First Delivered: To a seminar in India, March 1995.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Sam Richards and 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.
Editor’s Note: The complete collapse of the socialist system in Soviet Union, undermined and subverted since decades, and the victory of counter-revolution in that country, make it necessary for all communists to reevaluate the evolution of the international communist movement during the last fifty years.
Since the surprise attack of Kruschev against Stalin during the XXth Congress of the CPSU in 1956, the international communist movement has been politically undermined by revisionism; a series of splits have gravely divided and weakened it. To evaluate these last fifty years is essential if one is to eradicate the roots of revisionism, and to establish the unity of the international communist movement, on the basis of marxist-leninist principles and proletarian internationalism.
In this report, the Belgian Party of Labour (Parti du Travail/Partij van de Arbeit) takes into account two specific aspects of the struggle against revisionism: the struggle for communist unity and the struggle for the defense of proletarian internationalism, against bourgeois nationalism.
* * *
To situate the discussion, we shall first sum up some of our fundamental positions.
Our world is still in the era of imperialism and proletarian revolution.
The “New World Order” is a return to the Order that existed at the beginning of the XXth century, when the imperialist powers alone imposed their will on the rest of the world.
With the downfall of what was left of socialism in USSR and the countries of Eastern Europe, all the contradictions of imperialism and capitalism have been exacerbated.
The twenty-first century will again set forward, with much greater violence and scope, the two key-questions of this century: the question of the socialist revolution in the capitalist countries and the question of national and democratic revolution, as first phase of the socialist revolution in the countries dominated by imperialism.
The bourgeoisie greeted the counter-revolutionary restoration in the Soviet Union as being a “true revolution” that would ensure “human rights, liberty and democracy”. Now, after not even five years, one can observe that the peoples of the ex-Soviet Union suffer oppression and exploitation, the results of free-for-all capitalism, with its ensuing poverty, unemployment, civil war and fascism.
Germany has confirmed its will to be a dominant power in Europe by hastening the conquest of the Democratic Republic of Germany and the dislocation of Yugoslavia. The civil wars in ex-Yugoslavia are upheld by the rivalries between Germany, the United States, France, England and Russia for the domination of the Balkans and the Near-East.
Since the destruction of the Soviet Union, rivalry between the major imperialist countries, the United States, Germany and Japan, has become a dominant element of the international situation. This economic and strategic rivalry may, because of the worsening of the general crisis of the imperialist system, lead to another world war between imperialist powers.
Following the restoration in Soviet Union, imperialism initiated a war of agression against the people of Irak, causing between 150.000 and 250.000 deaths; the economic boycott maintained since the war has already caused the death of more than 700.000 children.
This criminal war openly revealed a certain number of new characteristics of imperialist domination.
The leading imperialist countries are ready to use against any third-world country that dares defend its independence, its sovereignty and the control of its natural riches, the most sophisticated war technologies, as they have done against Irak.
Imperialism is a criminal, barbaric and inhuman system, incompatible with the simple survival of billions of people all over the world.
The “duty of iterference” is the new slogan which imperialism uses to deny third-world countries sovereignty, in order to enforce political and military recolonisation.
The Democrat and Republican parties in the United-States, the social-christian, liberal, nationalist, conservative and socialist parties in Europe, have all participated in the agression against Irak – occidental democracy has thus shown that it is essentially “pluralist” for the forces that uphold imperialist barbary.
To crush a small, third-world country of 18 million people, the United States had to mobilize masive armed forces and financial support. But this great destructive blow concentrated on a small point of the globe also reveals a strategic weakness. As oppression and poverty become more and more unbearable, the objective conditions for large revolutionary movements also develop.
Only the national and democratic revolution, as the necessary step towards socialist revolution, can solve the problems of the oppressed masses of Africa, Asia and South-America. This revolution must be led by an authentic marxist-leninist party, with the working class as leading force, and must be founded on the alliance between the working class and the peasants and on the united front of all the forces fighting against imperialism and neo-colonial dictatorship.
In the very heart of the “civilized world”, capitalism offers a future made of unemployment and social regression, racism, criminality, fascism and military intervention abroad. Under the progressive fascisation of the State, bourgeois democracy is emptied of its substance. In the parliamentary democracies, the bourgeoisie enforces its political, economical and ideological dictatorship over the masses. The pacific and parliamentary transition towards socialism is a deceit, the road taken by the October revolution remains the only one leading to the liberation of the working class.
The mouth-pieces of imperialism proclaim: “Socialism is utopist; only capitalism is efficient”. But this demagogy can no longer mask the real nature of capitalism and imperialism, this inhuman, barbaric and criminal system, that creates an ever worsening economical, social, political and moral crisis, on a world scale.
When the bourgeoisie proclaims the definitive failure of communism, they use the shameful bankruptcy of revisionism in Eastern Europe and the USSR to reafirm their hatred for the grandiose task carried out in the past by Marx and Engels, Lenin, Stalin and Mao Zedong. The bourgeoisie wants to make people believe that marxism-leninism has been definitively buried, because they are fully conscious of the relevance and vitality of communist analysis and because they know that the communists are their only irreductible ennemies.
Facing the abyss of unemployment, poverty, exploitation and violence which confront the workers of the world, only marxism-leninism-Mao Zedong thought can open the way to national and social liberation.
Following deep political and ideological differences and often bitter political struggle, the international communist movement split after 1956.
During the last thirty-five years, we have witnessed the creation of a so-called “pro-chinese” tendency, which itself divided into several sub-tendencies after the death of Mao Zedong. The “pro-USSR”, majority, tendency, split into numerous tendencies after the complete restoration of capitalism under Gorbatchev. The “pro-Albanese” tendency divided following the downfall of socialism in Albania. Since the sixties, a “pro-cuban” tendency has appeared in Latin America. Some parties maintained an “independent” position regarding all of these tendencies.
Whatever opinion one may uphold concerning the validity or even the necessity of these splits at a given moment in history, the necessity and the possibility to overcome them exists today. For two reasons:
First, revisionism has weakened and divided the international communist movement till it finally openly showed its true aspect: a political line serving the bourgeoisie and imperialism.
After the destruction of socialism in the Soviet union, and the dislocation of Lenin’s country, all communists must understand that revisionism is the most dangerous ideological enemy of marxism-leninism. In fact, revisionism represents nothing less than the presence of the bourgeoisie in the communist movement.
Furthermore, the divisions and splits of the last thirty-five years have gravely weakened the international communist movement as a whole.
Based on one or several important ideological divergences, efforts have been made to unify parties and organisations in groupings with a specific ideological and political basis. But amidst these different groups, certain parties have succeeded in rooting themseves in the masses, have acquired their own revolutionary experience and have combined marxism-leninism with the realities of their country. On the other hand, in each of these groups of parties, we have seen organisations go over to left or right opportunism, barely surviving without having any influence on the class struggle and then disappearing. Splits have weakend the international communist movement and each of its components.
Since the foundation of the First International by Marx and Engels in 1864, the defence of the revolutionary line and the defence of unity have always been two essential aspects of marxist politics.
At the beginning of the working class movement, Marx stressed the importance of unity on the largest possible scale. “Our Association has been created to establish a central point of communication and cooperation betweeen the worker’s societies of different countries tending towards the same objectives: the defence, progress and complete emancipation of the working class” (Marx-Engels: The Class Party, Tome 11, Maspero, 1973, p. 93).
In the First International, Marx accepted that very different political opinions be formulated. In a text adopted by the General Council he wrote: “Because the fractions of the working class in each country and the working class of different countries are actually at different levels of development, their theoretical opinions, that reflect the real movement, are equally divergent” (Ibidem, p.151).
But in the First International, Marx and Engels fought for scientifical socialism to be adopted by the different sections.
As a result of this two-pronged tactical approach, marxism became the main ideological stream amongst the conscious workers.
The Second International was founded in 1889 by Engels. Coinciding with a period of relatively rapid development of capitalism in Europe, millions of workers adhered to the marxist doctrine. But, under the influence of relatively pacific conditions in Europe, “during all the period of the Second International, the international working class movement was divided into two main fractions: the revolutionary marxists, and the opportunist, so-called marxists. Engels led a firm struggle against the opportunists” (Debate on the General Line of the ICM. Beijing.1965. P.323).
Lenin followed the same principle: in the Second International, from 1900 to 1914, he firmly defended the revolutionary essence of marxism, while maintaining the unity of the movement. But strong, openly bourgeois currents, like those of Bernstein, had already weakened the German social-democratic party, the main party of the Second International. By maintaining unity, Lenin did the utmost to help the development of the left wing in the Second International. In August 1914 “the revisionists of the Second International have gone from a secret to an open alliance with the bourgeoisie” (Ibidem. P.326). As from then on, Lenin prepared the foundation of a Third International.
Kruschev’s and Breznev’s revisionism have been the greatest treason of Marxism-Leninism, and the main cause of the division and weakening of the international communist movement.
Between 1956 and 1964, a vital ideological struggle was carried out in the international communist movement. It is essential to dwell on this period, when the necessity of choosing between marxism-leninism or revisionism, revolution or reformism, continuation of the revolution or political degeneration, dictatorship of the proletariat or capitalist restoration were made very clear.
