Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

E. F. Hill

Looking Backward: Looking Forward


In March, 1964, the Communist Party of Australia (Marxist-Leninist) inherited the striving to Marxism-Leninism commenced by the former Communist Party; it honorably carried on the tradition of the battle for Marxism-Leninism.

It took up the struggle against revisionism. Obviously it follows a different policy from revisionism and the Aarons clique. In immediate political tactics the break is not so difficult and many aspects of that we have just reviewed. But merely to break in this limited way does not solve the problem. The pressure of the bourgeoisie towards revisionism is very strong. It is easy to succumb even on minor matters. Moreover, the very environment and traditions that we have commented on as having such powerful influence in leading the former Communist Party astray operate on the Communist Party of Australia (Marxist-Leninist) and they can be victorious again. Historically there are powerful traditions the other way, towards Marx-ism-Leninism. They will be victorious. It is up to the advanced workers, up to the Marxist-Leninists to ensure that now in a historically short time they are victorious.

That demands the accomplishment of a thoroughgoing and all round ideological political and organisational break from revisionism. Such a break cannot be achieved in one blow. It requires never ceasing struggle. As we have said the pressure to revisionism is always present. Therefore the struggle against that pressure must be always present.

Ideology is a far wider concept than politics. It embraces the whole of mankind’s ideas. A workingclass ideology is an ideology devoted to ending capitalism – all the best ideas embracing the whole of knowledge, devoted to the emancipation of the working people. It demands people of a special mould able to resist all selfish, self-seeking influences which are the inheritance from the self-seeking ideology of capitalism. Marx and Engels said in the Communist Manifesto that the Communists have no interests over and above those of the workingclass. The workingclass has no selfish ideology; its ideology is one to secure freedom from exploitation.

Marxism-Leninism deliberately cultivates all that is best in the workingclass. It is a world outlook that gives expression to all that is best in all history and all social development. It permits of no interests save those of scientifically understanding and acting according to the laws of history which determine that the workingclass will overthrow capitalism. But it recognises that that ideology is a precious thing which does not emerge in itself. It must be carefully sought and carefully cultivated. It competes against a far older and longer established ideology, that of the bourgeoisie which is continually trying to destroy workingclass ideology.

Every worker, every Marxist-Leninist in Australia is a product of capitalism. He commences life with his mind full of bourgeois ideology, full of bourgeois habits. All his life he is surrounded by bourgeois ideology which continually presses in on him and tries to claim him for itself. Hence intense struggle to resist all this is required. That struggle can only go on in actual participation in workingclass and people’s struggle. It is only in struggle that people will be remoulded. To acquire a workingclass Marxist-Leninist ideology is the most difficult of the tasks before Marxist-Leninists. But just because it is the most difficult and splendid task, Marxist-Leninists must set out to achieve it and not be daunted by difficulties. Nor can the past be thrown off at one thrust; it is a continual, never-ceasing process.

It must be said that the former Communist Party did very little to develop in its members a Marxist-Leninist ideology, the most serious aspect of its failure from which the others flow. Such an ideology can only be achieved by the frank and honest facing by the individual of his whole background and work, examining closely the defects in his ideology, the alien influences at work, and by the deepest individual study of the ideology of Marxism-Lenin-ism in actual participation in struggle. Such an ideology requires relations of real comradeship where the frank and free exchange of opinions directed to achieving a Marxist-Leninist ideology is as natural as drawing breath and not as expressive of the struggle for position, influence and authority characteristic of the revisionist clique.

Such a situation involves, as we say in our introduction, a far-reaching self-critical analysis of our weakness in ideology, in contributing to the errors of the past – the deep influences of bourgeois ideology upon us. There are those who scoff at concepts of development of Marxist-Leninist ideology and development of it in struggle, but that cannot daunt the person who is honestly seeking Marxist-Leninist ideology. We must start from our own shortcomings, see the fault in ourselves, always a far more difficult process than to see the faults in others. The workingclass has nothing to lose but its chains, said Marx and Engels; it alone is capable of facing the future honestly and fearlessly. No other class can do this. Marxism-Leninism is the concentrated ideology of the workingclass. It permits of no dishonesty and no fear. In this field the legacy of the past is very bad; it is the most important field of all. Revisionism teaches by negative example. It has driven home to us the perils of failing to develop a Marxist-Leninist ideology.

