Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

John Ericson and Charles Loren

The Anti-Marxist-Leninist Line of Progressive Labor

The Alliance Against Soviet Social-Imperialism

...Marx...considered it one of the most indispensable tasks of the working class to probe into the mysteries of international diplomacy in order to counter the diplomatic machinations of the governments or, where this proved impossible, to expose and denounce them. – Franz Mehring, Karl Marx.

Foreign affairs and diplomacy are becoming more important in the current stage of development of the world revolution. It is important to understand them. Yet recent events seem paradoxical when set against old facts. Albania and Yugoslavia, long bitter enemies, have established friendly relations of trade and defense. China is taking many initiatives in foreign affairs.

What is the explanation for such things? The answer lies in the nature of modern revisionism. The class essence of revisionism has been the same from Bernstein and Kautsky to the Khrushchev clique: it is bourgeois ideology and influence within the communist movement. Modern revisionism is the same in essence as previous revisionist trends, but it has a new characteristic–it is revisionism at the head of a socialist state, especially the Soviet Union. Because the modern revisionists have usurped state power in socialist countries, overcoming this revisionism is a more prolonged, more extensive task than defeating the revisionism of Bernstein, Kautsky, and Trotsky. The current developments in world affairs can only be explained from the development of modern revisionism. Let us consider these countries.


Many conditions prepared the emergence of Soviet revisionism.[1] Once a revisionist clique got the leadership of the CPSU, the center of its activities moved from one sphere to a next in a necessary sequence. Roughly, this sequence is:

1. The Khrushchev revisionist clique had first to seize the helm of the Party and the state. This occurred from the death of Stalin in 1953 to the Twentieth Congress of the CPSU in 1956.

2. The Khrushchev revisionist clique had to unfold its ideological program. This occurred from the Twentieth to the Twenty-second Congress. The class nature of imperialism was ignored, and a distinction between “sober” and “mad” imperialists made fundamental. Peaceful coexistence was elevated from an element of the foreign policy of socialist states to a magic trick for dissolving class contradictions in the world. The class nature of capitalist states was ignored, and the possibility of peaceful transition from capitalism to socialism blown up into a big thing. Parliamentary struggle was elevated from a tactical tool of communist parties into a magic road to the dictatorship of the proletariat. Preparation for armed struggle, in theory and in organization, was eliminated.

3. The Khrushchev revisionist clique had to destroy the conscious planning of socialist economy and install capitalist methods and incentives. This occurred from the “economic reforms” of the early 1960’s.

4. The Khrushchev revisionist clique is now contending and collaborating with U.S. imperialism and making plans to destroy socialist China. One sign of this new phase was the Glassboro conference between Johnson and Kosygin.

Of course, individual incidents in one sphere of activity occur when another sphere is dominant. As early as 1959, the Khrushchev clique supported the Indian governments aggression against China. The revisionists are continually rushing from one crisis to another, and they haul out new forms of their lame ideology, for example, the “doctrine of limited sovereignty” to cover their aggression against Czechoslovakia.

But the fundamental development remains. The first steps of the revisionists were to undermine the international communist movement, in political leadership and Marxist-Leninist theory. Diplomacy at that time served that purpose. Khrushchev’s visit to Tito in May 1955 provided a bridge to bourgeois ideology. But now, the Soviet revisionists have developed into social-imperialists. Whereas once they developed revisionist ideology in order to chase rubles later, they now fling their rubles about as a weapon against Marxism-Leninism.