Kruschev’s report to the Twentieth Congress in 1956, his secret Report on Stalin that same year and his Report at the 22nd Congress, in 1962, give a complete example of the revisionist, bourgeois line in the International Communist Movement.
All the foundations of progressive degeneration that was to lead, between 1985 and 1990, to the open restoration of capitalism, were formulated in these fundamental documents. It is mpossible to lead a consequent struggle against the treacherous Gorbatchev line, without exposing its roots in Kruschtchev’s positions. Because, as today’s free-for-all capitalism in the ex-USSR takes on political forms of fascist character, one may very well oppose the dictatorship of Yeltsine from a reformist, social-democratic position, inspired by Kruschtchev.
Mao Zedong and the Chinese Communist Party’s historical merit was to defend marxism-leninism against Kruschtchev’s revisionism, notably in the publication entitled: “Debate on the General Line”. Thirty years after its publication, this document is still fully valid; even more: the dislocation of the USSR has underlined its actuality.
These texts being well known, we will simply stress one particular point. During the polemic between 1956-1964, Mao Zedong not only defended marxism-leninism against revisionism, but also unity of the communists against scissionism. To enforce their bourgeois or petit-bourgeois line, opportunists always resort to intrigues, division and scissionism.
In 1962, the CCP stressed the importance of unity in these terms: “The cause of the proletariat has always had an international character. Communists of all countries must unite in a joint struggle for the triumph of their cause. Without solidarity and unity based on proletarian internationalism, no country can achieve revolutionary victory or consolidate it. The only correct way of protecting and strengthening this unity is to respect the principles determining the fraternal relations between communist parties and countries. These principles are: unity based on marxism-leninism and proletarian internationalism, mutual help and asssistance, independance and equality, unanimity of view achieved through discussion” (Modern Leninism and revisionism. La Cité Editions. P.116-117).
As far as political differences between different parties are concerned, the CCP wrote: “As the issues of common interest for fraternal parties are extremely complex, and the conditions in which these parties work are very different, and as the objective situation continually changes, divergent opinions are often inevitable between communist parties, they must be solved patiently, in a spirit of proletarian internationalism, and according to the principles of equality and unity of outlook achieved through discussion” (Leninism and modern revisionism. La Cité Editions. Lausanne. P.20).
These principles where developed in further detail by the CCP during the Great Debate:
“Respect the principle of solidarity, and never encourage a communist party to attack another one, nor carry out sectarian or scissionist activities; uphold the principle of mutual respect and aid, and never try to control the other party, taking aid as pretext to do so (...), respect the principle of equality and independance, and never place one party above another, or impose the line and the resolutions of one’s Party. Never interfere in the internal affairs of another party nor undertake subversive activities(...) respect the principle of unanimity achieved through discussion, and never impose the erroneous line of one’s own Party, taking as pretext a so-called majority...” (Debate on the general line of the international communist movement. Foreign Language Editions. Beijing. 1965. P.370).
During the 1963 struggle the CCP, while criticizing revisionism, steadfastly defended the unity of the international Communist Movement, even though there were grave dissensions in the movement. “If you do not correct your revisionist errors, we shall continue to criticize you, without hesitation and quite frankly, in the interest of the CPSU, the Soviet people and the Soviet State, and for the unity of the socialist camp and the international communist movement” (Debate on the general line of the Communist International Movement. Foreign Language Editions. Beijing. 1965. P.344). “In the International Communist Movement, we even stay in contact with revisionists; so why should we not do the same with marxist-leninists?” (Debate on the general line of the Communist International Movement. Foreign Language Editions. Beijing. 1965. P.360).
It is the revisionist parties of Eastern Europe that broke off relations with the CCP. Only the Rumanian Party maintained friendly relations with the CCP who, in turn, maintained its relations with Ceaucescu’s Party, whose revisionist positions are well known.
Mao Zedong declared in 1957: “The goal of the struggle is to maintain the principles of Marxism-Leninism, which means we must be firm as concerns principles; that is one aspect of the problem. The other aspect is to achieve unity. Unity has as goal to offer an issue for the other, to achieve compromise with him; it is what is called flexibility. The unity between principles and flexibility is a marxist-leninist principle, the unity of contraries” (Volume V, p.560).
Kruschev’s revisionism disrupted the unity of the communist movement by estranging parties that defended marxism-leninism. But afterwards, sectarism and leftism led to innumerable unjustified splits. Real differences in analysis and appreciation were magnified till they led to antagonisms and splits. Of course, the fundamental divergences had to be clarified, but it should have been done in due time, on the basis of materialist and lucid analysis, while maintaining unity between communists.
Some parties, which upheld the anti-revisionist struggle of the Chinese Communist Party – and we were among them – have labeled the Cubans as “mercenaries of soviet expansionism”. The Cuban Communist Party, in turn, called the Chinese Communist Party “hegemonistic and reactionary, allied to american imperialism”.
In the same fashion, there were important ideological and political conflicts concerning Checoslovakia in 1968, the elimination of the Gang of Four in 1976, the theory of the Three Worlds in 1977, Kampuchea in 1979, Afghanistan in 1980, the line of Deng Xiaoping during the 80’s.
All these conflicts were important. Each party should have very seriously studied the different positions taken, formulated their own opinion, while protecting the unity of the movement. It is a fact that today, communists who have been in most violent conflicts over Checoslovakia, Afghanistan, the theory of the Three Worlds, Deng’s line etc., are in the same camp, defending marxism-leninism and fighting revisionism, after having brought the necessary corrections to their anterior positions.
As far as we are concerned, our Party has drawn one conclusion from the violent struggles we have witnessed: whatever the bitterness of the confrontation in another party or between two communist parties, we must, while studying them very seriously, maintain at all cost the unity of our own party. The same principle should be applied to the whole International Communist Movement: whatever the bitterness of the divergences concerning struggles in a communist party or between several parties, we cannot allow them to lead to the splitting up of the movement...
Of course, one could object that communists cannot make concessions as far as the principle is concerned. To this we answer: each party applies marxist-leninist principles to present reality as they conceive it. Nobody can ask that a party makes concessions on what is considered as principle. Each party defines its position in complete independance. But this is not in contradiction with its duty to maintain the unity of the International Communist Movement, since this unity is also a question of principle.
In this area, it is important to keep in mind the plans of the ennemies of the communist movement. There are many documents to describe the way the CIA and other secret services use divergences in the communist parties and between parties to encourage extremist struggle, division and splits. The ennemy, well aware of the importance of the communist movement’s unity, will go to all extremes to disrupt it and uphold all centrifugal tendencies, often backing both revisionist and leftist positions.
One could question the validity of maintaining unity with parties considered as right opportunists or left sectarians.
Mao Zedong once said: “The important thing is to know how to learn”. We consider this position as fundamental, concerning our attitude towards the International Communist Movement. Maintaining the unity of the movement allows each party to learn more and faster.
Our party has endorsed the principle of maintaining relations with communist parties whose political line we consider as being right or left opportunist.
First of all, because we can be mistaken in our judgement.
Secondly, because experience has showed that we can benefit from some aspects of their work among the masses, of their experiences, their theoretical work etc.
Third, because fundamental divergences concerning the ideological line must not prevent certain forms of cooperation and joint struggle in the areas of racism, trade-union rights, anti-imperialist struggle.
Fourth, We have to take into account possible changes. Some parties that we consider as revisionist or leftist, or some fractions of these parties, could evolve positively.
Finally, parties with which we have grave divergences may completely degenerate and go over to the side of bourgeois order. The fact of having maintained relations with these parties can give us “negative” lessons, that we can formulate better for having followed, step by step,the evolution of these parties.
To contribute to the unification of the International Communist Movement on the basis of marxism-leninism and proletarian internationalism, it is important that the parties refering to the thought of Mao Zedong adopt a scientifical and critical attitude towards the work of comrade Mao Zedong.
The Belgian Party of Labour (PTB/PVDA) takes marxism-leninism and the thought of Mao Zedong as an ideological guide. Our party recognizes that Mao Zedong has made two major contributions to the science of Marxism-Leninism.
For the first time in history, he developed the theory and strategy of the national-democratic revolution in a large oppressed Third World country, as a preparatory step leading to socialist revolution, and he led the chinese revolution, through great difficulties, until the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat.
After Kruschev took over in the USSR, Mao Zedong led the struggle against modern revisionism and, through the development of the cultural revolution, enriched the theory of the continuation of class struggle under the dictatorship of the proletariat.
All the parties which have followed the teachings of Mao Zedong from 1963 to 1976 have in common a certain number of political positions that have been strongly contended by communists pertaining to other schools of thought. In the present situation of the International Communist Movement, it would be negative that parties, that accept Mao Zedong’s thought, regroup on a plateform based on a specifically “maoist” thesis. Not only would it be negative for the unification of the international communist movement, but it would also deforce us politically and ideologically. Most of the parties refering to Mao Zedong have accepted a certain number of theoretical positions: the struggle between the two lines, as a leading element for the construction of the Party, the universal value of the cultural revolution, the emergence of Soviet social-imperialism from 1968 on, the thought of Mao Zedong as being a superior phase of the development of marxism-leninism etc. It could be that a certain number of marxist-leninist parties unify on these grounds, but this would maintain negative and unjustified divisions. The objective is not to repeat the slogans and affirmations that were the hallmarks of the the maoist movement during the 60’s and the 70’s, but to scientifically discuss, on the ground of the experiences of the last decades, the theoretical positions of Mao Zedong, which are still fully valid. One must discard all “preliminaries” that make it impossible to achieve unity with the communists of other schools of thought, one must convincingly refute their criticisms of certain aspects of Mao Zedong’s positions, recognize their pertinent criticisms and achieve mutual political and ideological progress. A scientific debate will surely show how contradictory, and even opposed, the interpretations of our “common heritage” can be, among the parties refering to the thought of Mao Zedong.
