First Published: Defense of Marxism-Leninism, 1963.
Reprinted: Australia’s Revolution: On the Struggle for a Marxist-Leninist Communist Party August 1973.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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I agree with the first part of Comrade Sharkey’s report. I believe it to be in accordance with the revolutionary essence of the 81 Parties’ statement. I will touch on some of the questions raised by Comrade Sharkey but in a different connection.
But I disagree with much of the second part of the report in connection with the 22nd Congress of the CPSU and its implications and with his very negative estimate of the Communist Party of China.
I do not think the recounting of alleged particular episodes as Comrade Sharkey recounted them helps the consideration of the profoundly important political issues at stake. Moreover, you must hear both sides and very often it is a thankless task to arrive at the real truth. So I believe that emotional turnings to this sort of thing need to be put on one side. If, for example, Comrade Hoxha shot a pregnant woman (and I gathered he denied it) then it was bad (although even then we don’t know the facts from Comrade Hoxha’s side). But it does not affect the real issue.
Similarly there are many other such allegations outlined by Comrade Sharkey, which have two sides. It is inevitable in a conflict of this kind that that sort of thing happens.
Furthermore, I believe some of Comrade Sharkey’s statements in the second part of his report, though they purported to expound the Soviet Party’s position on such questions as, amongst others, peaceful co-existence and peaceful transition, did not really put the Soviet Party’s position which I believe is incorrect, but Comrade Sharkey put a more correct position.
I wish to express my disagreement with some aspects of the estimates made of the 22nd Congress of the CPSU, with some aspects of the statement made by the Australian delegation to the Congress and with the statement made by the Political Committee on the Congress. In the Political Committee, I disagreed with the other comrades and I want to indicate to the Central Committee that I did disagree, and why I disagreed, and to say that today I feel, even more firmly, that a very serious mistake is being made. I believe that this whole matter will become worse and what we do now is of far more importance than usual.
At the 22nd Congress the great positive achievements of the Soviet Union, its plans for the future and the triumphant advance of socialism, were obscured by the waging of a political battle.
I believe, of course, that the mighty achievements and plans of the Soviet Union occupy a vitally important place in the whole of our work.
I spoke on some phases of this at the last Central Committee meeting. There is a great deal more that must be done about it.
But now I want to devote myself to what I regard as the Political Committee stand on this political battle because I think it fundamentally and vitally affects and influences all our work. An incorrect decision now can adversely affect the revolutionary cause in Australia and the contribution made by the Australian Party and the Australian working-class to the international movement.
A step to the right now – and I believe it is being taken – will inevitably be followed by a rapid descent to the right. The tide to the right is flowing strongly and it has been pushed along by the 22nd Congress.
At this moment there are two lines in the world Communist movement, and it is a matter of profound importance. In my opinion, one is a Marxist-Leninist line and the other is not. The Marxist-Leninist line flows from basic Marxism-Leninism further expounded in the 1957 and 1960 international statements, and upheld above all by the Communist Party of China, and the non-Marxist-Leninist line is upheld by the leaders of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. This is not just some sort of a wrangle between these two Parties or countries, it is not some mysterious argument, the explanation of which lies in the conflict of national interests of two great nations.
It so happens that the discussion takes the form of an argument between the Communist Party of China and the CPSU. This is used by some to say: “Oh, let them fight it out – it’s got nothing to do with us!” But that is profoundly wrong; it has everything to do with us, because it involves the revolutionary heart of Marxism-Leninism. One might just as well say that Lenin’s argument with Kautsky was simply an argument between two people from which everyone else could stand aside.
No, the Communist Party of China is fighting a stern battle to uphold the truths of Marxism-Leninism against a modern revisionist line. That battle affects the theory and practice of every Communist Party and every Communist. It will be a long and protracted battle.
Nor Comrades, is there any mystery about what this is all about. It is perfectly plain to anyone who reads the literature of the international movement what it is all about. It is no good saying: “Well, I don’t know what it is all about – it was all settled by the 81 Parties’ Conference”. It is plain enough that it was not. In my opinion, the stand of the Communist Party of China has been throughout in accord with the 1957 declaration and the 1960 81 Parties’ statement.
It is true, of course, as Comrade Sharkey said, that the 1960 and 1957 statements mean what they say, but that does not prevent their being put in a false way. I believe the leaders of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union do that.
After all, Marx and Engels and Lenin meant what they said, but it did not prevent Bernstein, and various others, emasculating what they said.
No one can point to any single action or statement of the Communist Party of China that is in any way inconsistent with those statements. The Chinese Communists have done everything to uphold them. The same cannot be said of the leaders of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, and later I will demonstrate it.
To those who say there is double talk and the issues are not clear, I suggest they read as defining the issues, the Chinese publication “Long Live Leninism” on the one hand, and on the other, Comrade Khrushchev’s speech to the Rumanian Party Congress in Bucharest, 1960.
And the two lines and issues can be seen clearly enough by any Marxist-Leninist who reads on the one hand, the Peking Review, and on the other New Times and the World Marxist Review.
What has all this got to do with the 22nd Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union? One very important (if not the most important) aspect of the 22nd Congress was that it was a blow aimed in this struggle – a blow against Marxism-Leninism – against the unity of the international Communist movement and against the unity of the socialist camp.
It is not possible to deal with this whole matter without reference to history, and the 22nd Congress cannot be understood in isolation. But the 22nd Congress attempted to elevate its own decisions, but more importantly the decisions of the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, above the 1957 and 1960 declarations and to impose them on the world movement. Read the speeches of the leaders of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and see whether or not that is true.
The importance of this is that the 20th Congress made some very important theoretical errors, which subsequently in the writings, speeches and practice of the Soviet Party leaders, and particularly Comrade Khrushchev, were developed. In the subsequent writings and practice these errors became much clearer but their original public formulation was at the 20th Congress.
