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Progressive Labor Party

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The Progressive Labor Party, often abbreviated PL, is a small United States political party currently espousing a form of left communism, but during its 1960s heyday it was made up of Maoist elements expelled from the Communist Party USA at the time of the Sino-Soviet split. They had abandoned Maoism by the early 1970s due to Communist China's rapprochement with the Richard Nixon administration in the U.S., which PL viewed as capitulation to imperialism (by contrast, of the other two major Maoist U.S. political parties, the Revolutionary Communist Party did not turn against China until 1978 after Mao's death in 1976, and the Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist)Wikipedia's W.svg remained supportive of China even after the rise of Deng Xiaoping, though not for long as the CP(ML) collapsed in 1981[1]).

Role in the U.S. New Left[edit]

PL played a significant role in the history of the New Left, particularly Students for a Democratic Society, yet was actually a remnant of the Old Left and alienated many younger New Leftists with its reputation for extreme sectarianism and its opposition to the counterculture, long hair, marijuana, and rock music. PL adopted those positions because it viewed the youth counterculture as alienating to the industrial proletariat. Further, PL's sectarianism was such that it opposed the Black Panther Party on the grounds that all nationalism was reactionary, and PL refused to endorse the Viet Cong during the Vietnam War for the same reason (they were "nationalist") and because they were following Soviet-line rather than Peking-line communism.

Needless to say, even as young New Leftists were increasingly moving to the hard left in 1968-1969 and embracing Maoism, PL turned off most of them with its sectarianism, its opposition to groups like the Black Panthers which young radicals idolized, and most of all its puritanical morality. They instead formed movements which simultaneously embraced Maoism, Black Power, and the counterculture, such as the Yippies and the Weather Underground. After several years of dealing with "entryism" from PL and its front group the May 2nd Movement, SDS and PL mutually expelled each other at the 1969 SDS convention. Much of Lyndon LaRouche's early following came when he managed to convert young Marxists at Columbia University in New York en masse from PL to his own National Caucus of Labor Committees.

Since[edit]

After its expulsion from SDS and rejecting Maoism, PL faded off into the netherworld of tiny left-communist sects. It's position today is that Marx was wrong about the multiple stages (first bourgeois-democratic revolution - or "New Democracy" in Maoist terminology - then socialism, then communism) and that the goal should be to fight directly for communism. They define communism as a moneyless, classless society, which they think the entire world must immediately change to after the revolution. They have come to reject the idea of a vanguard party, and of individual communist parties in one country. In short, their ultra-sectarianism led them further and further left, each time criticizing their own previous positions from the left, and finally landing in the "impossibilist" camp .

References[edit]