Guardian "On Building the New Communist Party"
Principles of unity for a new party
1. The science of Marxism-Leninism is the concentrated expression of the world outlook of the international proletariat and the fundamental theoretical base of communist organization. In the present period, the struggle for Marxist-Leninist theory assumes a particular importance. Abandoned by revisionism and distorted by dogmatism, Marxist-Leninist theory is the imperative starting point for building a new communist party. We are the inheritors of a theoretical legacy dating back more than 125 years. The emergence of scientific socialism as the theoretical foundation for a new trend in the international workers’ movement represented the coming to political maturity of the modern proletariat. Today, when political charlatans of every stripe have taken to describing themselves as “Marxists” because they use certain Marxist concepts to develop what is essentially a bourgeois view of society, it is especially important to emphasize that there can be no separation between Marxism and Leninism; for Leninism is Marxism in the epoch of imperialism and proletarian revolution.
2. The fundamental objective of the working class is the overthrow of the capitalist system and the establishment of socialism. The fundamental economic distinction between capitalism and socialism is this: in a capitalist society, a handful of people–the bourgeoisie–own the means of production and organize the economic activity of society in accordance with their own accumulation of profit; in a socialist society, the working class, in alliance with and at the head of other laboring classes and sectors, owns the means of production and organizes the economic activity of society in accordance with the social needs of the masses of people.
3. The present stage of capitalism in the U.S. and the other major capitalist countries is monopoly capitalism or, what is the worldwide expression of the same thing, imperialism. The U.S. is the chief imperialist country in the world and the most powerful.
4. The contradiction between U.S. imperialism and its imperialist allies on the one hand, and the oppressed and exploited peoples and nations on the other, is the principal contradiction in the world at the present time.
The determination of this as the principal contradiction of the present time is based upon an analysis of the situation in the world today in which virtually all questions confronting the working class and the oppressed peoples are bound up with the struggle against U.S. imperialism, neocolonialism, and the major imperialist allies of the U.S.
After its defeat in Indochina and the setbacks in Africa. U.S. imperialism is weaker than it was a decade ago. Yet it remains the single most powerful and predatory force holding down the world’s peoples. If anything, its reverses have made it all the more desperate. It would be a tragic error, particularly for U.S. communists, to underestimate the role of U.S. imperialism on a world scale. The failure to recognize the principal contradiction of our time in a scientifically correct fashion leads inevitably to revisionist errors on the one hand and ultra-“left” class collaborationist errors on the other.
5. Imperialism is a system which operates on the basis of certain inexorable laws of economic development. This system is the inevitable outgrowth of the earlier stage of “competitive” capitalism. It is in the essential nature of the “free enterprise” system that it turn into its opposite and become an economic system characterized by monopoly and the tyranny of finance capital. Imperialism is one system at home and abroad.
Contrary to the theses of the revisionist CPUSA, it is not “possible under capitalism for the U.S. to pursue a democratic foreign policy based on detente, respect for other countries, noninterference in other countries’ internal affairs and conduct of relations on the basis of mutual benefit.” With this one statement alone, the CPUSA demonstrates its revisionist essence. It upholds the Kautskyite thesis that imperialism is not a system but actually a policy of the monopoly capitalists, a policy which they can change while maintaining the capitalist system.
Such a view leads to an alliance with and a reliance on the “nonimperialist” sector, of the bourgeoisie or even the “enlightened” wing of the monopoly capitalists themselves. How can imperialism “pursue a democratic foreign policy” when the very essence of imperialism rests in a world system of exploitation and superexploitation requiring an elaborate structure of national oppression, colonialism and neocolonialism? To assert that U.S. monopoly capitalism can “pursue a democratic foreign policy” is to propose a strategy of reforming capitalism to rid itself of its imperialist and monopoly essence and return it to the bygone days of “competitive” capitalism.
6. Class straggle is the motor force of history. The fundamental antagonism between social classes, each one determined by its relation to the means of production, is the real and ultimate source of all the other political and social conflicts which characterize social development. In our time, the two great classes are the bourgeoisie and the working class, with all other classes and sectors ultimately having to line up on the side of one or the other.
7. The working class is the only revolutionary class in U.S. society. It is the producer of surplus value (capitalism’s profits) and of all classes under capitalism, it stands in the most direct contradiction to the bourgeoisie. Mobilized into ever more developed forms of socialized production by the capitalist system, the working class forges its underlying unity precisely in the great factories, on the assembly lines, in the mines, in the workshops and offices where it has been brought by the capitalists in their pursuit of profit. Only the working class, with the industrial proletariat as its core, can overthrow capitalism and reorganize society for the benefit of all oppressed classes and sectors. The principal contradiction in the U.S. is between the monopoly capitalist bourgeoisie and the multinational working class.
