Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Ex-Boston Local Center/OCIC Members

The OCIC’s Phoney Campaign: Ultra-“Leftism” in Command Once Again


In the preceding sections of this paper we have tried to draw out the incorrect political line which guides the campaign. It should be clear that the current campaign has failed to break with the moralistic approach to the struggle against racism which has held sway over most white comrades in the anti-revisionist movement. This moralism traces its roots to the “New Left” and white liberal racism. While the campaign has made some contributions to breaking with white liberal racism, notably in its critique of racist paternalism, on the whole it has failed to move us past moralism. In fact the campaign is a particularly concentrated expression of moralism. Its whole approach to moving white comrades forward in the struggle against white chauvinism is moralistic and largely an appeal to white liberal guilt. The driving force to ideological rectification, as far as the campaign is concerned, is seen as facing up to the ugliness of one’s white chauvinist views. A “good” self-criticism is seen primarily as one in which there is a full “confession” of the depths of one’s depravity, not one in which the political impact of white chauvinist ideology is drawn out in its concrete practices and a concrete plan for rectification is put forward. Guilt of holding white chauvinist ideas is elevated over a materialist analysis of the political impact on concrete political tasks as the driving force to rectification. Moralism is placed over Marxism-Leninism.

As we have drawn out in this paper, the campaign is also thoroughly compromised by left idealism (the separation of ideological struggle from practice and the class struggle, elevating the significance of changing attitudes over changing practice, and idealist notions of how people change) and how revolutionary cadre are forged) and left sectarianism (we’re forging the perfect cadre, to hell with everyone else). The campaign has also been characterized by thoroughly undemocratic, ultra-left methods of struggle which squash two-line struggle. Our conclusion is that the campaign is thoroughly ultra-left.

We also believe that the ultra-leftism of the current campaign is not an aberration, but a symptom of a deeper problem – the OCIC’s party-building line. Our view is that the OCIC is presently led by an ultra-left party building line, and is rapidly being transformed into an isolated sect of would-be revolutionaries cut off from the reality of class struggle in the US. This should come as no surprise. Ultra-leftism has been the downfall of every major grouping within the anti-revisionist movement in the US in the last twenty years. Almost every grouping has begun to move forward just as the OCIC itself did, by breaking with the ultra-leftism of its predecessors. But none has made a thorough break and after some initial progress each soon relaxed its guard and slipped back into the pattern of ultra-leftism which has dominated the anti-revisionist movement since its inception. This history has been repeated over and over again with PL, RU, OL, etc.

The OCIC’s struggle against the “left” idealism which underlay the anti-revisionists movement’s attachment to China’s ultra-left international line marked a big step forward for our movement. But now, only two years later, the OCIC has adopted a left idealist approach to the struggle against white and petit bourgeois chauvinism. The OCIC developed in opposition to ultra left voluntarism in party building lines, and their separation of theory and practice. The OCIC, however, is now itself promoting a voluntarist “make the break” mentality in the struggle against white and petit bourgeois chauvinism. We are carrying out a rectification campaign which continually manifests strong tendencies to separate theory and practice.

Clearly, the OCIC has failed to come to terms with the ultra-left heritage of the anti-revisionist movement. It has never taken up serious struggle around the nature and character of the “left” sectarian heritage of the movement.

The OC has historically underestimated the threat of ultra-leftism to our tendency and has prematurely concluded that accounts have been settled with ultra-leftism. In consequence, ultra-leftism has once again reared its ugly head, and is a block to the forward progress of the OC. At this time, ultra-leftism (and not white and petit bourgeois chauvinist attitudes) is the main obstacle to the OC’s further progress, and to the task of uniting the tendency and deepening its roots in the working class and national minority movements.

Aside from the ultra-leftism of the current campaign, a further symptom of the 0c,s leftism is the NSC’s belittling of the task of following through on its critique of ultra-leftism and summation of the history of the anti-revisionist movement. While we agree that the social imperialists should now be considered to be following a right line, we think the NSC’s analysis of the danger of leftism within our tendency (i.e. the rectificationists present the only “left” danger) is seriously in error. This new analysis of the main danger has only served to further blind cadre to the ultra-leftism of the OC itself.

In addition to the NSC failure to develop its critique of ultra-leftism, we must ask if ultra-leftism has made itself felt in other aspects of the OC politics. A full analysis remains to be done. However there is ample evidence of petit bourgeois subjectivism, idealism, sectarianism and voluntarism in the OC’s political lines and practice.

It is our view that the OC’s ultra-leftism is rooted in the revolutionary impatience which has been characteristic of the petit bourgeois cadre in the anti-revisionist movement historically. Building a vanguard party is a slow and often difficult process, as is the process of transforming ourselves into class conscious revolutionaries, and the OC’s leadership is looking for short cuts in this process. Our party building tasks – including the tasks of building unity with the advanced fighters of the working class, taking up the independent elaboration of theory, forging a leading ideological core, cadre development, and uniting the tendency – have been reduced to problems which can be resolved through “sharp ideological struggle” in isolation from our practical experience in the class struggle. Let’s take a look at how each of these tasks have essentially been liquidated by the ultra-left line guiding the OC.

