Tag Archives: Harry Haywood

Right Opportunism in the CPUSA

The following is a discussion article for the upcoming Communist Party USA national convention. I am reposting it here from ML Today as an exploration of the development of Right Opportunism in the CPUSA. As Comrade Stalin has said, “Under capitalist conditions the Right deviation in communism signifies a tendency … of a section of the Communists to depart from the revolutionary line of Marxism in the direction of Social-Democracy.” For an important analysis of the historical roots of Right Opportunism in the CPUSA, see Harry Haywood‘s article, “The Degeneration of the CPUSA in the 1950s.” See also the section on antirevisionism of the Marxist-Leninist Study Guide:

The Old Bug of Right Opportunism Returns
by Mark Anderson

Although Marxist-Leninist terminology has fallen out of vogue with the top leadership of our Party, there’s no avoiding the use of precise, scientific language if one is to analyze contemporary phenomena from a Communist point of view. To do so would be like trying to have a discussion of Newtonian physics without using words like force or matter.

For several years our Party has been suffering from the corrosive effects of what Marx, Lenin and other Marxists called opportunism, specifically right opportunism. This was not name-calling on their part, but was instead an attempt to define a historically determined phenomenon that persists to this day.

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The Marxist-Leninist’s Top Ten of 2009

Happy New Year! Here are the top ten posts of 2009, highlighting some of the key political moments for the people’s struggles around the world over the past year. They have been selected by The Marxist-Leninist based on their popularity as well as their overall political significance.

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Against Trotskyism: A Reading Guide

“The entire edifice of Leninism at the present time is built on lies and falsification and bears within itself the poisonous elements of its own decay” – Leon Trotsky, letter to Chkheidze, 1913.

The question of Trotsky is not merely a historical question. Firstly and most importantly it is a question of political line. There are significant political reasons that Trotskyism has failed to ever lead a successful revolution. It is a fact that Trotsky, on the one hand, and Lenin and Stalin on the other, put forward two very different and opposing lines on almost every major question for the international communist movement. Rejected by the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and by the Soviet people as well, Trotsky then turned bitterly to the organization of counter-revolution, both within the Soviet Union and internationally.

To help clearify these important points for the international communist movement, The Marxist-Leninist has put together this reading guide. It has been incorporated into the Marxist-Leninist Study Guide as well. The main texts here are (1) M.J. Olgin’s outstanding study of Trotskyism which deals well with the political differences between Bolshevism and Trotskyism, (2) an article by Nadezhda Krupskaya (the wife of Lenin) on Trotsky’s distortions of the history of the October Revolution, and (3) an eyewitness account by Harry Haywood, the great African American Communist leader, of Trotsky’s ideological defeat by Stalin. Many supplementary texts are provided as well. For more on the contributions of Stalin to the ICM, see Long Live the Universal Contributions of Comrade Joseph Stalin.

“It is the duty of the Party to bury Trotskyism as an ideological trend.” – Joseph Stalin

Beginning and Essential readings

Supplemental readings

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Long Live the Universal Contributions of Comrade Joseph Stalin

December 21, 2009 marks the 130th anniversary of the birth of Comrade Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin and working and oppressed people around the world will celebrate this historic date. To commemorate the birth of this outstanding proletarian revolutionary here are some quotes, followed by some longer articles, highlighting his achievements and contributions to Marxist-Leninist theory and to the cause of socialism. The Marxist-Leninist would encourage those interested to read the 1947 political biography of Stalin published by the Marx-Engels-Lenin Institute as well as the other texts below.

For a collection of material on the struggle of the Bolshevik Party against Trotskyism, see Against Trotskyism: A Reading Guide.

