Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Party-Building Statement of the Committee For a Proletarian Party

Issued: September 1980.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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The Marxist-Leninist forces in the USA who are striving to contribute to the central task of building a communist party are working within the context of an intense and profound sharpening of the contradictions in the objective conditions in this country and throughout the world. These deepening contradictions are putting the international communist movement as a whole to the test and creating the conditions for the dramatic turns and reversals as well as the potential for rapid political advances among the proletariat and its vanguard leadership.

One of the most severe setbacks for Marxist-Leninists in this period has been the rise to power of the state bourgeoisie in the People’s Republic of China. In the international arena, this revisionist takeover has coincided with the strengthening of the alliance of China with the U.S. imperialist war bloc.

This recent reversal has already had a tremendous effect on the course of historical development. What it means is that at the same time that the proletariat and oppressed peoples of the world are heightening their struggle for socialism, the cause of socialism has been betrayed from within its own major strongholds, first in the Soviet Union and now in the People’s Republic of China. Revisionism has been able to extend its influence throughout the camp of socialism and set the wheel of capitalist restoration in motion.

These reversals do not signify the “collapse” of socialism itself, but rather the break-down of utopianism and idealist complacency and the strengthening of a more sober and rigorous Marxist-Leninist analysis of the actual stage of development of the struggle for the dictatorship of the proletariat and socialist construction. Such an analysis helps to lay the subjective basis for consolidating the real and lasting advances when the struggle for socialism reaches a new and higher level with the inevitable increasing decadence and disintegration of the imperialist system itself.

This latest reversal in China has taken place within a world situation in which the principal contradiction has remained the one between the declining aspect represented by the two great imperialist powers, the USA and the USSR, and the rising aspect represented by the oppressed peoples, nations, and countries of Asia, Africa, and Latin America. This contradiction has played the leading and decisive role in the alignment of political forces world-wide since the break-up of the powerful socialist camp, and it has continued to intensify in the present stage, as recent developments in such countries as Iran, Nicaragua, Zimbabwe, and El Salvador testify.

Increasingly, this principal contradiction is becoming inter-woven with the inter-imperialist contradiction between the USA and the USSR, which is rapidly intensifying and maturing the conditions for world war. Relative to the USA, the USSR has been rising as an imperialist power, seeking to re-divide the world to its own advantage. In Southeast Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, the USSR has succeeded in making significant incursions into the U.S. empire. This assessment, however, does not imply that the Soviet Union has become the main danger in the world, has not suffered serious setbacks, or is not being more exposed before the world’s peoples, as with its recent invasion of Afghanistan.

The greatly intensifying inter-imperialist contradiction and the contradiction between imperialism and the national liberation struggles are creating unprecedented revolutionary opportunities for the coming period. They are setting the stage for the heightening of the class struggle between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie in the developed capitalist and imperialist countries. What is also noteworthy is that the struggle between labor and capital is accelerating in the revisionist countries, with Poland being a recent example. All is not great harmony and order across the land in China itself as the Marxist-Leninists re-group to provide leadership to the struggle of one of the most politically advanced proletariats in the world and its class allies to throw off their new bourgeois rulers.

With the revisionists in power, China’s alliance with the USA has served to alter the motion of all the other basic contradictions, significantly shifted the balance of world forces, and substantially enhanced the strength of the reactionary camp of U.S. imperialism. Instead of operating as a strong and reliable lever for peace, China is now one of the most strident warmongers in the world. Instead of supporting the national liberation struggles, China is, in effect, sabotaging them in the name of opposing the Soviet Union.

The process of capitalist restoration in China has removed the aid and support of a large and influential socialist country, not only for the struggle of the proletariat in the developed capitalist countries, but most critically for the national liberation struggles. It is clear that China is now functioning politically to line up the comprador bourgeois and national bourgeois elements of the colonial and dependent countries in defense of the imperialist status quo, i.e., the continued dominance of the USA.

Just as the restoration of capitalism in the USSR could not take place, along with the conciliation to U.S. imperialism and the undercutting of the national liberation struggles, without an all-around attack on Stalin, so China’s reversal cannot take place without a relentless and systematic ideological assault on Mao Tsetung. And this is exactly what is happening as the Chinese revisionists attempt to tighten their grip on the Chinese state and communist party.

