First Issued: Second Congress of the Party of Labour (PVDA-PTB Belgium). March-April 1983.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Sam Richards and Paul Saba
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1.1. After 1963, and even more after 1968, the marxist-leninist movement grew in Western Europe and in Northern America. The efforts to break with revisionism, to rely upon marxism-leninism mao zedong thought, to get involved in class struggle with the workers, were basically correct. Some dogmatic and sectarian errors occurred some more serious in some parties than in others. From 77-78 on, most Marxist Leninist parties took upon themselves to criticize sectarian and dogmatic errors. Very soon, a tendency appeared which fought dogmatism and sectarianism, but from bourgeois and petty bourgeois positions. In the name of the struggle against sectarianism and dogmatism, the right wing of many parties declared, timidly at first, but with growing arrogance afterwards, its real hate of the leninist party, of true marxism-leninism and of socialist China. Hesitating petty bourgeois elements of these parties, formulating criticism and doubts – rightly or wrongly – about certain points, let themselves be carried away by a movement of criticism started by the right wing, aiming at the destruction of the marxist-leninist movement. This right wing anti-party tendency has caused havoc in the marxist-leninist movement in Western Europe, and Northern America. Many parties have been completely destroyed: the KPD in Western Germany, the ORT-PTE in Spain, the CPML in the USA; others such as PCML and PCR in France, KBW in Western Germany, EKKE in Greece, PCO in Canada, etc. have gone through serious crises.
1.2. Mutual exchange of experience and cooperation would have made an analysis of this social democratic liquidationist tendency as well as an efficient struggle against it, possible. This did not happen. One after the other, the different parties fell prey to the same anti-communist theories.
1.3. We face the fourth great international wave of anti-communist propaganda since World War Two. It is every militant’s duty to evaluate correctly his own ideological and political standpoints and to strengthen his communist conviction. In the period between 1945 and 1953, there was the great anti-communist campaign of the ’cold war’. At that time, a socialist camp really existed. American imperialism was at the height of its power and led all anti-communist forces in a world-wide offensive, in order to throw back the world communist movement. CIA director Colby has said: “Russia appeared to be a new totalitarian threat to the democracies. Stalin had obviously renegated on the Yalta agreements and pursued an aggressive and ambitious policy resembling the policy Hitler had followed 10 years before all too well. Every day, the paper brought news about Soviet manoeuvres: the Prague coup, the communist revolt in Greece, the maintenance of the Red Army in Iran, political strikes and communist subversion in Italy and France; not to mention the intrigues of Soviet spies within the USA and England, revealed by the Rosenberg, Karl Fuchs, Alger Hiss and Judith Coplon trials.” (30 years of CIA, p 68)
This is the period of British aggression in Greece, of American aggression against Korea, of McCarthyism. American propaganda also exploited real mistakes – such as the denunciation of Tito in 1948 – with the aim of breaking up the communist parties. In 1956, a second wave of hysterical anti-communism broke out (Hungary, Stalin). The CIA got its hands on a copy of the secret speech of Khrushchev against Stalin; Allen Dulles immediately decided to hand over the entire text to the New York Times. He thought this would be the most perfect propaganda campaign the CIA had ever led against the communist movement. “The events (in Hungary) created a wonderful propaganda opportunity for the Roman antenna of the CIA” “Thousands of bills were posted up in the cities, millions of tracts distributed everywhere, hundreds of public meetings organised.” (Colby, p 126-127) from the beginning of the sixties, imperialism was weakening throughout the world. The most important weapon against revolution was not primary, aggressive anti -communism anymore, but support for the reformist tendency gaining in strength in all Western European CP’s. Anti-communist propaganda themes (against Stalin, against socialist revolution, against proletarian dictatorship, were stealthily introduced into official party texts; true marxist-leninists became victim of low accusations within their own party. In 1963, the marxist-leninists were thrown out of the Belgian Communist Party. In 1968, the invasion of Czechoslovakia, aimed against a democratic, popular movement of socialist inspiration, demonstrated that the Soviet Union had become an imperialist power. The student movement of 1968, the Tet-offensive in Vietnam, the Cultural Revolution in China, were all signs of a new rise of the world revolutionary movement. This movement was characterised however by much ideological confusion. The CP’s were dominated by two important tendencies: reformism on the one hand, support of Russian expansionism on the other. Sections of the rebellious youth were carried away by the anti-communist ideology of anarchism and trotskyism. Countless marxist-leninist circles sprang up, which later regrouped, after a laborious period of discussion and struggle, to form one or more marxist-leninist parties. Since 1978, we have been facing the first international offensive, to threaten the very existence of the young marxist-leninist parties. Most of our militants and cadres have no experience of the anti-communist waves of 1945-1953 and of 1956 and thus have not been given the chance to steel themselves ideologically and politically in the struggle. They will get that chance now.
