Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

League Interview on Party Building

First Published: Unity, Vol. 4, No. 2, January 3-February 12, 1981.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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UNITY has received a number of questions from our readers in response to the UNITY New Year Editorial, which was printed in the January 9, 1981, issue. Some of these readers asked for a more basic presentation of how the League of Revolutionary Struggle (M-L) looks at party building. Others requested more elaboration on our views of the Marxist-Leninist movement today and more specifics regarding unity efforts of the past two years. To address some of these points, UNITY submitted some questions to William Gallegos and Carolyn Wong, spokespersons for the Central Committee of the League.

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How do you view the prospects for party building today? Has the view of the League changed recently? Is party building the central task of the League? Why?

Basic views of the League on party building

Our views on party building have been consistent and have not basically changed. We still consider party building to be the central task of communists in the U.S. today. We believe it is extremely important to be clear on what is the central task and to have a consistent view of how to accomplish this task.

This is especially true now when the contradictions in the international and domestic situations are sharpening rapidly. The task of forging a genuine vanguard party of the proletariat in the U.S. has been made even more urgent. It is irresponsible to belittle or negate party building as the central task.

Looking at the international situation, we can definitely see that the factors for war have intensified this past year. The Soviet social-imperialists and their agents are involved in armed conflict in Afghanistan, Viet Nam, Kampuchea and other places. The Soviets’ control of these strategic locations puts them in position to control the raw materials vitally needed by Western Europe and Japan. The Soviets are also poised for an invasion of Poland. The danger of war in the world has definitely stepped up, especially from the Soviet imperialists, the main source of war in the world today.

The U.S. imperialists, too, are gearing up for war. The declaration of the Carter Doctrine and the interventionist pronouncements of the new Reagan administration are clear indications. The U.S. has already put together the rapid deployment force and has begun to send “advisers” to help the junta in El Salvador fight the popular revolution there.

Domestically, we are faced with the stepped-up general erosion of the rights, living standards and well-being of the workers and masses of people. There is the pervasive growth of brutal attacks on the oppressed nationalities, especially on Afro-Americans. Everyone has seen the sharp move to the right by the U.S. ruling circles, the resurgence of a more conservative and chauvinist cultural atmosphere, and the sprouting of organized right-wing paramilitary groups like the Klan and the Nazis.

This is all evidence of the urgent need for a vanguard communist party to lead the revolutionary movement in the U.S. Such a party must be united around a clear program, be disciplined and imbued with the spirit of commitment, perseverance and willingness to sacrifice, and have deep roots among the masses.

It has been and still is our view that party building requires three basic interrelated tasks: the development of a political line and program for the U.S. revolution; the unification of Marxist-Leninists into a single organization based on that program; and the development of ties with the working and oppressed masses by winning the advanced to communism, integrating with the mass struggles and striving to lead them forward.

It seems to us that under the current conditions, communists must redouble efforts to creatively apply Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought to U.S. conditions. We must answer the basic questions of our revolution, such as the strategy of the revolution; how to develop the united front against monopoly capital; what lines, slogans and demands communists should put forward to lead the working class and oppressed nationality movements, etc. Communists in the U.S. must develop a clear and correct program for the revolution. We must try to answer these and other questions by summing up the experience we have gained, intensifying our theoretical work and engaging in discussion and struggle with one another to arrive at a correct position on these issues.

Communists must also seek unity with each other around political line. We are still a relatively small force in the U.S. today, and we must try to unite all genuine communist organizations through the method of resolving the important differences that divide us. We should put aside minor or secondary differences, but the major ones must be struggled out to achieve principled unity. These differences have a real impact on the mass movement and we should be accountable for the lines we put forward.

Lastly, communists must continue to build up ties with the masses. Throughout the U.S. there are scattered currents of struggle against capitalism. There are advanced workers and activists who want a path out of the misery and crisis of capitalism. They must be won to the ranks of communism. Communists must take up mass work, strive to provide concrete and stable leadership, and help the masses achieve the immediate demands of their struggles while step by step raising their political consciousness.

These have been our views for some time, and it was on the basis of these perspectives that we originally proposed the formation of a Committee to Unite Marxist-Leninists (CUML) in 1978 as one form by which Marxist-Leninists could unite. These perspectives have also served as the basis for all our efforts to unite with other Marxist-Leninists.