8. The chief political instrument of the monopoly capitalists is the bourgeois state, most particularly its military and police apparatus. The institutions of the state–the courts, the executive, the congress, the administrative agencies as well as the military and police apparatus–constitute the political superstructure by which mono- poly capitalism maintains its power and authority. Whether as a fascist dictatorship or a bourgeois democratic republic, the capitalist state is the form of the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie.
9. The seizure of state power is the central strategic task of the working class. It is only by seizing state power, destroying the bourgeois state apparatus and establishing its own, backed up by its own military power, that the working class can abolish capitalism and establish socialism.
10. The form of working-class political power is the dictatorship of the proletariat. This dictatorship is based on an alliance between the working class and other anticapitalist classes and sectors. It is the decisive instrument for gaining power and consolidating that power over the deposed class. Because it is, for the first time in history, a dictatorship of the majority over the minority, it is a democratic dictatorship prepared to defend the workers’ power against the inevitable attempts at counterrevolution by the overthrown bourgeoisie. The dictatorship of the proletariat is the form of political power throughout the entire period of socialism since classes and class struggle continue to exist in socialist society.
11. Without predicting its precise form or timing, mass armed struggle is ultimately the deciding factor in the struggle for power. Particularly in the U.S., with its powerful class of monopoly capitalists and entrenched state bureaucracy, and with imperialism’s powerful military machine, it would be foolhardy to plan for a “peaceful transition” from capitalism to socialism. In this regard, the task of the communists is to help educate and prepare the working class to the necessity for mass armed struggle and to dispel all illusions about the possibility of a “peaceful” seizure of power, particularly through the electoral process.
12. The strategic political instrument for the straggle against monopoly capital is the united front against imperialism. This front is an alliance under working-class leadership of all classes and sectors who stand in varying degrees in contradiction with the imperialist system. The cornerstone of the united front is the alliance between the multinational working class and the nationally oppressed peoples of the U.S., particularly the Afro-American and Latino peoples. In addition, the working class aims at building alliances with the broad democratic women’s movement, the small farmers, youth and students and sectors of the petty bourgeoisie and intelligentsia. It aims to take advantage of contradictions within the ruling class to neutralize wherever possible the non-monopoly sector of the bourgeoisie and those sectors of the petty bourgeoisie and intelligentsia who cannot be won to working-class leadership.
13. The second most urgent political task facing communists–second only to forming their parry on the basis of a firm set of ideological principles–is to make Marxist-Leninist theory into a material force in the class and political struggles of the present period. The key to this rests in the party’s ties to the working class–the one class in contemporary society capable of making the revolutionary ideas of communism into the revolutionary practice that will destroy monopoly capitalism. In the early stages of its development, the party will rest heavily on and have a disproportionate number of revolutionary intellectuals in its ranks. This is only natural since party-forming and party-building periods are characterized especially by the struggle for Marxist-Leninist theory and the development of a concrete application of that theory to concrete conditions in each country.
But from the beginning, Marxist-Leninists must set as their priority the need themselves to accumulate direct experience in the working-class movement at the point of production, to make a communist current felt within the spontaneous workers’ movement and to develop the ways to win the most advanced workers to Marxist-Leninist theory and the communist party. The communists see work in the trade unions as the primary arena for political struggle in the working-class movement. They seek to strengthen the unions as the principal defense organizations of the working class and, within the trade union movement, they direct the main blow at the reactionary trade union bureaucrats who are, in Lenin’s classic phrase, “the lieutenants of the bourgeoisie within the working class.”
The communists support and play a leading role in every struggle of the working class to win a larger share of the wealth created by their labor and to ameliorate the oppressive conditions of the wage system At the same time, within the immediate economic struggles, the particular role of the communists is to introduce the more fundamental political questions that will help train the working class for its ultimate task of seizing state power.
The communists also address themselves to certain particular questions within the working-class movement at this time. These are:
• The struggle against racism, national chauvinism and white supremacy. This includes the struggle for equality both in law and in social practice, the support of affirmative action programs advancing the serial demands of nationally oppressed workers as a means of redressing past discrimination and striving for genuine quality within the working class. The particular task of combating white supremicist ideology in the working class and the trade unions particularly is the task of all communists, but especially white communists. The task of fighting narrow nationalism–which is, principally, a reaction to the prevailing white supremacy in the working class–is the particular task of communists of the nationally oppressed.