1.4. Inside our party, there has not been any strong, organised liquidationist and reformist tendency. Two mid-level cadres drew up texts rejecting marxism-leninism explicitly. Two members of the central committee, elected in 1979, left the party because they no longer believe in revolution, in socialism, in marxism-leninism. Neither of them is to be considered as an enemy of the party; they admit the party to be the most serious revolutionary organisation in Belgium. Some militants have left the party on positions similar to the social democratic Liquidationist tendency. Finally, some comrades agree more or less with the political and ideological points of view of this tendency. At the end of 1980, the central committee of the PvdA-PTB adopted a document containing our analysis of the degeneration of the KPD. Our experience from 1980 up to now proves all of the positions defended in this document, to be correct.
1.5. Within the PvdA-PTB, right wing tendencies constitute a real danger at the present moment. In two regions, we have lost up to 20 or 25 % of our militants, compared to 1979. There appears to be a rather strong current of conciliation, letting things go their own way, not being aware of the danger, not wanting to fight the negative phenomena actively, and letting revolutionary spirit deteriorate. People don’t seem to understand how some negative signs are connected to the general liquidationist tendency; they don’t see which points of view, which attitudes “prepare the way” for the liquidationist tendency.
1.6. Within the PvdA-PTB we have been able to mobilize almost all our cadres and members for the fight against social democratic tendencies and thus to unite them round a revolutionary, marxist-leninist line. This means that through an education campaign, we will reach a new ideological and political unity with almost all of the comrades now influenced one way or the other by the right wing tendency and that only an extremely limited number will have to be excluded. The situation is serious, but the right wing tendency dominates neither the party nor any of its major sub-divisions; the situation is not dramatic. The right wing tendency is a reality within the party, but the positive, revolutionary tendency is also a reality, and easily the most important one. The fact that we now have 800 more readers of our party newspaper than in 1979 is very significant.
2.1. The prospectless economic crisis.
The whole capitalist world is going through a serious economic crisis, of which no bourgeois party sees the end. We live in an imperialist country, with the bourgeoisie and certain sections of the petty bourgeoisie living in luxury thanks to the ruthless exploitation and oppression of hundreds of thousands of workers and peasants in the Third World; even the upper working class has obtained some advantages from ’our’ imperialist bourgeoisie, at the expense of the Third World. In the imperialist countries, a deep economic crisis does not cause the workers to go straight over to revolutionary positions. Everybody realizes the enormous economic, political and military force of the monopoly bourgeoisie. Everybody realizes that revolutionary war against that class will necessitate great efforts, many sacrifices, long and bitter battles. A large number of workers are misled by the propaganda of the bourgeoisie who promises they will be able to keep most of their acquisitions by shifting the crisis on to even weaker parts of the population: for some this will be the women, for others the unemployed, or the immigrants or the Third World countries. The large masses dare not attack the real enemy – the capitalist monopolies – as the real party guilty of the crisis; they hope to find a ’solution’ in a redistribution of the burden among the workers themselves. In 1968, the New Leftist generation deduced revolution to be a necessity from ideological discussions. In 1983, revolution can be seen and felt coming forth from pauperisation, bitterness and the wretched state of a large part of the workers; and the monopoly bourgeoisie can be seen refitting her shock-troops and preparing them for merciless repression. Some marxist-leninists also reveal this reflex: they capitulate in order to keep their privileges. Fear and insecurity are affecting their revolutionary thinking. They are very much aware that the fear and insecurity spreading everywhere, prove the bourgeois order to be cracking at its hinges; they know that the workers will have their illusions about keeping their acquisitions destroyed, that the bitter blows of the bourgeoisie will inevitably hit them full in the face; they know that the workers will need a real revolutionary party more than ever. But they capitulate, they retire into a fairly comfortable, petty bourgeois career and they hope to be spared the misery of crisis and repression.
