ISML WEB VERSION: ISSUE NUMBER 3: 1997
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Principles & Founding Statement of International Struggle Marxist-Leninist
Pages 2 - 5
Addresses for Correspondence.
Second Conference of International Struggle Marxist-Leninist, Conway Hall, London U.K, December 8-10, 1997
The Revolutionary Process in Colonial-type Countries. By Bill Bland Communist League Britain
A paper on the national question by Marxist-Leninist Communist Party of Turkey.
Materials from Proletarian Path, India; & correspondence.
20th Congress and Stalin: Khrushchev and Soviet History, (1956).
Fraternal critique of International Struggle Marxist-Leninist founding documents (1997).
A fraternal reply from Alliance Marxist-Leninist (North America).
TO ALL MARXIST-LENINISTS AND COMRADES
OF THE WORLD!
We are honoured to announce the birth of a new Journal, "INTERNATIONAL STRUGGLE - Marxist-Leninist". The task of the journal is to analyse, debate and clarify, on the basis of Marxism-Leninism, and within the Communist movement, the major theoretical, political, economic and social questions thrown up that face the world's proletarians, toilers and the conscientious working people. The fundamental aim of the journal is to defend and spread Marxist-Leninist revolutionary theory; to assist the birth of new revolutionary historical eras; to fight against any revisionist and opportunist deviations within the working peoples and communist movements; finally, it aims to work for the unity of the Marxist-Leninist movement in order to move to the establishment of a new Communist Marxist-Leninist International.
The journal aims to form a common revolutionary, political platform for the Marxist-Leninist groups, organisations and parties in the world, who will take part in this editorial initiative, for theoretical discussion and to exchange their experience of revolutionary struggle.
Especially today, when there is a resurgence of imperialist economic and military dominance all over the world; with the super-exploitation of labour for super profits from invested capitals; with the violent oppression and super-exploitation of under-developed countries; and the destruction of nature; with the fostering of racism, nationalist war and even fascism - it is necessary and urgent to obtain the unity in action of the International Marxist-Leninist movement.
Only this latter Unity can retard and potentially obstruct the advance of capitalist and imperialist barbarism; only this can transform the coming third inter-imperialist world war into a war against the bourgeoisie and imperialism; and only this can prepare the new proletarian revolutions for the final victory of Socialism all over the world.
Since the beginning of the fall of the Soviet Union from socialism under J. V. Stalin into capitalist restoration under N. Khrushchev, the world's workers and poor toilers have struggled to re-establish the international proletarian and toilers’ movement. But there remain, many contradictory views and "camps", in the Marxist-Leninist left.
Many recent meetings of Marxist-Leninists have recognised the need for a New International. Yet, despite the urgent need and desire of an International, the truth is that the communist movement is divided into many contradictory camps, which are incapable of discussing and debating. Sectarianism not only divides the movement but also acts as a brake for the theoretical development of the movement. The main enemy we must fight and defeat - that Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin also had to fight against, is still revisionism. Revisionism is born and spread from capitalism, and the bourgeois culture of egoism and individualism. Unfortunately revisionism has survived inside the communist movement, and this has caused the defeat of the first experience of Socialism.
In the construction of socialism, class struggle and dictatorship of the proletariat must form a new material socialist basis; that will move quickly to eject bourgeois culture from the minds of men and women. Only this can and will prevent bourgeois culture arising again.
Before the workers and poor peasants of the world can come together in a new International, they must understand and write their own history of the last 150 years; and they must answer politically and in a revolutionary manner the new problems that arise out of historical development. The Marxist-Leninist analysis of the capitalist process of production and of the revolutionary road of the proletariat in order to smash and bury capitalism once and for all - will always be valid and relevant.
In such a situation it is impossible to build an international unless the communists prove capable of organising at the least, an international forum where theoretical differences can be aired and debated. They must answer the Question: "How did revisionism, temporarily defeat the world's communists, led by Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin? Why has this happened? Why was the struggle for Socialism temporarily defeated?"
The Editorial Board of "INTERNATIONAL STRUGGLE - Marxist-Leninist", holds that without such a firm theoretical and historical clarity, it will be impossible to form a principled "United" International. At a critical stage in the development of the Russian Communist movement, Comrade Lenin called for "LINES OF DEMARCATION":
"We declare that before we can unite and in order that we may unite we MUST first of all draw firm and definite lines of demarcation as Iskra demands" (Works Vol. 5; Moscow 1977; p.367).
These "Lines of Demarcation" are required now, more than ever before. These lines can only be drawn by a scientific and clear debate aimed at answering the questions above.
The answers to these central questions will undoubtedly assist us in taking up the challenges of all the theoretical questions thrown up by the world today. These theoretical questions include the development of global finance capital, which has taken advantage of the weakness of the world proletariat in the wake of the victory of the world revisionist movement.
"INTERNATIONAL STRUGGLE-Marxist-Leninist" is an international forum created by Marxist-Leninist organisations the world over, to organise non-sectarian debate on these urgent theoretical questions facing the Marxist-Leninist movement.
Ultimately we aim to assist the formation of a NEW COMMUNIST, MARXIST-LENINIST INTERNATIONAL, by promoting and fostering an open, reasoned, scientific debate between those who consider themselves Marxist-Leninists.
Appropriately enough, "INTERNATIONAL STRUGGLE- Marxist-Leninist" was formed by a democratic decision, at a Conference in December 1995, honouring the Centenary of the death of FREDERICK ENGELS. As co-founders of Historical Materialism and of the First International Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, jointly set the World's Workers on the only possible road to their full freedom.
This Conference was convened by "L'Uguaglianza" ["Equality"] of Italy, and held in Ischia on December 1995. At this meeting, representatives of parties and groups; from 11 countries attended to present views on the RELEVANCE OF ENGELS FOR TODAY, and to assist in the eventual formation of a new Marxist-Leninist International.
Below is listed the Editorial Board's EDITORIAL PRINCIPLES of operation. In recognition of the centenary of the death of Engels, Master of the international proletariat and one of the co-founders of our great movement, the first two issues will be largely devoted to the papers that were presented at the meeting.
THE EDITORIAL BOARD: Domenico Savio of CeCim (Italy); Sherif of Marxist Leninist Communist Party (Turkey); Hari Kumar of Alliance Marxist-Leninist (Canada and USA); Jehangir Merwanji of Revolutionary Workers Co-ordinating Committee (India).
1. We proudly uphold the following points of Marxist-Leninist principles, and believe that they form the minimum, agreed basis to unite ALL who call themselves Marxist-Leninists for the purpose of bringing out an international theoretical, political and revolutionary journal:
a) Defence and
a consistent and proud acknowledgement of Marxism-Leninism;
b) Defence and a consistent upright acknowledgement of Marx, Engels, Lenin, and Stalin's thoughts and works.
c) Determined theoretical and practical struggle against revisionism and revisionists of Marxism-Leninism and its revolutionary political theory.
d) Upholding the Revolutionary road to Socialism, and not the so-called "Peaceful Road".
e) Recognition of the necessity of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat to first achieve, and then to maintain socialism; and then to advance towards communism till its complete establishment.
f) Full support of the right of nations to self- determination including secession.
g) Upholding and spreading the philosophy of dialectic and historical materialism and the revolutionary policy inside the working people's movement; against the philosophy of idealism.
h) Abhorrence and complete rejection, and determined struggle against all forms of racism and sexism.
2. It is important that the journal involve all the groups who consider themselves Marxist-Leninists. For that reason the Editorial Board will try to contact all the Marxist-Leninist groups, organisation and parties who accept the Founding Principles of clause (1). The Editorial Board has the task to inform them about the journal and to encourage them to take part in its production and circulation, and to attend the next conference in 1997. This conference can be attended by more than one organisation from those countries where the Marxist-Leninist Party has not yet been re-constructed.
3. Until an open debate has achieved the clarity and the principled agreement that is required by the international Marxist-Leninist movement, no new, principled and meaningful Communist International can be formed. That is why a prominent section of "International Struggle" will be the "Discussion and Reply" section.
The Editors will be scrupulously fair to all points of view that conform to clause (1). That is to say, we guarantee that ALL Marxist-Leninists will be able to have a written and printed reply, either on the basis of their own, or, on their party's, or group's behalf.
Moreover, the Editors are mandated to ensure that a scientific, non-sectarian debate proceeds on MARXIST-LENINIST LINES. That is, a debate that is conducted on principled and factual lines; and eschews personality attacks, or character assassination.
4. The editors are aware that the road towards the Marxist-Leninist International cannot be covered on the theoretical level only, so they want to emphasise the importance of the establishment of communist parties and groups in order to organise the class struggle against the bourgeoisie and the reactionary forces. They want also to emphasise the importance of the exchange of political and organisational experiences between the world revolutionaries and communists.
5. The only views that will not be tolerated in the journal are those that are openly anti-Marxist-Leninist. They include openly racist, bourgeois, revisionist and Trotskyite views. Only one exception to this will be permitted; that will be where the editors take a joint decision that such an article, carried a valuable lesson to the Marxist-Leninist movement, and needed exposing by printing. Such cases will always be appended with a covering Editorial.
6. The editors number 5, including a Chief Editor. The current founding board has been decided by a democratic election. Their mandate is for 12-18 months by which time, a new Conference will be held. At this Conference all decisions, elections, and functions can be re-discussed. All groups will carry one vote at this forthcoming Second Conference. New elections will be held for the new Editorial Board.
7. The language of "INTERNATIONAL STRUGGLE - Marxist-Leninist" is initially only English. This is purely a practical consideration at this time. At this stage, participating groups and parties will have their own responsibility to translate the journal into their own other, significant languages. With further consolidation of our strength, we will be able to later assist this translation process.
8. Donations are required for the journal; but these do not confer any editorial privilege.
9. We are fully agreed that a new Marxist-Leninist Communist International is urgently needed. As LINES OF DEMARCATION are drawn, we wish to assist at the right time, in the formation of such a single, truly united Marxist-Leninist Communist International.
We request Marxist-Leninists the world over to participate in this journal. We ask that views be forwarded to the chief editor at the addresses below. We further ask, that these submissions be in both paper form and, if possible computer disc form IBM compatible. Of course, if the latter is impossible, then we will accept articles in only a written form.
Domenico Savio, CeCIM, (Italy).
Hari Kumar, Alliance (Canada & USA)
Jehangir Merwanji, Revolutionary Workers Co-ordinating Committee (India).
The journal and movement entitled
International Struggle Marxist-Leninist, were born at Ischia, Italy in 1996. As
the principles and statements indicate, it was a movement born out of a
recognition that the international Marxist-Leninist movement was divided.
However, it is also born out of conviction that the only way of resolving these
divisions was through active debate about these issues. We therefore proposed
that this journal should, in a non-sectarian manner, actively discuss and
decide what constitutes current Marxism-Leninism.
As we see it, the minimum requirement for all Marxist-Leninist today, is to accept the stands of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin. Beyond that however, we all recognize that there are deep divisions. Marxist-Leninist recognise that the only way to resolve these divisions is to engage in a principled debate.
We were mandated at the founding meeting to convene a SECOND CONFERENCE, to
examine the way forward for the unity of the international communist movement, and to try to engage further groups and organisations that are of Marxist-Leninist conviction. At this meeting we wish to constructively discuss the international movement and whether these current divisions can be bridged. What are the divisions? In what manner can organisations of a Marxist-Leninist conviction, overcome these divisions? How are the deep theoretical divisions to be debated, or is there no point in discussing them? What practical activities, in the form of the United Front work, can be engaged in the sort of a full agreement and resolution of these differences? Unless the movement internationally can resolve these issues, many comrades are likely to remain confused, and in this we include ourselves. Since the attack on Khrushchev led by Albania and China, there has been no single journal and/or forum for such a serious debate. Yet such a debate is exactly what is needed, in order to resolve the way forward. We must remember that this was the way that Iskra, under Lenin's leadership, accepted the challenge of forming one great river of Bolshevism, out of the smaller rivulets of struggle, that existed before the debates led by Iskra. We must remember that Lenin pointed out that without a revolutionary theory there can be no revolutionary movement!
In this spirit we fraternally ask that your organization join in the serious matter of resolution of these issues. The second Conference of the International Struggle-Marxist-Leninist journal and movement cordially invite your organisation, to attend at CONWAY HALL, LONDON, UK, on the 8-9-10th DECEMBER 1997. We ask that you send immediately to the London convening organizers, your acceptance of this task, the name of your organization, some of your literature and the number of delegates you plan to send. Conference fees should be according to what the delegations can afford.
The organizers shall not be able to bear all financial responsibility for the delegates. They, however shall provide board and lodging for two persons per delegations. Each delegation is entitled to one vote and one speaker, although observers with non-speaking rights are more than welcome. Papers to be addressed at the conference should be sent in to the Progressive Documentation and Information centre of Turkey (see address above) at least until the end of November and should not exceed 10 (ten) typewritten pages. All delegates are advised to bring in their literature for exchange and distribution. The organizers shall try to prepare proper facilities for the exposure of such literature. Considering the high cost of hiring people competent in simultaneous translation, the organizers have decided on English being the language to be used during the conference. Those who cannot communicate in English and/or want to bring their own interpreters are, of course welcome to do so. All inquiries for further information may be sent to the addresses on page 6 for the journal.
1. THE MARXIST-LENINIST STRATEGY
The aim of Marxist-Leninists is to lead the working class in each country to accomplish socialist revolutions that will establish socialist, and ultimately communist, societies.
The revolutionary process will differ somewhat in each country according to the specific conditions existing:
peculiar and nationally specific features in each separate country must
unfailingly be taken into account by the Comintern when drawing up guiding
directives for the working-class movement of the country concerned."
J. V. Stalin: "Notes on Contemporary Themes"; (July 1927), "Works", Vol. 9; Moscow; 1954; p. 337.
In this paper I shall attempt to analyse the revolutionary process in colonial-type countries. I use the term "colonial-type countries" to mean relatively underdeveloped countries that are dominated by one or another capitalist Great Power, which is usually an imperialist (i.e., monopoly capitalist) country. I shall use the following definitions and terminology. A colonial type country may be:
1) a colony, which is ruled directly by a Great Power; or
2) a semi-colony, which is nominally
independent but is in fact dominated by a Great Power.
A semi-colony which was formerly a colony is called a neo-colony.
A revolution in a colonial-type country which achieves the national liberation of the country is termed a national-democratic revolution.
A revolution which achieves the political power of the working class is termed a socialist revolution.
The Role of the National Bourgeoisie
A key feature of the class structure of a colonial-type country, is that the native capitalist class consists of two parts:
Firstly, the comprador capitalist class or comprador bourgeoisie, which has close ties with the landlord class and whose exploitation is based primarily upon foreign trade, making them, like the landlord class, dependent upon the dominating Great Power;
Secondly the national capitalist class or national bourgeoisie, whose exploitation is based on the ownership of industrial enterprises and whose economic advancement is held back by the dominating Great Power
Stalin pointed out in May 1925 to the students of the Communist University of the Toilers of the East that the native bourgeoisie in some of these countries :
"Is splitting up into two parts, a revolutionary part (the national bourgeoisie -- Ed.) . . . and a compromising part (the comprador bourgeoisie -- Ed.), of which the first is continuing the revolutionary Struggle, whereas the Second is entering a bloc with imperialism. J. V. Stalin "The Political Tasks of the University of the Peoples of the East"; (May 1925), "Works", Volume 7; Moscow; 1954; p. 147.
The 6th Congress of the Communist International, in September 1928, agreed that the native bourgeoisie in colonial-type countries :
"Do not adopt a uniform attitude to imperialism. One part, more especially the commercial bourgeoisie, directly serves the interests of imperialist capital (the so-called comprador bourgeoisie). In general, they maintain, more or less consistently, an anti-national, imperialist point of view, directed against the whole nationalist movement, as do the feudal allies of imperialism and the more highly paid native officials. The other parts of the native bourgeoisie, especially those representing the interests of native industry, support the national movement. 6th Congress of Communist International: Theses on the Revolutionary Movement in Colonial and Semi-Colonial Countries, (September 1928), in: Jane Degras (Ed.): "The Communist International: 1919-1943: Documents", Volume 2; London; 1971; p. 538.
Therefore, in a colonial-type country, the national bourgeoisie is a class objectively in favour of the national-democratic revolution but objectively opposed to the socialist revolution.
It follows that the class forces of a colonial-type country which are objectively in favour of the national-democratic revolution are wider and stronger than the classes objectively in favour of the socialist revolution. The Marxist-Leninist strategy for the revolutionary process in a colonial-type country must be based on striving to mobilise the maximum class forces objectively possible for both the national-democratic and the socialist revolutions:
possible to conquer the more powerful enemy . . . only by taking advantage of
every, even the smallest, opportunity of gaining a mass ally, even though this
ally be temporary, vacillating, unstable, unreliable and conditional. Those who
do not understand this fail to understand even a grain of Marxism."
Vladimir I. Lenin: "'Left-wing' Communism, an Infantile Disorder"; (April 1920), in: "Selected Works", Volume 10; London; 1946; p. 112.
Communist Party of each country must unfailingly avail itself of even the smallest
opportunity of gaining a mass ally for the proletariat, even if a temporary,
vacillating, unstable and unreliable ally."
J V Stalin: 'Notes on Contemporary Themes' (July 1927), in: "Works", Vol. 9; Moscow; 1954; p. 337.
