First Published: Progressive Labor Vol. 8, No. 3, November 1971
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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Modern revisionism didn’t fall out of the sky at the 20th Congress of the CPSU. One of its main roots goes back to the wrong strategic line that was set forth at the 7th (and last) Congress of the Communist International.
The Congress took place shortly after the annihilation of the German CP. The German party’s destruction had had a profound impact on the International, and the Congress focused on the question of fascism and the impending imperialist and anti-Soviet war. In this historical circumstance, the former strategic line of revolutionary struggle for the dictatorship of the proletariat was set aside and the new strategy of The Broad United People’s Front Against War and Fascism emerged. This line has subsequently dominated the national and international policies of the entire communist movement. All communist parties without exception tried to apply this strategy, and it still pervades the thinking of not only the old revisionist parties, but of most of the so-called anti-revisionist parties and organizations.
The basic estimate that governed the shift to the new strategic line was that the international proletariat was too weak to win state power and thereby prevent or defeat the war and fascist danger by revolution. Therefore, the best possibility was to build a broad front which could be strong enough through mass action and the parliamentary struggle to win a United Front or Popular Front government which would be pro-peace and anti-fascist. This government could then become a transitional form to the dictatorship of the proletariat.
With this strategic line, the struggle for socialism was set aside for a later stage. To advocate the dictatorship of the proletariat became “leftist” because it would split the united front. Thus, the unity of the working class was to be forged around a democratic capitalist program, not a revolutionary communist program. The main report by G. Dimitroff to the Congress never openly calls for unity with the lesser-evil bourgeoisie; in fact it correctly castigates the social democrats for having a line of class collaboration and splitting the working class. Yet the entire thrust of the report is to unite with the social democrats, not around a communist program, but the social democrats’ own class collaborationist program of peace and democracy. Only those social democrats who refused to unite with the communists around their own anti-fascist bourgeois democratic program were attacked as reactionaries. Dimitroff said: “The attitude toward the united front marks the dividing line between the reactionary section of Social Democracy and the sections that are becoming revolutionary.” The touchstone of a revolutionary, then, is no longer the attitude toward the dictatorship of the proletariat, but the willingness to unite with Communists around a bourgeois democratic program. Unity at what price? Listen to Dimitroff:
The working class must achieve the unity of its trade unions. In vain do some reformist trade union leaders attempt to frighten the workers with the specter of trade union democracy destroyed by the interference of the Communist Parties in the affairs of the trade unions, by the existence of Communist fractions within the trade unions.
To depict us Communists as opponents of trade union democracy is sheer nonsense. We advocate and consistently hold the right of the trade unions to decide their problems for themselves. We are even prepared to forego the creation of Communist fractions in the trade unions if that is necessary in the interests of trade union unity.
Here Dimitroff assails the reformists (social democrats) for lying about the communist attitude toward union democracy and then gives substance to the charge by asserting his willingness to abandon communist fractions in the union. This means the willingness to forsake the communist goal of socialist revolution. Is it any wonder that the CPUS failed to build a communist base in the C.I.O. even as it led the historic struggle to organize the industrial workers? By mis-educating communist cadres, members and supporters to believe that it was OK to set aside, abandon, or subordinate the struggle for socialism for the sake of a broad united front for peace, democracy, and economic reforms meant to spread the bourgeois ideology of pacifism, liberalism, and reformism. Thus, the 7th Congress line set the CPUS on the road to supporting FDR and even to liquidating the CP in form, as it did in content. William Z. Foster’s fight against Browder after W.W. II never resulted in a criticism of the 7th Congress and so revisionism was never really dealt a fundamental blow.
The 7th Congress correctly indicated that the imperialists needed war because they were in a crisis, wanted to redivide the world for imperialist plunder and wanted to forestall the growth of the revolutionary movement by smashing the communists and attaching the Soviet Union. Yet the Congress maintained that war was not inevitable. While the proletariat was not strong enough to win state power, it was argued that it was strong enough in an alliance with a broad people’s front for peace and democracy to block war. But how is it possible to block war without overthrowing the ruling class? Only by arriving at the conclusion that the ruling class is split into two: one part that is against war, the other pro-war. Hence, the United People’s Front lines up with the liberal bourgeoisie against the reactionary, pro-war bourgeoisie. This was the very line the social democrats advanced to justify their bloc with the bourgeois democratic parties.
Those communists who held that imperialism inevitably breeds war and that only revolution could defeat the class enemy were attacked as “ultra-leftists.” For example Dimitroff said:
In addition to the openly reactionary leaders who disrupt the unity of action of the international proletariat in defense of peace there are also “Left” phrasemongers who propagate fatalistic views to the effect that war is inevitable. Since the fundamental cause of war is capitalism, then, they say, so long as the latter exists, it is impossible to avoid war, and it is hopeless and useless to fight for the maintenance of peace. Such people are out and out doctrinaires, if not simply imposters.
