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.
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.
Posted in Marxism-Leninism
Tagged 2009, Afghanistan, anti-revisionism, Berlin Wall, Communist Party of the Philippines, East Germany, FARC-EP, FRSO, happy new year!, Harry Haywood, Joseph Stalin, PFLP, retrospective, Tiananmen Square, Tom Tancredo, University of California, walkouts
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!
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.
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.
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:
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.