What were the chief of those errors? They were an overstatement of the possibilities of peaceful revolution from capitalism to socialism, and an overstatement on the question of peaceful co-existence between countries with different social systems, and finally, but by no means least, the gross overstatement against Comrade Stalin.
All of these questions directly concern the world Communist movement, and, of course, the Communist Party of Australia in its theory and practice.
These theoretical errors were corrected by the 1957 statement and again by the 1960 statement. But the Soviet Party leaders do not like that and they used the 22nd Congress in a bid to re-establish what they regard as the final pronouncement – the theoretical propositions of the 20th Congress.
If you look particularly at the 1960 81 Parties’ declaration you will see that the 20th Congress is given its historical place, but in a correct way – not in a way to elevate the erroneous aspects of it above the correct propositions of the 1957 and 1960 statements. For my part, I have no quarrel with the revelation and correction of the errors of Stalin, provided it is done in a proper way. Moreover, on the other questions, it is possible to point sometimes to formulations of the Soviet Party leaders, and in particular Comrade Khrushchev, which are quite correct. But on this latter question, it is possible to point to many more that are incorrect, and it is possible to point to the practice of the Soviet Party leaders on those matters, which is definitely incorrect.
Time will not allow me to develop fully this question of the errors in theory and practice. But I would like to direct your attention to some examples. Many times Comrade Khrushchev presented Eisenhower as a man of peace. One might say that was merely diplomatic. But it was far more than this.
It arose from the erroneous conception of peaceful coexistence and the erroneous idea that heads of state can fix up world problems.
That arises because Comrade Khrushchev believes that so great has been the development of socialism and the socialist countries, that it has in some way produced a change in the nature of imperialism or that in some way the imperialists are, in the present epoch, amenable to reason.
Well it might be said that has all been fixed up now; we all agree that Eisenhower was not a man of peace, and no harm has been done – it was a passing error like others, and it has been corrected.
But harm was done – first by the incorrect conception, and second, by the entirely incorrect practice. It was no passing error but a direct consequence of wrong theory. It led to widespread illusions in the Communist Parties, in the working-class and amongst the broad democratic forces. It could not help but disarm them ideologically, and in cases of people engaged in advanced struggle, materially.
Was the Communist Party of China correct when it warned throughout that Eisenhower was no man of peace at all? That imperialism remained imperialism and was even more ferocious? That Eisenhower was its chieftain? Was it correct?
Of course it was absolutely correct. Yes, you may say, but that is ancient history!
I say it had, is having, lasting effects. And today the leaders of the Soviet Party are trying to present Kennedy in a favorable light.
Before the American Presidential elections they presented Kennedy favorably and since his election they have done so. Is this correct? Is the Communist Party of China correct when it points out that now Kennedy is the chieftain of U.S. imperialism and is worse than Eisenhower because U.S. imperialism is in an even more desperate position? Of course it is correct!
There is a further error involved in all this. The Soviet Party leaders present all this as though it is purely the man Eisenhower or the man Kennedy concerned. You will recall how having extolled Eisenhower they then reviled him after the U.2 incident, and now they take Kennedy as an individual.
Surely too, that is to distort the nature of imperialism!
It is elementary that these two men are representative of U.S. imperialism, which is viciously seeking world domination planning a world war, and either conducting local reactionary wars, or backing them, and they as individuals portray that viciousness.
From a mass standpoint how does it stand? It must be very puzzling to the masses oppressed by U.S. imperialism, or its agents, to hear all this about first Eisenhower, and then Kennedy being not so bad. Its end result must be to make the masses cynical about the Soviet Union.
One could go on and speak of the characterisation by the Soviet Party leaders of the results of the talks between Eisenhower and Comrade Khrushchev, as the spirit of Camp David, even though Eisenhower himself said he knew of no spirit of Camp David.
Then it is said that the Communist Party of China is opposed to negotiations among the great powers. That is only a slander, readily refuted by the facts. The Chinese government has in fact been conducting in Warsaw, negotiations with the U.S. government; it has participated in the Geneva conferences over South East Asia. What is has made clear is that, in participating in international conferences, it will never lose sight of the role of the masses in the struggle against imperialism.
It will not see negotiations between heads of government as a thing in itself. Is it correct at the present time, when it fully participates in the Geneva conference on Laos, and there, and publicly, simultaneously exposes the machinations of U.S. imperialism? Is that correct? Of course it is!
I thoroughly agree with the Chinese, when they say it is completely erroneous to believe that a few great powers, or a few heads of state, whoever they are, can get together and solve the problems of the world. That is the idea continually advanced by Comrade Khrushchev. It is a denial of the mass line – the role of the masses.
Comrade Khrushchev has said, more than once, that there will be no war. If he means war of any kind, then it is entirely wrong and extremely dangerous, because there is already war, and there will without any doubt whatsoever, be more war; just and unjust war.
One need only think of Algeria, Angola, the Congo, Cuba, Goa, Laos, South Vietnam, and a host of potential such wars. They are wars all right; guns are being fired; folk are being killed.
They are wars which – paradoxical though it may seem – are contributing to world peace.
Isn’t it obvious that the Algerian war has, in the immediate sense, tied down nearly a million French soldiers who would otherwise have been available for bigger imperialist ventures? Will not the victory of the Algerians mean an accession of strength to the world peace forces, and correspondingly a loss of strength to the imperialist forces? Yet, for a long time, the leaders of the Soviet Party refused to recognise the Algerian Provisional Government for fear of offending the French ruling class.
And similar tests can be applied to any other such struggle. Is this theory and practice not harmful to the cause of peace and socialist revolution? Of course it is!
If Comrade Khrushchev means there will be no world war, then he is also committing a grave error. In our epoch, it is possible there will be no world war; that is one thing, but to assert categorically, that there will be no world war, is an entirely different thing. There will be no world war, only if in the desperate struggle ranging from the stand of the socialist countries revolutionary armed struggle to lesser struggle, the combined forces for peace are strong enough to compel peaceful co-existence on the imperialists. Whether or not finally there will be war, depends on the decision of the imperialists.