• The struggle against sexism, male supremacy and for equality both in law and in social practice between men and women workers. Within the working-class movement, the communists struggle to realize the Marxist objective of “bringing the entire female sex into public industry,” through political programs that end all forms of discrimination in hiring, demand equal pay for equal work, fight for 24-hour community-controlled child care, support programs for the socialization of household tasks, promote “affirmative action” programs and support passage of the Equal Rights Amendment. The communists also undertake to educate the male workers to oppose male chauvinist ideology within the working class and in the working-class family and devote their efforts to building the class unity of the workers, male and female.
• The struggle for union democracy; the spontaneous rank-and-file stirring against the entrenched union bureaucracy is a significant political development within the union movement. The communists do not expect the unions, in their present form at least, to become “revolutionary” organizations of the working class. But they can become–and the communists can make them into–battlegrounds for the clash between proletarian and bourgeois ideology in the working class. They can become the training ground for political struggle. And many of the unions are capable of becoming objectively anti-imperialist organizations.
• The struggle to organize the unorganized; the communists devote their efforts to forcing the existing unions to undertake organizing drives aimed at bringing large sectors of the working class–particularly women and third world workers–into the union movement. And the communists must find the ways to take initiatives themselves in helping the workers organize into unions.
14. The strongest, most reliable and most revolutionary allies of the multinational U.S. working class are the oppressed nationalities and national minorities in the U.S., most particularly the Afro-American people as well as the Chicano and Puerto Rican peoples.
Historically, U.S. capitalism was built on the exploitation of immigrant labor and the appropriation of the lands and resources of the indigenous peoples. Utilizing historic differences of race, religion and nationality, the developing U.S. bourgeoisie constructed an elaborate system of white supremacy, national chauvinism and religious discrimination in order to insure the maximization of their profits and to create divisions within the working class. The chattel slavery of millions of Africans provided capitalism with one of its crucial economic foundations for further expansion and exploitation.
While European immigrants from Ireland, southern and eastern Europe were also the victims of national oppression, in time the principal form of national chauvinism developed along the color line. National oppression today, directed primarily against Afro-Americans, Chicanos, Puerto Ricans, Native Americans and Asian-Americans, provides monopoly capitalism with a sizable industrial reserve army of labor. It supplies the human cadre for a segregated work force which most readily lends itself to superexploitation of the most impoverished sector of the working class. These factors, along with the need on the part of the bourgeoisie to promote and intensify divisions within the working class and among the oppressed, are the material foundation for white racism and national chauvinism.
While the overwhelming majority of Black people in the U.S.. are part of the multinational working class, Black people as a whole are the victims of national oppression. This is the political basis for the Black united front which unites all classes among the Afro-American people in the struggle against national oppression. The communists have the strategic objective of bringing the Black workers into the leadership of the Black united front.
The struggle for Black liberation in the U.S. is a revolutionary struggle because the just demands of the Black masses–for full democratic rights, against all the institutions of white supremacy and racism and for those special demands that arise out of national oppression–cannot be realized without proletarian revolution.
It is essential for communists to win the white workers to support the struggles of the Black masses around the questions that arise in all of these three areas. The basis for Black-white unity within the working class is the commitment by the white workers to take up the struggle for democratic rights, against white supremacy and for the special demands of Blacks and other oppressed nationalities and national minorities.
15. The emancipation of women from the superexploitation of capitalism and the institutionalized system of male supremacy is completely bound up with the cause of proletarian revolution; the working class will not be able to defeat monopoly capitalism unless it becomes the foremost champion of women’s emancipation.
Our strategic objective is to unite women and men of the working class in the struggle against imperialism–a goal that can be achieved only to the extent that working-class men and the working-class movement take up and make as their own the democratic and special demands of women today.
The oppression of women is bound up historically with the development of class society and, in particular, private property. Male supremacy has been characteristic of all class societies dominated by the few. Capitalism intensifies the oppression of women–but it also brings into being the material conditions for both an end to class society as a whole and the emancipation of women. By revolutionizing the productive forces and, most especially, bringing into existence the modern proletariat, the bourgeoisie has made itself into an anachronism and produced its own grave-diggers.
Today in the U.S. women constitute more than 40% of the total labor force. They are a superexploited sector of the working class, segregated by sex into unskilled and low-paying jobs and making up a vast industrial reserve for the bourgeoisie. Women’s role in the family as reproducer and maintainer of the work force is utilized by the bourgeoisie to perpetuate and deepen the male supremacist ideology and intensify women’s oppression. For all these reasons, capitalism can never end the system of male supremacy and will only perpetuate it.
