Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Line of March Editorial Board

The OCIC’s Phony War Against White Chauvinism and the Demise of the Fusion Line

II. Opportunist Underpinnings of the Campaign Against White Chauvinism

Even on a strictly descriptive and phenomenal level there is more than enough evidence to thoroughly discredit the OCIC’s Campaign Against White Chauvinism. However our trend’s capacity to turn this setback into an advance depends upon a deeper political and theoretical critique. Therefore let us now turn our attention to the opportunist political line upon which this campaign rests. Here we will examine it on two levels: 1) the basic political logic which is rooted in the fusion perspective; and 2) the line on racism which is implicit in the campaign.

Fusionist Basis for the Campaign Against White Chauvinism

The stated goal of the Campaign Against White Chauvinism is to correct the present class and racial composition of the OC ranks. All agitation stresses the overwhelmingly white, petit bourgeois character of the OC membership. The official resolution launching the campaign states that “the OCIC is predominantly white” and that “the influence of white chauvinism within the OCIC is the main obstacle to our developing a firm understanding of the centrality of the struggle against racism and to laying the foundation for genuine multinationality.” To which Clay Newlin adds, “Any delay in the struggle against white chauvinism only continues to shackle our minority comrades. . . it means [they] will be prevented from making their appropriate contributions. . . . And it also means that the great numbers of advanced elements who are national minorities will be less likely to be won to communism.” (Guardian, November 26, 1980)

Immediate recruitment of minority workers is the principal rationale which infuses the whole campaign. Meanwhile the more challenging political problem of increasing the communist movement’s ability to lead the anti-racist struggle is thoroughly trivialized by hinging it on the narrow and limited goals of improving the class and racial composition of the OCIC. But the OCIC cannot succeed even on its own terms, since the broader task of “winning the advanced minorities to communism” will also certainly not depend on whether the OCIC is successful in checking the more blatant racist orientation and practices within its ranks. In fact, the OC IC has already accomplished quite the opposite–alienating advanced minority forces from “communism.” There have already been nauseating incidents in which OC groups have attempted to draw minorities closer to themselves through extended self-exposures of their white chauvinist errors. The travesty lies in this narrow and pragmatist approach to tackling a problem as complex and pressing as winning advanced minority forces to Marxism-Leninism.

This fetish over the OC’s composition is not surprising. It is one expression of the fusion line’s tendency to peg the development of political line to the task of gaining immediate influence among the masses. The strong impulse of this view flows somewhat naturally from a period when there is such an awesome gap between the primitive state of the communist movement and the gigantic tasks history has placed before it and the U.S. working class. In such circumstances, the gaining of palpable results and some degree of immediate influence can easily become ends in themselves. This in turn results in the opportunist tendency to bow to the spontaneity of the mass movement, belittle the decisive role of the conscious, communist element, downplay the importance of political line development, and foster the most pragmatic orientation toward the scope of revolutionary theory required to guide correctly the complex tasks presented by the class struggle–many of which have been hitherto uncharted by the international communist movement.

The Campaign Against White Chauvinism is a concentrated expression of this fusion orientation. There is an explicit disregard for the development of stronger theoretical foundations for such a campaign. Instead, the concrete goals of the campaign are narrowly circumscribed to altering the composition through improving the racial and social dynamics within the OCIC. The broader political context which might provide such a campaign with some historical significance is completely ignored. Only the most hollow lip service is paid to directing our movement to the communist tasks in the broader anti-racist struggle. No serious or sustained attention, theoretical or practical, is given to this matter. Yet attempts are made to depict this ridiculously lopsided campaign as a major turning point in the history of the U.S. communist movement, a claim which only serves to add to the atmosphere of absurd frenzy which already envelops it. Nothing, it seems, can happen prior to the OC cleansing its ranks of white chauvinism, unleashing the talents of the minorities and recruiting minority advanced workers.

This whole appeal is based upon the most questionable assumptions. To begin with, the communist movement is invariably referred to as though it were a “white” movement. Minority communists are depicted as refusing to participate in the party building movement until it is purified of racism, consequently the tremendous onus upon individual white cadre to reform themselves quickly. This is a distortion of major magnitude. The correct goal of increased participation of minority activists within the communist movement should not be reduced to problems of individual sensitivity and inter-personal relationships. Although this aspect of the anti-racist struggle is important and should not be neglected, it does not constitute the main obstacle to minority participation. Large numbers of minority people have historically joined and participated in politically serious movements without the illusion that they will be participating in a process which has already been freed from individual instances of racist attitudes and practices. Minority cadre today participate in such movements without those illusions. They will do so in the future.

