For some time now, ever since the founding of the ACB back in August of 2022, the American Council of Bolsheviks (ACB) has been in contact with the Communist Workers Platform USA (CWP). From the initial fireworks and jubilee immediately following our split and the ruin of the PCUSA, our two organizations have been in frequent contact with each other and have coordinated together on numerous occasions. Our organizations have held numerous bilateral meetings together, discussing every topic under the sun, from Maoism to the National Question.
These bilateral meetings, as admitted by the ACB and as criticized by the CWP, were very surface-level. We engaged in semi-superficial discussions about various topics. I do not believe that this was as useless a procedure as some may remark, as it is important to know when you sit down at the table with someone to discuss business that you are not sitting down with insane hucksters, which both of our groups had previous experience with via the PCUSA. Hitting many topics very quickly served the purpose of ensuring that both our organizations were both serious and on a similar enough page to begin unity discussions in earnest. The bilateral meetings allowed for an exchange of ideas and literature that was starkly illuminating for many members of the ACB. I particularly found CWP’s theses on Maoism, and various international texts sent by CWP (from the KKE, PCM, and Politsturm), to be very illuminating. It was a breath of fresh air to engage with such people and such ideas, and in a more scientific way than had ever been allowed in the PCUSA.
However, we quickly became ever conscious of the necessity not only of unity as an idea but of the steps necessary to make such unity a reality — not only on paper but in practice as well. We were informed this January of 2023 by the CWP that to proceed with the CWP in unity negotiations we would need to have some form of ideological consensus among the ACB, whether that be in the form of a prototypical program or points of unity. We were, naturally, agreed that this would be a necessary step on the road to unity.
Then came the rightful criticism of our actions up to that point. We had spent such a great deal of time and energy focused on the CWP bilateral meetings (which some, namely myself, had hoped would be a done deal and guaranteed to occur, and something done sooner rather than later) that we had flagrantly neglected to begin earnest work on our program. I was under the assumption that unity would be achieved, and a common program would be made together. I was rightfully criticized by members of the ACB, most vocally and namely, Comrade M.A., for being rather shortsighted about the entire ordeal, and channeling so much energy into these and like tasks, rather than trying to figure out what the basis of the ACB even is, to begin with.
After much criticism, the ACB, after a period of ideological discussion and debate, has begun work in earnest on a provisional program, a provisional constitution, and provisional points of unity. These are all provisional documents, as we have not had our founding congress where such documents would be subject to scrutiny, debate, edits, etc. (I must assert that we should never hold such a congress while such a prospect of unity is still on the table at this critical period). All documents are in the drafting process and are subject to continuous scrutiny by our members. They will only be voted on and approved by the Provisional Central Committee (PCC) after extensive debate. This process will ensure a collective, objective, and scientific, outcome along Democratic Centralist principles. No perfect program is made within one year, and surely there will be errors, but these provisional documents will be a necessary first step — one that we should have taken sooner.
Where does that leave our work with CWP? I posit that since CWP requests that we have some form of a provisional program ready before we begin increasing unity discussions, we ought to continue on our present course until this document is made. We should continue our contact and collaboration with CWP, especially in matters concerning ideological, political, and domestic events, intrigue, and issues, are concerned. Every member of the ACB ought to act in the most fraternal, scientific, and comradely way towards members of the CWP until such discussions about a common program can begin.
When our provisional program is complete, we ought to immediately meet with CWP, in person, to discuss and debate the differences between our two programs. If unity could ever be achieved, it must have a common program. Through this debate, discussion, and editing, if we have not achieved a common program that all can agree on, then we must, unfortunately, necessarily call off our unity negotiations at that time despite our best efforts and wishes.
