Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Ex-Boston Local Center/OCIC Members

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



One of the positive results of taking up a struggle against white and petit-bourgeois chauvinism (wh and p-b ch) is the recognition of ideological weaknesses in the form of accommodation by national minority and working Class revolutionaries to wh and p-b ch. For example, the identification through collective struggle of David W’s capitulation to racism in his relationship helped him take a step forward in the struggle against wh ch and in all-sided party-building tasks.

Previously, DW held the view that his sexism was so serious that it would prevent him from functioning in the OCIC as an ML. In initial discussions, Comrades O’H., B., and F., while not holding that view entirely, also saw the question of sexism as primary in DW’s relationship. When DW raised this view to Comrade R., in the context of discussing DW’s OCIC membership, MR took the position that it was more likely that racism and capitulation to it were primary over DW’s sexism. Following this discussion, two very productive meetings were held to take up the issue of DW’s relationship and in fact the primacy of the wh. ch. and capitulation were borne out. These meetings involved DW, KO’H, IB, JF, and MR. The result of these meetings and a deepening of them is seen in DW’s self-criticism which was prepared for the second Regional Conference.

There were also weaknesses in this process which should be mentioned. One was the re-emergence of the position that DW’s sexism was the primary dynamic in the relationship. Two white comrades, KO’H and IB, took this view up, and the other three had to win them from it. A second weakness was the DW’s wife was not involved in the discussions. While there was struggle with her to participate, the five BLC comrades did not make enough of an effort to involve her. Clearly, these weaknesses are secondary to the overall positive results of the struggle against wh. ch. towards DW and his accommodation to it in his relationship.

However, this struggle against accommodation, which is rooted in the real world, has nothing to do with the line of the current leadership on accommodation. The local, regional and national leadership specifically rejected out of hand the struggle waged by these comrades with DW as being totally racist and as having had no positive impact. Such: an action was presumptuous given that l) no investigation or inquiry of any kind was done by anyone to any of the 5 comrades involved as to the nature of the discussions or anything else for that matter, and 2) comrades Clay Newlin and Leslie Roberts, who had no political history with DW and had only seen him for a few hours at the Conference, led the struggle which “sized up” DW’s internalized view as that of a “clown.” The dogmatism of such an approach cannot be designed to really benefit Comrade W. nor any other comrade. Contrary to the struggle waged by the 5 BLC comrades, the leadership’s line involves a radically different approach. The leadership’s line was developed not to promote the struggle against wh ch and p-b ch and accommodation to them, but to explain a series of events, specifically the resignations of many national minorities and working class MLs from the OCIC in recent months. The leadership’s line is that Tyree Scott, DW, Manuel C., and other national minorities left the OC primarily because of their defensiveness around accommodation.

This line has been put forward to avoid dealing with two things. One is that the wc and nm comrades who have left have put forward criticisms of the campaign and the OC’s party-building line. Rather than taking up the differences to build unity, the differences have been liquidated and explained away by accommodation. Two is that the OC’s party-building line has some serious weaknesses. In particular is the fact that nm and wc members have not been stepping forward into leadership as expected, and in fact have left the OGIC in large numbers.. We believe the leadership’s line on accommodation is a left-sectarian line. It seeks to justify driving out comrades because of their political differences (unrelated to the principles of unity), a lack of principled struggle over political differences, growing disunity in the tendency, and drawing premature lines of demarcation in the tendency. Second, the leadership’s line is based in wh and p-b ch: it assumes that the only political contributions that wc and nm comrades can make are limited to the campaign.

Liquidating political differences in the Boston Local Center

It is important to note that the flip from racist paternalism to overt wh ch towards Manual C. in the BLC began when he persistently raised criticisms of the OC process in Boston. The leadership took up MC’s accommodation as a direct response to the struggle MC took up around his criticisms. Essentially MC advanced three criticisms of the campaign’s moralism. One, there was no focus on changing practice, but endless rounds of criticism – that is, the campaign takes the struggle against wh and p-b ch out of its political context. Two, when errors were discussed there was little understanding of how wh ch and p-b ch errors actually undermine the struggle for socialism. More specifically, there was not discussion of how these errors compromise a comrade’s ability to struggle for socialism. Three, the OC was liquidating its political tasks.

These criticisms were never taken up in the Boston center. The leadership did not require MC to make a presentation of write a paper deepening these criticisms. Discussion of these points was never on the center’s agenda. When the center took up paternalism toward MC, the failure to struggle around these points did not receive attention as examples of paternalism. The pattern of wh ch towards him was not addressed. In the period before his resignation, the struggle focused almost entirely on MC’s accommodation to wh ch and p-b ch. In this context, the national leadership of the OCIC holds that MC left the organization primarily because of his accommodation! (Contrary to Comrade Sal W., this is the position of the national Chair.) If these practices toward Comrade C. were not undemocratic, then we don’t know what is.