The unscientific and moral prejudices prevalent within the OC which allow such nonsense to go unchecked are bound up in blind faith in the supposed revolutionary “instincts” of the working class. This is why the participation of “advanced workers” remains the cornerstone of the fusion perspective on party building, while the struggle to unite communists on an advanced general line is dismissed as petit bourgeois intellectualism. The Campaign Against White Chauvinism displays all of these prejudices, only naturally enough focused on the participation of minority workers.

And for those who require more explicit “evidence,” we can always count on Clay Newlin to step forward, in a timely fashion, with a gem of a quote to help illustrate our point. Striking a heroic, Byronic pose, Newlin comes to the defense of the “Black worker” whose revolutionary instincts and potentials are being maligned by racists and petit bourgeois chauvinists of all kinds, both within and outside the OCIC. Newlin pontificates:

White comrades think that a Black worker is incapable of becoming a leader of the communist movement because of his race. National minority comrades view the same worker as being incapable because of his class. Thus, although coming from different forms of chauvinism, both the white and the national minority comrades share agreement on the essential point–that is, the Black worker is qualitatively inferior to those presently predominant in the movement. (The Organizer, December 1980; emphasis ours.)

Such demagogic appeals within communist circles deserve little more than ridicule and contempt. The sooner our movement puts an end to such crude antics, the better. Is Ne wlin’s question even a serious one to pose to communists? Who is this “Black worker” he is asking us to imagine–the undifferentiated “Black worker” in the abstract?

There are, of course, many things which can be scientifically generalized concerning the Black working class sector of the U.S. population. But one thing which cannot be extrapolated (simply from the nature of being Black and being a worker) is whether Newlin’s idealized Black worker is capable of assuming the leadership of the communist movement. Newlin has not told us enough about this “Black worker,” with whom he is attempting to ingratiate himself, in order to make his question at all meaningful. How firm is this Black worker’s grasp of the science of Marxism-Leninism? How extensive is this Black worker’s experience as a communist’! What political responsibilities has this Black worker held? Has s/he performed well, etc., etc.? Only this principal line of questions can be meaningful to communists in determining all leadership. Questions of class origin, race and sex are important considerations, but remain secondary criteria. How clever of Newlin to attempt such a demagogic method of intimidation, to hurl the charge of racist and petit bourgeois chauvinist at all the cadre who might be initially puzzled by his riddle and hesitate to respond immediately to his question! How disheartening, how disgusting!

Newlin, disguised as the “great defender” of the “Black worker,” actually serves to trivialize a serious problem with his ranting and raving. In fact, his moralistic and shallow formulations on this matter have been repeated in communist circles ad nauseum, and reek with racist tokenism. However, despite this parody, the problem deserves to be treated in its full scope and significance.

It has been noted time and again that the class consciousness of the U.S. working class (and by extension, the revolution itself) is intrinsically linked to combatting racist divisions within it and consciously drawing Black and other minority workers into the revolutionary ranks. This is not some moral commitment on the part of communists, but a scientific reflection upon the character of U.S. society and the uneven revolutionary potential within its working class. This analysis continues to be verified in the actual political life of the country. Certainly the harsh experiences accumulated in life equip many Black workers (but by no means all) to grasp the dead-end character of capitalism more quickly and firmly than their white counterparts. Being Black and concentrated in the lower strata of the working class provides much poorer soil for the cultivation of many of the bourgeois illusions which grip the more protected and stable sectors of the U.S. working class. In this sense, there is an objective basis to expect that the class struggle will throw up a relatively larger percentage of revolutionary elements from this sector of the working class. If this is the phenomenon Newlin is calling to our attention, he is hardly being original nor even astute. This is a spontaneous development readily visible to all and quite independent of the awareness and intervention of the communists.

The more precise question facing Marxist-Leninists is are we capable of moving to the center of and leading the spontaneous struggles involving Black and other minority peoples. This is a much more difficult and complex task requiring sustained attention and perseverance. Again we insist that the most concentrated expression of this question is concrete analysis and struggle over the dominant line which presently guides communist practice in this area. On this topic, unfortunately, Newlin and the OCIC leadership have pitifully little to say of any substance.

