Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

U.S. League of Revolutionary Struggle (Marxist-Leninist)

Congress Papers #2

Draft Statement on the Dissolution of the League of Revolutionary Struggle

By the Central Committee majority (Signed by 28 people)
(NOTE: To be issued in October 1990 – not for immediate release)

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On September ___, 1990, at a national conference of the League of Revolutionary Struggle, a formal vote was taken to disband the organization.

While we, as former League members and supporters, remain committed to working for justice and equality in American society, we have come to realize that there are aspects of Marxism-Leninism that are unsuitable, inappropriate, and even antithetical to the vision we hold of a democratic and just society.

In the spirit of continuing the struggle for peace, justice, and equality In the U.S. and the world into the 21st Century, we announce the dissolution of the League of Revolutionary Struggle (Marxist-Leninist) and present the following explanation and call to action.


In the last few years, there have been tremendous changes around the world. From the Philippines to Mexico, from South Africa to Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, people are standing up and demanding democracy, justice, and a better way of life. This international freedom chorus has rocked undemocratic regimes, deposed dictators, and created new opportunities for political change. Nelson Mandela and the South African liberation movement have reawakened hope worldwide that peace and equality are realistic objectives in our day.

At the same time, most people in the world still oust struggle daily for food, clothing, and shelter. While a relative handful of people grow ever richer, the vast majority of people face a rapidly declining standard of living. Even though socialism, as it has been practiced in certain countries, has been unable to fulfill all the needs of the people, capitalism has also been incapable of providing a decent life for the majority of the people, and poses a serious threat to the future of life on the planet.

In the United States, homelessness, unemployment, the drug epidemic, inadequate education and health care, and mass alienation have become facts of life. For the first time in US history, present and future generations are confronted with the reality that they will be worse off than their parents. Millions of children are living in poverty, and the figure for homeless people is four million or more. Thirty-seven million Americans have no health coverage. Home ownership, college education and high school graduation, even having a telephone, are now beyond the reach of many Americans. The rise in crime and violence that has afflicted most American cities is a direct outgrowth of these worsening conditions. Increasingly, people in this country are looking for alternatives to the way of life currently available to them.

The existence of such conditions presents both serious challenges and immense opportunities. During a time of such volatility, those who would seek to lead movements for change either move forward with vision and creativity or are beaten back by the forces of conservatism and reaction. It is in light of the present dangers and potential that we undertake the following changes.

The History We Stand On

Since the League’s founding in 1978, the majority of its membership has been comprised of people of color. We have always seen ourselves in the tradition of the millions of American Indians, Africans and African Americans, Asians and Pacific Islanders, Mexican, Chicanos and Latinos, and progressive whites who have risked and sacrificed their lives in the 400+ year struggle for democracy, justice, and equality in this land.

The history of the United States is marked by persistent movements by its people to expand basic freedoms and make real this country’s stated commitment to political and economic democracy. This has not been a peaceful journey. Many have given their lives fighting to make these ideals a reality, while more have suffered because of the greed and neglect that has persisted. As political activists in the closing years of the 20th century, we honor the freedom fighters of the past, and we rededicate ourselves to continuing the quest for social, political and economic justice.

In the immediate sense, we who formed the League received our political baptism in the Civil Rights Movement and the struggles for self-determination in the 1960s. Many of us participated in the Freedom Rides and in campaigns for voting rights, in efforts to win community control of schools, in the fight against police brutality, in struggles for decent wages and working conditions, in the battles to create ethnic studies and to open the doors of higher education, and in ongoing efforts to win respect and dignity for workers and minority people.

We drew our inspiration and direction from leaders like Malcolm X, Martin Luther Ring, Cesar Chavez, Fannie Lou Hamer, Ella Baker, Corky Gonzalez, Lolita Lebron, Stokely Carmichael, Emma Tennayuca, and Carlos Bulosan. Organizations like the Black Panther Party, SNCC, La Raza Unida Party, the Brown Berets, the Young Lords, Nation of Islam, Los Siete, and many others, provided us with examples for how to carry out the struggle in our own communities.

The League was formed in 1978 by uniting the August Twenty-ninth Movement, I Wor Kuen, the Congress of Afrikan People/Revolutionary Communist League, and several local collectives in a multi-racial organization dedicated to a society based on equality, justice and democracy. Our primary objective in forming the League was to find collective solutions to the problems plaguing our communities, and to fundamentally improve the lives of the people in this country.

In our search for answers, we studied the experience of revolutionaries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. We discovered that in most cases, the national liberation movements that inspired us most were led by people who called themselves Marxist-Leninists. We therefore decided to adopt Marxism-Leninism as our theoretical and organizational framework.

While we wanted to identify ourselves with third world revolutionaries from Mozambique to Cuba to China and Vietnam, we also understood that the conditions we faced in the United States were very different, and that we would have to find an approach that was consistent with the history and culture of this country. We therefore embarked on a unique path of development in which we called ourselves Marxist-Leninist, but carried out ouch of our work through the development and application of fairly new and creative approaches.

Organizationally, we adopted aspects of Marxist-Leninist organization, such as tight-knit collective functioning. While confidential membership was never a principle of the League, some members felt the need to remain confidential because of the existence of repressive laws specifically directed at members of Marxist-Leninist groups.

The Essence of Who We Are

Since 1978, we have organized among the grassroots and played an important role in leading and supporting many of the critical struggles of the last 12 years. We are proud to say that we have made a real difference in people’s lives and in strengthening the grassroots movements.

We have always been a unique collection of individuals that defied easy categorization. Many of the American left, especially those associated with the Communist Parties of China and the Soviet Union, dismissed us as insufficiently theoretical, and looked down upon our emphasis on mass organizing. Some of them criticized our decision to work with the Democratic Party, and our approach in electoral politics to support progressive candidates and unite broadly to open the political process to many who had been locked out. Most of all, they disagreed with our support for self-determination for people of color.