Unity should be based on principle, not unprincipled blocking

There have been differences in the communist movement with our approach to party building, but recently the divergence in approach seems to have grown wider. This has adversely affected the situation in the communist movement. There is greater disagreement with the view that it is important to base organizational unity on a clearly defined line and program. Rather, another view advocates merging and settling major differences later.

We believe this approach is wrong, as it will cause even greater difficulties in the future and create a basis for splits and factions, as well as unprincipled blocking against other groups. Solid organizational unity can only be based on a clear, principled ideological and political foundation. Not to unite on such a basis is unprincipled and would lead to even greater disunity in the communist movement.

Party building must continue to be the central task

We believe very strongly that party building is still the central task. Today, though, there are questions and disagreement in the communist movement on whether or not party building should be the central task, or whether “building the unity and struggle of the mass movements,” or “fusing with the workers movement”, or “building the left wing” of the workers movement”, or some such variant, should be the central task.

There used to be a line of “build the unity, struggle and consciousness of the working class” as the central task. This was an old, discredited view, originally put forward some time ago by the Revolutionary Union (RU). There was a lot of struggle against this view, and rightly so. To return to this perspective, or a variation of it, would be a giant step backward, for it would mean rejecting valuable experiences and practical lessons gained over the past ten years. The communist movement today should recall those lessons so as not to repeat the mistakes and bad work of the past.

Fundamentally, this formulation of the RU’s, to “build the unity, struggle and consciousness of the working class” as the central task, liquidated the necessity of developing a communist trend in the working class. It replaced communist work with promoting an amorphous and ill-defined “workers unity” movement, which was in essence militant trade unionism. The RU belittled the necessity to do communist educational work among the masses, and to unite socialism with the working class movement. At a time when the advanced elements on the whole have not been won to communism, to belittle party building as the central task would be a grave error.

This line of the central task being “building the unity, consciousness, and struggle of the working class,” or any variant thereof, consciously or unconsciously, deliberately or otherwise, leads to sectarianism towards other Marxist-Leninists and left groups, as it does not recognize the importance of other revolutionaries, their views and experiences. The RU essentially ignored forging unity with other Marxist-Leninists based on principled struggle and agreement. The most underhanded and sectarian deeds were committed under the self-declaration that the RU was “building the working class struggle.”

Rejecting the centrality of party building was also at the heart of the RU’s belittling of the importance of struggling for a correct political line. The RU leadership, in a distorted way, portrayed those who paid attention to party-building as “too fixated on line” and “sectarian,” and “not into mass work.” But in reality, these were smokescreens used by the RU leadership to hide its own sectarianism, its own lines, and not deal with the serious differences with other revolutionaries that came up in the practical movements.

These were some of the unfortunate and seriously damaging consequences of the RU’s view that the central task was “building the unity, struggle and consciousness of the working class.”

As we have said, our understanding of party building involves developing ties with the mass movement and helping to lead it forward. Our practice shows the importance we place on this work. But our view also emphasizes the necessity to win the advanced from the mass movement to communism, and to build up the ranks of Marxist-Leninists. We intend to continue to publish UNITY, to develop and to put out our political line for all to see, to engage in discussions and unity efforts with other communists, and to advance our mass work. This reflects our perspectives on party building and communist tasks in this period.

In the past two years, there were some announcements of efforts of different Marxist-Leninist organizations to engage in discussions and efforts to unite. These announcements raised the expectations of many people. Was there any progress made? What happened and why?

Yes, there was progress in Marxist-Leninist unity efforts over the past several years. The League formed and developed out of the merger of six organizations. There were other Marxist-Leninist organizations that also merged. And now, we understand that some other mergers have already taken place or will be taking place very soon.

We look at any successful attempts of Marxist-Leninists to unite, based on, principle, as positive developments. We also need to sum up the attempts that were not so successful and examine the reasons why. The attempts to form a Committee to Unite Marxist-Leninists (CUML) and the trilateral talks between the League, the Communist Party Marxist-Leninist (CPML) and the Revolutionary Workers Headquarters (RWH) have not seen much success to date.