The struggle tor the emancipation of women is one that is democratic in form and revolutionary in content. It is one of the most important questions confronting the working class and the task of communists is to win the workers–most especially the men workers–to take up the democratic and special demands of women, to combat male supremacy and male chauvinist ideology. Likewise, the communists defend the working-class family from the attacks on it by the monopoly capitalists.
The principal contradiction on the woman question today is between U.S. monopoly capitalism and its elaborate structure of institutionalized male supremacy, on the one hand, and the masses of women, on the other. The contradiction between women and men is fundamentally a non-antagonistic contradiction among the people. It can and must be resolved through the process of working-class unity and the construction of a socialist society. Within the working-class movement, the principal form of backwardness and opportunism is male supremacy. Within the women’s movement, the principal form of opportunism is bourgeois feminism.
Of the two–male supremacy and bourgeois feminism–the main target of the working class and its vanguard must be male supremacy. Within the women’s movement, the communists work to build the leadership of working-class women and women of the oppressed nationalities–and to make the demands of these women the principal focus of the movement as a whole.
16. The starting point for uniting Marxist-Leninists today is the critique of revisionism and the struggle against it. Through the CPUSA primarily–but not exclusively– revisionism attempts to divert the workers from the path of revolution and make them “partners” of the bourgeoisie in the movement to “reform” capitalism. The class base of revisionism is in the labor aristocracy and the more privileged sectors of the working class who are constantly trying to accommodate to the capitalists in order to maintain their special status. Having lost the will for revolution, because they fear its uncertainty and are afraid to risk their own petty positions, the revisionists are particularly insidious because they utilize the language of Marxism-Leninism to betray it. They attempt to divert from the revolutionary path the very workers who are most responsive to Marxist-Leninist ideas.
Internationally, the seat of revisionism is in the Soviet Union, whose leaders 20 years ago legitimized various theories–peaceful transition to socialism, peaceful coexistence as the chief path to socialism, a world without war, the dictatorship of “the whole people” in place of the dictatorship of the proletariat and many others–which have become the hallmarks of modern revisionism.
Revisionism is the principal danger within the working-class movement as a whole and within the left in particular.
17. Among the Marxist-Leninist forces who, over the past five years, have played the leading role in the party-building process, class collaboration around the question of international line has emerged as the principal opportunist tendency to be opposed. Dogmatically developing the widespread feelings of solidarity of communists with the People’s Republic of China, these forces have uncritically and mechanically adopted every aspect of China’s foreign policy as the international line of U.S. communists. The results have been disastrous. They have led these groups into objective unity with the most reactionary sectors of the U.S. bourgeoisie around such questions as Angola, Zaire, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Oman and other points of contention with U.S. imperialism.
Stemming from this flunkeyist view of internationalism, some of these groups have actively fostered anticommunism within the working-class movement and among the U.S. masses by undertaking to “direct the main blow at Soviet social imperialism.”
Among these forces, ultra-“left” pseudo-revolutionary rhetoric has all too often masked a political line which is essentially right opportunist in content. Some organizations have surrendered to white chauvinism in their refusal to support the struggles for democratic rights of the nationally oppressed. Some have abandoned the struggle for women’s emancipation, characterizing it as merely a “petty-bourgeois” concern or opposing the Equal Rights Amendment for the narrowest of “economist” reasons.
Others have abandoned or actively opposed the struggle for trade union democracy, failing to differentiate between different sectors of the labor bureaucracy and refusing to support the workers in their attempts to expand the arena of political struggle within the working-class movement.
Most of these same groups have been characterized by a sectarian style of work, petty factionalism and a mechanical application of Marxist-Leninist theory. Their efforts have generally done more to promote revisionism than to expose it.
With this polarization of forces in the Marxist-Leninist movement, yet another party-building trend has begun to emerge in opposition to the dogmatism, sectarianism and flunkeyism described above. Among these forces, the principal opportunist dangers to guard against are pragmatism, economism and conciliation with revisionism.
18. The guiding principle for the parry’s world outlook is proletarian internationalism. In the age of imperialism, this is expressed in the amendation made by the Third International in 1920 to the original slogan of the Communist Manifesto calling on the workers of the world to unite against the bourgeoisie. The Comintern changed is to say “workers of the world and oppressed peoples unite.” This is the foundation for the international united front against imperialism, an alliance between the working classes of the imperialist countries, the socialist countries and the oppressed peoples and nations subjugated by imperialism. The democratic demand for the self-determination of oppressed nations thus becomes a cornerstone of the proletariat’s revolutionary program within the imperialist countries.