Today, the U.S. imperialists are spending record amounts on armaments, are increasing their armed forces, are insisting that their allies do the same. It does no good to present this question in a one-sided way for to over-state the matter means to lull the people into a false sense of security.
Both possibilities must be considered! Moreover to over-emphasise the horrors of nuclear war (it is quite correct to state it and use it in mobilising the people), to frighten the people, again renders them victim to the threats of U.S. imperialism for they say, well, we may as well give up. There are many other aspects of this.
Comrade Khrushchev said that 1961 would go down as a year in which war was prevented. Yes, a World War did not occur, but in an all-sided way it is not true that war was prevented. It is only necessary to speak again of Angola, Laos, Algeria, Cuba.
We go then to the question of disarmament. Here, the leaders of the Soviet Party, flowing from their wrong basic ideas, tend to present this question as the be all and end all of the peace question. Of course, we are in favor of disarmament and favor all the Soviet Union’s proposals. They are important in the struggle for peace.
To disarm even partially, U.S. imperialism, would be a step of the greatest significance. To deal blows at the monopoly armament manufacturers is extremely important.
To expose the £200,000,000 war expenditure of the Menzies Government is important.
But while there is no total disarmament, do we want to disarm the Algerians, the people of Laos, the people of Cuba? Of course not! And are the Chinese correct in dealing with this question, too.
Moreover, it is a question of the hard reality of monopoly capitalist society. Is the Menzies Government going to give up its arms, when it has to consider the internal struggle against the working class, and its struggle to maintain and extend its own imperialist positions? It is correct to struggle for disarmament – it is a correct slogan for mobilising the people – it has prospects of success, for example, in banning nuclear weapons parallel to the ban on poison gas – but it is not correct to sow illusions about disarmament and about a world without wars, without arms, while capitalism lasts. That is entirely wrong because it disarms the people in struggle both ideologically and materially.
What of the concept of peaceful co-existence? The demand for peaceful co-existence is absolutely correct. The Chinese Government took the initiative in advancing the five principles of peaceful co-existence.
It has exemplary relations of peaceful co-existence with, for example, Burma, Nepal, Cambodia as has the Soviet Union.
But the relations between the socialist countries on the one hand, and U.S. imperialism on the other, are not relations of peaceful co-existence of a similar kind to this. Peaceful coexistence can only be imposed on the imperialists in desperate struggle.
Peaceful co-existence does not mean the abrogation of the class struggle in the non-socialist countries whatever the relations between the governments.
The only final guarantee of peace, of disarmament, of a world without arms is world socialism.
The struggle for socialism, and the more limited struggle against imperialism! in each non-socialist country is a contribution to the struggle for peace both in the partial sense, and in the overall sense. It is so in the partial sense, as I have dealt with in the case of Algeria – augmenting the forces for peace and weakening the forces for war and there we are dealing with a bourgeois national revolution.
Clear too in the case of Cuba – a socialist revolution. It is true in the overall sense because it is a new step towards world socialism which precludes war. So the vigorous waging and development of the class struggle in the capitalist countries, weakens the imperialists and strengthens the forces for peace.
If you study Comrade Khrushchev’s ideas about peaceful coexistence, it is quite clear that really his idea is something approaching the maintenance of the status quo – the socialist world has so much – the capitalist world so much – let us agree to leave it there. That is an entirely non-revolutionary approach to the problem – a denial of Marxism-Leninism. It involves an attempt to hold back revolutionary and national struggles.
He thinks that each uprising in an oppressed country (struggles for national liberation) endangers world peace but of course it strengthens world peace, whereas maintenance of the status quo endangers peace.
Again the passive concept of peace – the passive concept of peaceful co-existence – maintenance of status quo – restraint of struggle within the non-socialist countries – talk of peace in general, is not in accord with Marxism-Leninism. We are not for peace in some abstract way – we are against imperialism, against imperialist war. We are for an anti-imperialist peace, and, above all, we are for socialism. All of our propaganda, activity, struggle and that of the working class that we lead, must be given this direction. The broad movement for peace obviously in different, but appropriate ways, must take this course. After all, if an imperialist world war breaks out – and there is grave danger of it, the task of the peace forces is to bring it to an end on terms favorable to the people.
Have these propositions of Lenin become outmoded? But where will you find them in the statements of the leaders of the Soviet Party, or the proceedings of the 20th and 22nd Congress? You will find them in the international documents, and in the statements of the Chinese Party.
For my part, I thoroughly agree with the statements of principle of the Chinese representatives at the World Peace Council. They call for close study, and appropriate application in our work.
The Western governments and their intelligence services have gone to great trouble to take the peace movement to the right – to strip it of its partisanship. I believe, too, the Chinese statements here were in strict accord with the 1957 and 1960 international documents.
The Soviet Party leaders in accordance with their general line, want to blunt the partisanship of the peace movements. Their attitude is similar in the trade unions, in the youth and women’s movements. It affects the ideology and day to day practice of every Communist Party in the world.
It goes hand in hand with the concept of peaceful transition – peaceful revolution – to socialism, expounded at the 20th Congress. This concept of Comrade Khrushchov, put in its crudest form comes to this – in a few years so great will be the advance of the socialist countries, so powerful their example that the ideas of socialism will overwhelm the capitalists, the people will be able through Parliament to carry through socialism peacefully. Let us hold back revolutionary struggle in the non-socialist countries till that can take place. This is entirely wrong and extremely dangerous.
The mighty achievements of the Soviet Union are indeed the joy and pride of the international working class, and they have produced a profound change in the thinking of the masses. We have merely to think of the colossal progress of the Soviet Union which can no longer be obscured to realise this, let alone the spectacular achievements in space.
But that example, and the idea it generates, will never overthrow the monopoly capitalists who will fight to the last ditch to prevent socialism. There is only one correct way to approach this matter and that is from the standpoint of logic and history. Logically, the capitalists will not voluntarily surrender and historically there is no case where they have done so.
