On the roots of the Communist Voice Organization
and the Chicago Workers' Voice group:
by Frank, Seattle
(from Communist Voice #21, August 15, 1999)
. Jake of the liquidationist Chicago Workers' Voice group has begun a series of articles "assessing the history of the Marxist-Leninist Party, USA". (1)
. The founding of the Marxist-Leninist Party (the MLP) in the beginning of 1980 marked a victory for anti-revisionism. Taking the stand of the working class more consistently than any other organization of the time, throughout the 1970s the members of its predecessor organizations had struggled to apply Marxist-Leninist theory to the problems confronting the revolutionary movement. This process led to their working out Marxist-Leninist tactics for work in the working class, work in the African-American movement and work in other mass movements as opposed to the reformism and semi-anarchism practiced by the various revisionist (2) trends, as well as being opposed to the disdain for the mass movements held by various scholar-despots of the left and the "left" revisionists. This was a protracted process which led to their eventual criticism and abandonment of numerous wrong theories and formulae popularized by those who raised the anti-revisionist banner for pragmatic reasons---particularly the Communist Party of China and the Communist Party of Canada (M-L)---and to their public polemic against the pseudo-Marxism of these trends. It was a process in which---particularly in the later 1980's and early 1990's---the comrades began to deepen their critical study of the state-capitalist systems oppressing the masses in the USSR, China, Cuba, etc. Deepening this criticism, and the connected question of elaborating what proletarian (really Marxist) socialism is are crucially important to the development of future revolutionary movements. (3) Further, those who were to later found the MLP fought hard against the sectarianism of both the revisionist and partway "anti"-revisionist leaders who dominated the movement. They only founded their own organizations after investigating the existing organizations then proclaiming themselves Marxist-Leninist and finding them wanting. And they worked hard for years to unite all those who proclaimed themselves to be real Marxists.
. The latter was a necessity thrown up by history and it involved crisscrossing the county seeking out activists, holding discussions with them, etc., as well as organizing one campaign after another under the slogan "Marxist-Leninists Unite!".
. Thousands of participants in the mass movements which shook the country in the late 1960s and early 1970s had come to the conclusion that Marxist-Leninist theory and organization were necessary. This was a new Marxist-Leninist movement in several senses: its members were mainly very young and politically inexperienced; it opposed the practical tactics of the old-line revisionists in the mass movements (as well as Trotskyism) and, most importantly, it began a criticism of the theories behind their rotten practices; it saw the need for a new Marxist-Leninist Party. But the criticism of modern revisionism was hampered by the ideas and practices of the Communist Party of China and the leaders of the several American and Canadian organizations which represented Maoism in North America (all of which declared themselves parties, and of which only scattered ghosts remain---the Revolutionary Communist Party being the prominent exception). To unite the movement meant that the politics of the several trends within it had to be clarified in a careful way.
. But one of the first notable things about Jake's articles is that he falls down where the MLP soared. Rather than taking the nonsectarian approach of carefully clarifying disagreements in order to provide the basis for a principled Marxist-Leninist unity he fouls the air in an attempt to make the Chicago group look as pure as driven snow while others are just written off as being splitters. This leads him to not telling the truth regarding the origins of the Communist Voice Organization and the origins of his group. He hides the fact that the CVO even exists; and hides the political disagreements which led the members of the Chicago group to refuse to join the CVO and its anti-revisionist effort. Let's see how this is so.