Committee to Unite Marxist-Leninists

The Committee to Unite “Marxist-Leninists (CUML) never formed, although in 1978 and 1979, various organizations participated in discussions on proposals to form a CUML. The original proposal to form a CUML was submitted by ATM and IWK to the CPML in 1978. It called for a process of discussions to resolve major political differences; summarize the histories of the organizations; and then, if unity could be reached on line and on the summation of histories, it called for taking steps to merge, including drafting a program and preparations for a Congress to merge. This was the basis for the joint ATM-IWK-CPML announcement on May Day 1978 of plans to form a CUML.

The original CUML proposal was circulated among other groups. One organization which received the proposal disagreed with it and wrote a counterproposal. On the part of the League, we were prepared to carry through with the formation of a CUML along the principles embodied in the original proposal. But since agreement could not be reached to fully carry out the content and spirit of the original proposal, and also due to the change in some other factors, the CPML, LRS and RWH agreed to hold trilateral talks instead of forming a CUML.

Trilateral talks between CPML, LRS, and RWH

To form a CUML would have meant initiating a multilateral committee whose aim would be to organize systematic discussions to resolve differences, summarize histories, and aim towards bringing about an organizational merger. The trilateral talks were more limited in scope and purpose, their aim being to organize discussions among the three organizations on major topics of line.

In the course of the trilateral talks, various problems developed. One underlying problem was a political difference over the importance of struggling for unity on line and program. Because of this difference, the participating organizations held conflicting views and pursued different policies toward the meetings. The League wanted to thoroughly pursue the discussion of line unities and differences, in an attempt to seriously grapple with the main differences and try to resolve or narrow them. The other two groups did not. Their policy stemmed from the view that Marxist-Leninists should unite first and deal with differences later, inside one party. They also did not want to link the discussions on theoretical line to summarizing mass work, or be accountable for their organizations’ practice in the mass movement.

Other problems developed, too, in the relations among the organizations. The League feels there were instances of blocking. There were also problems of a lack of respect toward the League displayed in the meetings by the other two organizations. While there have always been differences and conflicts in practical work in the mass movement, which the League recognized could not be immediately resolved, during that time there were sectarian attacks against the League which went beyond the realm of day-to-day differences and immediate conflicts.

These problems, most of which arose simultaneously during the course of the unity effort, were serious, and we made efforts to raise suggestions for their resolution. We also raised that in order to try to deal with our differences and build greater political unity, the three organizations’ relations must be conducted on the basis of principle, equality and mutual respect. The problems have not been resolved to date. On our part, we continue to uphold the need to seek unity and combat sectarianism. We continue to maintain that the method of uniting should be to resolve major differences, set aside minor ones and forge unity on a common line and program.

In the trilateral meetings, was the key point of contention the difference over whether or not ultra-leftism constitutes the main danger for the entire anti-revisionist movement since its inception in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s? And is this difference the main one between yourselves and the CPML and RWH?

We don’t think so. With regard to the trilateral meetings, the reasons for the lack of progress are several, as we stated above. It does appear, however, that the issue of whether or not ultra-leftism is the main danger must have been a factor.

On this issue, there seem to have been some changes or shifts. The original agreement for the trilateral meetings stated that we would fight both “left” and right deviations.

Our understanding of the CPML’s previous position was that it saw rightism as the main danger. But recently the CPML seems to only focus on “left” deviations and is reinterpreting its whole history in this light.

With regard to the RWH, this question has been a difference between us for some time. The RWH has, for some time, seen ultra-leftism as the main problem in the anti-revisionist movement. But our differences with the RWH have, been broader, relating to how they summarize the line and experience of the RU/RCP and other questions. So here, too, we cannot say that the question of ultra-leftism was the main or only difference.

The anti-revisionist movement has to fight against both the right and the “left,” but in our view the danger from modern revisionism has been the most serious, the leading revisionist organization, the Communist Party USA (CPUSA), has definitely grown and in some ways it has become relatively stronger over the last ten years or so. Unfortunately, a number of young people who came out of the anti-imperialist and student struggles of the previous decade have gone into the ranks of the CPUSA. Why has this been so?