Throughout this period, our concern has not been with labels, but with results. Because of our history of real work and our record of concrete achievements, we have never had an identity crisis. We have always understood that change in the United States is not possible without the involvement and participation of the people, and it is because of this understanding that our theory has always developed out of our actual work, and not out of books.

The essence of who we are can be best seen through our accomplishments. We were proud to participate in the Watsonville cannery strike, Jesse Jackson’s historic 1984 and 1988 presidential campaigns, in the student movement of the ’80s, in the Eleanor Bumpurs Justice Committee, in the movement for redress and reparations for Japanese Americans interned by the U.S. during World War II, and in countless other issues and struggles of these past 12 years. In all of these struggles, we contributed our energy and skill, as well as a political perspective and vision. We have stressed the importance of empowering the grassroots so that their movements would hold accountable mainstream politicians and self-proclaimed leaders. We have helped build strong multi-racial coalitions at times when racism polarized ethnic groups and obscured their recognition of their common interests. We also promoted respect for the autonomy and independence of various nationality groupings. Finally, during the Reagan years, we worked with people from all strata of society to help build a progressive united front that could take on the right wing.

Through these efforts, we have helped to strengthen the mass movement in important regions of this country. Despite the Reagan offensive, we stood with millions of other Americans to resist the attacks on the progress of the past 30 years.

New Thinking for a New Era

It is our belief that the movement for social change and justice must adapt to the times and conditions, and be rooted in an understanding of indigenously based theory and strategy. We have, of course, studied the lessons and experience of other movements around the world in order to discern applicable lessons. What has been useful from other countries has been retained, and what has not been useful must be discarded.

In reviewing the developments in the world, we have come to realize that there are aspects of Marxism-Leninism that are inappropriate, unsuitable, and even antithetical to the vision we hold of a democratic and just society.

Specifically, we reject the following principles of Marxism-Leninism:

1) The actual practice of many different social movements in different countries has shown that a wide variety of beliefs and theoretical systems have contributed to advancing the interests of working people and society in a forward direction. We do not believe that Marxism-Leninism is the sole and leading ideology for social change. Nor do we believe that Marxism-Leninism or any other ideology should have hegemony and should by definition have a special leading role in the mass movements, nor that this ideology is intrinsically superior to any other theory or ideological framework.

2) We reject Lenin’s view of the vanguard communist party. We do not believe that a single party can or should determine the direction, strategy and tactics of the struggle for fundamental change. We reject the idea that fundamental change can or should come about through a seizure of power by a vanguard party claiming to act in the interests of the working class and the majority of society.

3) We reject the goal of the “dictatorship of the proletariat.” We reject the view that a single party can use its claim to represent the working class as a substitute for multi-party democracy and free elections. We are opposed to dictatorship in any and all forms, and we recognize that the application of this principle has in every case meant that a minority acts for and defines the interests of the majority of society. Such a view is antithetical to a belief in genuine democracy, and we believe that movements for justice must practice and embody the values and principles that they strive to achieve in society.

While the League formed as a Marxist-Leninist organization, we no longer want to be placed within a theoretical framework with which we have long had many differences in practice. We also believe that the movement today is not well served by a tight-knit Marxist-Leninist style organization, but needs to open up as broadly as possible and be able to incorporate the growing numbers of justice-minded people who are willing to be active even during a period of continued rightwing attack.

Our experience has shown us that our ability to assess and understand the conditions of this country must be key to the development of theory that will guide our work. The world of the 1990s and 21st century is fundamentally different from the world of 1917. We need new thinking for a new era. The task of constructing a model for social change is the challenge of all progressive people today. The best books on change in the new era have not been written yet.

We do not pretend to have a blueprint for a new and better society nor the roadman on how to get there. At the same time, we believe that the options for change, the debate in this period, call for new approaches and reexamination.

We do have a vision of a better society and general agreement on the pillars of a successful American strategy. This view comes from our work in communities across the country, the struggles of the people for a better life, and study of past movements and efforts: We believe that fundamental change in America will take the support of the majority of people who will demonstrate in some verifiable way (such as through voting) that they want such a change. We believe in building a united front of people from all classes and walks of life in common struggles for economic and social justice. We believe in building multi-racial unity based on equality and self-determination for people of color. We believe that jobs, education, health care, and housing are rights, and not privileges, and that society must be organized to put human needs before profit.

We believe that a progressive national mass organization that is open to all who want to work to empower the majority of the people through participation in the struggle is the best route to the long term re-ordering of the social, political and economic priorities of this country.

We have, therefore, formally voted to dissolve the League of Revolutionary Struggle, and hope to work with others in the formation of a new group which will better serve the movement of the ’90s.


History is made by people struggling to put society’s resources at the disposal of the majority of the people.

In the course of centuries of struggle, many, many different organizations have come into being which served their present age as vehicles of progress and advancement. The history and dissolution of the League of Revolutionary Struggle (Marxist-Leninist) can be seen in this context. Through years of work, ties have been made, bonds forged, and networks developed.

Those of us who formed the League are proud to have participated in this movement. We intend to discuss, along with others, the formation of a new and more appropriate organization for the 21st century. This new organization would be an open mass organization whose members believe in justice, equality, and a basic re-ordering of social, economic, and political priorities to best serve the majority of American people. It would not be based on any “isms,” but would take what is useful from any and all social theorists, and ultimately from our own experiences. It would be an organization of activists dedicated to working among the people to improve their lives, and to taking up struggles from the point of view of empowering working and minority people to shape their own future.

Rest assured, whatever new organizations emerge in the ’90s, the struggle will continue. Let’s get busy.