First Published:The Forge, Vol. 1 No. 8, April 8, 1976.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Malcolm and Paul Saba
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It is with the goal of reinforcing the unity of Marxist-Leninists in Canada that we are today putting forward the criticism of En Lutte’s position on the international situation.
An open and frank polemic on the fundamental questions of political line is essential in order to correctly carry out ideological and political struggle. This struggle allows us to clarify our differences and our points of agreement: the unity of Marxist-Leninists can only be built in struggle and around a correct and clearly defined political line.
At the present time, the imperialist system around the world is in the midst of an economic and political crisis. The countries and peoples of the third world are in the forefront of the struggle against imperialism and hegemonism. The two superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union are increasingly threatening all the people of the world with a world war. All Marxist-Leninists therefore have the pressing duty of taking a clear position on these questions.
It is the responsibility of Marxist-Leninists to prepare the people of their country for the eventuality of war and to steel themselves as firm defenders of independence. On this question there can be no hesitation, no confusion, even if the situation is complex.
We find confusion and inconsistency in the position of En Lutte. The comrades from En Lutte take a correct position, but at the same time also put forward contradictory positions. For example, they write articles (see the criticism that we make below on their article on Trudeau’s and MacEachen’s trips) where they emphasize secondary points, while the principal aspect is relegated to secondary importance, in a small paragraph at the end.
These errors and weaknesses are manifested in particular when dealing with differences and contradictions between the first and second world, the question of the inevitability of war, and Soviet social-imperialism as the most dangerous enemy of the people.
In En Lutte’s political line document (supplement to no. 29 – vol. 2. no. 8. December 12. 1974) they say: “The forces of revolution are coming together and are forming themselves in the struggle against the direct enemy, the internal enemy, the one which, precisely during the epoch of imperialism, constitutes its main social support in each country.” (This translation from the French original, like all the others that follow, have been done by The Forge.)
Yet, in a speech given by En Lutte during a meeting that they held on May 17, 1975 they said: “On the other hand and, this is extremely important, imperialism is not a power, a unified force on the world scale, but is made up of a multitude of advanced capitalist countries that are in contradiction with one another.” (Forge translation). The comrades from En Lutte apply these same contradictory positions to the situation in Canada.
In their political line supplement they say: “In fact, the more the power of American imperialism develops, the more its hegemony grows, the more the distinctions between its own interests and those of the dominant fractions of the Canadian bourgeoisie are difficult to clearly delineate. To the point where, generally speaking, we can say that the interests of American imperialism and those of the Canadian bourgeoisie are the same”. (En Lutte, Supplement, December 12, 1974).
But then, in a later article on the international situation, one reads: “The prolonged crisis of capitalism and imperialism currently is provoking new contradictions between American and Canadian imperialism.” (En Lutte, October 23, 1975).
The positions are completely contradictory: how, in fact, can En Lutte say that the Canadian and American bourgeoisies have the same interests, while recognizing that the essence of imperialism is absolute rivalry?
We feel that the comrades of En Lutte do not really understand the differences between the countries of the first world (the US and the USSR) and those of the second, like Canada. The first and second worlds are two groups of imperialist countries. The bourgeoisies of these countries, fundamentally imperialist and reactionary seek to break the resistance of the world’s peoples, to oppress the working people and exploit the working class. They are the enemies of the proletarian revolution.
Because of the unequal development of capitalism, and thus their economic and military weakness, the second world countries cannot make a bid for world hegemony and must settle for control of certain regions, “...any other basis under capitalism for the division of spheres of influence, of interests, of colonies, etc., than as participants in the division, their general economic, financial and military strength, etc. is inconceivable. And the strength of these participants in the division does not change to an equal degree, for the even development of different undertakings, trusts, branches of industry, or countries is impossible under capitalism.”. (Lenin. Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism).