19. Countries want independence, nations want liberation, peoples want revolution. The linking of these three related processes is the main political trend on a world scale of this period. The struggle of countries for genuine political independence, national sovereignty, control over their natural resources–and the unity of these countries in defense of their sovereignty–is a movement objectively in alignment with the world struggle against imperialism and social imperialism. The most telling blows against imperialism have been struck by the national liberation movements–as in southeast Asia and southern Africa. These mass armed struggles against U.S. imperialism have produced a qualitative weakening in U.S. imperialist hegemony. Today the communists particularly turn their attention to southern Africa. The revolutionary struggles of the peoples of Zimbabwe, Namibia and South Africa for majority rule and against colonialism, neocolonialism and apartheid represent the international proletariat’s first line of struggle against imperialism.
20. While U.S. imperialism remains the primary and most powerful enemy of the world’s peoples, the coming to power of revisionism in the Soviet Union has transformed the USSR into a social-imperialist superpower which practices hegemonism and national chauvinism in its relation to other countries. Using such doctrines as “limited sovereignty” and “international division of labor,” the Soviet regime arrogates to itself the right to intervene in the internal affairs of other nations (such as the invasion of Czechoslovakia) and conducts its relations with other countries on the basis narrow, national self-interest. In the Soviet Union itself, revisionism has curbed and eliminated many of the socialist forms of production and disenfranchised the Soviet working class. It has set the USSR down a capitalist road and liquidated the proletarian dictatorship. (A full scientific analysis of class relations the USSR and the fundamental characteristics of its economic system has yet to be made by Marxist-Leninists. This remains an important theoretical question for our movement. The Guardian is continuing to study is question in the light of the changing world situation and in the near future hopes put forward a further expression of its views on the Soviet Union.)
21. While directing the main blow at U.S. imperialism, peoples struggling for independence and national liberation must help build a united front against both superpowers. They must strengthen their self-reliance individually and collectively, opposing all forms of hegemonism and superpower domination. They must make the struggle against revisionism and opportunism an indispensable aspect of the struggle against imperialism.
22. The relations between the U.S. and the USSR are characterized by both collusion and contention. The two superpowers collude in asserting the primacy of their respective hegemonies in all world affairs. They acknowledge respective spheres of influence and attempt to keep the most advanced nuclear weaponry their exclusive property. In those areas of the world where they may be able temporarily to reach mutual accommodations, they expect that other countries and political movements will accept the terms that they impose by mutual agreement.
In the long run, however, contention between the two superpowers remains the principal aspect of their relationship. While speaking of “detente” and “disarmament,” the two superpowers have escalated the arms race to unprecedented heights. As U.S. imperialism suffers defeats in different parts of the world, Soviet strategy is based on the hegemonic concept of “filling the vacuum.”
How shall the communists view the contention between the two superpowers, particularly as it manifests itself in the anti-imperialist struggles of the oppressed nations and peoples? We base ourselves on Lenin’s principled analysis of this phenomenon: “The struggle for national liberation against one imperialist power may, under certain conditions, be utilized by another ’great’ power for its own equally imperialist aims.” But, he added, this cannot lead the communists to falter in their support of the oppressed nation’s right to self-determination.
In Angola, as in other portions of southern Africa, Communists saw the precise working of this thesis. As the struggle against Portuguese colonialism, U.S. imperialism and white racism developed and spread, the Soviet Union played an increasingly active role. Its arms and other material support undoubtedly were of great assistance to the liberation forces. At the same time, Soviet intentions have clearly been aimed at strengthening its own strategic position in Africa at the expense of Western imperialism. It also hopes to overcome the revolutionary influence exercised by the People’s Republic of China during the previous decade.
23. U.S. imperialism’s reliance on military power and war to achieve its global objectives remains the system’s ultimate alternative. Today the danger of war is becoming greater. Despite defeat in Indochina, Washington has not abandoned the strategy of counterrevolutionary war and aggression as its ultimate weapon in opposition to struggles for independence and national liberation. The most immediate threat of war is from this source.
At the same time, contention between the U.S. and the Soviet Union is intensifying. Detente has become little more than an armed truce. Disarmament talks accomplish little while the armed forces and strategic weaponry of both superpowers continue to build up. While imperialism’s drive for war is inexorable, communists do not take a fatalistic view of its coming and know that it is possible in today’s world to transform the liberation struggles of oppressed peoples and the peace sentiments of the masses into a powerful material force capable of preventing war.
