Published: The Australian Communist, No. 75, n.d. .
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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Modern revisionism remains the main danger in the working class. This is so because the revisionists use the name Communism and the terms of it to deceive the working class.
As the collapse of capitalism advances, so the masses turn increasingly to Communism. But they are met by a bewildering array of “Communists”. On a world scale, the socialist camp has collapsed. The Soviet Union, at one time the great bastion of Communism, has turned into the most vicious state monopolist fascist imperialist power. It carries on a struggle for world domination under the signboard of Communism, liberator, Marxism-Leninism and so on. Lenin pointed out more than once that no one can prevent people who are anti-Marxist from calling themselves Marxists. But he said the criteria of whether or not they were Marxists lay in their deeds (not in names or words) and whether or not they served the working class in the struggle for the dictatorship of the proletariat. On those criteria the Soviet Union is anti-Marxist and simply a new vicious imperialism. This is the direct logic of revisionism. Revisionism strips the revolutionary soul from Marxism-Leninism. The logic of stripping the revolutionary soul from Marxism-Leninism is strengthening capitalism by breaking down the fighting capacity of the working class. When the revisionists hold state power then that state power must inevitably further develop capitalism and reflect its development. Capitalism in a well-developed large country inevitably means imperialism. In Australia, the Soviet social-imperialists have spawned the so-called Socialist Party of Australia as one of their instruments for Soviet imperialist expansion in Australia. This is a question to which it will be necessary to return.
In Australia today there are the Communist Party of Australia (M-L) which genuinely strives to uphold Marxism-Leninism; the modern revisionist group of Aarons which calls itself the Communist Party of Australia and the Soviet-sponsored Socialist Party of Australia. There are other frauds who attempt to pass themselves off as Marxists but who are not worth serious consideration.
It is instructive to examine something of the history of modern revisionism in Australia. Inherent in all Communist Parties is the tendency to revisionism. The main struggle within Communist Parties is the struggle between proletarian politics (Marxism-Leninism) and bourgeois politics (revisionism). This is an expression of the class struggle that goes on in society at large. Within the Communist Party of Australia from its foundation in 1920 there was always a struggle for Marxism-Leninism. Sometimes it advanced, sometimes it retreated. There were strong revisionist tendencies manifested in such things as parliamentarism and trade unionism, legalism. Despite this, there continued to be study of Marxist classics and attempts to integrate their truths into Australian conditions.
After World War II there was a vast expansion of imperialist investment in Australia, particularly U.S. imperialist investment. Browderism, accepted by the then main leaders of the Communist Party, was revisionism in service to U.S. imperialism. Under its influence, the Australian Communist Party leaders in many ways facilitated U.S. investment in Australia. Their adoption of the peaceful transition to socialism likewise served the imperialists. There was struggle against this and for Marxism-Leninism.
In the fifties in an expansionist period for capitalism but a period of cold war (intimidation of the working class) theoretical “experts” such as the Aarons brothers and Taft began gently to whisper that perhaps Marx was out of date and had not been able to anticipate modern developments. According to these “theoreticians”, these developments had to be taken into account and perhaps Marx’s teachings should be adjusted. Keynesian material was introduced into study courses. Then the Aarons brothers began to say that the Party should write Marxist material on political economy, philosophy, the trade unions, the state, in Australian terms. People like the then leading Communists E. Robinson and W. J. Brown, went to the Soviet Union. On their return, they stressed the need for Communists to be familiar with the philosophy and writings of the anti-Communists in order to be able to deal with that philosophy and those writings. At this stage, the Aaronses, Browns and Robinsons were seemingly at one in their ideas. Along with them was Clancy.