. Jake writes the following: "Only three small organizations came out of the MLP's dissolution. The Chicago Branch continued on, and several of its former members and supporters publish this journal. Some members of the Detroit Branch worked with us the first year after the MLP died but then split to put out their own journal Communist Voice. The Los Angeles Workers' Voice activists were members of the MLP and are still politically active." Really? True enough, "some members of the Detroit Branch" enthusiastically worked with the members of the former Chicago Branch of the MLP to publish the Chicago Workers' Voice Theoretical Journal for more than a year. But so did comrades from the East Coast and Seattle. All were united in a very loose-knit group (the "minority") which set it's main task as carrying forward the Leninist theoretical work of the MLP. And true enough too is the fact that there was a split. The Chicago members of the "minority" refused to commit themselves to any firm set of Marxist-Leninist principles and refused to consider any suggestion for creating an organization in which the majority ruled. Organization and democracy would mean that the theoretical journal would no longer be their private preserve. It would have an elected editorial board, the editorship might not come from Chicago, and it would be expected to respect the wishes of the majority of the organization. The Chicago "minority" members were adamantly opposed to this idea because of ideological and political differences (which they were none too forthcoming about) with the rest of us---the majority of the "minority". For example, those who were to form the CVO opposed rushing into print what was really a political endorsement of a petty-bourgeois-nationalist group in Mexico. Written by a person in Chicago, this endorsement tried to dress up the Mexican group in flaming red "Marxist-Leninist" colors while hiding the fact that the group promoted Cuban society as being socialist. Using various excuses, others in Chicago rushed to defend publishing this article without waiting for responses to be written to it. And by fiat the Chicago group did publish it in this manner. (See Communist Voice, Vol. 1, No. 1, for more on this controversy.) Furthermore, bound up with the split which occurred was the growing theoretical and organizational complacency of the Chicago comrades.
. When the Central Committee of the MLP announced that it was throwing in the towel in the fall of 1993 the Chicago Branch issued a resolution outlining a program of local work (including various theoretical tasks) and speaking of maintaining E-mail communication, literature exchanges, etc., with the remaining active membership, whatever their political tangent might be. This plan was not radically different from some of those put forward by the ultra-liquidators. It tended to downplay the divergent political tendencies which had been building inside the MLP. It showed little concern for finding a way to regroup the forces determined to carry forward the anti-revisionist cause in various parts of the country. Accept the status quo and "keep on truckin'" was it's essence. In late 1994 and early 1995 the Chicago group maintained this same view. One of its members (Rene) had split after charging that the anti-revisionist theoretical work of the "minority" was nothing. He wanted to tail after whatever plan the Zapatistas or the Mexican El Machete publication were promoting at the moment and argue that this was "real" anti-revisionism. Another one of the Chicago group showed great sympathy for this view. Yet this was generally treated as "no big thing" with an important exception: one member's slandering any criticism of "Rene's . . . good or bad points" (he should have said "Rene's liquidationist political views") as amounting to "a lot of public name calling". The controversy over the endorsement of the Mexican group was similarly treated. So too was the fact that although the Los Angeles Workers' Voice group associated itself with the "minority" it never attended meetings and already indicated worrisome ideological tendencies in its writings. And in summing up the crisis and fracturing of the "minority" on March 31, 1995 Jake said that this was "no big deal" either. He castigated Joseph Green for having earlier written of a critical juncture facing the "minority" and wrote the following in response: "one could make a case for the death of the MLP being a very critical juncture for its former members who wanted to be active". Just "a case", and for those "who wanted to be active." But active with what politics?
. In 1999 Jake continues to "truck on" in much the same way. For four years the CVO has time and again exposed that the theoretical complacency of the Chicago group has led it to depart from Marxism-Leninism on one issue after another. The Chicago Workers' Voice Theoretical Journal still flies the hammer and sickle on its masthead but inside of it one finds members of the group who take the stand "Lenin said it, I believe it, question settled!" while others look through books such as Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions for arguments to jettison Marxism-Leninism in favor of a new "paradigm", "a new way of looking at many things" (very much like the worst liquidators of the MLP). These things sadden us but we must fight the ideological battle against them nonetheless. Yet with one exception, Jake is silent (when not actually defending the views himself) (4) He maintains the sectarian "group front" against critical examination of the views of his comrades. And today he covers all political differences up with his bland statement that "only three small organizations came out of the MLP's dissolution" and that "here and there a few other former MLP members and supporters continue with left political work of one sort or another". He covers up the fact that the fractured MLP eventually gave rise to several political trends. These include: (1) an anti-revisionist one organized around a constitution and definite statement of purpose (the CVO), (2) a "left" communist one which shouts Marxist phrases while shouting even harder against Marxist-Leninist work in the real life struggles of the oppressed (the increasingly passive Los Angeles Workers' Voice group), (3) a more or less reformist one which still struggles on various workplace issues but which has given up on the crucial task of working for the rejuvenation of communism (scattered individuals who succumbed to liquidationism), (4) a "Leninist" anarchist enamored with the Internet and his own eloquence, and (5) a centrist (essentially liquidationist and revisionist) group which solves every political question by weighing its "good points" against its "bad points" (while never having the courage to elaborate to the movement what the principles are upon which it judges "good" and "bad"), a group which has no stated political platform and which split from the founders of the Communist Voice Organization when the latter agreed to unite as an "organization dedicated to help establishing anti-revisionist Marxism-Leninism as a trend in the world" and placed "helping reestablish the theoretical basis of Marxist communism" as the central task on their agenda (the Chicago Workers' Voice group).