2.2. General tendency to the right
The employers and the right wing parties grow more and more aggressive. This is not a coincidence, but a necessity; it reveals the antagonistic character of the contradictions between labour and capital. Whoever wants to resolve the crisis while staying within the framework of capitalist society will be compelled to propose more drastic measures against the workers; they call it ’necessary sacrifices’. Several left wing reformists hate socialist revolution more than capitalism. Those who seek ’solutions’ within the capitalist framework are compelled to recommend right wing and extreme right wing measures, under a ’left wing’ banner. This general tendency to the right has repercussions for some Marxist Leninists. The louder right wing solutions are shouted, the less they believe in revolution. Bourgeois parties adopt extreme right wing positions while bourgeois labour parties take up right wing standpoints wrapped up in reformist packages. Bored revolutionaries feel compelled to exert ’pressure’ upon reformist leaders; although they realize quite well that the positions of the reformist party incline ever more to the right, they present things as if the PS-SP were the only ’strong’ and ’big’ party capable of resisting the Right. Some marxist-leninists are being intimidated by this general tendency to the Right. Although this fact in itself throws light upon the necessity for the revolution, they argue that revolutionary work is not ’realistic’. They seek for realistic and realisable solutions to fundamental questions which can only be resolved by socialist revolution. They inevitably come up with proposals for extending state monopoly capitalism, mostly by reinforcing industrial capital against bank capital and specific groups of industrial capital (sectors with spear technology, small and medium sized industries) against other groups. Social democracy is going through a grave crisis. In the sixties, class collaboration resulted in tangible effects for the workers. Now, there is a need for a new generation of theorists providing a ’realistic alternative’. Therefore, they make overtures towards that kind of revolutionary who is already in crisis as regards marxism and militantism. “This is going too far, Bert Van Hoorick as minister. He was a communist for years. And Leo Collard to answer: Look, haven’t we all been more or less communists.” (Van Hoorick in Tegenstroom p 291) As a bourgeois labour party, social democracy has to prove to employers that it manages to control its working-class base. Social democracy is strengthening its hold on the trade-unions, even at industrial unit level; she looks the other way when employers fire militant shop stewards by the dozen, sometimes even social democratic leaders like John Van Den Eynde themselves sack communist or other militant shop stewards. This situation of sharper, more complex struggle – which in fact shows the marxist view to be correct – makes some marxist-leninists capitulate in front of the enemy. “We didn’t achieve anything” is what we hear from those who move over to the side of the bourgeoisie.
2.3. The petty bourgeois surroundings
The marxist-leninist movement has its origin mainly in the radicalization of the petty bourgeoisie (students, intellectuals) after 1968. Some parties succeeded in transforming themselves from petty bourgeois to proletarian revolutionary movements; partly because they gave priority to work among workers and trade-unionists. In some parties however, a great number of members stayed in petty bourgeois surroundings and that is also where their political activities are to be situated. The petty bourgeoisie is always hesitating between the bourgeoisie and the working class, always oscillating from revolutionary struggle to accepting bourgeois order. The deepening slump and a more aggressive right wing have driven large parts of the petty bourgeoisie to the right: marxism, socialism, socialist revolution, the party are repudiated and ridiculed and the most diverse anti-marxist and anti-communist positions are being looked upon as ’new ideologies ’. Many marxist-leninists who work only in this kind of social setting find themselves unarmed in face of this anti-marxist offensive.