For the parties that accept the thought of Mao Zedong, to adopt a scientific attitude means to adopt an attitude of critical evaluation concerning some of the positions upheld by Mao Zedong, taking into account the events that have taken place in the (ex-) socialist countries and in reference to the works of Lenin and Stalin. As far as we are concerned, we formulate some criticisms concerning specific positions of Mao Zedong. Some examples:
During theTwentieth Congress, Kruschev launched his surprise attack on Stalin, in order to impose his revisionist line.
At first, the position of Mao Zedong and the CCP was hesitant. They did not consistantly defend the marxist-leninist work of Stalin, but followed Kruschev in some of his opportunist criticisms of Stalin.
The fundamental document about this is entitled “The Historical Experience of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat”, drafted on the 5th of april and the 29th of december 1956.
This text defends Stalin and the “fundamental experience of the revolution and edification in the Soviet Union” (The historical experience of the dictatorship of the proletariat. Beijing. 1961. P.33). Nevertheless, in the criticisms concerning Stalin, we notice a strong tendency towards a reconciliation with revisionism.
In fact, some of the criticisms formulated by Mao Zedong and the CCP simply repeat Kruschev’s calumnies. The CCP formulates some unfounded affirmations, with no serious facts to back them up. The conclusion is in the same tone: Kruschev has taken steps to correct Stalin’s errors! The document affirms that “During the last period of his life, a series of victories and the eulogies which were dedicated to him went to Stalin’s head. In his way of thinking he discarded, partially but gravely, dialectical materialism and succumbed to subjectivism. He started to have blind faith in his own wisdom and authority; he refused to do research and serious study concerning complex situations, or to lend an attentive ear to the opinions of his comrades or the masses. Consequently, some of the positions and political steps he took were in contradiction with objective reality; he often persisted in applying these erroneous measures, and was unable to rectify his mistakes in due time. The Communist Party of the Soviet union has already taken steps to rectify the errors of Stalin” (The historical experience of the dictatorship of the proletariat. Foreign Language Editions. Beijing. p. 42).
Nothing is correct in these affirmations formulated by Kruschev. During the last year of his life, Stalin wrote: “The economic problems of socialism in the USSR” and supervised the drafting of the Report that Malenkov presented on October 5th 1952 at the XIXth Congress. These two documents prove that Stalin correctly applied dialectical materialism, that he did research and enquiries, and that he perceived the weaknesses of the Party and the theoretical errors that were to produce, a few years later, Kruschtchev’s revisionism.
In the “Historical Experience”, the CCP even took up one of Kruschev’s most outlandish accusations against Stalin: “(Stalin) was not sufficiently vigilant on the eve of the anti-fascist war” (The historical experience of the dictatorship of the proletariat. 1961. Foreign Language Editions. Beijing. p. 9-10).
Further on in this document, the CCP copies Kruschtchev’s positions about the extinction of class struggle, that were previously developed by Bukharin in the thirties. The CCP does not present any concrete analysis of the complex and crucial period of the purges. They repeat the banalities of Kruschev about the necessity of “perfecting democracy rather than insisting on the deepening of class struggle”: “After the destruction of the exploiting classes and the liquidation, for the essential, of the counter-revolutionary forces, the dictatorship of the proletariat was still necessary to fight what was left of the interior counter-revolution...but it should have been mainly directed towards the agressive forces of outide imperialism. In these conditions, it was necessary to develop and progressively perfect, in the political life of the country, the different democratic methods, develop socialist legality, reinforce the people’s control over state organisms, develop democratic methods in the administration of the State and the factories, tighten the bonds between state organisms and the factories, on one hand, and the large masses, on the other hand(...) fight even more firmly against the bureaucratic tendencies, instead of insisting on the deepening of class struggle after the liquidation of the classes, which was what Stalin did, hindering the healthy development of socialist democracy” (The historical experience of the dictatorship of the proletariat, 1961. Foreign Language Editions. Beijing. p.54-55).
In other occasions in 1956, Mao Zedong formulates some criticisms of the industrial and agrarian policies of the USSR that do not stand up to analysis. “The collectivization of our agriculture was carried out in several phases, which was not the case in the USSR” (Mao Zedong, Volume V, p. 376). “In the Soviet Union, peasants are put under too much pressure. Too much is taken away from their harvests, and at an extremely low price. By accumulating funds in this way, one diminishes the enthusiasm of the peasants for production” (V, p. 314). The Soviet Union “has put the accent unilaterally on heavy industry, to the detriment of agriculture and light industry” (Mao Zedong, volume V, p. 307). It is obvious that this “assessment” is not based on a detailed study of the Soviet experience. Fundamentally, it is quite close to Bukharin’s positions. The class differenciation in the country made the open battle for collectivization of 1929-1930 inevitable. It answered the question; what way to follow in the country, the way to capitalism or the way to socialism? The ”forced march” carrying out of industrialization was historically necessary in order to ensure the defence of the USSR and to completely transform the technical basis and the cultural profile of the rural regions.
During the Great Debate in 1963, the CCP and Mao Zedong defended Stalin in a more consistant manner, but there was still grave lackings. The vital importance of the ideological and political struggle against trotskysm, bukharinism and bourgeois nationalism was completely left aside. Refering only to “two types of contradictions”, the CCP refused to analyse concretely the political lines and positions concerned. The following quotation is, in fact, an unavowed defence of bukharinist positions. “In the struggles led both inside and outside the Party, Stalin did not distinguish at certain moments and for certain problems between the two categories of contradictions, whose natures are different-contradictions between the ennemy and us and contradictions among the people (...) The process of elimination of the counter-revolution(...) allowed many counter-revolutionary elements to be justly punished; but honest people where also unjustly condemned, and thus he made the mistake of enlarging the repression in 1937 and 1938” (Debate on the general line of the international communist movement. Foreign Language Editions. Beijing. 1965. p. 129).
In fact, in his report of march 1937, which was the starting point of the purges, Stalin fought not only against the rightist tendency that underestimated necessary vigilance, but he also explicitly warned against the tendency towards arbitrarily enlarging the purges and repression. Stalin also criticized the bureaucratic tendencies that kept the necessary purges from being carried out in accordance with party principles. It is Stalin himself who denounced, at the beginning of 1938, the exagerations and deviations of the purges, which he afterwards rectified.
It is important to dwell on these mistakes in the writings of Mao Zedong, because they had a strong influence on the young marxist-leninist movement that developed in Europe from 1963 on. This movement was marked by petit-bourgeois ideologies, whose common characteristic was anti-stalinism. The positions of Mao Zedong that we spoken about have encouraged an interpretation of “maoism” as a new theory opposed to stalinism, and thus leninism. Our party has always defended the positions stated in “The Question of Stalin” of the CCP. But the study of the theory and practise of Stalin was neglected, or forgotten. The CCP stated in 1966: “Comrade Mao Zedong developed marxism-leninism in an outstanding, creative way, in all realms; he has brought it up to a new, superior level” (Little Red Book. Introduction of 1966). In our Party, it was generally acknowledged that “in all realms” the ideas of Mao Zedong were “superior” to those of Stalin or even Lenin. It was not deemed necessary to study in which areas Mao Zedong had brought a true enrichment to the marxist-leninist theory.
In the past, our party accepted the idea, often stated in the chinese texts, that Stalin, as opposed to Mao, did not understand that class struggle continued under socialism. Proof of this was apparently given in Stalin’s Report on the 1936 Constitution project, where he says: “All the exploiting classes have been liquidated. Remains the working class; remains the peasant class; remain the intellectuals”. On this passage, professor Thomson made a classic comment: “Here, the exploiting classes have been eliminated; the class struggle, apparently, is ended” (Stalin: Questions of Leninism. Tirana Editions. 1970. p. 702. Thomson. p. 131). In fact, a comprehensive study of Stalin’s works shows how wrong this conclusion is. For Stalin, the elimination of the landlords, the capitalists and the kulaks did not at all mean the end of the class struggle and the dictatorship of the proletariat.
Several of Thomson’s “maoist” positions are characteristic of the petit-bourgeois intellectuals who were impressed by the mass movement in socialist China, but continued to be influenced by anti-communism.
Thomson wrote, in 1971: “Stalin followed the Leninist line down to 1935, but subsequently, he departed from it in two ways; on the one hand, the new constitution rested on the assumption that, as far as internal relations were concerned, the dictatorship of the proletariat could be relaxed; and for this reason it was welcomed by the new bourgeoisie, who accepted it as confirmation of their privileges. This was a “rightist” deviation. On the other hand, since the dictatorship of the proletariat could not in fact be relaxed, it was maintained by administrative methods as a function of the security police. This was a “Leftist” deviation – the error of what Lenin had called “over-administration” – which had already manifested itself in the leftists excesses that had marred the struggle against the kulaks. The two deviations complemented and supported each other. Ennemies were treated as friends and friends as ennemies.” (Thomson, George. From Marx to Mao Tse-Tung. China Policy Study Group.London. 1971. p.35-136).