Thus the Marxist-Leninist strategy of the revolutionary process in colonial-type countries is to strive to carry through the process in two Stages: Firstly, the stage of national-democratic revolution and, secondly, the stage of socialist revolution.
In the first stage, the strategy is for the Marxist-Leninist Party to ally itself with the national-bourgeoisie, to the extent that this class remains genuinely revolutionary:
co-operation is permissible, and in certain circumstances even a temporary
alliance, between the Communist Party and the national-revolutionary movement,
provided that the latter is a genuine revolutionary movement, that it genuinely
struggles against the ruling power, and that its representatives do not hamper
the Communists in their work."
6th Congress, Communist International: Theses on the Revolutionary Movement in the Colonial and Semi-Colonial Countries (September 1928) in: Jane Degras (Ed.): op. cit., Volume 2; p. 542.
The Transition to the Socialist Revolution
Such co-operation, such an alliance, is temporary because the aim of the Marxist-Leninist Party is to win for the working class the leading role in the revolutionary process in order to carry this through, with the minimum possible interruption to the socialist revolution. This leadership of the revolutionary process can be won only by struggle with the national bourgeoisie. The Marxist-Leninist strategy is, as Stalin states, that :
proletariat pushes aside the national bourgeoisie, consolidates its hegemony
and assumes the lead of the vast masses of the working people in town and
country, in order to overcome the resistance of the national bourgeoisie,
secure the complete victory of the bourgeois-democratic revolution, and then
gradually convert it into a socialist revolution";
J. V. Stalin: "Questions of the Chinese Revolution"; (April 1927), "Works"; Vo 9; Moscow; 1954; p.225.
bourgeois-democratic revolution, consistently pursued, will be transformed into
the proletarian revolution in those colonies and semi-colonies where the proletariat
acts as leader and exercises hegemony over the movement. .. In these
(colonial-type -- Ed.) countries the main task is to organise the workers and
peasants independently in the Communist Party of the proletariat . . and
emancipate them from the influence of the national bourgeoisie";
6th Congress of Communist International: Programme of the Communist International (September 1928), in: Jane Degras (Ed.): op. cit., Volume 2; p. 507, 522.
If it becomes clear that the working class is winning the leadership of the national-democratic revolution, and so is attaining a position to transform the revolution into a socialist revolution, then the national bourgeoisie will inevitably desert the revolution and go over to the counterrevolution, preferring the retention of limited exploitation under colonial-type domination to the ending of exploitation under socialism. This, according to Stalin and the Communist International, was what occurred in Chiang Kai-Shek's coup in China in 1927:
issued directives concerned with preparing the workers and peasants for
struggle against the (national -- Ed,) bourgeoisie and their armed forces. This
was a few months before Chiang Kai-Shek's coup. Subsequent events . . confirmed
the Comintern's predictions: a radical regrouping of classes occurred, the
(national -- Ed.) bourgeoisie committed treachery and deserted to the enemy
camp; the revolution moved on to a new and higher stage";
ECCI: Resolution on the Present Stage of the Chinese Revolution (July 1927), in: Jane Degras (Ed.): op. cit., Volume 2; p. 393.
first period of the Chinese revolution... the national bourgeoisie (not the
compradors) sided with the revolution. Chiang Kai-Shek's coup marks the
desertion of the national bourgeoisie from the revolution."
J. V. Stalin: "Questions of the Chinese Revolution"; ( April 1927), in: "Works"; Volume 9; Moscow; 1954; p. 226, 229.
After the working class has gained the leadership of the revolution has begun to transform the revolution into a socialist revolution, Marxist-Leninist strategy is to bring about the establishment of the dictatorship of the working class:
revolution will be unable to crush the resistance bourgeoisie, to maintain its
victory and to push forward to the victory of socialism unless . . it creates a
special organ in the of the dictatorship of the proletariat as its principal
J. V. Stalin: "The Foundations of Leninism"; (April/May 1924), "Works", Vol. 6; Moscow; 1953; p. 112.
2. REVISIONIST STRATEGIES
The term revisionism is applied to any ideology which, while presenting itself as Marxism-Leninism, in fact distorts it so as to serve the interests of a capitalist class.
Revisionism is of service to a capitalist class in an environment where Marxism-Leninism has won support, serving to divert potential Marxist-Leninists into political channels which serve the interests of the capitalist class.
In so far as the revolutionary process in colonial-type countries is concerned, there are two basic types of revisionist trend:
Firstly, types which serve the interests of imperialists and comprador capitalists. Into this category fits such revisionisms as Trotskyism
and : Secondly, types which serve the interests of national capitalists. Into this category fits revisionisms such as Maoism. Because the national capitalists of a colonial-type country need national-democratic revolution in order to develop their wealth and power free of imperialist shackles, this second type of revisionism appears to be "more revolutionary" than the first type. In fact, its objective role is to seek to check the revolutionary process at the stage of national-democratic revolution and stop it from proceeding to the stage of socialist revolution.
As we have said, Trotskyism is a type of revisionism which, in relation to the revolutionary process in colonial-type countries, serves the interests of imperialists and comprador capitalists. Trotskyism rejects the Marxist-Leninist view that the national capitalist class can play a revolutionary role in relation to the national-democratic stage of the revolutionary process:
national bourgeoisie has been essentially an instrument of the compradors and
Leon Trotsky: "The Chinese Revolution and the Theses of Comrade Stalin", in: "Problems of the Chinese Revolution"; Ann Arbor (USA); 1967; p., 21.
It therefore rejects as "counter-revolutionary opportunism" the Marxist-Leninist strategy of stages in the revolutionary process in colonial-type countries:
(tailist -- Ed.) theory of "stages" or "steps" repeatedly
proclaimed by Stalin in recent times, has served as the motivation in principle
for the opportunist tactic.
Once we set out on this road, our policy must be immediately transformed from a revolutionary factor into a conservative one."
Leon Trotsky: "The Chinese Revolution and the Theses of Comrade Stalin", in: "Problems of the Chinese Revolution"; Ann Arbor (USA); 1967; p., 21.
Under slogans which boil down to "socialism now", Trotskyism serves to assist the imperialists and comprador bourgeoisie by disrupting and weakening the potential objective forces of the national-democratic revolution.
Maoism or Chinese revisionism is the most influential of the types of revisionism that serve the interests of the national capitalist classes of colonial-type countries.
As have seen, the Chinese national bourgeoisie defected from the Chinese revolution in 1927:
"Chiang Kai-Shek's coup marks the desertion of the national bourgeoisie from the revolution." J. V. Stalin: "Questions of the Chinese Revolution" (April 1927), "Works", Vol. 9; Moscow; 1954; p. 229.
After Mao Tse-tung and his supporters took over the leadership of the Communist Party of China at Tsunyi in January 1935, the Party's policy became one of striving to win back the national bourgeoisie into a united front with the Party:
-- Ed.) bourgeoisie . . . withdrew from the revolution and turned into enemies
of the people. .In the present circumstances there is a possibility that the
bourgeoisie will once again cooperage with us and join in the resistance to
Japan, and the party of the proletariat should therefore not repel them but
welcome them and revive the alliance with them."
Mao Tse-tung: "The Tasks of the Chinese Communist Party in the Period of Resistance to Japan"; (May 1937), in: "Selected Works", Volume 1; Peking; 1964; p. 271, 272.
This programme naturally required the national bourgeoisie to be convinced that if they joined a united front with the Communist Party under its new Maoist leadership they would be secure from socialism and the dictatorship of the proletariat. Mao accordingly strove to convince the national bourgeoisie of this:
should be encouraged to come into our anti-Japanese base areas and start
enterprises here if they so desire. Private enterprise should be encouraged and
state enterprise regarded as only one sector of the economy."
Mao Tse-tung: "On Policy"; (December 1940), in: "Selected Works", Volume 2; Peking; 1965; p. 447.
people suspect that the Chinese Communists are opposed to the growth of private
capital and the protection of private property, but they are mistaken...We have
too little of capitalism.. . It will be necessary in the interests of social
progress to facilitate the development of the private capitalist sector of the
Mao Tse-tung: "On Coalition Government"; (April 1945), in: "Selected Works", Vol. 3; Peking; 1965; p. 281, 283.
Maoism accepts the Marxist-Leninist analysis of the stages of the revolutionary process in colonial-type countries and the Marxist-Leninist concept:
Chinese revolution must go through two stages, first the democratic revolution,
and second, the socialist revolution."
Mao Tse-tung: "On New Democracy"; (Jan 1940), in; "Selected Works", Vol. 2; Peking; 1965; p. 341.
It also accepts the Marxist-Leninist concept that the national bourgeoisie can play a revolutionary role in the first (national-democratic) stage of the revolutionary process:
national bourgeoisie.. is oppressed by imperialism and fettered by feudalism,
and consequently is in contradiction with both of them. In this respect it
constitutes one of the revolutionary forces."
Mao Tse-tung: "The Chinese Revolution and the Chinese Communist Party"; (Dec 1939), in: "Selected Works", Volume 2; Peking; 1965; p. 320.
However, Maoism reflects the Marxist-Leninist concept that the strategy of the Party should be directed towards the formation, with the minimum of delay, of a state of the dictatorship of the proletariat. According to Maoism, in colonial-type countries the strategy should be directed towards the formation, as a "transitional" form of state, of a "new-democratic state", a state of the dictatorship of several classes:
present-day China, the bourgeois-democratic revolution is .. . one of a new
special type. We call this type the new-democratic revolution and it is
developing in all other colonial and semi-colonial countries as well as in
China. The new-democratic revolution.. results . . . in a dictatorship of the
united front of all the revolutionary classes."
Mao Tse-tung: "The Chinese Revolution and the Chinese Communist Party"; (Dec 1939), in: "Selected Works", Volume 2; Peking; 1965; p. 326, 327.
new-democratic republic will be... different from the socialist republic of the
Soviet type under the dictatorship of the proletariat.. For a certain
historical period, this form is not suitable for the revolutions in the
colonial and semi-colonial countries... Republics under the joint dictatorship
of several revolutionary classes.. is the transitional form of state to be
adopted in the revolutions of the colonial and semi-colonial countries...it is
an alliance of several revolutionary classes."
Mao Tse-tung: "On New Democracy"; (Jan 1940), in; "Selected Works", Vol. 2; Peking; 1965; p. 350-51
Mao states that the classes that form this “new-democratic state” comprise all the classes in Chinese society, which have an objective interest in opposing imperialism, including the national bourgeoisie:
democratic republic.. will consist of the proletariat, the peasantry, the urban
petty bourgeoisie, the bourgeoisie and all those in the country who agree with
the national and democratic revolution; it will be the alliance of these
classes in the national and democratic revolution. The salient feature here is
the inclusion of the bourgeoisie."
Mao Tse-tung: "The Tasks of the Chinese Communist Party in the Period of Resistance to Japan"; (May 1937), in: "Selected Works", Volume 1; Peking; 1964; p. 271-72.
But, as we have seen, Marxism-Leninism holds that, in order to build and maintain a socialist society, a state of the dictatorship of the proletariat is necessary:
revolution will be unable to crush the resistance of the bourgeoisie, to
maintain its victory and to push forward to the final victory of socialism
unless.. it creates a special organ in the form, of the dictatorship of the
proletariat as its principal mainstay."
J. V. Stalin: "The Foundations of Leninism"; May 1924, in: 'Works', Vol. 6; Moscow; 1953; p. 112.
But any transition from "new democracy" -- the joint dictatorship of several classes, including the national bourgeoisie -- to a state of the dictatorship of the proletariat must, according to Marxism-Leninism, involve class struggle against the resistance of the national bourgeoisie. Maoism, however, rejects this Marxist-Leninist view, holding that the contradiction between the national bourgeoisie and the working class can be resolved peacefully:
contradiction between the national bourgeoisie and the working class is one
between exploiter and exploited and is by nature antagonistic. But in the
concrete conditions of China, this antagonistic contradiction between the two
classes, if properly handled, can be transformed into a non-antagonistic one and
be resolved by peaceful means."
Mao Tse-tung: "On the Correct Handling of Contradictions among the People"; (February 1957), in: 'Selected Works', Volume 5; Peking; 1977; p.386.
The "correct handling" which can resolve these contradictions by peaceful means is
policy of uniting with, criticising and educating the national
Mao Tse-tung: "On the Correct Handling of Contradictions among the People"; (February 1957), in: 'Selected Works', Volume 5; Peking; 1977; p.386.
Which Mao defines as a policy of the "ideological remoulding" (Mao Tse-tung: "On the Correct Handling of Contradictions among the People"; (February 1957), in: 'Selected Works', Volume 5; Peking; 1977; p.386) of the national bourgeoisie. But, this is the "theory" of the Soviet revisionist Nikolai Bukharin, who stated that capitalists can grow peacefully into socialism:
to Bukharin's theory of the capitalists " peaceful growth into
socialism, . . . the irreconcilable antagonism of class interests between the
exploiters and the exploited disappears, the exploiters grow into
J. V. Stalin: "The Right Deviation in the CPSU (B)"; (April 1929): 'Works', Vol. 12; Moscow; 1955; p. 32.
On which theory Stalin commented:
have been no cases in history voluntarily departed from the scene. There have
been no cases in history where the dying bourgeoisie has not exerted preserve
J. V. Stalin: "The Right Deviation in the CPSU (B)"; (April 1929): 'Works', Vol. 12; Moscow; 1955; p. 40.
If, therefore, something called socialism was introduced peacefully in China, not against the opposition of but in co-operation with the Chinese National bourgeoisie it must, according to Marxism-Leninism, be a spurious and not a real socialism. Indeed, by September 1953, five years after the proclamation of the People's Republic of China in October 1949, Mao was equating socialism with state capitalism:
transformation of capitalism into socialism is to be accomplished through state
Mao Tse-tung: "The Only Road for the Transformation of Capitalist Industry and Commerce"; (September 1953), in: 'Selected Works', Vol. 5; Peking ; 1977; p. 112.
capitalism.. is to be put into practice gradually so as to attain socialist
ownership by the whole people."
Mao Tse-tung: "On the Draft Constitution of the People's Republic of China"; (June 1954), in: "Selected Works", Volume 5; Peking; 1977; p.143.
This state capitalism was composed of joint state-private enterprises, that is, enterprises jointly operated by state and private capital:
advanced form of state capitalism in China is called a joint state-private
enterprise. This is the principal way through which the transition of
capitalist industry and commerce into socialist enterprises is being effected...
A joint state-private enterprise is one in which the state invests and to which
it assigns personnel to share in management with the capitalists... A fixed
rate of interest was paid by the state for the total investment of the
capitalists in the joint state-private enterprises. The interest is fixed at a
rate of 5% per annum."
Kuan Ta-Tung: "The Socialist Transformation of Capitalist Industry and Commerce in China"; Peking; 1960; p. 75, 84, 86-87.
So, under Maoist socialism, as Mao himself admits, the working class continue to be exploited:
joint State-private industrial and commercial enterprises, capitalists still
get a fixed rate of interest on their capital, that is to say, exploitation
Mao Tse-tung: "On the Correct Handling of Contradictions among the People"; (February 1957), in: "Selected Works", Volume 5; Peking; 1977; p. 394.
The Chinese national capitalists not only had no objection to Mao's socialism, in which the state invested in their enterprises and guaranteed their profits), they welcomed it:
were there increasing numbers of capitalists who petitioned of their own free
will to have their enterprises changed over to joint state-private operation?..
The statistics of 64 factories in various parts of China which had gone over to
joint operation earlier than others revealed that their profits were
increasing... Taking their profit in 1950 as 100, it was.. 306 in 1953... The
capitalists paraded with the beating of cymbals and drums, while sending in
their petitions for the change-over of their enterprises."
Kuan Ta-Tung: "The Socialist Transformation of Capitalist Industry and Commerce in China"; Peking; 1960; p. 78-79, 84.
By 1954 Mao was claiming that :
already exists in our country today".
Mao Tse-tung: "On the Draft Constitution of the People's Republic of China"; (June 1954), in: "Selected Works", Volume 5; Peking; 1977; p.143.
relations of production have been established".
Mao Tse-tung: "On the Correct Handling of Contradictions among the People"; (February 1957), in: "Selected Works", Volume 5; Peking; 1977; p. 394.
VARIANTS OF MAOISM
Since Maoism is a type of revisionism designed to serve the interests of the national bourgeoisie of China, variants of Maoism have arisen to serve the interests of the national bourgeoisies of other similar colonial-type countries Examples of such variants of Maoism are Leduanism (Vietnamese revisionism) and Kimilsungism (Korean revisionism)
Leduanism, or Vietnamese revisionism, is named after Le Duan, who was General/First Secretary of the Vietnamese Workers? Party (now the Vietnamese Communist Party) from 1960 until his death in 1986. The Democratic Republic of Vietnam was founded in northern Vietnam in September 1948 on the basis of Leduanism, and in July 1976 North and South Vietnam were unified into the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.
Leduanism follows Maoism in departing from Marxism-Leninism to put forward the strategy of working for the formation of a state which is a joint dictatorship of several classes, including the national bourgeoisie:
Party guided the workers and peasants to establish a national united front with
Le Duan: "Leninism and Vietnam's Revolution", in: "On the Socialist Revolution in Vietnam", Volume 1; Hanoi; 1965; p. 34.