. In winter 1994-95 Jake opposed us with talk of the necessity of building a national agitational press. This wouldn't have been the agitational press of a defined political trend. Instead it would have been national leaflets written on "selected topics" and perhaps "local organizations (could) provide some regular coverage of particular topics". And it just sloughed over the fact that more defined and opposing political trends were developing out of the "minority", and sloughed over such thorny questions as whom would "select topics", edit the press, etc. The Chicago group had just shown that it opposed the majority deciding such questions. In fact it was a blind last-gasp call demonstrating that behind the Chicago group's "keep on truckin'" attitude lay disagreement over what the pressing demand of the revolutionary movement today really is. To us it is to place anti-revisionism on a firm foundation. This means concentrating on theoretical tasks above all others. But to Jake the main demand of the time is for more agitation. Theoretical work is fine but more mass work is what is really important and revolutionary.
. The real test for determining who is actually Marxist and who is erring is
whether they correctly judge, take up and accomplish (to the extent objectively
possible) the decisive tasks thrown up by the movement at a particular
time. In my view the CWV group waffled (at best) on
what these tasks were from the days of the dissolution of the MLP and then Jake
opted for just more agitation, throwing this against working to resolve the
ideological and theoretical crises facing the world movement.
Jake's choice has a logic to it: "The liquidationist majority
of the MLP wanted to (and did) give up all revolutionary work among the
masses. We're not going to do that."
Etc. But this is a very narrow logic which sloughs over the
complex issues behind the majority of the MLP going over to liquidationism to
begin with. (At one point Jake wanted to lay this to simple
questions like "too many 'preppies' on the Central Committee"---which was also
factually wrong.) Earlier on the CWV group had said these
issues were "mainly in the realm of ideology". To militant
Marxists this could only imply that some big ideological or theoretical tasks
lay before them. Yet the Chicago group must not have thought
the implications of their own words that important. In fact
Jake now says in the first article of his series that "the MLP's death was
largely a dissipation of forces". Simple enough,
that. Returning to the question of more
agitation. As Jake knows, this doesn't come from a
vacuum. The Chicago group has had four years in which to follow
his advice to organize more agitational work while the CVO has during the same
period concentrated on helping to reestablish the theoretical basis of Marxist
communism. Yet a perusal of the pages of the Chicago
Workers' Voice Theoretical Journalalongside those of the Communist
Voice indicates that the CVO comrades may actually be doing quite a bit
more agitational work than Jake and his comrades. These efforts
are very paltry. They're not too collectively of thought out
and organized. We don't think they're the decisive thing we
need to do. Yet why have we been writing and distributing more
agitation than the CWV group? I think its because our theoretical work uplifts
our spirits and provides us the basis for confidently saying more
things. But without advancing on this front one gets stuck
either repeating old formulas or tailing after revisionism and opportunism when
they adopt some "new and exciting" guise. Neither inspire
agitational work. I rather think the CWV group has gotten
itself into this kind of fix.
Looking closer at Jake's "history"
. In my view Jake's present practical error (sectarian attacks on the CVO and the editor of Communist Voice while wedding himself to a group of demoralized souls who have given up the anti-revisionist struggle in favor of drifting in and tailing after various movements that arise---or in favor of writing long articles on the history of the Russian revolution that say almost nothing new while saying a good deal that is wrong), his practical counterposing the building of the mass movements to the particular theoretical and other tasks necessary to accomplish Marxist-Leninist unity show through in several of the things he says in his history of the MLP. Such counterposing was one of the main fallacies in the thinking of the Revolutionary Union (R.U.) a quarter century ago of course---something which the founding members of the MLP had spent years fighting against in the Marxist-Leninist movement.
