Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Martin Cornell

Reject the Theory of Three Worlds!

First Published: Discussion Bulletin #7, October 29, 1979.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
Copyright: This work is in the Public Domain under the Creative Commons Common Deed. You can freely copy, distribute and display this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit the Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line as your source, include the url to this work, and note any of the transcribers, editors & proofreaders above.

Alan Ward’s article in Discussion Bulletin No. 1, “Three Worlds”, is a cleverly written document liberally studded with quotations from Marxist-Leninist classics together with a three page list of references which, he suggests, should be used as “a “bibliography of works” for anyone interested in a proper understanding of these questions.”

It is indeed a very selective bibliography.

Most notable by their absence are the Chinese polemics against Krushchovite revisionism which have a great deal to say about “these questions” and would, no doubt add greatly to our “proper understanding” of them. Also absent are the series of statements made by comrade Mao Tsetung during the 1960’s and in 1970 dealing specifically with international questions. The reason for this is precisely because this material is in stark contradiction to the theory of three worlds. At the end of this article, I have compiled an “alternative” bibliography which I urge comrades to study.


Leninism holds that there are four fundamental contradictions in the era of imperialism and the proletarian revolution. These four contradictions have always been the starting point of Marxist-Leninist analysis of the world situation.

Up until 1917, the three basic contradictions of our era were:

* The contradiction between labour and capital– the proletariat and the bourgeoisie,
* The contradiction between imperialism and the oppressed nations and peoples.
* The contradictions among the imperialist powers and monopoly capitalist groups.

Stalin gave an excellent summary of these three contradictions in his works “The Foundations of Leninism”.[1]

Following the seizure of state power by the proletariat in Russia in 1917, a fourth basic contradiction of our era emerged and has been in force ever since, namely:

* The contradiction between the socialist system and the capitalist system.

Alan Ward does not list these contradictions in his article, nor does he consider them the starting point to any analysis of the world situation. But, whether he likes it or not, they have been part and parcel of the international communist movement. general line since the Great October Socialist revolution, despite numerous attempts by Trotsky, Browder, Tito, Krushchev, Teng Hsiao-ping etc., to “forget” one or more of them. The Albanian and Chinese parties consistently defended them as the “starting point” against Krushchovite revisionism.

In 1963, the Chinese Party categorically stated; “These (4) contradictions and the struggles to which they give rise are inter-related and influence each other. Nobody can obliterate any of these fundamental contradictions or subjectively substitute one for all the rest.”[2]

Alan Ward choses to present as the theory of the three worlds, the version given by Chiao Kuan-hua in his U.N. speech of Oct 5, 1976, although it was first “unveiled” in a finished form by Teng Hsiao-ping in 1974. Let us look at the version A.W. prefers to present as the theory of the three worlds.

Making a penetrating analysis of all the basic contradictions of our time and the division and realignment of all the political forces in the world, Chairman Mao Tsetung advanced his great strategic concept of the three worlds. He pointed outs The United States and the Soviet Union make up the First World; the developing countries in Asia, Africa, Latin America and elsewhere constitute the Third World; and in between the two is the Second World composed of Europe, Japan, Canada and other countries. Lenin once said; Imperialism is progressing oppression of the nations of the world by a handful of great powers; it is an epoch of wars among these powers for the extension and consolidation of national oppression. At present, the Soviet Union and the United States, the two superpowers constituting the First World, are the biggest international oppressors and exploiters of our time and they are the sources of a new world war. While the countries of the Second World oppress and exploit Third World countries, they themselves are at the same time subjected to superpower oppression, exploitation, control and threat. The numerous Third-World countries are most heavily oppressed and exploited by colonialism and imperialism; they are the main force in the fight against imperialism, and particularly against superpower hegemonism.

Chairman Mao Tsetung pointed out: “Who are our enemies? Who are our friends? This is a question of the first importance for the revolution.” Chairman Mao’s concept of the three worlds provides orientation for the workers and oppressed peoples of the world in their fight in the realm of international class struggle.

