Whoever recognises the class struggle cannot fail to recognise civil wars, which in every class society are the natural, and under certain conditions, the inevitable continuation, development and intensification of the class struggle. All the great revolutions prove this. To repudiate civil war, or to forget about it, would mean sinking into extreme opportunism and renouncing the socialist revolution. (Lenin, The War Programme or the Socialist Revolution)
Nobody but a madman would advocate the use of armed struggle to obtain independence where peaceful methods could serve the same purpose. But historically we have yet to see any major instances where the oppressed peoples have thrown out the imperialists except by opposing armed force by armed force. The experience of China, North Vietnam, North Korea, Cuba, Algeria and now South Vietnam, forces this lesson home.
In their letter of 30th March 1963 the leaders of the C.P.S.U., in a reference to revolutionary tactics, state:
The enthusiasm of the revolutionary masses in the struggle for the victory of a socialist revolution cannot be kept back when objective and subjective conditions are ripe. It would be tantamount to death. But a revolution cannot be artificially instigated if conditions for it are not ripe. A premature uprising, as the experience of the revolutionary class struggle teaches, is doomed to failure.
And in the course of his interview of 21st December 1963, Krushchev stated:
Nobody will believe that the problems of the national renaissance of the liberated countries can be solved on the battlefield. The important thing for the countries that have achieved national independence is to reconstruct their economic and social system, improve the living standards of the masses, eliminate the economic domination of the foreign exploiters and destroy the political positions of their allies within the country.
Both statements must be read in the context of Krushchev’s version of peaceful coexistence, his attitude to the United Nations and American imperialism, and the advice which the leaders of the C.P.S.U. have given in the past to the Iraqi and other Parties on the importance of peaceful transition. The propagation by Krushchev and other revisionists of the notion that “small wars lead to big wars” is also part of this policy to keep the oppressed peoples from taking offensive action until the example of the economic advances of the socialist countries can, by a form of magic never yet explained, like Joshua’s trumpets, collapse the walls of the imperialist citadels and set the people free.
And meanwhile? Meanwhile Messrs. Krushchev and Dutt, the oppressed peoples are to stomach their suffering, their poverty and degradation and the loss of human life which is a concomitant of imperialistic rule.
No words on this theme could be more eloquent than those of Fidel Castro speaking on 15th January 1963 at the closing session of the Congress of Women of All America:
The number of people who die every year in Latin America, the number of those who die in one year from hunger and disease, without medical attention, is higher than the number of those who would die in liberating the peoples of Latin America.
For the fight here cost twenty thousand lives, but many times twenty thousand have already been saved.
We can wait, and the figures will continue mounting up; and there will be millions more of unfortunate, wretched, exploited, agonised men, women and children – and the figures are here – a result of feudal exploitation, of imperialist exploitation . . .
And that is the duty of leaders and revolutionary organisations: to get the masses moving, to lead them into combat. And that is what they did in Algeria; and that is what the patriots in South Vietnam are doing. They have led the masses into battle with correct methods, correct tactics. And they have led the greatest possible part of the masses into struggle. That is what we did, for power was not won by four, or five, or six, or seven men who were dispersed one day, but by the mass movements unleashed by the struggle against the tyranny, and which culminated in victory . . .
The lifeblood of any revolution is the mass struggle of the people particularly of the working class and the peasantry. No help from outside, even from the international working class, important though it is, can replace the active struggle of the oppressed peoples of each country to win political and economic independence for themselves by their own efforts.
But in their current propaganda the revisionists suggest that the use of armed struggle is in conflict with mass activity, although, in trying to do so, they have to avoid, as Dutt avoids, any mention of Cuba and South Vietnam which would make their thesis patently ridiculous.
“The non-violent way is the way of mass struggle,” says Luis Corvalan writing on the Chilean situation in the December 1963 issue of the World Marxist Review. “The peaceful way, we repeat, is the way of mass revolutionary struggle.”
But our comrades in Cuba have successfully ousted the imperialists and their creature, Batista, by armed action. This is how, with their experience, they see the situation:
Revolution is inevitable in many countries of Latin America. Nobody’s will determines this fact. It is determined by the frightful conditions of exploitation which afflict mankind in America. It is determined by the development of the revolutionary consciousness of the masses, by the world crisis of imperialism and by the universal movement of struggle of the world’s subjugated peoples. (Second Declaration of Havana, 1962)
. . . Some criticism is often levelled at those who stand for guerrilla warfare, charging them with having forgotten the mass struggle, as if mass struggle and guerrilla warfare are two opposing forms. We oppose the insinuations of this assertion. Guerrilla warfare is a kind of people’s war, a kind of mass struggle. To attempt to carry out this form of war without the support of the local population means certain defeat. The guerrillas are the people’s armed, fighting vanguards operating in a certain area of a certain place. They aim to carry out a series of combat activities for the sole possible strategic goal – seizure of state power. They have the support of the worker and peasant masses of the area in which they operate, or even of the whole territory. No guerrilla warfare can be conducted without these pre-requisites. (Ernesto Che Guevara, Cuba SociaIista, September, 1963)
Woe betide those who would hold back the people when the conditions are ripe for revolutionary action. They will surely be held accountable at the bar of history. For, said Marti, the Cuban revolutionary “while provokers of an avoidable war in a country are criminals, those who refuse to wage an unavoidable war are criminals, too”.