In the most recent example of Cuba, the Communists in Cuba stood for peaceful transition and condemned the Castro struggle. Are the Chinese comrades correct in pointing out that unless the Communists correct their mistakes, other Castros in other countries will arise? It is fortunate indeed, that Castro has now embraced Marxism-Leninism.
There is no room for sloppy thinking on this matter – the key question of the revolution. Nor is our basic approach one of saying we will make up our minds at the time. Of course, we will do that, but the only correct approach is to recognise the fundamental teachings of Lenin on this. Indeed, on this and other matters of theory, the Chinese are absolutely correct when they say: “... any ambiguity on questions of principle in the Marxist camp will create conditions for the growth of opportunism”.
Again, this error of the 20th Congress, attempted, in my opinion, to be perpetuated by the 22nd Congress, was corrected in the 1957 and 1960 declarations.
It is correct to advance the idea of peaceful change – we want it; but it is not correct to ignore history – it is not correct to fail to draw attention to the fact that there has never in history been a peaceful revolution.
Even in cases like Kerala and San Marino where socialism was not attempted, but where the Communists were in leading positions in the Government, the monopoly capitalists wouldn’t tolerate it.
Again, it is not correct to create illusions about Parliament. All history, and recent history, shows that where Parliament is in danger of falling into the hands of the workers, measures are taken to change the electoral system, or even to abolish the importance of Parliament, e.g. France. After all, Lenin in his controversy with the revisionists of his day, paid great attention to this problem.
If you look at “State and Revolution”, “Proletarian Revolution and the Renegade Kautsky”, “Left Wing Communism”, you will see just how Lenin approached this matter. “Left Wing Communism”, which amply repays re-reading, is in one section a brilliant exposition of the tactics needed to expose just this proposition – of the steps that must be gone through, but never for one moment does Lenin concede an inch of principle nor generate illusions.
Ironically enough, “Left Wing Communism” is invoked by the Soviet Party leaders and the anniversary of its publication was the occasion of a special article in World Marxist Review, to try to justify criticism of the Chinese Party.
But if ever there were firm principled adherents of the essence of Left Wing Communism over the years, and now, they are the Chinese Communists. Lenin never approached the question of change of power as a peaceful struggle – never.
In 1917 it is well known that he visualised the actual possibility of peaceful change in a particular conjuncture of circumstances in Russia. It did not last.
But in his exposition of theory, he said it was remotely possible that in a virtual world socialist environment, one small capitalist country remaining, the capitalists would surrender, but, he said, even that was improbable.
Yes, comrades, I will be answered that our Party programme is in accord with the 1957 and 1960 declarations, so what are you talking about. My answer is that I am talking about the ideology that is being spread from the 20th and 22nd Congresses, from the theory and practice of the Soviet Party leaders, and from the many Parties influenced by the Soviet Party.
Look at the many articles in World Marxist Review which spread these dangerous ideas. It is that ideology that we must fight and that our Chinese comrades are doing such magnificent service in fighting.
Our job is to put both contingencies, but certainly to take fully into account the non-peaceful. Failing to act thus, is ideologically to disarm the working-class, and in countries where the prospects of revolution have matured far more than in our country, materially to disarm them.
And are the Chinese wrong in pointing out how vital this is in the countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America at this very moment? Is that not in accord with the 1957 and 1960 declarations? Coupled with erroneous ideas about peaceful co-existence, disarmament and so on, we have just as dangerous ideas as Lenin dealt with, i.e., maintenance of the status quo of capitalism.
It was said in the Political Committee, we have no illusions about the type of struggle necessary. One Comrade said that ever since he saw a policeman use a baton at a street meeting in the thirties, he had never had any illusions. That is very good.
But will anyone here deny that after the 20th Congress they had illusions about this and other questions. I won’t for one, because I certainly had illusions and I spread them in the Party. But now around the 20th Congress concepts, the leaders of the Soviet Party are waging a battle to perpetuate their ideas.
For my part I say we must return to Lenin’s teachings on this matter. Everything that has happened since he wrote has confirmed the truth of his statement – has provided brilliant substantiation of them, as pointed out in the Chinese publication Long Live Leninism.
Appropriately enough, that brings me to the question of Stalin. Already I have referred to this. The 22nd Congress renewed and intensified the attack on Stalin commenced at the 20th Congress.
The attack at the 20th Congress was very ill-considered – a product of haste and indignation as one of our Chinese comrades put it, and it did great harm. The Chinese Party made an all-sided analysis of Stalin in an exceedingly difficult situation for the International Communist movement, in two documents: (1) On the Historical Experiences of the dictatorship of the proletariat and (2) More on the historical experiences of the dictatorship of the proletariat. One of these, at least, was published in the Soviet Union with approval.
Stalin’s mistakes in the latter period of his life were a very serious matter. There is no doubt about that. It was correct to expose them, to deal with them and eradicate their consequences.
But what happened in the 20th and 22nd Congresses, and subsequently, in my opinion, went far beyond this.
It was said in the Political Committee, and it is said in the Political Committee’s statement, that the Soviet Party gave Stalin his due place in history (and a Soviet statement to this effect is quoted). I say, comrades, that is to ignore the reality of what happened. Stalin was denigrated in no uncertain terms – to use a colloquialism, he wasn’t left a feather to fly with!
Apropos of this and parenthetically – are we to believe that everything Stalin did in the latter part of his life was wrong? – he headed the Central Committee of which incidentally Comrades Khrushchov, Mikoyan and Suslov were members.
Was it wrong to conduct the Soviet-Finnish war, was the conduct of the war in its early stages wrong?
No, I don’t believe it.
Moreover, what Comrade Khrushchov said about Stalin in the war, is not borne out by Churchill and others of his ilk – no friends of Stalin. The further this whole matter goes, the more wrongs Stalin is said to have committed.