Here within the 7th Congress line we see Khrushchev’s revisionist thesis at the 20th Congress that war is not fatalistically inevitable under imperialism... Historical experience has amply demonstrated that the imperialists will always resort when necessary to war to defend their vital class interests.
As the revolutionary movement develops, as millions of workers are won to the goal of revolution and socialism and to the leadership of the communist party, the capitalist class will see the maneuverability it enjoys under bourgeois democracy drastically reduced and will be forced to consider fascism as a means of keeping itself in power. In this sense, an attempt by the ruling class to establish fascism sooner or later is inevitable.
Fascism is not a revolution by the petty bourgeoisie, nor is it a state above the bourgeoisie and proletariat, nor is it the usurpation of power by a fascist political party representing a minor sector of the bourgeoisie against the will of the dominant monopoly capitalists. Fascism is the open terroristic rule of the same small financial oligarchy that had previously maintained its power by bourgeois democratic methods.
Fascism represents a qualitative change in the way in which the monopoly capitalists exercise class dictatorship over the working class, the petty bourgeoisie and other sections of the people. While ruling class force and violence are the daily way of life under bourgeois democracy (strikebreaking, frameups, police brutality, national guard assaults, etc.) nevertheless the ruling class relies mainly upon bourgeois democratic illusions, reforms, and bribery to minimize opposition to its policies and to keep the revolutionary forces in check. Under fascism, the ruling class does not tolerate any opposition. It swiftly moves to jail and kill militant fighters, especially revolutionary communists.
There is nothing inevitable about the triumph of fascism. On the contrary: the defeat of fascism is as certain as the defeat of the ruling class and all its forms of state power. Fascism can be met head-on and smashed by the working class and its allies. It is a form of bourgeois state power and must be combatted as such. Although the tactics of revolutionary struggle against the bourgeoisie under “democracy” and under fascism may differ somewhat, the strategic outlook of communists and workers must always be to fight for the dictatorship of the proletariat and socialism. The only solution to the fake choice between “democratic” and fascist bosses, the only way to defeat both “democratic” capitalism and fascist capitalism is to overthrow the entire ruling class.
History shows that fascism and fascist wars intensify the masses’ class hatred and willingness to smash the ruling class. Communist movements can grow by leaps and bounds under fascism. Communists should welcome the opportunity to lead the masses in struggle against fascism–not as champions of bourgeois democracy, but as communists, revolutionaries who seek the defeat of the imperialist system and the victory of international socialism.
Numerous examples of the disastrous effects of the 7th Congress line abound in every country of the world. Castro had a clear field in leading the struggle to overthrow Batista because the Cuban communists had long discredited themselves for having developed a united front with Batista, incredible as it may seem, in the name of fighting against fascism. Bias Roca, leader of the Cuban communists, said at the party’s 3rd Congress on Jan. 1, 1939:
We must impress upon the people the need for a positive attitude toward Batista, and do our utmost to support his progressive endeavors. We are saying unequivocally at this moment that the first task of the revolutionary movement is to struggle for national unity based on a democratic program. Faced with the advance of Hitlerism and fascism, with the possibility of a German-Italian victory in Spain, the threat of the Rome Berlin Axis against America, Cuba must work in close collaboration with the democratic governments of the world and in particular with that of the United States.
The Spanish CP’s popular front strategy facilitated the victory of Franco. The Spanish workers amply demonstrated their revolutionary aspirations when they seized power in Barcelona under anarchist leadership during the civil war. But revolutionary aspirations were decried by the Spanish communists as “left adventurism.” Dolores Ibarruri addressing the Central Committee of the Spanish CP. on May 23, 1938 said:
There are some who say that our 13 point program will win us the war but lose us the revolution. I can not help smiling... We declare in the face of their unjust attacks that here in Spain we are fighting neither for libertarian communism, nor for socialism, nor for dictatorship of the proletariat. We are fighting for a parliamentary democratic republic...
They fought for capitalism and lost the fight against fascism as well as the revolution in Spain, in Cuba, in Italy, in France and indeed throughout the world.
The experiences of the French communists in developing the United Front strategy is particularly noteworthy in as much as French CP was held up as a model at the 7th Congress for all parties to follow.
The French Communist Party (PCF) put the UF line into practice before the 7th Congress. At the Congress Dimitroff said:
France, as we know, is a country in which the working class is setting an example to the whole international proletariat of how to fight fascism. The French Communist Party is setting an example to all sections of the Comintern of how the tactics of the United Front should be applied; the Socialist workers are setting an example of what the Social-Democratic workers of other capitalist countries should now be doing in the fight against fascism.