As we have earlier noted, in the early years of the revolutionary workers’ movement in the U.S., the question of the role and significance of the struggles of Blacks and other minority peoples was liquidated completely and given no attention whatsoever. A conspicuous breakthrough was scored by the CPUS A, in both theory and practice, in the 730s and ’40s. However, since the upsurge of the ’60s, the fragmented and disoriented communist movement has remained, by and large, peripheral to the struggle against racism as well as to the leadership within the Black and other minority communities. There is a vast discrepancy between the theory (acknowledgement of the immediate and long-range importance of the question) and the practice of the communists. To the extent that our young trend represents the future potential of Marxism-Leninism in the U.S., we have to take up this question seriously and step-by-step resolve the gaping contradiction in the communist movement’s relationship to the struggle against racism, both the confusions in theory and line as well as the shortcomings in practice.

Does Newlin pose the question to our movement in this manner? Certainly not. Instead he mechanically merges together the excellent objective basis for Black workers to come to revolutionary consciousness with some “natural” capacity for them to assume the leadership of the communist movement! He completely collapses, as usual, the crucial distinction between the communist vanguard and the masses. However, in the process, even the question of racism internal to the communist movement (which the OCIC is supposedly concentrating on) also gets thoroughly mishandled and distorted. In fact, the present OCIC spectacle of unbridled demagogy and psychodrama serves only to trivialize and set back any serious struggle against racism within the communist movement. Consequently we are not prepared to give Newlin and his colleagues at the center of the OCIC even an “A” for effort.

The problem of racism in the recruitment of minorities into the communist ranks is inseparably bound up with the development of an advanced political line and practice which will place the communist movement central to the mass struggles involving minority people–allowing us to intercept the advanced revolutionary elements and draw them to Marxism-Leninism. Even when the problem of recruitment has been tackled, racism will continue to impact the internal dynamics of the communist movement (along with class and sex chauvinism). This is usually manifested in the conspicuous reproduction of discriminatory patterns in areas of assignments, training and promotions. Racism is reproduced and flourishes among communists when minority cadre are not consciously and systematically trained in the science of Marxism-Leninism, when they are not encouraged to develop and function to their fullest capacity as communists. “Encouragement” is principally located in the realm of concrete opportunities for training, advanced study, assignments of responsibilities, timely assessments and promotions, etc. “Encouragement” of minority (working class and women) cadre cannot be mainly located in the subjective realm of “pep talks,” encounter sessions, assertiveness training, etc. It certainly cannot be located in the aggravated tokenism employed by the OCIC which thrusts minority cadre into responsibilities for which they are poorly equipped while holding such practice up for emulation.

Similar to the problem of racism in recruitment, racism in training, assignments, etc. is bound up with a much larger problem–the present fragmented, primitive and amateurish state of the Marxist-Leninist movement. Our trend is not simply without a party, a statement which by now has become an almost useless cliche. Most of our trend is fragmented into small, local groupings, while remaining engaged in the narrowest forms of isolated political work. For the most part, it is organized along the most amateurish and primitive lines. Political assignments, in any meaningful sense of the term, tend to be severely restricted in narrowly circumscribed arenas of operations. Promotions, demotions or transfers to new areas of work maintain a conspicuously arbitrary, accidental and ultra-democratic character. More importantly, the fusion line, which has until recently dominated our trend, sees these shortcomings as the positive forging of close organic links to the workers.

Our movement’s problems with race, class and sex discrimination cannot be seriously analyzed nor remedied apart from challenging this prevailing political primitiveness and organizational amateurishness. To accomplish this, we must deepen our critique of the fusion line which has justified and perpetuated this malady. The fusion line has shown itself incapable of systematically training cadre in Marxism-Leninism, forging advanced theoretical work, initiating and coordinating communist intervention into the mass struggles, developing and evaluating its cadre in an all-sided fashion, etc. Within this primitive context, the OCIC sorely lacks the political and organizational means to check and counteract the negative ideological inertia of the broader society. It is not surprising that white, petit bourgeois and male chauvinism would be reproduced in grievous proportions within the OCIC. However to launch a major campaign without the slightest note of what it would actually take to remedy this problem is merely lip service and posturing. To take the problem up seriously would call into question immediately the gross inadequacies of the OCIC network. Is it any wonder then that the Campaign Against White Chauvinism has degenerated into race-baiting demagogy?