. Thus something which immediately struck me in reading Jake's first installment was the assertion that the MLP "hoped to recruit (activists), but at the same time, the MLP learned that it would hurt the mass movement if it drained the best activists out of it and directed them towards other fronts". This was some real news! I'd never heard this conclusion expressed by any COUSML or MLP comrade while those organizations existed. Nor had I seen it written in any party document. In fact, the only place I had ever heard this line of thought before was when I was a member of the R.U. some 27 years ago. The occasion was my suggesting that we think about recruiting this or that activist. I had been reading some of the writings of Lenin and it just seemed logical to me that we should be talking more about socialism and building a party of the working class with the activists we were constantly in contact with. In my arguing I directly questioned what our role was if not to do this. And although I maintained wrong views on other issues at the time, the heart of the matter was that I was saying we should build the party in the then-existing mass movements whereas the R.U.'s opportunist line was that the party would somehow emerge from the mass struggles at some time in the future. For now, it was said to me, we should just fight harder at what we were doing: supporting militancy wherever it occurred, "linking up" various struggles (5), building the mass movement. (And I can't help but adding that some of the people I argued with on this were most notorious in their fawning on militant phrase-mongering and giving anything that sounded revolutionary a big coat of bright red paint . . . sort of like some of the CWV people have done at times.) The final line of argument against my view has been repeated almost word for word by Jake more than a quarter-century later: I would "hurt the mass movement" by "drain(ing) the best activists out of it and directing them towards other fronts".
. Obviously no one in their right mind would suggest that a real Marxist-Leninist organization would shout "Hold it! Stop organizing in the movement. Join our organization and immerse yourself reading books full of revolutionary theory." And, in fact, the MLP itself was certainly not adverse to canceling scheduled meetings or other activity in favor of participation in big mass struggles. The Seattle Branch, for example, did this many times. But, as Jake well knows, the mass movements have their ups and downs even when at a much higher level than now. What shouldn't be done this week---or even this month---can be done in the following weeks or months. There's another side to this too: mass movements are a cauldron for revolutionary thought and the expression of the most deep-felt feelings when white hot. They're the ground upon which the wheat is separated from the chaff. Indeed, some of the most memorable political discussions I've ever had have been on long afternoons or evenings when we were embroiled in quite sharp struggles against the reactionary status quo and---horrors!---the activists themselves directed the discussion toward "other fronts": African-Americans embroiled in a battle against discrimination in the construction unions raised the issue of the oppression of Native Americans and people on welfare, farmworker organizers from the fields discussed the struggle of the Vietnamese people and went to demonstrations against the war, Native Americans supporting and participating in the Wounded-Knee occupation brought up discussion on China and socialism . . . and listened very intently to my views on why a proletarian revolution would eventually break out in the U.S., why Marxism-Leninism was right, what the role of a revolutionary party was, etc. I could go on and on in this vein but I'm sure that we've all had similar experiences.)
. Yes, it would be wrong to recruit activists from the mass movement and "direct them toward other fronts" where their efforts were effectively wasted (i.e., to do major theoretical work if they had very low capabilities on that front, or to organize some section of the oppressed people where the potential for organizing was very low, and so on). But the "other front" which most concerned the R.U. was Marxist-Leninist party-building itself. Real revolutionary theory---and building a party of the proletariat based on it---weren't seen as being all-important. I think Jake errs in the same direction. There's more to his assertion that the "MLP learned that it would hurt the mass movement if it drained the best activists out of it and directed them towards other fronts" than worry about past mistakes (either imagined by him or real). The "other front" which most concerns him is anti-revisionist theoretical work today, and the popularization of its results (party-building in the present circumstances). That's a big drain away from what is most important to him.
. Some further ideas about the R.U. also seem relevant.