But, in my opinion, the central feature of the attack on Stalin was that Stalin defended the revolutionary essence of Marx-ism-Leninism. He defended its revolutionary essence against Trotsky and all other deviators.
If we take “Foundations of Leninism”, “Problems of Leninism”, and other such writings and speeches, they summarised the main features of Lenin’s writings.
Stalin was not a Marx nor an Engels nor a Lenin (and he made some theoretical errors) but he was indeed a great Marxist-Leninist.
In a very difficult period, he defended Lenin’s central ideas – the nature of imperialism, of reformism, of the revolutionary struggle for power, of socialism in one country, of the dictatorship of the proletariat (and here in passing allow me to express my doubts about the new Soviet Party formulation on the nature of the Soviet State – it appears to me on all fours with their departure from Marxism-Leninism on so many other matters).
Yes, Comrades, I believe that is the essential question in the unbalanced attack on Stalin which in 1956, and the following years did great harm, and, in 1961, is revived with greater vigor, and is doing even more harm. Yes, it is being made by comrades who are indeed departing from the revolutionary essence of Marxism-Leninism.
The Political Committee statement says it is a matter for the Soviet people what they do with the body of Stalin, and what they do about renaming Soviet towns that were named after Stalin. That is one side of the matter, but, in my opinion, it by no means concludes it.
Whether the Soviet comrades like it or not, Comrade Stalin was an international figure famed for his adherence to revolutionary principle. He was deeply reviled by the imperialists.
Almost all of us received great assistance from the life and work of Stalin, and I venture to suggest we received far more assistance than we ever have from Comrade Khrushchov. More than a generation of Communists were inspired by Stalin.
He was seen by countless others as the symbol of revolutionary liberation. In taking action about him, the Soviet Comrades as part of ordinary proletarian internationalism, should take into account this matter. But this action about Stalin is merely part of the attack on Stalin’s revolutionary principles.
Moreover, it is to invest the name of Stalin with such odium as to place anyone who speaks in defence of Stalin’s views at a disadvantage, and to be able to brand a critic of what is now being done by the Soviet Party leaders, as a person who supports all the alleged horrors of Stalin’s latter days.
In fact the “cult of the individual” has been developed into a phrase, the very purpose of which is to try and dispose of your political opponent without full argument. Thus the Soviet Party leaders brand Mao Tsetung as cultivating his own personality and China as living under a cult of individual; they say the same about Comrade Hoxha and Albania. And within the Parties throughout the world, the same sort of thing occurs.
Furthermore, the hue and cry about the so-called anti-Party group has a similar purpose. The fact is that there has been a great struggle in the leadership of the Soviet Party – one which in my opinion is by no means ended. Comrades of the standing of Molotov, Kaganovich, Voroshilov, Malenkov, Bulganin don’t suddenly get an aberration.
They are mainly, old Bolsheviks with a distinguished record of revolutionary struggle. No doubt they made mistakes, but I view with suspicion the calumny heaped upon them, and regard it as connected with the attack on the revolutionary essence of Stalin’s life. Moreover, Molotov was condemned over the content of his criticism. Well, for my part, I should like to see the document before I expressed my opinion on it.
Molotov is reported to have spoken of revisionism, pacificism and utopianism. If that is true, then I think there is a great deal in it.
In any event I would not want to be associated with condemnation of the so-called anti-Party group without a lot more information.
Again, substantially, all the old leadership of the Soviet Party has been removed, and there is a hue and cry throughout the international movement about the promotion of new and young cadres.
It is quite true that new leaders must always replenish a Party leadership and continued attention must be given to this question, but the inordinate and entirely unbalanced emphasis on the new, and presentation of the whole question as the struggle of the new against the old rouses suspicion.
The adherents of this new theory really want to banish those who adhere to Marxism-Leninism. Lenin wrote on this question too.
To them, as it was put to me by a not insignificant Soviet comrade, Mao Tsetung is old and feeble, and Comrade Khrushchov said that Mao Tsetung was like an old golosh to be thrown in the corner and admired. What is required is a proper combination of the old and experienced, satisfactorily replenished by the young and developing. The Chinese comrades, in my opinion, rightly value their old and experienced comrades in the leadership, and at the same time look after the promotion of the new.
But look at the Soviet Party leadership – which of them has the revolutionary experience of the old Bolsheviks? Not only is that so in the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, but also in the Parties of the Soviet republics.
Let me turn now to the question of the Albanian Party of Labour. Everyone knows that this was really an attack on the position of the Communist Party of China. To that I will return.
The 81 Parties’ declaration dealt extensively with how differences between Parties should be handled, i.e., in joint conferences of Parties, or as between the Parties concerned, but never in public, and I think this matter was put correctly by the Australian delegation in its Moscow statement on the 22nd Congress.
At the 22nd Congress the Soviet Party leaders clearly and unmistakably departed from the 81 Parties’ declaration. No amount of talk can get round that. That’s what they did and it cannot be escaped from.
In the Political Committee, it was said that our delegation had been shown documents and reports of the Soviet Party showing that the Soviet Party had made every effort to discuss and resolve the differences with the Albanian Party.
For my part, before I reached any conclusion on that, I should like to hear what the leaders of the Albanian Party of Labour had to say. Irrespective of what the Albanian Party of Labour had done, the Soviet Party leaders made an unprincipled public attack entirely in breach of the 81 Parties’ declaration.
Our comrades said that the Soviet Party felt that it had to make an explanation to its Congress of what it had done. But I say there was much more in it than that.
Moreover if they felt that need, what was to stop them reporting at a closed session or to refrain from publication? They had no difficulty in doing that in 1956 on the question of Stalin although it was followed by a suspicious leak.
No, this was a coldly calculated act aimed at furthering the campaign to isolate the Communist Party of China, and incidentally, the Albanian Party of Labour. Nothing can justify this publication to the world of the Soviet Party’s initiative in splitting the world Communist movement, and Comrade Chou En-lai was 100% correct when he drew attention to the matter in his speechat the Congress.