The leadership’s line and practice toward DW serves to justify a similar pattern. During and after the second Regional Conference, DW put forward a number of criticisms which the leadership refused to take up. One major difference was that the main form of his accommodation is accepting the view that he is basically a clown. At the Conference he took a position against this, his silence spoke against it, and he has argued against it since the Conference. Other differences are in his resignation letter. DW charges that the OC has liquidated its agenda, specifically the 18 point consolidation, the critique of ultra-leftism, dogmatism, and the drift to social-imperialism; and the development of an ideological center. The OC is disintegrating. There has been abuse of all types of members. The leadership has practiced gross reductionism of line questions to solely errors of wh and p-b ch. Moralism characterizes the internal life of the OC, in the forms of posturing, scapegoating, etc. Finally, these errors flow from the fusion line on party-building. (Except for this last point, we agree with these criticisms. Also, Comrade W. no longer holds this last criticism.)

Rather than deal with these criticisms and attempt to build unity with DWf the local leadership and their staunchest supporters in a series of three meetings took up their line on accommodation. Present at the first meeting, held just after the second New England Regional Conference, were Jane H., Rosa C., Hannah T., and Carol M. At the second meeting, which took up DW’s letter of resignation, were Alice C,, JH, and Tom L.. A third meeting took place in mid-March to discuss DW’s current differences with the OC, and this involved AC and RC. All three meetings followed a similar pattern. As with C., there was no examination of the practice of wh ch toward DW. Rather, each BLC member briefly “confessed” his or her wh ch, and then went on to the main business – a sharp struggle against DW’s accommodation. In the process his differences were totally liquidated. The LCSC totally failed to mention the content of these differences in any of the written or verbal reports made in the center. And in fact the leadership holds the position that DW left the OC primarily because of his accommodation to wh ch! And yet by the same idealist methods used in the past, these repeated errors are supposed to be corrected by asking BLC members to speak to our views of DW as a clown. In this regard it is striking that in none of the three meetings with DW did any of the white comrades state that they viewed DW as a clown! When asked to speak to this position at the March LC meeting, no LC member could do so.

According to the leadership’s line on accommodation, MC and DW have been moving backwards politically due to their capitulation. They are not thoroughly opportunist and incapable of giving leadership to the party-building process. That is why they’re not stepping forward in the OC. In reality, based on the criticisms they advanced, MC and DW are more advanced than the OC leadership. Their leadership was held back and blocked in the OC because of their more advanced politics.

The left sectarianism underlying the line on accommodation

Regardless of the correctness or incorrectness of the views put forward by DW and MC, the leadership should have taken up open, principled struggle around them to build unity. Why didn’t this happen? In our view, it was because acknowledging the criticisms and taking up struggle around them would inevitably threaten the OCIC’s claim as the genuine Marxist-Leninists, the genuine anti-racists in the communist movement, and the ultra-leftism would be exposed. From this point of view – left sectarianism – it is necessary to liquidate the differences, reduce all opposition to wh ch and p-b ch or accommodation, and draw premature lines of demarcation with all opposition. This sectarian approach is the driving force behind the line on accommodation.

An example from the 18 point study groups brings this out clearly. In the first meeting of Nancy G’ group, she raised several questions about the OC’s current direction: “We have to ask ourselves if we have the right approach. Why are there no national minorities here to lead the struggle against wh ch? I don’t think it can be done only by white chauvinists.” Immediately the white leadership comrades took up NG’s accommodation, her reluctance to have struggle taken up with her, her “threatening to leave the OC.” The content of her question was liquidated. In a struggle after the meeting the white leadership comrades (Alice C., Hannah T., and Len D.) agreed this was a racist struggle against accommodation. Her point was liquidated and there was no mention of wh ch ideology towards NG (except very briefly by AC). But the essential point here is, what triggered the flip from racist paternalism, which characterized the first part of the meeting, to the overt wh ch of the struggle against accommodation. The trigger was the point at which NG raised a criticism of the campaign. The pattern here is identical to the one with MC and DW: ignore the criticisms, ignore the wh ch and p-b ch, and expose the comrade’s “opportunism” and “backwardness” due to accommodation.

This same error was made to LF at the March LC meeting. Despite the fact that the agenda called for struggle around the correctness of the campaign and the line of the opposition, the leadership never took up LF’s positions on this. Instead, the regional and local leaders took-up a sharp struggle with hers alleged capitulation to pbc. Despite that fact that LF was removed from the LCSC primarily for conciliating the opposition, the political content of her conciliation was never addressed by the leadership. Instead, a phoney explanation was put forward for the removal, that it had been mainly a tokenist error to place her on the SC. This cover for the leadership real reasons is pbc, because it liquidates her differences, reducing them to accommodation to pbc. What triggered this liquidation of LF’s politics was her unity with the opposition. Concretely, shortly before her removal from the LCSC she had expressed unity with a paper by Barbara S. on the idealism and left sectarianism of the campaign. When LF raised strong criticisms of the campaign, the regional and local leadership suddenly discovered the error of tokenism, liquidated LF’s political differences, and took up struggle with her accommodation.

