Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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EROL Note: This document was evidently prepared by the Maxist-Leninist Organization of the USA in preparation for a meeting between a delegate from MLOUSA and representatives of the Marxist-Leninist Organisation of Britain.
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The answers as to why the international communist movement degenerated appear to be linked to events that took place during the period of time before/during/after World War II. The MLOB’s report on “The Origins of Modern Revisionism” provide some answers, e.g., that the Seventh World Congress of the Communist International was coopted by a revisionist faction which claimed that “changed circumstances” were “transforming” the leaders of the reformist and Social-Democratic parties from disguised representatives of the bourgeois class into actual representatives of the working class, and that therefore it was possible and necessary for the communist parties to form united fronts with these leaders (in Marxist-Leninist terms, a united front from above). Dimitrov and his faction thus succeeded in preventing the policy of “revolutionary defeatism” – a Leninist policy applied during World War I which includes as tactics the formation of united fronts from below in order to turn the imperialist war into a civil war – to be adopted by the Communist International at the Seventh World Congress in 1935, prior to the outbreak of World War II.
Certain questions are left unanswered by the MLOB’s report, however, namely:
1. What was the role of the CPSU and J.V. Stalin during this time? Why did Stalin and the CPSU apparently support such revisionist policies?
2. What role did the Communist Party of China play? What relationship, if any, was there between the revisionist Mao Tse-tung faction gaining control of the leadership of the CCP in 1935, and the revisionist Dimitrov gaining control of the leadership of the Communist International during the same year?
3. Why did Stalin and the CPSU agree to the dissolution of the Communist International? The remarks made by Stalin on this question on May 28,1943 (“Reply to Letter From Harold King, Moscow Correspondent of Reuters News Agency”) do not appear to be substantial enough reason to dissolve the international organization of the proletarian class, especially since organization is the only weapon that this class has in its struggle against the bourgeoisie. In fact, Stalin’s remarks that appear in the text referred to do not bear a Marxist-Leninist character, in that he speaks of the dissolution of the Communist International as being “proper and timely because it facilitates the organization of the common onslaught of all freedom-loving nations against the common enemy – Hitlerism.”
Since when do Communists refer to British and US imperialists – at this time in alliance with the Soviet Union against German fascism – as “freedom-loving?” Why was the international organization of the proletariat sacrificed for the “strengthening of the united front of the Allies and other United Nations?” What were the conditions that led to such a drastic change of tactics on the part of Stalin and the CPSU? After the conclusion of the war, why wasn’t the Communist International reconstructed?
We realize that the MLOUSA has not conducted a thorough research on the above questions. We are, therefore, suggesting these questions for mutual study by our two organizations. Knowledge of the overall history of the communist movement and especially, its failure to meet the requirements necessary to combat fascism and utilize the contradictions amongst the imperialists during World War II in order to make socialist revolution must be thoroughly studied, especially in this era, when the world is again on the brink of a war and when we can already see signs of rising fascism.
We also realize that the MLOB has answered – at least partially – to some of these questions in their letter to the MLOUSA of either 2/14/73 or 2/26/73, but, being that we have neither the originals nor copies of these letters here, we could not take them into consideration.
1. We can see that the imperialists in various countries are laying the groundwork for developing corporate fascist states. We would like to have discussed explicitly the various manifestations of rising fascism, in the event that we have overlooked any.
2. How are the different types of revisionism aiding fascist development? In the United States, Trotskyism appears to be playing a particularly vital role in helping the imperialists build fascism. While the right and left revisionists are also not exposing and struggling against fascism, they are not so actively catering to the backwardness of the masses, who are slowly awakening to political consciousness, as are the Trotskyites (at least this is so from our viewpoint which, granted, is rather narrow). Trotskyites have been actively present at all public demonstrations that we have been involved in lately, from trade union rallies to reactionary black nationalist demonstrations, while the right revisionists are fewer and the left revisionists noticeably absent. There is even the instance of a Trotskyite fascist-like gang (the National Caucus of Labor Committees), apparently located nation-wide, who provoke fights by physically attacking their opponents at meetings and public demonstrations, thus serving to bring down the wrath of the police on the rank-and-file of other organizations, as well as on demonstrators with no organizational affiliation at all. In this way they also give fuel to the bourgeoisie’s drive to enact repressive laws and begin taking away the people’s democratic rights at an early stage.
3. What joint efforts can the MLOB and the MLOUSA take now to struggle against developing fascism? We believe this joint struggle to be incorporated in the building of a new Communist International; obviously if it is decided to publish a newspaper representing the MLOB, the MLOUSA, and other possible Marxist-Leninist nucleuses, as the embryonic Communist International, one aspect of these joint efforts will be fulfilled. What other joint work could be carried out? What concrete steps can we involve ourselves in now in each national section?