Leduanism also follows Maoism in putting forward the programme of the peaceful transition to socialism through state capitalism, by the formation, in co-operation with the national capitalists, of joint state-private enterprises. Participation in these, according to Leduanism, remoulds the national capitalists ideologically into workers:
national bourgeoisie.. are willing to accept socialist transformation,
therefore our Party's policy is peacefully to transform capitalist trade and
industry, gradually to transform capitalist ownership into socialist ownership,
through State capitalism, and to transform the bourgeois from exploiters into
genuine workers through ideological education and participation in productive
Le Duan: "Leninism and Vietnam's Revolution", in: "On the Socialist Revolution in Vietnam", Volume 2; Hanoi; 1965; p. 39.
Kim Il Sungism
Kim Il Sungism, or Korean revisionism, is named after Kim Il Sung, who was the General Secretary of the Korean Workers Party from 1966, till his death in 1995. The Democratic People's Republic of Korea was founded in North Korea in September 1945 on the basis of Kimilsungism. The DPRK is a state based on a joint dictatorship of several classes, including the national bourgeoisie:
Democratic People's Republic.. must be built by forming a democratic
united front . . . which embraces even the national capitalists."
Kim Il Sung: "On the Building of New Korea and the National United Front"; (October 1948), in: "Works", Volume 1; Pyongyang; 1980; p. 298.
individual entrepreneurs, traders and people of other social sections
participate in government.. and form a component part of the united
Kim Il Sung: "On the Immediate Tasks of the People's Power in Socialist Construction"; (September 1957), in: "Selected Works", Volume 2; Pyongyang; 1975; p. 37.
Kimilsungism rejects the Marxist-Leninist concept that the dictatorship of the working class is essential to construct and maintain socialism:
establishment of the power of the proletarian dictatorship by force was
followed as a last resort in some countries.. In the northern half (of Korea --
Ed.).. this was not necessary."
Baik Bong: 'Kim Ii Sung: Biography', Volume 2; Beirut; 1973; p. 176.
According to Kimilsungism, the joint dictatorship with the capitalist can carry through not only the national-democratic revolution but also the socialist revolution:
entrepreneurs and traders of our country are fellow-travellers . not only in
the carrying out of the democratic revolution but also in socialist
Kim Il Sung: "On the Immediate Tasks of the People's Power in Socialist Construction"; (September 1957), in: "Selected Works", Volume 2; Pyongyang; 1975; p. 37.
with the national capitalists in the anti-imperialist, anti-feudal democratic
revolution made them.. proceed to the socialist revolution.
"Socialist Transformation of Private Trade & Industry in Korea", Pyongyang; 1977' p. 37.
Therefore, the contradiction between the national capitalist class and the working class can be resolved peacefully:
struggle attendant on the socialist transformation of capitalist trade and
industry was resolved mainly by means of persuasion and education, not by
"Socialist Transformation of Private Trade & Industry in Korea", Pyongyang; 1977' p.26.
Kimilsungism rejects the Maoist strategy of forming state-capitalist (joint state-private) enterprises, in favour of the forming of cooperatives in conjunction with the national capitalists:
Kim Il Sung held that.. it was wholly unnecessary for the peaceful
transformation of capitalist trade and industry to assume the form of state
Baik Bong: 'Kim Il Sung: Biography', Volume 2; Beirut; 1973; p. 520.
country was the first to transform capitalist traders and manufacturers along
socialist lines by using the co-operative economy. This is an original
"Socialist Transformation of Private Trade & Industry in Korea", Pyongyang; 1977' p.28.
According to Kimilsungism, the mere act of joining a co-operative transforms a national capitalist into a socialist worker:
joining the producers'
co-operatives, the entrepreneurs and traders . . were transformed into
socialist working people."
Kim Il Sung: "The Democratic People's Republic of Korea is the Banner of Freedom and Independence for Our People & a Powerful Weapon for Building Socialism and Communism"; (September 1968), in: 'Selected Works', Volume 5; Pyongyang; 1975; p. 151.
The process of co-operativisation was carried out gradually:
fundamental requirement of the policy of transforming the capitalist traders
and manufacturers on socialist lines.. is to reorganise the capitalist economy
"Socialist Transformation of Private Trade & Industry in Korea", Pyongyang; 1977' p.23.
Of the forms of co-operative introduced into Korea, the second and third forms were open to national capitalists. The second form was one in which the income of members was related to the amount invested by them. It was :
form in which.. both socialist distribution according to work done and
distribution according to the amount of investment were applied."
Kim Han Gil: "Modern History of Korea"; Pyongyang; 1979; p. 387.
The third form was defined as a fully socialist form in which the income of members was related only to work performed (a definition which included managerial skill and responsibility) but not to the amount invested by them:
third form was a completely socialist form in which only socialist distribution
Kim Han Gil: "Modern History of Korea"; Pyongyang; 1979; p. 387.
National capitalists joining a co-operative could choose freely which form of distribution to adopt. They naturally exercised this choice in accordance with their interests:
transforming capitalist traders and manufacturers on socialist lines, our Party
applied the voluntary principle to them.. The important demand of the voluntary
principle is . . . to strictly guard against coercive methods in co-operativisation
and conduct this movement according to the free will of private traders and
manufacturers... The essential requirement of the voluntary principle is to
make... private traders and manufacturers.. choose the forms of their own
"Socialist Transformation of Private Trade & Industry in Korea", Pyongyang; 1977' p.31, 72.
voluntary principle and the principle of mutual interests were observed in the
co-operative transformation of capitalist traders and industrialists."
Baik Bong: 'Kim Il Sung: Biography', Volume 2; Beirut; 1973; p. 520.
Thus, in accordance with their interests, they tended to choose the second form of co-operation, since those who did so received
reasonable dividends upon the investments".
"Socialist Transformation of Private Trade & Industry in Korea", Pyongyang; 1977' p.143.
second form was popular in the co-operation of capitalist trade and industry.
It was a rational form which was readily acceptable to capitalists because it
applied distribution according to the amount of investment."
Kim Han Gil: "Modern History of Korea"; Pyongyang; 1979; p. 387.
were gradually incorporated into the co-operative economy; here, in particular,
the semi-socialist form of co-operative economy was broadly applied."
Kim Il Sung: Report on the Work of the Central Committee to the 4th Congress of the Workers' Party of Korea (September 1961), in: "Selected Works", Volume 3; Pyongyang; 1976; p. 69.
National capitalists who chose the second form of Cupertino were encouraged to pass to the higher, third form (in which the income of members was not related to investment):
accordance with the level of consciousness of the members and the economic
condition of the co-operative, this (the second form of higher co-operation --
Ed.) was gradually developed into a higher form, that is into a completely
socialist economic form, in which they received dividends entirely according to
Baik Bong: 'Kim Il Sung: Biography', Volume 2; Beirut; 1973; p. 521.
National capitalists were encouraged to choose to opt for this transition not only by the taking of managerial skill and responsibility into account in determining dividends according to work' (Just as occurred in the revisionist Soviet Union in the period which followed the economic reforms of the 1960's) -- but by the payment of additional compensation to those who opted for the transition:
such cases (of national capitalists opting for transition to the third form of
co-operation -- Ed.) he (Kim Il Sung -- Ed.) saw to it that each co-operative
member was paid due compensation for his contribution made to the means of
production and resources".
Baik Bong: 'Kim Il Sung: Biography', Volume 2; Beirut; 1973; p. 521.
By August 1955 all former North Korean national capitalists had joined co-operatives:
ratio of private traders and industrialists who joined the co-operatives stood
at . . . 100% by the end of August 1958 A.
"Socialist Transformation of Private Trade & Industry in Korea", Pyongyang; 1977' p.153.
So that Kim Il Sung could declare in September 1958:
socialist transformation of production relations has now been completed. . .
Thus, our society has become a socialist one free from exploitation".
Kim Il Sung: "Against Passivism and Conservatism In Socialist Construction"; (September 1958): in 'Selected Works', Volume 2; Pyongyang; 1975; p. 233.
By this time, according to Kimilsungism:
private traders and manufacturers were reshaped into socialist working people".
Kim Han Gil: "Modern History of Korea"; Pyongyang; 1979; p. 387.
Official Kimilsungist literature sometimes implies that by 1956 all the co-operatives which included national capitalists had passed to the third form, in which no dividends on investments were paid:
1956 there were two forms of producers' co-operatives. The two forms of producers' co-operatives were represented by one lower form,
where a co-op member got his share according to the amount of investment and
the other higher form, where the dividend was not paid according to the amount
"Socialist Transformation of Private Trade & Industry in Korea", Pyongyang; 1977' p.60.
But in fact a considerable proportion of such co-operatives continued to operate on the basis of the second form after 1956:
the first half of 1959 the co-operatives held 38%.
"Socialist Transformation of Private Trade & Industry in Korea", Pyongyang; 1977' p.153.
It is clear that Maoism and its variants represent deviations from Marxism-Leninism, brands of revisionism which serve the interests of the capitalist classes of the colonial-type countries. It is, therefore, not surprising that, as the American diplomat Averell Harriman relates, Stalin should have denounced Maoism as revisionism:
did not have much respect for Mao Tse-tung. During the war he spoke about him
several times, and at one time he called him a margarine Communist. That
created a great deal of puzzlement in Washington. Some didn't know what he
meant. It would be entirely clear to any dairy farmer what he meant -- a fake,
not a real product."
W. Averell Harriman: "America and Russia in a Changing World: A Half Century of Personal Observation"; London; 1971; p. 54.
Mao himself confirms that Stalin considered him to be a revisionist:
we won the war, Stalin suspected that ours was a victory of the Tito type".
Mao: "On the 10 Major Relationships"; (April 1956), : 'Selected Works', Vol. 5; Peking; 1977; p. 304.
But, as Engels was fond of saying, the proof of the pudding is in eating.
What is the situation of China, Vietnam and North Korea today?
Few national bourgeoisies of former colonial-type countries which won political power and independence in national-democratic revolutions have remained able to retain that independence against imperialist pressure --pressure which is most obvious in such cases as Cuba, Libya, Iraq, and North Korea.
The most noticeable contradictions within the leaderships of these countries in recent years have been not between Marxist-Leninists and revisionists, but between conservative revisionists who sought to retain the pseudo-socialist facade of state capitalism, and reformist revisionists who sought to replace this by free enterprise capitalism. The pressure of international imperialism has, of course, been exerted in favour of the latter and the abandonment of the socialist facade. For example, in China:
it comes to making money, anything goes in Teng Hsaio-Ping's new socialist market. Its economy is more
deregulated than Britain's was in
1973. But Teng's China... is increasingly a country without faith or
ideals. The only slogan is money, money, money, and people will go to almost
any lengths to get rich... The gulf between rich and poor is widening and the
income gap may soon be the biggest in the world. The government boasts that
China is now a paradise for more than a million millionaires. The official
China Digest reported that the nouveau riches were swamping newly opened golf
clubs with applications for membership that cost at least $30,000. It is not really capitalism, it is gangsterism, complained an elderly Chinese who grew up under Mao.
At the universities, .. ideology has long since stopped being a fundamental motivation. Professors who taught Marxism-Leninism are now out of work, looking for jobs in the private sector, their departments closed down.
Some are so poor that they have to work in street stalls.
The vast sprawling cities of Shanghai, Peking and Canton are changing by the day, almost by the minute. Foreigners have committed billions of dollars to Shanghai. .
Luxury joint-venture skyscraper hotels are rising out of Shanghai's slums. . . . Shanghai's nights have sprung to life in a blaze of neon.
Although most remain too poor for the perfumes and designer clothes on sale, yuppification has even brought back the fashion for pet dogs. One Pekinese sold for more than $13,000.. Nothing symbolises the new capitalist face of the country better than the emergence of stock exchanges in Shanghai and Shenzhen. .
When Teng dies, his motherland will no longer be communist except in name. His legacy is a free economy."
'Sunday Times', 6 June 1993, Section 2; p. 1, 2.
And in Vietnam:
1990 and early 1991 the Vietnamese leadership continued to try to implement the
plan initiated by Nguyen Van Linh in 1986 to transform the country's centralised economy to a market-orientated system".
'Keesing's Record of World Events', Volume 37; p. 38,638.
Vietnamese party.. hopes to achieve.. a planned switch to a market-driven
The peasants now lease their land and are free to buy inputs and sell produce at market prices. The second aspect of doi moi (renovation -- Ed.) consists of dismantling price controls.. and eliminating subsidies for state industries. These are model steps to a market economy, applauded by the International Monetary Fund.. Closures and job cuts are occurring, even though unemployment is already high .. The third element of doi moi is the promotion of foreign investment through a law which compares with those of South-East Asia... In Ho Chi Minh city billboards praising communism are today dwarfed by those extolling the power of capitalism; for every mention of Marx of Lenin or even Ho Chi Minh, there are a score of advertisements for foreign companies. On top of a city centre office building, the name of Sony, the Japanese electronics company, jostles for space with Philips, the Dutch group. Nearby there are Citizen, the Japanese watchmaker, Microsoft , the US software house, and Castrol, the British lubricant manufacturer... The biggest investors are the international oil groups. Vietnam has important attractions for foreign companies -- cheap and well-disciplined labour; an abundance of food for export, including rice and fish; mineral resources; and a potential mass-market of 65 million people. The government is pursuing free-market economic reforms, which envisage an important place for foreign investment. Since 1968.. foreign corporations are permitted to invest up to 100% in almost any field, have rights to repatriate profits and enjoy a host of tax-breaks and other incentives".
'Financial Times', 14 November 1991; p. 15, 17.
1986 a new law on foreign investment was.. passed... This law is described by
the specialist international press as one of the most liberal, even compared
with other similar laws of countries with market economies".
'Overseas Trade Services: Country Profile: Vietnam'; February, 1992; p. 54.
has certainly been a resurgence of such social ills as prostitution and
Economic Intelligence Unit: 'Country Report: Indochina', No. 1, 1993; p. 11.
one dollar,.. Hyunh sells her body to tourists. Dressed in cotton trousers and
a T-shirt, she looks no more than 12 as she sits under a hand-written sign
outside a makeshift brothel.. Rows of girls in deck-chairs, playing cards or
reading comics, have set up identical booths along the promenade".
'Sunday Times', 21 June 1992; p. 22.
In North Korea:
The Constitution was amended in April 1992 :
remove mention of Marxism-Leninism and to replace it with references to Kim
Jong Il's Juche ideology;.. it also strengthened the
hereditary principle by exalting the positions currently held by Kim Jong Il
(Kim Il Sung's son-- Ed.). The new constitution also encouraged
foreign investment and guaranteed the rights and profits of foreigners
operating in North Korea".
'Keesing's Record of World Events', Volume 39; p. R73.
Oct. 5 (1992 -- Ed.) the Standing Committee of the Supreme People's Assembly approved North Korea's first law on foreign investment... The new law
permitted foreign investors to establish equity and contractual joint ventures
within the country, and to set up and operate wholly foreign-owned enterprises
in special economic zones. Foreign companies would be able to remit part of
their profits abroad".
'Keesing's Record of World Events', Volume 38; p. 39, 141-42.
It must be clear to any objective observer that those who believe that present-day China, Vietnam and North Korea are socialist countries led by Marxist-Leninist Parties are deceiving themselves.
Ninety-three years ago, in September 1900, Lenin wrote an article on the political situation in his country. He was writing about the situation in Russia at the beginning of the century, but what he says is only too applicable to the situation in Western Europe at the end of the century. (It must be remembered that Lenin uses the term 'social-democracy' to mean Marxism ):
principal feature of our movement.. is its state of disunity and its primitive
character. Local circles spring up and function independently of one another".
Vladimir I. Lenin: "Declaration by the Editorial Board of 'Iskra'".(September 1900), in: 'Selected Works', Volume 2; London; 1944; p. 3-4 .
All those who regard themselves as Marxist-Leninists will no doubt, support Lenin=s call for the formation of a Marxist-Leninist Party in each country. In Lenin's words:
We Russian Social-Democrats must combine and direct all our efforts towards the formation of a strong party that will fight under the united banner of revolutionary Social-Democracy. Vladimir I. Lenin: "Declaration by the Editorial Board of 'Iskra'".(September 1900), in: 'Selected Works', Volume 2; London; 1944; p. 5.
Unfortunately, however, some who claim to be Marxist-Leninists call for the creation of such parties by the unification of all who call themselves Marxist-Leninists, ignoring the fact that some of these embrace in fact one or other form of revisionism. Whatever short-lived monstrosities might emerge from such unifications, they would be nothing remotely resembling the Marxist-Leninist Parties which are so urgently needed. Whether those who are working
for such unifications are conscious of it or not, such processes could only serve as temporary diversions from the historic task of building genuine Marxist-Leninist Parties free of all trends of revisionism. We must never forget that the socialist world and the international communist were destroyed -- however temporarily-- not by open counter-revolution, but by revisionism, by the lies of treacherous leaders who falsely posed as Marxist-Leninists.
Lenin=s position was quite different, and I conclude by quoting from the same germinal article of 1900:
and consolidate the Party means establishing unity among all Russian
Social-Democrats and . . . such unity cannot be brought about by. . . a meeting
of representatives passing a resolution. Definite work must be done to bring it
about. In the first place, it is necessary to bring about unity of ideas which will
remove the differences of opinion and confusion that -- we will be frank --
reign among Russian Social-Democrats at the present time.
