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

IV. Conclusion: The State of Our Trend

The bulk of the forces in the anti-revisionist, anti-“left” opportunist trend have sharply rejected the present line and practice of the OCIC. But in the wake of the OC’s degeneration, the negative features of the present situation are the ones which appear most evident, especially to those who were linked, until recently, in the OC process. However, to let the matter rest at this point would be superficial and one-sided. A deeper and more dialectical analysis is required in order for our trend to maintain its bearings and move forward.

The demise of the OCIC does not simply leave our trend in the same fragmented and primitive state it was in three years ago. Rather a new and higher state of the party building movement has been achieved. Granted, for those who have identified the development of the trend solely with the success of the OCIC process, this point is difficult to grasp, but it must be grappled with nonetheless. In our opinion, despite a significant measure of disorientation among former and present OCIC members, our trend today is principally characterized by two major positive features.

First, the fetter of the fusion line has been qualitatively broken. Whether or not all forces in our trend are ready to acknowledge it, the perspective that the decisive element in party building consists of our going to the workers–fusing the communist movement, in its present state of primitiveness and confusion, with the spontaneous workers’ movement–has been tested and found sorely wanting. Objectively, the center of gravity of our trend’s party building efforts has shifted to where it rightfully belongs–the struggle among communists to develop a leading line and unify around it.

The collapse of the OCIC means that the fusion line is no longer a material force in our trend. Those who stubbornly hold onto it are moving to the periphery of the trend. Those forces presently spinning off the OCIC crisis will not be able to regain their bearings and remain politically central to the party building movement without critiquing and ultimately rejecting the fusion line.

Of course, as can be expected, there will be individual efforts to revive the fusion line in a new, and more sophisticated form. However such attempts have an important distinction from the earlier PWOC/OCIC version of the line. It is no longer tenable to advance the fusion line in its grossest, primitive form and gain a serious audience. New versions of the fusion line must recognize as their starting point the centrality of the theoretical struggle for a leading line among communists.

The second positive feature of our present situation is that the rectification line has become a significant material force in the party building movement (a process which was well under way prior to the collapse of the OCIC) and that increasingly the active life of our trend has taken on the character of a rectification movement. More and more, the life of our trend as a whole is taken up with the tasks of rectifying the general line of the U.S. communist movement, even though many forces objectively engaged in such work do not necessarily agree in a formal or explicit sense with the rectification party building line. Such a development speaks to the materialist foundations of the rectification line, the strength of which rests in the fact that it has grasped the essential character of this period.

The strengthening of the rectification line and the growth of the rectification movement– which must be seen as a unity–constitutes an important development that qualitatively affects the capacity of our trend to regain its bearings and move forward despite the OCIC’s collapse. If the rectification movement had not developed to the point that it has, or if it existed merely as a theoretical formulation and not a material force, there would certainly have been posed a serious question of the capacity of our trend, swamped by cynicism, confusion and indecision, to survive.

A view of the forces leaving the OCIC illustrates the point. While they are, by and large, united in their opposition to the Campaign Against White Chauvinism and the line of the leadership, they are far too scattered and incoherent politically to pose an alternative to the line and practice of the OCIC. They are incapable of taking responsibility to guide the trend through this critical juncture. This is a common feature of splits–the center, even united around an opportunist line, often enjoys substantial initiative and can survive and tyrannize its scattered opponents. Even if the opponents have the elements of a correct critique, there is no guarantee they will be able to develop and advance an alternative line. In this light, the existence of the rectification movement is a crucial stabilizing factor in the present situation.

For these reasons we believe that it would be superficial and subjective to view the trend as worse off today than it was in 1978. There has been a spiral development in the party building line struggle. The fusion line, which dominated and fettered our trend, has been defeated theoretically and has been shown in practice to be utterly incapable of leading us to the re-establishment of the party. Our trend’s surrender of the fusion line is an important step forward. It provides the basis to unify our trend on a higher level and begin to grapple with a new set of contradictions and struggles before us.

And with the development of the rectification movement, the terrain on which our trend’s future maturation will proceed has already been established. Ideologically our trend has already become accountable to more advanced communist criteria. Politically our trend is achieving its correct focus–rectification of the U.S. communist movement’s general line. Organizationally the key institutions for an all-sided, all-embracing rectification movement are already in place.

