Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

The Transformation of Line of March

The Political Perspective of the Frontline Political Organization

1. Introduction

Partisans of the working class and socialism have long been alive to the profound and inherent injustices of capitalist society. For well over a century, enormous energy has been devoted to the development of a revolutionary theory and practice that could liberate classes, peoples and nations from the grip of exploitation. And, indeed, much of the history of our times has been shaped by the determined and courageous battles undertaken by those who can no longer tolerate the old way of life. Fired by the vision of a more just and humane society, millions have confronted their oppressors and fought for a better life.

That fight continues today. And its main target is U.S. imperialism, which remains the main source of racism, exploitation and oppression in the world.

Nonetheless, the struggle for revolutionary theory and practice is at an exceedingly complex juncture. In part this is because the effort to build socialist societies free of exploitation has itself produced problems and crises for which there are no easy solutions; in part because capitalism has proven to be an extremely tenacious and resourceful system, making the transition to socialism far more prolonged than had originally been envisioned; and in part because Marxist-Leninist theory has stagnated and become encrusted with dogma and revolutionary practice has often been plagued by ultra-left errors.

It must be frankly stated that revolutionaries, socialists and communists in the United States do not confront these difficult realities from a position of strength. Unfortunately, and for complex historical and political reasons, the U.S. left is fragmented and wields little influence or initiative in U.S. life.

Reversing this situation will require the collective and protracted effort of a broad range of forces on the left. The task of building the left and strengthening its unity will not vanish by virtue of being postponed. Then too, the process of renewal underway in many socialist countries and changes in U.S. politics have created new opportunities for progressive and left initiative.

The Frontline Political Organization will struggle to meet these opportunities with a strong commitment to the fight against injustice and oppression and for socialism; a forthright engagement with the problems of socialist theory and practice; and a determined orientation to the struggle for the unity and influence of the U.S. left.

2. U.S. Capitalism Today

The central reality facing advocates of socialism in the U.S. (as well as those in the other advanced capitalist nations) is that capitalism has remained on the scene as a viable and vigorous socio-economic system for far longer than most Marxists would have predicted back in 1917. For the greater part of the twentieth century, socialist thinking in the U.S. has been shaped by the presumption of rapidly and irreversibly sharpening contradictions within the capitalist camp and an ensuing mass radicalization of the working class. The revolutionary flow of the 1960s only served to reinforce this presumption, leading many to the erroneous view that the final crisis of capitalism would soon be at hand. While many attempts to modify this framework have been advanced since World War II, it has continued to influence the theory and practice of many if not most left groups and independent activists.

As it turns out, capitalism has substantially more resilience than could have been foreseen by Marx, Engels or Lenin and has proven itself able to initiate and utilize the scientific and technical revolution to extend its lease on life. The productive capacities of capitalism continue to expand and, in the wake of the revolutionary transformations in information processing, communications and transportation of the past several decades, its capacity to exploit labor on a global basis has been strengthened. Within the advanced capitalist countries, broad sectors of the population, including sections of the working class, enjoy a decent standard of living, superior in many cases to that of the socialist world. Further, while injustice, discrimination and gross inequities abound, advanced capitalist societies have proven to be sufficiently flexible politically to co-opt, subvert or stonewall social change movements, only rarely having to resort to wholesale repression, especially since World War II. Thus, U.S. bourgeois rule faces no fundamental crisis of legitimacy, much less a viable revolutionary challenge. This is not a problem simply of the preparedness of the revolutionary forces: capitalism in general, and U.S. capitalism in particular is not at all ripe for revolution. In the U.S., revolutionary politics lacks any significant social base.

A qualitative adjustment to this reality is long overdue on the U.S. left.

At the same time, the gnawing contradictions of capitalism have not at all disappeared. Even from the standpoint of its own guardians, the decay of the social infrastructure, competition from Japan and Western Europe, the tremendous budget and trade deficits, and the instability of the world financial system evoke considerable concern. Capitalism remains an inherently exploitative system and, while broad sectors of the population manage to do more than just get by, it is also true that the polarization between the extremes of wealth and poverty has sharpened over the past twenty years. In the U.S., the contrast between those whose lives are organized around obscene levels of accumulation and consumption and those who live in utter poverty and desperation has never been more glaring.