That it was intended to be part of the campaign of attempted isolation has been made perfectly clear subsequently. Let us take two examples:
(1) The resolution of the 22nd Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union on the elimination of the consequences of the Personality Cult now, I believe very regrettably, published in the Communist Review, says: “The International Communist movement resolutely condemns the anti-Leninist and splitting policy of the Albanian leaders who have come out in defence of the personality cult and practices”. (New Times, No. 48, P. 6).
That is entirely untrue. The International Communist movement has done nothing of the kind. Most notable exception, of course, is the great Communist Party of China but there are many others. To say that the international Communist movement condemns them is a travesty of the truth. In my opinion, it is an utterly unprincipled statement, and is no part of the work of genuine Marxist-Leninists. It is a gross attempt to impose the line of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union 22nd Congress and 20th Congress on the world movement.
It is an attempt to stifle in advance any opposition. Neither do I believe that there is the practice of the cult of the individual in Albania, as the Soviet Party leaders say. In connection with all this, I think Comrade Khrushchov’s reply to the discussion at the 22nd Congress was singularly unconvincing. He put forward examples of alleged bad practices by Stalin, by the anti-Party group and by the Albanian Party leaders but he put forward little or no political argumentation.
The second example is the extension of the controversy to the field of State relations - withdrawal of the Soviet Embassy from Albania.
In my opinion, this is completely indefensible – it is a breach of the unity of the socialist camp and can only help the imperialists. In fact, Kennedy is already using it. But who took the initiative? Who did it? The leaders of the Soviet Party. Comrade Khrushchov’s criticism of Stalin over Yugoslavia looks a little hollow in the light of this.
One suspects that Comrade Khrushchov’s sympathies are very much more with Yugoslavia than they are with Albania. Yet the fact is that the Yugoslav League of Communists is roundly condemned for its revisionism in the 81 Parties’ Declaration – the international Communist movement does condemn them, but does not condemn the Albanian Party of Labour.
It is obvious now that the Soviet Union maintains better state relations with Yugoslavia than it does with Albania. I invite you to look at the Free Supplement to Moscow News of December 2, 1961 where an article reprinted from Pravda entitled “Albanians Liberation Day” appears side by side with one entitled “Yugoslavia’s National Holiday” from Izvestia.
You can see a graphic contrast in the treatment accorded each – condemnation of Albania – praise of Yugoslavia.
And consider: Tito has made threats against Albania; he is part of the Balkan Pact connected with NATO. Is this not an open invitation for imperialist intervention against Albania?
It is true, of course, that Comrade Hoxha replied publicly to the public attack made by the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. At the Political Committee a good deal was made of his statement and it was roundly condemned. I then said I thought there was much that was positive in Comrade Hoxha’s criticism, but perhaps Comrade Hoxha should not have replied publicly, and that he used somewhat strong language, and tended to treat the whole matter as if it were a contradiction between the people and its enemies.
But on reflection, I think in essence Comrade Hoxha’s criticism was correct. It was publicly imposed on him and what else could he do. Moreover in the material, the Albanians handle correctly the question of relations between States.
It was said that the Albanian comrades would never have dared to criticise the Communist Party of the Soviet Union if they did not have the backing of the Communist Party of China. Well, I think that is a pretty poor way of looking at it. The 1960 declaration emphasised the underlying community of principle of Marxism-Leninism but also the independence of the Parties.
If the Albanian Party of Labour or any Party, or individual Communist, for that matter, cannot within the principles laid down by the 81 Parties’ declaration, take up a point of difference, what is it coming to?
On the question of the Chinese Party attitude to the Communist Party of the Soviet Union as the heart and centre of the Communist movement, and Comrade Sharkey’s assertion that the Chinese in reality deny this, I see no problem.
The Chinese Party puts this matter historically, and also from the practical standpoint, of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union calling conferences of the Parties and so on, but the 81 Parties’ declaration defines the independence of the Parties and their rights to their own views within the general principles of Marxism-Leninism.
The attack of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union was aimed at China. You have a clear enough pattern – a discrediting of Stalin, the anti-Party group, Albania – creating a furore about the whole thing and then branding anyone with whom they disagree, as upholding the cult of the individual.
For my part, I stand by the views of the Communist Party of China. I believe they are doing precisely what Lenin did, and preserving, defending, upholding the revolutionary essence of Marxism-Leninism against modern revisionism.
The Chinese comrades took the view that their views would be minority views at the 81 Parties’ conference, and an attempt would be made to exclude them from the international movement, but that if they had not advanced them they would have been condemned by history, and moreover, that by putting forward their views they were bound to sow some seed from which, in time to come, a crop of correct ideas would mature.
With that view, I wholeheartedly agree. The views I have expressed, too, are minority views and I do not doubt they will be condemned as “left”, “doctrinaire”, “dogmatic” and a host of other things, but I believe that in the end the views of the Chinese Communists will be vindicated. Indeed, I believe that life every day is vindicating them.
Everything the Chinese Communists have done accords with the 1957 Declaration and 1960 Statement, and conversely they have done nothing contrary to it. They have made no public attacks on Comrade Khrushchov, on the Soviet Party or on the Soviet Union, nor within the movement have they made unprincipled attacks. They have carefully safeguarded this. They have, of course, vigorously attacked the Yugoslavs and Tito and the modern revisionists. That is in accordance with the international documents. If Comrade Khrushchov takes umbrage at it the question arises, why does he take umbrage?
It is true that in accordance with the declaration, they have taken up matters with the Soviet Party. They have had differences with Comrade Khrushchov over his handling of the Polish situation 1956, the Hungarian revolt of 1956, the 20th Congress formulations and other matters. But they have always taken them up in a principled way.