. From the beginning the R.U. talked of organizing the workers at the point of production and by the mid-70s the Revolutionary Communist Party (the RCP---which was founded on the basis of the R.U.'s work and ideas) was heavily concentrated in the factories (even though it didn't think proletarian socialist revolution was the strategy for revolution in the U.S.---at least for a lot of this period). But at the same time it was a very petty-bourgeois organization in its class origins and it maintained a very elitist attitude toward the working class akin to that of many anarchists and reformists. Hence its "talking down" to the workers in its agitation, its members adopting some of the more backward customs of the class in order to opportunistically gain favor (with the more backward workers), its "workerism", etc. It tossed around phrases about the workers rising in revolution but its beliefs in this regard weren't very deep. It saw the backwardness in the working class (which conformed to petty-bourgeois elitist prejudices from the past---prejudices supported by various "new left" or SDS theories many of the members continued to hold, i.e., they saw what they thought they would see ) and applied Mao's dictum "from the masses . . . to the masses" in such a way that it did little to raise the workers from the backwardness it saw everywhere. (It was shamefaced about its socialism.) In this earlier period the R.U./RCP had an economist approach to the working class (often from the "left", but also from the right) but a few years later it went into its anarchist phase where it wore its "socialism" on its sleeve, where it "confronted" the workers, where it resorted to various publicity stunts aimed at shaking the workers from their sleep, and so on. The petty-bourgeois revolutionist R.U./RCP was appalled by many of the crimes of imperialism at home and around the world and it wanted a revolution. It understood (a little bit, and in a distorted way) that the working class had to play a role in this revolution. But its elitist standpoint led it to denigrate the potential of this class and concentrate on the backwardness within it. Thus the R.U./RCP was faced with reconciling its desire for revolution---and partial and distorted understanding that the working class had to play a role in it---with its wrong ideas about this class. This led it to staking the future upon some "elemental outburst", a "break-out", and to its unduly draping of the red flag on various militant events. (6)Certainly spontaneous upsurges of the masses are necessary if there is to be a revolutionary change. They're inevitable in bourgeois society and we welcome them. But they will not suffice for there to be a lasting change. For there to be a socialist revolution the working class needs socialist consciousness and organization. It was these which the R.U. failed to provide. (7)
. In his series (and in his eclecticism) Jake stands up for organizing in the
factories, drawing workers into party work, study circles, political
demonstrations and meetings on other issues than those immediately concerning
the workplace, etc. He stands up for the efforts to build a
pro-party trend in the workplaces and to recruit activists
there. He says that the point of organizing in the factories is
not just to fight in that particular workplace and that "revolutionaries must
organize the workers for a political revolution to overthrow capitalism,
something that is not a trade union endeavor". And in his
second article in particular, he associates himself with, elaborates on, and
argues for many of the anti-revisionist stands of the MLP on organizing in the
workplace. (The R.U. would
never have said many of the things Jake says.) But when the
largest section of former MLP members has embraced liquidationist ideas in order
to become politically passive while another section has given up on
anti-revisionist work and produces occasional leaflets on workplace issues, when
Jake's own comrades have begun the journey down similar paths, and when these
are but manifestations of a seemingly overwhelming political tendency in the
United States and all countries it would seem that the test of anti-revisionism
is what one does in practice. Yet the many good and fine things
Jake says in his articles on the history of the MLP suddenly come unraveled when
it comes to his present-day practice (as we've seen). It seems
to me that the ideological framework behind this clash of correct ideas with
erroneous practice leads Jake to make some troubling formulations which also
have a certain R.U. flavor to
them: the MLP "was a party that unrepentantly urged the masses
to be 'troublemakers'" (8),
its agitation was published as "something that would spread the news and get
people riled up", the organizations it built in the places of work were of "the
workers themselves and not necessarily owned by the trade union or even the
Party". Besides a certain
R.U. flavor (or consistent with that flavor),
is the fact that the latter formulations could be put forward by any militant
trade unionist (even bureaucrats of a certain type in at least the first two
cases) and, as they stand, they're also wrong. The party
certainly supported and encouraged activists to "make trouble" in a certain
sense, e.g., along certain lines; and never
with the despairing idea that this was all that one could do, or all that was