According to Chiao, this “great strategic concept” is based on an analysis of “all the basic contradictions of our time” (or era), but he does not list these basic contradictions, nor does he say that “our time” is precisely the era of imperialism and the proletarian revolution. This “great strategic concept” completely neglects two of the “basic contradictions of our time”–namely the contradiction between socialism and capitalism and the contradiction between bourgeoisie and proletariat which, according to Alan Ward himself, taken together, form the “fundemental division of our times”.(p1). Some strategic concept!

In 1963, the Chinese listed as an “erroneous view” which “should be repudiated”: “(a), the view which blots out the class content of the contradiction between the socialist and imperialist camps and fails to see this contradiction as one between states under the dictatorship of the monopoly capitalists...”

They conclude that such a view would “inevitably lead to erroneous and harmful policies and hence to-setbacks and losses of one kind or another to the cause of the people and socialism.”[3]

Doesn’t this “great strategic concept” exactly fall into this trap? The “three world” theoreticians speak of China as a “socialist country belonging to the third world” (just as Tito speaks about Yugoslavia) and put the contradictions between China and imperialism entirely within the framework of the third world versus imperialism and particularly the superpowers and even more particularly Soviet social-imperialism.

At least up until October 1976, when China was a proletarian dictatorship, this was a very “erroneous view”. The Albanians are right when they say “today, too, we should speak about the socialist world” and that not to do so “is in complete opposition to the Leninist teachings and the class criterion”” and “ignores the greatest historic victory of the international proletariat, ignores the fundamental contradiction of the time, that between socialism and capitalism.”[4]

The Chinese agreed with this view in 1963 but have now negated it. So who is departing from Marxism Leninism? As the Communist Party of Germany (M-L) pointed out in April 1977, according to the theory of three worlds, “it wouldn’t, for example, really matter whether the dictatorship is successfully defended in China or if capitalist despots in the Party and state succeed in forcing China onto the path of capitalism. Such an attitude towards the socialist countries leads to an ideological weakening of the proletariat as regards the defence of the dictatorship of the proletariat in the socialist countries and a promotion of the attacks of imperialism, the attacks of the class enemy on the dictatorship of the proletariat. At the same time it amounts to disorientating the proletariat in the capitalist countries in its struggle for the socialist revolution and blurring the goal of its struggle.”[5]

It is not as A.W. states an argument over whether to refer to a socialist “camp” or to socialist countries (p.20). It is a fundamental question of principle which the “great strategic concept” ignores.


Where the theory of three worlds makes an obvious departure from the general line of the international communist movement is in negation of the contradiction between imperialism and the oppressed nations and people. It replaces the “oppressed nations and people” with “third world countries” which are the “main force in the fight against imperialism”.

This fundamental revision of Marxism-Leninism is glossed over by A.W. as something “one can hardly object to” because “When Lenin and Stalin wrote, most of the oppressed peoples existed under colonial or semi-colonial regimes and did not have their own independent national states, even formally” whereas today, the opposite is the case. This is a bad justification for a sleight-of-hand trick.

Up until the 1970’s, the Chinese party was most meticulous about distinguishing “country” from nation, as the Albanians and all genuine Marxist-Leninist parties still do.

In 1963, the Chinese said: They (the Kruschovites) contravened the thesis of the Moscow Declaration (of 1960) that in our day the liberation movement of the colonial and semi-colonial peoples ... are powerful forces for the defence of world peace...”[6](emphasis added).

And later in the same years “The oppressed nations and peoples of Asia, Africa and Latin America are faced with the urgent task of fighting imperialism and its lackeys. ”[7] (emphasis added)

Why did the Chinese not refer to third world countries? By 1961, “Independence has been proclaimed in more than fifty Asian and African countries.”[8] This is not to mention the nation-states of Latin America.

At the Ninth National Congress of the CPC in 1969, the report states: “The revolutionary struggles of the proletariat and the oppressed people and nations of the world always support each other.”[9] (emphasis added).

