First Published: The Call, Vol. 3, No. 8, May 1975.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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Can there be unity of action with the modern revisionists of the Communist Party USA? This question is being widely debated within the ranks of our movement. This article will direct itself at lending some clarity to it.
The question of unity is one of the highest importance to all Marxist-Leninists. The high value that we place on unity of the working class and its allies helps strike a blow at the sectarianism of the petty-bourgeois radicals and Trotskyites who are now very well known for their destructive activities within the mass movements of the people.
In the October League “Unity Statement” which was our founding document, our organization clearly calls for the unity of the broad masses to oppose imperialism and its reactionary policies:
Based on the objective conditions of the world situation and on an analysis of the main contradictions in the world; it is possible and necessary for the international proletariat to form a world-wide united front against imperialism and its policies of war and aggression.” (“Unity Statement”, October League (M-L), P. 8)
Further we state:
To make socialist revolution and attain its final aims, the U.S. working class must narrow its target (isolating the tiny handful of monopoly capitalists); build an iron bond of unity with the oppressed nations and the national minorities; and must link itself closely with the broad masses of people in the struggle to overthrow imperialism.” (ibid., P. 16)
This strategic view of the Anti-imperialist United Front, based upon the concrete conditions in each country, is proving itself in practice to be the road to victory and revolution. It is the road of uniting with the masses of the people who make up over 90 per cent of the world’s population; uniting with all the political forces subject to the exploitation, oppression, control and domination of the imperialists. The two superpowers have proven themselves to be the main enemies of the world’s people, including the people of their own countries and therefore must be made the target of our struggle. It is at the two biggest imperialist superpowers, who today are both contending and colluding to dominate the world’s peoples, that the main blow of the revolutionary struggle must be directed. We must make use of every possible contradiction, all for the purpose of isolating them and overthrowing them.
At the core of this United Front stands the working class and the peoples of the oppressed nations and countries of the Third World, in close merger and alliance, each one supporting the other. It was Lenin who consistently stressed international proletarian unity on the basis of Marxism and the unity of the working class with the oppressed nations rising against imperialism. He put forward the fighting slogan: “Workers and oppressed nations of the world unite!”
Marxism-Leninism teaches us that the international unity of the working class is revolutionary unity based upon “principle. Its achievement calls for a resolute struggle against the opportunists and revisionists whose goal it is to smash this revolutionary unity and destroy the movement. When speaking on the need for principled struggle against the opportunists to achieve genuine unity, Engels said: “Unity is quite a good thing so long as it is possible, but there are things which stand above unity.” (Engels to A. Bebel, Oct. 28, 1882)
He pointed out that unity is impossible without struggle.
Contradictions exist within everything and these contradictions are expressed through struggle. Within the movement of the working class and oppressed peoples, the class contradictions in society reflect themselves in two-line struggle. Lenin said of his break with the revisionists of the Second International:
Without struggle there cannot be any sorting out, and without sorting out there can be no successful advance, and also no solid unity. And those who are now beginning to struggle are by no means destroying unity. There is already no unity, it has already been destroyed all along the line...and open and direct struggle is one of the essential conditions for restoring unity.” (Lenin, ’To A.A. Yakubova,” Coll. Wks., Vol. 34, P. 32)
It is the modern revisionists who have already destroyed the unity of the international communist movement. It is the revisionists who have thrown the principles of Marxism-Leninism out the window and who have become the out-and-out agents of the monopoly capitalist class within the workers’ movement.
In formerly socialist countries, like the Soviet Union, these renegades have already succeeded in fully restoring capitalism and bringing back the exploitation and oppression of the Soviet peoples. The revisionist parties, like the CPUSA have brought about great destruction and loss of life to millions of people by peddling their theories of “peaceful transition to socialism” and peace, or as they put it “detente” with imperialism. It was these anti-Marxist theories, put into practice by the revisionists, that disarmed the people and led to the slaughter of thousands of workers, peasants and revolutionaries in Chile and other places.
