The opportunists had scarcely congratulated themselves on ’social peace’ and the needlessness of storms under ’democracy’ when a new source of great world storms opened up in Asia. The Russian Revolution was followed by the Turkish, the Persian and the Chinese revolutions. It is in this era of storms and their’ repercussions’ on Europe that we are now living. (Lenin, March 1913)
The searchlight which the Chinese and other Marxist parties have thrown on the importance of the national liberation movements and their relation to the international working class struggle as a whole has forced into the open the leaders of the C.P.S.U. and those of the British C.P. who follow so closely behind them, so that they must now reveal their position and explain their policies on this issue.
Two recent statements on the subject deserve our special attention. The first is Palme Dutt’s article in the January 1964 number of Marxism Today and the second is Krushchev’s interview which was reported in Izvestia on 21 December 1963.
First, we must define what we mean when we speak of the national liberation movement. What does it cover? Is it a major problem of our time or a dying issue? What is its international significance?
The Chinese assess the problem as follows:
Most countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America are still victims of imperialist aggression and oppression, of old and new colonialist enslavement. Although a number of countries have won their independence in recent years, their economies are still under the control of foreign monopoly capital. In some countries, the old colonialists have been driven out, but even more powerful and dangerous colonialists of a new type have forced their way in, gravely threatening the existence of many nations in these areas. The peoples in these areas are still a long way from completing their struggle against Imperialism. (More on the Differences between Comrade Togliatti and Us, March 1963, p.37)
The Korean Workers’ Party takes a similar view of the problem:
World revolution is not yet over. We cannot avert our eyes from the fact that two-thirds of mankind are still subjected to the exploitation and oppression by capital. (Let Us Defend the Socialist Camp, 28 October 1963, p40)
Dutt, however, sees the problem as well on the way to solution:
The majority of former colonial peoples have now won the establishment and recognition of their countries as independent sovereign states. When Lenin wrote his thesis on the national and colonial question in 1920, the colonies and Dominions and dependencies accounted for 77.2 per cent of the territory and 69.2 per cent of the population of the world. In 1963 only 7.7 per cent of the world’s area and 1.7 per cent of its population remain under the direct domination of colonial rule. (Marxism Today, January 1964, p.10)
Krushchev in his statement of 21st December 1963 twice refers to the collapse of the colonial system:
It would be a gross mistake . . . to deny that the system of colonial slavery has collapsed.
And on 27th December 1963, in a speech to an Algerian Delegation, Krushchev remarked:
colonialism is a thing of the past.
The same theme appears in the writings of Togliatti:
the colonial regime has almost completely crumbled
there are no longer any spheres of influence preserved for imperialism in the world.
Dutt’s article is in fact a Report delivered to the Executive Committee of the British Communist Party on 10th November 1963. He deals first with the “few” remaining areas of colonial domination, maintaining that ”the majority of the former colonial peoples have won their political independence”, and includes here a special reference to the importance of the United Nations in the fight for self-determination. He then devotes a section to the newly independent states, laying special stress on economic independence as the “most important new question”, and takes up the role of the national bourgeoisie and the principles of independent national democracy. A short section follows describing British imperialist strategy and dealing with “overseas exploitation”. We then come to that part of Dutt’s report – nearly one half of its total length – which one feels was the main reason for the whole exercise: an attack on the Chinese Party’s attitude to the national liberation movement. Here Dutt explores the main contradictions of our epoch and produces two theories which he attributes to the Chinese – the “Three Continents theory” and the “Gospel of Separation”. The names are an invention of Dutt’s; they have never been used by the Chinese. He concludes with a defence of Soviet policy and an appeal for unity.