First Published: FORUM for Marxist-Leninist Inner-Party Struggle, No. 4, June 1964.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Sam Richards and Paul Saba
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It is rather a dismal to ask to have to clear away disputes about words, expressions etc. It seems before we get to problems of Marxism we have to discuss the English language. Palme Dutt writes that we are opposed to all abusive language in this controversy. It depends what one means by abusive language! Notice there was no protest at the language used against Stalin! Apparently the question must be spelt out ... e.g. to use, as a mark of opposition the fact that this or that person does not wash his hands ... this would be abuse. But (and this is the point) if it is a question of formulations as to the political position of Khrushov (and indeed anyone) and the invectives grows thick, this merely shows that a bitter polemic is in progress.. .with one’s opponent moving into the position of being an enemy .. .and who began the so-called ’abuse’? And really! Politics without invective???
It is significant that the very title of Palme Dutt’s little tract speaks of only of unity. Ah, those unity shouters! The important thing about the Communist movement is its basic content of Marxism- Leninism. It is for the purity of Marxism and its principles we fight. It is on this basis that unity is built.
The fact that the Chinese comrades said that ’violent revolution’ is a universal law, worries Palme Dutt, because Lenin said ’as a general rule’. This is true. But what on earth is a general rule if not having the effect of a ’law’. E.g. “As a general rule the eastern counties of England are dryer than the Western”. Is this not true? Has it not got the force of a climatic law? There may be the odd or abnormal year, but this would have little effect on the average rainfall. It would prove the law. Besides Palme Dutt knows that in general Lenin constantly stressed the necessity in one form or another to imbue the working class with the idea of revolution and the preparations for it.
The worst deliberate misunderstanding on the part of Palme Dutt is over the question of ’political power brows out of the barrel of a gun’ (statement by Mao Tse Tung). Palme Dutt must know that this is a very succinct and illuminating way of putting it. It is concrete and can be understood by all. He says “it is a caricature of Marxism”. “The human soul is like a dark forest”. This is Lenin. Is this a caricature of Marxism?? Do Marxists support the theory of the human soul? No! But this was used as an ”image”, and how well it works. We all use the language material at hand. These phrases or aphorisms sayings .. etc ..poetically or racily used, are often better, clearer, more exact, more concrete than lots of paragraphs. These statements are grasped quickly by the masses. This is driving home a lesson from experience... i.e. the concept is closest to the objective reality. Besides is it not true that political power must be captured (militarily.. physically) in order that the corresponding stage of social-political forces which governs the form and role of military force’ can develop freely? No one said it was the original creator of ’social-political institutions’, Mao Tse Tung is speaking of political power. Guns, swords if you wish... military force whose forms derive from the economic basis and without which they cannot exist are used precisely to capture political power so that the painful task of new social-political institutions can be built (the superstructure must be more or less rapidly transformed i.e. social-political institutions so as to cease being a fetter on the productive forces with further new forms of military power developing. How in God’s name can we change the economic basis if not through the forms in which it manifests itself... but why go on.. at this rate we shall have to rework our way through the English language, and the entire history of the world.
Yes Cde. Palme Dutt, the conception of a peaceful transition was set out in the 1951 ’British Road to Socialismů and don’t we know it! But the concept has, as it were, only become a fully paid up member since Khruschov gave it status. But the fact that our Party did publish it first, and it received approval ...is most sinister. It proves that there was revisionist soil for it to be accepted. Cde. Dutt also thinks he has said the final word because Stalin, he says had approved it. But what was the real position of Stalin in the C.C.? Cde. Dutt is not so naive as to imagine that there could not have been pressure groups... various strong currents of opinion, and even outright groupings on the C.C. And that...Stalin was in a minority.. outvotedů outflanked, particularly bearing in mind that at the nineteenth congress of the C.P.S.U.B. Stalin hardly spoke at all. This has to be said!
When in 1948 Stalin and the C.C. of the C.P.S.U. B. attacked Tito, the final exposure showed that Titoism is Trotskyism up to date. Khruschov embraces Titoism-Trotskyism. But when did it begin? How far have we to go back? During the war? Before the war? So again what was me real position of Stalin in the C.C.? No final words have been said on this.
If any criticism is to be levelled at the Chinese Party, it could only be that they had not begun to pursue their honourable course earlier. But, he delay is understandable as they were obviously considering the unity of the international Communist Movement, and this without realising that these were not mere errors on the part of true comrades but deliberate manoeuvres made by friends of Tito and lackeys of imperialism.
And finally Palme Dutt says in one passage that since capitalism was ended in Russia ’nearly half a century ago ’ the charge of revisionism remains hanging in the air without an economic basis ... But look at the difference to his phrases if we substitute the word ’only’ e.g., ’Only half a century ago’ and from the point of view of world history it is ’only’, so what ever Cde. Dutt says there is a possibility of ’a falling off’, a reversal! There will be many retreats, upheavals, even outright betrayals before final victory. Such is the logic of the struggle.