Again in 1970s “From Asia, Africa, Latin America to North America, Europe and Oceania, the revolutionary struggle of the people of various countries, including the American people (not country – M.C.), are developing in ever greater width and depth and are shaking the whole of the old world.”[10] emphasis added)

In August 1963, Mao Tsetung said: “At present, it is the handful of imperialists headed by the United States, and their supporters, the reactionaries in different countries, who are inflicting oppression, aggression and intimidation on the overwhelming majority of the nations and peoples of the world.”[11] (emphasis added)

In January 1964, Mao Tsetung said that U.S. imperialism “never ceased to plunder and trample on the people of the Latin American countries and suppress their national democratic revolutionary struggles.”[12] (emp. added)

It can be seen from this that Alan Ward’s justification for the Chinese changing the Marxist-Leninist formula of “oppressed nations and people” to “third world countries” doesn’t hold water.

Marxist-Leninists have always clearly distinguished between the people and the government of a capitalist or feudal country. In Chiao Kuan-hua’s exposition of the theory of three worlds quoted earlier, it is clear that he, too, makes the distinction, but only in order to mislead people. The main force in combatting imperialism, he tells us, is the third world countries (i.e.. governments), and this “great strategic concept ”should be used by the “oppressed nations and oppressed peoples”. (p.2) What a blatant piece of revisionism!!

The “third world countries” are not the same thing as the oppressed nations and peoples of Asia, Africa and Latin America.

The Chinese explained the position very well in 1966 in an excellent pamphlet called “The National Question and the Class Struggle”. Here it is stated:

There are classes within every, nationality. What people, or to be more specific, what class, then, is the essential part of a nationality? When we say national interests, to whose interests do we refer? When we say national liberation, whose liberation do we mean? When we say national equality and progress, to whom do these terms apply? In the answers to these questions lies the difference between the proletarian view of nationality and the view of the bourgeoisie and the exploiting classes.
The bourgeoisie and the other exploiting classes always put their own class interests above those of the people of the whole nationality. They want to monopolise the term ’ nationality ’ and proclaim themselves the representatives of the nationality and custodians of the national interests.
According to them, their own exploiting classes are the essential part of the nationality and their class interests are the national interests. For them, so long as their demands with regard to their selfish class interests are satisfied, national equality and national liberation are achieved and the national question is solved. Marxist-Leninists, on the contrary, consider that the essential part of nationality can only be the oppressed and exploited working people who are the vast majority of its population... In the final analysis, national, interests are the interests of the proletarians and other working people, who are the overwhelming majority of the population. Apart from the class interests of the proletariat there can be no real national interests. National liberation must be the liberation of the vast majority of the nation, i.e. the working people. The same principle applies to national equality and development. The national question is essentially one of the emancipation of the broad masses and exploited working people of all nationalities. If the working people, the overwhelming majority of the people of all nationalities, do not enjoy equality and emancipation, then those nationalities are not equal or free, and the national question cannot be said to be solved.[13] (emphasis added)

The theory of three worlds holds that the national question has been solved in the “Third World”. It proclaims the bourgeois governments as the “the representatives of the nationality and the custodians of the national interest”. When Teng Hsiao-ping told the U.N. in 1974 that the “Third World” countries “have won political independence”, he was obviously not referring to the workers and peasants. He was referring to the bourgeois governments which “still face the historic task of clearing out the remnant forces of colonialism, developing the national economy and consolidating national independence ”.[14] For Teng Hsiao-ping there are only “remnant forces” of colonialism and there is no such thing as neo-colonialism! And most importantly, there is no “historic task” of carrying out the revolution!!

This is straight-out Kruschevite revisionism.

Selectively quoting Lenin

On page 1 Alan Ward quotes a passage from one of Lenin’s speeches to the 2nd Congress of the Communist International where Lenin talks about the “fundamental idea of our theses”– the distinction between oppressed and oppressor nations. Alan Ward argues that if it was good enough for Lenin and also Stalin to talk about this without meaning classes, then there can be no valid objection to the theory of three worlds failing to mention classes.

But this is an entirely false and dishonest argument. Lenin was making the Report of the Commission on the National and the Colonial Questions to the Congress. The theses he spoke of were to do with this question, i.e., they dealt specifically with one of the four fundamental contradictions (the contradiction between imperialism and the oppressed nations and peoples).

