Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line


Comments on “Draft Statement on International Questions”

First Published: Discussion Bulletin #2, January 15, 1978.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Patrick Muldowney, Anita Hood and Paul Saba
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1. Martin and David’s draft of 12/12/77 affirms the concept of “three worlds and criticises opposition to that concept as a “Left-Wing” communist error that negates aspects of the international united front. This is a considerable step forward from a previous position of denouncing the concept as revisionist and basically agreeing with the “Left-wing” views expounded in the Albanian editorial of July 7. It shows that unity can be one through struggle and lays the basis for a future unanimity of views.

2. Nevertheless, I believe the draft has serious weaknesses and should not be taken as a basis for drafting a public statement by Red Eureka. Basically the draft represents a continued resistance and dragging of the feet over the central issues in dispute, and a reluctance to completely abandon wrong views that have had to be partially or largely abandoned. The impression created is of a sort of eclectic intermediate position in which the existence of three worlds and the importance of an international united front is grudgingly admitted, but surrounded by hesitation and qualification in a way that suggests that it is not really very important and may be a bit dangerous. Moreover it has the doctrinaire and didactic style, relying on rather abstract assertions, that is characteristic of this kind of thinking.

3. I believe we should fight in defence of Mao Tsetung’s theory of the united front and his revolutionary line in foreign affairs just as vigorously as we do in defence of his basic line for continuing the revolution in China and in opposition to the revisionist line in Australia. Our public statement in support of that line should be clear-cut, unambiguous and militant. It should not slur over any of the issues. A draft for such a statement will be circulated shortly some specific criticisms of Martin and David’s draft follow.

4. Paragraph 2 states that in the socialist countries the fundamental contradiction between socialism and capitalism expresses itself in the struggle between the socialist road and the capitalist road. This tells us precisely nothing and is bombastic twaddle. It goes on to state in the capitalist/revisionist countries this fundamental contradiction expresses itself in the struggle between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie. Surely a central part of Mao Tsetung’s development of Marxism-Leninism was his theory that in socialist countries too the struggle is between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie!

The point is not that this slip should be corrected, but that it arises from the doctrinaire style of including paragraphs that have no real purpose except to sound good.

5. Paragraph 3. tells us we must proceed from a recognition and analysis of our 4 “principle”(!) contradictions. It would be better to proceed not from abstract definitions but from concrete facts and actually demonstrate such an analysis – as the concept of three worlds does.

6. Paragraph 4 refers to “differentiation of the world’s governments.” Why “governments”? And why “in particular, diplomatic struggle”? The implication is that the mighty struggle of the third world against imperialism and especially the superpowers doesn’t have all that much to do with us, although it might be of relevance to the diplomacy of socialist countries.

7. Paragraph 5 refers to “the Right opportunists” as distinct from paragraph 6’s “Right opportunists in Australia.” Presumably the Chinese revisionists are being accused of substituting a distorted view of the “three worlds” as the general line. There may be something in this, as regards the way they are using “three worlds” as a symbol for the imposition of their direct control over the international movement. But I think the recent long Chinese editorial on the subject was mainly correct and we should not say anything that implies disagreement with it overall. It certainly stands out in complete contrast to the polemic against the “gang of four” as regards theoretical level.

The resemblances in the choice of arguments used and even particular quotations from the classics between the Chinese editorial and the article on “three worlds” signed Alan Ward in Discussion Bulletin No.1 may appear somewhat embarrassing. Since Alan Ward’s was written a good deal earlier it is clearly not a case of flunkeyism”! The explanation lies in the fact that these issues were thrashed out in China several years ago at the time these policies were adopted, and the arguments used and classical material referred to then, would be the same as those that would be found by any Marxist-Leninist thinking about the issue in Australia, as was done, at the time it became an issue, several years ago. It is not hard for revisionists to repeat correct arguments that have long been established. The surprising thing is that Marxist-Leninists should now try to refute them, when they were accepted as long as Mao Tsetung was alive. Access to a common fund of source material is confirmed by the Albanian editorial which quotes (ineffectively) different passages from several of the same works quoted in the Chinese editorial and our Discussion Bulletin. Presumably the Albanians had a similar reading list (perhaps arising from the bilateral discussions which had been going on for many years) and referred to works in that list because they were known to be relevant.