The current approach taken by the OC to winning the advanced to communism is thoroughly idealist. First of all, it is based on wishful thinking, on left subjectivism. It is assumed that outreach contacts all have essential unity with the 18 points, but it can’t see it because of their accommodation (or white or petit bourgeois chauvinist attitudes). It is assumed that people can be won to communism primarily through “sharp ideological struggle” around their ideological weaknesses. The significance of our practice in the class struggle has been completely liquidated. To cite an example – members of the BCLSA were not interested in the OC because of the ultra-left practice of OC members which came close to wrecking the organization. Yet supporters of the campaign claim this practice doesn’t really matter – after all we should still be able to win people on the basis of ideas. This is an absurd idealist deviation. Any serious class fighter would most certainly judge an organization on the basis of the practice of its members; it would also be clear to them that the development of revolutionary theory cannot be cordoned off from our practice in the class struggle.

This idealist approach to building political unity also liquidates any political differences people may have with the OC, and is profoundly disrespectful because it Implies that (l)there couldn’t be any serious weaknesses in our line, and (2) that no one could have legitimate political criticisms keeping them out of the OC.

It should be clear that this Idealist approach to building political unity is nothing more than a vain attempt to create a short cut. Thus it is no surprise that the OC has made little progress in its efforts to build the tendency.

The authors of this paper hold the fusion party building line, and it is our view that the OC has taken a step away from fusion in the recent period. The (correct) fusion line is based on the understanding that revolutionary theory is developed as it is tested in practice. As well, the advanced are won to communism not only through exposure to ideas, but also as communists prove their ability to provide leadership in the class struggle. The leadership of the OC presumably differentiates itself from the rectificationists who liquidate the significance of practice in the Class struggle as a party building task. Yet the leadership of the OC is now advocating that revolutionary theory can be developed in isolation from the class struggle, and that people can be won to communism solely on the basis of our ideas. This abandonment of fusion can only lead us down the road of sect-building, isolation from the mass movements, and “consolidation” around dogmatic, ultra-left political line.

Out contention is that the separation of ideological struggle in the OC from practice (i.e. the separation of ideas from the material existence), and the overemphasis on the subjective factor is the essence of the OC’s “left” idealism. (This has led us to question whether the entire notion of an ideological center separated from direct connection with the class struggle is left idealist deviation from Marxism-Leninism.)

The idealism of the OC’s party building line is further exposed in the Draft Plan, which puts forward that a leading ideological core can emerge within an organization which has separated ideological struggle from practice in the class struggle. To date, “leadership” has emerged only on the basis of performance in OC meetings and in “struggle sessions”, not on the basis of their ability to provide leadership to the class struggle. Clearly this is an incorrect basis on which to judge revolutionary leadership. Thus we hold that the party building line of the Draft Plan needs serious re-evaluation.

The ultra-left methods of struggle and the lack of democracy are further indictments of the organization’s leftism. Leadership attempts to squash rather than promote two -line struggle. The NSC pays lip service to the notion that the leading ideological core has yet to emerge; yet there is next to no room for input from the rank and file. Political positions and organizational decisions are handed to us. We are allowed to make minor changes, but our role is essentially to rubber stamp leadership’s positions. If we disagree with their lines, we are told we are “anti-leadership”, “anti-communist”, and a host of other invectives.

Why does the rank and file support the ultra-leftism of leadership? Most are not developed revolutionaries at this point, and most were politicized in the context of the New Left which was heavily influenced by ultra-leftism. However, leadership has not taken a serious approach to cadre development – instead cadre are “consolidated” around dogmatic positions and discouraged from thinking independently. Where we do have a weak grasp of revolutionary politics, we are told that this primarily because of our defensiveness and other personal weaknesses. This is not a materialist view of how revolutionary cadre develop, and will not move us forward.

The OC’s stated purpose is to unite the tendency. In fast it has done the opposite – it has promoted splits, and has been thoroughly sectarian toward members of the tendency outside of the OC. This sectarianism dovetails with the OC’s idealism. Leadership claims that the perfect cadre can be forged through participation in the current campaign, and that those who will not submit to the campaign (and thus are not among the “pure of heart”) are not true revolutionaries. In writing off the rest of the tendency, the OC has been unable to come up with any political justifications for a split. It can only offer moralistic justifications (they are defending white and petit bourgeois chauvinism, etc.) This is yet another example of the moralism and idealism of the campaign. Idealism has promoted sectarianism, and at the same time left sectarianism has been a driving force in promoting moralism and idealism which have provided justifications for demarcating from the rest of the tendency.

In summary, our conclusion is much more far-reaching than simply that the OC’s campaign has been developed on an ultra-left basis. While the OC is correct to emphasize that accounts must be settled with our movement’s heritage of white and petit bourgeois chauvinism, these struggles can only be successfully advanced on the basis of dialectical materialism and Marxism-Leninism, not idealism and ultra-leftism. Calling for a reintegration of the ideological struggle with the ongoing problems of the class struggle is not a call for a liquidation of the struggle against white and petit bourgeois chauvinist attitudes. It is only a demand that they be taken up in the proper context.

Finally, we think that the party-building line of the OC itself must be critiqued and an approach developed which does not mechanically separate the task of uniting the tendency and Insuring its ideological consolidation and development from communists’ ongoing efforts to contribute to solving the concrete problems of the actual class struggle.