Seize the Time

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Seize the Time (STT), a Marxist-Leninist collective, in 1979 decided to dissolve and unite with the League of Revolutionary Struggle (M-L). This decision was reached "after a long process of principled struggle, which achieved unity on all major points of political line".[1]

History

Seize the Time started in 1974. Its members came primarily out of the Black and Chicano national movements, in the Peninsula area of the San Francisco Bay Area. This included the Nairobi Collective, which was composed of Black Marxists and anti-imperialists. The Nairobi Collective was active in mass work around the Jackson State murders, local police brutality, and ran a revolutionary bookstore. It was a leading force in the Bay Area African Liberation Support Committee. Other members of STT came from the Black Panther Party; and some came from Venceremos , a merger between people from Venceremos College which was active in the Chicano movement and a split-off from the Revolutionary Union (RU) with roots in the anti-war and student movements.

Seize the Time issued 15 publications from 1974 to 1977, including the newspaper Seize the Time. The newspaper and mass work of its members had both strengths and weaknesses. STT newspaper consistently upheld the importance of the national struggles as a component part of the struggle for socialism. It opposed the two superpowers, supported the national liberation struggles of the third world, and opposed revisionism and reformism.

STT members were extensively involved in mass work, including work in the Chicano, Black and Native American national movements; trade union work; cultural work; work among GI’s and veterans; and prisoners’ struggles.

From the very beginning there was sharp two line struggle in STT. One incorrect view that was carried over from the Nairobi Collective and Venceremos was an ultra-militarist line. This line promoted terrorism and a “foco” theory of armed struggle – the view that the revolution would be made by guerrilla “strikes” and not by the masses. This line also advocated separate political and military organizations and that the “military front” should lead the national movement. There was sharp struggle to repudiate this line and establish the correct view which placed politics and the party first.

There were also some nationalist errors that were made. For a while, STT had separate white and Third World staffs. The split staff was a mechanical way to “ensure” that oppressed nationality cadres could develop their work. This was a federationist deviation which placed nationality above politics. In part, it was a reaction to the chauvinism in Venceremos which made a show of Third World leadership but actually belittled its oppressed nationality members.
STT waged an important struggle within its ranks against centrism in 1975-6. There was struggle over fundamental questions of the revolution. Some elements in STT persisted in the view that the Soviet Union was not an imperialist superpower. They also believed that the entire U.S. working class was “bought off.” They liquidated the Chicano national question and refused to uphold the right of self-determination for the Afro-American nation. They said that neither oppressed nationality workers nor oppressed nationality communists had a significant role to play in the revolution. They held feminist views on the woman question. They belittled the importance of party building and they conciliated with the revisionists. Their views were characteristic of view of the so-called centrist trend in the U.S. They eventually left STT.
The struggle and split deepened STT’s understanding of Marxism-Leninism. While centrism tries to pose a “middle ground” between Marxism and revisionism, the struggle showed that the centrists really side with the revisionists and apologize for Soviet imperialism. The split in STT helped us draw a clear line between Marxism-Leninism and revisionism. It enabled us to correct many of the errors in STT’s political line, while reaffirming the correct views it always had. STT moved on, and became a Marxist-Leninist collective in 1976.

STT took up work in support of Gary Tyler; the struggle against the Bakke Decision; support for Native American struggles and for the Stearns miners; and in the struggle against the Jarvis-Gann initiative (Proposition 13).

As STT deepened its understanding of Marxism-Leninism and developed its work, it felt more and more the difficulties of being a small organization. STT saw that in order to make the maximum contribution to the revolution, a nationwide scope and overview was needed. Nationwide propaganda and agitation work was needed, and a small collective had many limitations in this area. STT saw the need to play an active role in the struggle to unite all Marxist-Leninists into one party.

STT believed that the correct path forward lay in struggling to achieve unity with a national Marxist-Leninist force. STT carried out principled relations with I Wor Kuen and the August 29th Movement (M-L), and then the League. STT worked jointly with the League in helping to build the Anti-Bakke Decision Coalition; and in the 1978 San Francisco commemoration for Chairman Mao, and May Day program. STT saw in practice the correctness of the League’s line and the principled, consistent and down to earth way in which the League carried on its mass work.

Seize the Time believes that the political line of the League is the leading line in the communist movement. Over the years, we have had a chance to see and judge the lines of different organizations. More than any other organization we have seen the League deeply and consistently involved in the mass struggles in a correct way. We have seen them taking up struggles in auto, in the post office, in the Chicano, Asian and Black movements. We have seen the principled way in which the League has tried to unite Marxist-Leninists, and the way in which it connects party building to its work in the mass movement.
We unite with the League’s aggressive defense of the theory of three worlds, which proceeds on the basis of trying to win over the many honest forces who have not yet formed a clear opinion on the international situation. We have been especially impressed by the way that the League has always upheld the national question, which in our opinion, is one of the most crucial questions of the revolution. We have seen the concrete way in which the League works to unite the multinational working class in a consistent struggle against national oppression. This runs like a thread throughout all the work of the League that we have seen.

STT also acknowledges the assistance of the League in helping us to repudiate our incorrect view of the principal contradiction in the U.S. STT had held that the principal contradiction was the national question. After struggle with the League, we came to recognize that the principal contradiction is between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie, and that this in no way lessens the significance of the national movements, nor liquidates their role as strategic allies of the working class.
STT recognizes that the world really is in great disorder. Communist unity is more important than ever. We believe that the unity process between STT and the League provides additional proof that Marxist-Leninists can in a principled way struggle out their differences, treat each other with mutual respect, learn from each other, and unite. Seize the Time is proud to dissolve to unite with the League in taking up the tasks of helping to forge a single, vanguard party and making revolution in the U.S. [2]

References

  1. [Unity, Vol. 2, No. 2, January 26-February 8, 1979]
  2. [Unity, Vol. 2, No. 2, January 26-February 8, 1979]