U.S. communists must organize to mobilize the peace sentiment of the U.S. people. The experience and lessons of the antiwar movement of the 1960s must be utilized to connect the antiwar sentiment with an understanding of the nature of imperialist wars. In no event can U.S. communists falter in their responsibility to target their “own” bourgeoisie as the principal enemy of the working class, oppressed nationalities and other democratic strata in our country.
24. The crisis of capitalism manifests itself on a world scale. Economic and political instability characterizes all of the capitalist countries and inter-imperialist rivalry casts a deepening shadow over all their efforts at a unified “solution.” Every major capitalist power–the U.S., West Germany, Japan, France, England, Italy, Canada and South Africa–has been adversely affected by the drastic economic downturn of the recent period. And each has gone through some major political crisis in recent years. The weakest links in the capitalist chain are Italy, England and Spain; the first two because the economic crisis has been most severely felt in those countries, and Spain because the political crisis provoked in the wake of Franco’s death has opened up new opportunities for transforming the struggle for bourgeois democracy into a revolutionary struggle that can link the militancy of the Spanish working class with the patriotic movements of the Basques and Catalans.
Nevertheless, while the objective conditions for proletarian revolution are developing rapidly in these countries, the subjective conditions are not yet maturing in a significant way. The chief cause of this is the continued hegemony of revisionist communist parties and traditional social democratic parties in the working-class movement. In the experience of these countries today–as it was in Chile–the international working-class movement has an opportunity to see how revisionism is much more than an ideological error. It is, in fact, a material force that actively delivers the working class up to the bourgeoisie.
Unfortunately, many of the “antirevisionist” forces in these countries have been characterized by dogmatism that has led them to an equally reprehensible form of class collaboration, as evidenced by those western European sects who advocate support of NATO, increased military expenditures and the restoration of compulsory military service in their countries ostensibly in order to help their bourgeois governments “direct the main blow” against Soviet social imperialism. Actually, they are strengthening the hand of their own bourgeoisies against the working classes of these countries.
25. Proletarian internationalism for U.S. communists also means solidarity with socialist countries in their efforts to guard against the threats of imperialism, social imperialism, counterrevolution and revisionism and for socialist construction.
We support the just demands of the People’s Republic of China for an end to U.S. interference in its internal affairs and demand an end to U.S. relations with Taiwan, including the immediate withdrawal of all U.S. military bases and personnel and abolition of the mutual defense treaty. We support normalization of diplomatic relations between China and the U.S. on the basis of the five principles of coexistence. We support the People’s Republic of China in defense of its national sovereignty from the threat of Soviet social imperialism.
We support the just demands of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam for reparations from the U.S. to help pay for the destruction caused by the genocidal war of aggression, for the seating of Vietnam in the UN and for the normalization of diplomatic relations between Vietnam and the U.S.
We support the just demands of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea for the reunification of Korea and an end to U.S. military intervention in the South. We call for the immediate withdrawal of all U.S. military forces and nuclear weapons from South Korea.
We support the just demands of Cuba for an end to the U.S. economic blockade and demand of the U.S. that it end its campaign of counterrevolution and support of terrorist “exile” groups. We call for the normalization of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba.
We stand with the People’s Republic of Albania in its resistance to the hegemonism of both superpowers and support its efforts in the construction of socialism.
And we stand with all those newly liberated countries–Mozambique, Guinea-Bissau, Angola, Cambodia, Laos–who have started down the socialist road under the guidance of a Marxist-Leninist leadership.
26. A particular international responsibility for U.S. communists is solidarity with the movement for independence in Puerto Rico.
The outright colonial relationship between Puerto Rico and the U.S., as well as the presence in the U.S. of some 2 million Puerto Ricans who have become a part of the multinational U.S. working class, give this struggle a special significance for U.S. communists who must translate their support into concrete forms of political practice.
27. No center exists in the world communist movement today; nor is that movement “polycentric,” as some have claimed. In the present period, and for the foreseeable future, the various communist parties will function completely on the basis of their own autonomy in all matters, each guiding itself on the concrete application of Marxism-Leninism to the actual prevailing conditions in the respective countries.