Historically there has always been a struggle within the communist and workers parties against the revisionists in each period and always the revisionists have split the movement into two with their abandonment of revolution and their attempts to reconcile class struggle and disarm the masses. Marx and Engels declared openly that, “it is...impossible for us to cooperate with people who wish to expunge this class struggle from the movement.” (Marx and Engels to A. Bebel, W. Liebnecht W. Bracke and others, “Circular Letter”, Sel. Corresp. FLPH, P.395)
It was Lenin who strongly condemned and broke from the revisionists of the Second International after they came to side with imperialism and with the bourgeoisie of their own countries in the first imperialist war. In making this break, Lenin and the Bolsheviks had to go against the tide because at first, large sections of the masses were against them. By taking a principled stand and making a principled break from the opportunists, Lenin and his comrades in time won over the masses. The Third International showed itself to be the leadership of the world revolutionary struggle against imperialism. In summing up this experience, Lenin wrote: “The distinctive feature of the present situation is the prevalence of such economic and political conditions that are bound to increase the irreconcilibility between opportunism and the general vital interests of the working class movement...” (Lenin, “Imperialism the Highest Stage of Capitalism”, Coll. Wks. P.284)
It was from this principled stand that the Communist Parties of China and Albania waged a long struggle against the revisionism of the Soviet party leadership in order to uphold the unity of the international communist movement. While at the present time, peoples and countries around the world are beginning to grasp the real role of both superpowers in the world, and communists in many countries have broken with the Soviet revisionists and the revisionists of their own countries to build new communist parties, at that time, the Albanian and Chinese parties stood with few allies.
The revisionists in the Soviet Union and their echo in the CPUSA attacked China and Albania as “splitters” for their firm opposition to the revisionists’ betrayal of Marxism. When this failed, they attacked the genuine Marxist-Leninists for their unwillingness to carry out “united action” around questions such as the war in Vietnam. The Chinese Communist Party posed the questions: “Since the new leaders of the CPSU have destroyed the basis of international proletarian unity, and since they transpose enemies and friends and persist in the line of Soviet-U.S. collaboration for world domination, is it still possible for the Marxist-Leninist Parties to take united action with them on the question of Vietnam?” (“Refutation of the New Leaders of the CPSU on ’United Action’”, FLP, Peking, 1965)
In answer to this question they stated clearly that it was the duty of all communists and socialist countries to resolutely support the heroic struggle of the Vietnamese. However, they said, “the stand taken by the revisionist leadership of the CPSU on the question of Vietnam is inseparable from their revisionist programme and line, and is contrary to the principled stand required of a Marxist-Leninist.”
Exposing the long history of abandonment of the Vietnamese people when it appeared to the revisionists that their fight was hopeless, the Chinese showed how Khrushchov openly sided with U.S. imperialism and opposed and undermined the revolutionary struggle of the Vietnamese. The revisionists alleged that “any small local war might spark off the conflagration of world war.” (N.S. Khrushchov, Talk at a Press conference in Vienna, July 8, 1960)
For that reason they openly refused to support and aid the Vietnamese liberation struggle. However, that struggle developed contrary to the wishes and expectations of the revisionists. Just as they are presently stumbling over themselves to declare their support for the victorious Cambodian freedom fighters, after years of traitorous recognition of the Lon Not fascist regime, the Soviet and other revisionist parties withheld aid to Vietnam until the tide of the battle had changed. Their view of all liberation struggles is limited to bringing them into the orbit of superpower politics. As the Chinese said in answer to the question posed above: “Since they are co-operating so closely with the U.S. imperialists in united action, it is of course impossible for Marxist-Leninists to join in and take ’united action’ with them.” (“Refutation...” P. 19)
The revisionist parties the world over have raised the phony cry of “united action” in order to cover up their real character and make themselves appear as “progressive” if misguided, fighters against imperialism. But in fact the ’ modern revisionists are the hidden enemies of the working class within our movement. They demonstrate this fact with every action they take. Here in the U.S. the revisionists of the CPUSA have dedicated themselves to attacking Marxism-Leninism, prettifying the imperialists and their political parties and are actively working to set the workers and oppressed nationalities up for slaughter as they have done in so many other countries. When they call demonstrations or initiate organizations, their goal is not to build the people’s struggle, but rather, to undermine the revolutionary movement of the people.
This was demonstrated clearly last year when the revisionists called their African Liberation Conference in direct opposition to the revolutionary and militant leadership of the African Liberation Support Committee (ALSC) which had succeeded in mobilizing hundreds of thousands of people in the cause of African liberation support.
