Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Editorial Statement of “Forward”

With the publication of Forward, the CWG(ML) brings to the communist and workers’ movements its views on the tasks before us, what is necessary that they be fulfilled, and who presently stands in our way.

The years 1970-71 marked a turning point of sorts for a relatively large portion of the student and ex-student intelligentsia which had been politically active during the 1960’s. It was during that time that the radical petty bourgeois elements who had headed the 1960’s movement and given it its desparate and anarchistic character, were hit with the realization that they simply could not fulfill their ’vital interests’ on their own. This realization launched a spontaneous gravitation towards the only truly stable and revolutionary class in modern society, the working class, and towards its political outlook, Marxism-Leninism. Thus the old SDS dissolved into the Revolutionary Union, October League, and various Trotskyite fractions; the Young Lords became the Puerto Rican Revolutionary Workers Organization; Black radical anti-imperialists and trade union reformists created the Black Workers Congress; other Black student circles formed the Revolutionary Workers League; and so on. Where the 1960’s movement had aimed for the elimination of the ’excesses’ of imperialism, an end to the war in Vietnam, the achievement of democratic rights for national minorities and women, and the winning of special privileges for various strata of the petty bourgeoisie; the movement that arose in the early 1970’s aimed, at least formally, for the overthrow of the entire imperialist system and the establishment of socialism. This new movement has developed at a remarkable pace during the past five years and has given birth to more than 30 ’Marxist-Leninist’ circles and organizations across the country. It has, in addition, produced nearly a half-dozen party and pre-party formations, each of which has declared that it alone is capable of providing political leadership to the working class.

The rapid development of the movement and the consolidation of a number of definite trends from it has now brought us to another turning point. To anyone who has given serious thought to this entire process, it should be clear that the common defect shared, not just by several leading opportunist trends, but by the movement as a whole has been the failure to make a clean and decisive break with the narrow student and petty bourgeois background from which It sprang. The outcome of this failure has been the attempt to harmonize, under the banner of Marxism-Leninism, the objective and revolutionary interests of the working class with the narrow and reformist striving characteristic of the petty bourgeoisie, and thus subordinate the former to the latter. This is true not only of those who, like the RCP USA and OL, chew the cud over ’palpable results’, but also of those who, like the ’Revolutionary Wing’ and Workers Viewpoint Organization, ’enhance’ their reformist striving with frantic self-importance and stupid catch-phrases. The fact that these trends are constantly at each other’s throats and fill their newspapers and journals with assurances that they are as different from one another as night and day, does not obscure the fact that in all essentials they share the same narrow interests. The various positions they have advanced on Party-building, the national question, imperialist war, the woman question, students, and so on, are all based on the assumption that the petty bourgeoisie, or specific strata within it, can on the basis of their own class interests play a revolutionary role alongside the proletariat. They thus violate one of the elementary maxims of Marxism-Leninism, that is, that the petty bourgeoisie is a reactionary class, and that if elements from it are revolutionary it is only on the condition that they “...desert their own standpoint to place themselves at that of the proletariat.” (Manifesto). This is what has been ’forgotten’ by the vast majority of “ML” circles and organizations; and it is this opportunist lapse of memory, in turn, which constitutes, despite the factional disputes, their basic ’unity1. The only remarkable thing is that they have found so many ways to achieve the same ’ultimate aim’.