There is really nothing surprising about the Chinese party bourgeoisie favouring a united front with sections of the imperialist bourgeoisie elsewhere, and being able to repeat correct arguments for that united front, just as the Mensheviks were able to repeat correct Marxist arguments for participating in bourgeois parliaments in Russia. It does not make that united front wrong, nor the Chinese bourgeoisie’s participation in it wrong. (anymore than Churchill’s support for the united front against Hitler was wrong).

...the whole history of the 15 years of struggle between the Mensheviks and the Bolsheviks in Russia (1903-17) proves, as the three Russian revolutions also prove that, in general, the Mensheviks were absolutely wrong and that they were, in fact, agents of the bourgeoisie in the working-class movement. This fact is incontrivertible But this incontrivertible fact does not eliminate the other fact that in individual cases the Mensheviks were right and the Bolsheviks were wrong, as, for example, on the question of boycotting the Stolypin Duma in 1907. (Lenin, “Notes of a Publicist”, 1922, Collected Works Vol.33, pg.208, Moscow, 1966)

In the same work (same page) Lenin speaks of his role at the third Congress of the Communist Internationale in a way which the present writer finds comforting:

At that Congress I was on the extreme right flank. I am convinced that it was the only correct stand to take, for a very large (and influential) group of delegates, headed by many German, Hungarian and Italian comrades, occupied and inordinately “Left” and incorrectly Left position, and far too often, instead of soberly weighing up the situation that was not very favourable for immediate and direct revolutionary action, they vigourously indulged in the waving of little red flags.

8. Paragraph 6 describes a “general line of the Australian revolution” which sounds more like a basic program. It may be correct, but it differs substantially from the general line of new democracy (a form of the dictatorship of the proletariat) set out in the party program which readers of Rebel No. 2 were urged to “unite on the basis of.” We have already decided not to adopt any new formulation of the party program in Australia (or general line) without clarifying the whole question of the nature of the Australian revolution and the class analysis of Australian society.

9. Paragraph 7. (pgs. 1-2) says the two superpowers constitute the main enemy. It slurs over the issue of whether they are “to the same extent” as the Albanians say, or whether the Soviet Union is the more dangerous and the principle source of a new world war. Ample facts have been cited to prove the latter and we should clearly state it (while equally clearly opposing Vanguard’s attempts to prove the Soviet Union is stronger, is peacefully taking over, and is the explanation for everything from teacher unemployment to the Newport power station).

10. Paragraph 7. also states that the most effective contribution the proletariat of any capitalist/revisionist country can make to averting imperialist war is the seizure of sate power. No doubt that is the best thing to do under all circumstances, imperialist war or not and anybody who advises that the proletariat should seize state power will unfailingly be correct, whatever the particular issue. Unfortunately there is no immediate practical possibility of the proletariat seizing power and so the advice is not really helpful (although of course still “correct”). It is directly counterposed to the struggle to defend national independence which only “contributes” but is not “the most effective contribution”.

I think that actually fighting to defend national independence against the superpowers is a far more effective contribution both to isolating the superpowers and winning the revolution (as in Mao Tsetung’s war against Japanese imperialism) than abstract talk about seizing power.