Frightened by a mass pro-fascist demonstration in February 1934 and by ultra-reactionary trends in the government, the PCF negotiated a pact with the Socialist and Radical parties. The Socialists advocated a program similar to Roosevelt’s “New Deal.” The Radicals had a program closer to Herbert Hoover’s Republicans. In his speech to the Congress Thorez spelled out the conditions of the. pact:
In order to conclude the pact, we had agreed to a concession in the manner of limiting criticisms. We subscribed to the following text: “During this common action, the two parties will reciprocally abstain from attacks and criticism of the bodies and functionaries loyally participating in the action. However, each party, outside the joint action, retains its independence to develop its own propaganda without insulting or outraging the other Party, and to ensure its own recruitment of members.
In other words the communists would forsake its ideological struggle against social democracy and abandon the workers’ struggle for the dictatorship of the proletariat. In a word, they would cease to be communists in practice. Instead, the PCF would strive to be the best bourgeois democratic antifascist nationalists. Thorez told the Congress:
We do not intend to let fascism usurp the flag of the Great (bourgeois) Revolution, nor the Marseillaise, that hymn of the soldiers of the Convention.
The first action of this United Front bloc was a joint mass demonstration on July 14, 1935, Bastille Day. In this demonstration the PCF symbolically forsook its traditional red flags and marched under the bourgeois national tri-color flag and instead of singing the “Internationale” they sang the French national anthem.
In May 1936 the PCF-Socialist-Radical “Front Populaire” won overwhelmingly in the parliamentary elections. The first “united front government” after the 7th Congress took power. Its initial task was to stem the tide of a massive workers’ movement that was sweeping the country. A general strike prevailed. Workers were seizing the factories. The bosses were in a panic. The “united front government” stepped into the breach, on the one hand holding out the promise of a few fake reforms to induce the workers to go back to work, on the other hand using the police to beat the workers into submission. The United Front government saved the day for the capitalists.
The three United Front governments, two headed by Blum, the Socialist, and one by Chantemps, the Radical, lasted almost two years. Some of their more famous achievements in service of the capitalist class were:
1. a devaluation of the franc causing great hardships to workers, farmers, and the elderly.
2. a massive rearmament program to strengthen the bourgeois army;
3. giving Hitler the green light to take over Austria;
4. maintaining imperialist oppression of the people in Indo-China, Algeria, Morocco, and other French colonial states in Africa and other lands;’
5. adoption of compulsory arbitration of strikes;
6. assisting the fascists in Spain with an active blockage of arms for the anti-fascists.
The minister of war under the “united front government was Daladier, a Radical. In April 1938 the capitalists dumped the communist “united fronters” and put Daladier fully in charge. He soon became famous for his trip to Munich where Czechoslovakia was handed to Hitler. It is less well known that scarcely a year and a half after the end of the “united front government” Daladier was ordering the wholesale arrest of communists. The PCF was banned, its papers suppressed, its functionaries kicked out of parliament, and thousands of its members thrown into concentration camps, not by the open fascists, not by the Nazis, but by so-called friends of the united front.
During the anti-fascist war the communists played the leading role in organizing armed resistance. The line of the united front dominated the struggle: the French working class was mobilized to reform fascism by restoring bourgeois democracy rather than to squash both fascist and “democratic” capitalism and establish socialism. After the anti-fascist victory another “united front government” with communists was established, this time headed by General DeGaulle. The price for admission was communists’ agreement to get the workers to hand over their arms. Having been ideologically prepared only to restore bourgeois democracy, the workers acceded to the old United Front deal. Soon after the workers were disarmed, the bourgeoisie dumped Thorez out of the government.
Thus the experience of France (the very model of a modern major united front) shows that:
1. the capitalists welcome ̶communists” of the Thorez stripe into united front governments to help them suppress and disarm the workers.
2. the “united front government” is just as much a form of the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie as is a fascist government.
3. the line of the united front has led the French CP down the path of revisionism and nationalism. The post-World War II experiences have substantiated the conclusion that the French CP has become the main prop of the capitalist class within the working class. The events of May 1968 alone have revealed the depths to which the French CP has sunk.
Two contradictions affected the development of the Second World War. One was the contradiction between the international proletariat and the imperialists and the other was the contradiction among the various imperialist powers. Hence the war had both revolutionary and counter-revolutionary aspects.
The basic error of the communists during this period was the failure to differentiate between these two contradictions. Instead of relying upon the main contradiction, the world proletariat vs. the imperialists, Stalin, the architect of the 7th Congress, chartered the global strategy of the united front with the “democratic” imperialists against the fascist powers.
