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The Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist) was a Maoist political party in the United States. Its predecessor organization, the October League, was founded in 1971 by several local groups, many of which had grown out of the radical student organization Students for a Democratic Society when SDS split apart in 1969. Michael Klonsky, who had been a national leader in SDS in the late 1960s, was the main leader of the CP(M-L).[1]

The October League came out of the Revolutionary Youth Movement II grouping in the SDS split. In 1977, the October League transformed itself from an organization into a party, declaring itself the vanguard party of the U.S. proletariat. This is when it changed its name to the Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist). Michael Klonsky, who had been a national leader in SDS in the late 1960s, was the main leader of the CP(M-L). The CP(M-L) has a very multi-racial membership compared to other organizations that were part of the New Communist Movement of the 1970s. Longtime Black communist Harry Haywood became a CP(M-L) member near the end of his life, and the CP(M-L)'s press, Liberator Press, published Haywood's book Black Bolshevik: Autobiography of an Afro-American Communist in 1978.

After the death of Chinese Communist Party leader Mao Zedong in 1976, the CP(M-L) became the main U.S. group that the post-Mao Chinese leadership recognized as a U.S. fraternal party.

As the Chinese Communist Party moved away from Maoism, this moved the CP(M-L) away from other Maoist groups, who opposed the post-Mao Chinese leaders. While most Maoist groups in the US began distancing itself from the Chinese Communist Party after the death of Mao Zedong, the CP(M-L) did not, which increased the distance between the CP(M-L) and other US Maoist groups. The CP(M-L) published Class Struggle and The Call before disbanding in 1981 soon after Klonsky resigned from the leadership and amidst the beginnings of soon to be massive economic reforms in China undertaken under the leadership of Deng Xiaoping.

The CP(M-L) published a theoretical journal called Class Struggle and a newspaper named The Call before disbanding in 1981 soon after Klonsky resigned from the leadership and amidst the beginnings of soon to be massive free-market reforms in China. Prominent New York venture capitalist and private equity investor Daniel Burstein who, as a young communist radical with the CP(M-L) and while working for The Call in the mid-1970s, was the first Westerner allowed to visit the Khmer Rouge-ruled Democratic Kampuchea (Cambodia), hosted by its new leaders. He returned to pen a New York Times article claiming that widespread massacres of the populace by the Pol Pot regime were unfounded and largely a propaganda campaign by the US CIA.[2]

"Everyone knows about the war waged by the United States in Cambodia from 1970 to 1975. But very few people know about or understand the war that it is waging today against that country, which now calls itself Democratic Kampuchea. The was is being fought on many fronts. But it is mainly a propaganda war, a consciously organized, well-financed campaign to spread lies and misinformation about Kampuchea since the victory of its revolution in 1975.
"I was the first American to visit Kampuchea since April 17, 1975. What I saw has little in common with the stories told by so many journalists and other 'authorities' who have never been there...."
"The most slanderous of all charges leveled against Kampuchea is that of 'mass genocide,' with figures often cited running into the millions of people. I believe this is a lie, which certain opinion-makers in this country believe can be turned into a 'fact' by repeating it often enough." - Daniel Burstein, "On Cambodia: But, Yet," New York Times, November 21, 1978, Page A21

Further reading

  • Communist Party (Marxist Leninist) Wikipedia article sourced for this page May 20, 2005.
  • Haywood, Harry. Negro Liberation. Chicago. Liberator Press, 1976. 245p.
  • October League (Marxist-Leninist) Building a new Communist Party in the U.S. October League (Marxist-Leninist), Los Angeles. 1973, 17p., wraps. Cover title: Party building in the U.S.

See also


  • Burstein, Daniel: "On Cambodia: But, Yet," New York Times, November 21, 1978
  • Caveat: now entering a site with a Point Of View that includes, "The extremism of the Khmer Rouge was not merely rooted in evil."-(Introduction: The Unique Revolution) Apparently there may be worse epithets, and this site is determined to find all of them. However, as this is the only cite available (odd, that)... Averaging Wrong Answers: Noam Chomsky and the Cambodia Controversy by Bruce Sharp on Mekong


  1. Chronology of Political Events, 1954-1992, Part Four 1975-1980. Max Elbaum. Retrieved from Revolution In The Air: Sixties Radicals Turn to Lenin, Mao and Che, March 18, 2010. "1977 August 12-18: Eleventh Congress of the Chinese Communist Party. Mao and the Cultural Revolution are given positive assessments but the Congress officially declares the Cultural Revolution ended. That same month, CPC chair Hua Guofeng and U.S. CP(M-L) chair Mike Klonsky exchange toasts at banquet for CP(M-L) leaders in Beijing; this is effective recognition of the CP(M-L) as the semi-official pro-China party in the U.S."
  2. On Cambodia: But, Yet. New York Times.
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