These circles and organizations may be grouped very loosely into the following trends: 1) the Social-Democratic “ML” apologists for Soviet social-imperialism. This trend includes The Guardian, Philadelphia Workers Organizing Committee, El Comite, Detroit ML Organization, Socialist Union of Baltimore, Tucson ML Collective, Proletarian Unity League, and others, and represents the extreme Right wing among the “ML” opportunists; 2) the brazen Right opportunists who oppose themselves to the above and to each other, and who rely on a moderate minimum of “Left” phrase-making in their self-defense. This trend includes the Revolutionary Communist Party USA, the October League (ML), and those smaller circles who by all rights should join the OL1s party, such as the Marx-Leninist Organizing Committee, the Workers Congress (ML), August Twenty-Ninth Movement, Workers Viewpoint Organization, The New Voice, and others. There are innumerable ’differences’ amongst all these circles, such as the RCP’s Centrism on the international situation ’versus’ the OL’s open social-chauvinism, but they are nevertheless peas in the same pod in their common Economism and determined defence of the interests of the petty bourgeoisie; and 3) a minor ”Left” trend, which is every bit as Right opportunist as the rest, but relies much more on frantic catch-phrases. This trend was pioneered by the Communist Labor Party USNA, was supplemented by the Central Organization of US Marxist-Leninists , and has most recently been developed by the Puerto Rican Revolutionary Workers Organization plus the Revolutionary Workers League, now the ’Revolutionary Wing’. The ’Wing1, along with the WVO, bears the responsibility for having introduced the lowest level of polemics our movement has ever seen. There are in addition to these three main opportunist groups, a number of small circles which have consolidated around such obscure formulations it Is difficult at this point to tell exactly where they will end up. These fringe elements include the Committee For Scientific Socialism, I Wor Kuen, Lexington Communist Collective, and others, who, while advancing markedly Right opportunist lines, have yet to “link up”, as the RCP would say, their spontaneous Right tendencies to any of the ’name’ organizations.

The reader will conclude from this that we have in effect written off what is generally considered to be the Marxist-Leninist movement. That is in fact exactly what we have done. But in principle there is no other alternative. If we are to judge people not by what they say of themselves but by what they do in fact, then it is clear that the bulk of the “ML” circles have not broken with their opportunist striving to ’fuse’ the petty bourgeois aspirations with those of the working class and so do not in fact constitute part of a movement whose aim it is to represent the interests of the working class alone.

Hence the turning point we now face. Either the majority of these circles proceed as they have to date, that is, directly into the ’marsh’; in which case we can expect another half-dozen petty bourgeois “ML” parties (and what with the recent efforts by the ’Wing’, The New Voice, the circles associated with The Guardian, and others, this is extremely likely). Or, we absolutely and decisively break with the entire spectrum of opportunist shades that has characterized our movement’s development, and thus begin to build a communist movement truly worthy of the name.

We intend Forward as a means to consolidate the principled development of such a movement, to draw the advanced workers and communist intellectuals into a determined struggle against all shades of opportunism, and to thus lay a firm foundation for future Party work. We consider it especially important, at a time when the entire world movement has been overcome by opportunism, to be extremely exacting in the criteria and demands we place upon ourselves and the movement we must build. This is precisely the step Lenin took during WW I, when the split in socialism left only a handful to uphold Marxist principles, and it is a step that now, some 40 years after the split in communism, is long overdue.

What are the tasks confronting those who wish to build a strong and principled communist workers’ Party?

It is in the first place necessary to resolve the major questions put to us by the objective conditions in the US and by the history of the international communist movement. The resolution of these questions calls for tremendous theoretical reserves which our movement itself must forge from among the communist intellectuals and theoretically advanced workers drawn into it. But it is not a matter for theoreticians alone. It is the responsibility of all communists, even those who are primarily engaged in the movement’s practical and organizational work, who wish to participate intelligently in the life of the movement, to become acquainted with those questions, the various points of view expressed on them, and to form an independent judgement as to which solution accords with the truth. It should go without saying that the theoretical tasks before our movement cannot be fulfilled on the basis of, for example, the MLOC’s ’joint theoretical proposal’, or the WC(ML)’s ’peaceful coexistence’ of unformulated opinions that it ’modestly’ calls the ’Iskra Plan’. Those who truly wish to advance science will know that our movement does not suffer so much from a lack of ’plans8 as from so many ’planners’ who lack real science. Despite all the testimonials of our opportunists to the contrary, we have yet to see a conscientious and scientific resolution of the national question, political economy, class structure, imperialist war, the history of the CPUSA and the international movement, and so on. And yet without a scientific and principled resolution of these questions, our movement is incapable of any further advance.

