First Published: The Worker, Vol 11, No 4, February 28, 1979
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Malcolm and Paul Saba
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Editor: The Progressive Labor Party with which we once had fraternal relations has always prided itself on a pamphlet produced some years ago called Road to Revolution III. While we felt it contained many dubious propositions we discussed it rarely since it wasn’t apparent that there was much connection between the theory and PLP practice. However that was an error and there are comrades who want to clarify our views of that three stage document. What follows is the first of these comments.
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The great nation chauvinism of PLP, exemplified by their line on Quebec or their present terrorist “anti-fascist” tactical line did not fall out of the sky, but is a derivative of their general line, enunciated in Road to Revolution III published in 1971. In this article, which PLP modestly calls “the Communist Manifesto of our time,” PLP announced a whole series of deviations from Marxism-Leninism. Unless PL’s deviations are examined at their source, our critiques of PL remain superficial and incomplete. PL’s present errors flow from this initial (RTR III) gross distortion of Marxism-Leninism.
The document, RTR III, proposes to examine and draw lessons from the four “great revolutions [that] have marked the forward thrust of humanity: the Paris Commune, the Russian revolution, the Chinese revolution and the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (GPCR). Each of these struggles advanced the world revolutionary movement to new heights. Each shed more light than its predecessor on the road away from bourgeois oppression.” Here PLP is comparing four events of a totally different nature and significance.
The GPCR was complex event, not totally understood by Marxist-Leninists as of yet. However, I think that Comrade Enver Hoxcha is 100 percent correct when he says: “The course of events showed that the GPCR was not a revolution, nor great, nor cultural, and in particular not in the least proletarian. It was a palace putsch on an all-China scale ... a farce ...led by non-Marxist elements.” Yet in RTR III we are told the GPCR had “advanced the world revolutionary movement to new heights,” at least two levels higher than the Russian revolution. What it was that led PLP to say that the GPCR “shed more light” than the Russian revolution we shall examine another time.
The Chinese Revolution was one step below the GPCR but was still a level more “advanced” that the Russian revolution in the PLP “history.” Yet the Chinese Revolution, while a great popular victory, was largely a derivative of the Soviet victory over fascism in World War II – that a result of the Russian Revolution. Why does PLP consider the Chinese Revolution more “advanced”? Because it was a peasant revolution and allegedly proved peasants could be won directly to socialism. PLP greatly faults the Bolsheviks for not doing this. (More on this next issue.)
The Paris Commune was important in its day, but as an example and in terms of lessons it was superceded by the Russian Revolution. It is the Russian Revolution that Marxist-Leninists agree is the event that has “marked the forward thrust of humanity,” and has shed the most light on the road ahead. By studying four “ revolutions ” equally instead of relying on the lessons of the Russian Revolution PLP reveals its basic hostility to the Russian Revolution, a hostility which it develops at some length in RTR III.