11. Paragraph 8. how to turn an imperialist into a revolutionary war is the question. In one type of imperialist war, the first imperialist world war, the Bolshevik revolution gave the answer. In another type, the second imperialist world war, the united front against Japan gave the answer. Both ended up turning the war “into a revolutionary war aimed at the seizure and defence of state power.” Of course we cannot “rely” on one superpower to fight the other, but the clear implication is that we can never be allied with one against the other either. In that case Mao was wrong to unite with Chiang Kai-Shek and the Anglo American imperialist against Japan (even before the Soviet Union was attacked),and Stalin was wrong to form the world wide anti-fascist united front with western imperialist countries. It seems more likely that Martin and David are wrong. The question is not abstract. Soviet forces are massing against western Europe right now in just the same way that Hitler did. We either support appeasement or oppose it. The Russians will love communists talking abstractly about “revolutionary war” and not “relying” on one against the other, instead of actively preparing to wage revolutionary war with a united front as Mao Tsetung did. The Japanese loved similar talk from the “closed-doorists” and Trotskyites in the 1930’s.

12. Paragraph 10. what is a “basic and limited differentiation”? The “Left-wing” communist errors do not “consist largely of confusing the basic and limited differentiation of “three worlds” with revisionist distortions of it...” The error “consists” largely of negating the international united front and this is not the “result” of confusion with views peddled by the revisionists, but a trend that existed long before the coup.

13. Last paragraph (12). Yes the right opportunist line “must be relentlessly fought, overthrown and repudiated because the future of the international Marxist-Leninist movement and the Australian revolution is at stake.” Precisely because it is so important to defeat Right revisionism, we cannot afford to compromise with “Left-wing” errors. To do so means to let the Right off the hook and fail to overthrow it. As Lenin said often “no-one can discredit revolutionary social-democracy”, (read Communism) as long as it does not discredit itself.” (See “A Caricature of Marxism and Imperialist Economism” Collected Works Vol.23 pp 28-9 Moscow 1964 – a work directly relevant to the current controversy).

14. In this connection it is worth studying Chou En-lai’s political report to the historic Tenth National Congress of the CCP;

Chairman Mao has consistently taught us; it is imperative to note that one tendency covers another. The opposition to Chen Tu-hsiu’s Right opportunism which advocated “all alliance no struggle” covered Wang Ming’s quote “Left opportunism” which advocated all struggle no alliance.” The rectification of Wang Ming’s “Left” deviation covered Wang Ming’s Right deviation. The struggle against Liu Shao-chi’s revisionism covered Lin Piao’s revisionism. There were many instances in the past where one tendency covered another and when a tide came, the majority went along with it, while only a few withstood it. Today in both international and domestic struggles tendencies may still occur similar to those of the past, namely, when there was an alliance with the bourgeoisie necessary struggles were forgotten and when there was a split with the bourgeoisie, the possibility of an alliance under given conditions was forgotten. It is required of us to do our best to discern and rectify such tendencies in time. And when wrong tendencies surges towards us like a rising tide we must not fear isolation and must dare to go against the tide and brave it through. Chairman Mao states, going against the tide is a Marxist-Leninist principle. In daring to go against the tide and adhere to the correct line in the ten struggles between the two lines within the party, Chairman Mao is our example and teacher. Every one of our comrades should learn well from Chairman Mao and hold to this principle”. (adopted unanimously August 28 1973)

15. Contrast the above with Martin’s note “Although you will not agree with all of it I think it accurately reflects the majority view” ľan explicit call to swim with the tide. If Martin and David are right then it doesn’t matter a damn whether I agree with them or not, and neither does it matter whether they accurately reflect a majority view or not. Likewise if they are wrong. If they do accurately reflect the majority view on the other hand, then whether they are right or wrong, their view will be adopted by majority vote. In that case of course there is no need for the assertion that it is a majority view and nothing to worry about. In my opinion the assertion is made precisely because the author id afraid his view will not be adopted and wishes to exert pressure for it. The fact Martin and David have already been forced, by truth and by the majority, to abandon their previous views and it is to their credit that they did so) why shouldn’t they go and think it all over, reading the references given to them, instead of insisting that their new views “accurately reflect the majority”?