Considering the present alignment of the imperialists in preparation for World War III, has the MLOB perceived any changes (other than the shifting of North Korea and North Vietnam towards the US pole) since the publication of their “Report on ’Centrist’ Revisionism,” in which they gave evidence as to the developing polarization of countries throughout the world to the side of either the US or Soviet imperialists?
What work is the MLOB doing in conjunction with the Irish national struggle? Is there a Marxist-Leninist nucleus in Ireland? What spurious national movements, such as the Scottish or Welsh, divert the revolutionary movement?
We felt that it would benefit us to learn the MLOB’s approach to the national question in Britain, especially since the question in Britain is somewhat similar to that here in the US.
Does the MLOB still hold that Albania is a socialist nation? Does the MLOB still maintain close relations with Albania; do they have any recent information on the development of Albania and how this nation will align itself as the international polarization continues in preparation for World War III?
The question of these countries finds its answer also during the time immediately after World War II. Were the People’s Democracies ever really considered socialist nations by Marxist-Leninists? If so, what led to their degeneration into state-capitalist nations, and also, what conditions enabled Albania to resist degeneration?
What are the roles that each Marxist-Leninist nucleus should play at this stage? The MLOB has suggested a publication to be issued through the joint efforts of the MLOB, the MLOUSA, and other possible Marxist-Leninist nucleuses, representing the Communist International in its embryonic form. At this point, it seems rather impractical for the MLOUSA – being that it hasn’t published WORKERS’ TRIBUNE but once (far from the regular basis that it needs to be issued on) – to commit itself to the huge task of helping to prepare an international publication at frequent, regular intervals. Perhaps, at first, it should be suggested that a joint bulletin be issued only at six-month intervals, so that the task is not neglected all together.
What methods do we use in incorporating other Marxist-Leninist nucleuses in the skeleton of the Communist International? In particular, what methods were used in incorporating the so-called Marxist-Leninist Organization of Germany? What mistakes were made in this instance; what conclusions can we draw, so as to deter mistakes of a similar nature being made in the future?
What information does the MLOB have on the state of other developing Marxist-Leninist nucleuses, such as in India?
The apparent theoretical level of the MLOB, as well as its variety of practical experiences, suggest that the MLOUSA could learn much from the different tactics employed by the MLOB. After reading the letters from the MLOB to our organization, we found reference to certain points that we would like to know more about.
1. Marxist-Leninist theory – elementary level
2. Marxist-Leninist theory – advanced level
3. RED FRONT readers’ circles
Are all three of the above still employed regularly? What positive and negative experiences has the MLOB had with each? What general course of study do those in the classes studying theory go through?
1. Black and White Workers Unity Front
2. Multi-Racial Defense Groups
3. Anti-Racist Unity Committees
4. Red Power Movement
5. Red Front Movement
6. Socialist Artists
7. Trade Union Experience
8. Holding of Public Meetings
Which, if any, of the above have been most successful in bringing in new cadre? What positive and negative experiences has the MLOB had while using these tactics?
We realize that we may be ill-informed as to the MLOB’s experience with the above tactics because they discontinued sending copies of RED FRONT to us for a certain period of time (see letter from MLOB dated October 12, 1971). We do not know at what point in time the MLOB returned to its regular practice of sending RED FRONT to the MLOUSA.
If the MLOB has found any particular methods to be useful in enabling their organization to run more efficiently, we would like to hear of them, e.g., methods of research, division of labor, study curriculum for members, etc.
We believe that the experiences of the MLOUSA should be discussed with the MLOB for the sake of their knowledge, and so that we can receive their criticism.
The basic hindrance to the MLOUSA’s development, that has beset it since birth, is the level of development of its cadre – their lack of theoretical knowledge, political and organizational experience, and practical and educational skills. In other words, the MLOUSA was not constructed from the top down, With a core of professional revolutionaries; rather it was built from the bottom up, composed of cadre who could offer boundless energy and enthusiasm, but almost no theoretical and practical contributions. This problem has been slightly alleviated as of late. Of course no Marxist-Leninist is ever completely satisfied with his or her level of development, and as members of the MLOUSA we still feel that we need countless more theory and experience; however, those comrades whose low level of development overburdened the MLOUSA and hindered it at one point, now remain outside the organization as friends, and therefore the MLOUSA is not as unnecessarily hindered as it has been in the past.
The cadre of the MLOUSA, as mentioned above, have been of a fairly low level of development. Because as a group we have not fully understood this until the fairly recent past, we have all too often failed to carry out necessary tasks, either because we attempted tasks greater than the cadre could possibly carry out, or because we cowered away from these tasks due to a lack of confidence. In the first instance, there are the examples of our attempts to build an Editorial Board and publish a newspaper (WORKERS’ POWER), as well as to draw up a Declaration and a General Program. At the time we first made these plans (1970) we were almost totally crippled by our low theoretical and practical level, and therefore found we had attempted too much.