In “Road to Revolution II” we tried to justify this alliance by saying that a temporary unity could be established because both the Soviets and allied imperialists fought to crush the Axis powers but for different reasons. This was incorrect. The revolutionary forces should have fought the fascist powers with socialist banners and also should have fought to take state power from the “democratic” imperialists. Even the tactical unity was a sham unity (the delay of the second front till after the victory of Stalingrad which was the turning point of the war). Because the strategy was not based on revolutionary goals, the Soviet masses were mobilized behind nationalist banners and the international proletariat behind bourgeois democratic banners. The fascists were defeated tactically, but not strategically. The same fascist ruling class is still in power in West Germany, Japan, and Italy, but now it maintains its rule with bourgeois democratic forms. Fascism is still an ever-present danger. Nationalism, acting as a substitute for revolutionary internationalism, dulled the class consciousness of the Soviet masses and helped pave the road for the Soviet Union itself to become a fascist-imperialist state.
In Eastern Europe the revisionists took over because the masses had not been won to Marxism-Leninism. Most of the present resistance to Soviet Imperialist domination in these countries comes from the right and is therefore a sham resistance.
In Italy and France, despite the heroic leadership of communists in the anti-fascist struggle, the masses had not been educated for socialist revolution. Hence Thorez and Togliatti could make a deal to surrender the people’s weapons in order to enter post-war popular front coalition governments from which they were soon booted out.
By adhering to the strategy of the dictatorship of the proletariat, the international communist movement could have emerged everywhere from the Second World War with a greatly strengthened mass base and party. The false thesis that the proletariat can make useful tactical alliances with strategic class enemies lies at the root of the strategy of the broad united front with the liberal bourgeoisie. This concept inevitably leads to revisionism because in order to justify the alliance to the masses, communists must create illusions about “good” imperialists, “good” bourgeois nationalists, and ”good” revisionists. The bourgeoisie’s conditions for the United Front also force communists to set aside the strategy for socialist revolution (and thereby play down the development of socialist class consciousness) because the bourgeoisie will not make an alliance to destroy its own class.
But it is argued that where the 7th Congress line was correctly understood and practiced–as in China –the revolution triumphed. Of course the great revolution in China will go down as an historic milestone in proletarian revolutionary history just as the great October revolution and Paris Commune do. But this does not mean that there were no serious errors in strategic outlook in the Chinese revolution as there were in the Paris Commune and October revolutions. The Commune has taught revolutionary Marxist-Leninists the necessity for smashing the state power of the bourgeoisie and the need for the working class to establish its own state power. The October Revolution has taught us the necessity for winning the peasants (the rural proletariat) to the banners of socialism in order to consolidate the proletarian revolution. The Chinese revolution has confirmed that lesson and also taught us that we must not set aside the dictatorship of the proletariat for an alliance with the national bourgeoisie.
Mao’s celebrated thesis on New Democracy is a combination of Lenin’s strategy of a worker-peasant alliance to complete the bourgeois democratic revolution in order to advance the socialist revolution and the application of the 7th Congress line of the United Front.
This can be seen by the following ideas set forth by Mao:
It would be sheer illusion to try to build a socialist society on the ruins of the colonial, semi-colonial and semi-feudal order without a new democratic state... without a thoroughgoing bourgeois democratic revolution of a new type led by the Communist Party.
Why do we say our revolution in the present period is bourgeois democratic in nature? We mean that the target of this revolution is not the bourgeoisie in general but national and feudal oppression, that the measures taken in this revolution are in general directed not at abolishing but at protecting private property and that as a result of this revolution the working class will be able to build up its strength to lead China in the direction of socialism, though capitalism will still be enabled to grow to an appropriate extent for a fairly long time.
These ideas flow directly out of Lenin’s strategy. The United Front 7th Congress line is reflected in Mao’s alliance with the national bourgeoisie and conception of the new democratic state as a joint dictatorship of the working class, peasants, intelligentsia and national bourgeoisie, led by the working class. The new democratic state was not a socialist state, not a form of the dictatorship of the proletariat but a transitional form. Mao said:
Thus the numerous types of state systems in the world can be reduced to three basic kinds according to the class character of their political power: (1) republics under bourgeois dictatorship; (2) republics under the dictatorship of the proletariat; (3) republics under the joint dictatorship of several revolutionary classes.
Mao then indicated that the first kind were the old capitalist states, the second are the socialist states and the third kind is the transitional form of state for revolutions in colonial and semi-colonial areas. Mao clearly asserts that the new democratic state is not a form of the dictatorship of the proletariat. He said:
Some people are suspicious and think that once in power, the Communist Party will follow Russia’s example and establish the dictatorship of the proletariat and a one-party system. Our answer is that a new-democratic state is different in principle from a socialist state under the dictatorship of the proletariat.
It is our view that there is no such state power as a joint dictatorship of the proletariat, the peasants, the intelligentsia and the national bourgeoisie. This thesis contradicts the Marxist-Leninist analysis that the state is a system of armed force, prisons, etc., an instrument of a ruling class to oppress or suppress other classes. The joint dictatorship thesis comes very close to the Khrushchev thesis of a state of the whole people.