In Europe, many marxist-leninist organisations were influenced by the errors of Mao Zedong and CCP, that they have often “improved” in the same way as professor Thomson did.
In the early seventies, Harpal Brar published a series of pamphlets criticizing the opportunist positions of professor Thomson and of different british M-L organisations. He wrote: “The anti-Bolshevism of these gentlemen is invariably accompagnied by their loud professions of “support”and “praise” for China and Mao Zedong... Under the fraudulent cover of concern for the Soviet peasantry, they are concerned to denounce and discredit the CPSU(c)’s Leninist line on the agrarian question, and secondly,to catch the simpletons among the revolutionaries with tales of alledged differences between China and the USSR, between comrade Mao Zedong and comrade Stalin, and to muddle them up completely, by leading them away from Leninism. How do certain of our comrades in the movement react to this fraudulent trick? Instead of tearing the mask from these bourgeois tricksters, instead of convincing them of practising deception, they swallow the bait, walk into the trap, and allow themselves to adopt an anti-Stalinist and therefore anti-Leninist position... Not everyone who “praises” China is a Marxist (502).
Up to today, there are people who maintain the anti-communist thesis according to which Stalin led the class struggle by using administrative methods and the State Security forces. A Marxist-Leninist group writes: “One of the fundamental errors of Stalin” was that he fought bureaucracy not “by the mobilization of critical masses, but unilaterally, through the State Security, which was itself bureaucratized” (RF, 5-95, p. 17).
Stalin had to build socialism in a continuous struggle against all bourgeois trends inside the party.
Three bourgeois trends put Soviet socialism at risk.
Trotskyism, which, under a “leftist” pretense, developed an anti-Soviet and anti-communist line, fitting perfectly the interests of imperialism, in particular German imperialism.
Bukharinism reedited the Social-democratic line under socialism and was preaching the extinction of classes, the incorporation of capitalist elements in socialism and the conciliation with Menshevik currents.
Bourgeois nationalism was raising the masses of some nationalities, under the impulse of the national bourgeoisie, against socialism while agitating the slogan of “independence”.
These three ideological fights had a historical importance for the strengthening of the dictatorship of the proletariat.
The struggle against bourgeois nationalism and the defense of proletarian internationalism was renewed after the end of World War 2.
While crushing the fascist troops, the Soviet Union gained some disputed territories from Poland and Rumania. The Baltic countries, areas torn apart during the thirties between Fascist Germany and the Socialist Soviet Union became part of the Soviet Union. The latter also integrated territories belonging before to Finland and to Japan, in particular the Kurile islands.
Those measures corresponded to the security needs of the Soviet Union, the only socialist state after 1945. Stalin understood perfectly well that, after the defeat of Germany, the other imperialist powers would double their efforts to destroy the Soviet Union. The integration of these territories in the Soviet Union was also in the interests of the workers and peasants who could therefore engage themselves in the socialist way.
Since the end of the war, fascists in these territories developed nationalist campaigns in order to set up the masses against socialism. They followed the path of the Ukrainian, Georgian and other reactionaries during the twenties and thirties. They used bourgeois nationalism as a rallying point of all anti-socialist tendencies.
The Red Army, chasing the Nazis, liberated Hungary, Checoslovaquia, Poland, Rumania and other Eastern European countries.
In June 1944, one of the main French collaborator wrote, under the pseudonym Vindex, a small book entitled “Stalinisme”. It is entirely devoted to “Soviet imperialism” whose “present expansion aims at Europe and the Middle East”. “The main point of the programme is the sovietization of industrial areas in the East of Europe”. The result will be “the crushing of civilization and, more generally, the end of free and independent peoples on our continent”. (Vindex: Stalinisme, ed Le Document, Paris, Juin 1944, p.56,154,156,168).
Already before the coming of Soviet troops in Hungary, the fascists around Horty were trying to get the American and British troops inside Hungary. They were seeking the support of Western imperialism to “defend Hungarian independence” against the “Soviet danger”. The American generals, supporting the fascist forces, denounced in 1947 “a foreign (Soviet) intervention in the internal affairs of Hungary so that the minority (the communists) would impose their will to the elected majority” (General Weems, quoted in L. Martens, The USSR and the velvet counter revolution, 1991) In fact, the presence of the Red Army helped the workers and the peasants in their class struggle against the landlords and the capitalists, and made easier the elimination of the bourgeois dictatorship and the transition to socialism.
During the twenties and thirties, Stalin developed internationalist positions that acquired a new relevance after the war, when semi-feudal countries, in Eastern Europe and Asia started the socialist construction. Here is what he says:
“One must remember that our communist organizations in the periphery, cannot develop themselves, stand up, and become real internationalist cadres, unless they win over nationalism. Nationalism is the main ideological obstacle in the way of training of marxist cadres, of a marxist vanguard in the periphery and in the republics...Nationalism plays there the same role that menchevism played in the past for the Bolshevik party. It is only under the guise of nationalism that bourgeois influences, and menshevik influences can penetrate in our peripheric organizations...The nationalist wind tries to penetrate in our party in the periphery... The bourgeoisie is alive, the NEP develops itself, nationalism also... the influence of foreign states that support nationalism by all means is also felt.” (p.203)
“The essence of the deviation towards local nationalism is the tendency to isolate oneself in the national shell; to forget about class antagonisms in one’s nation; to defend oneself against great-Russian chauvinism, while going away from a general trend of socialist edification; the trend not to see what unites the working masses of the Soviet nationalities and to see only what can separate them. The deviation towards local nationalism reflects the disatisfaction of the declining classes of previously oppressed nations against the regime of proletarian dictatorship, their tendency to isolate themselves in their respective national states and to set up there their class domination” (p.339)
“What is deviation towards nationalism, never mind whether it is great-Russian nationalism or local nationalism? That deviation means the adaptation of the internationalist policy of the working class to the nationalist policy of the bourgeoisie. The deviation towards nationalism reflects the attempts of one’s “own” “national” bourgeoisie to undermine the Soviet regime and to reestablish capitalism. The source of those two deviations is ...common to both. It is the giving up of Leninist internationalism... The main danger is due to the deviation that we stopped fighting against and that has become a danger for the state.” (p. 344-345)
In 1948, Stalin launched a historic struggle against the policy followed by Tito in Yugoslavia. Titism was a combination of the three bourgeois currents, Trotskyism, Bukharinism and nationalism that were defeated in the Soviet Union during the twenties, thirties and forties. At that time, the international bourgeoisie denounced the “control” that Stalin wanted to exert on Yugoslavia and supported the “policy of independence” of Tito. However, this struggle was not between “control” and independence, but between the marxist-leninist line and the bourgeois line. The struggle against Tito was not a detail: it was a summary of all the struggles waged by Stalin against the ennemies of Bolshevism.
In launching in 1948 the struggle against Tito’s revisionism, Stalin showed his foresight and his firmness on principles. Forty-five years later, history completely confirmed his forecasts.
At the time of the German invasion, in 1941, the clandestine Yugoslavian party had 12.000 members; 8.000 of them were killed during the war. But it increased by 140.000 members during the war and by another 360.000 before mid-1948. Tens of thousands of Kulaks, bourgeois and petit-bourgeois elements entered the party. (James Klugmann, From Trotsky to Tito, Lawrence and Wishart, London, 1951, p13). Tito relied more and more on the latter in his struggle against authentic communists. The party did not have a normal internal life, there was no political discussion inside it, and therefore no marxist-leninist criticism and self-criticism; the leaders were not elected but co-opted (p.22)
In June 1948, the Cominform, grouping 8 parties published a statement criticizing the Yugoslavian party. It underlined the fact that Tito did not care about the increasing class differences in the countryside and about the growth of capitalist elements in the country (P.9). The resolution claimed that, starting from a bourgeois nationalist position, the Yugoslavian party had broken the united socialist front against imperialism. The text said: “Such a nationalist line can only lead to the degerescence of Yugoslavia into an ordinary bourgeois republic”. (p.11)
Having heard this critique, Tito launched a massive purge. All the marxist-leninist elements were eliminated from the party. Two members of the Central Commitee, Zhoujovic and Hebrang, had been arrested in 1948. General Arso Jovanovic, Head of the Partisan’s army was arrested and assassinated, as well as general Slavko Rodic (p.43). “The Times” mentioned numerous arrests of communists supporting the resolution of the Cominform and estimated the number of arrested people between 100.000 and 200.000 (p.143).
In his report to the eight party congress, in 1948, Kardelj used many quotes from Stalin in order to claim that Yugoslavia “pushed back Kulak elements” and would never take “anti-Soviet positions”.
