will lead to breaking with the idealist methodology of Charles Bettleheim, who is both the main European exponent of the Gang of Four’s theoretical absurdities and, by their own admission, an ideological mentor of TR comrades. And, one has only to examine the content of the exchange between Paul Costello and Tim Patterson to see the basic ideological affinity and backslapping affection between TR and the NNMLC (see Theoretical Review, #’s 11 & 12).

Thus, given their own ultra-leftism, we are not surprised that the TR feels compelled to organize a minority bloc in the OC. Nor can we be surprised that a primary ideological premise of that bloc would be conciliation of the circle spirit and ultra-leftism.


TR’s second main criticism of the SC is that we have “abandoned the goal of a movement-wide ideological discussion.” Instead, TR contends, the SC “is organizing ... (only for) the dissemination and acceptance of its own views....” As examples of this TR cites the OC national conference where, they hold, the SC “insured (emphasis added–CN) the adoption of its own views on issues such as the character of the NNMLC, the question of whether (there is a single anti-revisionist movement), when the Communist Party, USA went revisionist and the character of its own (again slapping the face of the planning committee–CN) National Minority Conference.” In order to overcome this error, TR suggests that the SC “make it its business to encourage and organize the production and dissemination of all viewpoints within the OC” and ensure that “positions (be put) to a vote only after (emphasis in original–CN) the broadest presentation of differing views and their discussion ....”

Once again TR presents an extremely one-sided analysis. The SC has made real efforts to familiarize OC comrades with the varied political viewpoints of our tendency. As examples of this we have not only the point l8 process (which, incidentally, was unprecedented in the entire history of the anti-revisionist movement), our circulation of numerous letters from both within and outside the OC critical of the SC’s point of view and the incorporation in the 18 point curriculum of materials from groups with differing views, including documents presenting TR’s perspective. We are committed to deepening our efforts in this regard and for precisely this purpose have established the OC Discussion Bulletin, the pages of which will be open to all OC members as a matter of right–including, of course, TR itself.

As for the OC national conference, despite the fact that we accept primary responsibility for its weaknesses, we still think that TR’s analysis is characterized by subjectivism. It is true that the SC did not fully discharge its responsibility to make known to the OC membership aspects of its point of view that were controversial and to indicate materials presenting the opposing point of view. We did do this minimally in relation to our views on the NNMLC but that does not change the general correctness of the criticism. It is also true that we did not properly structure debate at the conference, a failing which effectively limited the depth of discussion. Both of these were certainly serious errors–errors for which we accept full responsibility.

But the level of debate was also undercut by factors outside of our control. The failure to have more OC centers, both regional and local, in place before the conference certainly undermined preparation. Nor can we accept primary responsibility for the fact that TR made no attempt to write up its points of difference with the main discussion documents which were published fully two months in advance of the conference. And we can also not hold ourselves accountable for the fact that several TR delegates abandoned the conference after the first day–and that without telling anyone on the SC why they felt it necessary to do so. In our view, for TR to criticize the conference for a low level of debate without even mentioning its own contributing errors, particular its delegates decision to withdraw from discussion, is the height of subjectivism.

And we ought to point out that TR has continued its self-serving attacks on the SC since the conference. The SC is still held to be only interested in gaining currency for its own views despite the fact that it has circulated TR’s criticisms of the national conference (just as it is now circulating the “Minority Platform”) and has sent out a workplan which specifically calls for discussing TR’s views. But TR has not a word to say about the fact that fully seven months have passed since the conference and yet it has made not the slightest attempt to elaborate its differences with the SC on the question of the single anti-revisionist movement, the NNMLC, the degeneration of the CPUSA, the National Minority Marxist-Leninist Conference, etc. Doubtless, TR will hold its own unwillingness to systematically put its views before OC members to be just one more example of the SC’s brutal and retaliatory suppression of all who disagree with it.