The restructuring of the U.S. economy has resulted in displacement, lower wage rates and unemployment for whole sections of the working class. The policies of the Reagan years encouraged union busting, plant closings, runaway shops, the malicious neglect of the central cities and the systematic shrinking of the “safety net” of social programs for the working poor and unemployed. It is estimated that well over half of new jobs since 1979 pay less than half the median wage. The labor movement has suffered heavy blows: only about 17% of U.S. workers now belong to unions, and the traditionally strong industrial unions have lost millions of members. The changes in the economy, combined with callous government policy, have had a jarring effect on millions of U.S. workers.

Racial and national minorities still bear the main brunt of the irrationalities of U.S. capitalism. The endemic contradiction of racial oppression, a driving force and foundation stone of U.S. society since its origins, continues to be elaborated and to take vicious new forms in late twentieth century America. The suburbanization of jobs, increased technical and educational requirements for employment, the drastic cut in unionized industrial jobs and the decline of family farms, the cracked infrastructure of large cities and the virtual demise of affirmative action have had devastating effects. At the most basic, material level this is evidenced in the fact that a full third of the Black population lives in poverty together with nearly 30% of Latinos, and the gap between the income of minorities and that of whites has been widening, not narrowing. This mass impoverishment has meant not only a lack of adequate access to food, clothing, shelter, health care and education; it has also meant that the “epidemics” of the 1980s and ’90s – AIDS, drug and alcohol addiction and homelessness – have afflicted the Black and Latino communities in radically disproportionate numbers. All this has increased the already heavy burden on minority women as income producers, heads of families, and child rearers. And the still voracious land/resource grab of big capital continues to undermine the sovereignty rights, not to speak of the very existence of Native American communities, which continue by far to face the worst conditions of any group in the country.

Renewed anti-immigrant discrimination is also the order of the day, especially affecting the fast-growing Latino, Asian and Caribbean communities, Widespread poverty in Mexico due to its international debt crisis and decades of economic and political instability in the Caribbean, Asia and Central America have caused millions to migrate the U.S. over the past few decades. These immigrants and refugees have been greeted by anti-immigrant and “English only” sentiment and legislation that effectively locks them into functioning as cheap labor in industries and services with no benefits or job security. Largely politically unenfranchised and unrepresented, they also face incursions on their civil liberties by the repressive apparatus of the INS.

The system of male dominance/women’s oppression is a central feature of U.S. capitalism. It continues to impose economic and social inequality on women, especially working class women. The sharp fall in wages along with broader social changes have brought record numbers of women workers into the labor force. Mainstays if not the sole source of the family income, they nonetheless earn, on average, 60% of men’s wages. And they are virtually devoid of social supports that might relieve their disproportionate share of the burden for child rearing and household maintenance. Meanwhile abortion rights that women have fought for and come to depend on over the past sixteen years are being stripped away.

The devastating effect of the AIDS crisis has placed new issues of health and social services on the agenda of the gay and lesbian movement, while intensifying the struggles against discrimination. High rates of alcoholism, addiction and co-dependency plague gays and lesbians, as well as the minority communities. The lack of civil rights statutes preventing discrimination, the lack of legal rights for lesbian and gay parents, the continued problem of lesbian invisibility and the recent increase in violence against gays and lesbians are indications of other battles yet to be won.

In addition to the economic and social ills confronting the minority sectors of the population, Reagan’s legacy continues to unfold in the form of Supreme Court rulings that turn back the clock on civil rights, trade union rights and civil liberties – a trend we may expect to continue as the Court’s conservative majority brings its vantage point to bear on issues affecting people of color, women, gays and lesbians, in short, all who have historically faced discrimination in our society.

While various sectors of the U.S. population face distinct forms of oppression, exploitation and discrimination, a number of pressing issues have come to the fore that affect the society as a whole, and indeed the world community. Most prominent among these are the issues of peace and the conservation and preservation of the environment. Though Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev’s peace initiatives have begun to decelerate the arms race, the danger of nuclear war has by no means vanished. The U.S. has not joined Gorbachev’s “peace race.” Nor has it made a commitment to match Soviet cuts in conventional weaponry and troops deployed abroad. As the largest and most aggressive nuclear power – and the only one that has actually used nuclear arms – U.S. military policy remains a major threat to world peace. Also affecting the population as a whole are the gross distortions of the federal budget due to unchecked military spending.