But a few months later, the Titists publicly endorsed the old social-democratic theory of the transition from bourgeoisie to socialism without class struggle! Bebler, vice-minister of foreign affairs, declared in april 1949: “We do not have kulaks like there were in the Soviet Union. Our rich peasants took part in the people’s liberation war... Would it be a mistake if we manage to make the kulaks pass to socialism without class struggle? (Klugmann, p129). And in 1951, the Tito team declared that the “Soviet kolkhoze reflects State capitalism that, mixed with many left-overs from feudalism, is the social system of the USSR”. Developing Bukharin’s conceptions, the Titists replaced planning by free market: “Nobody outside the cooperative sets the norm or the categories of what has to be produced.” They organize “the transition to a system leaving more freedom to the functioning of the objective economic laws. The socialist sector of our economy is able to win over capitalist tendencies by purely economical means” (in Question actuelles du socialisme, p160,161,145). In 1953, Tito will reintroduce the freedom to buy and sell land and to hire labourers.
In 1951, Tito compares the Yugoslavian communists faithful to marxism-leninism to the Hitlerian fifth column, justifying the arrestation of more than 200.000 communists, according to the testimony of Vladimir Dapcevic. Tito writes: “The attacks of fascist aggressors proved that a new element is very important: the fifth column. It is a political and military element which enters in action when aggression is being prepared. Today, one tries to do something similar in our country, particularly from the cominformist countries” (Ibidem, p.85)
At the beginning of the fifties, Yugoslavia is still largely a feudal country. But the Titists attack the principle according to which the Socialist State must maintain the dictatorship of the proletariat. In 1950, the Yugoslav revisionists launch a discussion on the “problem of the withering away of the state and specially of the role of the state in the economy”. To justify the return to the bourgeois state, Djilas calls the Soviet state “a monstrous construction of state capitalism” which “oppresses and exploits the proletariat”. Still according to Djilas, Stalin was struggling “to enlarge his state capitalist empire, and, inside, to strengthen the bureaucracy”. “The iron curtain, the hegemony over Eastern Europe have become indispensible to him”. Djilas speaks of “the misery of the working class which works for the imperialist “superior” interests and for the privilege of bureaucracy”. “The USSR is today objectively the most reactionary big power”. Stalin is “practising state capitalism and he is the spiritual and political leader of the bureaucratic dictatorship”. As a true agent of American imperialism, Djilas continues: “We encounter theories among the Hitlerians which, by their content and by the social practice that they suppose, look entirely similar to the theories of Stalin”. Let us add that Djilas, which settled later in the US referred in this text to the “critique of the Stalinist system”, made by...Trotsky.
In 1948, Kardelj still sweared fidelity to the anti-imperialist struggle. However, two years later, Yugoslavia supported the aggression against Korea! “The Times” said: “Mr Dedeijer sees the events in Korea as a manifestation of the Soviet will to dominate the world... The workers must realize that a new contender for world domination has arrived and must give up illusions about the USSR which would be, supposedly, a peaceful and democratic force” (Dec 27, 1950).
So, Tito became a simple pawn in the anticommunist strategy of the US. Tito declared in 1951 to the New York Herald Tribune that “in case of a Soviet attack anywhere in Europe, even if it occurs thousands of kms away from Yugoslavian borders, (he) would immediately fight on the side of the West... Yugoslavia considers herself as part of the wall of collective solidarity built against Soviet imperialism” (June 26, 1951).
In the economy, the socialist measures taken before 1948 were quickly liquidated. Alexander Clifford, reporter for the “Daily Mail” writes about the economic reforms of 1951: “If they are realised, Yugoslavia will finally be less socialised than Great Britain”. “The prices of goods will be determined by the market, that is, by supply and demand”, “the wages will be determined on the basis of the profits of the company”, the companies “decide in an independent way what they produce and in what quantity”, “there is not much classical marxism in all that”.(August 31, 1951).
The anglo-american bourgeoisie saw very early that Tito was an efficient weapon in their anticommunist struggle. “Business Week” wrote on April 12, 1950: “For the US in particular and for the West in general, encouraging Tito has been one of the cheapest way to contain Russian communism. The amount of Western aid to Tito is 51.7 million $. This is far less than the billion $, approximately, that the US spent in Greece, with the same goal” (p.175)
This bourgeoisie wanted to use Tito to encourage revisionism and encourage subversion in the socialist countries of Eastern Europe. On December 12, 1949, Eden said in the “Daily Telegraph”: “The exemple and the influence of Tito can change in a decisive way the course of events in Central and Eastern Europe” (p.191) Truly appreciating the communist demagogy of Tito, “The Times” writes: “However, Titism remains a force, to the extent that Marshall Tito can claim to be communist” (The Times, Sept 13, 1949)
The struggle against imperialist domination was one of the main levers of the Chinese revolution. But, under the influence of a nationalist ideology, the CCP took some wrong positions in its foreign policy and formulated a wrong judgment on the policy of “independence” of Tito. The theory of “Soviet social-imperialism, the most dangerous ennemy”, developed after 1969 was influenced by bourgeois nationalism. And this theory pushed towards reconciliation with the revisionist theses.
When Khrutshev took the revisionist path, he started by rehabilitating his predecessor, Tito. In the document “The historical experience of the dictatorship of the proletariat”, Mao and the CCP followed Khrutshev in his defense of titism, therefore questioning the ideological struggles that Stalin waged against Trotskyism, Bukharinism and bourgeois nationalism. “(Stalin) took a wrong decision concerning the question of Yugoslavia. On all those questions, Stalin was subjective” (The historical experience of the dictatorship of the proletariat, Beijing, 1961, p9-10). “That the Yugoslavian comrades have a particular hostility towards the mistakes of Stalin, that can be understood. Put in difficult conditions, they developed in the past laudatory efforts to maintain themselves in the socialist path. In the enterprises and other social organizations, they realized experiences of democratic management that also drew the attention. The Chinese people welcome the reconciliation between the Soviet Union and other socialist countries and Yugoslavia” (The historical experience of the dictatorship of the proletariat, Beijing, 1961, p46)
This position expresses the conciliation towards revisionism and the rehabilitation of Titism, this anti-communist current serving the global American strategy.
Further, the CCP criticizes some too openly anticommunist positions of Tito. Apparently, Mao had decided that the contradiction with Tito is “among the people” and he treats this ennemy as a “friend who makes a mistake”. The CCP rejects some positions of the “Yugoslavian comrades” because they “can lead to a split in the communist movement”. Here they are: “Kardelj has... presented to the Hungarian comrades as a demand “the necessity of radical changes in their political system”... and he demanded that they do not “make sterile attempts to restaure the Communist Party”, “because, he says, for the masses, this type of party represents despotic bureaucratism”. Such is the model of the “non Stalinian line” that comrade Kardelj has put up for the brother parties...The fundamental positions and the methods that the Yugoslavian comrades use are alien to the discussion between comrades.”(The historical experience of the dictatorship of the proletariat, Beijing, 1961, p47-49)
Mao also adopts the theses of Kadar and of the “moderate” revisionists in Hungary who “explained” the counterrevolution of 1956 by the “serious mistakes” committed by the Stalinist Rakosi. Kadar differentiated himself from Nagy only when the latter made an alliance with the fascist insurgents. The CCP writes that “the serious mistakes committed by Stalin created a lot of discontent among the peoples of some Eastern European countries”.
However, it is precisely the bourgeois nationalists who fought against the dictatorship of the proletariat by denouncing the so-called “mistakes of Stalin”. Mao agrees with their theses that Stalin committed mistakes towards Hungary but he criticizes “the bourgeois nationalists who magnify the defects of the Soviet Union”. (The historical experience of the dictatorship of the proletariat, Beijing, 1961, p66)
Those positions towards Hungary and Yugoslavia adopted by the CCP in 1956 have an aspect of bourgeois nationalism.
Moreover, Mao made, in 1964, the following statement to a Japanese delegation. “The Soviet Union has taken too many territories. At the Yalta Conference, Outer Mongolia was declared formally independent, this territory was separated from China, but in fact it fell under Soviet management. Compared to your Kuriles, Outer Mongolia is a much wider territory. At that time (in 1954) we asked whether it would be possible to give Outer Mongolia back to China. They said that it was impossible. They also took part of Rumania, Bessarabia. They took also territories from Germany, among others a part of East Germany. All the Germans who lived there were chased towards the West. From Poland also, they took territories that they attached to Belarus... Finally they took also territories from Finland... In my opinion, they should not at all have taken these territories... For those reasons, your Kuriles do not constitute a problem, for us; they must be restituted”. (Mao uncorrected, in Dutch, July 10, 1964, p.28-29)
All those measures, taken by Stalin after the war and rejected by Mao, can be very well explained in the framework of his defense policy against new imperialist adventures and can be justified historically or politically. By adopting positions inspired by nationalism, Mao goes in a very dangerous field. One knows that the Right in Germany, Japan, etc... made of “those territories stolen by the Soviet Union” a central point of their anticommunist propaganda.
During the seventies, when Brezhnev will practice a policy of intervention and of control, this conciliating attitude towards bourgeois nationalism will transform itself into open support to bourgeois nationalism against “social-imperialism”.
Two major events in 1968-1969 provoked violent reactions from the CCP. At that time, a dangerous slide towards nationalism occurred in its positions.
In 1968, tensions occurred along the Chinese-Soviet border and led, in March 1969, to military confrontation. Meanwhile, the Red Army occupied Checoslovaquia in August 1968. Those two events pushed the CCP towards nationalist positions.
