Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Response from the OCIC Steering Committee to the Tucson Marxist-Leninist Collective and the Red Boston Study Group

First Issued: December 27, 1979.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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December 27, 1979

To the Tucson Marxist-Leninist Collective and the Red Boston Study Group:

The Steering Committee has discussed your letter of 9/18/79 regarding your criticisms of the recent national OCIC conference. First, we want to-respond to your most fundamental question: has the unity of the OCIC changed and what are the rights of minority views within the OCIC?

There has been no change in the political basis of unity of the OCIC: it is open to all people who agree with the 18 points of unity and the need for a common center for our tendency (as expressed in our founding statement). All OCIC members are free to hold, circulate, and struggle for their views. The SC views or resolutions adopted by the OCIC are not the basis for participation in the OCIC process.

On each question which the OCIC addresses there will be minority opinions. The minority is free to use all the channels to make its views known. This includes circulating its perspective to all OCIC members before a conference, raising their differences during a conference, and after resolutions have been adopted by a majority, the minority may further circulate its position. The OCIC has no interest in stifling ideological struggle, or keeping the minority from expressing its views. We would encourage you to utilize the OCIC Bulletin to further elaborate your differences around the OC’s view of the single anti-revisionist movement and approach to the club network.

We agree with two criticisms that you make of the SC which would have aided in having a fuller, sharper struggle at the conference. First, the SC could have done better preparation work for the conference. In particular, the SC should have anticipated major points of debate that would arise at the conference and taken measures to organize a struggle over them. Concretely, this means the SC should have taken more initiative in seeing to it that forces having basic differences with the conference documents wrote up their differences and circulated them to all OC forces before the conference. In addition, at the conference itself, minority views on fundamental questions should have been given more time to fully present their views. This is the second criticism we agree with – that the 3-minute limit was incorrect. Strict time limits should not have been imposed, especially in relation to presentation of minority views.

We disagree, however, with your overall assessment that the conference was marked by “bureaucratic retaliation” and a “repressive atmosphere”. It is unfortunate that you comrades abandoned the conference after the first day. During the second and third days there was a SC evaluation and criticism/self-criticism done for each SC individual. This would have been an opportunity to raise all of your particular criticisms of SC members and would have allowed for collective response. Your leaving the conference without raising your criticisms cannot be called a Leninist approach to ideological struggle.

We disagree with your position and interpretation of the conference discussions on the NNMLC, the National Minority Conference Resolution, and a point directed at TMLCO First, you criticize the discussion on the NNMLC for its sectarianism. The SC’s position on the NNMLC is well known. A resolution from the SC condemning the narrow circle approach of the Clubs, with an extensive reading list, was circulated to all OCIC members months before the conference.

The SC believes that the political differences between the Rectification and other lines on Party building is secondary at this time to the question of how our tendency should organize itself to forge a common ideological center. Therefore, the SC has focused its critique on the small circle approach of the Network, its organizational opportunism, in regards to this pressing task. Thus it is no secret that the SC does view the NNMLC’s leadership as the “headquarters of opportunism” in our tendency at this time.

There are political differences which you comrades have with this political assessment which you raised, along with others. The struggle was sharp but on the whole, we believe, principled. A few errors were made which were unfortunate. We do not support the comment that was made by an individual about “smashing the right wing of the clubs and uniting with the left wing”. But interestingly enough we think that this comment was made by a supporter of the minority position.

Secondly, we do not agree with your assessment about the discussion on the National Minorities Conference Resolution. The SC has to make a self-criticism for not having this point on the agenda before the conference, so people could better prepare. But a presentation on the conference was made by Tyree. Time was alotted for anyone to raise questions or differences surrounding the conference, which some people did.

Phil’s motion from the floor to open up the discussion to observers, particularly comrades from NNMLC and MINP, was criticized by the chair as objectively racist. This was because it was only on the issue of the national minorities conference that this was proposed: to change the conference guidelines for MINP and NNMLC. These comrades obviously had different positions on any number of political issues discussed at the conference. Therefore, the chair criticized the maker of the motion for liberalism and paternalism. It is important to note that the criticism was raised <>f the maker of the motion, and not made across the board to people who raised differences or questions about the conference, or even to people who voted for Phil’s amendment.

Finally, we must respond to your inaccurate portrayal of Clay’s criticism which you put as being, “forces from Theoretical Review are trying to divert the consolidation of our tendency”. This was not the content of the chair’s criticism which was in relationship to an amendment being put forward by a comrade from Kansas City linked with the TMLC and the RBSG. This comrade, in the discussion of the resolution on point 18, put forward a motion that we include a statement about “opposing the dogmatist vulgarization of Mao Tse Tung Thought”, The chair opposed the thrust of this amendment, arguing that this would divert the OC from its struggle against idealism. This was not an organizational attack on Theoretical Review, but a political difference around the necessity to critique the idealist nature of various aspects of Mao’s thought.

It is not unusual for a minority having a difficult time defending its views to feel that there is a “repressive atmosphere”, “bureaucratic retaliation”, or “lack of democracy”. We feel that this criticism doesn’t fundamentally reflect the character of the meetings, but more stems from an immature understanding of how to carry out ideological struggle. We feel that your expectation is that we carry out struggle more along the lines of bourgeois professorial debate rather than sharp ideological struggle among Marxist-Leninists.

Although we disagree with you as to your general characterization of the conference, we do agree that the question of developing a good approach to struggle and to the rights of the minority is important. Therefore, we will circulate your letter and our response to all OCIC members and will ask for other OC members who were at the conference to give their opinions about the issues which the letters raise. We would also ask you to circulate our letter to whoever else you sent your letter to.

In comradely struggle
Steering Committee, OCIC