Before we can unite, and in order that we may unite, we must first of all firmly and definitely draw the lines of demarcation. Otherwise, our unity will be merely a fictitious unity, which will conceal the prevailing confusion and prevent its complete elimination. Vladimir I. Lenin: "Declaration by the Editorial Board of 'Iskra'".(September 1900), in: 'Selected Works', Volume 2; London; 1944; p. 6.
Published by : The Communist League, 6 The Avenue, Roundhay, Leeds LS8 IDW, UK.
Originally A Talk To the International Seminar of Marxist-Leninist Parties and Organizations, May 2-4, 1997, Brussels.
The intensification of the attack of representatives and ideologues of bourgeoisie in the wake of the downfall of the revisionist-social-imperialist bloc in 1989-90, has inevitably been accompanied with claims of the irrelevance, or even the incorrectness, of a Leninist-Stalinist approach to the national question. Of course, a host of petty-bourgeois, nationalist, Trotskyite and social-democratic groups and people have for years and decades, tried to vilify the Leninist-Stalinist approach, together with the bourgeoisie and imperialism. They had all portrayed Lenin's and Stalin's Soviet Union as a country, where the national rights of non-Russian peoples were allegedly violated. And according to them, Soviet rulers were bent on annexing as much territory as possible, and achieving a world domination.
A case in point is the social-democratic servants of the bourgeoisie, who characterized Lenin's and Stalin's Soviet Union as being supposedly Red imperialist. Khrushchev's slanders against Stalin, during the ill-famed 20th Congress of the CPSU provided then, and continue now, to provide fuel for this imperialist-revisionist crusade against communism. For example, In his so-called Secret Speech= at the 20th Congress of CPSU, Khrushchev said:
more monstrous are the acts whose initiator was Stalin and which are rude
violations of the basic Leninist principles of the nationality policy of the
William G. Andrews, "Soviet Institutions and Policies, Inside Views", p.78.
But the fact of the matter is that, it was none other than Khrushchev himself, and his revisionist successors, who introduced the social-imperialist policies. It was these that signified a departure from the Bolshevik Party's internationalist and Marxist stand on the national question. It is only necessary to remember the Khruschevite clique's attempts at collaboration with US imperialists. For instance, they proposed to the USA, the transformation of the UN into a sort of world police organization=; which would be under the leadership of the two superpowers; it was proposed that it would put out the flames of peoples= struggles the world over.
And one should only remember the later Brezhnevite clique's thesis, about a so-called United Soviet Nation, to justify the subordination of non-Russian peoples to the Russian bureaucratic bourgeoisie, and its so-called theories on international dictatorship and limited sovereignty. Again all these simply justified= its intervention in the internal affairs of its Eastern European satellites.
It is quite understandable that, following the demise of the revisionist Soviet Union in 1991, the scope and number of the so-called critics of the Leninist-Stalinist approach to the national question, have grown considerably. Under these circumstances, the impact of the barrage of bourgeoisie and imperialism has been sufficient, for a great many people without a real and deep understanding of worldview of the working class, to discard the Marxist-Leninist standpoint on the national question. In doing so these people have openly disputed the validity of the Leninist-Stalinist approach.
Such a case in point , is the PKK or Workers Party of Kurdistan. This a petty-bourgeois Kurdish nationalist group, which has waged a guerrilla warfare against the Turkish colonialist-fascist regime since 1984. Ocalan, is the leader of PKK. In a long interview, that was conducted in 1993 with a left-wing Turkish intellectual, he has attacked the Soviet Union of Stalin. In this interview, he blamed CPSU and Stalin with selfishness, and added the following statement :
of world revolution are the interests of the Soviet Union; the interests of the
Soviet Union are the interests of Russians; the interests of Russians are the
interests of CPSU; the interests of the CPSU are the interests of the Central
Committee; the interests of the Central Committee are the interests of the
Secretary-General.. .You may call it a bureaucratic deviation, a nationalist deviation.
For that reason, you have Russian nationalism. The natural outcome of such an
approach is definitely nationalism."
Dirilisin Oykusu, p.283.
And he said further :
understand that socialism was a tactic for arrested capitalism, for Russian nationalism
Dirilisin Oykusu, p.290.
Such pronouncements remind us of a Turkish proverb, that characterized human memory as being crippled with amnesia! Not very long ago, similar petty-bourgeois nationalist groups readily used to declare themselves in favour of socialism=, or proletarian internationalism=, and the Leninist solution of the national question=. And they used to praise the revisionist like Brezhnevs, Andropovs, Chernenkos and even Gorbachevs to the skies.
We could remind such opportunist and pragmatic people, of the fact that the correctness of Bolshevik policy with regard to the national question, was tested in the fire and storm of struggle. Neither the bloody White Guard rebellion that lasted through 1918-21, nor the ruthless capitalist encirclement of the 1920's and 1930's, nor the sabotage and subversive activities of the fifth column, nor the attack of Hitler's hordes could drive a wedge between the whole Soviet peoples in order to break their unity. The socialist Soviet Russia of the 1920's, 1930's and 1940's, survived despite formidable and seemingly unconquerable obstacles and hardships. And what is more, the socialist Soviet Russia had become even stronger in the meantime.
Meanwhile the revisionist Soviet Russia of the 1980's and 1990's, has gone under relatively easily and almost without a struggle. This only presents us with another proof of the superiority of socialism over capitalism. As the proverb goes, The proof of the pudding is in the eating. It is very instructive to observe the fact, that such groups and people, have behaved worse than even some bourgeois scholars in being fair; at least the scholars give Lenin's and Stalin=s Soviet Union its due in the realm of the national question. For instance, Cobban, who was from being a Bolshevik or a revolutionary, wrote this in 1945:
Union was to be no Habsburg Empire with a comparatively rich industrial and
financial centre in striking contrast with miserably poor agricultural
provinces. The minority nationalities had the evidence of economic progress on
a gigantic scale in their own homelands and under their own eyes. If the Soviet
Union eventually proves to have dealt successfully with the problem of uniting
the most varied nationalities in a single great federation, that success will
have to be attributed in no small measure to the steps it took from the very
beginning to bring the subject nations=, into the full stream of industrial development, and
so to remove the source of economic inequality and exploitation."
A. Cobban : "The Nation State and National Self-Determination", p.211.
And Cobban added:
In so far as
communism has succeeded in establishing a generally accepted ideal for progress
of the whole Union, this is a spiritual bond uniting all its peoples. It is a
new form of patriotism, and not the worse because it is directed to internal
progress rather than to foreign conquest. At the same time, the Soviet Union is
rapidly becoming - perhaps has already become - an economic nexus from which no
part can be severed without severe injury both to the part and the whole, and a
vast defensive structure, the parts of which are equally necessary to one
another from the strategic point of view. Economic and military
inter-dependence from above, local self-government, cultural autonomy and
national equality from below -that is the ideal scheme, however many faults
there may be in its present realisation, which the U.S.S.R. seems to be
striving to achieve.
A. Cobban : "The Nation State and National Self-Determination", p.218.
The course of events since 1989 appears at first glance, to justify the stand of petty bourgeois or nationalist critics of Marxism-Leninism. The fall of the revisionist-capitalist order in the Soviet Union was followed by a series of conflicts between Tartars and Uzbeks, ethnic Russians and Moldavians, the Russian punitive expedition against Azerbaitan, the conflicts between Azeris and Armenians, ethnic tensions between the Ukraine and Russia, the growth of Great-Russian chauvinism and, lastly by the Russian military aggression against Chechenia. A more careful examination of the matter, however shows a different story.
It is true that the demise of revisionist-social-imperialist bloc and the disintegration of the social-imperialist Soviet Union have made their contribution to the aggravation and spread of ethnic tensions and contradictions throughout the world.
BUT, we, first of all should remember that, the fall of the revisionist bloc and of the social-imperialist Soviet Union, does not signify the defeat and failure of socialism. To the contrary, they signify the defeat and failure of revisionism and capitalism.
And secondly, we should point out, that this national explosion= in the former Soviet Union and in Eastern Europe itself, constitutes only part of the general failure of the bourgeoisie in the solution of the national question. A casual glance at the global scene is sufficient to demonstrate this fact. Apart from the long standing national tensions and conflicts in semi-colonial countries, such as Afghanistan, India, Iran, Sri Lanka, Turkey, the Philippines, Indonesia, Iraq, Pakistan, Rwanda, South Africa, Zaire etc., recent years have witnessed to the aggravation of national tensions, to the spread of a nationalist fever=, to many other and developed capitalist and imperialist countries as well.
Let us list only some of these: Ethnic war among Serbs, Croats and Bosnians in the former Yugoslavia; the development of Black and Hispanic nationalism in the US; the stirring of ethnic tensions in the Sinkiang region of China; the revival of reactionary and expansionist Pan-Turkist policies in Turkey; the growth of Hindu nationalism in India; the rise of ethnic consciousness among oppressed Indian people in several Latin American countries; the continuing resentment among Black people of South Africa-who were cheated out of their victory; the failure of US-sponsored peace= process in Palestine; the emergence of the Northern League and talk of secession of Northern Italy from the rest of the country; the failure of the peace talks in Northern Ireland; the growth of national tension between Walloons and Flemish in Belgium; the flowering of separatist Bloc Quebecois in Canada; the further growth of reactionary nationalism and even of racism in the US, Japan, Germany, France, England, Austria etc. All testify to this trend.
The development of events once again confirms, albeit in a bloody manner, the correctness of the Marxist-Leninist approach to the national question.
Mankind is in a sense, being punished for its= delay in bringing capitalist-imperialist system down, punished by the growth of nationalism and aggravation of national contradictions. We, communists are theoretically and morally in a much stronger position now:
We can point out and prove to all workers and toilers and all sensible and unbiased people that, only through social revolution, through the overthrow of capitalist system of exploitation can a permanent solution of the national question be effected. Marx and Engels had demonstrated this long before. In their Communist Manifesto, the founders of scientific socialism argued that the proletariat of each country first of all, had to settle its accounts with its own bourgeoisie. Thus Marx said :
Though not in substance, yet in form, the struggle of the proletariat with the bourgeoisie is at first a national struggle.
And afterwards Marx and Engels had justly emphasized the inseparable connection between national and social liberation:
In proportion as the exploitation of one individual by another is put an end to, the exploitation of one nation by another will also be put an end to. In proportion as the antagonism between classes within the nation vanishes, the hostility of one nation to another will come to an end.
In line with this thesis of Marx and Engels, Stalin, in March 1921 wrote this:
needs proof that under the rule of capital, with private ownership of the means
of production and the existence of classes, equal rights for nations cannot be
guaranteed; that as long as the power of capital exists, as long as the
struggle for the possession of the means of production goes on, there can be no
equal rights for nations, just as there can be no co-operation between the
labouring masses of different nations. History tells us that the only way to
abolish national inequality, the only way to establish a regime of fraternal
co-operation between the labouring masses of the oppressed and non-oppressed
nations, is to abolish capitalism and establish the Soviet system."
Stalin: Report on the Immediate Tasks of the Party in the National Question",
Works; Volume 5.
Right from the beginning, Lenin and Stalin attributed great importance to the national question. They waged a consistent and uncompromising struggle against all forms of bourgeois and petty-bourgeois nationalism. They also developed the teachings of Marx and Engels on the national question, and adapted it to the conditions of the era of imperialism and proletarian revolutions. They formulated the programme and policy of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party (later the Russian Communist Party/Bolsheviks) on the national and the colonial question. In this way they armed the proletariat and its advanced vanguard the world over in its fight against imperialism and capitalism, which have been and are the root cause of national oppression and all reaction. Just like Marx and Engels, Lenin and Stalin strived to educate the working class and its class-conscious vanguard in the spirit of consistent democracy, and urged them to oppose all forms and manifestations of repression and persecution targeting any class or stratum. Only in this manner, could the working class and its vanguard avoid being an impotent appendage of the bourgeoisie and petty bourgeoisie, gain the confidence and respect of toiling and exploited masses and of all progressive forces.
Only in this manner, could the working class and its vanguard establish their hegemony in the revolution and raise themselves to a position of leadership over the toiling masses. Therefore, the working class and its vanguard had to be resolute advocates and supporters of the rights of oppressed nations, including their right to secession. They were and are, especially obliged to support the national liberation struggles of colonial and semi-colonial peoples against imperialism, which is and was the main source of all reaction and its local allies. Lenin was very unequivocal in his condemnation of so-called socialists, who in the name of the defence of the fatherland, not only did not oppose imperialist wars, annexations and oppression of colonial peoples by their own bourgeoisie, but actually approved and supported them. In his Preliminary Draft Theses on the National and the Colonial Question, Lenin said:
The age-old oppression of colonial and weak nationalities by the imperialist powers has not only filled the working masses of the oppressed countries with animosity towards the oppressor nations, but has also aroused distrust in these nations in general, even in their proletariat. The despicable betrayal of socialism by the majority of the official leaders of this proletariat in 1914-19, when defence of country= was used as a social chauvinist cloak to conceal the defence of the right= of their own bourgeoisie to oppress the colonies and fleece financially dependent countries, was certain to enhance this perfectly legitimate distrust." Theses, Resolutions and Manifestoes of the First Four Congresses of the Third International, pp. 80-81.
On the other hand, it should be borne in mind, that they never considered the struggle against national discrimination, oppression and inequality as an end in itself. They viewed it as part of the working classes= struggle for socialism and communism, who had to be freed from the ideological and political yoke of bourgeoisie and petty bourgeoisie, if it was to accomplish its historical task of bringing an end to capitalism. It is obvious that a working class which does not fight consistently against the national oppression practiced by its own bourgeoisie, only strengthens its own chains. As Marx said :
No nation can be free if it oppresses other nations.
Commenting upon the relationship between the struggle against national oppression and the struggle for socialism, Lenin wrote:
demands of democracy, including self-determination, are not an absolute, but a small
part of the general democratic (now, general Socialist) world
movement. In individual concrete cases, the part may contradict the whole, if
so, it must be rejected."
Quoted in Stalin, "Problems of Leninism", p.53.
To this, one might and should add, the incompatibility of nationalism with the worldview of the working class and its internationalist stand and perspective. Lenin always stressed the utmost necessity and importance of the unity of workers of all countries, and the class unity of the workers of all nationalities in one country, and their ideological and political independence from the bourgeoisie and the petty bourgeoisie.
This required not only a consistent fight against all forms and manifestations of nationalism of the dominant nations, especially the imperialist yoke on colonial and semi-colonial peoples and an unequivocal defence of all rights of oppressed nations, up to and including the right of secession. But it also required the waging of an ideological struggle against the nationalism of the oppressed nations and petty-bourgeois nationalism. The policy of national oppression, on the other hand, made it more difficult for the proletariat to preserve its class independence. Speaking of the adverse effects of the policy of national oppression, Stalin said:
diverts the attention of large strata from social questions, questions of the
class struggle, to national questions, questions common= to the proletariat and the bourgeoisie. And this
creates a favourable soil for lying propaganda about harmony of interests,= for glossing over the class interests of the
proletariat and for the intellectual enslavement of the workers. This creates a
serious obstacle to the cause of uniting the workers of all
Stalin: "Marxism and the National Question", Works, Vol. 2, pp. 319-20.
And Stalin added:
of Social Democracy, which defends the interests of the proletariat, and the
rights of a nation, which consists of various classes are two different things.
Stalin: "Marxism and the National Question", Works, Vol. 2, pp. 321-22.
It should be stressed, however, that to go too far in the struggle against the nationalism of the oppressed nations might lead to another deviation.
That is why, Lenin and Stalin fought at the same time against those, who underestimated the importance of the national question and turned their back on the legitimate demands of oppressed nations in the name of socialist revolution. A case in point is Rosa Luxemburg, who in her overzealous struggle against Polish nationalism, took a Proudhonist stand, and rejected the right of Poland, then under Russian domination, to self-determination. In taking this stand, Luxemburg, objectively supported Great-Russian nationalism. In his polemic against Luxemburg, Lenin wrote:
Social-Democrats would be deviating from proletarian policy and subordinating
the workers to the policy of the bourgeoisie if they were to repudiate the
right of nations to self-determination, i.e., the right of an oppressed nation
to secede, or if they were to support all the national demands of the
bourgeoisie of oppressed nations...
Successful struggle against exploitation requires that the proletariat be free of nationalism, and be absolutely neutral, so to speak, in the fight for supremacy that is going on among the bourgeoisie of various nations. If the proletariat of any one nation gives the slightest support to the privileges of its own= national bourgeoisie, that will inevitably rouse distrust among the proletariat of another nation; it will weaken the international class solidarity of the workers and divide them, to the delight of the bourgeoisie. Repudiation of the right to self-determination or to secession inevitably means, in practice, support for the privileges of the dominant nation.
Stalin: "Marxism and the National Question", Works, Vol. 2, pp. 591-92.
It must be added that incompatibility of Marxism with even the most just=, pure=, refined and civilized nationalism (Lenin); and the necessity of a consistent ideological struggle against nationalism, should not lead communists to underestimate the revolutionary potential of the peoples of semi-colonial and dependent countries. Despite all the changes capitalism has undergone during the 20th century, it still cannot do without being imperialistic, without undertaking the most vicious exploitation not only of the workers and toilers of backward, but also those of relatively developed countries.