As an outstanding Marxist-Leninist, who has given invaluable leadership to the Chinese revolution and made an indelible contribution to the struggle against revisionism and to the advance of world revolution, Mao Tsetung has always in the past been attacked by every brand of opportunist and revisionist. The Soviet revisionists have led the way in this assault and have already laid the ideological cornerstones for many of the recent attacks by other opportunist forces. Mao has also been long attacked by the Trotskyites for many of the same reasons as he has by the Soviet revisionists – such as upholding Stalin, supporting the national liberation struggles, and opposing the restoration of capitalism in the USSR.

Now, this concerted attack has been joined by political forces which in the recent past seemed on the surface to uphold Mao Tsetung and the gains of the Chinese revolution. The major force in this respect, with the most influence internationally, is the Chinese revisionists led by Teng Hsiao-ping and Hua Kuo-feng. These revisionists may disagree among themselves on the tactical questions involved with the attack on Mao, depending on how closely they were associated with him in the past, but they do not disagree on the necessity for the attack itself.

Although the Party of Labor of Albania had the potential to play a very significant role after the death of Mao and the reversal in China, it has also chosen to join the opportunist chorus and attempted to reverse its own verdict on Mao Tsetung, labelling him “China’s Krushchev” when it once exalted him as a great Marxist-Leninist and revolutionary. In assailing Mao Tsetung, the PLA is forced to deviate from Marxism-Leninism in an all-around and consistent way, such as on its line on class struggle under socialism, the nature of the dictatorship of the proletariat, the nature of imperialism, the question of alliances for the national liberation struggles, and the communist stand on inter-imperialist war. Independent of its will, its attack on Mao Tsetung leads it to gravitate in the direction of the political line, ideology, and camp of the Soviet revisionists.

In this period, the defense of Mao Tsetung’s contributions constitutes a line of demarcation not because as an individual he has been an outstanding Marxist-Leninist but because in an historical sense he has represented the defense of Marxism-Leninism against revisionism, and the development of the science to a higher level. The defense of Marxism-Leninism by Mao was not free of mistakes and shortcomings, and the development of the science was not completely adequate to meet our increasing ideological needs, but we must stand on the shoulders of Mao himself to begin to reach what was beyond his own grasp. This objective state of ideological development explains why it is inevitable that those who attack Mao Tsetung only serve to strengthen the hand of revisionism.

This attack may take different forms, but the content remains essentially the same. The Chinese revisionists, for their own pragmatic reasons, have had to still uphold Mao Tsetung and praise Mao Tsetung Thought while ruthlessly negating everything he stood for. As they are making preparations for their 12th Party Congress, these revisionists now feel emboldened enough to abandon step-by-step the pretense of being supporters of Mao Tsetung and Marxism-Leninism.

The Party of Labor of Albania is striving to achieve the same results by exalting Stalin as the source of Marxist orthodoxy and attempting opportunistically to pit Mao against Stalin. As is becoming more obvious, the ultimate beneficiaries of such attacks are the Soviet revisionists, who have never attempted to masquerade as supporters of Mao Tsetung. Thus, we can witness how the logic of their own opportunism compels the Chinese revisionists to question the restoration of capitalism in the USSR. The PLA’s views on class struggle under socialism, which effectively deny the material basis for the rise of a new bourgeoisie within the party and state, drag it down the same retrograde road.

While it is definitely a setback that Mao Tsetung and the gains of the Chinese revolution are being reviled and assailed from nearly all sides, there is also a positive aspect in the sense that those forces within all the different camps which are striving towards Marxism-Leninism now have no choice but to break with opportunism. The basis for centrism, which attempts to shackle the Left to the revisionists and blunt and obscure the basis for a split, is increasingly being undermined. In other words, it is becoming much more difficult to try to honestly uphold Mao Tsetung and the Chinese revolution while conciliating with the attacks on his contributions.

Within all the different trends, the conditions are ripening for the Marxist-Leninists to begin to split with both the centrists, who are on the decline politically, and the die-hard champions of the assault on Mao Tsetung. This inevitable differentiation of the Marxist-Leninists, centrists, and reactionaries is bound to affect all the different organizations which historically have upheld Mao Tsetung and the advances of socialism in China: some will be won, in the main, to Marxism-Leninism, a number of them will split, and the degeneration of the rest will accelerate. In the USA this is likely to be the case with the camp that conciliates with Soviet revisionism, represented by such organizations as the Guardian, Line of March, Theoretical Review, and the Organizing Committee for an Ideological Center. The Chinese revisionist trend is also likely to be affected, with organizations like the League of Revolutionary Struggle, Communist Party Marxist-Leninist, Revolutionary Workers Headquarters, Marxist-Leninist League, Proletarian Unity League, and the remnants of the Workers Congress. Lastly, this is even likely to be the case with the small groups which have followed the leadership of the Party of Labor of Albania, such as the Revolutionary Political Organization (M-L), the Communist Party USA (M-L), and the Marxist-Leninist Party.