In order to strengthen their national and international positions, the revisionist group of Brezhnev escalated their struggle against the marxist-leninist forces and mostly against the CCP. A marxist-leninist China represented a serious threat for the Soviet revisionists. Brezhnev did everything he could in order to shake, even to overthrow the socialist regime of Mao. He provoked military confrontations and used the nuclear threat. China was right to defend herself against inferences and provocations.
But, steering away from the principle of concrete analysis of different phenomena, the CCP invented a global concept, the “social-imperialism, the most dangerous ennemy” which pushed it to confuse all oppositions to Soviet policy. Then, the concepts of “state capitalism” and of “social-fascism” led the CCP to avoid making the concrete analysis of the specific contradictions of Soviet society.
But the revisionist group of Brezhnev had not only to defend itself against the marxist-leninists, it was also threatened on his right by the ultra-revisionists, ready to take power “peacefully”, with the support of imperialism. Since 1948, Yugoslavia was the vanguard of the counter-revolution. Playing on the development of bourgeois nationalism, it exerted an influence on all Eastern Europe.
In Hungary, the revisionists Rajk, Nagy and Kardar belonged to the Titist trend. China rightly denounced the violent counter-revolution of October 1956 in Budapest.
During the sixties, the trends of bourgeois peaceful counter-revolution developed themselves vigorously in all countries of Eastern Europe, and this development was helped by the dominant revisionism in the USSR.
Twelve years after Budapest, revisionists and Titists took power in the Checoslovak CP. German and American imperialism had drawn lessons from the Hungarian events and were more careful in carrying out their counter-revolutionary plans.
Starting from the real dangers looming over their country, the Chinese communists took a bourgeois nationalist position in the struggle against Soviet revisionism. Taking as reference point the Tsarist aggressions against feudal China, they elaborated the thesis of “social-imperialism” and of the “new Tsars”. The analysis of Checoslovak, Polish and Yugoslavian revisionism was completely abandonned, all the attention being focused on “social-imperialism”.
The CCP paid no attention to the links of those revisionist currents with German and American imperialism. Threatened by the adventurist policy of Brezhnev, the CCP has seriously underestimated the dangers that the imperialist coalition, led by the US, represented for the Third World and the socialist countries.
Let us remember the essential theses, formulated at that time by Mao and the CCP.
“From the priviledged, bourgeois, strata in the Soviet Union has emerged a class of monopolist and bureaucratic capitalists” (The China Reader, nr4, Vintage books, NY, p456)
“The capitalist economy in the USSR has a particularity: monopolistic capitalism dominates everything, rules everything. This situation is rather rare in the classical imperialist countries” (Let us study the political economy, Dec 1975, Shangai, p261)
“The new revisionist Soviet Tsars have restored the old tsarist policy of national oppression... and transformed the Soviet Union again into a “prison of the peoples” (China Reader, p.458)
“President Mao said: “In the Soviet Union today, it is a dictatorship of the bourgeoisie, of the big bourgeoisie, a German fascist, Hitlerian type of dictatorship” (Let us study the political economy, Dec 1975, Shangai, p279)
“The clique of Soviet revisionist renegades loots without mercy and savagely oppresses the peoples of some Eastern European countries (...). Their appetite is greater than that of the Tsars”. (Down with the new Tsars! Beijing, 1969, p4)
“You have invaded Tchecoslovaquia under the flag of “unified armed forces”. What is the difference ...with respect to the aggression of the “sixteen countries” organized by US imperialism agaisnt Korea” (China Reader, p.464)
The evolution of the Soviet Union between 1985 and 1995 has shown the inconsistency of all those theses. There never existed in the Soviet Union a “state monopoly capitalism” more centralized and better organized than in the US. The Russian people did not live under a “Hitlerian style dictatorship” and the non-Russian peoples did not suffer from a “tsarist form of national oppression”. It is Yeltsin who installed a “Hitlerian style dictatorship” and the difference with respect to the revisionist regime of the seventies is evident to all the workers of the ex-USSR. During the seventies, the CCP never published a scientific, materialist and dialectical analysis of the Soviet economical and political realities, in all their complexitiy. The arguments of the CCP was mostly based on historical analogies, of limited value, and on arbitrary extrapolations starting from some aspects of Soviet reality.
Under the threat, the CCP had, without any doubt, to defend the independence of China against revisionist plots. But this defense was made starting from a bourgeois nationalist position. In its behaviour, the CCP took less and less into account the global interests of the world socialist revolution. It was not criticizing Soviet revisionism and adventurism on a marxist-leninist, class basis that could have convinced the Soviet communists. To put on equal footing the entry of Soviet troops in Checoslovaquia in 1968 and the American aggression agaisnt Korea in 1950, means giving up the marxist analysis, in order to do bourgeois nationalist propaganda. The “Prague’s Spring” was a revisionist counter-revolution that could lead “peacefully” to a bourgeois restauration and to the control of German and American imperialism on that country. The Soviet intervention putted an end to this counter-revolutionary process. At the same time, it putted Checoslovaquia under Soviet hegemony. The revisionist and bourgeois nationalist forces continued to develop themselves between 1968 and 1989, untill the peaceful restauration of the bourgeois dictatorship in Checoslovaquia.
The parties that followed Mao’s thought have to make a critical analysis of the positions that they adopted following the Chinese foreign policy. The Belgian Party of Labour did so in a book called “The USSR and the velvet counter-revolution”. No communist Soviet organization has accepted the theses of Mao on “State monopoly capitalism, social-fascism and social-imperialism”. The Soviet communists are in the best position to analyse the changes that occurred in the Soviet Union between the takeover of revisionism under Khrutshev and the complete reestablishment of capitalism under Gorbatchev. The debate with Soviet marxist-leninists is essential to get a scientific understanding of the process of capitalist restauration.
The adoption by the CCP of the theses on State capitalism, social-imperialism, social-fascism has had very serious consequences.
First of all, nationalism led socialist China to unprincipled alliances with American imperialism and reaction.
The theory of the Three Worlds, formulated by Mao was accepted both by the tendency of the so-called “Gang of Four” and by that of Deng Xiaoping. Here is the main thesis: “Of the two superpowers, the Soviet Union is the most ferocious imperialism, the most adventurous, the most retorse and the most dangerous source of a world war.” (The theory of president Mao on the division into three worlds, important contribution to marxism-leninism, Beijing 1977 p.33) The Soviet Union is under a “fascist dictatorship that allows Soviet social-imperialism to militarize more easily the entire national economy and the state apparatus.” (The theory of president Mao on the division into three worlds, important contribution to marxism-leninism, Beijing 1977 p.36-37)
During his trip to the US, Deng Xiaoping formulated extreme conclusions of that thesis, supporting an alliance with the extreme-right of American imperialism. For instance, he declared: “We consider that the danger of war comes from the USSR”. “What we need are practical and realistic measures, e.g. a unity between the US, China, Japan, Europe in order to face Soviet hegemonism” (Beijing Information, Feb 1979, p.14)
US imperialism had a double tactics in its struggle against the Soviet Union. The extreme right wanted to push at a maximum the militarization of the economy in order to “bleed the USSR white” by pushing it into an unbearable military effort; it mobilized all the fascists forces against communism and was ready for military adventures. The liberal fraction thought that the extreme militarization would hurt, in the long run, the economy and the international position of the US; it followed the tactics of political and economical infiltration, it wanted to link the rising bourgeois forces in the Soviet Union to the US big bourgeoisie, to corrupt Soviet cadres, to foster the development of pro-capitalist ideological trends. The goal was to realize the peaceful counter-revolution. Deng Xiaoping was fighting against this second fraction in order to link himself to the first. His supporters wrote: “The appeasement policy is more dangerous today than at the time of Chamberlain, because the victims will not be Tchecoslovaquia alone, but Western Europe, or even Africa and the Middle East. At present, Western Europe is protected by the US; but if the Soviet Union launches a a surprise attack against it, we do not know how Washington will react”. “The Sonnenfeldt doctrine admits openly that Eastern Europe is in the Soviet sphere of influence, in order to calm down the Soviet Union”. (Beijing Information, 12 dec 1977, p.8-9)
From this orientation followed a policy of getting closer to the worst reactionaries. “In Europe, Strauss, leader of the Christian-Social Union has said: “the rejection of the neutron bomb would have disastrous consequences on the defensive capacity of NATO and of Europe” writes Beijing Information, (17 April 1978, p.27). China supported the most brutal dictatorships, under the pretext of fighting “the agents of the most dangerous superpower”. “Several terrorist Turkish organizations were seriously shaken after the coming to power of the military on Sept 12, 1980. during the last six months, the social order reigns more or less in the country”. ̶The security forces launched several massive operations in the country in order to chase ultra-left and ultra-right terrorists. According to the Turkish press, more than 45.000 people hav been arrested since September 1980.” “The political stability has helped an improvement of the economy”.(Beijing Information, 20 April 1981, p.12)
The second aspect is that this nationalist orientation led to the abandon of all critiques of revisionism and to ally oneself with the revisionists that had divergences with the “most dangerous power”. This was made first of all on the basis of nationalist bourgeois positions that were shared on both sides.
As always, Titism played its vanguard role... serving US imperialism.