With increasing rapidity and frequency, the ecological consequences of unbridled production and consumption are coming home to roost. The problems of waste disposal, toxic contamination of water, earth and air, depletion of natural resources accumulate without end, threatening the human habitat for generations to come. When not entirely derelict, government and industry are slow to respond to an environmental crisis of both national and global dimensions.

U.S. imperialism also remains the main obstacle to self-determination, democracy and economic development in many parts of the world. Particularly in the Third World, U.S. transnationals have stifled forms of development oriented towards peoples’ needs, undermined sovereignty and promoted mass repression. Starvation, ecological disaster and other untold tragedies are daily realities. The countries of Latin America, Africa and the Caribbean, especially, labor under crushing debt burdens that they cannot repay but that impose upon them endless rounds of austerity measures that further erode the standard of living of the people. And, while the U.S. has avoided military engagements on the scale of the Vietnam War, it still ceaselessly intervenes on behalf of anti-democratic, racist, right wing forces; economic destabilization of progressive and revolutionary governments; and military support for counter-revolutionaries on every continent.

These and other contradictions can be expected to give rise to protest movements of varying levels of intensity and breadth in the U.S., both within the working class and of a broader, cross-class character. While monopoly capitalist rule is in no jeopardy, there are a multitude of issues that will continue to galvanize progressive political action. In sharp contrast to the 1930s and the 1960s, however, the present is not a period of mass, society-wide unrest and such a political flow cannot be willed into existence. This suggests that, while there are many opportunities for political activism, the basis to develop a class-conscious, anti-imperialist and pro-socialist orientation to struggle within broad sections of the working class is not strong. And, while surely these contradictions will eventually give rise to new political flows, it is unlikely that a revolutionary situation will be produced in the foreseeable future.

In confronting the present period of capitalist resilience, the left will be most effective if it works within the various social and political movements and contributes to building them on a broadly progressive basis, while simultaneously identifying and working to cohere activists who have or are open to developing a class-conscious worldview.

3. Changes in Socialism

This is a period of tremendous challenge and difficulty for the U.S. left and for revolutionaries throughout the world. Relations between the socialist and capitalist worlds, between socialist countries and between diverse political forces within socialist countries are changing at a dizzying pace – and in ways that no one could have imagined possible just a few short years ago.

The pace and quality of change has forced some level of re-evaluation in every political current that has identified itself with Marxism and the fight for socialism. These changes, and the theoretical debate accompanying them, are the subject of intense and widespread controversy in the international communist movement itself. In the U.S. even those political currents and organizations that are most resistant to change are faced with rising doubts and new demands for more openness from within their own ranks. At the other end of the spectrum, some trends and organizations have begun to re-examine and reevaluate their most basic political and theoretical premises.

The principal trigger for the flux in the socialist and communist movements has been the renewal initiated by Gorbachev in the Soviet Union. Whatever one thinks of perestroika, glasnost and “new thinking,” there is no denying that the face of socialism, and thus the world, has undergone a dramatic transformation in little more than five years. The effort to “de-ideologize” relations between communist and capitalist states has resulted in a waning of Cold War tensions that had been actively stoked for the past forty years. Extremely bold, often unilateral Soviet disarmament initiatives have prompted the first ever de-escalation of the arms race.

At the same time, the dynamics of conflict and change already under way in Eastern Europe, most dramatically Poland and Hungary, have accelerated, even though the reaction to these dynamics is extremely varied in different countries. Vietnam and, especially China, are also in the midst of major changes and conflicts. Soviet society and the Soviet Communist Party are going through a process of democratization that has drawn the attention of the world.

The fundamental reality is that these changes have been initiated to address – or have been the spontaneous outgrowth of - deep-seated problems of crisis proportions. Serious economic stagnation, suppression of democracy and individual rights, political legitimation problems, unresolved ethnic and national conflicts, and theoretical dogmatism have been exposed in most if not all the socialist countries. Many of these problems have roots in theories and practices inaugurated under Stalin, which remained to be thoroughly summed up. We are encouraged by many of the steps being taken to address these problems, but there is no reason to believe that these crises will be resolved easily or quickly. On the contrary, it is increasingly evident that many of the socialist countries, including the largest and most developed, will likely remain in a state of political and economic difficulty for a prolonged period of time.