Mao confuses the governmental form of the dictatorship of the proletariat with the class essence of state power. In Russia the dictatorship of the proletariat took the governmental form of an alliance between the workers and peasants. (Initially the left Socialist Revolutionaries were represented in the government.) The dictatorship of the proletariat means that the proletariat controls the armed force necessary to suppress hostile class (bourgeois) opposition to carrying out policies that are in its class interest. When the Soviet Union was a socialist state the government and state apparatus (after the ouster of the Socialist Revolutionaries) was under a one-party monopoly. In the thinking of the international communist movement and the international proletariat, a one-party system (the Communist Party) became identical with the concept of the dictatorship of the proletariat. This was a grave mistake. It narrowed the base of the dictatorship of the proletariat and confused and inhibited the development of proletarian democracy.
Under the dictatorship of the proletariat the Communists must lead (but not monopolize or dominate) the working class (industrial and agricultural, urban and rural) in its alliance with other class friends (middle peasants, and other petty bourgeoisie, revolutionary intellectuals, professionals and students).
New Democracy, as put into practice by the Chinese–an alliance of classes led by the working class– was not a transitional form to the socialist revolution but in fact a form of the dictatorship of the proletariat. That is why we maintain that the Chinese revolution established the dictatorship of the proletariat in China even though it differed in governmental form from the one-party system in the Soviet Union.
Should the working class ally with the national bourgeoisie to develop a broad base in order to defeat imperialism and establish socialism? Mao’s analysis of the national bourgeoisie is that it has dual aspects, both a revolutionary side and counter-revolutionary side. Therefore he maintained that the working class should unite with the revolutionary (anti-imperialist, anti-feudal) aspect and struggle against the reactionary (anti-working class) aspect. This appears to be very dialectical, but is it? All phenomena have dual aspects, but dialectical materialism teaches revolutionaries to gear their strategy and tactics to the main aspect. Historical experiences have amply confirmed the fact that the main aspect of the national bourgeoisie is its own class interest which is directly opposed to the working class. Communists must not sacrifice that long range fundamental interests of the working class for what appears to be an immediate gain. This is the root of much opportunism. Mao incorrectly maintained that the contradiction between the working class and the bourgeoisie could be non-antagonistic, could be adjusted, if only handled correctly. Mao said:
Of course there are still contradictions among the classes, notably the contradiction between labor and capital... But throughout the stage of new democracy, these contradictions, these differing demands, will not grow and transcend the demands which all have in common and should not be allowed to do so; they can be adjusted. (Vol. III, p. 280)
... the people have a powerful state apparatus in their hands–there is no need to fear rebellion by the national bourgeoisie. (Vol. IV, p. 419)
That was said in June 1949, but Mao continued to say more than seven years after the victory of the revolution that the contradiction between the workers and bourgeoisie could be adjusted, if correctly handled, and that the bourgeoisie could be won to socialism by a peaceful transformation (On Correct Handling of Contradictions). No need to fear the bourgeoisie, it’s a friend! Here we see how the opportunist line of the 7th Congress, which paved the way for the CPUS to prettify the U.S. ruling class, affected the thought of Mao. By making alliances with class enemies, the working class is disarmed ideologically and politically and undermined organizationally.
The revisionists were able to seize complete control of the party and stage, not because they were all “hidden spies,” “scabs,” or “traitors,” but because of systematic opportunist and revisionist policies. The thesis of usurpation by hidden agents to explain Khrushchevism and Chinese revisionism is insulting to the intelligence of the masses. Its purpose is to serve as a cover for the lack of criticism and self-criticism of and by the “infallible” leader, Chairman Mao or Stalin. The effect is to undermine valuable past contributions of Mao or Stalin and to perpetuate serious mistaken policies that are still being made by revolutionaries, not only in China, but around the globe.
In April, 1955, 600 delegates representing the governments of 29 Asian and African countries assembled in Bandung, Indonesia for the first Asian-African Conference in history. The Conference represented the epitome of the 7th Congress’s broad united front against imperialism and for peaceful coexistence. Included at the conference were governments in open alliance with U.S. imperialism in NATO and SEATO, Japan, as well as so-called neutralists (India, Burma, Indonesia, Egypt, etc.) and socialist China. (A sort of Afro-Asian United Nations, the UN being even a broader united front, if only China were admitted.)
The Conference was hailed as historic, Khrushchev said that it “struck a powerful blow at the plans of the colonialists and aggressors.” Liu Shao-chi said in the report to the CCP’s 8th Congress that:
...there are a number of countries in Asia and Africa which have shaken off the colonial bondage and achieved national independence. These nationally independent states, our great neighbor India included, have a total population of more than 600 million, or one fourth of the human race.