The section quoted by A.W. is only the first of three points which make up the theses on the national and colonial question. It is very obvious why A.W. neglected to quote the rest of the theses, because they show precisely the stark difference between the Leninist class approach and the bourgeois outlook of the theory of three worlds. Lenin said:

The second basic idea in our theses is that, in the present world situation following the imperialist war, reciprocal relations between peoples and the world political system as a whole are determined by the struggle waged by a small group of imperialist nations against the Soviet movement and the Soviet states headed by Soviet Russia. Unless we bear that in mind, we shall not be able to pose a single national or colonial question correctly, even if it concerns a most outlying part of the world. The Communist parties, in civilized and backward countries alike, can pose and solve political problems correctly only if they make this postulate their starting point.[15]

The “three worlds” fails to even mention the contradiction between socialism (“the Soviet movement”) and imperialism, let alone making this postulate its starting point!!

Lenin’s third point concerns the nature of the national revolutionary movements and the various class forces in the oppressed nations. Lenin said:

Yet that distinction (bet ween reformist and revolutionary movements) has been very clearly revealed of late in the backward and colonial countries, since the imperialist bourgeoisie is doing everything in its power to implant a reformist movement among the oppressed nations too. There has been a certain rapprochment between the bourgeoisie of the exploiting countries and that of the colonies, so that very often– perhaps even in most cases– the bourgeoisie of the oppressed countries, while it does support the national movement, is in full accord with the imperialist bourgeoisie, i.e., joins forces with it against all revolutionary movements and revolutionary classes.[16]

Unlike Lenin’s theses on the national question, the “great strategic concept” of three worlds makes no distinction between reformist and revolutionary movements, but describes the “Third World” governments (whether revolutionary, reformist, or fascist) as “a revolutionary motive force propelling the wheel of world history”.[17]

In further comments on the third idea of his theses, Lenin stressed that “Communists should and will support bourgeois-liberation movements in the colonies only when they are genuinely revolutionary, and when their exponents do not hinder our work of educations and organising in a revolutionary spirit the peasantry and the masses of the exploited.”

He concluded by saying that this distinction “has been made in all the theses with the result, I think, that our view is now formulated much more precisely.”[18]

Unlike Lenin’s theses, the “three worlds” negates any such distinction.

If we base ourselves on the three ideas of Lenin’s theses, and not just on the first one, how can we possibly preach the notion that the “Third World countries” full stop are the “main force in the fight against imperialism.”

The Albanians are completely correct when they say the theory of three worlds “ignores classes and class struggle” and “ignores the contradiction between the oppressed peoples and the reactionary and pro-imperialist forces of their own countries”.[19] Alan Ward is wrong when he says that according to the Albanians’ logic, Lenin and Stalin would be “guilty of exactly the same crime” (pp 2-3). They were not guilty of this crime in their theses on the oppressed nations, but the “great strategic concept” of three worlds is!!

The dual nature of the bourgeoisie in the “third world”

Alan Ward takes the Albanians to task for listing five “bloody fascist dictatorships” in Asia, Africa and Latin America, implying that this is not consistent with the Albanians’ claims about “viewing regimes according to class criteria based on their social order”, (p.27). But once again, in his attempts to ridicule the P.L.A. and justify the fundamental revisions of Marxism-Leninism embodied in the theory of three worlds, he has missed the mark.

Comrade Enver Hoxha pointed out at the 7th Congress of the Party of Labour of Albania:

... regarding the assessment of the policy pursued by various states and governments, the Marxists proceed again from the class criterion, from the stands these governments and countries maintain towards imperialism and socialism, towards their own people and reaction.[20]

This is the correct Marxist-Leninist approach which distinguishes between the reactionary and progressive section of the bourgeoisie in the underdeveloped countries. Lenin made the same distinction, as we showed earlier. He said the International Communist Movement would support liberation movements whose “exponents do not hinder our work of educating and organising in a revolutionary spirit the peasantry and the masses of the exploited.” He said that very often, the bourgeoisie of the oppressed nations “joins forces” with the imperialist bourgeoisie “against all revolutionary classes.”