Not surprisingly, the crises of socialism have sparked the re-examination of and debate over innumerable issues of socialist history and theory. Among those who have considered themselves Marxist-Leninists, such seemingly settled “fundamentals” as the role of the vanguard party, democratic centralism as the organizing principle for communists, the single party state, the critique of social democracy, the relationship of the class struggle to cross-class movements, the relationship of class and “universal human values” under current conditions, the relative weight of competition/conflict and cooperation/interdependence between the capitalist and socialist countries, etc. have all been made live and controversial issues by the press of events themselves. The issue of democracy – in socialist society, in the struggles within capitalist countries, within the people’s movements and in the communist movement – has received long overdue focus and attention. These and more are topics of heated debate on an international scale.

Marxist-Leninist theory is itself going through a period of profound change. Though it is a wrenching process, we believe it is fundamentally a positive thing that sections of the communist movement are taking a critical look at old formulas and new conditions. More particularly, the process set in motion by the leadership of the CPSU has cast a spotlight on realities that were unsatisfactorily addressed by old policies and theories and that require new theoretical and practical approaches: the heightened degree of interdependence in the world; the threat to all humanity of nuclear war and ecological disaster; and the unexpected resilience of capitalism. While hardly in a position to evaluate all of the specific propositions and policies of the glasnost, perestroika and new thinking, the process of de-Stalinization and democratization unfolding in the USSR appears to us to be fundamentally one of renewal which has the potential to bring about an economic and political renewal in Soviet society and to prompt the revitalization of scientific socialism.

The drama underway in the Soviet Union and in other socialist countries does not, however, hold the solution to the difficulties and problems facing the U.S. left and communist movements. In fact, one of the key concepts stressed in new thinking is the need for the communist movement to function on the basis of unity in diversity and the need for revolutionaries in each country to work out their programs and policies on the basis of their own realities. This proposition should be taken to heart by the U.S. left, which has too often displayed the negative tendency to define itself principally by way of identification with movements in other countries, and only secondarily by reference to U.S. realities.

As an organization that developed within and defined itself as part of the Marxist-Leninist political tradition, the new developments in socialism and in Marxist-Leninist theory are of tremendous interest to us. Indeed, though at a great remove, socialists in the U.S. have a stake in the positive resolution of the crisis in socialist societies. Thus, one important part of our work will be to help bring about a more thorough understanding of glasnost, perestroika and new thinking within the U.S. left together with a grasp of the historical and current realities that made such a revolutionary overhaul necessary.

One of the prime lessons of this process is the central importance of democratic practices and institutions within socialist society and the revolutionary movement. It is also extremely important to shed all remnants of dogmatism and reliance on old formulas and to begin to interact with the process of renewal of Marxist-Leninist theory as a way to contribute to the development of a scientific socialism capable of explaining the contours of U.S. society and politics and providing direction for the U.S. left.

4. The U.S. Left and Progressive Movements

The progressive movement is growing relative to the early 1980s, but is still weak in institutional strength and national political clout. The main cohering force of the movement has been the Jesse Jackson presidential campaigns, which have boosted the movement considerably and provided a national rallying point. But these campaigns do not carry past the presidential elections and are not institutionalized. They far outstrip the development of other components of the movement, thus leading to a significant drop-off in initiative once they are over.

However, new potentialities exist. But to take advantage of them, it also must be realized that the progressive movement is taking different forms and developing in different ways than it did in the 1930s or 1960s. The fight against racism remains at the center of popular motion. But that struggle now principally takes the form of legal democratic and electoral struggle, not mass civil disobedience or revolutionary mass action. In general, the effort to build progressive political institutions and initiative independent of the bourgeoisie, but often within the Democratic Party, is a major part of the people’s movement.

Anti-intervention and solidarity movements are also still key to the progressive movement. But there is no dominating issue like the Vietnam War, and questions of nuclear disarmament, the military budget and chemical warfare have risen on the agenda.

