First Published: Progressive Labor, Vol. III. No. 11-12, November-December 1964
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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The Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union acting with the adroitness of a pregnant hippopotamus, has sent Nikita Khrushchev to the showers. The manner in which the “new” leaders operated this coup was remarkably similar to the dismissal of Yogi Berra as manager of the New York Yankees.
With the removal of the leading spokesman for modern revisionism from power, the brand of “ideology” he practiced has suffered a set-back. Khrushchev as the chief spokesman for modern revisionism attempted to destroy the concept of the “dictatorship of the proletariat,” split the international communist movement, return the Soviet Union to capitalism, and tried to whitewash U.S. imperialism, preventing revolutionary forces from defeating it.
In addition Khrushchev and his colleagues downgraded the importance of revolution, especially in Latin America, Asia, and Africa. They were on the verge of making a deal with West Germany betraying the entire international working class movement. They attempted to bring the Communist Party of China to its knees, in the ideological battle, by ending economic, military, and scientific assistance. By their chauvinism toward the Chinese people, they completely underestimated the ability of the Chinese people to overcome the Soviet withdrawal of aid. The Chinese people have solved various economic problems, and have been able, on their own, to produce nuclear weapons. Finally, the result of all these policies of betrayal has made the Soviet Union more open to imperialist onslaught. They have endangered the well-being and interests of the Soviet people who won the great victory of the revolution and who built socialism under the most difficult conditions.
Although it is still not entirely clear what the reasoning was in the removal of Khrushchev, as the news has varied from Communist Party to Communist Party, especially in Europe, there is some reason to suspect that there are differences among the revisionists as how best to operate. Moreover, the ouster raises important questions for honest communists throughout the world who followed the Soviet Party line without question.
Accounts from the Soviet Union give no hope of any immediate change in the position of the CPSU. This has been clearly demonstrated by the “new” leaders maintaining the false edicts of the 20th and 22nd party congresses. Published reports of these leaders continue to mouth support for the “peaceful co-existence” as the main strategy for the international movement. Also, Soviet leaders have been quick to assure Indian capitalists that they will still receive military aid from the Soviets which can be used against China. Recent pronouncements from the Soviet Party call for more private farming, further encouraging private capital in agriculture. In industry, the Party has called for introducing the Liberman plan. This too, will accelerate the private profit incentive and enlarge the strata of soviet citizens who receive enormous sums of money.
Because the revisionists have been losing the ideological battle and are becoming increasingly discredited and isolated, they may be forced to change some of their tactics. They may try to improve state relations with China, which were nearly to the breaking point. Numerous Soviet and other communist parties have long argued that ideological disputes should not be used as a basis for dissolving essential state relations between socialist countries. (Despite lip service to this valid idea, the revisionists of the CPSU broke relations with Albania because of differences of ideology.) Even if improved state relations is only a tactical move by the Soviet leaders we believe this could be a positive development.
Newspaper accounts have noted that Khrushchev was accused of numerous breaches of Marxist-Leninist methods of work, and personal acts. Among the more prominent charges leveled against him were his behavior as the leader of the Soviet people. The clowning antics of Khrushchev were pure Barnum and Bailey and finally the Kremlin leaders decided that he had gone too far in his vaudeville approach to world politics.
Although the Kremlin has released only those criticisms of Khrushchev which deal with his “public” image and personal methods of work there has been considerable reporting regarding other “charges” leveled against him which are of a more important nature. The New York Times of October 30th has, for example, noted that Khrushchev was accused of having “committed errors in his Cuban policy and invited defeat of his policy by introducing missies into Cuba in the fall of 1962.” He is also accused of “reducing the Chinese-Soviet ideological conflict to the level of personal polemics between himself and Mao Tse-tung.” His other major errors, according to The Times, dealt with his attitudes and policies regarding Soviet agriculture.
The quotes from The Times have not been verified in the Soviet Union but certainly these accusations against Khrushchev hit a little nearer the nub of the question than those posed by his absurd antics in Moscow and Disneyland.
But no report from the Soviet Union has discussed the important fact that Khrushchev was guilty of attempting to stratify the Soviet society and reintroduce capitalism into the economy and mores of the country. On October 2nd Khrushchev was quoted in Pravda as supporting a complete commitment to the concepts of the Soviet economist Yevsey Liberman. These concepts deal with the adoption of the partially capitalist methods of production and measuring profit. Libermanism, if implemented, would have increased authority for individual plant managers and reduced authority for both the central committees and their branch offices in the economic regions of the Soviet Union. This attempt by the Khrushchev clique to revise Marxism-Leninism further and introduce personal profit motives in the society is surely among the most telling points of his reign.
With Khrushchev out, the revisionists throughout the world have suffered a set-back. The questions regarding the policies of Khrushchev that are now being asked in all of the world communist parties are a hopeful sign that many of the members of these parties can see through the ideological muddle of Khrushchev and are considering their own actions in the light of his demise. There should be no doubt but that one of the major underlying reasons for the ouster of Khrushchev was that revisionists knew that they were losing the identical battle throughout the world and they needed a scapegoat. The revisionists have found themselves more and more isolated from the revolutionary forces throughout the world. The revolutionary philosophy of Marxism-Leninism had begun to come to the foreground throughout the world, splits began to develop in the communist parties of even the western European countries.