Today, the Chinese speak of the “fight against imperialism”, but before the theory of three worlds was concocted, they, along with the rest of the Marxist-Leninist movement, spoke of fighting imperialism and its lackeys. Who are the lackeys of imperialism if not the compradore bourgeoisie– the reactionary section of the bourgeoisie (and the feudalists, too).

In 1963, the Chinese Party said: “In some of these countries (of Asia, Africa and Latin America), the patriotic national bourgeoisie continue to stand with the masses in the struggle against imperialism and colonialism and introduce certain measures of social progress. This requires the proletarian party to make a full appraisal of the progressive role of the patriotic national bourgeoisie and strengthen unity with them.”

As the internal social contradictions and the international class struggle sharpen, the bourgeoisie, and particularly the big bourgeoisie, in some newly independent countries increasingly tend to become retainers of imperialism and to pursue anti-popular, anti-Communist and counter-revolutionary policies.
Generally speaking, the bourgeoisie in these countries have a dual character.[21]

In the “third world”, it is precisely the countries with fascist regimes (of which the Albanian editorial mentions five examples) where the reactionary anti-communist section of the bourgeoisie is in power. There are other “third world” governments which represent the aspirations of the anti-imperialist national bourgeoisie to one extent or another. It is a correct Marxist-Leninist approach to recognise the dual nature of the bourgeoisie of the oppressed nations and draw distinctions between Sun Yat-sen and Chiang Kai-shek, Sukarno and Suharto, Allende and Pinochet, Lumumba and Mobutu.

Comrade Enver Hoxha’s remarks on how Marxist-Leninists appraise various governments are correct and have long been part of the general line of the international communist movement. That is why when he talks about “progressive peoples and democratic states” in Asia, Africa and Latin America (quoted by Alan Ward. p.3), he is not at all negating the class viewpoint as A.W. suggests. The Chinese were also correct in 1963 when they said that one of the “main common demands” of socialist countries should be to “oppose the anti-Communist, anti-popular and counter-revolutionary policies of the reactionaries of all countries”.[22]

That is why the “great strategic concept” of three worlds is wrong and that is why the current Chinese silence about the anti-Communist and counter-revolutionary policies and actions of the “bloody fascist dictatorships” is a betrayal of Marxism-Leninism and proletarian internationalism.

Two Attitudes Towards Reaction

When the fascist coup took place in Indonesia, Marxist-Leninist parties around the world vigorously opposed it and drew the lessons from it which showed the bankruptcy of Krushchov’s revisionist line. Comrade Enver Hoxha wrote a lengthy article for Zeri i Popullit (People’s Voice) entitled “The Fascist Coup in Indonesia and the lessons Communists Draw From It”.[23] (This is an excellent exposition of the problems of Communist parties in under-developed countries with particular reference to united fronts with national bourgeois forces. It is well worth studying.)

The Chinese Party also vigorously opposed the Indonesian fascists, published documents from the Indonesian Communist Party relating to it and denounced the Soviet revisionists for supplying aid to the junta.

All this was an essential part of the internationalist obligations of the socialist countries and was a concrete example of “opposing the anti-communist, anti-popular and counter-revolutionary policies” of the Indonesian fascists.

In 1973, a fascist coup took place in Chile. Again, numerous Marxist-Leninist parties vigorously condemned it and analysed the important lessons. The Albanian newspaper Zeri i Popullit published an editorial entitled “The Tragic Events in Chile – A Lesson for Revolutionaries the World Over”[24] which was translated into several languages and distributed around the world as a special supplement to the magazine Albania Today. Since the coup, the Albanian Telegraphic Agency has regularly provided information on the anti-fascist struggles going on in Chile and carried articles and statements from the Revolutionary Communist Party’s clandestine newspaper El Pueblo and the Chilean Anti-Fascist News agency (ANCHA).

But by 1973, the international line of the CPC had already undergone significant changes, and what the Chinese did for Indonesia, they failed to do for Chile.