needed to be done to achieve either an immediate victory or some longer-term
victory for the working class. In fact, the phrase "make
trouble" most often implies a reformist outlook, most often implies acceptance
of the overall political and economic status quo. And regarding
Jake, it seems he reduces things to militant-sounding phrases like this as a
substitute for giving the movement a concrete political orientation which will
really advance it. Further, the party wanted its agitation to
get people "riled up" (if you must) on the immediate issues involved but this
was seen as a "by-product" (if you will) of something even more
important: the presentation of a materialist analysis, or
materialist suggestions for action. For the party was most
interested in getting workers "riled up" about what was behind these
(Marxism-Leninism and the party). In other words, the MLP
didn't sacrifice the long term and general interests of the proletariat for
immediate "gains" which might be had by bowing to the political status
quo. Unfortunately the "riled up" terminology takes something
away from this. When it's used in bourgeois society it's
usually associated with the idea that this is all the masses are capable of (of
being riled up). If there's conscious revolutionary activity it
must be the work of "outside agitators". And lastly, the idea
that communists would think in terms of "owning" mass organizations is an idea
propagated by the bourgeoisie and attempted by various
On activism and militancy
. Jake says that for himself, organizing in the workplace was his reason to
live. This seems somewhat narrow, and were he to give it more
thought he might qualify it some. At any rate, he says that for
"many Party militants" this was the reason for living. I think
this is a one-sided and therefore wrong attitude. In my
opinion, if everyone in the MLP had held it the MLP would never have
existed. For example, when Jake writes of the activism or
militancy of the party he generally leaves it at the level of activism in the
mass movements. He doesn't write of militancy or activism on
the theoretical front for example. Yet were it not for this
much of what he says that is correct in his second article would not be there,
nor would he have been able to accomplish as much as he did when he was
organizing in the workplace along the anti-revisionist lines worked out by the
COUSML and MLP. Moreover, he leaves out of his discussion the
fact that many of those who supported or joined the party did so precisely on
the basis of its militancy on the theoretical front. When I
first became interested in the COUSML, for example, was when it began to publish
some works on ideological and theoretical questions confronting the
revolutionary movement of the time. Others also joined our
trend's work particularly because they thought it had an approach no one else
had, and was saying something no one else was saying, on theoretical questions
confronting the revolutionary movement. Further, it was
reported around the time of the Founding Congress of the MLP that quite a wave
of activists had come forward on the basis of the polemic against the American
social-chauvinists parading as "anti-revisionist Marxists".
More regarding Jake's articles
. First, Jake set an extremely ambitious task for himself with his first article. In it he asked twenty-seven questions (if I counted right) which he implies the series will tackle. But that's not enough. He says that "I want to make the point that offshoots of the MLP, even bastard ones, will have to be considered when making a summation of it" too. Yet the groups he gives as examples "were not exactly splits . . . (were) founded by former members, who, after a period of demoralization, found a new political purpose . . ." etc. Jake may have some sectarian axe to grind concerning these particular "not exactly splits" but seems to me, from what he writes, that he proposes a wild goose chase. But while he's on the subject of individuals or groups the MLP or COUSML dealt with in its history it would seem that for him (and not just him) it would be much more valuable to deal with the politics of the E.H. clique which developed in Chicago. Here was a group which counterposed the party-building tasks of the time to "militant" trade unionism, trade unionism draped with a lingo and style then thought to be communist. It opted for the latter and became liquidationist, liquidating the national tasks charged to it in favor of local, militant appearing, reformist agitation, etc. The COUSML waged a struggle against this tendency which led to a good deal of clarity on what communist work in the working class entailed.
. Secondly, Jake's version of the history of the MLP---particularly its last years---is narrow and self-serving. Thus in the first article of the CWV series he takes up his old refrain: "If only the party had adopted his proposals for bylines and signed articles in The Workers' Advocate!") Never mind that both The Workers' Advocate Supplement and the Party's Information Bulletinhad many signed articles. And never mind that the Chicago Branch during this period became so concerned with defending the wrong views which had arisen within it (including traveling to other cities to argue them) that it was essentially a non-participant in the struggle against ultra-liquidationist views coming from Seattle and elsewhere.