So, in 1975 already, Mao had the visit of the Yugoslavian Premier, Djemal Biyedic, and they got closer on a basis of “anti-Soviet superpower”. Hua Kuo Feng declares in 1977 in Yugoslavia: “President Mao cared very much about the Chinese-Yugoslavian relations. In October 1975, he had a friendly meeting with President Bijedic, where he declared in very favourable words that President Tito did not fear pressure, that he was as firm as iron”.(Beijing Information, 5 Sept 1977, p.9). For the second time in its history, the CCP got politically closer to Yugoslavia on a bourgeois nationalist basis. In September 1977, Tito arrived in Beijing where the man, called an American agent in 1963 was acclaimed as a great marxist-leninist... Hua Kuo Feng will tell him in 1978: “The Chinese and Yugoslavian peoples... both develop revolution and edification according to the principle of independence and autonomy”. “Following the scientific theory of marxism and starting from the concrete conditions of the country, the League of Yugoslavian Communists has installed and developed a system of socialist self-management”. (Beijing Information, 4 Sept. 1978, p.13-14)
In Poland, the CCP established links both with the pro-imperialist and reactionary force Solidarnosc and with the revisionist party, because both were opposed to Soviet policy. “No ferocious interventionism can frighten the Polish people and the Polish government, as long as they take care of the fundamental interests of the country, and will unite themselves against the foreign ennemy”(Beijing Information, 6 April 1981, p.9)
In November 1980, the CCP reestablished relations with the Spanish revisionist party, for the simple reason that it had the most anti-Soviet positions. In the same breath, the CCP called the Euro-communist line, an openly social-democrat one, the concrete application of marxism-leninism to the specific reality of Spain. The CCP took position against the forces in Spanish CP that were defending some Leninist positions, but were also maintaining the solidarity with the Soviet Union. “During the 10th Congress, the vast majority of the delegates were in favour of a Eurocommunist line, only a minority of “pro-Soviets” persisted in its opposition” (Beijing Information, August 10 1981, p.9)
The adoption of nationalist positions in the foreign policy, first in 1956 against titism, then after 1968 in the question of “social-imperialism”, leads to the questioning of the nature of Chinese nationalism, which was one of the mainstays of the democratic anti-imperialist Revolution.
The definition of proletarian internationalism, given by Mao Ze Dong in 1956 in “The historical experience of the proletarian dictatorship”, is subject to discussion.
“Marxism-Leninism always pointed to the necessity of combining proletarian internationalism with the patriotism of each people.” “Communist Parties must reflect the legitimate interests and national feelings of their peoples. Communists always were and are true patriots. They know that only if they reflect correctly the interests and feelings of their nation, they can enjoy the confidence and real affection of the broad masses of the people.” (The historical experience of the proletarian dictatorship, 1961, Foreign Languages edition, Peking, p.63).
The communist conception of the world is an internationalist one; it starts from the global interests of the working class of the whole world. In certain conditions, nationalist political positions and a national struggle can be in harmony with the interests of the national and international working class. But it is false, as does here the CCP, to identify internationalism and nationalism. The communists support nationalism in its negative aspect, as a rejection of the foreign, imperialist domination. But they do not support the nationalism as a positive value in itself, since nationalism links workers to their exploiters. In China, nationalism had, during a long period, a revolutionary character, since China had to be liberated from imperialist oppression. But revolutionary nationalist ideology remains within the frontiers of bourgeois revolution. In the very long struggle the Chinese communist had to maintain against imperialism, radical nationalism was one of their strongest ideological levers amongst the masses. And many were set to believe that radical nationalism was a part of the communist conception of the world. Which is wrong.
The passage from national and democratic revolution to socialist revolution is undoubtedly a very complex process.
Which is the necessary change of position of classes, in order to pass from national and democratic revolution to socialist revolution ? Which is the difference in the content of democratic dictatorship and proletarian dictatorship?
And which is the real class content of the political and ideological line, which permitted the Communist Party to mobilise the masses for the revolution ? And to which extent did the practice of national and democratic revolution influence the conception of marxism-leninism, held by those who led the revolution ? To which extent is the comprehension of marxism-leninism enclosed within the limits of national and democratic revolution?
There can resist a specific source of opportunism and revisionism in China.
This hypothesis is plausible when one examines the positions adopted by the nationalist bourgeoisie during the anti-Japanese war. Then the left wing of Kuomintang, opposed to marxism-leninism, developed a rather radical bourgeois conception of national and democratic revolution. One of its most outstanding representatives was Sun Fo, son of Sun Yat Sen, member of the Central Executive Committee of Kuomintang. He published in 1940-1943 a series of articles and analyses, from which we quote some.
About national revolution, he declares: “The most urgent need of China is to find back its full national independence by means of suppression of the political and economical obstacles that strangle it. This Patriotic Resistance War is the culminating point of its efforts.” “The result of this struggle will be liberation and independence of our country. We will make it rich, happy and peaceful, an esteemed member of the family of nations.” (Sun Fo, The China of Tomorrow, Ed. Nagel, Paris, 1946, p.11, 13-14).
Following Sun Fo, the national independence of China can be met only by the creation of a strong nationalized industry. Talking about the policy that must be practised immediately after the anti-Japanese war, he writes: “As time is capital, and the occasion is favourable, we must industrialize our country in the shortest possible time. The basis of our whole industry is the production of heavy machines, so heavy industry must be developed first... While the government will take care of heavy industry, the people, as a private producer, will take care of light industry. (p176-7). “The construction of the economy after the war on a national scale, must and can be realised only by the State. The private enterprise cannot hope to fulfil so great a task and in a sufficiently short time.” The leading principle is formulated as: “Ownership and direction by the state of industries and mines”. (Ibidem, p.266;296).
Sun Fo saw in the Soviet Union the most important ally of Chinese nationalism. He wrote: “Sun Yat Sen understood that the success of the Russian revolution was not limited to hitting lethally imperialism in tsarist Russia, but that it would use its force elsewhere and would hit world capitalism in its foundations. If we add the 180 millions of Russians to the 450 millions of Chinese, the task of regeneration of the world appears no longer as a fantastic dream... (After the victory against Japan, China must), with the energy of a strong and independent nation, in co-operation with Soviet-Russia and other sympathising powers, use the final victory for the triumph of liberty for the oppressed people all over the world.” (Ibidem, p.3-4).
Very critical about the experience of Kuomintang, Sun Fo recognizes that “we failed in our mission”; he criticises the “eternal prolongation of the regime of only one party” and “the actual evil: government by bureaucrats”. (Ibidem, p.9, 110, 278). He esteems that the renewal of China demands a profound democratization. “In order to be really a success, a constitutional democratization must free itself from the actual grip of the one and only party. There can be no real democratic government in China, if the governing party sticks to power eternally without reference to the will of the people. Such an attitude was responsible for the failures of Kuomintang. (Ibidem, p.110). Politically, the local self-governing must be founded and completely established all over the country. In order to realize democracy on a national scale, local self-governing is a basic condition to every other political activity.”. “The democratic government is revolutionary in it’s nature. It asks the people to take care in an active way of it’s own business.” (Ibidem, p.278, 280).
The first democratic task, says Sun Fo, is the realisation of agrarian revolution, including the nationalization of land and the development of a movement of co-operative societies. “There is an old saying, that goes: ’all the land under the sky belongs to the king’, that is, to the State. The individuals can use the land, that the State will rent them, but no one can use the land to make a merchandise of it, sold on the market. ” (Ibidem, p.181). “We now plead for the construction of a new national and economic system, based on an extensive application of the principles and methods of the co-operative society.”
The country in which the co-operative movement flourishes the most, and is used for the socialist reconstruction, is Soviet Russia. Before victory and peace, co-operative societies of production and distribution should be duly spread into towns and rural districts. (Ibidem, p.282-3)
As the leadership of Kuomintang showed it’s reactionary character, corruption and dependence upon imperialist powers, it showed itself incapable of fulfilling the national and democratic tasks indicated by Sun Fo.
Many officials and intellectuals left Kuomintang and joined the Communist Party.
Besides, hundreds of thousands young students, peasants and workers were engaged in the CCP, because it was the only way to fight consequently against feudalism, imperialism and pro-imperialist bourgeoisie.
Clearly the two ideological tendencies had much in common.
On the 1st of October 1949, the day of the glorious victory of the national and democratic revolution, how many leaders of the CCP had a precise idea of the passage of this revolution to the proletarian revolution, and the changes it would imply in the ideology of communists?
This is what, ten years later, Liou Chao Chi, vice-president of the Party, and president of the republic, wrote: “The triumph of the popular revolution, under the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party, has broken once and for all the reactionary domination of Kuomintang, its bureaucratic and militarist apparatus, that crushed the people. In that way was founded, in 1949, the great People’s Republic, which is, in fact, a proletarian dictatorship. So the passage from democratic revolution to socialist revolution was realized successfully. (“Ten glorious years – 1949-1959, Complete works, Beijing, 1960, p.9). Here the democratic dictatorship of the people and the proletarian dictatorship have clearly the same content.
