Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Ex-Boston Local Center/OCIC Members

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


At this point, even many of the most ardent supporters of the OCIC’s “Campaign Against White and Petit Bourgeois Chauvinism” are willing to grant that serious errors are being made in carrying out the campaign – errors of separating the ideological process of criticism/self-criticism from practice and sectarian errors in the conduct of the ideological struggle. In our view however, the supporters of the campaign have not yet recognized the full extent of those errors. In part, this paper is an attempt to clarify what these errors have been and reach a higher unity around this.

But there is an even more fundamental question at stake than simply uncovering the errors that have been made in the conduct of the campaign. The approach of the supporters of the campaign is to mechanically and arbitrarily separate what has actually happened in the course of the campaign from their Idealist conception of it. They attribute the concrete errors made in the conduct of the campaign not to any inherent flaw in its political line, but to white and petit bourgeois chauvinism. And at the same time, the positive effects are seen only as confirmation of the entire line of the campaign. However, it is our view that any error of the campaign certainly .does have a chauvinist character and. impact. But the driving force of the error can lie elsewhere.

An example can clarify this. Recently, a meeting of supporters of the campaign in Boston, led by the local and regional leadership, was held in order to deal with the various criticisms which have been raised of the campaign. Certainly, in this context, it was a profoundly white chauvinist error toward Comrade Walker for the leadership to spend considerable energy attempting to consolidate the meeting around the absurd line that everyone had to see Comrade Walker as a clown. But it would be a mistake to see the driving force of this error as white chauvinism.

In fact, the driving force was idealism. It is an obviously idealist notion to hold that all people have the same, single chauvinist view of a particular person. This ignores material reality such as differences in life experience or differences in comrades’ relationships with particular individuals. The driving force behind the errors at the meeting was the idealism of the political line of the campaign, (we will return later to the campaign’s incorrect line on accommodation and the white and petit bourgeois chauvinist abuses to which it has led.)

It is incorrect and reductionist to see all errors in the campaign as rooted in white and petit bourgeois chauvinism. This reductionist analysis of the errors (which is rooted in the reductionist of the campaign itself) has led supporters into a blind alley which now seriously threatens the future of the OCIC. Because the errors of the campaign are seen as the result of white and petit bourgeois chauvinism, rather than as flaws in the OCIC’s present conception of how to take up the struggle against white and petit bourgeois chauvinism, the way to rectify these errors is seen to be a more vigorous pursuit of the struggle as it is being waged, i.e., the intensification of the campaign. Should this approach be allowed to continue, rather than any genuine rectification of the errors, the result will only be the consolidation of a fundamentally flawed approach to ideological struggle in general and the struggle against white and petit bourgeois chauvinism in particular.

Our view is that the present campaign is mired in left idealism. However we do want to make it clear that we do think that white and petit bourgeois chauvinism are central obstacles to the tendency’s development and that an organized struggle against them must be a high priority for the OCIC’s (and the tendency’s) development.

We also believe that, despite its ultra-“left” line and generally destructive impact, the campaign has made important contribution to our tendency’s development. It has made many comrades aware of the depth of white chauvinist and petit bourgeois chauvinist ideology and accommodation to them within our movement. It has led to some small steps in drawing national minority and working-class comrades into the party-building movement. Most importantly, it has placed the question of how to change the class and national character and composition of our movement squarely on the agenda of the tendency. These positive effects, though, should not blind us to recognizing the nature of the errors in the campaign, and the ideological roots of those errors.

In examining the errors of the campaign, there are several fundamental questions at issue, which we address in this paper:
1) What are the concrete errors being made in the conduct of the campaign?
2) Are those errors rooted in a fundamental weakness in the campaign’s conception of how to take up the struggle against white and petit-bourgeois chauvinism (i.e., the campaigns political line), or are they simply manifestations of the white and petit bourgeois chauvinist attitudes which are the target of the campaign?
3) Is the political line of the campaign flawed to the extent that it must be judged as an essentially; incorrect line (a backward line, a bourgeois line), or is it an essentially correct line, with perhaps some weaknesses, even some serious ones?

Our view is that the line guiding the campaign is fundamentally flawed, and is in fact a consolidated ultra-left line. The campaign is thoroughly compromised by left idealism: ideological struggle and especially the struggle against bad attitudes have been separated from practice and from the class struggle. In this paper we will lay out how this idealism manifests itself (l) in the methods of criticism/self-criticism and in our approach to building unity with national minority and working class individuals; (2) in our methods of struggle; (3) in the line on accommodation; and (4) in the line and practice regarding personal relationships. The campaign also uses commandist, undemocratic and left sectarian methods of struggle in conducting ideological struggle. These methods are used to defend and win people to its essential leftism, and to develop loyal and unquestioning cadre. These methods are also used to squash two-line struggle. Ignoring these criticisms or discounting them as so much opportunism and defense of white chauvinism will only serve to doom the OCIC to continue its unfortunate path down the road of its predecessors, never to accomplish its goal.

The line guiding the current campaign reflects petit bourgeois subjectivism, idealism, sectarianism, and voluntarism – all characteristics of the left opportunism which the anti-revisionist movement has been mired in for 20 years. Our examination of the errors in the campaign has led us to see that line as a symptom of the leftism of the OCIC’s overall party-building line. The OC is evolving into an ideological center completely separated from the class struggle, and this separation of ideological struggle from practice is thoroughly idealist, a deviation from Marxism-Leninism. As well, the OC’s lack of democracy, disregard for cadre development, and sectarianism are further evidence of the OC’s ultra-leftism. While a full analysis remains to be done, the conclusion of this paper addresses itself to our current understanding of the leftism of the OCIC’s party building line.

Many comrades are reluctant to call the campaign into question because of its positive contributions. They reason – how could something which is essentially incorrect lead to such positive contributions? But this kind of reasoning is for moralists, not Marxist-Leninists, In the past period we witnessed a similar departure from a Marxist Leninist approach when many comrades were reluctant to break with China’s ultra-left approach to the struggle against revisionism for very similar reasons. They thought that since the development of China’s line had made such important contributions to the struggle against revisionism, that a break with China’s line would necessarily mean going back on those positive contributions. We were told that a break with China’s line meant falling into the hands of the revisionists.

In the late 1960’s the Progressive Labor Party (PL) made a significant contribution to the development of the anti-revisionist movement in the U.S. PL was one of the main forces responsible for turning the attention of the student movement to the working class. Nevertheless, PL’s line was thoroughly ultra-left. Without rejecting the positive contributions of PL’s line, it was the responsibility of all Marxist Leninists to oppose PL’s line.

We are now being told that a break with the campaign means going back on its contributions, “going back to the old days”, falling into the arms of white and petit-bourgeois chauvinism. This is not true. We can build on the campaign’s positive contributions. However, we must not let the campaign’s positive contributions keep us from facing up to its essential ultra-leftism. It is our responsibility to reject the ultra-leftism being promoted by leadership of the OCIC.