A Bourgeois Line on Racism

The OCIC is quite fond of insisting that the operative political lines which guide its work are merely “embryonic” or “partial.” With regards to the Campaign Against White Chauvinism, they remain true to form by maintaining that the OCIC is not yet “formally united” on a line on racism. However, such obscurantism will simply not do. The Campaign Against White Chauvinism rests upon an identifiable line on racism in spite of the fact that it is neither admitted by the SC nor fully conscious in the minds of all the OC members. The line is essentially a bourgeois line on racism.

This line can be reconstructed from the observed phenomena of the campaign as well as from the numerous “self-criticism” documents in circulation. The heart of this line is that racism is principally a problem of ideology. The OCIC has adopted the idealist view that racism is a set of bourgeois ideas consciously injected into the heads of the working class by the ruling class. The source of racism is depicted as a conspiracy on the part of the capitalists to divide the workers, their most preferred policy. Whites who inadvertently fall victim to these ideas objectively “join the conspiracy.” The essence of the struggle against racism is the ideological repudiation of these ideas, thus “breaking the conspiracy.”

Newlin, apparently realizing that the formulation about a racist conspiracy among communists would be extremely vulnerable to criticism, has been quick to throw up a smokescreen. In response to the signers of the Open Letter Newlin implies they have grossly exaggerated the cent.ality of the ideological “conspiracy” framework in the campaign.

They [the critics] do not offer any examples of the SC’s practice, which demonstrates that it even in secret, holds such views. In fact, the sole attempt to document any SC position relies on a citation which is clipped so as to make it appear absurd, misquoted and incorrectly referenced. . . . the SC, of course, has never posited the existence of a ’white chauvinisitic’ cabal as the source of racism within our ranks or in U.S. society as a whole. There is but one context in which the formulation ’conspiracy of white chauvinism’ has been advanced. It has been used to characterize the all too frequent practice by white communists of bourgeois racial solidarity. It refers to that unspoken agreement that operates among whites: ’I won’t criticize your chauvinism if you won’t criticize mine. . .’

And, he assures us, “The SC would welcome a serious discussion of this formulation,” because then the critics would be exposed for taking the “conspiracy” formulation out of “context.” {Guardian, November 26, 1980.)

Here a master at finding loopholes is at work! If nothing else, Newlin provides us with an excellent example of how to put distance between yourself and an embarrassing formulation without a word of self-criticism. Nevertheless it remains principally a feeble attempt to deny the campaign’s shallow, individualized and subjective political line on racism. Anyone with the slightest proximity to the campaign and its documents sees right through this smokescreen.

In our search for the campaign’s line on the nature of racism, however, we do not need to rest our case solely upon the shifting formulations of the OC Steering Committee. It does not take a Sherlock Holmes to discover that the Campaign Against White Chauvinism rests upon PWOC’s political line on racism and strategy for Black liberation.

The monopoly capitalist class stands firmly in opposition to democracy for Black people because it desperately needs the super-profits it wrings from Black workers and because it even more desperately must maintain the division of the working class and prevent the proletariat from uniting with its natural allies. . . The powerful grip of white chauvinist ideology over the masses of white workers turns them against the struggle for democratic rights on the part of Black people. This ideology is the single most divisive weapon in the hands of the class enemy. . . The task for the proletarian revolutionary movement, then, is the breaking of the hold of these ideas over the masses of workers. (PWOC, Against Dogmatism on the National Question; emphasis ours.)

The ideology of racism arose and developed with the beginning of the white’s conquests of Africa, Asia, and Latin America. . . White Chauvinism was designed to legitimize, among the masses of people, a policy of national oppression and colonial domination. (The Organizer, July 1980; emphasis ours.)

And again, from The Organizer,

Capital building on and transforming the legacy of previous ruling classes, has developed many specific strategies to divide and exploit the working class . . . Racism, sexism and homophobia are among these strategies. . . Racism is the strategy that the capitalists have found most profitable in dollars and cents and the most useful in holding back the development of class consciousness. (Racism, Feminism, and Rape, in The Organizer, July 1980; emphasis ours.)

The PWOC’s line, while paying lip service to the material roots of racism, poses the problem as a conspiracy of the capitalists to inject white chauvinist ideas into the heads of white workers. Racism becomes oversimplified as the “preferred policy” of the capitalists “to divide the workers.” This line permeates the OCIC’s Campaign Against White Chauvinism.

