Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Seven Years of “ML” Opportunism

The accompanying outline of the development of the new “Marxist-Leninist” movement was compiled on the basis of publicly distributed literature of the various “ML” groups and organizations in the US. Since few of the organizations listed have given coherent accounts of their own political histories, we have often had to rely on accounts given by smaller groups that merged with them, or by their “ML” opponents in polemics during the past 5-7 years. Where possible we have cross-referenced these to several different sources. The arrangement of groups on the chart from left to right does not indicate the political position of these groups (i.e. which are ’left’ and which extreme Right), except for the groups on the right-hand side which are associated with The Guardian. These groups do in fact comprise the extreme Right wing of the “ML” trend as a whole. But since, in our view, the entire movement is dominated by Right opportunism, there would be no way to graphically demonstrate the political leanings shared by the great majority of organizations without simply dumping them all together in one heap. For simplicity’s sake we have thus attempted to arrange the groups only according to their interrelations, and so have, for example, plotted the development of the CLP USNA and RCP USA to allow for the vacillation of the PRRWO and BWC between the two. We have included those groups which have addressed the movement nationally, either through their own publications or via the newspapers of the larger trends and undoubtedly have omitted many smaller circles who either have not made their existence known or whose material we have not seen. There are also undoubtedly many inaccuracies as to when and by whom certain groups were formed and at what time they related to other circles, and we would appreciate any correspondence so that these may be corrected. We will, in future issues of Forward and polemical works, deal with the development of the political lines of the entire spectrum of groups. For those readers who are either unfamiliar with the movement’s history, or have forgotten what a chaotic mess it actually is, we hope that the outline will help demonstrate the harmful effects that following an opportunist path has already had on those who might have otherwise made valid contributions to the working class.

The common heritage of all the groups and parties which claim to be Marxist-Leninist is the 19601s petty bourgeois rebellion, or, as it was called at the time, ’The Movement’. While this is obviously the case with the RCP and OL, which developed out of SDS, or the Revolutionary Wing, which developed from Puerto Rican lumpen and black student groups, it is also true of the CLP USNA, which claims (justifiably) a direct ancestry to the Communist Party USA. While the CLP USNA, RCP or OL may include a few “old communists” (actually, ’old opportunists’) who were either expelled from or quit ’on principle’ the CPUSA, the bulk of the “ML” organizations are now led by those who formerly led the 60’s p.b. upsurge, and are populated by those who formerly took part in the ’peoples’ struggles. This nearly ’pure’ p.b. class basis of the new “ML” organizations is precisely what constitutes their complete continuity with p.b. politics and is what explains the attempt by each to harmonize their former aspirations with their new-found cause in the proletariat. Where formerly the various p.b, student and minority nationality-based organizations were quite open in their hostility towards the working class and quite reformist and narrow in their demands for special privileges, they now claim to uphold the workers’ interests and attempt to portray their reformist demands as a fit cause for the working class as a whole.

Since these organizations have not in fact abandoned their p.b. class prejudice and strivings, their development as a movement has been characterized by all the narrow and petty habits peculiar to the p.b. at large. Whereas the authentic petty bourgeois –the shopkeeper, lawyer or craftsman–competes with the usual business gimmicks, marks down the better quality goods and marks up the cheaper, our “ML” p.b.s compete with ’socialist’ phrases and cheapen everything they touch. This is shown especially by the intense factionalism common to most trends, a factionalism that, with the diverse multi-national composition of the US, has taken the form of divisions among the “ML” groups along national lines. Despite their claims to uphold proletarian international ism, the IWK (Chinese), WVO (Chinese + a few ex-RWL cadre), ATM (Chicano), MLOC (Black), WC(ML) (Black), RCP USA (predominantly white), PRRWO (Puerto Rican), RWL (Black), RCL(MLM) (Black), and etc., have throughout their entire development consistently represented interests of specific nationality fractions of the p.b. as a whole. That such factionalism stems not primarily from national separateness but from the p.b. class nature of these groups is shown, for example, by the long-standing antagonism between the OL and RCP from the outset of their formation. The “ML” groups present their disputes with one another as if the only obstacle to unity was their opponents’ lack of principle. But when we examine the content of their polemics it becomes clear that the entire spectrum of “ML” are guilty of that charge, and that if there is so little principled unity in the movement it is precisely because there Is so little principle. The bulk of groups and circles which claim to be Marxist-Leninist cannot be considered to be communist, or even ’developing communist’, since their refusal to break completely with p.b. striving has led them to consolidated opportunism.

The turn of a number of 196O’s organizations to ’Marxism-Leninism’ during the early 19701s is portrayed (by the PRRWO, among others) as a ’break with eclecticism’ and a new stage in the Party-building process. All that it In fact represents is the formal adoption of Marxism-Lenin-ism, a formal step by a section of the p.b. towards the working class but an actual introduction of p.b. ’eclecticism’ and opportunism into Marxism-Leninism and an actual step towards the bourgeoisie via ’socialist’ phrases. Although our “ML” opportunists are fond of dividing this 5-7 year period into ’stages’ or ’periods’ of Party-building, each hoping to thereby prove that ail this flurry of ’dialectical’ activity was destined to deliver themselves as the genuine ’Party’, there has not in fact been one iota of real, principled communist development. None of the major “ML” groups have proven equal to the tasks that they formally claim to uphold. The most we can say is that the ’motion’ that has occurred in the movement’s development has been determined, not by principled struggle, but by which organizations consolidated first and the effect that the various ’party’ declarations have had on the rest. Thus the creation of the CL’s National Continuations Committee, on the one hand, and the RU’s National Liaison Committee, on the other, was the first major p.b. polarization that began to draw the ’Independent’ organizations into one of two camps. The declaration of the CLP USNA in late 1974 in turn put Party-building onto the RU’s agenda, and the declaration of the RCP USA in late 1975 in turn put the OL and others on alert. The consolidation of the CLP, RCP and OL sparked the development and dissolution of the Revolutionary Wing, the PRRWO and RWL’s threatened “US Bolshevik Party”, the WVO’s ’promised’ party, The New Voice’s ’friendship’ party, and so on. This ’motion’ has created such an “irresistible historical trend” that even The Guardian has been forced to consider the ’ominous’ idea of ’The Party’. That is how bad things have become. We cannot prevent our opportunists from declaring themselves what they want, but we can and must be determined to prevent the next 5-7 years from being as easy pickings for our opportunists as the last.