Organisationally we have demonstrated errors of the former Communist Party. It is true to say it did not work out thoroughly a correct organisational line. But those who have emerged from the former Communist Party have known no other line and the hold of the past is very strong.

We have demonstrated how the politics of the former Communist Party became preoccupied with two main questions, the trade unions and parliamentary elections, and how its organisation developed to correspond with these political concepts. But the tasks of the workingclass and Marxism-Leninism are far more extensive than this, and they demand the development of an organisation capable of performing all the tasks. The Communists must work in every sphere of the people’s lives, must work in parliamentary elections, where the opportunity is open in parliament itself, in every important mass organisation, in the trade unions, amongst the rural population. They must study every section of society. They must see every form of activity. Lenin could have been speaking of the former Communist Party and the situation which has arisen in Australia when he wrote in ”Left Wing Communism”: ”The very purpose of the existence of Communists in the world, adherents of the Third International in all countries, is to change all along the line, in all spheres of life, the old Socialist, trade unionist, syndicalist parliamentary work into new Communist work.” A neglect of all spheres of life and wrong concepts of trade unionism and parliamentarism evolved amongst the revisionist Communists. Lenin’s proposition is a precise characterisation of the tasks that face the Communist Party of Australia (Marxist-Leninist).

The Communists must have an organisation to operate in all spheres of life. For example, Communists in any sphere of life must aim to win that sphere or the members of it to Communism and the leadership of it, doing it appropriately, carefully, patiently; where they are trade unionists working appropriately to win the workers for revolution; in the factories; among the farmers; amongst the white collar workers; reaching to every sphere of life; extending and extending to destroy capitalism. Lenin said:

Everyone will agree that an army which does not train itself to wield all arms, all means and methods of warfare that the enemy possesses or may possess, is behaving in an unwise or even in a criminal manner. This applies to politics to a greater degree than war. In politics it is harder to forecast what methods of warfare will be applied and be useful for us under certain future conditions. Unless we are able to master all methods of warfare we stand the risk of suffering great and sometimes decisive defeat if the changes in the position of the other classes, which we cannot determine, will bring to the front forms of activity in which we are particularly weak. If, however, we are able to master all means of warfare, we shall certainly be victorious, because we represent the interests of the really advanced, of the really revolutionary class, even if circumstances do not permit us to use weapons that are most dangerous for the enemy, weapons that are most quickly death dealing. Inexperienced revolutionaries often think that legal methods of struggle are opportunist because in this field the bourgeoisie most frequently (especially in ’peaceful,’ non-revolutionary times) deceived and fooled the workers, and they think that illegal methods of struggle are revolutionary. But this is not true. What is true is that the opportunists and the traitors to the workingclass are those parties and leaders who are not able or who do not want (don’t say: you cannot; say: you won’t) to apply illegal methods of struggle in conditions such as those which prevailed, for example, during the imperialist war of 1914-1918, when the bourgeoisie of the freest democratic countries deceived the workers in the most impudent and brutal manner, and prohibited everyone from speaking the truth about the predatory character of the war. But revolutionaries who are unable to combine illegal forms of struggle with every form of legal struggle are very poor revolutionaries. It is not difficult to be a revolutionary when the revolution has already flared up and is raging, when everybody joins the revolution simply because they are carried away by it, because it is the fashion and sometimes even because it might open the way for a career. After the victory, the proletariat has to exert extreme effort, to suffer pain and one (might say martyrdom to ’liberate’ itself from such sorry revolutionaries. It is much more difficult – and much more useful – to be a revolutionary when the conditions for direct, open, really mass and really revolutionary struggle have NOT YET matured, to be able to defend the interests of the revolution (by propaganda, agitation and organisation) in non-revolutionary bodies and even in downright reactionary bodies, in non-revolutionary circumstances, among the masses who are incapable of immediately appreciating the necessity for revolutionary methods of action. The main task of contemporary communism in Western Europe and America is to acquire the ability to seek, to find, to determine correctly the concrete path, or the particular turn of events that will bring the masses right up to the real, decisive, last and great revolutionary struggle. (Lenin: Left Wing Communism, Selected Works, 12 Vol. Edn., Vol. 10, pp. 139-140. Emphasis mine. – E.F.H.)