Thus, the chief task remains : of establishing a joint front of workers of advanced capitalist countries and workers and peoples of semi-colonial and dependent countries against world imperialism, headed by US imperialism; this chief task retains its validity. The working classes of imperialist countries, are obliged to express and mobilize their consistent support of and solidarity with all anti-imperialist and democratic revolutionary struggles of the workers and peoples of semi-colonial and dependent countries, which due to the development of capitalism there, have a greater potential of passing uninterruptedly into socialist revolutions.
One last point: We believe that, the incompatibility of Marxism with nationalism should not induce communists to underestimate the influence of nationalism on the great masses of workers and toilers, especially in our day.
They cannot afford to forget, that the ideological pull of Marxism-Leninism on the working class the world over, is weaker than it used to be in the 1950's.
Nearly half a century-old ideological and political aggression of the bourgeoisie has resulted, among other things, in the spread of nationalism in the ranks of workers. Therefore, communists have to be more careful and attentive, so to speak; and they have to take into account this relatively backward level of political consciousness, struggle and organization of workers. There is nothing unusual to all this. In his day, Lenin himself had taken note of the influence of nationalism among Russian workers and peasants and the efforts of the bourgeoisie and the landlords to deepen and extend it. So, his uncompromising struggle against all forms and manifestations of chauvinism, social-chauvinism and bourgeois and petty-bourgeois nationalism and his struggle for the rights of oppressed nations and nationalities, did not signify support for a sort of national nihilism. In 1914, in his article On the National Pride of the Great Russians, he wrote:
class-conscious Great-Russian proletarians impervious to the feeling of
national pride? Certainly not. We love our language and our motherland; we more
than any other group, are working to raise its labouring masses (i.e.
nine-tenths of its population) to the level of intelligent democrats and
Socialists. We, more than anybody are grieved to see and feel to what violence,
oppression and mockery our beautiful motherland is being subjected by the
tsarist hangmen, the nobles and the capitalists...
We are filled with national pride because of the knowledge that the Great-Russian nation, too, has created a revolutionary class, that it, too, has proved capable of giving humanity great example of struggle for freedom and for socialism; that its contribution is not confined solely to great pogroms, numerous scaffolds, torture chambers, severe famines and abject servility before the priests, the tsars, the landowners and the capitalists."
Lenin V. I. ; Collected Works, Vol. 21, pp. 85-86.
Stalin wrote in a similar vein during the Great Patriotic War, when he set great store by Soviet patriotism. He said:
The strength of
Soviet patriotism lies in the fact that it is based not on racial or
nationalistic prejudices, but on the people's profound loyalty and devotion to
their Soviet Motherland, on the fraternal partnership of the working people of
all nationalities in our country. Soviet patriotism harmoniously combines the
national traditions of the peoples and the common vital interests of all
working people of the Soviet Union. Far from dividing them, Soviet patriotism
welds all the nations and peoples of our country into a single fraternal
Stalin J. V. ; "On the 27th Anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution", Works, Vol. 15, pp. 422-23.
The teachings of Marxism-Leninism on the
national question preserve their correctness and validity in our tumultuous
world that is nearing the third millennium. Now, it is more obvious than ever
that, only the overthrow of capitalism and imperialism and the victory of
proletarian revolution throughout the world will save humanity from the
repetition, maybe on a much larger scale, of such tragedies, as the Armenian,
Jewish and Rwandan genocide and the terrible sufferings of two world wars and
of innumerable so-called local wars. Only through proletarian internationalism
and the brotherhood of peoples advocated by Marxism-Leninism, can humanity end
its 'global civil war' and enter an era of eternal peace, enlightenment and
Progressive Documentation & Information Centre For Turkey, P. O. Box 13068,
Tottenham London N.17.
ANNOUNCEMENT OF NEW BOOK BY NORTH STAR COMPASS: THE LIE OF THE LENIN TESTAMENT
In October 1997, North Star Compass published another in its series of books, aimed at puncturing revisionist mythology. The Lie of the Lenin Testament - contains three inter-related analyses. One is on the role of Krupskaya in assisting the attempts of Trotsky and Zinoviev in removing Stalin form leadership of the CPSU(B) (By Bland of the Communist League UK); the second is an analysis of the struggle that Stalin waged within the party to expose Trotsky's Manoeuvrings surrounding the alleged Testament (By Alliance Marxist-Leninist North America); and the third is a detailed analysis of the diary entries that supposedly substantiate the allegations of the Lenin Testament Affair (By Sakharov of Molniya Russia).
Price : $10.00 + post.
In addition the other two books by North Star Compass with further valuable materials - many never previously available in English - are still available :
1. Secret Documents A compilation of some materials from the archives of the NKVD-KGB, the archives of the CC CPSU(B): and the personal archives of JV. Stalin. Price : $25.00 + post.
2. Next To Stalin-Notes of A Bodyguard; by A. T. Rybin. Price : $12.00 + post.
Send Cheques or money orders to :
North Star Compass;
280, Queen Street W,
Toronto Ontario Canada,
Telephone : 416-977-5819 Fax : 416-593-0781
(EDITORIAL NOTE: PART OF THE LENIN TESTAMENT NOW ON WEB AT ALLIANCE WEBSITE - addition for web version August 2000)
International Struggle Marxist Leninist, recently received a fraternal criticism from comrade Moni Guha, and the organisation Proletarian Path, whose struggles are in India. This organisation had the honour of being one of the first world wide, to challenge openly and reject the line of the infamous 20th Party Congress of the CPSU. That being so, we are naturally very glad to discuss matters of joint interest with these comrades. It is important to ventilate the issues raised by Proletarian Path, since they touch on serious matters for all Marxist-Leninists. We take the liberty of openly printing both the fraternal criticism and an initial reply.
International Struggle Marxist-Leninist, had already decided before the receipt of this letter, to print Guha=s statement concerning the infamous 20th Party Congress. But this statement is even more interesting for us now, given that Guha points out in his current letter to International Struggle Marxist-Leninist, that a central thrust of Proletarian Path has been the same central aim expressed by International Struggle Marxist-Leninist. Namely - the call for a clear and principled international debate.
Here we publish Guha=s letter, and a first reply made by one of the member organisations of the Editorial Board - Alliance Marxist-Leninist (North America). The reply thus is only that of an individual organisation. The contents of both Guha=s letter and a reply by Alliance will be further discussed by the editorial board, prior to any joint statement. We expect that other member organisations of IS-ML will contribute their views on this question. We also of course welcome comments from our Marxist-Leninist readers.
Without any further ado, we print below the materials in this order :
First Moni Guha's Introduction to the book 20th Congress and Stalin, published in July 1956 in Bengali;
Secondly: Moni Guha=s letter to the editorial board of IS-Ml dated 2.9.97.
Thirdly: the reply of Alliance, one member of the groups belonging to the editorial board.
ONE : INTRODUCTION TO BOOK
20th CONGRESS AND STALIN.
20TH CONGRESS AND STALIN: KHRUSHCHEV AND SOVIET HISTORY, By Moni Guha, Proletarian Path,
FIRST PUBLISHED July 1956 :
In Bangla, immediately after the infamous 20th party Congress. Taken From Proletarian Path New Series; Vol. 1; No 4; June 1994; p. 40-46; Calcutta India.
Reviewing Victor Hugo=s biography of Napoleon, Karl Marx wrote in the preface to his book, The Eighteenth Brumaire:
The event itself appears in his work like a bolt from the blue. He sees in it only the violent act of a single individual. He does not notice that he makes this individual great instead of little by ascribing to him a personal power of initiative such as would be without parallel in world history.
This comment of Marx is equally valid when applied in the context of the speeches and reports of Khrushchev-Mikoyan and company in the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. We come to know (Or are asked to believe anyway -Editor) from the reports of Khrushchev-Mikoyan and Co. that in the twenty years after 1934, Stalin gradually placed himself above the party and general masses. Deviating from Leninist Principles of organisation he took recourse to bourgeois militarist despotism in the field of organisation. On the one hand, this led to the destruction of democracy within the party, the loss of collective leadership, the crippling of independent thought and activity of the members and the growth of the cult of the individual reflected in the popular feeling that Stalin will do everything=, resulting in an increased dependence on great men. On the other hand, Stalin had distanced himself from the masses, the Politburo and the Central Committee and had become self-centred. On the whole, it was Stalin who did everything whether in the national sphere or in international affairs and it is Stalin who is responsible for the successes and the failures of the past twenty years of Soviet history. Stalin is the architect of these twenty years of Soviet history. The Soviet people were merely fodder for history and in the atmosphere of terror the CPSU was merely a mute terror-stricken spectator.
Victor Hugo was not a historical materialist. Hence in his review of great historical figures the analysis is centred on individuals. But Khrushchev Mikoyan & Co. are communists, and it is expected that they are historical materialists. However, in their evaluation of Stalin's role, they have emulated bourgeois idealists and adopted an individual-centric approach. In brief, the Twentieth Congress of the CPSU has abandoned the Marxist approach in its evaluation of Stalin.
Two basic questions of Marxism are closely linked up with the evaluation of Stalin by the CPSU.
Deviating from Leninist organisational principles, Stalin had taken recourse to bourgeois militarist despotism in the field of organisation and to subjectivism in thought and method of work-this is one side of the history of the past twenty years.
What is the other side of the past twenty years? In the past twenty years great successes have been achieved and life has advanced with gigantic strides. Among industrially advanced countries, the Soviet Union is now placed second in the world and first in Europe. Life has developed and advanced in all fields education, health, science, art and culture. In the political, social and economic life an exploitation free classless (in the sense of antagonistic classes-ed) society has been created. Socialism has been established and steps advanced towards communism. Eminent savants, Romain Rolland, Rabindra Nath Tagore, H. G. Wells, Bernard Shaw, Hewlett Johnson, Emil Ludwig, the Webbs etc. have been impressed by the unbelievable all-round progress of the Soviet Union. In the international domain, where the Soviet Union was like an island in the imperialist sea, the complete real basis for the emergence of a socialist world system has been laid.
Thus, over twenty long-years, on the one hand we have, in the main, a basically successful and unerring practical application of the political, social and economic principles of Marxism-Leninism and on the other hand, we have a basic and primary deviation from the Leninist principles of organisation, an effort to distort these principles and in place of democracy, democratic centralism and collective leadership in society and the party, despotism and the establishment of a reign of terror.
It is natural to ask how is this possible? Is not success in politics, society and the economy reflected also in organisational and social life? The logical corollary of political, social and economic progress is organisational democracy and the development of social consciousness. The logical corollary of political, social and economic reaction is organisational reaction, lack of individual initiative, apathy, the slow pace of dull, dreary mechanical routine. Such a society does not reverberate with the song of life. But we have heard the song of life in the Soviet Union. The question arises - the political organisational line of Marxism-Leninism is not a motley collection of discrete mutually exclusive independent phenomena which do not interact with or exclude one another; rather it is a union of all embracing, many sided integral ideology and practice. If so, then how is it possible that politics and the organisation and organisational principles - the means of successfully accomplishing that politics - could move in two opposite directions for twenty long years? The conservatism of organisational policy acts as a brake in political progress, similarly political conservatism also acts as a brake on organisational progress - it is in this contradiction that the organisation changes, there are changes made in its rules. In this way organisational policy comes into consonance with political progress and does not impede it. But where organisational policy and method of work impede political progress - there politics does not move forward, and the organisation also remains backward.
Thus in the Soviet Union, (to postulate that -ed) politics was advancing, and great successes were being achieved, but that at the same time, the organisation and organisational policies were falling behind, and that this was going on for twenty long years, in an era of great historical change - that seems quite impossible. Then are we to assume that society moves forward at its own speed and on its own volition? Are we to assume that Man has no active or passive role to play in this process, that society is governed by fate, that Man too is a puppet in the hands of fate? But Marxism denies this. In organisational policy, its activities, its form and character are reflected political identity, its form and character. And the form and character of the organisation and organisational policy are reflected in the form and character of the politics.
If this is Marxism, then obviously the Khrushchev-Mikoyan report is not. If so then either one maintains that socialism was not established in the Soviet Union, that no advance in any aspect of life was made there and that even today; the Soviet Union is a vast prison-house; or else, one maintains that the Khrushchev-Mikoyan report is wrong; and the Khrushchev-Mikoyan is not in accordance with Marxism, and it is inspired by ulterior political motives. Apart from this, the only other alternative is to consider Marxism wrong and the Khrushchev-Mikoyan report as correct.
The second fundamental question linked up with the Khrushchev-Mikoyan report is the question of the role of the individual in the making of history.
Khrushchev-Mikoyan have said that after 1934, Stalin gradually concentrated all power in his hands and that he had no contact with the masses, the Party, the Central Committee or the Politburo. He never convened meetings of the Central Committee or Politburo, he took all the decisions himself and issued directions accordingly.
Negating the people, the party and everything else, giving no opportunity for criticism and evaluation, and basing himself only on his individual independent= ideology, theory and methods of work, means the following :
If a single individual was able while the entire forces of world imperialism were ranged up against it; to raise a vast backward country to such heights of development, prosperity and power, if socialism can be achieved and society can advance towards communism based only on one man=s theory, if communism can become powerful in the international arena and imperialism defeated only on the basis of one man=s policies, methods of work and theory, then one must say that Marxism is false, historical materialism is false.
If so, then why is so much stress placed on collective leadership and democratic centralism and why are there proclamations against the cult of the individual=? If by raising himself over the mass of the people and treating them as fodder for history a single authoritarian individual can create the bright history of socialism, then the best example of this is Stalin himself. Refuting all hair-splitting theoretical arguments, it would appear that Stalin has by his actions, negated historical materialism. If so, now we can say with the idealists, that the vast populace serves only as the raw material for history. The great individual is everything, the vast masses nothing.
Hence one has to say, that if the Khrushchev-Mikoyan report is true, then Marxism-Leninism is false, then historical materialism is false.
In Khrushchev's report there is fulsome praise of the unparalleled sacrifice and patriotism of the Soviet people in the achievement of the many successes of the Soviet Union; yet at the same time, Stalin has been held responsible for all the failures.
It is not
enough to say, as the French do, that their nation has been taken by surprise.
A nation and a woman are not forgiven the unguarded hour in which the first
adventurer that came along could violate them. The riddle is not solved by such
turns of speech, but merely formulated in another way. It remains to be
explained how a nation of thirty-six millions can be surprised and delivered
unresisting into captivity by three swindlers. A
(Marx and F. Engels, Selected Works, Vol. 1, p.402).
Marx means to say - that only a few people cannot lead such a huge country astray and one cannot get off by laying the entire blame at their door. After making the above statement, Karl Marx made a masterly analysis of the historical condition under which the events in France took place. This is precisely the historical materialist method of analysis. That is to find out the basic cause in the analysis of the motion of contemporary society and to analyse the successes and failures, achievements and shortcomings and the role and contribution of the leader in the light of that basic cause. To evaluate the role of the individual in the historical context is a fundamental tenet of Marxism and the evaluation of the individual in individual-centric context is the method of anti-Marxist bourgeois idealism.
That is the fundamental difference between the Marxist and the Khruschevite conception.
The limitations and shortcomings of the Soviet social system can be traced to the extraordinarily high price paid by the Soviet system and people, for the all-round all-conquering development and progress made by the Soviet Union. Socialism in one country is possible because of the uneven development of imperialism, and the Soviet Union is proof of this. But socialism in one country, amounts to only a drop of water in the vast imperialist sea. Prior to its victory in the Second World War and the emergence of the People=s Democratic states in several countries, the Soviet Union was always, on both internal and external fronts, in a state of war. That socialism would be restricted to a single country for such a long period had not been envisaged by Lenin or other contemporary communist leaders. But man has to work with the material furnished by history to society and the world, and advance in the task of the creation of new history. The creation of history cannot be done according to one=s own sweet will and cannot be based on illusory ideas and dreams. It was the historical restriction and limitation of the Soviet social system that it had to exist, over a long period, in a state of war amidst world capitalist encirclement.
To gradually entrust the masses of the people with all political, social and economic responsibilities, and thus gradually to enable the existence of the state as a specialised institution for repression to become socially unnecessary - is a fundamental task of the intermediate stage of socialism and the dictatorship of the proletariat. The three chief pillars of the state are -the executive, the judiciary and the legislative. It is the fundamental duty of a socialist country in its intermediate stage to keep in check the permanent bureaucracy of these three wings; as well as to eliminate the standing army, the secret police, the intelligence department - all which do not play any creative role in production and are entirely dependent on the state. In place of the permanent bureaucracy, will be the representatives elected by the people, and the standing army will be replaced by the armed people, which latter will not be dependent on the state for sustenance.
It is only then, that people will be able to form their own independent opinion, and only then that the proper conditions will be created for them to express it. That is, the state cannot behave in a partisan manner towards them.
In the Soviet Union, over this long period, none of this could be accomplished. Amidst the imperialist encirclement and the ever-present threat of attack, to protect socialism in one country, a well-trained vast standing army equipped with modern arms and weapons and fully dependent on the state was needed. In order that socialism in one country could advance rapidly, it was necessary for a vast and backward country, to not only catch up with other advanced capitalist countries, but also to surpass them. Consequently, excessive stress had to be laid on centralisation. Later for similar reasons, it became necessary to build and depend on a vast army of skilled, self-sacrificing, idealist (not in the philosophical sense), hard working, individuals devoted to the party in the state, in industry, in agriculture, in education and culture.