2.4. Petty bourgeois mass-movements
Various contradictions within the capitalist system have caused large petty bourgeois mass-movements to rise up. These movements contain anti-communist as well as progressive forces; their programs are influenced both by right wing and left wing and even middle positions. Like all petty bourgeois movements, they refuse to get involved in the fundamental struggle which dominates our society, the struggle of industrial and other workers against the monopoly bourgeoisie. The nationalist, the ecologist and the feminist movement are the three main parts of this trend. Nationalism has been used both in Flanders and Wallonia as a political weapon in the hands of the bourgeoisie. Since capitalism has existed, it is the petty bourgeoisie that has provided the most fervent and the most disinterested supporters of nationalism: “workers, middle classes and bourgeois employers, unite for the general welfare of our Flanders or our Wallonia”! Nationalism is the shortest way to class-collaboration, to the suppression of every self-sufficient proletarian movement in favour of the interests of the dominating class. The ecologist and the feminist movement have a more explicit petty bourgeois character and therefore contain more truly democratic elements. The petty bourgeois movements get immense publicity from the press stressing the most innocent, acceptable bourgeois viewpoints. The bourgeoisie is very much aware of the discontentment of large parts of the masses; and channels them into those movements which are least inclined to question the basic principles of capitalism. Some marxist-leninists are impressed by the spectacular aspects and the temporary strength of these mass-movements; they are influenced by the positive propaganda coming from the bourgeoisie. They overestimate the anti-capitalist potential of these petty bourgeois movements and they underestimate the working class and trade-union struggle to which the bourgeois press never devotes enthusiastic, stimulating stories.
2.5. A united front against the Soviet Union
We fight hegemonism of both super-powers. In our struggle against Soviet expansionism we join with different political forces defending national independence and democracy. Lenin wrote that history sometimes leaps backwards. We are to base ourselves upon a materialist and dialectical analysis of the situation of the different classes and of the relations between different countries. The facts tell us that history has made an enormous jump backwards in the Soviet Union. Internationally, they have created a kind of state capitalism: the CP is no more a vanguard party, fighting in the forefront of the working-class; it has completely broken with leninism; the bureaucratic and military apparatus of the state protects the new relationships of exploitation. Externally, their imperialist policy can easily be demonstrated if we look at Afghanistan, Kampuchea, and Poland. Many democrats fighting Soviet hegemonism do so in order to defend bourgeois democracy. Their points of view often go back to various anti-communist programs used against the Soviet Union since 1917. Adherents of tsarism, members of the Russian bourgeois parties, supporters of Russian social democracy have all fought the Russian revolution and the construction of socialism on the basis of various anti-communist platforms. Since 1917, they have all been attacking the socialist system in the Soviet Union, calling it names like ’state capitalism’, and ’new imperialism’. The present generation of Russian dissidents with whom we form a front against present day hegemonism, almost all refer to one or other of these historical anti-communist movements.
The united front has caused all anti-communist criticism uttered against the Soviet Union since 1917 to be thought worth considering. This produced an ideological penetration of the marxist-leninist movement by anti-communisms. This united front has undoubtedly also opened the door in many countries to direct police and fascist infiltration of the Marxist-leninist parties, e.g. the Mouvement Socialiste Populaire (popular socialist movement), a clandestine nazi-organisation, which tried to infiltrate our party via the Afghanistan Committee.
2.6. Campaign against socialist China
“Wherever people fought against communist totalitarianism, the CIA had to intervene and undisputedly tried to do so in Albania, Korea and China.” (Colby, director of CIA, “30 years of CIA”, Livre de Poche p127) The anti-communist propaganda of the thirties and the forties against the Soviet Union, is finding a new public today; the reality of the present day Soviet Union appears to confirm what previous anti-communists asserted. At the same time, people have become readier to listen to anti-communist propaganda against China. “In the Soviet Union, communism has degenerated; China is going the same way, it will end up where the Soviet Union is now.” – this is the leitmotiv of fascists, right-wingers and all professional anti-communists. In China great changes have taken place; some of the basic principles of the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) have been criticized. Between 1966 and 1969, many marxist-leninists defended the cultural revolution blindly, which was quite normal in this initial phase of the ML movement. One might hope that after 10 to 15 years of revolutionary work, everyone would have a better understanding of the complexity of marxist-leninist theory and of the class struggle. Some marxist-leninists with ultra-leftist ideas stick to formulas about the cultural revolution they learned by heart. They don’t try to understand the day to day reality of China; they don’t want to know whether these formulas correspond to the facts; they refuse to get acquainted with the present political line of the Chinese party and to adopt an unbiased, comradely attitude. Others have abandoned their former blind attachment to the Cultural Revolution; have gone to the opposite extreme: they think they can give vent to all kind of criticism against China, without serious research or analysis. Both positions often lead to the same conclusions, in accordance with the views of all anti-communists: China has degenerated, has become ’state capitalist’, ’revisionist’, etc.