The Soviet social-imperialists want to exploit Eastern Europe as a colonial preserve. Their economic instrument for this is the “Council for Mutual Economic Assistance” (CMEA). With CMEA, the Soviet social-imperialists impose economic “agreements” and “theories” about “international specialization of labor” on the Eastern European countries. They endeavor to convert these countries into suppliers of raw materials and to retard their industry. For example, they make plans for Hungary to export bauxite to the Soviet Union and not to make its own aluminum. They want Czechoslovakia to produce only carburetors while the basic automobile industry is built in the Soviet Union (by Fiat, Cyrus Eaton’s Yale & Towne, and other capitalists). The East European countries are to be supplied with raw materials from the Soviet Union sold at exorbitant prices above the world market.[2]

By means of the Warsaw Treaty, the Soviet jackboot tramples upon the countries of East Europe. At first, the Warsaw Treaty was an instrument of opposition to U.S. aggression in Europe; now, the Soviet social-imperialists strive for agreements with the U.S. and the West European countries (for example, the recent West German-Soviet treaty). Their object is to reduce the military forces left in Europe in order to transfer them to Asia and to encircle China. Over 30 combat-ready divisions of Soviet troops are stationed on the border against China.[3]

But the revisionists of the Eastern European countries represent new national bourgeoisies with interests that do not coincide with those of the Soviet bourgeoisie. There are contradictions among them. The revisionists cannot proceed in harmony; they are not a camp of socialist unity. The Czechoslovak Dubcek clique sought to promote its interests by ties with West Germany; this interfered too much with the aims of the Soviet social-imperialists against Czechoslovakia. With the acquiescence of the U.S., the Soviet Union invaded Czechoslovakia. This invasion triggered the realignments which are going on today.


Modern revisionism first captured state power in Yugoslavia. Khrushchev visited Tito in 1955 in order to prepare to proclaim Yugoslavia a socialist country and draw the Soviet Union near to such “socialism.” Following the Twentieth Congress of the CPSU, the Tito clique helped the Khrushchev clique to realize what was then their common goal–to install revisionist political power and to promote revisionist ideology in the People’s Democracies. Only in Albania were there sufficient Marxist-Leninist forces to repulse this attack. The revisionists imposed a temporary but severe setback on the socialist camp.

The usefulness of the Tito clique in this project is now completed. Yugoslavia has become instead an object of Soviet social-imperialist designs. This was pointed out by an Albanian commentary in June 1969.[4] Bourgeois reports have alluded to many details: Tito has been conferring with the U.S0 ambassador about Soviet threats; army generals suspected of sympathy with the Soviet revisionists have been removed from their posts; Soviet support to opposition groups in the various nationalities of Yugoslavia has been increasing; the Soviet Union has backed Yugoslav emigre circles, including one based in West Berlin; small arms have reportedly been smuggled from Bulgaria to Yugoslav undergrounds.[5] The relation between the Soviet social-imperialists and the Yugoslav rulers is not what it used to be!


The Romanian national rulers have long sought and won a degree of independent development from social-imperialism. Romanian rulers have successfully opposed CMEA, developed their own in-industry, and rejected the role of oil and agricultural supplier to more industrialized revisionist countries. In so doing, Romania has intensified the contradictions within CMEA and slowed down Soviet social-imperialist consolidation of its exploitation of Eastern Europe.

Divergences appeared between the Romanian and Soviet rulers at the same time as the public debate between Marxist-Leninists and modern revisionists–the first half of the 1960’s. For their own interests, the Romanian nationalist rulers took a number of measures in defiance of the Soviet revisionist campaign against Marxist-Leninists:

–at the November 1962 Hungarian Party Congress, they did not join in the chorus of attacks upon Albania and China;

–in November 1962, they published a lengthy editorial on the anniversary of Albanian liberation;

–they signed an expanded trade agreement with Albania on March 7, 1963;

–they renewed diplomatic relations with Albania in March 1963, which had been practically absent since 1961;

–they signed an expanded trade agreement with China on April 8, 1963, also in the middle of open polemics;

–they, alone among the East European revisionist countries, published the Communist Party of China’s Proposal Concerning the General Line of the International Communist Movement on June 20, 1963.