The fight for economic justice – against plant closures, for jobs, higher pay and job stability, union representation, a rise in the minimum wage, in defense of small farms, etc. – has joined war and racism at the top of the progressive agenda of the ’80s and ’90s. The displacements and contradictions resulting from increased inter-imperialist competition and the scientific technical revolution have given rise to a major monopolist offensive against the people. Progressive forces in labor are on the rise, especially in those sectors with a preponderance of low wage, minority and women workers. The people’s movement will be immensely strengthened if the trade unions, the main institutions of U.S. workers, continue to move more central to it.

Meanwhile, the social crisis of the large urban areas is producing progressive motion around issues like public health, especially AIDS, homelessness, drugs, education and crime. The women’s movement has taken on new political prominence and potential, and the gay/lesbian movement is also on the rise. And issues of overall human survival, especially nuclear war and the environment, have come to the fore.

The Jackson motion gives a glimpse of the prospects for building a mass progressive movement. However, given the overall political scene, the prospects in this period for increasing the influence of the progressive movement are tied up with the development of an independent progressive political base, and an alliance with liberals. The fact is, the liberals, for all their vacillation in the face of the right and their anticommunist attitude toward the left, are far stronger in political clout, base and institutionalization than progressives.

A crucial component of the left’s efforts to help build the progressive movement is developing the left itself. While many individual leftists are playing important roles in today’s popular movements, the left as such is institutionally very weak and plays little distinct role. And we have a long way to go.

In these tumultuous times, the U.S. left cannot help but go through a period of transition, transformation and realignment. The main ideological contours of the U.S. left were established some seventy years ago with the development of trends and organizations representing communism, social democracy and, eventually, Trotskyism. The class struggles of the 1930s established the dominant influence of the communists (represented by the Communist Party USA) within the left, which was sustained for some twenty to twenty-five years. The communists did not have the same influence in the mass social movements of the 1960s, which saw the rise in influence of New Left ideology, left social democracy and, for a brief period, revolutionary nationalism and Maoism. The movements of the ’60s, along with the spin-out from and disenchantment with the Maoist party-building efforts of the early 1970s, also produced a rise in activism and influence on the part of socialist-oriented individuals unaffiliated with any ideologically based party or organization.

For a brief period during and immediately after the 1960s upsurge the left as a whole had a measure of initiative. But in the late 1970s and through the ’80s the U.S. left suffered overall decline. As socialists and communists the world over fight for a better understanding of the changes taking place around them, the U.S. left finds itself in a particularly weak, fragmented and marginalized condition. There is little specifically anti-capitalist motion within the broader progressive current and the left lacks consolidated institutional strength or an independent base. Furthermore, the sectarian and ultra-left battles of the ’60s, ’70s and early ’80s have taken their toll in the form of both a deep distrust of organized left forces on the part of many independent activists, and relations that range from distant to hostile between left organizations.

The left within the communities of color is also in a weakened position. Almost all of the organizations that arose on the wave of the “Third World” consciousness and power movements of the ’60s and ’70s have disappeared from the scene without replacement. The minority left has barely any distinct organizational or institutional forms for its own development or for linkage with other sectors of the left and progressive movement. Fragmentation among the different minority community leftists has grown, as many activists have retreated to racially or nationally distinct forms and issues. At the same time, many revolutionary or socialist oriented minority activists are tucked away in community agencies and organizations, some in positions of considerable influence, but without their own formations for independent development, propagation or influence of a left perspective.

The left has before it a long, uphill battle to become a relevant force in national politics, even as it grapples with the major theoretical and political re-evaluations forced on its agenda by the great changes in the world. Part of that battle is to break with the long left legacy of sectarianism, non-cooperation and disunity. The potential to overcome the fragmentation and begin to reverse the decline and marginalization of the left exists, but it will not be realized unless the left can take a long, hard look at the conditions and difficulties it faces, including a self-critical look at its own negative practices.

On the more positive side, some of the old ideological barriers to cooperation between left forces are beginning to break down. The advent of Soviet new thinking has served to somewhat erode anti-Sovietism and anticommunism, to spark more flexibility and dialogue among a wide variety of left forces. There is a general rejection of the assessment that revolutionary upsurges are imminent and of ultra-left posturing. There is also a new appreciation of the importance of democracy, both as a focus of political struggle and in internal left practices.