The sectarianism towards the nm and wc comrades described above is fundamentally the same as the errors towards white p-b comrades who raised criticisms of the center earlier and, for the most part, left the OC. In the case of these comrades all opposition was reduced to name-calling and charges of one form or another of “chauvinism.” In point of fact, no one really knows to this day exactly what the strengths and weaknesses are of those comrades. There was never any principled struggle that could have led to ascertaining just what were these strengths and weaknesses. All that we have to go on is what the present leadership would have us believes that these comrades left because they were unwilling to struggle with their backwardness.

White chauvinism and petit-bourgeois chauvinism in the line

While subordinate to left-sectarianism, the line on accommodation is also based on wh and p-b chauvinist ideology. One form of this is an implicit glorification of nm and wc comrades. The only explanation offered for their backwardness is accommodation: all wc and nm members are potential leaders if they only break with their bad ideology. Newlin puts this forward in the “Second Crisis” article, where he argues that nm and wc comrades “have barely begun to break with their own internalized views of inferiority. As a result many continue to hold back from asserting their equality and leadership in practice.” (emphasis added). While the wh and p-b comrades are defending their weaknesses by raising criticisms, the criticisms raised by the nm and wc comrades are seen as examples of holding back their inherent leadership. This form of p-b ch led the LCSC to place Tom L. on the LCSC. With no examination of his strengths and weaknesses, an evaluation of his leadership, or a struggle against the pattern of p-b ch towards him, he was placed on the LCSC. All he had to do was break with his accommodation. Significantly, when TL was removed, the only thing the SC criticized him for was accommodation (allowing himself to be tokenized, conciliating the opposition). Clearly the SC sees his only weakness as accommodation.

A second form of wh and p-b ch and central to the line on accommodation is ghettoization. Ghettoization is segregation within the communist movement and is an overt form of chauvinism. The campaign makes this error by taking the position that the real way the OC will build unity with nm and wc comrades is through the campaign, not around the Draft Plan, or the critique of ultra-leftism, evaluation of the main danger, etc. One proof of this is that these questions, all scheduled to be on the national OC agenda, have been liquidated and are presently not on the OC’s upcoming agenda. The comments of the LCSC at the last center meeting (3/1/81) reveal the error of ghettoization. Attempting to criticize her wh ch towards KG, AC said, “NG is here because she has unity with the process going on today.” According to AC, NG is not in the OC because of her unity with the Draft Plan, development of a theoretical agenda, etc., but only because of the campaign. The “process going on today” in the OC is solely the campaign.

Implicit in the conduct of the campaign is the position that the only leadership nm and wc comrades can offer is around the struggle against wh and p-b ch. This error of ghettoization is directly responsible for the liquidation of the OC’s political agenda, save for the campaign. We are building unity with nm and wc comrades only through the campaign. We are trying to develop nm and wc leadership only around the campaign.

An example of the attitude that wc and nm comrades can only offer leadership around the struggle against wh and p-b ch is the placing of Comrade Liz F. on the LCSC. Unlike TL, she can struggle against pb ch sharply. But there was no evaluation of her specific strengths and weaknesses before she was placed on the SC or when she was removed. This is because strengths, weaknesses, and politics are irrelevant to the over-riding question – can she take up the campaign?

Those wc and nm comrades who would take up the issues of party-building, theoretical work, consolidation around the 18 points, etc. are attacked as “accommodationist,” “capitulationist,” “conciliators,” etc., etc.

The line on accommodation tends to reduce all disagreements to the ideological weakness of accommodation on the part of nm and wc comrades in the OC. This error plays Itself out in the OC’s outreach work. One major error in this context is the confusion between uniting the tendency and building the tendency. In other words, members of the tendency, people who have generally strong unity with the 18 points and are conscious socialists or Marxist-Leninists, are lumped together with advanced forces who are relatively new to ML and have more political differences with the 18 points. With members of the tendency, the ideological barriers to unity are predominant, including wh and p-b ch. But with advanced forces, the political and ideological barriers are more diverse, deeper, require a longer process of struggle, and focus more on questions of political line. By seeing the advanced as part of the tendency the process of building unity and struggling over differences is liquidated and differences are reduced to removing a few ideological obstacles – accommodation, and wh and p-b ch.

An example can draw this out. One OC outreach group recently held a meeting to discuss two papers written by contacts around their differences with some of the 18 points. The two contacts are advanced workers, one a nm. As the discussion was repeatedly turned toward wh and p-b ch, and away from the content of the papers, the nm person said, “Why is it necessary to deal with the chauvinism?” They’re not “my enemy!” The chair ruled this out of order, and the meeting took up more discussion of wh ch. As a result the person’s political differences ware addressed briefly, with little discussion. And in a sum-up. of this meeting, Rachel M, held that it was a mistake to take up the politics even this much! The process of building unity with the two contacts was seriously weakened by the liquidation of the political differences. This is also an error of racism clearly tied to the line on accommodation. The nm comrade’s differences were not taken up, an overt error of racism. The underlying reason they weren’t is that “his accommodation kept him from seeing the real barriers to unity – wh and p-b ch.” That’s the line of the leadership on accommodation in action. And its political effect is that unity with wc and nm comrades will not be built around the 18 points, the Draft Plan – or anything else for that matter.