28. Without a vanguard working-class party, firmly united on the basis of Marxism-Leninism, organized as a disciplined democratic-centralist organization, there can be no successful proletarian revolution. The U.S. communist party must be the single, unified party of the multinational working class. It must reflect in both leadership and membership the multinational character of the U.S. working class. Within the party, there can be only one political line. The party does not permit factions or caucuses of any kind. The party practices centralism through a strong leadership, through a structure whereby lower bodies are responsible to higher bodies, through conditions for membership based on adherence to political line and membership in an organized party unit, and through centralized financing, publishing and coordination. The party practices democracy through internal party debate, criticism and self-criticism, the study of revolutionary theory and the election of party leadership at each level by the body immediately below it.
29. The central task of U.S. Marxist- Leninists today is the building of the new communist party.
Organizing for the new party
Organization is the political expression of ideology and the practical expression of political line.
Without organization^ Marxism-Leninism cannot become a material force capable of gripping the masses and moving the revolutionary process forward.
Today, the Marxist-Leninist forces in the U.S. are characterized by a chaos of organizational forms, significantly different levels of political development and the absence of an organizational center. Localism and small circle mentality dominate. Mass work of communists is considerably circumscribed and, except on a local level in a few instances, does not proceed on the basis of a strategic plan–or even a tactical plan.
The present backward state of the movement will prevail unless an ideological and organizational breakthrough can be achieved.
The 29 principles listed above–along with our critique of the “new communist movement”–represent an attempt by the Guardian to concentrate and consolidate the experience of the Marxist-Leninist forces in the U.S. over the past five years. The need to do this today has become pressing with the separation of the antirevisionist forces into two definite trends primarily as the result of the struggle around international line.
Today, the Marxist-Leninists must demonstrate on the basis of their principles of unity the fundamental differences that exist between them and revisionism. Trotskyism, anarchism, social democracy and the profound political disorientation of the leading groups of the ’new communist movement.’
It is obvious that the 29 principles listed above not only make this distinction but demonstrate the necessity for Marxist-Leninists to organize independently of these other forces, most of whom also describe themselves as “Marxist-Leninist.”
Naturally, we don’t expect everyone to agree with every point we have put forward, or with its precise formulation or the amplification we have made on it. At the same time, we urge Marxist-Leninists not to reject any one of them lightly. In our opinion, each principle has far-reaching ramifications that will ultimately determine whether we hew to a Marxist-Leninist, antirevisionist course or not.
We put these principles forward at this time not simply to lay the foundations for developing a political program for a new communist party–but as the necessary ideological preconditions for uniting Marxist-Leninists at their present stage of organizational development and moving on to a higher stage.
We do not propose, at this time, to spell out an organizational plan for party-building. A variety of Marxist-Leninist organizational forms already exist having come into being more or less spontaneously. There are local Marxist-Leninist organizing committees, groups whose base is predominantly with a particular minority nationality, ideological “affinity” groups with connections in different localities, groups of Marxist-Leninists who work together around particular projects or mass organizations, study groups and a large number of individuals who consider themselves Marxist-Leninists but who are not part of any organizational structure at the present time.
All of these efforts reflect the felt need for organization among Marxist-Leninists. As such they are commendable initiatives. But they are also extremely limited initiatives. The groups themselves vary considerably in both political development and political line. Beyond this, if these groups continue to develop more or less in the same fashion in the period ahead, they are bound to become mired in localism and the narrowest of practical work at the expense of the movement s key ideological tasks. Already we have seen some groups develop views towards party-building which belittle theory and glorify the spontaneous workers’ struggle as the key to party-building.
A serious party-building effort today must take on two characteristics. One, it must in fairly rapid order take on a national character, linking up Marxist-Leninists throughout the country on the basis of ideological unity and common organizational form. Two, it must deepen and expand the struggle for ideological clarity and begin to develop a common political outlook based on the principles of Marxism-Leninism and the rich experiences our movement already possesses.
Such an effort must guard against a tendency toward federationism–which is nothing but the raising of localism and small circle mentality to a higher level. Within the party-building movement, the doors of ideological debate must swing open. The political line of one or another local organization cannot be permitted to take precedence over the ideological struggle among Marxist-Leninists as a whole. To proceed otherwise is to build factionalism and a political caucus mentality into the party-building process.
The struggle for a clear set of starting principles is far from complete. In many respects it is just under way. The 29 principles offered by the Guardian in this supplement is an attempt both to codify such a set of principles and to advance a particular political trend within the party-building movement. We believe that the debate around these principles–and this, of course, includes debate around other “points of unity” people will think are essential to our development at this time– will determine whether or not the basis for organizational unity exists among a variety of disparate elements.
We believe that the principles we have enunciated in these pages come very close to representing the views of a significant number of Marxist-Leninists in the U.S. at the present time. We say this on the basis of discussions with many comrades in different parts of the country, letters we receive and a remarkable outpouring of support–particularly the growth of our Sustainer program– over recent months.
