Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Central Committee M.I.N.P.-El Comite

Statement on the Division in M.I.N.P.-El Comite


First Published: Obreros En Marcha, Special Issue, April 1981.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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In mid-January a division occurred in M.I.N.P.-El Comite. This situation is a difficult one for any organization to undergo. What made it even more difficult in this instance was the fact that this division was not a result of any clearly defined political differences with the political line of the organization.

The division in M.I.N.P. was not a split of the type that has occurred in many Marxist-Leninist organizations in the U.S., where a group of people form a faction around an explicit difference with the political line of the organization, wage a struggle over that difference and then either convince the majority to change its line, leave, or are expelled. In our case, the division was the result of a series of specific events which led to the expulsion of a group of cadres. Others then resigned from the organization.

In order to minimize the damage and make this situation as productive as possible for our continued growth and development, we need to understand what happened: what led to the division, what were the political issues involved, and what were the political errors, if any, committed?

In order to gain this understanding, the organization has begun a very intense process of discussion and evaluation, within both the leadership and the entire membership.

Through the discussions thus far, we have recognized that the leadership was not able to identify or deal correctly with the political issues arising from the mass work as well as from our internal functioning. In this way we did not adequately fulfill our responsibility to provide political leadership in the organization. This inability was reflected by all throughout the organization and was a fundamental component in the series of events, a series of actions and reactions, which in mid-January culminated in the division in the organization.

In the following pages we present our assessment of the events leading to the division. But our document goes beyond a discussion of the division and begins to elaborate on some of the key theoretical questions arising from our mass work, questions which our organization must take up in the next period. Some of these are: How has our work among the Puerto Rican National Minority furthered their integration into the overall class struggle? How do we develop links between Puerto Ricans and workers from other minorities, in particular, Blacks and other Latins? How do Marxist-Leninists address the question of electoral participation? These issues are all part of the larger question of how Marxist-Leninists effectively combine reform struggles with deepening the class consciousness of the working class. In other words, how do we insure that while we involve ourselves in reform struggles, we are also raising people’s level of class-consciousness?

We understand that by not previously identifying and discussing these questions in the organization, we did not provide the needed political direction for our work. At the same time, we also see that it is only in the past year or so that we have successfully developed our practice to the point where we would begin to be confronted with some of these issues. These issues and others emerged precisely because of the experiences we were having in attempting to implement the mandates established at our First Assembly in November 1978. Our experiences reflect both successes and failures. We must combine an evaluation of the experiences with an examination of the theoretical questions posed to us by these experiences (as well as by the objective situation). This will push forward our development as a Marxist-Leninist organization.

Based on this need for a general discussion of our work the Central Committee decided that the organization begin an analysis of all its work for the past 2 and a half years, since the First Assembly. This would mean analyzing all our areas of involvement in mass movements as well as the progressive and revolutionary movements. It would also mean analyzing how M.I.N.P. organized itself–practically and theoretically–in order to deepen its integration in the class struggle. This process of evaluation would culminate in our organization’s Second Assembly, which will determine the goals and political direction of M.I.N.P.-El Comite for the next period of time and elect a new leadership.

Central Committee M.I.N.P.-El Comite

The Division in M.I.N.P.

On January 17, 1981, a group of cadres in M.I.N.P.-El Comite (including 2 members of the Central Committee) presented a memo to the Central Committee raising a series of charges questioning the political competence and integrity of that body. The memo, which was in essence an ultimatum, demanded a meeting of the full cadre of the organization in order to discuss political differences and evaluate the leadership. The memo only alluded to the political differences. It did not state what the cadres considered these to be.

During the three months preceeding this ultimatum, a situation had been developing in the organization in which different charges were raised against several members of the leadership and a member of the base by a member of the Central Committee; a member of the base also raised charges against some of the same people. The leadership took steps to deal with the developing situation, but we did not view the charges as a reflection of political issues which had to be addressed but rather as subjective actions and violations of procedure by individual members.

These and other events made the leadership aware of a sense of frustration and dissatisfaction in different parts of the organization, but the ultimatum caught the Central Committee by surprise. The Central Committee immediately convened to discuss the memo and decide on our response.

Our analysis was two-fold. The cadres who signed the memo came from various structures in the organization. Therefore the memo represented a serious violation of the principles of democratic centralism which have guided our organization since its Formative Assembly in 1975. The fact that cadres went outside their structure to raise their charges constituted the existence of a faction in M.I.N.P.-El Comite, a situation which weakens the unity of will and action of any Marxist-Leninist organization and therefore represents a threat to its agreed-upon program of work.