The presence of a standing army secret police and intelligence department which are fully dependent on the state and do not play any creative role in production, is a big barrier to the all-round democratic progress of society. The file-pushing bureaucracy, which has no contact with the life of the people or creative production, is also a barrier to all-round democratic progress. Thus in the Soviet Union, on the one hand, we have unprecedented development and progress in social and economic life, in education and culture and a classless (in the sense of antagonistic classes-ed) exploitation-free social system, but on the other hand, there was also the growth of an excessive centralisation and bureaucracy in the state and state machinery. It was this contradiction which was at the root of the national and social distortions in Soviet society. But one must bear in mind that the Soviet Union had no other alternative road to progress before it. If one visits a socialist country with a mind full of beautiful illusions, like Andre Gide, then one's dreams are bound to be shattered.
In the analysis of the failures of the Soviet Union, it is not enough to say this. History is created, as the result of the mutual interaction of the mutually conflicting ideology and activity, of millions of people in society. Man is not merely an onlooker at history. He actively utilises his strength and capacity in the making of history. Until now, this has been the contribution of millions of people in the creation of history. This is an active contribution, but not a conscious one. That person or party is the leader, who recognising the basic trend in the fundamental motion and development of the real situation engendered by the mutual interaction of the mutually conflicting ideologies and activities of millions of people, consciously strives to advance society towards the achievement of its historical objectives (goals). This is the indelible role played by the individual in the making of history. Consequently, no leader or party can escape responsibility for failures and shortcomings, by invoking the supposed inevitable march of history.
Leaders like Mikoyan tried to escape responsibility by propagating, that man learns only after the event has taken place. This may be true of millions of ordinary people, but here we have a question of philosophical knowledge. Every one can understand after the event has taken place. But the role of the leadership or the leader, lies in anticipating before hand the motion and development of the event or phenomena, and in struggling against the adverse motion and development; so that healthy and proper conditions can be created for the favourable motion and development. It is precisely here, that the need arises for leaders and a leadership, and it is to aid our understanding of this, that dialectical and historical materialism have been developed.
Hence, on the one hand, we have the progress of socialist society and on the other, a standing army, excessive centralism and bureaucracy in the executive and the legislative resulting necessarily in the failures and short-comings of the Soviet society, state and social life and a distorted development. The question arises: was Stalin as a leader sufficiently alert and watchful about these phenomena and did he strive to create favourable conditions for struggle against them? It is only up to this extent, and not more, that Stalin can be held responsible for the failures and shortcomings. In spite of all efforts made in the struggle, the development of Soviet society was bound to be distorted and one-sided to some extent, there is no point in concealing this truth. But the important question is how much effort was made in the struggle against the one-sidedness, and it is only here that the question of fixing responsibility arises.
If Khrushchev-Mikoyan and Co. had based
themselves on the principles of historical materialism in their analysis of the
failures and shortcomings of individual and state then they would not have
denigrated Stalin and communism before the world. They would not have made
individual-centric personal attacks. It is because of their individual-centric
bourgeois analysis that they had to take recourse to falsehood and distortion
But Marxism-Leninism is invincible. Historical materialism retains its validity-it is independent of the sweet will of individuals. History will affirm the laws of historical materialism and will surely vindicate Stalin and his contribution.
Reprinted From Moni Guha, Proletarian
Path, 25/1 Jyotish Roy Road, Calcutta -700 053., India.
Minor editing responsibility, ISML Print office.
"A FRATERNAL CRITIQUE FROM MONI GUHA TO INTERNATIONAL STRUGGLE MARXIST LENINIST." From Moni Guha Proletarian Path.
Dear Comrade Merwanji,
Received your letter dated 22nd July, 1997 on 1st August. You have requested us to let you knew our views on principles and statement of the editorial board of International Struggle - Marxist-Leninist. You have also requested us to let you know our suggestion. Many thanks for it. Naturally such questions cannot be answered readily without a thorough discussion with the available Comrades. Hence the delay in replying, which we think, you will understand.
Below please find our candid but comradely views and suggestion
I) We do highly appreciate and are in complete agreement with your editorial board that lines of demarcation are required now more than ever before. These line can only be drawn by a scientific and clear (also clean) debate, which we are advocating since the twentieth Congress of the CPSU. (See, the introduction of Moni Guha’s book The 20th Congress And Stalin, written and published in July 1956, in Bengali).
II) We do highly appreciate and are in complete agreement with clause 3 where it says about the formation of communist international and need for a Discussion and Reply section in the preparatory period for ideological political and organisational unity on an international scale.
III) While we unequivocally declare our general and basic agreement with the principles and statement of the editorial board of ISML, we have also some reservations and suggestions which are stated below:
In clause 2 of the founding editorial principles of the ISML it is stated : The conference can be attended by more than one organisation from those countries, WHERE THE MARXIST -LENINIST PARTY HAS NOT YET BEEN RECONSTITUTED (Emphasis ours)
The above clause appears to us somewhat premature at this formative stage of ISML. If more than one organisation of a country reconstructed A or not, big or small have a history behind them of fighting politically and ideologically against Khruschevite and Maoist degeneration, however weak that may be in details, if more than one organisation of a country agree with the principles and statement of ISML BASICALLY, then there should not be any bar in joining ISML. ISML should not play the role of Judge, authority at this stage, in giving judgement, as to whether the reconstituted party should be the ONLY PARTY of Marxism-Leninism of that country. We would request the editorial board of ISML to recall the attitude and stand of Lenin in 1921 when he had to confront almost a similar situation on the question of two communist parties of Great Britain.
iv) In paragraph 2 of the page No. 6 of ISML Journal vol. 1 No. 1 1996, it is stated : An the construction of socialism class struggle and dictatorship of the proletariat must form a new material socialist basis that will move QUICKLY (our emphasis) to eject bourgeois culture from the minds of men and women. Only this can and will prevent bourgeois culture arising again. (Our emphasis).
The Quito Declaration also similarly wailed : Nor were we able to prevent the rise of a new bourgeois class...
We have strong and serious reservations on the above. We are afraid this way of putting things is subjective and idealist and also a concession to the petty bourgeois thought of Mao Tse Tung.
Can anybody really prevent the existence and rise of bourgeois ideas and thinking merely on a Anew material socialist basis without thoroughly eliminating the OLD material bourgeois basis? Can anybody eject quickly the bourgeois ideas and thinking even after the thorough elimination of all the material bases of bourgeois ideas and thinking where old thoughts, ideas, habits and practices persist for a long period and remain without any material basis ? If not why then this false and illusory promise and why this wailing that Awe failed to prevent ?
We should, rather state in the most clear terms, and educate people that socialism in one or two countries, especially in backward countries is ever less than half socialism as Lenin said. We should educate people in the clearest terms that so long there is socialism in some countries and capitalism in the rest of the world, so long there is coexistence of socialism and capitalism, so long as there is normal= diplomatic, trades and other relations with the capitalist countries, so long as there is capitalist encirclement instead of socialist encirclement, so long there is commodity-money relations in the socialist countries, so long there is to each according to his work, so long as there is the partial possession of labour power of the producer INDIVIDUALLY, so long this partial possession of labour power, will be considered by the actual producers as a natural privilege (Marx), the objective material basis of the existence and resurgence of bourgeois ideas and thinking will remain in spite of the best efforts of the Anew socialist material basis of the dictatorship of the proletariat.
We think that
this kind of petty-bourgeois wishful thinking is the source of Mao Tse Tung
Thought. We expect that this letter will be discussed in the editorial board of
ISML and that we will be informed of the views and opinions of the editorial
Dated 2.9.97. With Revolutionary Greetings,
Comradely yours, (Moni Guha) For Proletarian Path.
A FRATERNAL OPEN REPLY FROM ALLIANCE -MARXIST-LENINIST (NORTH AMERICA) TO COMRADE GUHA OF PROLETARIAN PATH (INDIA)
Dear Comrade Guha,
We recognise that the contributions of Moni Guha and Proletarian Path, to the world revolutionary movement have been such, that their fraternal letter to International Struggle Marxist Leninist (ISML), demands serious attention. We are pleased to find that the general thrust of ISML is agreeable to the views of Proletarian Path. We think that this must be so, since you Comrade Guha, find that there is complete agreement upon the central issue of clear debate upon the lines of demarcation, at the present time. This is in our view, a very significant agreement. This is especially so, since it has become clear that other international trends have either felt :
I) that the present line of demarcations are already so firm and evident - so much as to preclude even any discussions with International Struggle Marxist-Leninist. This characterizes the Quito grouping.
ii) That any attempts to have a debate that could find and scientifically defend these lines of demarcation, are ultimately divisive. This characterizes the Brussels-Pyongyang grouping.
But in this central matter, both Proletarian Path and International Struggle Marxist-Leninist agree with the criticisms of Marx and Engels of the Gotha Programme, and the endorsements of that criticism by Lenin. There are however Two Criticisms that you, Comrade Guha and Proletarian Path, gives to the Statement and Principles of International Struggle Marxist-Leninist. We deal with these two matters below.
YOUR FIRST CRITICISM INVOLVES THE QUESTION : IS THERE ANY SINGLE RECONSTITUTED MARXIST-LENINIST PARTY ANYWHERE ?
Comrade Guha correctly points, out that in Clause 2, International Struggle Marxist-Leninist states the following :
The conference can be attended by more than one organisation from those countries where the Marxist-Leninist party had not yet been reconstituted.
The criticism is contained in the statement made by Guha that :
not play the role of judge, or authority at this stage, in giving judgement,
whether the reconstituted party should be the ONLY PARTY of
Marxism-Leninism of that country. We would request the editorial board of ISML
to recall the attitude and stand of Lenin in 1921 when he had to confront
almost a similar situation of the question of two communist parties of Great
Letter Moni Guha to Editorial Board ISML, p.1
We in Alliance agree with the thrust of these remarks of Guha. That is that ISML cannot at this moment in time, be the judge of whether any particular party must be the ONLY PARTY of Marxism-Leninism in a country. However we point out to Guha, that when the point was formulated by the editorial board of IS-ML, this was also the view of the entire editorial board. There was no disagreement in the editorial board, that in each country there may be more than one organisation that was, honestly Marxist-Leninist in thrust. All the editors of ISML and their organisations, then felt, that the process of formation of the unitary Marxist-Leninist party in each country was still on-going.
ISML editors felt, and presumably all still do feel, that in each country all the different trends, or different organisations, must have their own country-by-country debates about forming a unitary party. That this is the case should be evident from the remainder of the second clause, that you Comrade Guha do not cite, of our Founding Principles where we explicitly state :
It is important that the journal involve all the groups who consider themselves Marxist-Leninists. For that reason the Editorial Board will try to contact all the Marxist-Leninists groups, organisations and parties who accept the founding Principles of clause (1). The Editorial Board has the task to inform them about the journal and to encourage them to take part in its production and circulation, and to attend the next conference in 1997.
Our formulation, was meant to imply that there was as yet, no Marxist-Leninist party that was fully re-constituted. We may have felt, that in certain countries there was a certain advance towards such a position, but we felt that in NO country had that been completely attained.
We suggest that there has been a misunderstanding. We think that on this point, it is primarily a matter of our formulation, not being sufficiently clear as to render any potential misunderstandings impossible. The addition of two lines might take care of this potential for misunderstanding, and we suggest this to the editorial board and member organisations of ISML. For instance, if following the line quoted by Comrade Guha, sentences were to be inserted as follows:
As yet, in 1997, we are not aware of any single country where such a single unitary Marxist-Leninist party has unequivocally shown that it has reconstituted itself and established its leading position for the workers and peasantry in that country. In these conditions, ISML encourages all trends from within a single country, that call themselves Marxist-Leninist, to actively participate in the work of ISML.
In passing, we note that this recognition of the need to actively involve all honest Marxist-Leninist groups within a single country, in both theoretical and practical work to define the lines of demarcation - has itself become a line of demarcation. Thus in contrast to this approach, the Quito initiative explicitly only involves one grouping from each single country, presumably because they accord the accolade of Marxist-Leninist only to that single honoured. This grouping, does not even deign, to answer letters from the less exalted ones! The approach of Brussels would seem at first glance to be more wide and more open, as they profess to recognise that, more than one grouping in a country should be involved. However the practice does not follow the theory, since Brussels operates a selective refusal to certain groups to participate. This selective invitation to an open sided debate, belies their claims to non-sectarianism. It instead becomes an invitation to a club, where it is politely known that disagreements will not obtain an airing!
We maintain that no country as yet, has the unequivocally recognised leadership of a unitary Marxist-Leninist Party. Of course it might be asked how this leadership would be unequivocally demonstrated?
Alliance answers that it is unlikely that the Editorial Board of IS-ML, would be able to make such a recognition in isolation. This demonstration must come from the best representatives of the working class and peasantry of each of the relevant countries. Even such recognition from within the country in question, will not mean that there will be no abuse or criticisms, hurled at such a party from those outside of such a party, much as the Mensheviks continued to hurl abuse at the Bolsheviks, long after their demonstrated leadership was acclaimed. But just as the Bolsheviks consistently replied to these criticisms however, the new re-constituted Marxist-Leninist party, would be most likely to reply to these criticisms in an open and unashamed manner. This should allow the international movement to be able to weigh up in the course of a dispute - Who is right and who is wrong? With time, it will become clear to the international movement that such a party has arisen, and in which country.
Of course, it may well be that there are more than one organisations in each country that come close to fulfilling the mandates of a Marxist-Leninist vanguard party. Then indeed we suggest that you, Comrade Guha, are correct to cite to us the attitude of Lenin to the formation of the Communist Party Of Great Britain (CPGB). If we briefly recap the episode of Lenin=s advice to the CPGB, it illustrates the process. It was the case that there were four main groups of merit in Britain, all vying to join the Third International. The main dividing issues preventing them from uniting was the attitude to bourgeois parliaments, and by extension to the reformist Labour party :
There is no
Communist Party in Great Britain as yet, but there is a fresh broad, powerful,
and rapidly growing communist movement among the workers, which justifies the
best hopes. There are several political parties and organisations (The British
Socialist party, the Socialist Labour party, The South Wales Socialist Society,
the Workers= Socialist Federation) which desire to form a
Communist Party and are already negotiating among themselves.. on the basis of
affiliation to the Third International, the recognition of the Soviet system
instead of Parliamentarism, and the recognition of the dictatorship of the
proletariat. It appears that one of the biggest obstacles to the immediate
formation of united Communist Party is presented by the disagreement on the questions
of participation in Parliament, and whether the new Communist Party should
affiliate to the old, trade unionist opportunist and socialist chauvinist
Labour party, which is mostly made up of trade unions. The Workers Socialist
Federation and the Socialist Labour party are opposed to taking part in
parliamentary elections and in Parliament, and they are opposed to affiliation
to the Labour Party; in this they disagree with all or with most of the members
of the British Socialist Party."
V. I. Lenin: "Left Wing Communism -An Infantile Disorder"; 19 May 1920; In Collected works; Volume 31; Moscow; 1966; p. 78.
Lenin argued that the benefits of uniting into one communist organisation - irrespective of the lack of agreement on the tactics towards parliament, greatly outweighed any harm from embracing a mistake over what he calls a partial secondary question. As he wrote to Sylvia Pankhurst:
What if in a
certain country those who are communists by their convictions and their
readiness to carry on revolutionary work, sincere partisans of Soviet power (the Soviet system...) cannot unite owing to disagreement over participation in Parliament?
I should consider such disagreement immaterial at present, since the struggle for Soviet power is the political struggle of the proletariat in its highest most class-conscious most revolutionary form. It is better to be with the revolutionary workers when they are mistaken over some partial or secondary questions, than with the official socialist or social Democrats, if the latter are not sincere, firm revolutionaries, and are unwilling or unable to conduct revolutionary work among the working masses, but pursue correct tactics in regard to that partial question."
Lenin : "Letter to Sylvia Pankhurst, dated August 28th, 1919."; Works, Volume 29; Moscow 1965; p.562.
In my opinion
the British Communists should unite their four parties and groups (all
very weak, and some them very, very weak) into a single Communist Party on the basis of the principles of the Third International and of obligatory participation in parliament.
V. I. Lenin: "Left Wing Communism -An Infantile Disorder"; 19 May 1920; In Collected works; Volume 31; Moscow; 1966; p. 87.
Thus Lenin advised that when there were secondary or minor issues of difference, the Communists should not be separate, and closeted in sectarian organisations. This is obviously different from when there is an issue that is more than simply secondary, where issues of primary principle are involved. What then, might the needed process of unifying look like, where many organisations exist, whose views are not quite clear, whose views therefore, may or not be different on issues of principle? Where in fact one does not necessarily know whether issues that are dividing are primary or secondary?
Such a process is described by Lenin=s discussion, of how the Bolsheviks welded Iskra into a unity, from all the numerous workers and study circles in Russia. Lenin and the Bolsheviks, welded these numerous circles into the single Russian Social Democratic Party that went to become the Bolshevik party. The view of Alliance, that takes as its starting point Lenin=s party building approach, has been stated before in both North Star Compass, and in a recent Three Party Joint Open Letter. (See H. Kumar : "Upon The Current Situation, Unity And How We Can Help Inside Ex-USSR"; North Star Compass, Vol. 4#1, Aug 1995; Toronto; p.2-8.; & Alliance+Communist League (UK) +MLCP(Turkey) "An Open Letter to Comrade Ludo Martens"; London; 1995. Open Letter-web-link) We briefly reprise our view here.