3.1. On the pretext of ’fighting dogmatism and sectarianism’, all themes of anti-communist propaganda have been carefully introduced into the ML movement, step by step. For years, the bourgeoisie has been investing an enormous amount of resources and means in the anti-communist struggle. Fascists, right wing parties, clerical hierarchies, the right wing of social democracy all dispose of highly studied specialists in anti-communist propaganda. However different the attitude of these political forces may be, they have many themes and points of view in common in the anti-communist struggle. The present social democratic liquidationist tendency which has destroyed a large part of the ML movement in the West, initially claimed that they wanted to further develop marxism-leninism ’in a creative fashion’, to work out new revolutionary solutions for the new problems. The right-wing anti-party tendency is showing the same fundamental characteristic in all Western countries: they want to introduce anti-communist positions elaborated by bourgeois ideologists in books and publications, in high schools and specialised institutes into the marxist-leninist movement. Engels wrote: “We must not let ourselves be carried away by all those ’unity’ claims. The harder they scream about unity, the harder they work on discord, like the Bakounin-partisans in Switzerland, the culprits of all the cleavages, who do not cease to revendicate unity. Those unity fanatics are either narrow minded people who want to mix up everything into a shapeless dough which, should one stop stirring it, would let the contradictions appear even more distinctly ( ... ); or people who, conscious or not, will lead the movement into the wrong direction. Therefore, the greatest sectarians and the ’biggest mouths’ and rascals will sooner or later claim the unity in the most violent way. In all our life nobody ever has harmed us more, nobody ever has treated us more shamelessly than all those unity screamers.”(Engels, Letter to Bebel, 20-6-1873) This line or arguments rejected by those who defend the social-democratic liquidationist tendency. Confronted with right wing, anti-communist documents, they say: “It’s disgraceful to compare these comrades with the police or the extreme right,” – “Who are we to say what is marxism and what is not?” They no longer have the revolutionary will to analyse how the bourgeoisie is fighting communism and how to transform themselves in order to face this properly. The importance of these points of view is underestimated by comrades who make the following remarks: “It is wrong and harmful to link the views of members with opportunist inclinations to those of bourgeois or fascists.” We have never said there is a straight, inevitable evolution from opportunism to anti-communism. On the contrary, the experiences of our party shows clearly how ideological and political struggle can make comrades with opportunist points of view return to marxism-leninism. For this reason, however, it is necessary to understand clearly that opportunism can lead to anti-communism and how this may happen. This will heighten the vigilance and the seriousness necessary to criticize opportunism.
3.4. A different attitude towards different forces
On the whole, the social democratic liquidationist tendency is anti-party, anti-communist tendency. At a given moment, different elements of the party can be found within such a tendency. We must adopt a principal attitude towards, these different elements.
1. Some elements may break with the party and become active anti-communists fighting to destroy the party.
2. Others become bourgeois elements, not in the least agreeing with the party but not active anti-communists either.
3. Some leave the party on petty-bourgeois grounds; they still agree with certain party-issues and want to go on cooperating with the party on concrete issues.
4. Some comrades have serious problems, grave doubts, they let themselves be carried away by the liquidationist tendency. They still want to discuss the matter honestly; they stay within the party and manage to get a grip on themselves again as revolutionaries.
5. Some comrades landed in the liquidationist tendency through lack of education or experience; once they have understood what is at stake, they defend the party line.