In our view, the basis for right revisionism is very strong in the U.S. The U.S. is a superpower and has a long history and material basis for liberalism, reformism and revisionism. The CPUSA is relatively developed politically and organizationally, and they have a history and prestige in some circles in the US.

If we look concretely at the results of the left movement in the U.S. over the past ten years, we would have to say that the CPUSA has attracted relatively more adherents and is exerting a greater influence than Marxist-Leninists on the working class movement and the general left movement. A large sector of the revolutionary activists who came out of the 1960’s have affiliated themselves today to the CPUSA, social democracy or to various centrist forces.

On the other hand, if we look at the ultra-left deviation, we see another story. Ultra-leftism has had serious consequences for some groups in certain periods, and has destroyed others. It has hurt the mass movement as well. Ultra-leftism has caused serious problems and setbacks, but it does not have the adherents or strength of the right danger.

There are those who say: of course the CPUSA is the biggest danger overall, but hasn’t ultra-leftism been the main problem in the anti-revisionist movement or in certain organizations?

Our view of this is that we should not isolate the anti-revisionist movement from the general left and overall working class movement. We do not exist in isolation from the working class movement, but must consider ourselves an integral part of it. One should define the main danger to the working class movement in relation to the struggle against the class enemy and the task of building a revolutionary movement against the enemy. The main danger for the movement as a whole is not defined according to some abstract definitions or formulations, or according to just one group’s or certain people’s experiences, outside a concrete historical setting and an analysis of all the social and political forces.

Ultra-leftism definitely has been the main problem for particular organizations, but if we look at all the forces that called themselves “anti-revisionist” a decade ago, we see that here, too, the CPUSA’s influence has grown, not diminished.

Some people say that this has been because ultra-leftism has driven people into the ranks of the revisionists. But this view, too, is not sound. While some groups did make ultra-left errors in the struggle against revisionism, one cannot point to the strength of the revisionists and say the main danger lies in the communist movement. This would be like condemning Lenin and the Bolsheviks for the strength of the Mensheviks in Russia.

In our view, genuine communist forces could have done a better job in the fight against modern revisionism, and if we had, we could have won more people over. We should try to work with other social forces to advance the interests of the masses and extend our influence over broader sectors, even if those forces are influenced by the revisionists. We should also seek to work with and win over social democrats. In this work we should avoid “left” errors of not extending our influence when we can, working in a “closed door” way. But we also have to guard against right errors of negating the importance of an independent stand and goals, and the ability to retain some initiative; or forsaking the need to build up communists as a distinct trend. In the U.S., these right deviations will most commonly manifest themselves as taking the stand of the labor aristocracy and promoting class cooperation and national chauvinism.

Ultra-leftism cannot be blanketly used to explain why communist forces are still relatively weak in the U.S. There are objective factors, such as the U.S. being a superpower, the damage of revisionism on the mass movement, the repression of the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, and the continuing power of reformism. There are also subjective factors, such as the mistakes communists have made over the last several years. These have been both “left” and right errors.

Some believe that isolation is only a result of ultra-leftism, but rightism, too, diminished the influence of communists on the mass movement. Browderite revisionism resulted in the decline of communist influence on the masses, not the expansion of influence of the CPUSA. Browderism also resulted in the eventual numerical decline and weakening of the CPUSA. (Browder was General Secretary of the CPUSA in 1944 when he dissolved the party and formed the Communist Political Association, a loose, non-democratic centralist grouping. This was a part of his overall line which blurred the distinction between reformism and proletarian revolution and between social democracy and communism. While Browder thought this would bring closer ties to the masses, his line actually isolated them from many workers and advanced elements in the mass movements.)

So from this history, we can see how wrong it is to have ideas like “it’s better to make right errors than ’left’ errors so at least we can grow and break out of our isolation.” To think like this may bring even greater problems and dangers.

We know there are differences over the national question within the Marxist-Leninist movement. Can you tell us what they are and how those differences affected the unity efforts?