But the Soviet Party leaders in unilaterally withdrawing their technicians (and blueprints which can hardly be influenced politically) from China at a critical stage of China’s development can hardly be said to have acted in a principled way nor by launching an attack on the Chinese Party at the 1960 Rumanian Party Congress.
The Chinese Communists have waged a consistent struggle in defence of the revolutionary essence of Marxism-Leninism.
It has centred on the struggle for working class power and on the nature of imperialism and the struggle against it. Their publication “Long Live Leninism” is, in my opinion, a classical all-sided vindication and substantiation of Lenin’s ideas, and it is completely consistent with the 1957 statement and subsequently the 1960 statement.
In the Political Committee, it was said that it was not an all-sided analysis. Well, Comrades, I would like to know in what way it is not an all-sided analysis.
It was said that the six booklets of quotations from Lenin published by the Communist Party of China was an arbitrary selection. Let the critics tell us in what way it is an arbitrary selection.
It was said that the Communist Party of China followed a left line. Yes, Comrades, if you look at matters from a right wing standpoint, the line of the Communist Party of China is left, but if you look at them in a Marxist-Leninist way it is not left nor right: it is correct!
It is said that the Chinese Communists are dogmatists; but as they themselves say, and Lenin said before them, Marxism-Leninism itself is often combated in the name of combating dogmatism. It was said in the Political Committee that the Communist Party of China is bankrupt. For my part I reject that entirely.
Future generations will have cause for fervent gratitude to the Chinese Communists. It is said they are bankrupt for various reasons, one being that they point to the revisionist influence in a large number of Communist Parties.
For my part, I believe that the Communist Party of China’s analysis is correct. If the Communist Parties in, for example, the capitalist countries believe that the example alone of the undoubted brilliant successes of the Soviet Union will carry the working-class to socialism, and if they believe the struggle for peace is linked to maintenance of the status quo, then they are being contained by capitalism and are maintaining it and are abrogating the development of revolutionary struggle.
I believe that is happening.
And it is said the Chinese comrades’ bankruptcy is revealed by Comrade Mao Tsetung being quoted as saying that nevertheless the sky will not fall down. I believe the sky will not fall down over this matter; I believe Marxism-Leninism will prevail and I believe Comrade Mao Tsetung and the leaders of the Communist Party of China in a very difficult situation, are doing all they can to rectify it. And I believe their correct ideas are gaining ever greater support.
It was said that the Chinese comrades were adventurist because among other things, they said that after the U2 incident Comrade Khrushchov had said that the next time such a thing happened the Soviet Union would bomb the bases from which they came, yet when the RB 47 came the Soviet Union did nothing.
This is to misrepresent the Chinese position completely. What they said was that Comrade Khrushchov should never have made such a statement at all. It was adventurist and characteristic of people without firm principle. And they made the same criticism of Comrade Khrushchov when he said that if the U.S. attacked Cuba the Soviet Union would rain rockets on the U.S. – a manifestly absurd and adventurist statement from which Comrade Khrushchov had to retreat by lamely saying that he was only talking symbolically.
But why make such dangerous adventurist statements in the first place? The Chinese comrades criticise, and rightly, the line followed by the Soviet Union in the Congo.
For my part, I do not follow the logic of putting deadlines on the settlement of the German question and then retreating from them. Why set arbitrary deadlines at all? After all, the line of China over Taiwan has kept the pressure on the imperialists. The Soviet line on Germany confuses the masses.
It was said in the Political Committee, that the Peking Review was full of defects, double talk and so on. Well, comrades, I cannot see that. A consistent all-sided, well-documented analysis is made in the Peking Review. My criticism would be that we do not make nearly sufficient of it. It is playing an invaluable role in combating wrong ideas and for my part I hope it continues to do so. And the latest example this year is the brilliant article in Nos. 1 and 2 reviewing the whole world situation.
It is all right to make general statements but it is much better to substantiate them. What substantiation is there in the case against the leaders of the Communist Party of China? None whatever, but there is plenty in the case of the leaders of the Soviet Party.
There is no cult of the individual in China and here the Political Committee was unanimous. After all, the cult of Stalin’s personality involved breach of legality, of Party rules, of failure to call Congresses and so on. There is none of that in China. What we have is a band of tried and tested leaders headed by the outstanding Marxist-Leninist, Mao Tsetung.
Before the 81 Parties’ conference, the Political Committee considered reports on the controversy and unanimously, were of the opinion that the Communist Party of China was correct on the main theoretical questions.
In 1959, I had a discussion with some of the leaders of the Communist Party of China, and later Comrade Sharkey did. We each reported to the Political Committee, and again we found ourselves in agreement with the views of the Communist Party of China.
At the 81 Parties’ Conference, these matters were debated and agreement was reached. As I have said, what the Chinese did, before, and have done since, is in complete accord with the 81 Parties’ declaration. So is it the leaders of the Communist Party of China who have changed their view or is it the members of the Political Committee?
I have no objection to comrades changing their opinion on reflection. But it would be much better to say we were mistaken in the first place than to take the Communist Party of China to task, to damn it as bankrupt and to introduce uncertainty as to what the position of the Communist Party of Australia really was.
Moreover the basic issues in the controversy were, or at least should have been, just as clear to leading comrades when we originally discussed it, as they are now. And, of course, it is well known that we all strongly supported the Chinese views.
Why has this trend manifested itself in the Soviet Party. Because the Soviet Union has had magnificent successes and Comrade Khrushchov represents that stratum that puts above everything else the maintenance of their own positions, which war, as they see it, would threaten or revolution, in other countries would tend to involve them.
Accordingly, they are prepared to compromise – to appease – to try to placate the imperialists and to put forward a line that subordinates the class struggle and, unfortunately, makes many Communist Parties instruments of this policy. I have already referred to reluctance to recognise the Algerian Provisional Government for fear of offending de Gaulle; then the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Austria, the attempt to drive China from the international movement at the 81 Parties’ Conference and now the action taken over Albania which can only bring joy to the imperialists.