4.1. In the name of fighting dogmatism, the basic principles of Leninism and Marxism are rejected.
4.1.1. Liquidationists within the KPD put forward the following points of view: “In our opinion, we would have criticized 3rd International marxism-leninism and its canonized ’principles’ earlier, had there not been the China-myth”, one should recognize “the pluralism of differing conceptions of Marxism”. “The exclusively negative understanding of the idea of revisionism must be questioned. Bernstein, Luckacs, Korsch, Togliatti, Gramsci, Althusser, Bahro, they have all tried to connect marxist theory with concrete historical reality by means of a revision of orthodoxy (deviation of rigid observance).” (Willy Jaspers, Zur Bilanz, p 68-69) “What we call marxism has become controversial”… “To formulate an autonomous answer to the problems of the social liberation of our country, also means renouncing Leninism” – “Some think that the whole apparatus of historical materialism has to be questioned” (Karl Schlogel, Zur Bilanz, p 75-79)
4. 1.2. In the twenties, the catholic hierarchy stood on the barricades against communism. They wrote: “Thus, this materialism is becoming a religion in itself, using faith as a redeeming force in an inevitable evolution towards a future proletarian society”, (Sixteenth Flemish Social Week, 9-11 Sept. 1929, p 84) These same clerical ideologists snatch up theories worked out by ex-marxists such as Hendrik De Man, in order to support their anti-communism. – “If we want to criticize marxism, the foundations of bolshevist communism; we only have to study what the socialists themselves say. Many of them have proved in hefty tomes the untenable nature of a great number of marxist positions. ( ... ) It may be noted in passing that Hendrik De Man wrote his ouvre under the device of “Marxism is dead, long live socialism” and as such opened a powerful offensive against Marx the materialist, not without success, witness the many currents apparently digging up spiritual motives to give marxist socialism fresh blood and new life. (Hendrik De Man writes): “In order to put Marx in the wrong, one doesn’t have to be greater than he was; being born two thirds of a century later and keeping one’s eyes open, is sufficient to make one look not only at different things than he did, but also to look at things differently .. ” (Sixteenth Flemisch Social Week, p 116) In 1941, when De Man had moved over to fascism, he said: “In ’Beyond Marxism’ I drew up the balance-sheet of all the amendments I had made to my marxist beliefs and I concluded with the words: socialism has to free itself from marxism. Certainly not in the way one gets rid of an opponent which one suddenly discovers to have been wrongly considered as a friend; but in the way one leaves behind a series of formulas that were once living and life-giving but are now long since rendered out of date by the evolution of facts and have decayed to a state of shameful prejudices.
In short, that was an application to Marxism of the critical method by which Marx himself had discovered the ’relativity’ of ideologies, almost a century ago( ... ) As soon as it is overtaken by events ( ... ) a previous truth becomes an error one has to get rid of ( ... ) I was attacking the very roots of Marxism, that is to say, its philosophical foundations: economic determinism and scientific rationalism.”(Apres coup, p19) Agust Lecoeur. Between 1945 and 1950, member of the political bureau of the PCF, and member of the secretariat charged with organisation: excluded in 1954, he became member of the social democratic SFIO in ’58; in ’70, secretary-general of the ’Parti de la Democratie Socialiste’ ... whose members of parliament went over to ... Giscard d’Estaing in ’73. In ’62, Lecoeur said: “Commemorating the hundredth anniversary of the Communist Manifesto, ( ... ) Jacques Duclos (wrote): “The Manifesto can help militants find solutions to problems rising in the present stage of the struggle”, and the militant who comes across problems in his town-hall, in his section, in his factory, takes this advice literally: “According to Marx, the disintegration process of capitalism is such that periodical crises ... ” because to them, Marxism is, as Andre Gide put it: the mass in Latin, when one doesn’t understand it anymore, one has to bow. ( ... ) Who would really deserve the title of ’marxist’ today? He who – following the example of Marx for the initial phase of the evolution of capitalism and class struggle, and the example of Lenin for the period of imperialism and proletarian revolutions – drew up a modern doctrine in function of technical developments with slogans appropriate to the age of automation, of atomic rule, and directed towards the new social strata that have sprung up due to this evolution.” (Le Partisan, Flammarion, p 300-302) Andre Gorz: “The spirit of orthodoxy, of dogmatism, of religiousness are no casual phenomena of Marxism: they form an integral part of a philosophy ( ... ) the prophetic character of which has no other basis than the revelation that struck the soul of the prophet.” (Adieux au proletariat, p 37-38)