However, and more fundamentally, the memo represented a violation of the principles of revolutionary morality because the charges it raised against the Central Commute were based on serious distortions about various situations in the organization. The distortions implied that the Central Committee was deliberately functioning in such a way as to consolidate its own power both by suppressing ideological struggle and by applying different standards for the functioning of the leadership and that of the base. In addition, the language of the memo was vindictive and venomous, completely inconsistent with the signers’ stated desire to petition the Central Committee and to wage principled struggle. Lastly, the memo lacked any self-critical attitude on the part of the signers about the situation which they said had developed in M.I.N.P. They raised extremely serious charges against the leadership but they ignored their own responsibility as full cadre of the organization. In particular, the two Central Committee members who signed the ultimatum ignored their own agreement on the decisions and actions of the leadership which they now said created certain negative situations in the organization.

Because of these factors, the Central Committee viewed the memo as an attack on the leadership, and characterized it as subjective and one-sided. Most important, we saw it as a destructive action on the part of the cadre who signed it, not as an effort to raise serious concerns in a principled manner with the purpose of learning from the errors, correcting them, and moving forward.

Thus we were confronted with a situation that we had never before experienced in M.I.N.P.–not only the formation of a faction, but of one which, we felt, was organized in order to attack and destroy, not in order to advance the political struggle in M.I.N.P. Because we did not know why people had signed a memo of this nature, we felt that before doing anything else we had to talk to those cadre and find out what was going on. But we believed that if they were sincere about their efforts to wage a principled struggle, they would have to disassociate themselves from their statement. If they were unwilling to do this, then it would be necessary to expel them.

At the same time, the Central Committee felt that there were several individuals who had played a major role in writing the memo and organizing the faction. We identified these individuals as the ringleaders who had used their positions of leadership and as heads of areas to feed on members’ concerns, dissatisfactions and criticisms and to organize a faction around them. These individuals we did not try to talk with. They were immediately expelled from the organization.

During the next few days we spoke to most of the other signers and requested that they meet with individual members of the Central Committee to discuss the situation. They all categorically refused to meet and declared they would only come, as their memo had stated, to a full cadre meeting built around their agenda. We then told them they were expelled from the organization since the fact that cadres refused to meet with the leadership reflected a situation of anarchy in M.I.N.P. and confirmed our initial analysis that the memo was indeed an ultimatum, not a petition, and a destructive action, not a constructive one.

We did not understand at the time that the most important question we had to address was not the subjectivity of the memo–not even the distortions of fact or the unfounded charges–but rather the underlying dissatisfaction and “political differences” to which the memo referred without specifying them.

In the meantime, we had called a meeting of the entire membership of M.I.N.P. (minus the signers) in order to explain to them the events which had occurred, tell them of our initial analysis, and to get their input of ideas and information. We had already begun to understand that the fact that a faction had developed in our ranks, without the leadership’s being aware of it, indicated a real gap between the leadership and the base of M.I.N.P., a serious weakness in any Marxist-Leninist organization. The discussion by the membership at the general meeting indicated our need to begin a more comprehensive analysis of the situation immediately.

This was the beginning of our efforts to understand why and how a faction had formed in M.I.N.P. and why a division had occurred in the organization. Since, as the leading body, the Central Committee is ultimately responsible for all that happens within M.I.N.P., we initially thought that what was most important was to examine our role in the past period. However, we soon realized that this was looking at only part of the picture. There were political issues underlying the various charges and criticisms made which not only the signers but also the Central Committee had failed to identify. What were these issues? Why had no one been able to pinpoint them? Was this inability connected to the formation of the faction? If the faction had formed over political differences, why had these cadres only raised their charges, and not stated the differences? We saw that we had to address all of these questions, not only the role of leadership.

As part of our evaluation process, we have met and discussed the situation with comrades outside the organization–individuals and organizations who, because of their historical relations to M.I.N.P. and also because of their own practice and experience in the revolutionary movement in this country and elsewhere, have made valuable contributions to our growth and consolidation. We felt that given the present situation–and our lack of experience in dealing with factions and divisions–these comrades could help us to deepen our analysis of the situation.

It is through this evaluation process that we have come to see that the response of the Central Committee to the ultimatum from those cadre was not an objective response. Regardless of the subjective and venomous nature of the attack it was our responsibility as Marxist-Leninists to investigate beyond the appearance of things in order to gain a full understanding of what was occurring. By expelling the comrades without making a thorough and comprehensive investigation of the entire situation, without identifying the political issues at hand, and without struggling with them over their positions, we acted precipitously and incorrectly.

