Along with the working class, the peasant masses are the main detachment of revolution in the national liberation struggle . . .
Due to their class position they have a vital interest in the anti-imperialist, anti-feudal, national liberation revolution and are highly revolutionary and staunch in their struggle . . .
This notwithstanding, the modern revisionists ignore the revolutionary role of the peasant masses in the national liberation struggle of the peoples of Asia, Africa and Latin America . . .
To ignore the role of the peasant masses in the national liberation struggle is an anti-Marxist-Leninist attitude of negating the worker-peasant alliance and rejecting the hegemony of the working class. (Workers’ Party of Korea, Hold High the Revolutionary Banner of National Liberation, January 1964, pp. 22,23)
Dutt, in his article, presents as one of the two principles to guide our policy in areas where there is active anti-imperialist struggle:
While supporting any anti-imperialist struggle of the national bourgeoisie, we should always keep in the forefront at the same time, the key importance of the independent development of Marxism and the working class in these countries, since it is only Marxism and the working class which represent the most consistent anti-imperialist fighter. (p. 11)
Dutt is here mixing together two separate aspects of the struggle. The question of who leads the fight against imperialism will vary from country to country according to the stage of economic development and the relationship of classes. In many instances, as recent history has shown, imperialism may be ousted from countries in which the proletariat is relatively weak. This is not to detract from the classic Marxist principle that the proletariat are the most consistent fighters in the struggle for socialism. However, a key factor which has been brought to the fore by the experience of countries which have been liberated in recent years – China, Algeria and Cuba – is the crucial importance of the peasantry which, in all three countries, represented the overwhelming mass of the population. In these countries an effective worker-peasant alliance has been decisive in ensuring victory with a minimum of losses and in speeding up the revolutionary process by opposing a solid front to the oppressors.
The alliance of the working class and the peasantry is the most important force in winning and defending national independence, accomplishing far-reaching democratic transformations and ensuring social progress. (Statement of the 81 Parties, p.23)
In the case of these three countries the working class was relatively small numerically but by skilful leadership it was able to obtain the massive support of the peasantry.
The 26th July Movement represented above all the peasant movement which was formed around the Rebel Army; also many non-party members of the working class, professional, intellectual and youth elements of the middle class and petty bourgeoisie. (Fidel Castro, Labour Monthly, February 1962, p.67)
Of course, we have also learned that there is no place that is inaccessible to the enemy. If we reach a place, there’s no doubt that the soldiers can get there too. They are basically men like ourselves. But the peasant population is with us, protects us, guides us, it supplies us, it brings arms to our side when necessary. Now, having established a number of fronts – Lara, Falcon, La Portuguesa, Oriente, Caracas itself – we could declare a ’free territory’ if we wanted to. We can and do walk for kilometers with our guns on our shoulders and with the insignia of the F.A.L.N. on our jackets, without the danger of an ambush or the slightest hostile act being committed against us. (Pedro Duno, Officer in Venezuelan Armed Forces of National Liberation [FALN], in Mexican weekly Siempre, 11th November 1963)
The statement of the 81 Parties referring to the social contradictions in the countries which have gained political independence and to the struggle against the compromising policies of the national bourgeoisie clearly states “the working class and the broad peasant masses are to play the leading part in solving this basic social problem.”
Only in the consolidation of the alliance of the workers and peasants lies the general liberation of all humanity from such things as the recent imperialist carnage, from those savage contradictions we now see in the capitalist world. (Lenin)
Marxists must be on the alert against any tendency to delay or slow up the revolutionary struggle of the oppressed peoples against imperialism by a too narrow application of the correct principle of the leading role of the proletariat on the grounds that the “working class is still relatively small in numbers and weakly developed in organisation.” (Dutt, p.11.)
From minimising the importance of the worker-peasant alliance it is not a far step to suggesting that the revolutionary struggles of an oppressed people are “premature” or “adventurous”.
It is not without significance that both Dutt in his analysis and Krushchev in his interview of 21st December 1963 virtually ignore the role of the peasantry in the national liberation movements.