Within the developing camp of Marxism-Leninism, there are still critical ideological and political weaknesses which hold back rapid and sound advances. One major deviation is represented by a centrist tendency to vulgarize the struggle over the evaluation of Mao Tsetung. This vulgarization tries to reduce the struggle to primarily being a question of the assessment of an individual and tries to declare that this assessment is not really directly related to making a revolution in the USA. Another form this tendency has taken is to correctly champion the need to sum up the history of the international communist movement as a whole at least since the critical period of the 19 30’s, but to attempt to initiate this summing up on the basis of no clear prior ideological stand and relying on a rationalist method which attaches principal importance to universal formulas and abstract principles.

Within the camp of Marxism-Leninism there is also a serious deviation represented by a widespread inability to differentiate between Mao’s real contributions, such as on the nature of class struggle under socialism, the mass line, the united front, and the relation between the national struggle and the class struggle, and the ultra-left distortions of Marxism-Leninism which gained currency among some forces during the period of the Cultural Revolution. These ultra-left distortions, from which the more consistent Marxist-Leninists within the CPC were not altogether free themselves, have had a significant influence in the USA, as can be seen in organizations like the Revolutionary Communist Party and the Communist Workers Party, which both have attempted to one degree or another to defend Mao Tsetung against attacks from the Soviet and Chinese revisionists and the Albanian opportunists.

The ultra-leftism of these organizations is characterized by idealism in world outlook, dogmatism in method, and manifests itself politically in the form of sectarianism, adventurism, anarchist propaganda by the deed, and hero worship.

Taking into account these serious contradictions within the camp of Marxist-Leninists in this country, the Committee for a Proletarian Party, as a local collective, has developed a party-building line which identifies the principal task at this time as striving to constitute an ideological center of Marxism-Leninism which can play a leading role ideologically, politically, and organizationally in building a communist party. The CPP does not view itself as the leading force at the core of such an ideological center, but it believes that it must make a contribution towards amassing the forces that can function as this kind of center.

Even though we are a local collective in a country where no genuine communist party has yet been built since the degeneration of the CPUSA, we still consider ourselves first and foremost proletarian internationalists. This perspective means that we must seek out and establish contact, not only with Marxist-Leninists in the USA but also with communist revolutionaries around the world. We must make whatever contributions we can to advancing the basis for political and organizational unity in the international communist movement on the clear and firm basis of Marxist-Leninist principles.

Central to how a group grasps these Marxist-Leninist principles for us, of course, is how it upholds and understands the political and ideological contributions of Mao Tsetung. What is especially important is not how a group says it upholds Marxism-Leninism, and specifically Mao’s contributions to the science, but how it practices such an understanding. This is why as a local collective we believe that an integral and vital part of building an ideological center of Marxism-Leninism in this country involves putting our own ideological understanding into practice and testing our grasp of Marxism-Leninism directly in the class struggle. For this purpose, a major area of our work, although it is still uneven and not solidly developed, involves attempting to give communist leadership to the struggles of the working class in the trade unions and directly-.at the-workplaces, uniting the working class struggles with the various national movements and building opposition to imperialist war preparations among both the working class and the oppressed nationalities.

It is with this perspective on party-building that the Chicago Committee for a Communist Party recently merged with the Committee for a Proletarian Party and joined forces with it in one geographical location. The merger of forces in one area is intended to multiply our ability to carry out the many important tasks involved in party-building, especially in striving to give communist leadership to the class struggle.

Both of our groups emerged out of a similar history of being members of the Communist Party USA (ML), formerly the Marxist-Leninist Organizing Committee. The attack on Mao Tsetung, the Communist Party of China, and the history of socialism in China by the CPUSA (ML) was the occasion for many of us to break with that organization as well as on the basis of its inability to give leadership to the struggle of the proletariat and oppressed nationalities, practice democratic centralism, or advance proletarian ideology.