The whole matter was put exceedingly well by the Communist Party of China in ”A Proposal Concerning the General Line of the International Communist Movement.” (June 14, 1963.) Point 10 of this document reads:

In the imperialist and the capitalist countries, the proletarian revolution and the dictatorship of the proletariat are essential for the thorough resolution of the contradictions of capitalist society.

In striving to accomplish this task the proletarian party must under the present circumstances actively lead the workingclass and the working people in struggles to oppose monopoly capital, to defend democratic rights, to oppose the menace of fascism, to improve living conditions, to oppose imperialist arms expansion and war preparations, to defend world peace and actively to support the revolutionary struggles of the oppressed nations.

In the capitalist countries which U.S. imperialism controls or is trying to control, the working class and the people should direct their attacks mainly against U.S. imperialism, but also against their own monopoly capitalists and other reactionary forces who are betraying the national interests.

Large scale mass struggles in the capitalist countries in recent years have shown that the working class and working people are experiencing a new awakening. Their struggles, which are dealing blows at monopoly capital and reaction, have opened bright prospects for the revolutionary cause in their own countries and are also a powerful support for the revolutionary struggles of the Asian, African and Latin American peoples and for the countries of the socialist camp.

The proletarian parties in imperialist or capitalist countries must maintain their own ideological, political and organisational independence in leading revolutionary struggles. At the same time, they must unite all of the forces that can be united and build a broad, united front against monopoly capital and against the imperialist policies of aggression and war.

While actively leading immediate struggles, Communists in the capitalist countries should link them with the struggle for long-range and general interests, educate the masses in a Marxist-Leninist revolutionary spirit, ceaselessly raise their political consciousness and undertake the historical task of the proletarian revolution. If they fail to do so, if they regard the immediate movement as everything, determine their conduct from case to case, adapt themselves to the events of the day and sacrifice the basic interests of the proletariat, that is out and out social democracy.

Social democracy is a bourgeois ideological trend. Lenin pointed out long ago that the social democratic parties are political detachments of the bourgeoisie, its agents in the working class movement and its principal social prop. Communists must at all times draw a clear line of demarcation between themselves and social democratic parties on the basic question of the proletarian revolution and the dictatorship of the proletariat and liquidate the ideological influence of social democracy in the international working class movement and among the working people. Beyond any shadow of doubt Communists must win over the masses under the influence of the social democratic parties and must win over those left and middle elements in the social democratic parties who are willing to oppose domestic monopoly capital and domination by foreign imperialism, and must unite with them in extensive joint action in the day to day struggle of the working class movement and in the struggle to defend world peace.

In order to lead the proletariat and working people in revolution, Marxist-Leninist parties must master all forms of struggle and be able to substitute one form for another quickly as the conditions of struggle change. The vanguard of the proletariat will remain unconquerable in all circumstances only if it masters all forms of struggle – peaceful and armed, open and secret, legal and illegal, parliamentary struggle and mass struggle, etc. It is wrong to refuse to use parliamentary and other legal forms of struggle when they can and should be used. However, if a Marxist-Leninist party falls into legalism or parliamentary cretinism, confining the struggle within the limits permitted by the bourgeoisie, this will inevitably lead to renouncing the proletarian revolution and the dictatorship of the proletariat.

The former Communist Party, as we have remarked, was deluded by legality and parliamentarism into failing to estimate and explain that we live in conditions of the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie. The bourgeoisie is a ruthless, implacable enemy which resorts to the foulest deceit, to which the end of its own preservation always justifies the foulest of means: murder, deceit, bribery, corruption, diversion. Only a skilful Communist Party, carefully husbanding its resources and members versed in all the tricks of the enemy and never exposing its forces unnecessarily, and then only to the extent demanded, can achieve the greatest task of all – the liberation of the working people. The Communist Party of Australia (Marxist-Leninist) must become such a Party.

The splendid struggles of the Australian workingclass and working people, highlighted in the early days by Eureka and over the six-odd decades of federation by many, many outstanding events, have developed a great fighting tradition. That tradition must be cherished, preserved and developed.

Based on that tradition, the ranks of the Communists have been cleansed. Now the most important achievement of the splendid workingclass is that it has cleansed the ranks of the Communists and called into being the Communist Party of Australia (Marxist-Leninist). Supreme optimism and supreme confidence in the victory of the struggle for genuine Australian independence from Anglo-U.S. imperialism through the victory of Australian socialist revolution are fully warranted.