Their recent International Women’s Day activities were another example, where the revisionists, after years of ignoring this great working class holiday, called a demonstration to undermine the many anti-imperialist actions being planned for the same day. They substituted their reactionary slogans of “peace, equality and development” as well as “liberation” for homosexuals, in place of the demands for liberation of the colonies and the anti-imperialist and anti-superpower slogans of the revolutionary forces marching in front of the United Nations. The OL-initiated marches, while smaller in size, maintained their principled opposition to imperialism. Who is to blame for lack of unity – the Marxist-Leninists or the revisionists?
After years of betrayal of the Puerto Rican people, including the destruction of the Puerto Rican Marxist-Leninist movement and the support of the phony imperialist referendum on Statehood in 1967, the revisionists have suddenly become a “friend” of the Puerto Rican movement. They have even gone so far as to call a conference in Havana through their opportunist front group, the World Peace Council, to establish their hegemony over the leadership of the independence movement. Here again the call for “united action” is being used to cover up their crimes and their superpower designs on Puerto Rico and their efforts to turn the people away from anti-imperialist struggle. It is this cunning disguise which makes revisionism such a dangerous enemy and leads some honest people to be taken in by this wolf hi sheep’s clothing.
In the absence of a genuine Marxist-Leninist party here in the U.S., the danger of conciliating to revisionism becomes especially great. We must maintain vigilance at all times. Does our opposition to united action with revisionism mean that OL opposes unity with all who disagree with us? Does it mean that we will not work in movements or organizations that the revisionists or other opportunists work in? The answer to both of these questions is no. We will, on the basis of anti-imperialist struggle, unite even with capitalist elements who are objectively thrown into opposition to the superpowers. We have made our position clear in support of the governments of the Second and Third World who have, to one degree or another, resisted imperialist encroachments.
The Chinese to use another example, recently invited a delegation of Japanese officials to their country in order to strengthen their unity with the lesser imperialist countries against the two superpowers, but excluded from the delegation was a senator who was a member of the revisionist party in Japan. This was a correct and principled stand which exposed the fact that the Japanese revisionists are nothing but agents of the superpowers rather than having anti-imperialism in their minds.
In the trade unions and other organizations of the working class, the OL has always gone in and exposed the revisionists as well as the labor bureaucrats before the workers, because the unions are the most basic organizations of the workers themselves. The same thing holds true for certain mass organizations and people’s movements that the revisionists have sneaked into.
But this is a far cry from joining those actions and organizations called forth by the CPUSA for their own reactionary ends. We refuse to become the “loyal opposition” inside organizations and actions initiated by the CPUSA for the sole purpose of spreading their rotten influence and undermining the influence of the revolutionary forces. This was the case with International Women’s Day.
The October League was born in direct opposition to the revisionists of the CPUSA. It was founded on the basis of an all-around break with revisionism and opportunism of all types. But an ideological break with revisionism is not enough. This is why we set as our primary goal, the building of a new communist party to lead the working class to its revolutionary victory. This is a very difficult task with many twists and turns and complications. It requires a revolutionary united front as well as a party which directs itself at the overthrow of imperialism and the liberation of all oppressed peoples and not an “anti-monopoly” coalition which is aimed at preserving imperialism through a few reforms like the CPUSA. This is what all the revisionists’ calls for “united action” are designed to cover up.
As the Chinese comrades said: “If we should cease exposing and combatting the domestic and external revisionist policies of the new leaders of the CPSU, if we should abandon our principled stand and take so-called ’united action’ with them, that would suit them very well.” (“Refutation...on ’United Action’ ”, P. 30)
The present situation is one characterized by great upheavals, great division and reorganization. The old socialist camp has disintegrated due to the betrayal of the revisionists. The CPUSA has become the haven for reactionary and chauvinist traitors to the working class. New parties and movements are rising up and new victories are being achieved in the world-wide struggle against imperialism and its reactionary policies.
At present the task facing all Marxist-Leninists and anti-imperialists in the U.S. and around the world, is to draw a clear line of demarcation both physically and organizationally between ourselves and the revisionists who are serving U.S. and Soviet social-imperialism; to smash revisionism in order to bring forth a new high tide of revolutionary struggle.