Politically, Jesse Jackson’s campaigns for the presidency served to corral the main forces on the left into more or less the same ball park. While important differences remain, the Jackson campaigns and the Rainbow Coalition defined a considerable amount of common ground for the left: the significance of work in the electoral arena for advancing the progressive movement; the importance of struggling to build a progressive wing within the Democratic Party (albeit with many variations on the relation between this and building toward a third party); the centrality of the movement for Black empowerment as a catalyst for the broader progressive movement; the potential of the vision of “economic common ground”; and the need for a nationwide, multi-sectoral, multi-racial organizational vehicle to promote the progressive agenda. While there is no organizational expression of these common views, the commonalities themselves represent significant progress for a left that has long been fractured on almost every significant political issue.

Then too, the very weakness of most left organizations has finally hammered home the reality that no single force on its own is likely to acquire dominant influence on the left or the base necessary to become a substantial force in U.S. politics more broadly. This alone has prompted a more cooperative attitude within the left.

In light of these realities, we believe the task of the left is to work to build the progressive current within each social sector and movement, to try to cohere the progressive movement on a multi-sector, nationwide basis, and to build the influence and unity of the distinctly left, anti-capitalist forces within the broad progressive motion. This is a very tall order that will entail many, many years of practical effort and experimentation. The Frontline Political Organization is committed to participating in this process in close cooperation with other individuals and organizations that share the goal of building a left that can become a voice and a practical influence in U.S. politics and culture.

5. The Role of the Frontline Political Organization

The Frontline Political Organization (formerly the Line of March) has emerged from a two-year re-examination of our previous line and practice to face the challenge of both interacting productively with the many political and theoretical issues that have been thrown up in recent years and building a viable organization on the U.S. left.

Line of March arose out of the elements of the ’60s wave of radicalism and revolutionary ferment that were channeled in the direction of party-building. As such, it found its ideological grounding in Marxism-Leninism, viewed socialist revolution as the solution to the exploitation and oppressions of capitalism, and sought to build our organization into a vanguard party to lead the U.S. working class movement. Central to that project was a reassertion of the “fundamentals” of Marxism-Leninism that had supposedly undergone “rightist” distortions in the hands of the CPUSA. Essentially, Line of March had a “more orthodox than thou” orientation to Marxism-Leninism.

While the organization made some analytical and practical contributions to the U.S. left, it was beset with sectarian and undemocratic practices, theoretical dogmatism, an inflated, “vanguardist” sense of its own significance and role, and subjectivist, ultra-left perceptions of the state of the movement and how to advance it. So, like all of the other party-building groups that emerged in the 1970s, Line of March failed to accomplish its objectives.

In the last two years, Line of March engaged in a difficult but ultimately rewarding struggle to understand its failures and put its experiences in perspective so as to utilize the resulting lessons in a way that could advance the left and the broader progressive movement. The organization has emerged with a renewed commitment to participate in the popular movements against injustice and exploitation and for peace and to struggle for the influence of socialism within those movements. We recognize, however, that this requires that we participate in the struggle for the theoretical revitalization of scientific socialism, that we become more firmly grounded in the realities of the working class and broader conditions here in the U.S., and that our struggle to strengthen the U.S. left be undertaken in a spirit that encourages dialogue, cooperation, collaboration and increasing unity.

As a distinct organization with a specific development and history, the new Frontline Political Organization rests on a political foundation made up of a wide range of views that have been developed and elaborated in the course of many years of theoretical and practical work. While none of these views is set in stone, it is important to identify the main political views that define the Frontline Political Organization as a distinct formation and that will serve as the broad parameters for the organization’s interaction with other forces in the left and progressive movements.

U.S. capitalism’s inherent imperialist, racist and exploitative character shapes the main struggles of the day and the fundamental political agenda of peace, equality, democracy and socialism in the U.S.

The working class constitutes the vast majority of the U.S. population and is the social force whose position in U.S. capitalism gives it the basis to act as the decisive agent of progressive change and eventual socialist transformation.

The fight against racism is central to the development of the working class movement as well as the broader progressive movement. Since the 1950s and likely for the foreseeable future, the movement for Black empowerment has been the driving force pushing forward the progressive movement as a whole.

Divisions within the working class impede its ability to effectively struggle against exploitation and oppression and have retarded the development of class consciousness in the U.S. These divisions have a material basis in the differential life conditions between whites and non-whites, native born and immigrant, men and women, the better-paid and less well-paid strata and find expression in a multitude of social, cultural and political forms.