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Harry Haywood: Trotsky’s Day in Court

The following examination of Trotskyism by the great African American Marxist-Leninist, Harry Haywood, is from “Trotsky’s Day in Court”, Chapter 6 of Black Bolshevik: Autobiography of an Afro-American Communist (1978), which takes place while Harry Haywood is studying in Moscow at the KUTVA, The University of the Toilers of the East. For a more thorough Marxist-Leninist examination of Trotskyism, read M.J. Olgin’s outstanding 1935 book, Trotskyism: Counter-Revolution in Disguise, which is perhaps the best treatment of the subject:


Trotsky’s Day in Court

Apart from our academic courses, we received our first tutelage in Leninism and the history of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in the heat of the inner-party struggle then raging between Trotsky and the majority of the Central Committee led by Stalin. We KUTVA students were not simply bystanders, but were active participants in the struggle. Most students – and all of our group from the U.S. – were ardent supporters of Stalin and the Central Committee majority. 

It had not always been thus. Otto told me that in 1924, a year before he arrived, a majority of the students in the school had been supporters of Trotsky. Trotsky was making a play for the Party youth, in opposition to the older Bolshevik stalwarts. With his usual demagogy, he claimed that the old leadership was betraying the revolution and had embarked on a course of “Thermidorian reaction.” (1) In this situation, he said, the students and youth were “the Party’s truest barometer.” (2)

But by the time the Black American students arrived, the temporary attraction to Trotsky had been reversed. The issues involved in the struggle with Trotsky were discussed in the school. They involved the destiny of socialism in the Soviet Union. Which way were the Soviet people to go? What was to be the direction of their economic development? Was it possible to build a socialist economic system?  These questions were not only theoretical ones, but were issues of life and death. The economic life of the country would not stand still and wait while they were being debated.  

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Collected Documents on the National Question in the United States

The following is a collection of statements, resolutions, books, articles and other documents by various Marxist-Leninists which provide a theoretical analysis of the national question in the U.S. Generally speaking they are listed chronologically. This collection, though necessarily different in format, has been incorporated into the M-L Study Guide.

General

African American National Question

Chicano National Question

Indigenous Peoples

The Debate Over White Skin Privilege

Harry Haywood at the Marxists Internet Archive

Harry Haywood in Spain with the International Brigades

Following the development of the Harry Haywood Internet Archive here at The Marxist-Leninist, the archive is now available at the Marxists Internet Archive (MIA). The material that is there now is from the MIA project, Encyclopedia of anti-Revisionism On-Line (EROL).

Most of the material hasn’t yet made it over to MIA, but thanks to the collaborative efforts of The Marxist-Leninist with some of the comrades there at MIA in putting together the Harry Haywood archive there, his important contributions to the application of Marxism-Leninism to the U.S. are now being made more accessable to a new generation of revolutionaries.

It has long been a priority of The Marxist-Leninist to help to popularize the important writings of Harry Haywood on the African American national question as well as on anti-revisionism. Developing the archive at the MIA is a big step forward and many of the articles here should be added to the archive at MIA shortly.

Much thanks to the comrades at the MIA for this important contribution!

http://www.marxists.org/archive/haywood/index.htm

Harry Haywood: The Degeneration of the CPUSA in the 1950s

The following article is an excerpt from Harry Haywood’s Black Bolshevik: Autobiography of an Afro-American Communist. It is reprinted here from the theoretical journal of the October League (Marxist-Leninist), Class Struggle: Journal of Communist Thought, Spring/Summer 1976 #4-5. It is being posted here, as part of the Harry Haywood Internet Archive (for the time being hosted by The Marxist-Leninist blog) for the first time online.

October League (Marxist-Leninist) Introduction:

At what point did the building of a new anti-revisionist communist party become the principal task of Marxist-Leninists? What were the main features of the ideological, political, and organizational degeneration of the Communist Party, USA in the 1950s that made it necessary to do so? These are some of the questions discussed in this article by Harry Haywood, a veteran Black communist who has led and been active in the movement for more than 50 years. The article is a slightly condensed version of a chapter [Chapter 22: "Revisionism Takes Command" in the final published version] from the unpublished manuscript of his autobiography, “Black Bolshevik.”

