Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Ex-Boston Local Center/OCIC Members

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


Line is Idealist

The idealism, sectarianism and dogmatism of the CAWC have been carried to the extreme with the OC’s line on personal relationships. Comrades married for 15 years are told to break up, others are informed that their long history of leadership and struggle in the workers’ and communist movement are irrelevant, while still others are told that their opportunism is so extreme that they have been in long term relationships only to build up their image. in each case, comrades’ commitment to socialism and their political leadership have been measured against the litmus test of their willingness and ability to deal with opportunism, real or imagined, in their personal relationships. According to the OC’s leadership, they have all failed.

This extremism flows from an idealist separation of ideological struggle from the class struggle. Just as the CAWC takes up struggle with comrades’ ideas apart from their impact on the class struggle, so here, struggle is taken up with comrades about their personal relationships apart from the impact their relationship has on their role in the class struggle. The Marxist approach is to analyze a comrade’s actual role in taking up their communist tasks and on the basis of that analysis, identify what is holding them back; if the weaknesses are ideological, they should be correctly identified and then taken up. If they are manifested in the comrade’s personal relationship, then struggle should be taken up there. This is the approach taken to the struggle against opportunism in personal relationships (SAOPR) in Cuba, for example. When a comrade’s sexism toward his wife is identified as being key to holding back her political participation then he is struggled with to see the political consequences of his sexism and to change is practice.

In the OC, the approach is just the opposite. Instead of identifying the manifestations and then working back to identify the error, we begin with an assumption, or line, and look to ’reality’ to bolster the position. The assumption here is that all relationships are opportunist, that they play a central role in holding back comrades’ political participation and that struggle must be taken up with us about our relationships for us to be able to advance politically.

This is the same idealist method that the OC criticized the ’conciliationists’ for re: the struggle on pt. 18. Their call for a working definition of ultra-leftism to use as a measuring stick was rejected as idealist. The Marxist approach was identified as one of identifying manifestations of ultra-leftism and then working toward a definition. Yet this same approach has been quickly forgotten when it comes to the CAWC, especially in the struggle against opportunism in personal relationships.

This idealism is not limited to methodology. It also informs the approach taken to each relationship. The OC only had to travel a short path from the position that personal relationships are a key arena for the SAO because all relationships have opportunism in them to the position that the essence of relationships is opportunist. This is the same reductionist approach taken throughout the CAWC. If you have been white chauvinist toward someone you work with then the essence of your relationship is assumed to be white chauvinist, everything you’ve ever done or said must now be reevaluated as opportunist. So, too, with personal relationships. If you are a white woman involved with a national minority man then you white chauvinism must be the essence of your relationship. Love, compatibility, contradictions are irrelevant, the OC has forgotten that they exist. This is most clearly seen in Comrade Carla’s approach to Comrades R. and C. Carla did not know either JR or MC. She had 1 discussion with JR about MC’S sexism and attended 1 meeting where JR was directed to speak to her white chauvinist view of MC. Yet, she assumed that the relationship was thoroughly white chauvinist. She felt qualified on the basis of that little experience, having done no investigation to state that “JR did not think much of herself and that’s why she was in a relationship with a national minority man,” and that JR was only in the relationship to use “MC as an anti-racist credential and to build herself up as a white goddess”. She then struggled with MC to leave JR, criticizing him for leaving the OC when he was willing to “come home to that (JR).”

The error here is to reduce the entire relationship to its opportunism, to do so on the basis of no investigation, and to assume that all relationships are the same, although this position developed in relation to inter-racial couples, it has been expanded to include all forms of opportunism, if it is a relationship between a petty-bourgeois and working class comrade then the essence must be pbc. In the BLC this has been the leadership’s view of D/O’L., L./L., M./F. And if it’s a relationship between comrades of the same class and nationality then the essence must be sexism: F./R., C./F., C./L. With inter-racial working class couples the ’problem’ was solved by identifying accommodationism as key: W. and his wife, D. and R.

To date, the ’leadership’ has only addressed the relationships of certain leadership comrades and of national minority and working class comrades in and out of leadership. Since they’re ’leading’ it’s important that their lives get straightened out first, in each case, the conclusion has been the same - that the relationships should end, that they’re hopeless. Sometimes there’s been some struggle (a few months for F./R.); usually it’s a foregone conclusion. Comrades, are we so awful that the majority of us are in thoroughly opportunist relationships? We don’t think so. We believe that it is this struggle that is opportunist.

Why is it that in other aspects of the CAWC we are urged to struggle against our opportunism so that we can build political unity with others, while in the arena of personal relationships we are urged to throw in the towel? We believe it is because the goal of this struggle is to forge perfect cadre, unfettered by any opportunism on the home front. It’s part of the effort to “eradicate each and every manifestation of opportunism.” We’ll show the rest of the world, especially nm and wc comrades the extent to which we’re willing to go to forge a proletarian class stand. This approach finds a receptive audience because of the moralistic, guilt-ridden approach that many pb comrades take toward politics. It’s a logical extension of our view that we must commit ourselves 23 hours a day, that no sacrifice is too great, that time for friends and lovers is a waste, etc. Comrade F. was willing to scuttle her 15 year marriage, for instance, if Comrade R. didn’t break with his sexism in 2 months because she had to prove her commitment.