Thus we have come to understand that the same weakness reflected in the cadres who signed the memo was also reflected in our response to their action and to the charges against the Central Committee during the period immediately preceeding the division. The political immaturity reflected in their attack on the leadership and in their “placing blame” rather than defining the political issues was also reflected in our responding without investigating and uncovering the political issues involved. These two aspects culminated in the division in M.I.N.P.

In order to learn from this process so that we can continue to move forward, we must examine in depth what the material reality of M.I.N.P. has been that shaped all of us in the way that it did. We need to look at M.I.N.P.’s political line, the mandates we established at our First Assembly, our structure, our conception of democratic centralism, and above all, our experiences in developing work among the masses. This is the task we have already begun, and which the next Assembly will take up in a total way.

Mandates of the First Assembly

Before concluding with a consideration of the specific problems which the present situation now makes us analyze, and shows us we should have analyzed much earlier, let us present a brief summary of our tasks as defined by the First Assembly. The political line agreed upon at the First Assembly will continue to guide our work until such time that an Assembly of the organization determines to change it.

The central task of M.I.N.P. which we defined for ourselves at our Formative Assembly and reaffirmed in 1978 was the task of contributing to the building of a revolutionary party of the proletariat in this country.

M.I.N.P.-El Comite realizes that the task of building a communist party is inextricably linked with the need to build the class-consciousness essential to unite significant sectors of the working class. Indeed, this task is based on the premise that only a united and class-conscious working class, led by a vanguard party, can decisively confront the U.S. bourgeoisie and establish a basis for the eradication of capitalist exploitation in the U.S. Thus we pose that building the party, or rather contributing to that process, in the context of advancing the voluntary unity of the working class, is the challenge facing the communist movement in this historical period.

A fundamental condition for the development of this party is the training of materialist cadre, cadre able to lead the masses as well as to teach and learn from them. Their training must take place in the context of the class struggle of the masses, in the context of social reality. This constitutes the dialectical relationship which exists in the contradiction between theory and practice. Theory is developed as a result of concrete needs arising from practice and must, in turn, serve practice. The development of theory in order to advance the party-building process is primary at this time; but at the same time, we cannot develop theoretical formulations divorced from experience in the class struggle. Nor can the development of a theoretical understanding by cadre take place outside of social practice. This is the essence of our party-building position which we first articulated in our pamphlet, Party Building and Its Relationship to the Masses, and which is most succinctly expressed by our slogan, “Forge the Cadre Among the Masses.”

The task of building a party we view as long-term in character and going through many stages. We must understand the present stage and the immediate tasks it raises for Marxist-Leninists. Only through this understanding can we establish what actions are appropriate in order to contribute to the present party-building process.

Today we are faced with a situation in which the working class is dominated by bourgeois ideology and suffers deteriorating living and working conditions. With the advent of the Reagan administration the workers’ living and working conditions are under ever sharper attack. Furthermore, the revolutionary forces in this country are generally characterized by their isolation from the masses and their organizational fragmentation and ideological and political underdevelopment. The work we do to advance the party building process and promote a higher level of class-consciousness among the working class has to start from a realization of these conditions and limitations.

In the face of this reality, our present task is to gain experience and test our theories by participating in the struggles of the working class and identifying the theoretical questions that the cadre confront in the context of their social practice.

Through sharing these experiences and the lessons learned from them, and participating in joint work around various struggles and issues, a higher level of unity can develop among party-building forces. Our proposal for “communication, cooperation and coordination” among revolutionaries within the context of common social practice is the basis for advancing the party-building process at this time.

At our First Assembly, we discussed, struggled over and further clarified our understanding of the interrelationship between advancing the party-building process and uniting the working class. For it is the division of the working class–divided primarily by racism and national chauvinism–that ensures the continuing domination of the U.S. bourgeoisie. The role of the oppressed minorities in building this voluntary unity assumes strategic importance and is one which all revolutionaries must internalize if the revolutionary process in this country is to advance. As we said in our Address to the First Assembly: “Communists cannot combat the question of racism and national chauvinism with moralism but rather have the responsibility to address the question of unity by confronting the divisions and particularities that exist among the class. Consequently, in order to set the basis for the voluntary unity of the working class, communists must address the particularities among the oppressed minorities–their particular histories, problems and concerns.”