Here Liu, speaking for the central committee, including Chairman Mao, makes two mistakes: 1. none of these countries had shaken off imperialism, and 2. he ignores the class differences within the countries and speaks only in quantitative terms. Liu continues:
The overwhelming majority of these countries are all pursuing a peaceful, neutral policy.
Here the mistaken idea that neutralism is an anti-imperialist force is set forth. Within a short period of lime the great neutralist friend of China, Nehru, representing of course the independent, neutral, anti-imperialist national bourgeoisie, was to engage China in an aggressive border war.
For the sake of the broad united front, Chou En-Lai in his report back from this Conference even prettified Japanese imperialism (after all, aren’t they in contradiction with U.S. imperialism?) Chou said:
Of all Asian and African countries, Japan is developed more than others. If it will give up its old practice of colonialism, Japan too can provide technical assistance to other countries in Asia and Africa.
Here Chou reduces Japanese imperialism to a matter of mistaken governmental policy that can be set aside with a change of outlook by the Japanese ruling class. Is this not a reflection of Khrushchev’s thesis that the imperialists can change their nature and become reasonable? Lenin castigated Kautsky for just this kind of revisionist nonsense!
The Bandung (United Front) Conference proved to be as much an instrument in preventing imperialist aggression as the United Nations. Both formations arose with the help of communist parties who mistakenly thought that a united front with class enemies could be useful to the international proletariat. Such formations that are dominated by imperialists, revisionists, and bourgeois nationalists should be exposed and opposed by revolutionaries in order to alert the masses as to the class nature of these organizations. To ignore the class struggle within all countries, to characterize bourgeois governments as representing the aspirations of the oppressed and exploited masses, and to perpetuate the illusion that these bourgeois governments had actually broken out of the imperialist system and could even build socialism without the dictatorship of the proletariat is to deceive the peoples of the world.
The Bandung Conference line, the continuation of the 7th Congress line, has never been repudiated. Indeed it is being pursued more vigorously than ever. Only during the Cultural Revolution was the Bandung line of unity with and support for bourgeois nationalist governments challenged. Liu Shao-chi was castigated by Red Guards for having united with Sukarno. But Liu was only pursuing Mao’s line.
Some people may believe that such policies as Bandung are merely useful diplomatic maneuvers to overcome isolation, but in our view isolation from the class enemies of the exploited and oppressed masses is not a bad thing. The concern of proletarian revolutionaries must always be how best to serve the revolutionary interests of the international working class. This can never be done by regarding the class enemy of one sector of the international proletariat as a class friend of another sector. The class enemies of the proletariat within every country must be regarded as the class enemy of every ML party in the world.
In this we are guided by the fundamental communist principle that was proclaimed by Marx and Engels in the Communist Manifesto:
The Communists are distinguished from other working class parties by this only: 1) In the national struggles of the proletarians of the different countries, they point out and bring to the front the common interests of the entire proletariat, independent of all nationality. 2) In the various stages of development which the struggle of the working class has to pass through, they always and everywhere represent the interests of the movement as a whole.
This is the real guide to proletarian internationalism. Only the reactionary bourgeois ideology of nationalism which divides the proletariat along national lines could mislead revolutionary communists to advance the theory and practice of united action with the so-called lesser-evil imperialists, lesser-evil revisionists, lesser-evil bourgeoisie.
In rejecting united action with the Soviet revisionists (a line which was supported by the so-called independent Marxist-Leninists, Ho Chi Minh, Kim II Sung, and Fidel Castro) the CCP correctly declared that such a course would be to deceive the peoples of the world. Peoples Daily and Red Flag on Nov. 11, 1965 declared:
Revolution, the fight against imperialism and the fight against revisionism all have right on their side. Beyond all doubt, it is perfectly right to discard these decaying old revisionist groups and build new revolutionary parties. We resolutely support all the forces in the world that persevere in Marxism-Leninism and revolution. It is our lofty proletarian internationalist duty to strengthen united action with all Marxist-Leninists forces in the world.
But how can the CCP strengthen united action with revolutionary Marxist-Leninists when they have united action with the class enemy of the revolutionaries? Is it any less of a deception on the peoples of the world to have unity with so-called lesser-evil revisionists, imperialists, and bourgeois nationalists? Lesser-evils, lesser deception? No! It is precisely those liberal imperialists, these so-called independent revisionists, those so-called progressive nationalists who are misleading the revolutionary masses. Therefore they must be opposed and exposed by genuine Marxist-Leninists because otherwise they will continue to mislead the revolutionary masses. The struggle to further expose and oppose Soviet revisionism must continue but Soviet revisionism is long discredited and no longer plays a vanguard role. The anti-revisionist struggle is international in scope and cannot be confined to the Soviet bosses alone. Indeed, this was never the case. The new and more dangerous center of revisionism has now shifted to Peking!