While this newspaper comes closer to being a national voice for Marxism-Leninism than any other group in our movement, our own organizational base is not .very firm. Guardian bureaus in five major cities outside New York help broaden the scope of our activity and mean that an actual political presence representing our views exists on some level in these areas. Our Sustainer program is extensive, but as presently constituted does not offer its participants an opportunity to do much more than contribute much-needed financial support to the paper.
Believing that unity among Marxist-Leninists on the basis of political line is the principal precondition for. party-building– and that such unity is meaningful only when it assumes organizational form–the Guardian is now seriously discussing a plan which, we believe, would make a substantial contribution to party-building forces.
That plan calls for the establishment of a national network of Guardian Clubs organized on the basis of the 29 principles of unity enunciated in this document. Such clubs– and the very fact of their being linked together in a network with a national political newspaper as their focus–would offer Guardian readers, Sustainers, supporters, friends and all Marxist-Leninists who agree with these principles an opportunity to put their politics into practice in a meaningful and concrete way.
Guardian Clubs would have three basic areas of activity: party-building, local political action and work directly connected to building support for and expanding the effectiveness of the Guardian. From the beginning they would strive to become multinational organizations.
• Party-building: The clubs would be an organizational vehicle for helping to develop a distinct political trend within the Marxist-Leninist movement, a trend based on the 29 principles of unity. The clubs would engage in discussions, debates and forums with other Marxist-Leninists. . They would, in some cases, help initiate local Marxist-Leninist organizing committees or other appropriate organizational forms. The clubs would engage in organized study of Marxist-Leninist theory and also set up study groups to which workers and local activists could come in order to take up the study Marxism-Leninism in a serious and systematic fashion.
• Local political action: The clubs would join in and initiate political work in the unions, community organizations, local coalitions and demonstrations on a broad range of urgent questions from strike support solidarity work around South Africa or Puerto Rico. They would bring to these activities the Guardian’s general political perspective which would be applied to concrete conditions in each locality.
• Circulation, promotion, fund-raising, news-gathering and public events for the Guardian: This would include such activities as placing bundles in local bookstores a newsstands, distribution at work places a demonstrations, obtaining subscriptions, sending in news reports on local and regional developments, organizing fund-raising parties and other events, appearing on local radio or television to discuss stories from the Guardian, and constantly evaluating the paper itself and sharing criticisms with the Guardian staff in New York. Guardian clubs would sponsor local speak: engagements of Marxist-Leninists, representatives of national liberation movements and Guardian staff members.
For its part, the Guardian will appoint national Clubs coordinator to be the main person responsible, under instructions from the Guardian’s leadership and Coordinating Committee, for chartering local groups, internal communications, distributing informational packets and study group materials and personally visiting the clubs on a regular basis.
In its initial stages. Guardian Clubs would grow in a relatively modest fashion. Club goal would be the establishment of roughly 10 clubs–with a limited number of members –in different cities.
Independence, self-reliance in party-building
Building a new communist party in the U.S. is a largely uncharted task. The experiences of those parties which came into being in the first two decades of the 20th century are, of course, helpful in our understanding of the dimensions of the task. But the conditions prevailing within the communist movement at the time were so vastly different that it would be self-defeating to mechanically follow in their precise footsteps.
At the same time, it is necessary to affirm that the fundamental Leninist principles organization which have been the indispensable hallmark of all genuine Marxist-Leninist revolutionary parties in the 20th century.
Much more study must be made of the experiences of the antirevisionist parties which came into being as the result of the consolidation of revisionism in the Soviet Union and the various communist parties in its orbit. Much of this experience is obviously negative since very few of the parties have managed to build a genuine working-class vanguard organization in their respective countries and many of them have collapsed into forms of class collaboration even more reprehensible than those of some of the U.S. antirevisionist groups.
But not all of these experiences have been negative and we must be able to learn from their accomplishments as well as their errors.
In the final analysis, however, the task is our own. For in no area is the spirit of independence and self-reliance more critical than in party-building.
Firm in our commitment to the fundamental principles of scientific socialism, staunch in our opposition to revisionism and opportunism, confident in the revolutionary capacity of the U.S. working class and oppressed nationalities, united in our hatred of the U.S. monopoly bourgeoisie and its imperialist system, we call on all U.S. Marxist-Leninists to help move the party-building process forward by deepening the necessary ideological discussions and starting to solve the problems of organization.
First Published: Special Supplement to the Guardian, June 1977.