We cannot go into a comprehensive critique of PWOC’s line on racism here, but a few comments are in order. First, we want to state that racist ideology is not principally the result of a bourgeois policy to attempt to divide the working class, although it certainly accomplishes that effectively. If white chauvinist ideas and practices were merely the product of such political maneuvers on the part of the bourgeoisie, the white sector of the working class would have caught on to this trick long ago and passed the word onto their sons and daughters.

Racist ideology is principally rooted and reproduced in racist practice–racist practice in a broad social sense, not in an individual sense. The foundation of this racist social practice is the existence of real material inequalities in the conditions and opportunities for life in the U.S. based upon skin color. Racism became an oppressive social relation in the U.S. with the development of racial slavery which in turn was a decisive factor in primitive capital accumulation. Its continued reproduction in new forms has also always been ultimately linked to the needs of capital, particularly the need for a stratified working class.

Stratification of the working class is an essential component of the capitalist mode of production. This stratification–between the employed and unemployed sectors of the class, skilled and unskilled, etc.–maintains the competition within the working class which is central to having labor power available to capital under the most favorable conditions. The particularity of U.S. capitalism is two-fold: first, the growth and expansion of capital from the earliest periods of its history has conspicuously and consistently rested on the oppression of racial minority peoples; and second, stratification within the working class has been organized principally along racial and national lines. (In the last half century the racial and national categories have merged so that the particular nationalities who have been consigned to the most oppressed sector of the working class have been also colored peoples, especially from the West Indies, Latin America and Asia.)

But while the locus of racial inequality can be located squarely within the capitalist/working class contradiction, it cannot be reduced to this alone. Racism has become a social relation which cuts across class lines and permeates every aspect of life in the U.S. This social relation is expressed in the reality of a segregated society–today more de facto than de jure–and in the obvious restrictions imposed on the social and class mobility of minorities as well as the political, ideological and cultural assaults on them. Racism thus has had the effect of excluding colored people completely from the U.S. ruling class while severely restricting their entry and functioning in the petit bourgeoisie.

It is crucially important to analyze the phenomenon of racism in all its complexity. To oversimplify it harms both the communist and working class movements. In particular, we must recognize that the ideology of white supremacy within the U.S. working class is rooted in the actual existence and reproduction of racial inequality within the working class– material differences between the white and nonwhite sectors of the class in terms of conditions and opportunities in life. To imply that racism among white workers is only a false consciousness implanted by the divide-and-rule tactics of the bourgeoisie, with no material basis, is thoroughly misleading. Of course, given the long term interests of the whole class, white workers have no material interests in the perpetuation of racial inequality; however in the short term, immediate sense, many of them do. To hide from this fact will only result in political confusion and vacillation on the part of communists when we are confronted with the likes of Allan Bakke and Brian Weber–two sons of our working class who enjoy the wide sympathies of many other workers.

The PWOC’s theory of racism hedges on this point; it advances an idealist and simplistic notion of a very complex and materially rooted phenomenon in the U.S. Such a line serves to disarm us from taking up all-sidedly the difficult task of winning the U. S. working class to the struggle against racism. In doing so, the communists must be sober materialists, prepared not only to struggle against backward racist “ideas” among the workers but to challenge head-on the persistence of racial equality within the working class. No section of the U.S. proletariat will achieve revolutionary class consciousness without a sharp polarization within the working class on the question of racism. Those communists whose moralism and workerism (as well as racism) prevent them from firmly grasping this point “want the harvests without plowing up the fields.” They are bound to opportunistically conciliate racism among workers in all kinds of blatant and subtle ways.

It should be readily obvious that a correct ideological campaign against white chauvinism in the communist movement cannot be conducted without an understanding of the material foundations for racism in society as a whole. The OCIC’s Campaign Against White Chauvinism is the living verification of this point. The PWOC’s line on racism as an ideology is completely inadequate to this purpose and is bound to lead to incorrect political positions. (Doesn’t this account for PWOC’s adoption of its earlier line in opposition to super-seniority and the strictly moralist self-criticism which accompanied its alteration?)