The Revolutionary Communist Party of Chile which at the time of the coup, had Party to Party relations with the CPC, recently stated that in the course of a meeting with Chinese Party representatives in 1975 (which turned out to be their last meeting):

...we did manifest our deep disagreement with the callousness and lack of solidarity of those responsible for leading China’s international policy, in accord with the international line of Teng Hsiao-ping, in face of the tragedy which has moved and angered the broadest sections of the progressive and democratic people of the entire world.[25]

Chou En-lai did send a message of condolence to Allende’s widow, This message expressed “sorrow and indignation” at Allende’s death, but failed to pass judgement on his murderers and “neglected” to mention the fascist terror, murder, torture and imprisonment being inflicted on thousands of Chilean workers by the fascists.

And in the United Nations, Chiao Kuan-hua mentioned the fascist coup in passing in the middle of a paragraph. He chose to refer to merely as a “military coup d’etat” and mentioned it as an example of “aggression, subversion, control and interference against countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America by the superpowers”. The only death he mentioned was Allende’s who “died a martyr at his post”. The only thing remotely approaching a lesson from the coup was his comment that the theory of “peaceful transition” (peaceful transition to what is not stated) is harmful “to the anti-imperialist revolutionary struggles of the Asian, African and Latin American people” (and presumably not harmful to “2nd” and “1st” world people).

But the main, if not only, reason he made this almost Marxist comment was because this “absurd theory” has “been advocated by one of the superpowers” (guess which one). How utterly spineless and piss-weak can you get! He wasn’t even fair-dinkum enough to actually name outright the U.S. imperialists as the external instigators of the coup![26]

The Chilean comrades point out:

News items on various aspects of the repression in Chile appeared only during the month of the coup d’etat (coinciding with Chiao’s U.N. comments) and were reported without any commentary or opinion. Moreover, as if to underscore the decision not to take a stand on the atrocities perpetrated by the fascist junta, several condemnations of it were reproduced, but always condemnations made by others. Later, even news regarding acts of repression was passed over in silence and the Chinese publications restricted themselves to noting, with increasing tardiness, some of the effects of the economic crisis affecting Chile... (The) representatives of China at the United Nations and in other international bodies left the sessions without voting when the resolutions condemning Pinochet and his henchmen were presented... (This) attitude of the official Chinese circles was warmly hailed by the functionaries of the Chilean fascist regime, such as the Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs who, in January 1975 maintained that ’People’s China Supports Chile in international meetings’, without being contradicted either by word or deed.[27]

Don’t forget that this occurred only three years after China pulled out all propaganda stops to denounce the fascist coup of Lon Nol in Cambodia. Mao Tsetung issued his famous May 20 Statement as a response to the Cambodian coup and the Chinese loudly condemned the Soviet revisionists for doing precisely what China did over the Chile coup– nothing!

Isn’t it obvious to blind Freddy (not to mention his running dog) that the foreign policy of the Chinese Party in relation to Chile was a betrayal of proletarian internationalism? Isn’t this a complete about-face from the position upheld by the Chinese Party in 1963 against Krushchovite revisionism?

And the reason for this betrayal of Marxist-Leninist principles is equally obvious– China’s fragile “united front” of “third world”, “second world” and half the “first world” governments might take offence. Pinochet is more important to the revisionists than the Chilean workers and peasants because it is he, and not they, who are supposedly the “main force in the fight against imperialism”! Alan Ward please explain.

The plain fact of the matter is that the Chinese revisionist clique have thrown the long-established general line of the international communist movement overboard and are proclaiming the “great strategic concept” of three worlds as the new general line. Hua Kuo-feng made this perfectly clear in his report to the 11th Party Congress.

He alleged that this theory, which mentions only countries and not classes “clearly defines the main revolutionary forces, the chief enemies and the middle forces that can he won over and united”. He proclaims it to be “the correct strategic and tactical formulation for the world proletariat in the present era and its class line in its international struggle”.[28]

It sticks out like dog’s balls that the Leninist theses on the era of imperialism and the proletarian revolution have been rejected. The Chinese revisionists reject the thesis that the two main revolutionary currents in our era are the national liberation revolution and the proletarian socialist revolution. In rejecting this, they have joined the ranks of Browder, Tito and Kruschev as enemies of Marxism-Leninism.