Although the rectification movement is by no means restricted narrowly to those who hold the rectification party building line, the existence and momentum of this movement would be unthinkable apart from the rectification party building line and center, expressed principally in the Line of March journal and its Editorial Board. The discrediting of the fusion line did not take place in a vacuum, nor was it simply the result of the maturation of its own internal contradictions. On the contrary, the OCIC’s decline cannot be separated from the party building line struggle which has raged within the trend over the past three or four years.

The rectification party building line has taken the main brunt of the contention with the fusion line, both theoretically and in practice. In the course of this struggle, the Line of March center has increasingly taken responsibility for the forward motion of the entire trend, not only those who fully agree with our party building perspectives. Closely related is the fact that the rectification party building line has been consistently refined and developed, reflecting its maturation in the course of the struggle with the fusion line. It has also been deepened in the course of practice with the concrete tasks of party building and the class struggle. Not surprisingly, Line of March is beginning to emerge as the principal representative of our trend in the sharpening contention with the trends to our right and “left,” the revisionists and Maoist trends in particular.

In this sense, the growth and development of the rectification party building line and movement represents an advance for the whole trend, regardless of party building line differences. It also represents the chief corrective for the substantial confusion and cynicism which inevitably have followed in the wake of the OCIC fiasco.

In conclusion, it is fairly clear that four years ago the political life of our trend was principally bound up with the OCIC and the fusion line of the PWOC. Today, this is no longer the case; our party building efforts are increasingly bound up with a rectification movement gaining a broad and mass character. In this sense the degeneration and sectarian retreat of the OCIC decisively breaks the fusion fetter on the theoretical and practical maturation of our trend. The basis now exists to unite upon a common critique of the fusion party building line and the acceptance of the necessity to consciously forge a broad rectification movement as the decisive activity in our path toward re-establishing a Marxist-Leninist party in the U.S. In this sense, party building line differences will still persist, but at a new level and taking new forms. Party building line differences and struggles in the future will probably not present the same kind of obstacle that the fusion line did. The principal tension moving our trend forward toward the party is increasingly located in political and theoretical differences which emerge in the actual process of rectifying the general line. This is truly a step forward from the more primitive stage of struggling over whether or not to even take up such line struggle in earnest.

Observing the demise of the OCIC cannot help but be a sobering experience. The high hopes, however misdirected, which many comrades invested in this undertaking over the past three years have been cruelly shattered. In the name of unity, disunity and sectarianism were promoted. In the name of the proletariat, the narrowest forms of bourgeois ideology were promoted. In the name of Marxism-Leninism, painfully primitive and mechanical concepts were advanced as self-evident truths.

We have addressed in these pages the errors, failures and ultimately the blatant opportunism of the OCIC’s leadership. And it is only proper that the OCIC leadership, particularly the political center of the PWOC, be held accountable to the communist movement as a whole for this sorry record. But we cannot let the matter rest there.

The fatal flaw of the OCIC was not that it tried to provide leadership to our trend and bring it to maturity as a party. Nor was it even that over a period of time its leadership degenerated ideologically. In the final analysis, the problem of the OCIC was that it was founded on and guided by a fundamentally incorrect party building line. (That this line was hidden only added to the problem but was not itself the main problem.)

Our trend has learned that whatever else may be accomplished by the further integration of communists in the immediate class struggles during the present period, party building will not be accomplished that way, although such experience clearly has a contribution to make to our party building tasks. Our trend has learned that the fusion line does not correspond to the real tasks facing the communist movement, and that all of the organizational edifices constructed around it, all of the propaganda documents used to justify it, all of the polemics waged in its defense, cannot change that fundamental truth. As a result, no matter what immediate gains might be scored, the fusion line has an insuperable contradiction built into it. This is why it did not and cannot succeed in bringing our trend to its ideological, political and organizational maturity.

Yes, the demise of the OCIC is sobering. But as we have tried to indicate, it is also emancipating. A major obstacle to party building, the fusion line, has been removed from our path. How we traverse the remaining terrain on the road to re-establishing the party has now become the question before us.