4.1.3. Marxism is the scientific doctrine of the working class fighting for its liberation. Marxism has a class character, a practical character and a scientific character. In order to develop Marxism further, one has to work hard and get a thorough command of the whole doctrine. During the liquidationist movement even honest revolutionary militants let themselves be carried away by ’new’ theories ... dating back to Marx’s time and already refuted in the works of Marx and Engels themselves. In order to develop Marxism further, one has to be involved in the practice of an organised revolutionary party. Those who turn away from class struggle and the working class will easily find dozens of ’theories’ proving marxism to be out of date. “Marxism-Leninism is a dogma, a religion.” What is being attacked here is the fact that Marxism openly takes the side of the working class and the other oppressed classes. For those who take the exploiters side, this seems to be a ’creed’. Historical materialism shows the development of mankind to be based upon the development of productive forces. The way a given society produces and exchanges its products, is the basis on which social classes are formed. Before the bourgeois revolution took place, the productive forces were not very developed. That’s what largely determined the division into classes: peasants and craftsmen could only just produce enough to keep their families alive and to deliver a surplus production that allowed the ruling class to lead a luxurious life. In modern bourgeois society productive forces are developed to the point where the pretext for maintaining class divisions no longer exists; capitalist class has become a drag on historical development. Modern production is ruled by two classes: one capitalist and the other proletarian. Only the working class can make the socialist revolution succeed and use modern productive forces for the liberation of all mankind. “Marxism is economic determinism”. Here, Henri De Man is fighting the idea that the material, economic production and exchange are the basis of every society. He rejects the idea that a revolutionary’s task is to discover the antagonistic contradictions in the way capitalism produces and organises trade. (The contradictions between collective, social production undertaken by tens of thousands of workers and technicians and the private appropriation of the products by the capitalists; the class-contradiction between the owners of the means of production and the proletarians who have only their labour power to sell in order to support life; the contradiction between the rigid, scientific organisation of work in the individual business on the one hand and the anarchy in the whole of production at the international level, on the other; the contradiction between the enormous expansion possibilities of production due to science and technology on the one hand, and the limited expansion of consumers markets due to the demolition of living standards for the masses in the Third World and in the West on the other; the contradiction between the politics of maximum profits for multinationals on the one hand and the necessity for Third World countries to build up an autonomous national economy on the other hand; etc. From the insight into these contradictions comes the realisation that the proletarian revolution is necessary for material production to develop harmoniously and to a maximum to serve the working classes. Marxism is not economic determinism; it acknowledges the interaction between politics, ideology, justice, morality, etc, and the economic basis. “The 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte”of Marx (1852) and “The Exterior Policy of Russian Tsarism” of Engels (1890) are two brilliant examples of this. Against materialism; socialism has to be based upon spiritual motives. The material basis on which scientific socialism reposes is the development of productive forces and the organisation of class struggle. Whoever wipes the material basis away and substitutes ’spiritual motives’ for it ends up with bourgeois or feudal socialism. Henri De Man put it as if his socialism had its origins in ’general human motives such as a sense of justice and dignity’ (p 194) and ’moral demands’ (p197). But, since those spiritual motives’ are invoked in order to forsake the class struggle of the working class, they can only be the ’spiritual principles’ of the bourgeois or feudal classes. Logically, Henri De Man ended up with the following statement: “Royalty incarnated the last, precious remnant of an authority based upon sworn loyalty, upon obligations of descendancy and upon a hierarchy of values, independent of money.”(p 310) (Quotations from Apres Coup) “Marxism is made out of date by events; there are “new social strata”...That is the way anti-marxists pretend only to take present events into account, but in fact attack the basic principles of Marxism. What they really reject, is the revolutionary class position of Marxism, its revolutionary spirit, its fundamental revolutionary views and its scientific method. Yet, one first has to acquire that basis before one can even think about assimilating new facts.