. Thirdly, Jake writes that the MLP "did not succeed in building a working class political party, nor in rescuing communist theory from revisionism and opportunism." Well, yes, the MLP was finally defeated by revisionism and opportunism after 23 years of work. But throughout those years it continually "rescu(ed) communist theory from revisionism and opportunism". That's much of the basis upon which we're struggling to advance now. Not the only basis however. The work of the past few years---including the years since the Chicago group split from our anti-revisionist effort---shouldn't be belittled.
(1) See Chicago Workers' Voice Theoretical Journal numbers 14 (Feb. 18, 1998) and 15 (Nov. 9, 1998). (Return to text)
(2) By revisionists we mean those who smuggle bourgeois ideas and practices into the revolutionary movement and pawn them off as being Marxist-Leninist. Essentially good and brave people or trends may err in this way and we distinguish between them and hardened revisionist currents. But in either case revisionism must be exposed and fought if a truly communist movement is to be built. (Text)
(3) But overcome with demoralization, the Chicago Workers' Voice group has lost all enthusiasm for such anti-revisionist theoretical tasks. For example, it now searches for ways to defend Castro's oppressive and repressive state-capitalism . . . and calls for no more criticism of it. (See Communist Voice. Vol. 4, No.2, articles beginning on pages 22 and 28 for example.) (Text)
(4) This refers to a short letter Jake wrote saying he didn't share Jack Hill's (of the CWV) enthusiasm for the Working People's Action and Education Network in Chicago (see the CWVTJ, #13). Jack Hill has admittedly capitulated on the anti-revisionist tasks facing our movement and he floats in any group or coalition in the Chicago area which is a little bit to the left of the trade union bureaucrats and Democratic Party. But he's a full-fledged member of the Chicago group nonetheless . . . and Jake treats his views oh so nicely in the letter referred to. In it he lectures Jack on the need for revolutionary consciousness and organization, Marxism and socialism. But these remain empty words (and sectarian liquidationist words in Jake's case) if they're not linked to the decisive anti-revisionist tasks thrown up by history and the movement today. (Text)
(5) The R.U. pushed its "link up" theory hard among revolutionary-minded activists. According to this theory one should work to unite activists from various mass movements into joint activities, do propaganda for various struggles which were occurring within other mass struggles, etc., and that was communist work. (And, depending on what is said and done, it can be part ofthe work of communists.) This line had a certain appeal because it cut against the insistence on single issue politics by the more rightist of the Trotskyists and reformists in the movement. But it negated the necessity of socialism being brought into the mass movements from without and, hence, the necessity for a real communist party. (Text)
(6) A notorious local example of this was the RCP's treatment of the "Fat Tuesday Rebellion" in Seattle. This long-ago event began when Fat Tuesday celebrators in the downtown area started to show disrespect for capitalist private property and the reactionary authority of the police. The police responded with the club and a big street battle with them ensued. The masses, many of whom just wanted to freely walk in the streets and express themselves, undoubtedly had justice on their side, and the police beatings were an outrage. But the RCP treated their rebellion almost as if it were the eve of the revolution itself---"one, two, many Fat Tuesdays!". And not in one or two leaflets or newspapers, but for many months on end. (Text)
(7) The R.U. did a flip-flop in the mid-1970s and founded a party (the RCP). But this was a sectarian maneuver conducted under pressure from at least two directions: on the one hand another neo-revisionist group (the October League) stood in favor of building a party and was gaining adherents around the country, on the other hand the work of the predecessor organizations of the MLP had gained respect from those wanting to fight the revisionism and opportunism which continually misled and divided the mass movements. "You want a party?", said the leaders of the R.U. "Well here it is. The line for the American revolution has now been sorted out and discussed so back to organizing the masses. And pay no attention to those ultra-left wreckers of the COUSML!" Well, actually the RCP did pay some attention to the latter.In Seattle this often took the form of vandalizing the COUSML and MLP bookshop, attacking comrades distributing literature or putting up revolutionary posters, etc. (Text)
(8) When Jake writes that "it was a party that
unrepentantly urged the masses to be 'troublemakers'" he may actually be quoting
a social-democrat he alludes to. Nevertheless he clearly likes
this way of putting things despite the quotation marks around
Last changed on October 16, 2001.