And just like Kruschev, they seek to impose their new line “of profound and far-reaching significance” on the International Marxist-Leninist movement in total violation of all established principles of Party-to-Party relations. There is a common international line of the genuine Marxist-Leninist parties and this line is based on the general principles re-affirmed at the last international conference of communist and workers’ parties– the 1960 Moscow meeting. It is the Chinese revisionists who are negating it, just as the Kruschovites did 18 years before them.

The Foreign Policy of a Would-be Superpower

REM has realised that since October 1976, the bourgeoisie have controlled state power in China.

It is also obvious that the bourgeoisie had control of the People’s Liberation Army before then– probably from at least 1974. It also controlled various other portions of the state and Party and a fierce see-saw battle for total power was being waged for several years before the actual final coup d’etat. With hindsight we can see that the bourgeois forces were a lot stronger and well-entrenched than any of us imagined at the time. The Marxist-Leninists were facing a major offensive in which they had their work cut out holding their ground, let alone seizing new ground.

Since the coup, the policies in those areas where the Marxist-Leninists had held sway have been rapidly, radically and systematically reversed. Industry, education, science and technology and culture are obvious examples.

But the opposite has occurred in foreign policy. All changes here, such as the “rehabilitation” of the revisionist counter-revolutionary Tito, are merely developments of the basic ideas of the three worlds theory.

Comrades, please ask yourself what the “ideal” foreign policy for a Chinese bourgeoisie hell-bent on becoming a super-power would be. Wouldn’t it be a policy of active discouragement of revolutions, a policy designed to preserve the status quo and hoodwink people into abandoning the struggle against their governments? Wouldn’t the Chinese bourgeoisie seek to re-assure the U.S. and western imperialists that, in exchange for their technology, expertise, military hardware and investments, they have renounced their support and aid to the class struggle in Western Europe, North America, Latin America, Japan and Oceania, and liberation wars in the horn of Africa?

All of these things have been among the practical results of their “great strategic concept”.

Of course they still do give some low-key verbal support to armed struggle in Zimbabwe, but this is certainly not out of context with the “Anglo-American initiative” which holds that the Patriotic Front must not be ignored.

And they zealously support Democratic Kampuchea, give low key support to the armed struggle in Malaya, Thailand and Burma while also supporting the targets of the armed struggle (two bob each way) and denounce one “third world country” (Vietnam) twenty-four hours a day while threatening her with gunboat diplomacy and further reprisals. They have already militarily occupied the mineral-rich disputed territories around Hsisha Island in the South China Sea, instead of resolving the issue through negotiation.

The Chinese bourgeoisie clearly intends South-East Asia to be the first “sphere of influence” for the would-be superpower.


Thousands of copies of Peking Review are published every week in English, French, Spanish, Japanese, German and Arabic. Radio Peking broadcasts all over the world every night in several languages. None of this is aimed at governments. It is aimed at the broad masses of the world’s people. This is who the three world’s theory is designed to hoodwink.

It is an eclectic reformist theory which negates classes, negates revolution and negates the dictatorship of the proletariat, while purporting to be a “penetrating analysis of all the basic contradictions of our time and the division and realignment of all the political forces in the world”.

Lenin’s remarks in his book “The State and Revolution” can be equally applied to this “great strategic concept”.

In falsifying Marxism in opportunist fashion, the substitution of eclecticism for dialectics is the easiest, way of deceiving the masses; it gives an illusory satisfaction; it seems to take into account all sides of the process, all tendencies of development, all the conflicting influences, and so forth, whereas in reality it presents no integral and revolutionary conception the process of social development at all.[29]

All around the world, the anti-revisionist forces are rallying to defend the general line of the international communist movement. Comrade Enver Hoxha and the Party of Labour of Albania have done a magnificent service to the world revolution by taking up cudgels against the new revisionist theory.

It has led to a decisive and all-round break with the Chinese Party bourgeoisie by the overwhelming majority of parties which were born in the struggle against Krushchevite revisionism.