TR’s third criticism of the SC closely parallels the previous one. TR contends that the SC has a narrow conception of leadership because it “is of the opinion that leadership of the OCIC should not reflect the real differences within the organization but rather should be representative of what it perceives to be the ’majority’- or ’correct’ line.” As a result of this practice the SC “has failed to take into account the existence of other (than its own–CN) lines, and has even endeavored to neutralize the opposition, if only by ignoring them.” By way of rectification, TR suggests that “important minority positions should be represented on the Steering Committee” which “would insure that the Steering Committee would be aware of and sensitive to differing conceptions ....”

It is unfortunate that TR’s delegates abandoned the conference after the first day since they would have had a full opportunity to present their views on the correct way to choose leadership. It is also unfortunate that our TR comrades did not bother to respond in writing to the “SC Evaluation” sent out two weeks before the conference. This document put forward criteria for electing SC members and proposed the slate which was unanimously elected at the national conference.

And before turning to more serious matters, we cannot resist commenting on TR’s contention that the SC has “failed to take into account the existence of other lines, and has even endeavored to neutralize the opposition, if only by ignoring them” (emphasis added–CN). Now admittedly this is a step forward from TR’s earlier contention that the SC has dealt with opposing views through “bureaucratic retaliation” and “intimidation” (see “Letter to SC” from Scott Robinson, 18 September 1979). But we should remind our readers that in this letter TR comrades complained bitterly not about the refusal of the SC to take into account their views but about the manner in which their perspective was combatted. And we are amused by TR’s claim that we have “endeavored to neutralize” their point of view “by ignoring it.” Pardon our ignorance but we were of the opinion that one could hardly “neutralize” the opposition “by ignoring” it–unless of course it has a “neutral” line to begin with!

In our view, TR’s proposal that “important minority positions” be represented on the SC is politically incorrect. Our objection to this proposal however does not stem from any opposition in principle to a comrade with a minority point of view on a particular question being elected to the SC. Rather we object to requiring the election of comrades representing “important minority positions”–and this for a number of reasons. First of all, the chief concern in electing the SC should be obtaining good leadership. The primary criterion should not be a candidate’s particular point of view on a given question but his or her demonstrated ability to advance the OC in the direction of the goals adopted by the OC membership at its national conference. We do not deny that a comrades ability to contribute to the OC’s advance is bound up with their overall line. But their views on any particular questions should only be weighed to the extent that these views impact on the OC’s development. To elect SC members irrespective on their impact on the OC’s advancement and solely on the basis of their particular point of view could well lead to a serious error.

For a concrete example of our point, we need only to examine the role of TR itself. Now it is no secret that, if the OC was to adopt TR’s proposal, a representative of TR’s line would certainly be the prime candidate; clearly TR’s point of view is the leading minority one. We are certain, of course, that were they to be elected a TR supporter would make a valuabe contribution and strive to implement the national conference’s mandate. But the point is that, under present circumstances, to elect a TR follower would be, objectively, to reward backwardness–particularly if a leading role in building the OC is to be your criterion. The TR’s practice in the OC has been anything but exemplary. These comrades have devoted themselves primarily to building the influence of TR and only secondarily, if at all, to forging the OC. During the OC’s first year and a half, TR’s concrete role essentially comes down to sending a few comrades to the point l8 conferences and writing a brief discussion paper in favor of point l8 circulated only at the Westcoast point l8 meeting. And, in fact, it would seem that this same practice is continuing. Recently, Tucson supporters of TR have twice declined to attend important Westcoast regional meetings–both of which have had TR’s criticisms of the OC national conference on the agenda–on the grounds that they were too busy attempting to get out the next issue of their journal.

Secondly, we cannot help but note the federationist spirit of TR’s proposal. Especially at present, since most lines are identified with particular organizations, SC members “representing” a particular line would inevitably tend to represent their particular organization rather than the OC as a whole. But even if particular lines were not identified with individual organizations, the proposal would foster federationism. If a SC member is elected primarily on the basis of representing a particular line, he or she would necessarily be drawn towards viewing his or her tasks on the SC narrowly. Instead of the chief responsibility of a SC member being seen as advancing the OC as a whole, it would tend to be seen as advancing a particular line. And finally, what if through SC discussions this minority representative changed his or her views, would this comrade then be removed from the SC?!