However, when we re-organized the Editorial Board and planned to publish WORKERS’ TRIBUNE (1971) we stopped short of our possible capabilities, and discontinued work on the Editorial Board because we felt we needed to enrich ourselves with more theory before carrying out this task. There have been many instances like this, from our failure to complete reports to our failure to draw up a General Program. Our Declaration, however, was completed in 1972.
We have been extremely unorganized in our work; a great part of this is, of course, to be expected from those new to organizational work, but must also be recognized as soon as possible and corrected. There has been a tendency to begin projects and then either take more than the necessary amount of time to complete them, or else to discontinue work on them altogether, because such projects are no longer necessary, or because we have gradually “forgotten” about them. Lack of individual responsibility and organization; the existence of a great deal of necessary work but few cadre; and the failure of the Organization as a whole to set priorities for assignments, determine and adhere to strict deadline dates, and effect a good division of labor are at fault here. The results of these errors can be seen in several examples, namely, failure to: complete articles and reports, publish a newspaper on a regular basis, draw up a General Program, conduct regular correspondence, learn about public demonstrations at an early enough stage to take part in the steering committees and to draw up agitational leaflets, and utilize the MLOUSA’s friends who are low in skills, but who would like to work in one capacity or another for the Organization nonetheless.
A perfect example is close at hand: the MLOUSA’s representative has already left the United States on his way to confer with the MLOB, yet the agenda for the meeting is being finalized three weeks after the comrade has left, and by two different sections of the Organization, who are in two different parts of the world at that!
Fortunately, many of these problems are being remedied, e.g., through:
a. Division of labor for the purpose of producing and distributing literature. Through the Production and Distribution Committees, we have been able to utilize our few cadre more efficiently, as well as to give these cadre more responsibility necessary to their development. We have also been able to utilize the skills and the help of the friends of the MLOUSA through these committees.
b. Encouraging members of the “Press Review” (Editorial Board and friends) to be constantly on the look-out for upcoming demonstrations.
c. Devising a series of deadline dates for writing and producing literature, as well as plans to develop longer-ranged goals in the near future.
Out of our relatively small number of stable attendees at study circles, three are now members of the Organization. Two of these three have led study circles, and one is gaining his first experience now. Most Organizational members are lacking in the ability to bring in new members to the study circles, however, this must be remedied through more individual effort. Frequent production of literature will also enable us to conduct circles on a more elementary level (like RED FRONT readers’ circles), while now the course of study consists of either advanced or elementary Marxist-Leninist theory. The period of time during which both levels were conducted simultaneously was very short. We have had little success at study circles and meetings with former members or followers of revisionist organizations; this experience concurs with that of the MLOB.
1. The Marxist-Leninist Women’s Front was planned as a tactic to bring working and student women into and around the Organization. It was disbanded after about five month’s time because we felt we had too few forces to divert into mass work.
2. The MLOUSA took part in the steering committees of an anti-war rally in 1972, and a Coalition Against Racism and Repression in 1973. We have also taken part in several public demonstrations as of late and distributed leaflets and literature. These gatherings have served mainly to give us exposure than as a means to recruit new cadre.
Participation in these demonstrations has brought us into conflict (sometimes quite hostile conflict) with a number of right, left, and Trotskyite organizations (one of the latter – the Spartacist League – who is “courting” us through the mail, suggesting meetings to discuss our similarities and “iron out our differences”). Although all these revisionist groups supposedly disagree with our line, none have, to our knowledge, refuted this line substantially in writing.
3. Although the MLOUSA was not officially involved in the group called “Towards Revolutionary Art” (TRA), a member of one of our study circles (who has since become a member of the MLOUSA) was. After coming under the influence of the MLOUSA this comrade fought to move TRA to take a firm proletarian stand based on Marxism-Leninism and the principles put forth in the Manifesto of the Socialist Artists and the Socialist Artists’ Thesis on Art. However, due to his inexperience and the unbridled opportunism of TRA, this comrade was unsuccessful and was expelled from TRA.
The main point of contention was whether or not TRA should take a firm and consistent Marxist-Leninist stand or whether it should remain a disorganized, undisciplined, autonomous “group ” and its magazine a forum open to any and every petty-bourgeois trend calling itself “revolutionary.” The petty-bourgeois majority of TRA decided that by putting forth a Marxist-Leninist line, TRA would became “sectarian” and would “keep people away.” After a series of struggles against this petty-bourgeois opportunism, our comrade was expelled on the grounds that he was “disruptive” and was not allowing TRA to “develop.”
 Stalin, The Great Patriotic War of the Soviet Union; N.Y.; International Publishers; 1945.