Regarding the charges reported in The Times we have the following comments: While there is no doubt in our minds that Khrushchev did indeed commit a tremendous blunder by placing nuclear weapons in Cuba and then withdrawing them at the insistence of the United States; is questionable if his removal from power means any change in the ideology which allowed him to carry out this “adventuristic” and “capitulationist” action. It is important to remember that no one man runs the Kremlin any more than Johnson runs the United States. All leaders are responsible to the ideology, economic class or groups which they govern and the mere replacement of an individual cannot replace the erroneous ideology or class basis which allowed them to be made in the first place.
The ideological dispute with China is also certainly not the work of any one man in the Kremlin. Admittedly, Khrushchev did make the a personal one and his attacks on the leaders of the Chinese People’s Republic were not only outrageous but so untrue as to force questions regarding his sanity. The attacks which the Kremlin launched against the Chinese leaders cannot be rationally dismissed as the work of one Khrushchev. Let no one ever doubt that Khrushchev did not run the Kremlin single handedly. The very men who have now replaced Khrushchev and attacked his “personal polemics” against the Chinese hold as much responsibility as the level at which this debate was carried out. If Khrushchev was wrong, as he certainly was, the blame falls not on his shoulders alone but on the backs of all those who held positions of power in the Kremlin. If Khrushchev is now to feel the calumny of the new leaders then must shoulder the responsibility for the attacks on China, Albania and others. Self-criticism is in order in Moscow and the blame must rest on everyone involved in the government who allowed Khrushchev to carry out his polemics and unchallenged.
It is not a simple thing to accept blame and to admit to wrongs. But, if the leaders of the USSR are to win the respect of militants and revolutionaries throughout the world then one of their first acts must be to admit that they (and not Khrushchev alone) were responsible for the erroneous attacks on China and the disastrous policy regarding Cuba in October of 1962. The main spokesman for revisionism may have been replaced in the Soviet Union but the underlings are still there and until the prevalent ideology of the CPSU changes there is no reason to suppose that serious mistakes will not continue to be made by the leadership.
The new government in the Soviet Union must stop downgrading the concept of revolutionary action and wipe out the economic base for revisionism. We believe that the new Kremlin leaders have a responsibility to support those revolutionary movements throughout the world that are attempting to defeat American imperialism. Not only must Khrushchev be attacked for his policies but these policies must be changed if the Soviet Union is to regain its position as one of the leaders of the philosophy of Marxism-Leninism.
Regarding the position of the Soviet Union in its ideological attack on the Peoples’ Republic of China, the Progressive Labor Movement has continually stated that we believe that China, some communist parties, and others have fought for a correct Marxist-Leninist position. We believe that the Chinese and others have prevented the Soviet leaders from engulfing the international communist and revolutionary movement with revisionism. We are strongly opposed to the attempt of the Soviet Union to split the international movement and instead support the attempts of the Marxist-Leninist parties to unify all revolutionary activity under the banner of stopping United States imperialism now. We believe that enough has already been written giving the positions of the two ideologies to not warrant a rehashing of these opposing views in this editorial.
The Progressive Labor Movement believes that revolutions alone can oust United States imperialism from its bases throughout the world. We believe that military “aid” to such capitalist countries as India is incompatible with a Marxist-Leninist outlook. The Progressive Labor Movement supports and identifies with, the revolutionary struggles in Angola, Venezuela, Vietnam, Chile, South Africa, etc.
We still ascribe to the view that the major goal for communists in the United States is to build a revolutionary party necessary for winning socialism. Every genuine communist in this country and elsewhere should be more convinced than ever in the correct idea of not “following the baton.” Independent judgment, based on correct Marxist-Leninist analysis, coupled with the ability to learn from other revolutionaries, can best serve the interests of U.S. workers and workers all over.
We have also learned that organizational shifts do not solve political problems. The mere removal of Browder as Chairman of the CPUSA did not essentially affect the policies of that party, even though his ouster was accompanied by some “self-criticism.” In time, the entire leadership’s revisionism came to the fore, finishing off the CPUSA as a Marxist-Leninist Party. We do not believe in the one man theory of history. We never believed that the exclusive attack against Stalin would solve the problems of the Soviet Union. In time we learned that the attack against Stalin was really used to promote revisionism. The removal of Khrushchev, as in Stalin’s case, is accompanied by no self-criticism, and cannot be seriously considered in a fundamental way.
We believe that the ouster of Khrushchev points to growing contradictions in Soviet society. Contradictions within the party and within the political and economic institutions. These contradictions can only be resolved by the return to Marxism-Leninism, by the return to the principles of the Great October Revolution. We have confidence that in time the Soviet people, pioneers in the development of socialism, will do this.
Presently, we feel that it is not possible to achieve unity around the two lines which exist. One, for Revolutionary socialism. The other, for ending international class struggle and capitulation to imperialism. We believe that Marxist-Leninists will unite only on the basis of Revolutionary socialism. This is the road of the present and the future. The other is the road to oblivion.