Yet, I do not think this tragic outcome would be the case. CWP has recently and publicly stated its commitment to “…bringing the various revolutionary communist organizations together, starting with the ACB, on the road towards the reconstruction of the communist party.” CWP appears to be as enthusiastic at the prospect of unity as we do, as based on their recent words in their publication, and through our dialogue in our bilateral meetings. Of course, CWP, and likewise the ACB, understand that “This process cannot take place based only on ideological consensus, it requires practical collaboration as well, or else we can only repeat the past and doom the party, place it on a foundation built only of words” — an assertion that I agree with, and which necessitates a common program as a first step. There cannot be practical collaboration, beyond the level in which we are already engaged with CWP and should continue to engage, without first agreeing on a common program and principles.
Through our discussions with CWP, genuine adherence to a Marxist-Leninist line was a common thread throughout, and they show a clear distinction from the PCUSA that they split from, and which they (rightfully) repudiate strongly. Their publication, New Worker, has also provided a good insight into the ideological leanings of the formation and is a good resource.
When such a meeting between CWP and ACB does happen to discuss a common program, every member of the ACB ought to act in the most comradely, fraternal, and scientific way possible. There should be no room for petty third-rate differences or personal quibbles. If a common program can be made, it must be made through rigorous scrutiny. If any person should let a personal disagreement, or a petty third-rate difference, get in the way of Marxist-Leninist unity, they ought to be thunderously castigated as simple self-interested opportunists. The working class simply does not care about such antics.
Unity negotiations are not such an easy thing, as is evidenced by the unity negotiations between the Unity Conference of the Communist Party and the Communist Labor Party in September 1919. These two parties, in the pursuit of unity, went through multiple trials and tribulations during their unity conference. Often, unity seemed to be an increasingly distant possibility during the conference, but, through intense democratic debate, it prevailed. Fortunately, we are both infinitely smaller organizations than those two in 1919 which combined had a membership of around 40,000. Unfortunately, the task is still just as great.
It would behoove every Marxist-Leninist interested in the unity of Marxist-Leninists to read “The Convention of Revolutionists” by I.E. Ferguson, as it offers a poignant synopsis of how these processes take place, while also showing the absolute necessity for the unity of Marxist-Leninists in the United States.
Unity with CWP can certainly be achieved. It is up to us collectively to ensure that it does. The construction of our provisional program will big a major step forward to consolidating the various Marxist-Leninists across the country into one indissoluble unit. Unity is not easy, but as I.E. Ferguson remarks:
“Again and again the sentence was heard: ‘We have crossed the Rubicon.’ Every delegate was in the hands of his fellows; all subject to imprisonment, deportation, social and economic displacement. Yet most of the time — not without thanks to the irrepressible wit of the convention secretary, Smyth — the whole affair seemed like a jollification. Or perhaps it was the grim seriousness of it all that challenged relief in playfulness?…
“A revolutionary movement driven ‘underground’ is apt to be driven away at the same time from its petty animosities and quibbles. Forced to face the life and death character of the combat, it is likely to discard pretenses, evasions, purposeless quarrels about persons. Confusion gives way to clarity; hesitation yields to stern determination.
“A convention of revolutionists — a convention which relentlessly searched the truth of every word and the heart of its every delegate…”
 CWP Editorial Board. “On the Maoist Conception of Dialectics.” New Worker, December 25, 2022. https://newworker.us/theory-history/on-the-maoist-conception-of-dialectics/
 CWP Editorial Board. “Summary Report of the CWP Delegation to the PCM VII Congress.” New Worker, February 14, 2023. https://newworker.us/international/summary-report-of-the-cwp-delegation-to-the-pcm-vii-congress/
 CWP Editorial Board. “Democratic Centralism and the PCUSA.” New Worker, August 27, 2022. https://newworker.us/editorial/democratic-centralism-and-the-pcusa/
 Ferguson, Isaac Edward. “The Convention of Revolutionists.” marxists.org, June 12, 1920. https://www.marxists.org/history/usa/parties/cpusa/1920/06/0612-ferg-conventionrevs.pdf