We are living through another historic polemic between Marxism and revisionism, a polemic which will result in a new revolutionary upsurge. One’s attitude in this polemic is a sharp demarcation line.

REM must reverse the stand taken in our document “Opinions on Some International Questions” with regard to the theory of three worlds and the opposition to it.

REM must vigorously condemn and expose this revisionist theory of class capitulation.

Accordingly, I demand that the REM Executive convene a special Conference of all REM members to overturn our current position. If the Executive refuses to convene such a conference, I request all Branches which think there should be another conference on this question to demand it of the Executive.

NOTE: The following article does not attempt to answer all points raised in Alan Ward’s article “Three Worlds”. A future article shall deal with the “Second World” and World War.


Decision REM Executive 10/9/78

That the above article be published as an internal circular. The Executive will not re-open the discussion on the theory of three worlds until early next year (1979) unless branches request it. That in the meantime, our present position stands.”

Carried, with one against.


[1] J.V. Stalin, “The Foundations of Leninism” pp.4-5. Foreign Languages Press, Peking, 1970.

[2] “A Proposal Concerning the General Line of the International Communist Movement” 30/3/63. Polemic on the General Line of the International Communist Movement, page 7. Foreign Languages Press, Peking, 1965.

[3] ibid, pp 8 and 9.

[4] “The Theory and Practice of the Revolution” 7/7/77 Pp8-9. 8 Nentori Publishing House, Tirana, 1977.

[5] “The ’Three World Theory’ A Marxist-Leninist Theory?” April 1977, P 16. Verlag Roter Morgan, Dortmund, 1977.

[6] “Whence the Differences? – A Reply to Thorez and Other Comrades” 27/2/63 p 10 Foreign Languages Press, Peking 1963.

[7] See footnote (l) p. 15.

[8] “Apologists of Neo-colonialism”, 22/10/63. Polemic on the General Line, p. 187.

[9] Documents of the Ninth National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party p. 79. Foreign Languages Press, Peking, 1969.

[10] “Continue The Revolution, Advance From Victory to Victory” p. 12. Foreign Languages Press, Peking 1970.

[11] Statements By Mao Tsetung Calling on the People of the World to Unite to Oppose the Aggressive and Bellicose Policies of U.S. Imperialism and Defend World Peace, p. 5. Foreign Languages Press, Peking, 1964.

[12] ibid pp 11-12.

[13] Liu Chins “The National Question and the Class Struggle” pp 11-12. Foreign Languages Press, Peking, 1966.

[14] Speech By Chairman of the Delegation of the People’s Republic of China, Teng Hsiao-ping, at the Special Session of the U.N. General Assembly, 10/4/74, PP 4-5, Foreign Languages Press, Peking, 1974.

[15] V.I. Lenin, “Report of the Commission on the National and the Colonial Questions,” at the 2nd Congress of the Communist International,26/7/20. Collected Works, vol. 31 p.241. Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1966.

[16] ibid p.242.

[17] See footnote (14). page 5.

[18] See footnote 16. page 242.

[19] See footnote (3) page 10.

[20] Enver Hoxha’s Report Submitted to the Seventh Congress of the P.L.A. 1/11/76. p. 173, 8 Nentori Publishing House, Tirana, 1977.

[21] See footnote (2) page 16.

[22] ibid pp. 9-10.

[23] Enver. Hoxha’s Speeches, Conversations, Articles, 1965-66 p. 293 8 Nentori Publishing House, Tirana, 1977.

[24] Supplement to Albania Today No.4, 1973.

[25] Open Letter of the Revolutionary Communist Party of Chile to the Communist Party of China, November 1977 page 5, Norman Bethune Institute, Toronto, 1978.

[26] Speech by Chiao Kuan-hua, Chairman of the Delegation of the People’s Republic of China at the Plenary Meeting of the 28th Session of the U.N. General Assembly 2/10/73- PP2-3. Foreign Languages Press, Peking, 1978.

[27] Missing in original

[28] Missing in original

[29] Quoted in “Lenin on the Struggle Against Revisionism,” page 16. Foreign Languages Press, Peking, 1960.