Our third and final objection to TR’s proposal is that it is ultra-democratic. It implies that there is something rather objectionable to a majority that has coalesced through ideological struggle waged openly at a national meeting deciding only to elect those who agree with its own point of view. What does democracy mean if not the right to elect leadership in accordance with the majority’s views? Now certainly the majority has the right to incorporate a representative of a minority point of view if it feels that doing so will advance the organization. But to require representation of minorities–that is intolerable.


TR’s final area of criticism of the SC is largely a rehash of the previous ones. They argue that the SC’s practices have led to a strong current of “sectarianism” in the OC: “anyone not affiliated organizationally with the OCIC is’ being written off or criticized or simply excluded from party-building activities and their positions and views are being ignored or suppressed.” This has led the SC into “unilaterally determining that the OCIC is the ’leading force’” in our tendency and to placing “its own perceived notions of what the interests of the (tendency) are above any genuine effort to find out these answers from the (tendency) itself.” In order to rectify this disorder, TR proposes to “put an end to the manner in which the Steering Committee has handled differences with the NNMLC” and to “not make a condition for participation (in OC conferences) support of the OCIC or its line.”

We have already exposed both the subjectivism of TR’s analysis of the SC’s relations with other forces in the tendency and its desire to conciliate the NNMLC. There is no need to repeat that discussion here.

Beyond this there is simply nothing to TR’s criticism–nothing, that is, but appeal to ultra-democratic sentiments. Certainly, TR has every right to contradict the SC’s contention that “the OC has ... played the leading role in consolidating the a?ti-“left” tendency” (this and not “the leading force” or “the leading center” has been our formulation; see “The OC’s First Year,” p. 7). And they also have every right to dispute our perception of the genuine interests of our tendency. But if they disagree with our views on either point, then they have an obligation to do so in detail and not simply pick at our formulations.

It is, however, utter ridiculous–and frankly, intolerable for a Marxist– to demand that we not decide either who has played the leading role or what are our tendency’s genuine interests “unilaterally” but rather await “answers from the (tendency) itself.” What are we to do–hire Lou Harris to do a poll? Really comrades! All such determinations are, in the final analysis, “unilateral” in the sense that they are made subjectively. Certainly the NNMLC is not going to acknowledge the OC’s leading role and it also obviously has its own perspective on the interests of the tendency. It is not, however, the fact that the NNMLC has made its determinations “unilaterally” that makes them wrong but the fact that their subjective views do not correspond with objective reality. And it is precisely our contention–which, again, TR is free to dispute in detail–that the SC’s views do indeed reflect reality.

This ultra-democratic hocus-pocus is merely compounded by TR’s demand that the OC never deny voice to those who disagree with its line in any conferences. Now we would agree that conferences designed to engage the tendency as a whole should certainly not exclude other forces merely on the basis of their disagreement with the OC. That has, in fact, been our practice. Representatives of both EL Comite-MINP and NNMLC were invited to participate fully in the point. l8 conferences. And both groups were requested to send observors to both the OC’s national conference and the planning committee’s National Minority Marxist-Leninist Conference. (Contrast this with the practice of the NNMLC and El Comite-MINP who only invited OC representatives to attend their semi-public closing sessions.) But we do no I think that it u; correct to accord non-OC members more than observor status to conferences that are internal–that is, designed solely to allow OC members to determine the line and policy of their organization. Since the SC has called attention in the past, and will continue to do so in the future, to points of view differing from its own both within and outside the OC, there is no positive purpose served by allowing outside observors to speak. In fact, it is quite likely that participation by such observors would skew discussion given that many of them either do not share or are decidedly opposed to the OC’s fundamental purpose.

