Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Michael Moran, Call Editor and RWH member

Letter from the Editor: Where is The Call going?

First Published: The Call, March-April 1982.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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It’s time to do some rethinking about The Call. Our survival is at stake. The fracturing and realignment in the revolutionary movement has left a very shaky foundation for our publication. I want to pose some new directions for our publishing efforts and begin a discussion.

First a little background. For eight years The Call was the voice of a tight Marxist-Leninist organization. The lines and policies it promoted were those developed by the Communist Party Marxist-Leninist. The writing and distribution networks were those of the CPML, which for a time had newspaper work as its central task. The staff was made up mainly of dedicated CPML members who produced a weekly paper by putting in long hours for subsistence pay.

Now conditions have changed. The size and organizational cohesion or the CPML is drastically reduced. For the past several months, The Call has survived because it has been a joint project of the CPML and the Revolutionary Workers Headquarters. We on the staff worked to keep The Call going in hopes that the momentum away from national organization could be reversed. We wanted to make The Call a magazine expressing a new level of unity. We tried to preserve it as one element of a new national center.

To this end we made changes in editorial policy gearing the content much more to serve the development of clarity and unity around line for a new organization. While there were definite weaknesses in application, I think the party-building emphasis put us more in line with the present period of reevaluation and realignment. I think this focus on a smaller, more conscious audience was more in tune with reality than the earlier view which saw the Marxist-Leninist newspaper as a key tool for organizing and broad education in the mass movements.

However, it now looks like many of us were over-optimistic in our view of how soon any kind of new organizational cohesion would develop. The merger between the CPML and the RWH, which appeared imminent, has been put off indefinitely in favor of more long term, multi-lateral efforts. It now appears that our view of merger as a near term possibility was more based on a subjective desire for national functioning than on the present realities.

Objective cleavages between the socialist and workers movements and between the workers and oppressed nationality movements are two conditions that make party building progress especially difficult. Higher levels of fusion in both these realms will present us with better conditions to achieve nation-wide unity.

In addition to, and in many cases reflecting these objective difficulties there are confusions, mistakes, line differences and organizational narrowness which hinder progress to unity.

In this situation two differing emphases are emerging. While no one is articulating pure versions of either, I want to paint them as opposites so that I can argue for a strategy that draws elements from both–and that assigns a role to a national publication.

On the one hand we can follow the logic of a strict merger strategy: struggle to develop the relations, the debate, and the ever closer unity of the existent organizations. On the other, we can retreat to the localities, to the various areas of work, build them up, make advances on the above mentioned lack of fusion, and then turn our attention to national organization at a later point when conditions are better.

It seems that the struggle to construct functioning local and mass work-based organizations is overall the primary task in party building at this point. The damage of years of ultra-left deviations and the subordination of the districts to the various national centers and newspapers must be corrected consciously, patiently, and with much effort. Despite a trend toward dissolution and liquidation, Marxist-Leninist activists are attempting to form functioning local collectives unconnected or tangentially connected to national organization.

Progress at this level can help overcome the movement’s superficiality, provide a better basis for determining correct from incorrect lines, and assemble a sturdy enough foundation to politically and financially support an eventual leadership structure.

On the other hand there is a certain amount of knowledge and leadership that can be centralized. There is a definite task of focusing the discussions and debates around line. There are some struggles and campaigns mat require some national communication and guidance. In this realm, the debate and the discussions between various organizations, leading bodies, and influential individuals should continue.

But the richness of the experience and the variety of the views is so great that formalized debate is not that easy. A number of organizations and individuals who should participate would not be able to express their views either because their organizations are not sufficiently “together” to manage die internal flow of line development or because they aren’t members of the participating organizations.

So while the work-based emphasis at reconstructing M-L organization is overall principle, there must be some form for national discussion and communication. Can The Call be transformed into a non-partisan journal or political magazine which can serve the needs of the M-L movement and be a forerunner to a greater base of unity? We need such a vehicle to popularize summations of advanced work, sharpen up discussions around key line questions, and analyze important national straggles and events.

The objective separations between the socialist and peoples movements, between the nationality and class movements, will not be bridged merely by intensive organizing and practical work. Ideological tasks are clearly before us both for the development of strategy and to deepen the understanding of the advanced.

By what method will the analysis of program for the ’80s get hammered out? How can the unity of white and oppressed nationality revolutionaries be deepened if there is no form for projecting work summations and rationalized views on the relations between the national and class questions?

How will our understandings of self-determination, socialism, united front strategies, economic developments, and electoral work advance unless we have a tool for centralizing the best understandings and summations? How will we win activists coming forward to our ranks? How will we ever unite?

Material on this level is available and would be even more likely if we can develop an explicitly non-partisan identity and editorial policy. There is not other independent journal that reflects the various political emphases around international, national questions, labor, party building, and women’s issues which have characterized our trend.

But can such a new project win the active cooperation–in deeds as well as words–of a large enough network of revolutionary activists to survive? A number of important questions have to be discussed: Around what policies and structures could an editorial board be assembled? Could changes in name, format, frequency and price be smoothly done?

What balance of editorial emphasis should go toward analysis to aid the organizing efforts of the developing Marxists in the movements and how much toward the rationalized questions of line for party building debates? And probably the most immediately difficult, could we raise the money, sell the subscriptions, and assemble a staff to make the project work? These questions are difficult and pressing. We need your ideas, effort, and encouragement. If we receive a positive response to this letter and idea, we’ll begin efforts to make some changes.