Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Jim Jacobs

“The OCIC’s White Chauvinism Campaign and its Lessons for U.S. Marxist-Leninists”

PART IV: Where Do We Go from Here?

Perhaps the most critical question is not what will happen to the OCIC, but what is the future for people like myself who still hold to a Marxist-Leninist perspective? Although all that follows is highly tentative and perhaps does not consider properly the effect of objective conditions, I believe that we are in a curious position of being pressed, equally, on two fronts which call for dramatically different responses.

First, as Marxist-Leninists we need to rekindle a concern for outstanding theoretical questions. This must be done, not by simple memorization of classical treatment (although one clear criticism of many of us is that we should read them, and the world debates in the communist movement seriously and continuously). Nor should we arbitrarily graft on to a previously held line or political position by stating that they were essentially correct since 1956, 1963, or whatever other watershed from which many anti-revisionists the decline of the Communist Party. We need to recognize a reality that one price we pay for the particular way in which Marxist-Leninist thought developed since 1917 in the United States was that the defense of the Soviet Union (and in particular the defense of the Soviet Union within the leading objective enemy of that nation) has of necessity underdeveloped American Marxist-Leninists on a whole series of major questions which need some tentative conclusions before a serious revolutionary movement can be created. Among these questions are: the effect of value creation in an economy more based on capital intensive industries, the changes composition and structure of the American working class, the question of the state and the role of democracy, the national question among many minorities in the United States, the development of national liberation struggles within a capitalist world economy, the role of women, the nature of the Soviet Union and other socialist countries, the role of “superstructure” struggles (i.e., housing, utilities) struggle, and the need for electoral efforts and a labor party. These questions and no doubt many others need to be examined with the hope of arriving at a position which can develop into programs and tested with some sort of practical work.

In these studies we should expect that our inquires should not be limited to the past Marxist-Leninist orthodoxy because especially from the 1920’s and 1930’s some of the analysis and interpretations are suspect. The principal goal of these studies would be to learn how best to intervene in the existing struggle from a coherent perspective, that is specific in its exposure, articulates possible reform alternatives and maintains a revolutionary direction. This will require study and development that will stress not finding final answers, by establishing a means by which contending lines can be resolved.

The second major goal is our need to develop some real Marxist-Leninist currents in the existing class struggle. What this means is to be recognized in a struggle or mass movement by advanced workers as a real alternative, taken seriously by some, and for even a smaller number of people, to be followed. This is what is meant by presence among the working class. By accepting a concept that fusion has meant winning over a few advanced people, we have ignored the more pressing questions, of how we become part of a larger mass movement of the working class. The single and most important recruiting mechanism we will have is not the strategic placement of people in key plants, but whether we can intervene in a situation with correct ideas and a strategic approach which can will respect from the masses. In short, we need to be taken seriously by the mass movement – something which is not true at present.

This desire “to be taken seriously” is not simply motivated from a goal of activism. The development of a serious presence of this forces in the mass movement will have an extremely positive effect of disciplining the theoretical work to key questions, and demand the debate be conducted in a principled fashion. Second, when there are real questions involved, the sectarianism and posturing that effects our movement would be set aside by the need to have answers to specific questions. A new concept of political responsibility will emerge that has not been characteristic of the “left” in this country. In other words, a strong movement will set a positive agenda for theoretical development.

Finally, these two thrusts also imply some things we should not do. This is based of course upon a much longer presentation of where we are at which is beyond the scope of the present paper. The “we” in this section does not refer to simply the former OCIC members, but to all people who found themselves in general political agreement with the Trend.

a.) We should not recreate the small groups or organizations that would return us to the period of 1974-75. We can move into a national division of labor which would call for some common study, theoretical development, and comrades from all over the country taking responsibility for specific parts of empirical or theoretical research that would be distributed to all groups.

b.) We need not divert our efforts at intervening into a mass struggle with the re-creation of national party building organizations. This is far too draining at this point and will deter us from our theoretical work, as well as our need to intervene in concrete struggles.

c.) Nor at this point do we need a major attempt to recruit “advanced workers.” Our dilemmas are not going to re resolved by fresher faces. Indeed, new recruits to the process probably will detract from uncovering and solving problems because of their lack of experience. In the long run, however, this will become decisive.

d.) We do not need a whole series of principled, but useless political splits, unless they are of major theoretical importance. Our new groupings should not be places to settle old scores. Rather we would assume that most people are attracted for good reasons, have respect for their history, and determine how we can unite to move forward.

e.) We do not need to debate or continually struggle with the OCIC comrades. We should encourage the quick demise of the group, offer whatever aid we can to free people from the process, but not regard it as even a competing tendency. This would promote a certain credibility, as well as slow our own efforts.

f.) We need to connect our theoretical study with some form of empirical research. In large part this may not be book learning, because most bourgeois research is not really done upon such key questions as the real condition of the working class. We need to know these questions in a real sense, and part of our theoretical work would be to understand this reality in a new and more profound manner.

Finally, we need to keep our heads in the next decade which will prove very difficult. We are in a poor position, and we start out with all the subjective problems of despair and disillusionment. For many of us we need to re-examine what we have been doing in the past five years. However, we should also be clear that we have many strengths and skills to draw upon as well. One of them is our ability to organize and see the world for what it is. More than ever before we need to keep this in mind, so we can develop the organizational presence, and theoretical perspective to indicate what it can become.