It’s in this way that the countries of the second world are subjected to the domination and bullying of from American imperialism). All of these countries try to break loose, on the one hand because of pressure from their people, on the other hand because of their own class interest, in order to have their say in the dividing up of the markets. Since they remain weak if isolated from one another, we can see them coming together with each other (growing unity between the countries of the second world) as well as with the most determined motive force in resisting hegemonism – the countries and peoples of the third world.
The Canadian bourgeoisie finds itself obliged to come closer to the countries of the third world (the visits of Trudeau and^ MacEachen to the Middle East and Latin America) and the second world (developing links with the countries of the Common Market). These are positive moves that contribute to the isolation of the superpowers and the reinforcement of the world united front against hegemonism.
En Lutte negates the positive character of certain attitudes of the Canadian bourgeoisie, in particular in a February 19th article entitled MacEachen in the Middle East, Trudeau in South America – Canadian imperialism tries to get out of the crisis. The rather significant title shows well the general content of En Lutte’s stand. Throughout the whole article En Lutte denounces Canadian imperialism (which, in itself, is not wrong) and presents the rapprochement between Canada and the third world as a basically negative thing. Then, in one small paragraph stuck in at the end En Lutte timidly says that this action contributes to isolating the superpowers. This attitude is characteristic of En Lutte on many such questions.
We find the same attitude when En Lutte tackles the question of the world united front against hegemonism – from two different points of view. First we get a position which we consider to be correct: “This united front seeks to isolate the main enemy of the world’s people: the two superpowers, the USSR and the USA. It regroups the countries and peoples, who to one degree or another another, oppose the domination and exploitation of the two superpowers.” ( En Lutte October 23, 1975).
But a few months later, En Lutte turns around and forgets to include the countries and peoples of the second world as an essential component of the united front: “In the face of the superpowers which are intensifying their struggle to do-countries [MIA Note: as in original] and peoples of third world – the motive force the world revolution – as well as the proletariat of the capitalist countries, must unite in a broad front...” (December 4, 1975, editorial)
After 1917, the world was composed of three types of countries: the capitalist and imperialist ones: the dominated colonial ones: and the socialist USSR where proletarian revolution had just triumphed. After World War II. the contradictions sharpened on a world scale in such a way that the situation was changed.
The war saw the birth of new socialist countries, such as China. A powerful socialist camp headed by the Soviet Union emerged (second world); the first world was made up of all the capitalist countries, headed by American imperialism: and the third world also took form, regrouping the countries of Asia, Africa, Latin America, and other regions.
But towards the end of the fifties and in the early sixties, the world was rocked by great changes. The socialist USSR was transformed into a capitalist country. The socialist camp thus fell apart. At the same time, the countries and peoples of the third world continued to score victories in their struggle against colonialism and imperialism.
The top dog in the imperialist camp, meanwhile, was suffering repeated defeats in its attempts to dominate the third world (in Indochina, for example), which greatly weakened US imperialism. It also faced increased rivalry from other imperialist powers, like Japan, who were developing economically. Though still weak compared to the American superpower, these countries are still eager to get their share of the pie in the dividing up of the world; but they’re incapable of spreading their influence everywhere and competing tor world hegemony.
But that’s not the case with Soviet social-imperialism, which, on the heels of American imperialism’s decline, comes on powerfully and competes with the US for world hegemony.
So today, we live in a world that is divided in three parts, mutually linked and in contradiction to each other. The first world of the two superpowers – the US and the USSR; the second world of capitalist and imperialist countries which seek to spread their influence but are also the object of the superpowers’ desires; and the third world motive force of resistance against colonialism, imperialism and hegemonism.
Another important distinction between first and second world countries lies in the fact that the superpowers are the source of a new world war – the biggest formenters of trouble. They attempt to get their fingers into every internal difficulty of other countries and thus reinforce their domination vis-a-vis each other.