Millions of oppressed people throughout the world understand that imperialism cannot solve their problems and that an all-out struggle to overthrow the capitalists and win socialism is the order of the day. Modern revisionism acts in direct contradiction to the needs of the masses because it seeks an accommodation with imperialism. Under the guise of “live and let live,” it implements a policy of “exploit and let exploit.”
However, because of the masses’ class hatred against imperialism, their rebelliousness, and their desire for socialism, modern revisionism requires a militant cover for its love-affair with the bosses. Every opportunist move made by the revisionists is carried out to the tune of “advancing the revolution.”
The revisionists’ favorite left cover of all is armed struggle. Marxist-Leninists believe that revolution and socialism can come about only as the result of violent, protracted class war against the world bourgeoisie. But Marxist-Leninists also believe that the primary aspect of this war is the ideological outlook of the masses who are waging it. Who is leading the struggle? What ideas are the masses won to? What are the goals of the struggle? Revolutionaries believe that unless the long-range goal of the struggle is the dictatorship of the proletariat and socialism and unless the masses are won to fight for this goal, the struggle will inevitably become nationalist and be taken over by bourgeois leadership.
The sharpest recent example of armed struggle conducted on an opportunist basis was the Tet offensive of 1968. Tens of thousands of heroic Vietnamese workers and peasants willingly gave their lives in this magnificent attack against U.S. imperialism. They proved that the united struggle of oppressed people can defeat the bosses. Yet this struggle did not succeed in driving imperialism out of Vietnam, because the primary goal of the Vietnamese revisionist “leaders” was to “force” U.S. imperialism to the bargaining table. The best fighters in Vietnam were sacrificed so that Vietnamese opportunists could haggle out a deal that will allow the imperialists to remain in Vietnam.
The militant-sounding “foco” theory of Fidel and Che that substitutes the isolated action of a few elite guerrilla bands for the protracted struggle of masses for socialism has done great harm to the revolutionary process in Latin America. On the one hand, he is a loyal supporter of Soviet revisionism, an admirer of Allende’s peaceful transition to “socialism” in Chile, and a friend of the “revolutionary” military junta in Peru.
In our own country, the ruling class constantly pushes individuals or groups who dress up in militant disguises but who are opportunists at heart. The Weathermen threw bombs at university campus workers but were all for the Paris negotiations and various domestic power-sharing schemes like “community control of the police.”
Guided by narrow nationalism (“We won’t criticize you openly if you don’t criticize us openly”) the CCP revisionists have consistently shunned the ideological struggle against the opportunists (Castro, the North Vietnamese sellouts, Sihanouk) and against the so-called “independent” Marxist-Leninists (Kim Il Sung). The Mao leadership has failed to provide genuine leadership in the struggle against international revisionism in all its forms.
On the contrary: with their ping-pong diplomacy, their readiness to deal directly with U.S. imperialism, and Mao’s reference to Nixon as a “relatively good” imperialist, they are in effect providing leadership to the class traitors and revisionists of the world.
The strategic outlook that must guide the international communist movement must be the ideological, political, and armed struggle for the dictatorship of the proletariat. This is what differentiates communists from revisionists and centrists. This strategic outlook is based on the analysis that the main contradiction in the world is between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie. The main content of our epoch is determined by the main contradiction. Hence we live in the epoch of the rise of world socialism and the overthrow of world capitalism. Such an epoch will inevitably be full of sharp class conflict, wars, fascism and revolution.
Formerly Marxist-Leninists spoke of the anti-imperialist struggles of the oppressed peoples of Asia, Africa and Latin America as bourgeois democratic revolutions and national liberation revolutions. Historic experience has shown that the epoch of bourgeois democratic revolutions ended when the entire globe became imperialist-dominated and the October revolution opened up the epoch of the proletarian revolution. Not a single liberation struggle has succeeded in breaking out of the imperialist system. Only the revolutionary struggles of the Chinese and Albanian peoples which were led by the proletariat and established the dictatorship of the proletariat temporarily broke the imperialist bonds. However, the alliance with the national bourgeoisie and the failure to develop the socialist class consciousness of the masses as to the socialist nature of the revolutions paved the road to revisionism.
The struggles of the oppressed masses in Asia, Africa, and Latin America are an integral part of the proletarian world revolution. These revolutionary struggles must not be regarded as a reserve of the proletarian revolution, nor as an ally of the proletarian revolution; they must be understood as being as much an expression of the proletarian revolution as that of the proletariat within the imperialist countries. The industrial and agricultural proletariats of the world are class brothers and sisters.
Only the proletariat can destroy the old relations of production and establish new relations of production–a new mode of production, socialism. Only a socialist revolution can destroy imperialism! This must be the communist slogan everywhere.
Communist strategy must guide communist tactics. Tactics should not contradict strategic aims. Hence the proletariat must unite with its class friends and never its class enemies. This is true both nationally and internationally. Unity with class enemies undermines the proletarian revolution.