–they opposed a Soviet-sponsored “international conference” planned to “expel” China from the international communist movement;

–on the twentieth anniversary of Albania’s liberation, November 28, 1964, they along with China, Korea, Vietnam and Cuba were the only ruling parties to send delegations to Tirana;

–they refused to attend the Soviet-ordered schismatic “preparatory conference” to expel China again from the international communist movement;

–at the Fifth Albanian Party Congress in November 1966, they along with China, Korea, and Vietnam were the only ruling parties to send delegations.

No one looks to the Romanian leadership for Marxist-Leninist theoretical guidance. These acts merely show they will form necessary alliances against the Soviet Union.

Compare Romania and Bulgaria and observe the difference between a country which causes problems for Soviet social-imperialism and one which provides resources to aid its anti-revolutionary drive. Romania develops its industry instead of shipping agricultural raw materials to the Soviet Union; Bulgaria does the reverse. In 1966 Bulgaria, with almost a 2-to-l trade deficit, did half of its trade turnover with the Soviet Union; Romania, with a balanced trade, had by then cut the Soviet Union’s proportion in its turnover to one-third. Soviet troops roam at will over Bulgarian territory; Romania has rejected an integrated Warsaw Treaty military force.[6]

In fact, Bulgaria is the staging ground for Soviet troops which threaten the Balkans (Romania, Yugoslavia, and Albania).[8] But Romania has forced the Soviet Union to “agree” that the Warsaw Treaty commits Romania to joint action only if aggression comes from the West. A Romanian official confirmed this in a speech given in Peking, “In case imperialism launches aggression in Europe, socialist Romania will fulfill its duties as a Warsaw Treaty state.[7] Like Yugoslavia, Romania does not want to participate in or endorse any repeat performance of Soviet invasion–including invasion of China. It would like other Warsaw Treaty members to insist on the same.


As Soviet social-imperialism ripened, the contradictions among revisionists also developed The role of the other revisionist countries in relation to the Soviet Union has changed. In turn, the relations between these states and Albania and China have changed:

–the Balkan countries are forming a common front against Soviet social-imperialism. Yugoslavia, for example, has cooperated with Albania on a number of measures; it delivered food quota on time despite a poor harvest.[9]

–Romania and China have renewed the tactical cooperation which they had in the early 1960’s. Romanian military delegations have visited China –Korea and China have formed a common front against combined Soviet-Japanese military and naval preparations for war.

These alliances respond to the latest stage in the development of modern revisionism. The Soviet social-imperialists have made no secret of the anti-China thrust of their world maneuvers. To find those with common interests in opposing Soviet aggression, to keep the Soviet social-imperialists from so easily concentrating forces–such is the purpose of the alliances being made by Albania and China.


Such alliances are incomprehensible to infantile leftism. It can only repeat: “The Tito clique introduced modern revisionism; how can one unite with Yugoslavia?” Infantile leftism thereby shows its inability to detach the essence of the question–the revisionist attack on Marxism-Leninism–from the particular circumstances in which modern revisionism first appeared. The Tito clique is no less bourgeois today than it was ten or twenty years ago. But it has been transformed from an important source of revisionist ideology and example within the socialist camp into one among a flock of states in which revisionists rule. Furthermore, it is near Albania and like Albania is under attack from social-imperialism. There now exists the basis for an alliance with regard to one specific question–resisting Soviet social-imperialist aggression.

Such alliances are incomprehensible to infantile leftism. It can only repeat: “The Romanian rulers are revisionists; how can one unite with Romania?” By such logic infantile leftism is driven into deeper difficulties than may be realized at first. The behavior of China today toward Romania, the messages of greetings, consultations, and so forth, are not so different from those of the early 1960’s. Only the stakes are higher today. Is infantile leftism prepared to apply its criticism equally to the earlier situation? It may find the history of the international communist movement disappearing before its eyes and end up by denying that Karl Marx was a communist. He supported Poland versus Russia and the North versus the Confederacy. In the address of the International Workingmen’s Association to Abraham Lincoln, Marx wrote: “We congratulate the American people upon your re-election by a large majority. If resistance to the Slave Power was the reserved watchword of your first election, the triumphant war-cry of your re-election is, Death to Slavery. From the commencement of the titanic American strife the workingmen of Europe felt instinctively that the star-spangled banner carried the destiny of their class.” Of course, Marxists did not get their fundamental theoretical education from the diplomatic addresses of the First International.