It is necessary in the second place to wage an open and resolute struggle against the ’united front’ of opportunism that is attempting to subvert the development of a principled Marxist-Leninist movement and thus bind the workers’ movement to reformism. Modern revisionism has enjoyed nearly 40 years of largely uninhibited development, has destroyed the last remnants of a truly international communist movement, and In addition to Soviet social-imperialism has generated an entire spectrum of ’anti-revisionist’ opportunist shades worldwide. Never has an emerging communist movement been confronted with such a massive and complex array of revisionist and opportunist tendencies. It should be clear that in such an unprecedented situation, we cannot make one step of real movement in any area of our work without waging an open and decisive battle against the various opportunists who stand in our way. This is absolutely essential not only for creating a strong and viable movement in the US, but for reasserting firm and definite principles to guide the reconstruction of a consistent Marxist-Leninist movement internationally.

It is necessary thirdly to lay a firm foundation of practical and organizational work, the production and distribution of propaganda the organization of factory cells, study circles, collection of funds,’ and so on, since without this work the stability and expansion of our movement would be impossible.

It is the purpose of Forward to contribute to the fulfi1Iment of all these tasks. We must necessarily concentrate at this point on the development of scientific theory and the struggle against opportunism, since without a clear and guiding line it will be impossible to set our work on a comprehensive footing. Aside from articles dealing directly with the movement, we intend to print political exposures of other social classes and strata, since it is essential that a newspaper which intends to educate the working class must show what motivates these strata and what attitude the workers should take towards them. Such exposures will concentrate on the contradictions and strivings of the petty bourgeoisie, since it is this class that does the most mischief in the workers movement and supplies the big bourgeoisie with its main social props. We address ourselves primarily to the communist Intellectuals and the advanced workers, but also hope to find readers among rank and file cadre who have fallen under opportunist leadership, among the average workers who wish to understand the aims of the communist movement and take part in its work, and among others who are simply sympathetic to the proletariat’s cause. We consider it our primary obligation to fulfill the intellectual requirements of the most advanced strata of the working class, of those workers who are striving for an independent understanding of Marxism-Leninism as a means to liberate their class, and it is this principle which dictates our editorial policy.

We of course encourage correspondence, both from workers and Marxist-Leninist circles throughout the country, and from those who as yet have no organized affiliations with the movement. But at the same time we recognize our responsibility to treat such correspondence from the standpoint of our own political views, and to prevent the pages of Forward from becoming, as is the common practice, a storehouse of conflicting or unformulated opinions.

As to polemical exchanges, our guiding policy is that the value of political struggle depends entirely on the terms on which it is waged. We are therefore opposed both to those who belittle this struggle by simply abstaining from it, and to those ’line struggles’ in which the ’lines’ only poke at one another or become hopelessly entangled. The struggle in our movement is positive only to the extent that it is waged on a principled basis, forces its participants to elaborate and justify their positions, deal in principle with the lines advocated by their opponents, and thus leads to a clarification of views and demarcation of various political trends. We consider it one of the principle tasks of Forward to engage in the struggle within the movement, but to do so from a definite and reasoned standpoint. Only such a struggle can draw the necessary lines of demarcation and prevent the polemic from degenerating to the level of petty factional squabbles.

At every stage of development of the revolutionary movement, wrote Engels, “...part of the people get stuck and do not join in the further advance...”. Our movement has suffered such massive ’getting stuck’ that it has by now lost the bulk of its former population to consolidated opportunism. To reverse this state of affairs demands unusual dedication and perseverance, but it should be clear that the future of our movement depends entirely on those who have withstood the tidal wave of opportunism and are prepared to go against it. It is to these comrades that Forward is directed.