M.I.N.P.-El Comite is an organization which arose as a product of, and response to, spontaneous struggles in the Puerto Rican and Latin community in New York City. While we have had experience in other sectors of the working class our focus of political activity has been in this sector. Our work within the Puerto Rican national minority, which is almost entirely working class, is crucial for our organization’s purpose of building the party in the context of unifying the working class. Our historic task is to contribute to the organization of the Puerto Rican sector in defense of its democratic rights, to integrate it into the class struggle in this country, and through this process raise its class-consciousness.

Our theoretical formulations about the Puerto Rican national minority were reaffirmed and deepened in the process of our First Assembly. We were able to understand better: “the incorrect formulations put forward by those forces who, from a narrow nationalist perspective, have viewed the Puerto Ricans in this country only from the perspective of Puerto Rico. These forces have overemphasized national differences, fanned chauvinism and raised nationality over and above the class struggle...(We also understand) the need to concretely develop the organizational forms and types of political activity which will facilitate the effective incorporation of Puerto Ricans living in the U.S. into the proletarian struggle in this country. This view combats those who negate the particularities of the Puerto Rican national minority by viewing everything from the perspective of the class question. In the practice, what these forces do is blatantly liquidate the relationship between the struggles of the oppressed minorities for their democratic rights and the struggles of the working class. As a result these forces are always addressing the question of uniting the working class from an abstract perspective rather than confronting the objective divisions that divide the class.”

We viewed this relationship between the democratic rights of the Puerto Rican national minority and the overall class struggle as having a dual character. On the one hand, as a Marxist-Leninist organization, we must fundamentally defend the class interests of the U.S. multinational working class. On the other hand, we must help organize the Puerto Rican national minority in defense of its democratic rights and raise the class consciousness of this oppressed national minority. This understanding is the crux of our position on the Puerto Rican national question. Based on our historical development and on our understanding of the Puerto Rican national question, M.I.N.P. reaffirmed for itself the tasks of organizing predominantly where Puerto Ricans and other Latin people reside, organizing them in defense of their democratic rights as workers, but as workers who have a particularity, that of being part of a national minority in this country. While the Assembly defined the workplace as an important arena of struggle in which MINP had to gain more experience, it reaffirmed that the community was also a significant arena in which to organize the working class–that the proletarian character of a worker was retained whether at the workplace, on the unemployment line, or in the community.

The Assembly also recognized and addressed the different particularities the working class faced in their communities and in their workplaces. These particularities would shape the different forms of organization possible in either area.

Political Issues to Address in the Next Period

Our First Assembly accepted “Forge the Cadre Among the Masses” as a guiding slogan. We realized that we had to develop our theoretical capacities through concrete experience among the masses. Reviewing some of our recent experiences and discussions we realize that as an organization we did not always implement our understanding of forging the cadre. Instead, we often responded to our political responsibilities by focusing on organizational forms and procedures apart from our relation to the mass struggle. This hindered us from identifying the political issues which were arising from our mass work and which we had a responsibility to address. We responded to the demands placed upon us by the mass work by modifying our organizational structures, but the changes did little or nothing to help us continue building the mass organizations in which we were working. Nor did the structural changes respond directly to, or even define, questions arising from the mass work itself.

The questions arising from our work reflect the need to articulate, in terms of current issues, the relationship that Marxist-Leninists must establish between reform work and their long-term objective of leading the working class to controlling its own destiny.

The experience of the last two and a half years demonstrates that our need for theoretical development is still primary. Our social practice tests the knowledge we have, but at the same time this practice enables us to deepen our knowledge and understanding. In the work of the last period the organization had experienced a qualitatively different process of integration in which we developed more ties with the community and participated in, and helped to create, organizational forms that had an impact on the community struggles. This brought to the fore qualitatively different questions. Political positions which may have been adequate in the past had to be reexamined in the new situation. Although we were in an objectively better position to generalize from the new experience in order to strengthen our theoretical understanding we did not do this very successfully. That we did not recognize fundamental questions shows the theoretical and political limitations we still have to grapple with.

The Assembly discussed the fact that the period following the Assembly would test our ability to take up the democratic struggle of the Puerto Rican national minority and organize that work with a class perspective. A question which we must now address at great length is how effective we were in our work with the Puerto Rican national minority. Did we give this work a class content? How broad was this work? Furthermore, did we effectively help to build unity within and among the oppressed minorities? Did this fit into increasing the unity of the working class as a whole? How do we insure that, while taking up the defense of the democratic rights of Puerto Ricans, we don’t ourselves fall into the racist divisions among minority groups perpetuated by capitalism’s persistent pressure for competition? Our task is organize the Puerto Rican national minority and educate it to the class nature of the plight it faces.