One of the products of this struggle was the publication of a pamphlet which contained two articles, On the Historical Merit of Mao Tsetung and Socialism in China and The PLA’s Treacherous Reversal: An Analysis of the PLA Letter. The initial political and ideological basis of unity of the Committee for a Proletarian Party is contained in On the Historical Merit of Mao Tsetung and Socialism in China. In addition, the Committee has adopted as part of its general line a previous CPP position paper which is a polemic against the Three Worlds Theory, entitled Strategy and Tactics of the Proletariat in the Era of Imperialism. Also available upon request are papers written on Marxist philosophy entitled “In Defense of Mao Tsetung’s Contributions to Materialist Dialectics”.

Out of the experience of struggle with the opportunism of the CPUSA (M-L), the CPP has developed a methodology which it uses in attempting to draw out the unity and differences it has with other left forces. The primary political basis for unity with other Marxist-Leninists is the general line for world revolution, the general line on the dictatorship of the proletariat and the construction of socialism, and the strategy for revolution in the USA. In investigating the political and ideological lines of other groups, we do not confine our attention just to the present, but look into the history of each group, its past political positions, its past struggles and splits, and the basis for its current motion and where it is likely to lead. We attempt to sum up the major deviations of each group in a systematic way, and by this we mean major recurring problems like economism, pragmatism, nationalism, chauvinism, anarchism, and adventurism.

Besides the specific questions of political line, we also try to pay attention to other key considerations such as how a group links its theory with practice, how it is able to work in united fronts, how it carries out the mass line and builds a base in the multi-national working class, how it conducts criticism/self-criticism, and how it establishes norms of democratic centralism. Obviously, we dc not expect 100% unity with any group, and in many significant respects we fall short ourselves of being consistent Marxist-Leninists according to our own standards.

For us the key link in utilizing this methodology is to be found in drawing firm and clear lines of demarcation on the question of upholding Mao Tsetung’s contributions to Marxism-Leninism. The unity achieved by such a process cannot be premised on a blanket approval of Mao Tsetung’s theory and practice, but on a historical materialist understanding of his limitations, errors, and deviations as well as his contributions. In turn, such errors and limitations must also be seen in the context of the political and ideological legacy left by the international communist movement as a whole which was the starting point and environment for Mao’s own revolutionary activities. But when we go back to sum up the history of the international communist movement, we do so not because it is an interesting academic pursuit, but because with what we learn we hope to strengthen our ideological stand and move ahead the struggle of Marxist-Leninists today both in theory and practice.

Although here in the USA and in a number of other countries Marxist-Leninists are only now beginning really to break away from revisionist organizations and in many cases there is not yet a communist party, still we believe that a good basis exists already to move the unity among Marxist-Leninists internationally to a higher level – principally ideologically, but also both organizationally and politically. In the coming period we expect an international trend to clearly emerge, grow, and strengthen itself in battle against revisionism and opportunism and in leadership of the class struggle in each country and coordinated on a world basis. Eventually this trend must unite in the form of a new Communist International.

Marxist-Leninists must break away from revisionists in this period not only because Mao Tsetung and the Chinese revolution in particular are being ruthlessly assailed, but because the ideological, political, and organizational lessons learned from that long and rich revolutionary experience are especially applicable in today’s conditions when we are entering a new stage internationally of war and revolution. The sharpening of the contradictions, particularly from the increasing war danger and the development of the national liberation struggles, demand the emergence of Marxist-Leninist leadership to chart a revolutionary course.

In the face of such severe tests and life-and-death battles, opportunists and revisionists will much more quickly expose their political bankruptcy. It is in this sense that the rise of revisionism and its attacks on Mao Tsetung and his revolutionary contributions contain within themselves their own opposite–the development, deepening, and steeling of Marxism-Leninism itself. The time is golden ripe for a resolute and principled demarcation from all forms of revisionism, opportunism, and centrism, and the rapid maturation of an international communist movement rooted among the proletariat and oppressed masses and guided by firm Marxist-Leninist principles, strategy, and tactics. It is the responsibility of every communist revolutionary to shoulder this task and carry it out with the spirit and dedication embodied in the following lines from the Internationale:

We want no condescending saviors,
To rule us from a judgment hall;
We workers ask not for their favors;
Let us consult for all.
To make the thief disgorge his booty,
To free the spirit from its cell,
We must ourselves decide our duty,
We must decide and do it well.