Their arguments in some respects had a certain plausibility. It is true that there have been great economic and social changes since Marx’s day. It is entirely correct to note them. It would be un-Marxian not to note them. Marx would have been the first to repudiate any suggestion that they be ignored. However, THE CENTRAL OUTSTANDING FACT IS THAT ALL DEVELOPMENTS SINCE MARX WROTE HAVE COMPLETELY VINDICATED MARX, SUBSTANTIATED THE LAWS THAT HE LAID BARE AND DEVELOPED THEM. It was this that these “theoreticians” were attempting to undermine. It is correct to study Keynes to see what his theories were because they are a weapon of the bourgeoisie. A study of Keynes and what the bourgeoisie did from Keynes’s proposals shows perfectly clearly that Keynes was a bitter enemy of the workers and other working people and his economics were and are bourgeois economics to attack the working people. These “theoreticians” however smuggled Keynes into the Communist Party, not to repudiate him, but to propagate him. Anyone who has the fortitude to read or listen to the Aaronses and Taft can see that this is true. The proposal to study bourgeois philosophers and writers in order to expose and repudiate them is quite correct. But the proposals of Brown and Robinson were really to use the pretence of study to smuggle the ideas of the bourgeoisie into the Communist Party and the working class. This was the order of the Soviet revisionist clique.
The proposal about writing in Australian terms on Marxist political economy, on Marxist philosophy, on the Marxist attitude to the trade unions, on the Marxist attitude to the state, in itself was a good proposal if it was genuine. What these people were really proposing was a revision of Marxism-Leninism under the guise of integrating it with Australian reality. E. Aarons wrote a hotch-potch on “Economics for Workers”. It can be read; it has nothing whatever in common with Marxist-Leninist political economy nor for that matter with Australia. Product no doubt of this same sort of proposal, came the later book of E. Aarons on “Philosophy for an Exploding World”, an out and out bourgeois subjective load of rubbish which attempts to impose Aarons’s petty bourgeois “values” (inventions of his own mind) as a philosophy on the working class. In like vein, only much cleverer, is another load of revisionist rubbish by J. D. Blake entitled “Revolution from Within”. Blake however differs only from Aarons in wanting Blake’s petty bourgeois “values” (and some of them are different from those of Aarons) imposed on the working class in the guise of philosophy Also products of this line of reasoning are rubbish by Davidson and Gollan on the history of the Communist Party. This revisionist trend had its origins and showed itself well before the revisionists actually split away from Communism organisationally.
All this was paralleled by the advocacy by this bunch of Lui Shao-chi’s self-cultivation. They attempted to impose self-cultivation on the Party. At the same time, they advocated that the Party be thrown open to discussion of all questions by all and sundry (recall Lenin’s utter contempt for this sort of proposal in the “Freedom of Criticism” section of “What is to be Done?”).
Actually all these proposals were resisted by those who strove to uphold Marxism-Leninism.
The modern revisionists within the Australian Communist Party seized hold of Khrushchov’s position between 1956 and 1964 to give “theoretical” blessing to their own ideas and to call in their aid international support. In reality, Khrushchov and these Australian “Communists” were birds of a feather who in the particular conjuncture of circumstances came together.
Khrushchov in company with such people raised a world-wide hue and cry in the name of Marxism-Leninism. Genuine Communists were expelled from the Communist Party or left in disgust.
The modern revisionists carried on under the name Communist Party of Australia and included as vicious exponents of anti-Marxism-Leninism such people as the two Aaronses, Taft, Clancy, Brown, (Robinson died). Sharkey and Dixon became renegades from Communism and were of no account after Aarons had manipulated them and traded on their names. Sharkey and Dixon were despicable traitors. Sharkey died a disgraced and discredited man; Dixon hung on as a lackey of Aarons.