How, for example, can the NNMLC’s representatives contribute to advancing the OC’s internal discussions. It is no secret that, in their view, the OC is a hopelessly compromised right opportunist formation. It is no secret that they regard the OC as the main block on the road to party-building. And it is also no secret that the plans of the rectificationists can not succeed as long as the OC continues to gather the bulk of the anti-“left” tendency within its ranks. Given this, TR’s proposal amounts to a call to open the OC’s internal discussions to active participation by a force that has every interest in seeing the OC destroyed.

In addition to its ultra-democracy, TR’s proposal also manifests its own narrow circle mentality. Obviously, the participation of the NNMLC in the OC’s internal discussions would strengthen the TR’s position within the OC. It is no “great secret that TR and the NNMLC have broad agreement on such questions as the essence of the party-building process, the impossibility of fusion prior to party-formation, right opportunism as the main danger facing the anti-revisionist, anti-“left” tendency and other positions of real import. Apparently, in the interests of advancing its own line, TR is even prepared to jeopardize the future of the OC itself.


It should be clear, then, that, taken as a whole, TR’s “Minority Platform” rests on two ideological premises–conciliation of ultra-leftism and ultra-democracy. Its conciliation of ultra-leftism is concentrated primarily in its attempt to blunt the OC’s opposition to NNMLC organizational opportunism. And its ultra-democracy is manifest in its demands that minority points of view be represented on the Steering Committee, that the OC not “unilaterally” decide the tendency’s interests, and that even internal OC discussions not be closed to participation by those who advocate the OC’s demise.

On its face, it would appear that each premise plays an equal role in the platform. Both pandering to the NNMLC and ultra-democratic nervousness seem to be of equal importance to TR and thus receive near equivalent emphasis. If there is any textual imbalance in the written treatment of the two, it is in the direction of the latter.

But here appearance is deceiving. This is because in the present circumstances ultra-democracy generally redounds in favor of ultra-leftism. To see this, one has only to recall our analysis of the NNMLC. Because of its “leftism” the NNMLC desires freedom from direct contention with the rising Marxism-Leninism and is thus deadset against centralized ideological struggle. In order to avoid such centralization, they advocate an anarchistic and ultra-democratic approach. Each little circle is encouraged to independently determine its theoretical agenda and to pick only the most favorable moments in which to advance its line. The NNMLC thus promotes freedom of circle propaganda perogative even beyond the point at which that perogative violates the interests of the majority of genuine Marxist-Leninists.

Ultra-democracy serves ultra-leftism even more dramatically within the OC than outside. TR, itself, is the leading exponent of “left” opportunism within the OC–as is shown, among other things, by its determined advocacy of conciliation of the NNMLC. Now examine the effect of its various ultra-democratic proposals on its influence in the OC. Representation of the minority view on the SC would mean representation of TR. Seeking the anti-“left” tendencies interests from the tendency itself in the way TR suggests, would be bound to strengthen TR’s line since the strongest tendency force lying outside our ranks is the NNMLC. And opening internal 0C .meetings to participation by non-OC forces would also favor the TR since it is clearly the NNMLC which would most like to avail itself of the opportunity to influence our proceedings.

Thus it should be clear that the primary organizing principle of TR’s platform is conciliation of ultra-leftism. Ultra-democracy serves as little more than a demogogic rallying standard. It is there to broaden the base of appeal of the platform beyond what would be possible on the basis of advocating conciliation alone. Because while conciliationism serves only those who themselves have some stake in ultra-leftism, ultra-democracy–as the case of the Southern California minority at the OC national conference so amply illustrates–advances any group that disagrees with the SC’s point of view.

To us, the fact that conciliation of ultra-leftism is the central plank in the “Minority Platform” just underlines the danger posed to the OC by this document. Given both the more than twenty year history of the anti-revisionist movement, and the more recent experience of our tendency with the point l8 opposition and the NNMLC, no OC member should take lightly the peril posed by any soft-pedaling of the struggle against “left-wing” communism.

CN For the Steering Committee
26 March 1980