Another fundamental question is that of the relationship between long-range and immediate goals. Our experience in education for example, or in the Coalition in Defense of Puerto Rican and Hispanic Rights demanded that the cadre involved in the work (and therefore the organization) had to take up such questions as participation in school board elections, support for local legislative council members or their policies and so forth. In other words, how should Marxist-Leninists participating within mass organizations relate to electoral politics and the positions that the mass organizations present? How can we specifically help to advance the self-reliance of the people with whom we are working without compromising our long-term revolutionary goal?

Lastly an issue which must be taken up– both now and in our next Assembly–is the question of democratic centralism and the relationship between democracy and centralism. At our First Assembly we instituted a democratic centralist structure which we thought would serve as a tool to help us effectively implement our political line. We believed at that time that this structure would serve our needs both internally and externally in the work we had defined for ourselves. However, there was a serious weakness demonstrated in our understanding of the relationship between our programmatic objectives on the one hand, and our actual participation in mass work on the other. Our heightened level of mass work was not also translated into heightened political development within the organization. This was due, to some extent, to our conception and implementation of democratic centralism as a mechanism to guarantee the flow of information in MINP. This bureaucratization of procedures took the place of the needed debate, analysis and generalization of the experiences and lessons of our social practice.

An essential aspect of democratic centralism is the ongoing debate within the organization over the political questions and/or differences as well as the ability to effectively define and channel criticisms about the work in a productive way. How can we effectively organize ourselves to allow this type of discussion and debate to flourish? In order to understand the factors that contributed to the weaknesses discussed here, we must analyze the role our conception of organization played in our political development.

All of these questions speak to the challenging tasks our Assembly must take up. To tackle these questions correctly we must analyze them in their historical development, not only in our own experience but in the general experience of the working class. This will allow us to better understand the process which gave rise to the division within our organization. More fundamentally, it will also allow us to synthesize these lessons so that we can grow theoretically and politically and thereby improve the quality of our social practice and organizational structures.

This correct approach entails examining ourselves and the organization in the context of our specific experiences. We must concretely examine the particularities of that experience and its development. We cannot just label the experience. We must define and examine how the tasks we established for ourselves were implemented. We must then evaluate that experience for what it was and its relationship to the mandates laid out at the First Assembly in the context of today’s changing political-economic situation. We must compare what was done with what we set out to do. We must assess how we organized ourselves to take up the work. Our approach cannot be guided by judging who is at fault but rather by recognizing the strengths and weaknesses, achievements, deficiencies and failures–both collective and individual. To examine and learn from our experience we must define what those errors have been, the context in which they were committed, the way in which they were revealed, and what to do to avoid repeating the same errors again. This is how to learn from history and our own experience.

In conclusion, we would like to briefly touch on an important aspect of the division that we have not mentioned yet: its impact not only on M.I.N.P. as an organization but on each one of us individually. The division in M.I.N.P. has had many repercussions for all of us–personal as well as political. An integral part of what it has meant to be a member of M.I.N.P. is the genuine feelings of comradeship, affection and love that we have developed for each other through work and over time. In the context of these feelings we have tried to struggle with each other and to help each other grow and develop. But as a result of the division, many personal and political ties which were built up over the years have now been severed.

Perhaps in the course of continuing work and participation in the revolutionary movement, some of these ties may be reestablished. In the meantime, we must guard against anger or bitterness clouding our vision and perspective and we must not allow regrets for the past blur our view on the need to move forward. Regardless of what has occurred to M.I.N.P. as an organization and to each one of us individually, there is still a world outside of our immediate reality. What will make our work go forward will be our ability to grapple with this real world of class struggle.

Today the working class faces an increasingly dangerous situation: the deterioration and elimination of basic social programs, attacks on wages and working conditions and increased militarism. Under the Reagan administration, the areas of conflict between the working class and the ruling class will become greatly polarized. This sharpening class struggle creates opportunities for Marxist-Leninists to test our capacities to join with the masses in responding to these ruling class attacks.

The response that has begun to emerge is a reflection of people’s concrete needs to maintain what they have won and to better their conditions. At the same time, Marxist-Leninists have to see these opportunities not only as needed efforts to fight attacks, but fundamentally as opportunities to strengthen our ties with the masses, increase their organized response, and to raise their consciousness. This is the challenge facing all Marxist-Leninists in this period.