We are not belittling the importance of commitment or the need to SAOPR [struggle against opportunism in personal relationships – EROL]. We are critical of the dogmatic emphasis put on personal relationships as a central focus for struggle. It’s the easy way out. Reexamining our political line, lack of cadre development, lack of developed leadership are ail rejected as sources of our errors and lack of success. If only we can perfect ourselves in the ideological struggle then everything will change, it can’t be our line, it must be us.

Nowhere is the position that relationships are the key political leadership exposed as false more clearly than in the case of Comrade Scott. Comrade Scott, who has played a leading role in the mass and communist movements, and more recently in the OC was told to choose “between his personal relationship and his leadership position in the CC. His ’failure’ to struggle sharply against his accommodationism, real or imagined, suddenly rendered all his experience and leadership irrelevant. This is not a materialist analysis of Comrade Scott’s role. It is a dogmatic application of the line. He was presumably accommodating pbc since the OC’s inception, but it never disqualified him from leadership before. Equally, Comrade F. was presumably accommodating sexism throughout her tenure on the RSC but it wasn’t until she refused to comply with the directive to end her marriage that the ’thoroughly damaging effects of R’s sexism’ were drawn out, how it’s ’compromised’ her leadership causing her to take backwards positions, etc.

LOPR has been used in opportunist fashion

The sudden change in approach to Scott and F is indicative of the opportunist way in which the OC has used this line to downplay or smash opposition to the CAWC. F’s differences with the CAWC were attributed to her conciliating MR, at the last BLC meeting. In the same way, JR’s partial unity with MC’s criticisms of the CAWC when she was on the LSC were identified as an outgrowth of her paternalism. Supposedly, if she hadn’t been in a relationship with MR she never would have been critical of the campaign. This is similar to the way that the struggle against accommodationism is used to liquidate any differences nm and wc comrades may have with the CAWC.

The leadership has also opportunistically used the SAOPR to posture as to their anti-racist, pro-working class credentials. This posturing was most clear in the struggle with Comrade R. Neither the LSC nor the RSC had any interest in building political unity with Comrade C. or between C. and R. He was already written of if because of his opposition to the campaign. They made no effort to talk with him about his view of the relationship or to struggle with him about changing it. Instead they only struggled with R. to show C. and other nm and wc comrades how we/they could take up the CAWC.

This same posturing is evident in Comrade C’s telling Comrade L. that she had 5 days to move on her pbc toward comrade L. or she should end the relationship. This ’principled’ approach is a posture to show L. how sharply she can struggle against pbc. She was mot concerned about Comrade L. who has been made to believe the multitude of stereotypes about himself that we’ve been encouraged to speak to.

Most importantly, the OC has used this excessive focus on personal relationships to further avoid taking up our political tasks. We are supposed to be a political organization with a full agenda, including taking up a critique of ultra-leftism. Yet instead of addressing these pressing tasks and moving forward in our struggle to develop much needed program, strategy and tactics for revolution in the US we’ve spent an inordinate amount of time trying to purify ourselves.

There is no official line

It’s important to remember that the OC has never adopted a position on personal relationships. No discussions have been scheduled, no resolutions have been passed. Yet a line clearly exists. We believe that this line has been adopted in flunkeyist fashion from the PWOC, expanded on and applied dogmatically to the OC. The only written, argument for taking up the SAOPR is found in Racism in the PWOC. There the PWOC argued for the line that the concentrated expression of opportunism is found in personal relationships and that Black comrades in inter-racial couples are isolated from the Black community. On this basis they argue that inter-racial relationships should be discouraged. In our view, the PWOC never proves its point. The few relationships talked about may or may not have been essentially opportunist, and Black comrades in the PWOC may have been isolated from the Black community. This does not mean that all inter-racial relationships are essentially opportunist nor that national minority comrades must be isolated from the mass movement because of their personal relationships. The PWOC’s line on or participation in particular struggles may have been more central to the isolation.

In any case, there is substantial disagreement with this position in the OC. Yet the lack of democracy, opportunist methods of ideological struggle and weak cadre development has meant that many who disagree with the line as it appears in the OC, (that all “mixed” relationships are essentially opportunist) have had no opportunity to put forward their views and modify or substantially change the position. Yet, the leadership has self-confidently acted on this analysis, recommending that a substantial number of comrades end their relationships. The fact that they can operate freely on the basis of a line that has never been adopted speaks to a serious weakness in the OC: the almost total lack of accountability on the part of the leadership to the membership. In this instance a substantial number of OC members disagree with the position but we have no way of changing it, since there is nothing concrete to rescind.