The unity of the industrial and agricultural proletariats of the world must be the foundation for the broader alliance that must be forged with middle peasants, revolutionary students and intellectuals, and other petty bourgeois forces who can be won to the banners of socialism. As Marx and Engels pointed out in the Communist Manifesto, the role of the proletariat must be to appeal to their (the petty bourgeoisie’s) future class interests.
The contradiction between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie is always antagonistic. The future class interests of the bourgeoisie are always linked to the growth and maintenance of the imperialist system. Hence this contradiction can never be adjusted, nor can the bourgeoisie be peacefully transformed, as Mao projected in his strategy of New Democracy.
The failure to repudiate the strategy of the 7th Congress and its variants such as new democracy has caused and continues to cause grave harm to the revolutionary struggle. The Indonesian communists suffered grave losses as a result of Aidit’s (Mao’s) line of unity with the national bourgeoisie, of state power being jointly shared in a coalition government. The Vietnamese communists have abandoned the dictatorship of the proletariat for the sake of the broad united front for a neutralist, coalition government with the national bourgeoisie. The United Front with the national bourgeoisie has also wreaked havoc with the Indian communist movement. Coalition governments with the class enemy are disastrous for the working class. Mao’s offer of a coalition government with Chiang after the defeat of Japanese imperialism was rejected by the Chinese bourgeoisie and its U.S. imperialist sponsors. But just as the working class makes errors so can the bourgeoisie miscalculate. Over-estimating their strength, they launched civil war. Instead of wiping out the communists, they were wiped out. This was a good thing. The imperialists also draw lessons from their mistakes. Nowadays they are all too willing to go along with coalition governments as an alternative to the dictatorship of the proletariat.
In the U.S., the 7th Congress line long ago reduced the once militant communist movement to the status of a mild “left wing” for the Democratic Party. The Black Panther Party took over the United Front Against Fascism line, openly using Dimitroff as a text. They had a united front with the revisionist Communist Party. They filled their paper with stories of fascist attacks. They urged support for bourgeois politicians who work for community control of the police. They relied upon revisionist lawyers whom they hailed as revolutionary heroes. The subsequent demise of the Panthers is a consequence of their adherence to revisionism. Now the BPP advocates black capitalism.
Marxist-Leninists don’t reject the concept of unity. We champion it. We strive to unite the broad masses to struggle against their class enemies, but not to build a united front with class enemies. Therefore we reject the united front with the trade union mis-leadership, but strive to unite the masses of workers against them and the bosses. To unite with and support the Meanys, the Reuthers, and the Harry Bridges would be to deceive the workers. We also reject a united front with the misleaders of the black workers, whether they are open ruling class apologists like Wilkins, King, Young, or “militant” nationalists like the BPP leaders, but we do strive to unite the black masses in struggles against the ruling class. To unite with black misleaders also would be to deceive the people. Only racists and nationalists would refuse to unite with white misleaders but would unite with black misleaders.
Communists strive to unite the masses in class struggles around their immediate needs and interests. We fight for immediate gains and defend those reforms that the working class has won in battles against the ruling class. We fight to defend the rights of the workers to openly organize, demonstrate and struggle to win tactical victories of either a defensive or offensive nature. But we will not sacrifice the revolutionary struggle for socialism for any illusory immediate gain. On the contrary we utilize the immediate tactical struggles to raise the revolutionary, socialist consciousness of the workers, and to build the revolutionary party. We do this in the only way possible, by bringing communist ideas to the people, and by drawing lessons from actual experiences. To fail to bring Marxism-Leninism, the banner of socialism, to the masses means reliance on spontaneity and a strengthening of bourgeois ideology, as Lenin pointed out.
We communists are not purists. We do not unite only with those who support Marxism-Leninism, or the dictatorship of the proletariat. We unite with the masses on the basis of their immediate contradictions with the ruling class, and through the particular class contradiction we strive to raise their understanding and help them grasp the general class contradiction, nationally and internationally. Workers learn that it is not only our own boss who is our enemy but a class of bosses that is the enemy of all workers. Workers learn that our brothers and sisters are not just our fellow workers in our own shop or industry but our brothers and sisters are a class of workers throughout the country and throughout the world. Within all workers, including communists, bourgeois ideas have deep roots. It can not be otherwise for we are materialists and our ideas will reflect the class nature of the world in which we were born. The struggle to overcome the heritage of bourgeois ideology will exist throughout the entire epoch of the transition from world capitalism to world socialism and from world socialism to world communism. Therefore to think that it is possible to build unity among the masses only on the basis of pure communism is unadulterated idealism. It is precisely because we are conscious of the depths of bourgeois ideology that we struggle hard against it, within ourselves and among the masses. We will always strive to unite with the masses, no matter how ideologically backward, in all those battles that are directed at the class enemy, and that can further the revolutionary interests of the workers.