In the same way, in “On the right solution of the contradictions within the people”, Mao Ze Dong included the bourgeoisie within “the classes who approve of and support socialism and take part in it... In China the bourgeoisie has a double character... In the period of socialist revolution, they exploit the working class and make profits out of them, but in the same time they support the Constitution and show their willingness to accept socialist transformation.” (Part V, p.418-419). Liou Chao Chi explains this thesis: “The private capitalist enterprises came under a mixture management of State and private sector. An annual rent is accorded to the capitalists during a certain time... During this gradual transformations, capitalism has been, under certain conditions, put at the service of socialism, used in the interest of the socialist construction. In this way we have been able to liquidate capitalism totally in the field of property of means of production, and we apply ourselves to re-educate step by step the bourgeois elements in order to make of them workers who live of their own work.”(Ten years of glorious... p.13,15)
And Liou applies the same principles to the prosperous middle peasants, to whom will be paid the value of the instruments and the cattle they brought in by joining the people’s Communes.”The overwhelming majority of prosperous middle payments were very satisfied about the organisation of co-operative societies.” (Ibidem, pg 12). And Mao Ze Dong writes: “During the agrarian reform, as long as we did not touch the rich peasants, the middle peasants felt easy.” (Tome V, p.349).
Will all the classes and strata who supported the revolutionary struggle against the Japanese fascists and against Kuomintang, join up within the system of proletarian dictatorship? Deng Xiao-Ping wrote in 1959: “The unity of the Chinese people has constantly become stronger during the democratic revolution, the socialist revolution and the continuous development of the revolution.” (Ten glorious years, p.99). Are the positions of Mao, Liou and Deng then not a variant of Boucharin’s thesis about the integration of bourgeois elements and kulaks into socialism? Was one not introducing then into the socialist economic units a stratum of bourgeois elements, capable of taking power? Was the main task to “educate” these bourgeois elements? Which kind of proletarian dictatorship incorporates bourgeoisie and limits itself to educating them? Didn’t Lenin say that “the proletarian dictatorship is a harsh struggle, bloody and non-bloody, violent and non-violent, military and economic, educating and administrative against the forces and traditions of the old society ”?
And what is more, the crucial question has to be asked about the political and ideological line with which de Communist Party will “educate” the national bourgeoisie. To the extent that this party didn’t go further than a radical national and democratic revolution, an ideological fusion with the national patriotic bourgeoisie was possible. In 1956, Mao Ze Dong stated that two notorious opportunists, Wang Ming and Li Li-San, were to remain within the central committee; if not “millions of members of our party of petit-bourgeois origin, especially intellectuals, would be taken by panic.” (Part V, p.348)
There are many indications that between 1949 and 1957 the leadership of the CCP, including Mao Ze Dong, didn’t conduct a consistant ideological struggle against nationalism and against the bourgeois type of revolutionary democratism.
We are entitled to believe that a change in the thought of Mao Zedong occured in may-october 1957. At this time, Kruschtchev’s revisionist line has imposed itself in the CPSU, violently counter-revolutionary movements have occured in Poland and Hungary, chinese reactionaries and right-wingers have launched attacks against the Communist Party and socialism. It is then that Mao spells out a certain number of new theories. “Our Party has amongst its members numerous intellectuals. Part of them are rather seriously contaminated by revisionist ideas”. Revisionism has also appeared at the head of the Party. “We are now carrying out the socialist revolution, directed against the bourgeoisie... The main contradiction is between socialism and capitalism, between the socialist path and the capitalist one. The resolution of the Party’s VIIIth Congress does not mention this at all”. Then Mao makes a very significant confession: “The socialist revolution has come about so fast, that there was no thorough discussion, in the Party and around it, concerning the general line of the Party during the period of transition”. (Volume V. P.480, 535, 505).
The questions concerning the transition from the national and democratic revolution to the socialist revolution will thereafter be a central preoccupation for Mao Zedong. From this point of view, the Cultural Revolution may be seen as an self-criticism on the part of Mao Zedong, who formulates for the first time the real terms of the passage from the democratic dictatorship to the dictatorship of the proletariat. But at this time, Mao Zedong, despite his immense popularity, was very much in minority among the leading cadres. The cultural revolution was sabotaged from the start by part of the CCP executives and by the bourgeois and petit-bourgeois currents, which were very strong in the Chinese society.
It is to be noted that in the Directive of the16th of May 1966, that set off the Cultural Revolution, Mao assumes positions that are diametrically opposite to those he upheld in 1940 in “The New Democracy” and in 1957, in “Of the correct solution”. And as if to underline the fact that there is still much confusion, these two works are given as reference material for the cultural revolution...
In 1966, Mao says: “The representatives of the bourgeoisie that have infiltrated the Communist Party... absolutely deny the necessity of the struggle of the proletariat against the bourgeoisie, of the revolution led by the proletariat against the bourgeoisie, and the dictatorship of the proletariat over the bourgeoisie. Furthermore, they are loyal sevants of the bourgeoisie and imperialism: they plot with them to maintain the bourgeois ideology of oppression and exploitation of the proletariat, as well as the bourgeois regime... They are a band of counter-revolutionaires, opposed to the Communist Party and the people; their struggle against us is a struggle to death, without any reference to equality. Our struggle against them must therefore also be a struggle to death, our relationship with them holds no trace of equality, it is the oppression of one class by another, in other words, the dictatorship of the proletariat against the bourgeoisie”. “The representatives of the bourgeoisie that have infiltrated the Party, the government, the army and sectors of the cultural field, are a band of counter-revolutionary revisionists. If they had a chance, they would seize power, and transform the dictatorship of the proletariat into the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie”. (The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. Pekin. 1970. P.128-130, 141).
As of 1959, Kang Cheng demonstrates that some executives have entered the CCP with points of view that go no further than a consequent attitude towards the democratic revolution. “At the stage of the democratic revolution, showing to a certain degree a zealous attitude towards the democratic revolution( these democratic bourgeois and petit-bourgeois) can still approve, at least partially, the minimal action program of the marxist-leninist party; thus, aided and guided by the Party, they can still accomplish work of some utility for the revolution. But, as from the start, there existed between them and the Party differences of principle. The Party stand firmly for the leading role of the proletariat in the democratic revolution, and stands firm in its will to carry out the democratic revolution to the end, so that when the democratic revolution has been completely achieved, it can go on immediately, without discontinuing, on to the socialist revolution; they want to leave the democratic revolution in the hands of the bourgeoisie and do not want to carry it out completely, and they are even less ready for the socialist revolution”; (Ten Glorious Years. Pekin Editions. 1960. P. 275).
The same theme will be developed in 1976, during the political struggle led by Mao Zedong against Deng Xiaoping. The CCP then wrote: “In 1956, president Mao made this farseeing remark: the right-wing opportunists in the party never were proletarian revolutionaries; they are only democratic bourgeois or petit-bourgeois, infiltrated in the revolutionary ranks of the proletariat; they have never been marxist-leninists; they are only fellow-travellers for our Party” (The struggle in China against the right-wing deviationist trend that questions the correct conclusions. 1976. Foreign Language Editions. Pekin. p.189).
If the struggle against the democratic bourgeoisie certainly had to be made, criticism of bourgeois nationalism was equally important. China, an immense and relatively homogenous nation, was confronted during more than a hundred years with colonialism and imperialism. Mao Zedong did not have to unravel national problems as complex as those existing in tsarist Russia, then in the Soviet Union. Lenin was confronted with the reactionary nationalism of tsarist Russia, and Stalin had to fight against the reactionary nationalism of the Georgian, Ukrainian, etc. bourgeoisie, related to imperialism in the anti-sovietic struggle. The chinese communists did not assimilate the very enriching positions taken on the questions of nationalism by Lenin and Stalin.
It seems that at a certain moment of the Cultural Revolution, Mao Zedong realized the dangers of nationalism and that he strove to reactivate the principles of proletarian internationalism. It would be interesting to study these efforts and the resistance they induced in the Party. During the preparation of the Cultural Revolution, Mao declared to an Austrian delegation: “I know you come from a country where much has been said concerning the “yellow peril” and there certainly is nationalism in your country.
But this also exists in China, and if we make concessions to nationalism, we will lose everything. It is necessary to firmly stand on the positions of proletarian internationalism”. (Cited in: Bolschevik Partizan. no. 20., december 1991, p.97).
The survival of a democratic and national revolutionary ideology in the CPP and the Bukharinist positions that this entailed, generated important weaknesses in the Party between 1949 and 1966. The thesis that “Mao Zedong developed marxism-leninism in a brilliant way in all areas and made it reach an entirely new, superior stage” had a negative influence on the communist movement. Many Parties that refer to the thought of Mao Zedong thought that socialism under Mao was stronger than under Stalin, that “Mao has learned from the errors of Stalin”, that he had led the class struggle under socialism and consolidated the dictatorship of the proletariat better. But the ideological, marxist-leninist foundations of the CPSU were probably firmer than those of the CCP. Since 1900, very sharp ideological struggles have drawn a clear line between economism and opportunism, on the one hand, and marxism-leninism on the other, between petit-bourgeois and scientific socialism, between proletarian dictatorship and conciliation with the bourgeoisie, between nationalism and internationalism. During the whole period of Stalin, proletarian dictatorship and class struggle under socialism wereat the core of theoretical debate and revolutionary practice.
One cannot oppose the two major experiences of the socialist revolution, the soviet revolution and the chinese revolution. But a unilateral appreciation of the Cultural Revolution has often resulted in an underestimation of Stalin’s and Lenin’s theoretical work. And this type of underestimation is a source of opportunism.