Why are alliances necessary? They are necessary because the communist movement does not exist in a vacuum but in a world which is not yet communist and in which there are very many other forces. These forces are contending, and there are contradictions among them. At every moment communists must assess their own forces and the forces which threaten them and judge what alignments are possible and will unite the broadest strength for the immediate needs of the world revolution.

It is possible to disagree on a specific alliance. If there is such disagreement, let it be argued out on the basis of the facts and the criterion that what is best for the advance of the world revolution as a whole is supreme. But if alliances and tactical zig-zags are rejected as a matter of “principle,” such principles are those of infantile leftism and are completely contrary to the methods and goals of Marxism-Leninism. It is possible to criticize the handling of the two aspects of an alliance–its unity and its independence. One may criticize mistakes in handling the latter aspect, such as doing too little to maintain ideological independence among the working class for example. But to suggest that every alliance is impossible because of an insoluble contradiction between the two aspects of unity and independence is to reject alliances on the “principles” of infantile leftism.

Is the world revolution concentrated today in Romania? No. Has the Marxist-Leninist leadership of Albania removed its assessment of the Tito clique’s revisionism and caused confusion thereby? No. Marxist-Leninists continue to expound the basic principles of Marxism-Leninism and to conduct a policy toward Romania and Yugoslavia in accord with the fundamental interests of world revolution.

Marxist-Leninists are communists and see their goal clearly; they also watch closely the historical path toward it. To see the goal clearly, Marxism-Leninism demands clarity on the nature of the state, the theory of proletarian revolution, and the dictatorship of the proletariat. To push along the historical path, one should not expect a straight line to communism. Zigs and zags are inevitable. It will become necessary to admit stages and transitions–not in advance and according to a mechanical formula (this is Menshevism)–but as they are forced on the movement.

The characteristic error of infantile leftism –to reject necessary zigs and zags, alliances, and compromises–has its complement in an empty utterance of “straight-to-the-end” slogans, which betrays a lack of understanding of the basic principles of Marxism-Leninism. What is opportunism? It is subservience and concessions to the bourgeoisie. What is “left” opportunism? It is concessions to the bourgeoisie by a pointless refusal to utilize circumstances. A cover of “pure” r-r-revolutionary slogans is often employed here. If persisted in, infantile leftism is no longer a mistake but becomes “left” opportunism.

The international communist movement has gained much strength in the last 25 years. The dictatorship of the proletariat exists for 700 million people. Weaknesses in theory throughout much of the movement were brought to light, and a great arsenal of polemical and scientific tools were forged to steel Marxist-Leninists.

In contrast, revisionism has ripened into rotten social-imperialism. Its position weakens day by day, and it thrashes about for new means to counteract its losses. But the gains of socialism in Albania and China will be defended. Further, events are moving toward new revolutionary upheavals. Insofar as Marxist-Leninists act correctly, new gains for socialism will be won.


[1] See John Ericson, “Origins of Revisionism in the USSR,” Progressive Labor, October-November 1966.

[2] Peking Review, No. 48, 1968, p. 24; No. 7, 1968, p. 16; No. 25, 1969, p. 17.

[3] New York Times, July 22, 1970, p. 5.

[4] Open Fire on Revisionist Betrayal!, Tirana, 1969, p. 17.

[5] Foreign Report, Sept, 25, 1969; March 5, April 16, October 1, 1970.

[6] Yearbook of International Trade Statistics 1966, United Nations, New York, 1968; Foreign Report, April 9, 1970.

[7] Open Fire on Revisionist Betrayal!, p. 17.

[8] “Speech by Minister Ion Ionita,” New China News Agency, Peking, July 30, 1970.

[9] Foreign Report, July 30, 1970.