The rivalries between these two giants is on quite a different scale than those between the second world countries: the stakes are world control and the rivalry will inevitably lead to world war. “Politically, imperialism is, in general, a striving for violence and reaction.” (Lenin)
Everywhere – in Europe, in the Mediterranean, in the Middle East, in the Persian Gulf, in the Indian, Atlantic and Pacific oceans, in Asia, Africa and Latin America – everywhere, the superpowers are present. Lenin said over and over again that imperialism means war: as long as imperialism and social-imperialism exist, war is inevitable.
On this question, the comrades from En Lutte are somewhat inconsistent to the extent that they recognize this rivalry but do little propaganda about it. They may often talk about the “danger of war” between the superpowers, but seldom about its inevitability.
Why is war inevitable? This is not an academic question – it’s an objective reality which comes from the very nature of imperialism.
Right now the two superpowers are trying to spread out everywhere; the solution for both of them is to wipe out the other. In other words, their contradictions are irreconcilable. Though they may at times resort to peaceful means (treaties, pacts, exchanges and negotiations), their final weapon is violence: “Peaceful alliances prepare the ground for wars, and in their turn grow out of wars: the one conditions the other, giving rise to alternating forms of peaceful and non-peaceful struggle out of one and the same basis of imperialist connections and relations within world economics and world politics.” (Lenin)
Increased militarization is another example of the mad race between the two imperialist giants. Weakened by the Vietnam war. US imperialism is rapidly replenishing its stocks, raising its military budgets. The Soviet Union, meanwhile, frantically continues to build war factories, and holds military maneuvers and exercises on all the world’s seas and next to the borders of several second world countries.
When we talk of the inevitability of war, we have to deal with two questions: 1) the general and fundamental principle that imperialism means war: here, the En Lutte comrades have a correct attitude: and 2) the inevitability of war at the present time, when the contradictions between the two superpowers are developing. “With the superpowers contending so fiercely and expanding their armaments so madly, they are bound to go to war against each other some day. This is independent of man’s will.” (Speech by Chinese delegate to the 30th session of the UN General Assembly).
On this second point. En Lutte is particularly silent. It quite correctly mentions the danger of war, but presents it as a question that is more or less far off and abstract. None of En Lutte’s most important texts, except one, even mentions the inevitability of war.
We’re not talking here about a couple of words carelessly left out ot a text. We’re talking about whether the Canadian people are going to be prepared or not for the war. You can’t prepare the people for “war in general” – especially when you imply that it won’t really break out. We have to get prepared for a war that’s certain to come – a world war between the US and the USSR. The peoples who are not ready are going to suffer.
In the fight for world hegemony which puts the US against the USSR, it’s the latter which is on the offensive, which is the rising force, which seeks a new redivision of the world and which thus is the main source of a new world war. Social-imperialism is the most dangerous enemy of all the world’s peoples.
This point is particularly important for us in Canada, because social-imperialism appears to be far off and scarcely menacing. Undoubtedly, here in Canada, we suffer more from the control of US imperialism. And it’s the American superpower which exercises its domination and pressure on Canada – politically, economically, militarily and culturally.
But we can’t in the least lessen our vigilance against Soviet social-imperialism. That, however, is what the En Lutte comrades have a tendency to do.
One of the most blatant examples of this is their analysis of the revisionist parties: “Here is the root of the dissidence within the revisionist cliques.” En Lutte writes. “Tied to the interests of their own national bourgeoisie and, to a certain point, of the European and even American imperialist groupments, some of these cliques cannot but come into conflict with the imperialist aims of the Soviet leaders. These two lines came out at the last congress of the CPSU, reflecting the struggles between the chauvinist and expansionist policies of social-imperialism and the national bourgeois policy of the parties defending the interests of the second-rank imperialist bourgeoisies and even of American imperialism.” (En Lutte, No. 57-Vol. 3. No. 16. p.8: our emphasis).
