Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

OCIC Steering Committee Statement on the NNMLC Study Projects

First Issued: July 10, 1979.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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A number of OC comrades have raised the question of what our attitude should be toward a series of study groups initiated primarily by the National Network of Marxist-Leninist Clubs (NNMLC). A national study group on the question of capitalist restoration in the USSR has been meeting for sometime with both a west coast and a east coast section. Some OC members have been active in both. A projected study group on the national question is currently being organized and many OC comrades have been approached about participation.

The study groups are addressing questions which have an obvious importance to the effort to elaborate revolutionary theory and forge the unity of our tendency. Being national in scope they have the potential to bring together considerable theoretical resources, develop a sophisticated division of labor, and avoid the particularism that often characterizes locally based study groups. Finally they provide a form for joint work across the ideological and organizational lines which divide our tendency, particularly in relation to the division between the OC and the NNMLC. These are all reasons for taking a positive attitude toward these study projects. Indeed it was for these reasons that many of us have participated in the USSR project.

There are also definite problems in such participation. The NNMLC clearly sees the projects as the heart of their “rectification” work and a means through which they can win new forces to their party-building line and “expose” the OC. They have been quick to interpret the participation of OC comrades as evidence of a “shift” in party-building line as objective support for “rectification” vs. “fusion.” This is the case even if the organizers of the projects have presented them in far more “neutral” terms and downplayed the role and conception of the NNMLC. Thus the study groups become a front in the struggle between the Network and the OC. In a certain sense this is inevitable and by no means a bad thing. We would expect that the ideological assumptions underlying the differences between the Clubs and various OC forces would come to the fore in the course of common theoretical work. To the extent this occurs it brings more clarity and deepens the struggle over genuine differences. The problem is that the NNMLC’s approach tends to introduce a factional dynamic into the study that can undermine the struggle for theoretical clarity. And given the consolidation of their narrow circle mentality, this factional behavior is likely to increase.

In our view, these problems, in and of themselves, present no insurmountable obstacles, although they do require a more conscious and systematic approach on our part. The real problem is that these study programs do not come out of a tendency wide discussion of our theoretical tasks – a discussion that should identify and prioritize the questions we face. In the absence of such a discussion and analysis a variety of “burning questions” compete, for our attention. The danger is that our theoretical efforts are diffused, fragmented and incorrectly focused. The OC must currently organize such a discussion. It must determine for itself what the tendency’s most argent theoretical needs are and then precede to develop the forms to address them. Only when this is done is there really a context for evaluating these study projects and determining our attitude toward them. It maybe that some of these projects coincide with the OC agenda and thus a joint effort can be pursued. Our own view, yet to be tested by a full OC discussion, is that a thoroughgoing investigation of the roots and character of ultra-leftism is the single most important area of theoretical work we must currently tackle.

This will provide the best possible foundation for taking up the struggle over party-building line in its fullest expression as well as the most central theoretical problems associated with the U.S. revolution (the national question, reform and revolution, etc.). We would view all other questions as secondary in relation to this one and that we bring our theoretical resources to bear on this particular question which the anti-revisionist movement has never seriously addressed and continues to avoid at its peril.

Consistent with the need for the OC to consciously develop its own agenda, we would urge OC members to avoid any major commitment of resources to these study projects. For us to allow the NNMLC to determine the character and pace of our theoretical work, without any tendency-wide discussion of the assumptions underlying these study projects and their place in relation to the party-building process. amounts to bowing to spontaneity in the theoretical struggle. At the same time, OC forces should not adopt a policy of abstention on principle from these projects and should recognize their positive aspects. Organizations and individuals should consider limited participation on the basis of their particular needs. OC members who are or do become involved should establish communication in order to sharpen our participation and counter negative features on the NNMLC’s role. Within the parameters of the study and in a principled fashion we should not hesitate to join the struggle with the NNMLC over our differences and should actively try to win both NHMLC members and unaffiliated Marxist-Leninists to the OC. We should also share our view of why a full commitment to the projects conflicts with the OC’s view of its tasks.

10 July 1979
Steering Committee/OCIC