There has always been a lot of struggle on the national question within the communist movement, and clearly this is bound to have had an impact on the efforts of Marxist-Leninists to unite. The national question is a crucial question in the U.S. revolution, and therefore it is quite natural that it enters into the picture in terms of party building. In the United States, there is a long and bloody history of national oppression – the genocide of the Native Americans, slavery, annexation, contract labor – and a strong tradition of chauvinism, promoted by the, capitalist ruling class. The failure to correctly address the national question has been a hallmark of opportunism in the history of the American labor movement and the communist movement, and has been the downfall of many left groups.

The League and its predecessor organizations, the August 29th Movement, East Wind, I Wor Kuen, the New York Collective, the Revolutionary Communist League and Seize the Time, have a history of struggle within the anti-revisionist movement against the liquidation of the national question, from both the right and the “left.” In the past, we have made some errors on the national question, too, but in the main we have fought against those views which belittle the revolutionary character of the oppressed nationality movements against U.S. monopoly capitalism.

League view on the national question

Our view of the national question, briefly, is this: the proletariat must fight resolutely against all national oppression, chauvinism and privilege, and for democracy, equality and political power for the oppressed peoples. This means fighting for the right of self-determination for the oppressed Afro-American and Chicano nations, including the right to secession; and for full equality and political power for the oppressed national minorities, such as the Asian and Puerto Rican nationalities. This is a component part of the struggle to overthrow monopoly capitalism, and a necessity in order to forge the unity of the working class.

The proletariat and its vanguard must also practice a policy of the united front within the national movements, uniting with all class forces that suffer from national oppression and will fight for democracy, while also doing independent work among the masses. Communists must strive for proletarian leadership of the national movements.

Two main deviations on the national question

Historically and today, there are two main views on the national question with which we differ. One is a “left” deviation, which liquidates the national question by viewing it as simply a workers’ question and a struggle just for socialism, negating the need for the proletariat to fight for democracy and self-determination, and negating the distinct character of the national movements.

The other is a right deviation, which reduces fighting national oppression to liberal integrationism or having the minorities join the existing “mainstream” of U.S. society. This view sees the national movements as a struggle only for civil rights, and not as a revolutionary struggle for political power. This deviation also tends to belittle the struggle for communist and working class leadership of the national movements, leaving the leadership of the national movements to the petty bourgeoisie and tailing this petty bourgeois leadership.

Various groups, both historically and today, have held one or the other deviation. In the 1960’s, the Progressive Labor Party liquidated the national question from the “left,” claiming “all nationalism is reactionary.” In the 1970’s, the Revolutionary Union and the Revolutionary Communist Party held both “left” and right deviations: they opposed self-determination, and stated that national demands “divide” the working class, and regarded the national movements as being on a “lower” and non-revolutionary level, as compared to the workers movement.

Today there continue to be serious deviations on the national question on such key matters as the right of self-determination; on upholding the demands and rights of the oppressed nationalities as necessary to forge the unity of the working class; on the united front and the task of communists in the national movements, and so on.

Additionally, it is unfortunate that today there is ambiguity in the position of some in the communist movement on the line and practice of the RU/RCP in the national movements. This is serious as it leaves the door open for repeating these errors.

The struggle against the chauvinism of the RU in the 1970’s was one of the major, line struggles in the anti-revisionist movement. The practice of the RU in the national movements was, to say the least, despicable. The RU actually devoted considerable attention to the national movements, but its practice was to steer them along the lines of reformism and economism. In the Farah strike of Chicana workers, the RU opposed any attempts to build the struggle against national oppression, wanting to restrict it to being a trade union struggle only.

The RU also opposed and even went so far as to try to wreck the work of the revolutionary elements in the national movements, such as when they went to Newark with a policy to smash the Congress of Afrikan Peoples, or in San Francisco where they tried to smash first the Red Guard Party and later IWK.

Chauvinism on the national question does great damage to the struggle of the masses and the work of communists. How can communists ever win the respect of, for example the Black masses, much less the leadership of their struggle, if they run around saying to Black organizations that the Black Liberation Movement should not develop in advance of the workers movement? This is tantamount to telling Black people they should struggle less militantly or less rapidly against their oppression.