Broad-based, cross-class battles for democratic rights, utilizing electoral politics as a major arena of struggle, will likely be the major form of progressive motion for many years to come. There is a crying need for working class and popular forces to develop a nationwide vehicle to take political initiative independent of the bourgeoisie. However, conditions to create a popularly based, independent political party do not presently exist and are unlikely to congeal for some time to come. Consequently, for the foreseeable future a key element of progressive activity will be work to develop forms that can take independent initiative within the Democratic Party. For such a formation to have any clout it must have its core social base in the minority communities and the trade union movement.

A class conscious, but not “class-reductionist,” approach must be taken to the women’s movement, the lesbian/gay movement and various other “new social movements” arising in the U.S. today, taking into account both the distinct dynamic and character of these movements as well as the various ways in which class relations are expressed within different forms of oppression. No viable progressive movement can be built without incorporating the issues and concerns of these sectors into the heart of its program.

To keep the principle of internationalism central to the thinking and activity of the progressive movement, we will fight against any manifestations of national chauvinism, nativism and jingoism. In particular, we will work to win progressives over to support for peace and cooperation with the socialist countries; national liberation movements; movements for sovereignty, democracy and development in the developing world; and working class and progressive movements throughout the developed capitalist world.

Issues of human survival, nuclear disarmament and peace, are paramount concerns for the working class and progressive movements and the movements to address these issues should be built on the broadest possible cross-class basis.

In trying to build a stronger and more effective U.S. left, we place great emphasis on dialogue and cooperation among the various left forces based on the identification of areas of political agreements on the tasks facing U.S. leftists. Left unity must become a watchword of the left, if we are to grow and develop. The struggle for unity among Marxist-Leninists should take place in the context of the struggle for unity in the broader left.

In working to build a stronger and more united left, we place particular emphasis on strengthening the influence and institutional base of activists working in minority communities, combating the racial blindspots and prejudices that continue to exist within the left, and breaking down the segregation on the left.

As revolutionaries whose historical tradition is Marxism-Leninism, we will actively participate in the attempts to creatively update and apply the theory of scientific socialism to U.S. conditions, and to unite and build the communist movement.

The Frontline Political Organization exists as an organization to give the above politics a coherent expression in the left and progressive movement. It is not our intent, however, for the Frontline Political Organization to develop into a new political party. Quite the contrary; the mark of our success will be our ability to contribute to a broader process of realignment on the left which will hopefully produce new and broader forms of alliances and organization.

But, since no other organization expresses the political point of view that characterizes the Frontline Political Organization, we believe it is appropriate and necessary to build as strong and effective an organization as possible to accomplish our political goals. We believe that other people share our basic views and we will actively attempt to bring them into our ranks.

As for the concrete activities of the organization, the Frontline Political Organization will work on a number of inter-related levels. The organization’s members will participate in popular mass movements, struggling to build the influence of the progressive and left currents in those movements. Key to these efforts, the Frontline Political Organization will strive to create, along with others, forms, vehicles and institutions to heighten the level of dialogue and cooperation among left forces. In working on both these levels, the organization will give great emphasis to the development of a press that can project an analysis of developments in socialism, in U.S. society and in the left and progressive movements.

To accomplish these broad goals, the Frontline Political Organization is organized as a national, activist organization. Local and national leadership is elected and policies are determined on the basis of the democratic participation of the membership. The organization as a whole, and the individuals within it, are committed to advancing the organization’s general goals, promoting its press and implementing its specific policies.

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The U.S. left has a hard row to hoe. But the stakes are high, not only for the peoples of the U.S., but for peoples throughout the world. While we must jettison illusions about impending mass radicalizations or revolutionary situations as fetters on our effectiveness and cohesion, we must renew our commitment to fighting for the interest of the working class and oppressed, at home and abroad.

U.S. imperialism constantly changes form but never changes its essential character. The Frontline Political Organization will work side by side with all who fight the various manifestations and forms of injustice it inevitably produces. In this context, we will particularly emphasize joint efforts to build and unite the left, to break our collective marginalization from U.S. political life, and to increase our collective knowledge, organization, and strength. Together, we believe we can play a positive role in the revitalization of the U.S. left.