Taking this same line into the communist movement leads to the bizarre Campaign Against White Chauvinism which proposes to root white chauvinism out of the communist movement through exorcism. Materialists on the other hand understand that white chauvinism will never be completely rooted out of the communist movement so long as racism as a social relation continues to be reproduced in the society of which communists are a part. They also understand that the key to registering gains in the ideological struggle against white chauvinism in the communist movement is to link that struggle up with the political work of the communist movement in the struggle against racist social practice– including the ideology of racism–in society as whole.

But let us be blunt. The line underlying the OCIC’s Campaign Against White Chauvinism which defines racism basically as a problem of consciousness is nothing but warmed-over liberal bourgeois sociology. This orientation produces the characteristic emotional torment and political hypocrisy usually associated with bourgeois liberal attempts to break with “their” racism. When revolutionaries adopt this bourgeois line, they naturally dress it up in the rhetoric of “materialism.” Perfunctory genuflections are made to the “class struggle” and the “material basis” of racism prior to the psychological purge to root out racist ideas and prejudices. Racism is identified as a pernicious form of bourgeois ideology, which of course it is. However, the precise links between this world view and the particular material inequalities and the manner in which they get reproduced under capitalism remains general and vague. As a result, the struggle against racism gets almost exclusively narrowed to the ideological realm. As the broader political context for this “ideological struggle” recedes deeper into the background, along with it goes any reference whatsoever to the pressing practical tasks facing communists vis-a-vis the anti-racist struggle.

Any ideological campaign without a strong political anchor is headed for trouble–an invitation for unleashing subjectivism and petit bourgeois moralism of all sorts. An “ideological campaign” of this nature concentrating on contradictions as volatile and complex as racist dynamics and errors is an invitation to double trouble. Communists who narrow the struggle against racism to an “ideological struggle” to root out incorrect attitudes, both conscious and subconscious, are essentially practicing a bourgeois line on racism. The resulting “encounter” and emotional catharses and breakdowns are qualitatively no different than the antics of guilt-ridden bourgeois liberals, regardless of whether or not the spectacle is carried out in the name of Marxism-Leninism.

Opportunism in the Ideological Field

The opportunist character of the political line guiding the Campaign Against White Chauvinism (both the underlying fusion perspective and the particular line on racism) cannot fully explain the degree and rapidity of the OCIC degeneration. Here we must turn our attention to the development of opportunism in the ideological field, in the standpoint adopted by the SC of the OCIC. The main expression of this form of opportunism has been the consolidation of a pronounced sectarian deviation on the part of the OCIC.

Opportunist political lines can be surrendered; even when they are quite developed and deeply rooted they can be successfully broken with. This is where the interpenetration of the political and ideological becomes crucial. The standpoint required to maintain Marxist-Leninist bearings through the complex twists and turns of the class struggle is that the long range interests of the whole proletarian movement must be continually reasserted as the criteria against which to judge political lines and to maintain, refine, or surrender them.

The SC of the OCIC has shown a conspicuous weakness in this area and this campaign is no exception. The Campaign Against White Chauvinism is a thinly disguised attempt, first, to intimidate the growing internal discontent and opposition over the orientation and direction of the OCIC, and, second, to forestall criticism from external forces and reject all accountability to the broader trend.

In essence, the whole Campaign Against White Chauvinism is in the service of defending the dominant fusion line and the present leadership of the OCIC. The message is inescapable–to oppose the line of the SC is tantamount to being racist or conciliating racism. By extension, all other contending lines and centers in our trend are also declared racist by reason of opposing the Steering Committee of the OCIC. Evidence?

What kind of communist movement is it that when challenged to combat white and petty bourgeois chauvinism in its ranks suffers not only extensive opposition but even a mass of resignations? How hollow is our claim to developing a vanguard character if many of our comrades would rather give up on communism than systematically support the view that national minorities and workers are indeed capable of taking their destinies in their own hands!! (The Organizer, December 1980; emphasis in original.)

More evidence?

It should be further noted that for the first time the SC is faced with a united front of its competitors. Theoretical Review, the Guardian and Line of March all share essential unity in opposition to the campaign. They have even taken up each other’s arguments in order to solidify their common front. And not only do these theoretical defenders of white chauvinism have essential unity, but they can count on broad opposition to the campaign on the left. (The Organizer, December 1980.)