The national question and the struggle for Marxist-Leninist unity

The League considers the struggle on these and other points on the national question to be very important. The national question is not a subsidiary question of our revolution. The national movements, and the workers movement, together, are the most important social movements in U.S. society. The national movements involve some 50 million people who occupy territories larger than most European nations. We are also talking about justice – for the proletariat is the foremost champion of justice, and the oppressed nationalities have certainly faced the most bitter and cruel injustice at the hands of the capitalists.

Whether or not one takes a correct stand on the national question will determine if one really upholds the strategic alliance of the workers and national movements, the core of the united front against monopoly capital in the U.S. revolution.

Because of these reasons, the League believes that the national question is not a “deferrable” question – that is, a question around which resolution of major political differences in theory and practice can be postponed until after organizational unity is reached. We are not willing to “defer” the national question. We will not unite under some “broad” ambiguous statement of unity without resolving major line differences and without summing up practice. There is too much at stake. The national question involves the actual struggles of millions of people; and in addition, for the League, it concerns many years of hard work by hundreds of people.

We think, too, that the increase in chauvinism and the belittlement of the national question is an integral part of the current general trend among some sectors of the movement toward cynicism and demoralization. In contrast to these sectors, among the oppressed nationality people, and especially the advanced workers and activists in the national movements, there is a great willingness to struggle and a sense of urgency about it. Black children are being murdered in Atlanta, and Blacks in many cities north and south are being violently attacked or killed; Native Americans and Chicano people are being poisoned and robbed of their land by the nuclear monopolies; Asian communities are being destroyed by big land developers. The Klan has paramilitary training camps all over the South, preparing for a race war. Many people in the national movements are literally facing a life and death situation. When confronted with this reality, communists should not retreat from vigorously attempting to fulfill the practical and theoretical demands of revolutionary leadership. Certainly this is not a case of being ahead of the masses.

The differences on the national question are related to the general orientation and attitude toward the current situation in the U.S. and how we see our tasks as communists. The question of war, the worsening living conditions and the rightward political climate are not academic questions. Certainly there is not now a revolutionary situation, but clearly the masses are taking up struggle, and there are advanced workers who want to know how to lead it forward, how to build up our forces in a protracted way for the time when the situation is different. This increases, not lessens, the necessity to build a communist trend.

How do you explain the seeming disarray in the Marxist-Leninist movement?

To begin with, we don’t believe that the Marxist-Leninist movement is in disarray. It is true that the rapidly developing objective situation has placed a lot of demands on the communist movement. The situation requires stepped-up efforts on the part of all Marxist-Leninists to confront and deal with difficult problems. Often problems and contradictions which demand resolution appear in many areas of work and in different regions of the country at once, so that the task of setting priorities becomes a contradiction of its own. But we believe that the U.S. Marxist-Leninist movement will grow stronger through this process, and the fact that we have a lot of work to do is not the same as saying that the Marxist-Leninist movement is in disarray.

Speaking for the League, we would not say that we are in disarray. We are trying to confront the many complex and serious challenges facing us. In many cases, this has been slower than we may like, but on the whole, we feel we are meeting the challenges successfully.

We have paid a great deal of attention to the correct handling of the national question in our organization, J and implementing a correct line and policy. Our organization is trying to simultaneously carry out fairly developed and comprehensive plans in most of the national movements across the country. Minority nationality comrades in the League play a full and leading role in every aspect of the organization on the basis of principle, respect and equality. We have paid enough consistent attention to our work in the national movements so that on a steady basis, many of the advanced elements in those national movements look towards the League and join it when they become Marxist-Leninists. We believe this has been an important accomplishment, which we intend to sum up so the lessons can be shared with the rest of the I communist movement.

We have made some progress in the mass movements. League members have played leading roles in workers’ struggles in some instances and within some industries such as auto. In some other major industries, League members have won important union offices or have run with progressive slates. We have helped lead strikes, such as that of the Vogue Coach workers and Japanese warehouse workers in Los Angeles.

In the national movements, the League has played a key role in struggles in the Black-belt South, such as around the battle for justice in Wrightsville, Georgia; in building for the Chicano Moratorium (5,000 people turned out for the moratorium last year); and in the movement to gain redress and reparations for Japanese Americans interned in U.S. prison camps during World War II. All these struggles have attracted attention across the country.