Lenin modelled his approach on that of Marx and Engels, who did not compromise on principles in order to form their party. They heavily criticised the attempts by the German Peoples' Party to come to terms with Ferdinand Lassalle. Marx and Engels had tried in previous years, to agree with the Lassalleans on principled grounds. The Lassalleans had rebuffed them. The points at issue, in the new proposed Gotha Programme of the party were contentious, as Engels explained:
To begin with
they adopt the high-sounding but historically false Lassallean dictum: in
relation to the working class all other classes are only one reactionary mass.
This proposition is true only.. in the case of a revolution by the proletariat
e.g. The Paris Commune; or in a country in which not only has the bourgeoisie
constructed state and society after its own image but the petty bourgeoisie in
it=s wake has already carried out that reconstruction to
its logical conclusion... Secondly the principle that the workers= movement is an international one is to all intents
and purposes utterly denied in respect of the present.. Thirdly our people
allow themselves to be saddled with the Lassallean iron law of wages which is
based on a completely outmoded economic view.. Fourthly as its one and only
social demand, the programme puts forward-Lassallean state aid in this starkest
form.. Fifthly there is absolutely no mention of the organisation of the
working class through the medium of trade unions."
Engels : Letter to August Bebel March 18-28, 1875. Marx & Engels Collected Works Vol. 24: p.67-73.
Obviously these are far more than secondary issues. It is well known that Lenin fostered a full and open debate before Unity could be achieved:
that before we can unite, and in order that we may unite, we must first of all
draw firm and definite lines of demarcation, as Iskra demands."
VI. Lenin "What is to be Done? Burning Questions Of Our Movements"; 1902; Vol. 5; Works; Moscow; p.367.
Yet Lenin naturally saw the need for unity on PRACTICAL ISSUES. These were then questions of a Broad Front for practical work; versus formation of a Party work. Lenin reached for his Marx, and The Critique of the Gotha Programme:
If you must
unite, Marx wrote to the party leaders, then enter into agreements to satisfy
the practical aims of the movement, but do not allow any bargaining over
principles, do not make any theoretical concession. This was Marx=s idea.. Without revolutionary theory there can be no
V. I. Lenin "What is to be Done? Burning Questions Of Our Movements"; 1902; Vol. 5; Works; Moscow; p.369-70.
Lenin adds, as a preliminary to a long quote from Engels also on the importance of theory, why the Russian workers movement was especially in need of theoretical clarity:
Social democracy the importance of theory is enhanced... firstly by the fact
that our party is only in the process of formation, its features are only just
becoming defined, and it has as yet far from settled accounts with the other
trends of revolutionary thought that threaten to divert the movement from the
correct path.. Secondly, the Social Democratic movement is in its very essence
an international movement.. we must.. make use of the experiences of other countries.."
V. I. Lenin "What is to be Done? Burning Questions Of Our Movements"; 1902; Vol. 5; Works; Moscow; p.369-370.
The significance of What is to be done? was that it laid the foundations for a professional revolutionary Party. In Where to Begin? Lenin had already outlined the urgent need for a newspaper. Here he hit that message home :
require foremost and imperatively is to broaden the field, establish real
contacts, between the towns on the basis of regular, common work... I
continue to insist that we can start establishing real contacts only
with the aid of a common newspaper, as the only regular, All-Russian
enterprise, one which will summarise the results of the most diverse forms of
activity.. If we do not want unity in name only we must arrange for all local
study circles immediately to assign say a fourth of their forces to
active work for the common cause, and the new paper will immediately
convey to them the general design scope and character of the cause.. the mere
function of distributing a newspaper would help to establish actual
V. I. Lenin "What is to be Done? Burning Questions Of Our Movements"; 1902; Vol. 5; Works; Moscow; p.506-507.
These extended quotations Comrade Guha, are not to teach grandmother to suck eggs, as they say; but to convince you that International Struggle Marxist-Leninist indeed, intends to build one paper and one theoretical journal internationally - wherein all Marxist-Leninists can collectively draw up the demarcation lines. The assistance of Proletarian Path, would be most welcome.
In conclusion, we suggest to the comrade members of International Struggle Marxist-Leninist to consider some amendment to take care of potential misunderstandings as pointed out by Comrade Guha=s letter. We in Alliance purpose that a possible amendment to satisfy this point might be of the form suggested above, namely the addition of the following two sentences to clause 2 :
As yet, in 1997, we are not aware of any single country where such a single unitary Marxist-Leninist party has unequivocally shown that it has reconstituted itself and established its leading position for the workers and peasantry in that country. In these conditions, IS-ML encourages all trends from within a single country, that call themselves Marxist-Leninist, to actively participate in the work of IS-ML.
SECOND CRITICISM RELATES, IN OUR VIEW TO THE QUESTION :
HOW ARE BASE AND SUPERSTRUCTURE INTER-RELATED IN THE MAINTENANCE OF SOCIALISM?
You Comrade Guha, have problems with the sentence from the paragraph of the Statement, that reads:
construction of socialism class struggle and dictatorship of the proletariat
form a new material socialist basis that will move quickly to eject bourgeois culture from the minds of men and women. Only this can and will prevent bourgeois culture arising again.
There are several points you make on this statement.
Firstly you argue this view of ISML, is a subjective view,
and not one that is an objectively based view of social change. You, Comrade
Guha, view this as being :
subjective and idealist;
AA concession to the petty bourgeois thought of Mao Tse Tung;
and you argue :
Can anybody really prevent the existence and rise of bourgeois ideas and thinking merely on Anew material socialist basis without thoroughly eliminating the OLD material bourgeois basis?
You also argue that, we at ISML, should state :
So long as
there is coexistence of socialism (in some countries - ed.) with capitalism...
So long as there is capitalist encirclement etc.. The objective basis of the existence of the existence and resurgence of bourgeois ideas and thinking will remain in spite of the best efforts of the Anew socialist material basis of the dictatorship of the proletariat.
We interpret these four remarks to mean, at least one matter in common - that without an objective economic base there can be no subjective change. If this is not what is meant by Proletarian Path, we must withdraw, and re-think. But assuming this interpretation is correct, let us point out the following :
1) The background of the Dictatorship of the proletariat
Of course we are not talking in a vacuum - a vacuum that is unrelated to the expropriation of the property rights of the bourgeoisie, taking place in the dictatorship of the proletariat. We point this out, in the Founding Principles of International Struggle Marxist-Leninist; under the clause 1(e) where we call for:
recognition of the dictatorship of the proletariat to first achieve and then to maintain socialism.
To us in Alliance, the dictatorship of the proletariat, includes expropriation of the bourgeoisie, and this forms the material objective basis of socialism.
2) On base and superstructure
Clearly the often-cited neat separation of base and superstructure is not quite so neat, in reality. As Engels himself pointed out, it is incorrect to belittle aspects of the superstructure:
Marx and I are
ourselves to blame for the fact that the younger people sometimes place more
stress on the economic side than is due to it. We had to emphasise the main
principle vis-à-vis our adversaries, who denied it and we had not always the
time or the place or the opportunity to give their due to the other factors
involved in the interaction."
Frederick Engels: Letter to Joseph Bloch September 21-2, 1890. In Marx and Engels "Pre Capitalist Socio-Economic Formations"; Moscow; 1979; p.524.
How did Engels himself, see the interaction of superstructure and base?
the materialist conception of history, the ultimately determining factor in
history is the production and reproduction of real life. Neither Marx nor I
have ever asserted more than this. Hence if somebody twists this into saying
that the economic factor is the only determining one, he transformed that
proposition into a meaningless, abstract, absurd phrase. The economic situation
is the basis, but the various elements of the superstructure - political forms
of the class struggle and its results, such as constitution established by the
victorious class after a successful battle, etc, juridical forms, and
especially the reflections of the all these real struggles in the brains of the
participants, political, legal, philosophical theories, religious views and
their further development into systems of dogmata -also exercise their influence
upon the courses of the historical struggle and in many cases determine their
form in particular. There is an interaction of all these elements in which amid
all the endless host of accidents (that is of things and events whose
inter-connection is so remote and impossible of proof that we can regard it as
non-existent and neglect it), the economic movement is bound to assert itself.
Frederick Engels: Letter to Joseph Bloch September 21-2, 1890. In Marx and Engels "Pre Capitalist Socio-Economic Formations"; Moscow; 1979; p.522.
Engels gives an example how a mechanical insistence upon economic determinacy will lead to obvious ridicule:
We make our
history ourselves, but in the first place under very definite antecedents and
conditions, Among these the economic one are ultimately decisive. But the
political ones etc; and indeed even the traditions which haunt human minds also
play a part, but not the decisive one.. It is hardly possible without making
oneself ridiculous, to explain in terms of economics the existence of every
small state in Germany past and present, or the origin of the High German
consistent shift, which divides the geographic partition formed by the mountain
partition formed by the mountain ranges from the Sudetenes to the Taurus, into
a regular fissure running across Germany.
Frederick Engels: Letter to Joseph Bloch September 21-2, 1890. In Marx and Engels "Pre Capitalist Socio-Economic Formations"; Moscow; 1979; p.523.
Moreover, Engels argues, that there are a myriad of factors that individualise final results, as opposed to classes alone. Each individual then plays a role in the parallelogram of forces, that ends up in any result :
In the second
place however history proceeds in such a way that the final result always
arises from conflicts between many individual wills and every one of them is in
turn made into what it is by a host of particular conditions of life. Thus
there are innumerable intersecting forces, an infinite series of parallelogram
of forces which give rise to one resultant-the historical event.
Frederick Engels: Letter to Joseph Bloch September 21-2, 1890. In Marx and Engels "Pre Capitalist Socio-Economic Formations"; Moscow; 1979; p.523.
In another letter, to W. Borgius, Engels explains:
legal, philosophical, religious, literary artistic etc; development is based on
economic development. But all these react upon one another and also upon the
economic basis. One must not think that the economic situation is cause and
solely active, whereas everything else is only a passive effect. On the
contrary interaction takes place on the basis of economic necessity, which
ultimately always asserts itself. The state for instance exercises an influence
by protective tariffs, free trade, good or bad fiscal system..
Frederick Engels: Letter to W. Borgius; January 25th, 1894; In Marx and Engels "Pre Capitalist Socio-Economic Formations"; Moscow; 1979; p.540.
We conclude comrade Guha, that the interaction of base and superstructure can be interpreted too narrowly, and we suspect that in general that you would agree thus far.
3. The Subjective Factor of Culture - the Cadres
We agree that none of this of course takes away from the Main Thing - that is undoubtedly the economic basis of socialist property relations. But we will now argue that the view of ISML, is not dissimilar to the way that Lenin and Stalin viewed the situation. Let us try to substantiate this.
After the victory of the proletariat and the peasantry in the capture of state power in 1917, the state established socialist property relations. Thereafter, the state proceeded to lay a huge emphasis on the subjective factors including education, culture, and the changing of the mindsets of the people. That can be shown by many quotations. In 1935, for instance Stalin points out to the Red Army Graduates that cadres decide everything:
from the period of dearth of technique we have entered a new period, a period I
would say of a dearth of people of cadres of workers capable of harnessing
technique, and advancing it...Formerly we used to say that Atechnique decides everything. ... But it is not
enough... we need cadres... the old slogan.. Must now be replaced by a new
slogan the slogan Cadres decide everything."
Stalin JV; "Address to the Graduates From The Red Army Academies"; Works Vol. 14; London edition 1978; p. 75-76
Earlier quotes can also testify to the importance of the subjective or superstructure aspects. For instance Lenin saw the role of education to build a new mentality:
It is true that
management is the job of the individual administrator; but who is exactly that
administrator will be - an expert or a worker - will depend on how many
administrators we have of the old and the new type... The trade unions are
heading for the time when they will take economic life, namely industry, into
their hands. The talk about not admitting bourgeois specialists into the trade
unions is a prejudice. The trade unions are educational bodies and strict
demands must be made on them."
Lenin V. I.; "Reply To Discussion On Report Of CC 9th Congress Of RCP(B). March 30, 1920. From CW 30: pp 465-471; Cited "Lenin On Intelligentsia"; Moscow; 1983; p. 260.
rule your proletarian party and ours will be invaded by a still larger number
of bourgeois intellectuals, They will worm their way into the Soviets, the
courts, and the administration, since communism cannot be built otherwise than
with the aid of human material created by capitalism, and the bourgeois
intellectuals cannot be expelled and destroyed, but must be won over,
remoulded, assimilated, and re-educated, just as we must- in a protracted
struggle waged on the basis of the dictatorship of the proletariat-re-educate
the proletarians themselves, who do not abandon their petty-bourgeois prejudices
at one stroke, by a miracle, a the behest of the Virgin Mary, at the behest of
a slogan, resolution or decree, but only in the course of a long and difficult
struggle against mass petty bourgeois influences. .... Among Soviet engineers,
Soviet school-teachers and the privileged, i.e., the most highly skilled and
best situated, workers at Soviet factories, we observe a constant revival of
absolutely all the negative traits peculiar to bourgeois Parliamentarism....
These are truly gigantic problems of re-educating under the proletarian
dictatorship , millions of peasants and small proprietors, hundreds of
thousands of office employees officials and bourgeois intellectuals, of
subordinating them all to the proletarian state and to proletarian leadership,
or eradicating their bourgeois habits and traditions."
Lenin V. I.; "Left-Wing Communism"; Op Cit; Collected Works; Volume 31; pp. 115-116.
Perhaps we are wrong, but the statement of IS-ML that you, Comrade Guha, object to, does not seem inconsistent with these types of views of Lenin and Stalin.
We would accept however, that the word only, is incorrect in this context. We therefore suggest to ISML that the word only be deleted from the phrase that currently runs :
Only this can and will prevent bourgeois culture arising again.
And the phrase should read :
This will assist in preventing, or retarding the continued re-birth of bourgeois culture.
4. The Question of "Ejecting bourgeois ideas Quickly", and the re-growth of Bourgeois ideology.
Comrade Guha, you ask :
"Can anybody really prevent the existence and rise of bourgeois ideas and thinking merely one Anew material basis... ? Can anybody eject quickly the bourgeois ideas and thinking where old habits, ideas, thoughts and practices persist for a long period and remain without any material basis?"
On this aspect of your second criticism, we here in Alliance would also partially agree with your viewpoint. We recognise that the process is long. Therefore Alliance agrees that a re-wording on this point is appropriate. On the other hand, we point out that as early as 1920, Lenin is talking about cultural moves that amount to the same. Thus an early and quick start to the process is not intrinsically incorrect!
Furthermore, on the matter of the constant re-growth of bourgeois ideology, we in Alliance agree that the essence of Stalin=s fight against Bukharin was on this point. Thus Stalin points out that :
elements have no desire to depart from the scene voluntarily; they are
resisting, and will continue to resist voluntarily; they are resisting, and will continue to resist socialism for they realise that their last days are approaching. And they are re still able to resist because , in spite of the decline of their relative importance, they are nevertheless growing in absolute numbers; the petty bourgeoisies in town and country, as Lenin said, daily and hourly produces from its midst capitalists, big and small, and these capitalist elements go to all lengths to preserve their existence."
Stalin: "The Right Deviation In the CPSU(B)"; Vol. 12; Mos 1955; p. 40.
Thus we suggest to the ISML membership and the editorial board that a modification of the wording there, should be made such that the offending statement be phrased along the following lines :
In the construction of socialism, class struggle and dictatorship of the proletariat must
form a new material socialist basis; that will move as quickly as possible - together with an educational and cultural movement - towards the ejection of bourgeois culture from the minds of men and women. This will take time, but the urgent creation of a new Socialist consciousness is vitally important. This will assist in preventing, and retarding the continued re-birth of bourgeois culture.
5. On cultural Revolution and The Great Cultural Proletarian Revolution.
Now the final aspect of this second criticism of yours, Comrade Guha, that we will deal with only briefly here, is the one that relates to the question of Mao. You are not a follower of Mao. Indeed neither is Alliance Marxist-Leninist (North America).
For our part we do not believe that the movement raised by Mao was either cultural nor proletarian nor revolutionary. It was in our opinion, a counter-revolutionary movement, aimed at destroying the communist party China which had fallen into the hands of a bourgeois faction led by Liu Shao Chi. We argue this faction of Liu Shao Chi, opposed the bourgeois faction led by Mao Tse Tung.
This is not the place to enter into the details, these are amply provided in two recent documents that can be obtained from us (See W. B. Bland : "Class Struggles in China"; London; 1997; Obtainable from Communist League (UK) & From Alliance North America; & Three Party Statement : "Upon Unity and Ideology- An Open Letter to Comrade Ludo Martens"; London; 1995; Obtainable from Alliance + CL +MLCP(Turkey) - Both are now on web: Class Struggles In China: And: Open Letter to Martens). But, the point to make here, in response to your criticism, comrade Guha, is three-fold.
Firstly that it is clear from the above citations we have included, that both Lenin and Stalin also laid great emphasis upon a cultural explosion (to avoid the conjunction of the words cultural and revolution!) taking place in truly socialist countries, like the former USSR. This was not a Maoist innovation.