This affirmation indicates that the En Lutte comrades have not really grasped the nature of modern revisionism. The modem revisionists are undoubtedly agents of the bourgeoisie: but they are also agents of Soviet social-imperialism. To fail to see these revisionist parties as pro-Soviet forces means leaving oneself open to their double tactic: their infiltration, subversion and attempts at military coups d’etat like in Portugal, and their open hand, their “historic compromise” and their “common program” as in Italy or France. En Lutte’s stand forgets that the revisionists actively support the foreign policy of the USSR, and are thus instruments of the USSR’s offensive in Europe.
What revisionist party has said that the Soviet Union is no longer a socialist country, or has failed to promote illusions about detente, etc? Certainly not the Italian or French parties which could become, according to En Lutte. agents ot US imperialism...!
The facts are clear and can’t be denied. Social-imperialism is the most dangerous enemy of the world’s peoples, the greatest formentor of trouble and the main sources of war.
It is on a political offensive everywhere where its rival is in decline. It infiltrates liberation movements, sends its spies everywhere, e.g. 700 Russians work in Portugal as “diplomats” or “press correspondents”, including such people as S. Kusnetsov, KGB head in Mexico and Chile. Social imperialism is all the more dangerous because it talks the loudest about “detente”, tries to come off as a “friend of the people” under its socialist mask and offers them aid to better subdue them.
En Lutte doesn’t see these things and neglects the role of the Soviet Union on a world scale as the rising, most aggressive force. As a direct consequence of this, the Soviet Union’s role in Canada is ignored.
For example, in their political platform around International Women’s Day. the comrades from En Lutte correctly state that women “on the world scale should participate in the struggle of the people against imperialism and social-imperialism”. Though correct, to be complete such a position should also single out social-imperialism as the avowed enemy not only of the world’s people in general but also of the proletarian revolution in Canada (a point not mentioned at all).
En Lutte increasingly criticizes the “Communist” Party of Canada, which is a good thing. But its criticisms are limited to the “C”P’s reformist nature. En Lutte should also explain and denounce the “C”P’s service to the Soviet Union and watch for Soviet activities in Canada (pillaging our territorial waters, spying, etc).
When we say that American imperialism is dominant in Canada, we should never neglect the Soviet Union. As Enver Hoxha said. “You cannot rely on one imperialism to oppose the other.”
The En Lutte comrades have a confused, and on certain points erroneous view of the international situation. This comes out most often in their formal, inconsistent reference to basic principles. If you look hard enough.you’re bound to find paragraphs here and there which, stuck together, produce a Marxist analysis of the world situation. But in every article there are often incorrect positions jumbled in with correct ones (as we’ve pointed out above), while certain important points are simply left out.
It’s only through a deep study of Marxism-leninism and Mao Tse-tung thought, through the concrete analysis of the concrete situation and through frank self-criticisms that these errors can be eliminated.
If this is not done, it will have serious consequences. First, because a correct analysis of the Canadian situation depends on a correct view of the world situation. One has to watch out for the narrow approach which Stalin criticized: “Formerly, we usually treated the analysis of the conditions necessary for proletarian revolution from the point of view of the economic situation of this country or that taken separately. Now, this method of treating the question is not sufficient. We must now envisage it from the point of view of the economic state of all or most countries, from the point of view of the world economy...
“Formerly, we were accustomed to talking of proletarian revolution in this or that developed country, as being of a certain absolute magnitude... Now. this point of view is no longer sufficient. We now have to talk of world proletarian revolution...” Problem of Leninism, our translation from the French).
Second, En Lutte is inconsistent in its agitation and propaganda. It recognizes the danger of war, but doesn’t deal with it regularly in a systematic way. Willingly or not, this leads to poorly preparing the Canadian people for war and not preparing the working class to play its leading role in safeguarding Canadian independence.
En Lutte’s analysis of the international situation, as we’ve said, has consequences on its analysis of the Canadian situation. We’ll soon come back to this important question – in particular, to how En Lutte’s view of the world effects its stand on the principal contradiction in Canada.