We are active in the anti-draft movement. In sectors of the student movement, we are working with different nationalities by taking up the fight against educational cutbacks, and attacks on affirmative action, equal opportunity programs and ethnic studies.

In all of our work, we have also continued to pay attention to the special situation of women, and to include them in all aspects of the struggle. We have begun to be more active in the women’s movement, in struggles such as the right to safe and free abortions for poor women.

Our cultural work has remained strong in various areas, and we have developed in others. League members have become involved in various theater groups and independent film-making efforts. We have helped develop and sustain several artist groups in different parts of the country.

And, in this past period, we believe that we have seen some progress in improving our work among professionals and intellectuals, in areas such as starvation relief work.

Organizationally, we are stable. While our growth rate is not as high as in some years past, our growth has been steady. Especially noteworthy is the increase in recruitment from the working class. This is an important objective in order to really unite socialism with the working class movement.

Of course, our work has not been without struggle and problems and setbacks, and we recognize that compared to where we have to be, what we have accomplished is small. We also recognize that serious questions, problems and weaknesses confront our work. We believe that, above all, the propaganda work of the League has lagged far behind what we believe and often say is necessary. Aside from the publication of articles in UNITY, FORWARD, and some pamphlets, we have not published enough propaganda materials; we have held very few communist forums and, on the whole, we have not done enough in propagating communism and Marxism-Leninism. This is related to weaknesses in the development of a more complete theoretical overview of how we see this period of the U.S. revolutionary struggle, the overall necessary tasks, and their strategic and tactical relationship and implementation.

We also need to further develop our ideological and political line in the face of changing world and domestic conditions, and need to concentrate that line in the development of a program. There are also many other areas in which the League has to develop and pay more attention to, but we think that we are making steady progress and that our entire organization is committed to determinedly struggle to solve our problems and contribute more to the revolutionary struggle.

This, briefly, describes the situation with the League’s work and why we believe our organization and work are not in disarray.

As to other organizations, there are forces who today think they are in a very strong position. They believe they have successfully converted others, including whole organizations, to their line and outlook.

But it is true that there is a significant sector of the communist movement that appears to be having problems of a more critical nature. These problems, in part, are due to the great demands presented by the complexity of the objective situation. Providing leadership to the mass movements is a difficult task and has been made more so due to the heightened contradictions in the country and world.

Another source of this apparent disarray has been the demoralization resulting from the disappointing realization that certain past self-conceptions and self-declarations were not in keeping with reality. Communists naturally want to gain the leadership of the mass movement, develop as rapidly as possible and gain dominant influence in society; but this can be done only by correctly assessing one’s strengths and weaknesses at every step of the struggle, and not raising plans or expectations beyond what is possible at any given stage.

This problem is connected to political line errors made in the past, of course, since mistakes in line can cause self-doubts and letdowns.

In our view, however, communists can make this unfortunate situation worse or better depending on what is done. Communists can aggravate the situation by not trying to struggle out what is right and wrong, not trying to summarize sharply and all-sidedly one’s history and past practice, but rather just simply throwing everything – every policy, line and stand – open for question, while rushing headlong to find some seemingly easier solution. This path, in fact, stimulates even greater demoralization and opens the door for all sorts of liberalism, individualism, liquidationism, and discredited lines and ideas from the past.

On the other hand, communists can decide to take the more difficult path of trying to figure out right from wrong, taking a stand on what is correct, and step by step rectifying the political mistakes, not one-sidedly rejecting all that took place in the past. Unless one stands on one’s strengths and positive aspects, takes a struggle attitude, and stands on firm principles, one will be like a ship without a rudder going into a storm.

* * *

In our view, while there have been problems, there also have been many positive developments over the past several years. There have been a number of significant struggles that communists have led. Marxist-Leninists have also gathered a great wealth of practical and theoretical lessons. Communists have been able to unite and are continuing to unite. All this is an invaluable accumulation and result of thousands of people’s dedicated work.

The task confronting us is to affirm and develop these strong points while correctly pinpointing our weaknesses and rectifying them. It is certain that there will be much struggle ahead, but if communists maintain their stand on principle, uphold their tradition of struggle, and persevere in doing what is correct, we will be able to meet the revolutionary challenges of the 1980’s.