The second point, is that the crucial difference between genuine Marxism-Leninism, and pseudo-revolutionary Maoism lies in the fact that China had not laid the material basis of socialism by expropriating the bourgeoisie. Mao could only wave the cultural revolution in the air without a material base. Of course, he did more than just wave it in the air, he used this cultural revolution as a cloak, behind which he could destroy the Communist party of China from outside, using lumpen and petty bourgeois elements.
Thirdly, we would disagree with your assessment that the ISML formulation, even as it stands now without amendment is typical of a :
Petty bourgeois wishful thinking (that) is the source of Mao Tse Tung Thought.
To the contrary we would argue that Mao Tse Tung Thought, has its roots firmly in the capitalist class, especially that section of capital that favoured links with US capital.
We continue to believe that some - of course not necessarily all - Maoists, can be won over by rational and scientific arguments, and the practical lessons of the proletarian and peasant struggles in their own countries.
We Remain Yours Fraternally,
Alliance Marxist-Leninist (North America).
PUTTING MARXISM-LENINISM BACK ONTO ITS FEET.
By Patrick Kessel, CEMOPI, France; Centre D'etude Sur Le Mouvement Ouvrier et Paysan International
Fighting against revisionism implies first of all that there has to be a definition of "What is revisionism?" But generally, people are content with merely describing counter-revolutionary positions, without defining it from the revolutionary point of view of our class, or of Marxism, or of Leninism.
THE MULTIPLE FORMS OF REVISIONISM
Revisionism, since it first appeared at the end of the last century, and since its denunciation by Lenin, Kautsky and Rosa Luxemburg, up to its' present manifestations must be viewed in each historical epoch. Even if the object of revisionism is always the same today that object is the same as it was yesterday - its characteristics differ both in accordance with the international situation, and with that of each country in which it expresses itself.
And in speaking simply of revisionism, one can mix up the questioning of the principal theses of Marx and Engels, with those of Lenin, which were developed within the framework of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat, and of the building of the first socialist state - first with Lenin and then with Stalin.
There is an anti-Marxist Revisionism; and there is an anti-Leninist Revisionism. Some people want to save Marx ("Their Marx"), but are against Lenin. Others set up "Leninism as a continuation of Marxism" - and fire upon both of them, rejecting in general, the work and practical lessons of Marx and Engels. Yet others, at last openly come out with it, and affirm that Marx 'encloses' Stalin's "crimes". Even if all these different "schools" of Leninists are opposed to each other - they are definitely different schools - they all tend to go in the same direction, which is to perpetuate the capitalist mode of production. But Marxists-Leninists cannot be content with rejecting these revisionisms en bloc, because all these various revisionisms develop on different grounds and histories, and they are either more or less active in one country as opposed to another, and finally they are all formed by different multiple processes.
Anti-Marxist revisionism reflects the first period of revisionism. Anti-Leninist revisionism reflects the second period of revisionism. During this second period, superimposed upon the references against Lenin, are those that are anti-Stalin revisionisms. We can speak of these three species of revisionists as being still of current interest. We do not need to talk of those people who - after first having denounced Stalin, rejected Lenin and abandoned Marx - do not even qualify as being revisionists of Marxism-Leninism. These types, have aligned themselves completely with an open reformism, that was formed at the end of the 19th century, whose major representatives were Proudhon and Jaures. And yet a further degree of viciousness is reached by those who denounce communism in general, as the worst murderer in world-wide history.
Historically the Second World War generated those revisionists, that people now call "Modern Revisionists". Modern Revisionists, were exemplified for the first time by the American leader Earl Browder, then by Tito, and then finally by Khrushchev. This "Modern Revisionism", was fully characterized, and given shape, in 1956, at the 20th party Congress of the CPSU, by the denunciation of the role of Stalin during the construction of socialism in the USSR. And joined to this, was the denunciation of Stalin's role in the global construction of the Communist International.
This modern revisionism has a double
It concerns the construction of socialism, and it also claims to involve those communist parties who are not in power, in the "Peaceful road to socialism".
It is in this way that revisionisms, both old and new became dominant within what was designated the socialist camp. This hidden camp was actually projected to become a system, that was embedded within a perspective of a peaceful unprincipled co-existence, with capitalism.
This new stage determined a change in the
character of revisionism. Actually until then, revisionism was able to develop
in any one or another party, according to the class battles within those
parties. From 1956 to 1960 the revisionist theses compelled a recognition of a
general line of the international communist movement; during this same time
revisionism was developing a "polycentric" line, as described
by the Italian leader Togliatti. The purpose of this was not to fight
the new revisionism, but to accelerate that process. And for sure, this new
revisionism carried then and now, a double sided aspect.
Firstly it is concerned with the USSR herself and the CP's in power;
and Secondly when it commands the line given to those communist parties that are not in power and who are fighting under very different conditions with a framework of either illegality or illegality.
THE DIFFERENT CONTENTS OF ANTI-REVISIONISM
Two parties came Out and openly opposed the revisionist hegemony which had become incarnated in the one "dominant party" - that of the USSR. These two parties were the Party of Labour of Albania, and the Communist Party of China. These two proclaimed themselves antirevisionists, and they denounced certain aspects of the new revisionism. But in doing this they started from different conceptions. That is why they denounced - each of them either more or less deeply - several different aspects of revisionisms. It is also why in the fight that they led against imperialism, they themselves later erupted into antagonistic contradictions between each other.
These antagonistic contradictions, did not touch only on the effects of the new revisionism but came to the roots, the very foundations of Marxism-Leninism. Actually the fight against imperialism is not in effect merely a token, one to be labelled "Marxism-Leninism", if one really manages to carry out a dividing cut - separating capitalism as a mode of production from its imperialist stage. Nor is it a token, if one substitutes one for the other, or if that struggle only pays attention to some of the effects of imperialism, to its foreign politics be it directly of a military nature, or economic and ideological.
The fight against revisionism, in which we affirm our position, does not imply a unity of thought on the part of all those who claim to be anti-revisionists.
This was already obvious at the very moment as revisionism appeared. Our earlier reference to Lenin, Kautsky and Rosa Luxemburg's struggles against Bernstein at the end of the 19th Century and the beginning of the 20th century shows in contrast to the popular "common-sense" sentiment, that the "enemy of my enemy" is not necessarily a friend. It was against Kautsky and Rosa Luxemburg that Lenin forthrightly stood up. Yet even while doing this, simultaneously he acknowledged to Kautsky and Rosa Luxemburg their great contributions to the denunciation of Bernstein. And just as all three (Lenin, Kautsky and Luxemburg) had an overall agreement upon Bernstein in their own epoch, similarly there was a concordance between the Party of Labour of Albania (PLA) and the Communist Party of China (CPC) after the 20th party Congress of the CPSU(B). The concordance at the same time mask certain antagonisms, but it did not suppress them, and the contradictions became aggravated to the point of the final rupture itself, between the PLA and the CPC.
FIVE PRINCIPAL EPOCHS IN THE HISTORY OF REVISIONISM
Historically, we can distinguish five primary epochs in the development of revisionism
1. That of the
Second International when none of the parties claiming kinship with Marx and
Engels were in power.
2. That which followed the foundation of the USSR as the first State of the Dictatorship of
3. That which followed the Second World War with the establishment of the Popular
Democracies and of the Peoples Republic of China, where revisionism became qualified by the
4. That which had the 20th Party Congress of the CPSU(B) in Moscow from 1956, as its
international starting point and which ended in about 1989.
5. And finally the present day period.
Of course there is no gap between these periods. In each period that was ending, were already present the germs of later elements, these earlier germs served to characterise the later revisionisms. For example elements of modern revisionism were already present in the political leadership of certain Communist Parties from 1935. The most prominent and best known examples, were the Communist Party of France, and the Communist Party of the United States, led by Earl Browder.
And then a Communist party does not become revisionist in one day. Furthermore, in the case of a party that called itself "communist", and was generally recognised as such, it is necessary to analyse whether it truly was a Marxist-Leninist party. And this analysis must be based on criteria that may themselves, prove to be controversial. Anyhow, one may ask: recognised as "truly Marxist-Leninist" by whom? And it should never be forgotten that the life of the party is made up in class struggles, and that it builds itself passing through these struggles, confronting all the various and multiple deviations before it faces revisionism itself
Finally, by using the catch-all term "Revisionism" one risks an over-simplification. This would be to have in sight, only present aspects of policies, which to justify themselves, put away those principles which were recognised as just, until that time.
WHERE DOES REVISIONISM LEAD?
If one considers the objectives of revisionism, these can take multiple forms. But for whatever reason revisionists have in taking these various roads, all these roads have only one consequence. That is to hijack the revolutionary road, and to lower the class struggle and to limit it.
In each epoch, the revisionist currents first crystallize themselves around various theoreticians before they spring to life. These revisionist constructions have a body, or a corpus. But this body of work is not on all points, identical in one period as in another. Each body of revisionism cannot be simply reduced to the epoch in which it was born. They have a life which is transmitted from one period to the other, they may temporarily disappear, only to reappear in different contexts, either entirely or in part. Some of these revisionist theses are no longer quite the same today, as they are no longer driven by parties or organisations or leaders or theoreticians, who rely on the history of the international communist movement. The current day forms are quite indivisible from our open bourgeois enemies and feed the dominant ideology. The present outcome of this type of propaganda asserts the equivalence between communism and fascism and it criminalizes communism in general.
That is why the battle against revisionism in general - with respect to all its components - cannot be separated from the battle against the guard dogs of capitalism. This does not mean a separate battle, a battle on two fronts. It is only a single front, which is waged against both the internal enemies of Marxism and of Leninism, and the external enemies.
The fight against all these revisionisms - to be in reality more than just waving of a toy-rattle - implies the study of all of its' different incarnations, from Bernstein to Kautsky, from Kautsky to Rosa Luxemburg; from Browder to Tito and then to Khrushchev. In all these incarnations revisionism must be studied, whether it may have developed in the currents of ultra-leftism, like Trotskyism, Maoism, whether it became dominant in various parties that called themselves Marxist-Leninists; or whether it may have laid claim to the work of theoreticians like Gramsci etc. And this study should take into account the social bases and different periods in which these revisionisms developed, whether in the USSR in the People's Democracies, or in China etc.
Revisionism coexists alongside reformism, in order to identify itself progressively with the latter, whilst also trying to preserve its peculiarity, in order to survive as an independent political movement. These differences, however still do not touch the essentials - that is the acceptance or not of the capitalist mode of production. On this - revisionism agrees with reformism. In France, the Communist Party talks today of the "overtaking" or of "passing beyond" capitalism, not of destroying capitalism. At the same time the revisionists in France and elsewhere, agitate around the slogan of "We must make the rich pay". But in reality our real objective is to expropriate the capitalist class.
THE CONSTITUTIVE ELEMENTS OF MARXISM AND OF LENINISM
We have often used the concept of "Revisionism". And we have often affirmed the necessity of studying all its forms, arguments and its' consequences. But our arguments and discussions will become void, and devoid of any efficacy, in any sense, - if anti-revisionists are only content to simply enumerate formulae, as if they were counting or reciting beads formulae like:
"Dialectical and Historical Materialism; Dictatorship of the Proletariat, the Necessity of the Destruction of the Bourgeois State by Revolutionary Violence; the Historic Mission of the proletariat, the Right of the People Or Country to Self-Determination; Socialization (and not nationalisation) of the Means of Production; Collectivization of the Soil, Base and Superstructure, Forces of Production and Relation of Production, a Class 'of itself' and a Class 'for itself'; etc.
Given the way these formulae are used (and they remain only as formulae if we do not show their necessity to answer today's needs and today's genuinely posed problems) - they will remain only as a vain agitation that will help distinguish us, from those who have rejected the principles of Marxism, of Leninism.
A formulaic approach, equally means not to take into account the period in which we are fighting today. To adopt such an approach will mean leaving the battlefield free for all those who carry on a permanent propaganda, on behalf of the bourgeoisie. Such an approach leaves the field free to all the different currents of reformists and revisionists, whose arguments are intertwined, because every party's particular themes plays its part in order to prove that capitalism cannot be bypassed, be it for good or evil and that one can only humanize it.
A COMMON HISTORY, AND PARTICULAR HISTORIES
In as much as we are militant communists and Marxist-Leninists, we have a History, one that transcends our own individual countries. This history of our revolutionary movements, which has become our common history, takes as its' starting point the October Revolution of 1917. As for that history - everything possible is done to annul it. This reference point, our reference point, is more and more unfamiliar to the young men and women who have not had the opportunity to identify themselves with it. This lack of opportunity comes about because they were born just when that history, was being questioned by the very ones who still pretended to claim it as their own. But despite their claims, the pretenders sabotaged that history. And today, that history is now totally revised.
It is not that revised history which we must claim, but its contents, and its objective which is the same as ours. We also bear a heavy responsibility to those of the whole world who have previously struggled, a responsibility to shake the capitalist society and destroy it down to its' very foundations. The bourgeoisie is always ready to crush any threat to itself Today their tactics are to slander our history, and to dispossess us of our heritage and history. The bourgeoisie are ready to assassinate and kill all those who threaten them and refuse to accept their edicts and domination.
If we do not wish to become veterans of a war that capitalism pretends to have won once and for ever, and one can be veteran at any age - we must simultaneously claim this history, our history, and fight within this society. Within this society where all classes are so confused, and do not recognise themselves, do not want to know their own history, because of the bourgeois and revisionist ideology. And it is out of this history, that the formulae that we referred to are put forward, like so many scarecrows.
That is why the entire struggle against revisionism and the dominant bourgeois ideology implies the reappropriation of the principles which for us are the foundations. This has to be done taking into account today's context, in order to fix the principles in reality, and thus to breath life into them In one word we must be understood. And it is also be means of concrete and detailed analysis of the principles that we will be able to undertake a principled struggle against revisionism (against revisionisms) and against bourgeois ideology, also concerning the revision of our own history.
Very concretely we must say that what we mean by our references from Marx and Engels, to Lenin, and Stalin, in the context of this time - the end of the 20th century. It is within the framework of today's international world situation of economics, politics, and ideology, that we have to give a base for our references, and to put forward our world conception.
Equally we must justify, not just by yesterday's standards, but by today's and tomorrow's, the validity of our formulae, which we serve up as the line of demarcation - but which too often are beyond any objective reality.
It is this work that allows us to establish the line of demarcation between the bourgeois, the reformists, the revisionists - and finally of those who aspire to be Marxist-Leninists. It is this work which will provide us the tools for action.
It is necessary to fight against the new world wide revisionism. But our common history since October 17th, has not followed a linear path in each of our countries. And all the various hitches and snags, not to mention the assassination attempts, upon Marxism, upon Leninism, have led to the present situation both on an international and a local setting. If it is necessary to lay out clearly all the intertwining strands, of all the major international theses of revisionism, then it is above all necessary to answer the questions we face today. This is necessary, in order to clearly understand the especial and particular aspects of the development of revisionism in our own countries. Of course, these aspects must be well understood in relation to the dominant revisionist theses. We have to sweep up in front of our own doors - ideologically speaking. Otherwise our practice risks being a blind one, and of nourished itself by ambiguities that will become brakes upon our political and economic battle.
It is clear that the cherishing and encouragement of this or that revisionism by the bourgeoisie, or indeed of the total assembled theses, will vary. It will vary and depend upon at any given movement, upon the needs of the bourgeoisie, as the bourgeoisie, struggles to face and overcome its' international and internal problems.
There are the "Great" revisionisms, one could say. We have cited some of them. But there are others that followed in their wake, which are in tow to the "Great" revisionisms Those in tow have justified their actions under the cover of the "Great" revisionist theses and political positions. From this point of view, the events of the last thirty years, have considerably shuffled the deck of cards, spreading a wide confusion. Since 1963 especially, tens of new parties and organisations have arisen. These have held as part of their 'mandate", a stated opposition against Khrushchev and the traditional parties around the Communist Party of France and the USSR. We must give up attacking and pointing out Khruschevism as an enemy, because this enemy is too easily visible. It does not assist us in the purpose of demarcation any longer.
Generally speaking, two poles, at different moments, and to differing degrees, have served to legitimise anti-revisionist initiatives : The Chinese Communist party, and the Party of Labour of Albania. Today these two parties equally, are the starting point of our history, not as living forces, but as actors in an ultimate and supreme struggle between revisionism (as represented by the Chinese) - and Marxism-Leninism (as represented by the Albanians). Each one of these actors were incarnated as a party in power.
As far as our own country of struggle, in France, it seems indispensable to us, to combine the study of the grand currents of revisionism with the analysis of the failures of both the Marxist-Leninists, and of those who since 1963, mask themselves as Marxist-Leninists and use '~Marxist-Leninist arguments", whether or not their respective organisation are now dead or not. It is obvious that this work must go beyond the borders of France, in so far as these organisations and parties have formed international contacts. And it is also indispensable to study the French Communist Party, identified since 1920 as a communist party.
Patrick KESSEL - Centre d'Etude sur le Mouvement Ouvrier et Paysan International (CEMOPI), Corresponding address for CEMOPI: 4, Rue D'Arcole, 72000, Le Mans, France.
END OF ISSUE NUMBER 3; 1997.
Originally sold $ 6.00 - 63 pages- copies still available; apply to contact address.