No, these things are not passing errors; they are the result of a definite and incorrect policy and ideology, and it is not to overlook correct actions, like the Soviet initiatives for peace, nor such action as that in the Suez crisis. But you can read the Soviet journals and see their line clearly expressed. There is no mystery about it, and there is its objective basis; of course, it is profoundly mistaken, because Soviet security is bound up with revolutionary developments throughout the world. The correct Marxist-Leninist view is that it is assisted by them, and is bound to assist them.
On the other hand, the Communist Party of China operates the principles of Marxism-Leninism of which proletarian internationalism is an integral part. Ask yourselves this question: Which would the imperialists prefer; The line of the Soviet Party or that of the Communist Party of China? The imperialist spokesmen have already answered it, and even our own vociferous revisionists, the Turners and Gotts, have answered it.
Moreover, the line of the Communist Party of China is the real safeguard of revolutionary gains.
If Africa, Asia and Latin America, and upon which the Chinese Party in accordance with the 81 Parties’ statements, puts such emphasis and when the collapse of imperialism is imminent, take the path of revolution, is that not tying down the imperialist forces, augmenting the forces of peace and weakening imperialism? Does it not contribute to the safety and security of the socialist countries, to the development of socialist revolution in the capitalist countries, including Australia?
And, of course, the Chinese Communists are absolutely correct in concentrating their blows against U.S. imperialism, and in urging others to do so. And it is in strict accord with the international declarations.
I believe it to be regrettable indeed, that our Political Committee has gone on public record in condemnation of Albania for no matter how vaguely the statement is worded (and for my part if I believed as the other comrades of the Political Committee did, I should prefer to be much more outspoken about it) it is a condemnation of the Chinese and Albanian position. If the Political Committee had these views, I think it would have been better to have confined the matter in the Party, rather than to publish it, as I believe my views should be confined in the Party.
You may say, well, what do you propose? I propose that within the Party, our ideology, should be founded on the international declarations and the Chinese material, that in the Party we should correctly evaluate the theoretical position of the leaders of the Soviet Party, and of the material such as World Marxist Review, so influenced by them.
In the international movement, we should exert our influence for unity on correct principle. Unity is a grand word, comrades, but there can be principled unity and unprincipled unity. It is said that the Albanians and Chinese and those who believe in their ideas are splitting the movement, but that is not factually correct as can easily be seen.
The initiative for splitting has come from the Soviet Party leaders. And their wrong ideas will undoubtedly, until corrected, split the movement further because more and more people will question them. Unfortunately they ride on the great prestige of the Party of Lenin, and the great prestige of the Soviet Union.
But that is only temporary, and Comrade Khrushchov and his ideas cannot possibly win. Today he can appear strong, but if you are really strong you don’t make such a hue and cry as he makes.
The Soviet Party will undoubtedly correct its position sooner or later. Just as the errors of Stalin did harm but could not arrest the basic development so will the errors of Comrade Khrushchov do harm but they cannot destroy Marxism-Leninism, proletarian internationalism nor socialism. Unity will triumph.
So in essence it comes to a choice for the Communist Parties: will they take the path of revolutionary struggle or will they take the path of passivity? Will the Communist Party of Australia ever more diligently seek the path of struggle – increasingly richer and deeper forms of struggle – in the trade unions, amongst the youth, women and all sections of the people, or will it take this step of identification with the present line of the leaders of the Soviet Party?
It may be said – indeed, it was said, that the line of the Soviet Party was more suitable for us. That could only be true if it is a Marxist-Leninist line. Marxism-Leninism is universal – there are not two Marxism-Leninisms. What we are required to do is to integrate the universal truths of Marxism-Leninism with Australian conditions. The 1957 declaration and the 1960 81 Parties’ Statement, summarise the general truths of Marxism-Leninism.
The Soviet Party leaders, in my opinion, endeavour to strip these documents of their revolutionary heart: the Chinese defend it. Today the tide of opportunism is flowing strongly. Those who take a stand against it are reviled as “old”, “conservative”, “doctrinaire” and a host of other things and all sorts of accusations are made, and will be made, against them. That is nothing to fear; it is but, as the Chinese say, a temporary cloud. What matters, is adherence to Marxist-Leninist principle. The truth will assert itself.
The basic pressure is from the right. I have tried to show the roots of that in the Soviet Party. The ideas of the Soviet Party leaders exert a powerful influence to the right on all Parties, including ours. Moreover, particularly in capitalist countries like Britain, U.S.A., Australia, they fall on fertile soil because things are relatively quiescent.
It is true that there have been a series of cyclical economic crises within the general crisis of capitalism, and a general radicalisation of the working-class; the grip of capitalism has been severely shaken – fertile soil for struggle. But at the same time there are other factors working for conservatism.
Moreover, the line of the Soviet Party leaders offers a little balm because if you can achieve peace in a simple way it is easy to fall into complacency. But, of course, the truth was pointed out by Lenin in Left Wing Communism, and many other works, that it is basically in struggle and experience against capitalism that the workers learn.
I do not regard the problem of revisionism as that noisy handful of people like the Turners and Palmers – they were but an aspect of it. It is a far greater all-embracing problem than that.
As the international documents say, the existence of bourgeois ideas is its internal source, and surrender to imperialism its external source. It strikes me as curious indeed, that some comrades emphasise the left danger.
In my opinion, to anything but a very superficial analysis which fastens on transient left errors, and erects them into a central position, the main pressure in the trade union movement, in the peace struggle and in the whole of our work is from the right and the international documents are 100% correct when they point that out.
Of course, left mistakes are made and they have to be dealt with, but to emphasise that at the present time can only feed the main danger – right opportunism. As I said, it would pay us much more to examine how we can develop the militant struggle of the Australian workers and people.
And of course, I do not place Australia at this stage of historical development in the same place as the struggle in Africa, Asia, Latin America but nonetheless, I am sure there is much more we can do if we examine the matter.