The Campaign Against White Chauvinism is not the first campaign utilized by the SC to cement OCIC sectarianism toward all critics of the fusion line within our trend. A yearlong campaign against “federationism” in which all opponents of the SC, both inside and outside the OCIC, were depicted as “sectarians” engaged in “circle warfare” preceeded this one. A self-serving equation was placed before our movement in which all opposition to the OCIC’s notion of a “single center” (united on the fusion line) was declared sectarian, while the OCIC remained free of sectarianism. Everyone knows that the rectification line and center were treated in a similar fashion earlier. But the current campaign goes even further. It conveniently labels all opposition as “racist”!

Such a sectarian manipulation of the actual character of the line struggle within our trend also leads the OC into some of the most blatant racist errors. One is their continued bold and unqualified insistence that the trend is overwhelmingly white and exclusively petit bourgeois; and that this condition cannot be expected to change so. long as the individual white (petit bourgeois) chauvinism prevails.

To begin with, the factual basis of this assertion is as questionable as it is self-serving. It is grossly oversimplified and distorted, at best attempting to describe the whole trend in terms of the major characteristics of the OCIC. Even a casual survey of our trend shows that the majority of minority Marxist-Leninists have either left the OCIC or refused to join. The two largest and most conspicuous groupings are associated with the rectification line and MINP-El Comite. In both instances, it is a well-known fact that the respective differences with the OCIC are principally over its party building strategy, its general political line, and the ideological orientation of its leading forces. Although the problems of racism in dealings with OCIC activists was recognized and pointed out on individual occasions, the principal differences were never trivialized to that level.

For the SC of the OCIC to attempt blatantly to whitewash our whole trend, intentionally to neglect to mention these conspicuous formations of minority activists outside the OCIC, is a gross sectarian error with clear racist overtones. The overwhelming majority of minority Marxist-Leninists presently active within our trend have become invisible in the eyes of the OCIC leadership. By implication, they are not considered “real” or “genuine” minorities due essentially to the fact that they are critical of the OCIC line and process (although the coded explanation is that they are all petit bourgeois chauvinists). This sectarian framework provides the green light for OCIC activists to ride roughshod over any minority cadre who happen not to be within the OCIC.

But perhaps nowhere is the opportunism of this sectarian deviation so clear as in the SC attempts to insist that the Campaign Against White Chauvinism is not a serious setback for our trend, but rather a great advance. Thus, the OCIC attempts to portray its own dramatic decline as a holy mission to rid the contemptible communist movement of its racism and petit bourgeois elitism. The call to the remaining OCIC zealots is to proceed on the current course in the face of overwhelming criticism and in spite of the unmistakable signs of internal collapse and demoralization; to proceed undaunted, not for the sake of the stubborn defense of the OCIC’s fusion line, but rather for the lofty purpose of defending the right of the “Black worker” to participate in the communist movement! Within the leading circles of the OCIC there is, thus far, not the slightest indication of the emergence of any noticeable sense of political responsibility, of any sober self-criticism, of any serious reevaluation. Instead, the tone of the OC’s self-defense becomes increasingly more outlandish and shrill as the leadership displays its determination to march a couple of hundred activists off into the formation of what will prove to be a historically irrelevant sect. It is ultimately in the course of such practice that the ideological opportunism at the center of the OCIC becomes confirmed.

Again, the point is no better illustrated than from the horse’s mouth, Clay Newlin, who assures us:

That a sharp and forthright confrontation of these prejudices (racist and petty bourgeois) should provoke a tendency-wide crisis should, then, really come as no surprise. The ideas of white and class superiority are deeply ingrained in our society and are systematically buttressed by the most sophisticated propaganda machine ever developed by a ruling class....

The campaign against white and petty bourgeois chauvinism has taken up this task (to root it out). It is indeed only in its initial and beginning stages. ... It is also likely that there will continue to be doubts and vacillations within, and even defection from, the ranks of those pushing forward the campaign.

Instead of losing heart as a result of these developments and being swept away by them, they should be seen as the inevitable result of a movement compromised by both its history of toleration of white and petty bourgeois chauvinism and its class composition. Our recognition of the extent of these weaknesses should only cause us to become even more determined to overcome them.

For fundamentally, the struggle we are waging is a definitive test of the vanguard potential of our movement. By following through on it we will demonstrate that we are truly committed to forging a proletarian vanguard and not just one more petty bourgeois sect! (The Organizer, December 1980.)

Thus spoke a man intent on constructing one more historically irrelevant sect at a moment when difficult and great demands were placed before U.S. Marxist-Leninists.