The Degeneration of the CPUSA in the 1950s

The April 1956 National Committee meeting saw the Communist Party in its most serious crisis since 1944. The meeting itself was historic in that it was the first time the top party leadership had met together since 1951. With the exception of Gil Green, Bob Thompson, Gus Hall and Henry Winston who were still in jail, the National Committee was up from underground and out of prison.

Right opportunism, which had been thriving and undergoing continuous growth in the ’50s, erupted here into a full-fledged liquidationist line whose only logical conclusion would be the complete destruction of the Party as a revolutionary force.

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Harry Haywood: For a Revolutionary Position on the Negro Question

The following important polemical 1958 pamphlet on the African American National Question by Harry Haywood is now available online thanks to the Encyclopedia of Antirevisionism Online (for context see Harry Haywood’s “The Degeneration of the CPUSA in the 1950s” which sums up the political struggles that this document was a part of):

The attention of the entire world is focused upon the brutal, barbaric oppression of the Negro people in the South, and the heroic struggle of the Negro masses for full freedom and human dignity there.

The promise of the Supreme Court Decision to end school segregation is proving illusory. The economic and political gains made by the Negro people during the extended boom period are menaced by the economic recession, and by unbridled reaction in the South.

The Negro masses are taking a “New Look” at the slogans of “Free by ’63” and “Integration Is Just Around the Corner” so assiduously propagandized by Wall Street apologists, and fervently supported by Negro bourgeois-reformist leaders at the height of the Cold War. As Carl Rowan, prominent Negro journalist says, the Negro people are “asking themselves whether they were naive in assuming they could win freedom through the legislative and judicial machinery of the nation.” (Scientific American, October, 1957.)

The Negro masses are looking with increased alarm upon the growth of racist terror in the South, spreading its evil influences throughout the country. Inspired by the successes of the world anti-colonialist movement in Asia and Africa, they are seeking new, militant leadership which is internationalist in outlook, free from ties of white ruling class patronage.

Our Communist Party, with its proud history of militant, uncompromising struggle for Negro rights which alone has projected a consistently revolutionary solution to the Negro question, has an indispensable role to play in the period ahead. But our Party can play its proper role only if we have a “liberation” of our own: a liberation from the paralyzing effects of revisionism – the slightly warmed over liberal gradualism which seeks to destroy our revolutionary position on the Negro question.

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Letter from Harry Haywood to the POC from the new Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism Online

A new Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism Online has been launched  as part of the Marxists Internet Archive. It includes a history of anti-revisionist politics and an archive of anti-revisionist documents and newspapers. The new encylcopedia is divided into sections by country. The U.S. section includes “The First Wave of Anti-Revisionism: 1946-1958” and “Second Wave: The POC, 1956-1962” with two more sections in the works: “Third Wave: 1960-1969″ and “Fourth Wave: Maoism and ‘The New Communist Movement,’ 1969-1989″.

Here is an important document from the encylopedia of anti-revisionism by Harry Haywood, the great communist theoretician of the African American national question:

cs1-haywoodLetter from Harry Haywood to the Provisional Organizing Committee

Class Struggle, theoretical journal of the October League (Marxist-Leninist), No.1, Spring 1975

October League (M-L) Introduction: Harry Haywood is a veteran Black Marxist-Leninist, now living in Detroit. He has spent several decades as a leading member of the Communist Party USA and as a fighter against modern revisionism.

In 1928 and 1930, Haywood helped draft the Resolutions of the Communist International as well as the position of the CP on the Afro-American national question. His thoughts on this question were summed up in his famous book, “Negro Liberation.”

Haywood broke from the CPUSA in the late 50’s after the party had thoroughly abandoned the revolutionary struggle for socialism and Black liberation. Along with other anti-revisionists, he helped form the Provisional Organizing Committee (POC). The POC, like many of the new communist organizations of today set as its main task, the building of a new Marxist-Leninist party.

The POC failed in this first attempt at a new, anti-revisionist party. Haywood’s letter upon leaving the POC shows some of the reasons why it failed and serves as a lesson to those who might try to follow in the ultra-“left” footsteps of these sectarians.

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