The contradictions among the revisionists developed. They expressed and reflected contradictions in the ruling class. Objective reality raised the question how the revisionists could best serve the ruling class and which section and which imperialism to serve. Aarons followed the line of “national communism”. His group spent endless time in trying to say it was “too advanced” to speak of “U.S. imperialism” and people would not understand it. They extolled parliamentarism, trade unionism, legalism. They supported, with the mildest of questioning, the Labor Party. Internationally they began to criticise the Soviet Communist Party and to seek “Communist” solace in places much more U.S. imperialist leaning than the Soviet Union which was following its own imperialist course against U.S. imperialism. Aarons’s group became increasingly critical of the Soviet Communist Party. This might be said remotely to be something in their favour but there was and is nothing of a Marxist-Leninist criticism and analysis of the Soviet Communist Party – nothing whatever. Yet these people claim to be Communist. In fact, their history has been one of almost complete disintegration (except for a tightly Aarons-controlled central apparatus in Sydney) illustrated by the fact that the overall Australian circulation of their newspaper Tribune is of the order of 1000. Added to disintegration and as part of it, is their utter degeneracy in which they extol sex and its abnormalities, drugs, drink; you may name it and they do it. Their ranks include and are open to Trotskyists, adventurers, criminals, spies. They produce such utter monstrosities as Mundey, darling diversionist of the monopoly capitalists, who became President of this “Communist” Party of Australia.
The Soviet social-imperialists became very dissatisfied with the Aarons group. Yet at the same time they needed within Australia (as in all countries) a “Marxist” party to carry out their line. This is a line of internal subversion of the working class and the attempted propagation of the line of the Soviet social-imperialists among all sections of the people. It involves a “united front” with the Labor Party because the Soviet social-imperialists view parties like the Labor Party as possible weapons in Soviet social-imperialist expansion plans. Hence the “united front” is to serve this expansion. This tactic was well illustrated by the Socialist Party of Australia’s publishing in their newspaper “The Socialist” in 1975 a letter from Prime Minister Whitlam which in essence supported the Soviet Union’s fraudulent proposals about detente. Clancy was chosen by the Soviet revisionists to be the founder of this Party. No doubt this was because from the beginning Clancy had subscribed to revisionism, throughout the acute phase of the struggle he extolled Khrushchov, and Khrushchov’s heirs gave him the job and money to serve them in Australia. Now Clancy’s “Socialist Party of Australia” operates. W.J. Brown, mentioned previously, is also a leader of it. Each of these gentlemen, like the Aarons group to which they originally belonged, were intimidated by the cold war period and lured by the “gains” of capitalism. In Brown’s case, he was also intimidated by the Soviet revisionists because of an original anti-Sovietism, then caressed by them, then bribed by them.
These people attempt to use whatever trade union connections they have to serve Soviet social-imperialist-policy. They use them as the possession of this so-called Socialist Party of Australia. Thus in reading their publications, one would think of the Building Workers’ Industrial Union as nothing but an appendage of this “Socialist” Party of Australia.
Unlike Aarons’s group, the Clancy “Socialists” have not attempted too much “theory”. Their stuff is a dreary repetition of Soviet material supported by a bit of writing by such hacks as Waten (writer also for the big bourgeoisie) and Brown (who put his name as author on material he didn’t write in “The Petrov Conspiracy Unmasked” and steals other writings which he passes off as his own).
The “Socialist” Party of Australia has no mass basis (some genuine older workers who simply cannot realise that the Soviet Union has changed, adhere to it); it has no attraction to the youth. In short, it has nothing but Soviet social-imperialism to support it.
Soviet social-imperialism is the bitter enemy of Australia and Australians. In a sense it is responsible for inflicting the diehard Fraser government on Australia. For this government is a product of the contention and struggle of U.S. imperialism with Soviet social-imperialism. Indeed the anti-Soviet social-imperialist position of Fraser’s government is its one redeeming feature. The “Socialist” Party of Australia is the vicious enemy of Australian workers, working and patriotic people. It obeys the logic of revisionism – open service to imperialism, the imperialism of the Soviet revisionist clique. Every opportunity to expose it and reveal its true character must be taken.
Against all this, the struggle for Marxism-Leninism has been carried on by the Communist Party of Australia (Marxist-Leninist) founded in 1964. Its development and growth are well known. Its contribution to working out the theory and practice of the Australian revolution can be readily studied. It has combated imperialism and modern revisionism. It will continue to fight against the Aarons group and the even more vicious and dangerous group of Clancy. It is working hard to lead the struggle for Australian national independence and people’s democracy in the process of continuing revolution to socialism and Communism by stages.