4.1.4. We not only have to study the class position, the fundamental views and the scientific method of Marxism, we also have to pay attention to the class position, the views and the methods of anti-marxists. In the name of the struggle against dogmatism, Jaspers wants to rehabilitate the anti-marxist tendencies from Bernstein to Bahro. One can only train oneself as a communist when one also learns to analyze the theories of the most intelligent revisionists and to understand why inevitably they end up in absolute betrayal. Bernstein’s book ’Die Voraussetzungen des Sozialismus’ (1899) contains the promise ̶o;to develop and to enrich the marxist doctrine”(p49). But the essence of his statement is as follows: “The whole practice of social democracy is intended to create the conditions which make a peaceful transition from the actual system to a better social order possible. ( ... ) Now class dictatorship is an idea that belongs to a forgone culture.( ...) It means going backwards. It is political nonsense to believe that the transition from capitalist society to socialist society necessarily has to adopt a form from a period that knew neither modern propaganda methods nor any of the institutions we now dispose of to impose new laws.” (p 178) “The legal way might be considered to be longer because its advocates give priority to compromise and prefer expropriation with compensation to mere confiscation. ( ... ) As soon as the propertied minority of a nation is no longer a decisive barrier to progress, as soon as constructive work becomes more important than destructive, the appeal to violent revolution loses all sense.” (p 232) “It is necessary to analyze the prospects offered by colonial conquests seriously. The aborigines have to be well treated and compensated (...) Each year, Germany imports considerable amounts of colonial products: some day we should wish these products to be found in our own colonies, at least partly. ( ... ) It is not necessarily so that the occupation of tropical countries by Europeans should harm the aborigines; and in many cases the opposite is true. It is not conquest that gives rights, but the exploitation of the soil. Thus, developed civilization has higher rights after all.” (p 202-203) In a postface, Frederic Bon, excluded from the PCF in 1965, throws light upon the merits of Bernstein’s ’democratic socialism’ against the ’authoritarianism’ and the ’dictatorship’ of Lenin and Stalin ... (Quotations from “Les presupposes du Socialisme” Bernstein, Ed. Seuil)
4.2. In the name of the struggle against ’Stalinism’ one fights Marxism-Leninism.
4.2.1. Almost all of the liquidationist movements in Western European ML parties started out with a criticism of ’Stalinism’. The easiest way to carry out this manoeuvre is to call it the struggle against dogmatism. The general political climate makes the manoeuvre even easier: all fractions of the bourgeoisie, the petty bourgeoisie and the fascists, from the extreme right and the social democrats to the anarchists, trotskyists and revisionists, join together in a common hate of ’stalinism’. Very soon, this so-called ’struggle against Stalinism’ appeared to be the most advantageous tactics liquidationists could choose to introduce their ideas. They thought they could manage to destroy a number of points of view and principles by sticking the name of ’Stalinism’ on them. On closer investigation, these points of view and principles belonged to the very foundations of leninism and marxism.
4.2.2. In the twenties, all fractions of the imperialist bourgeoisie led their attacks against communism in the name of fighting bolshevism and leninist dictatorship; their struggle against ’Stalinism’ was the normal continuation of these campaigns. Kerensky, leader of the bourgeois government in Russia in 1917 said: ”The communists cannot expose the roots of the evil. They have unmasked Stalin, the most eager champion of the leninist cause ( ... ) Telling the truth about Lenin would destroy the foundations of totalitarian dictatorship and allow Russia to return to the paths of democracy from which the bolshevists violently diverted our country in October 1917.” (La Russie au tournant de 1’histoire, Plon, ’65, p 398) One should recall that the first task Kerensky formulated in March 1917 in the name of ’democracy’ was to continue the imperialist world war ... Kautsky, the spiritual father of international social-democracy said in 1930: ̶o;Fascism is nothing more than a pendant of bolshevism. Mussolini is only aping Lenin (... ) The bonapartist, or so to say fascist degeneration of bolshevism is not a threat in the distant future but has already been a fact in Russia for about 10 years.” (Le bolchevisme dans ’impasse, Arbeiderspers, p 106-107) The same theme with an even nastier taste was taken up in the periodical of the ACV (Belgian Christian trade union), April 19, 1939: “Communism has destroyed the strong foundations of natural and christian morality. In fact, it lets people be ruled by their instincts. Still, they are forces to submit to very severe political and economic discipline. People have to obey social slogans, that is to say the despotic will of their leaders ( ... ) In the sphere of political dictatorship, communist methods show much resemblance to those of the fascists or the nazis, but they are by far more insolent and cruel.”
4.2.3. The hatred of ’stalinism’ is in fact the hatred by the bourgeoisie of each and every revolutionary movement of the working class and the oppressed peoples of the world. The vituperation accumulated against Stalin today was already uttered against Robespierre, Saint-Just and Baboeuf during the French Revolution, against the Paris Communards in 1871, against Marx and against Lenin, against all· the revolts of ’barbarians’ and ’savages’ in China, Persia, the Arabian world and Africa, against the present-day struggles of the PLO in Palestine and the IRA in Ireland. As working-class communists and internationalists, we consider revolutionary working-class history to be our own. In each phase of its development and in each country the working class shows failings, deficiencies and errors. This was the case for the working class who organised the Paris Commune, and for the working class building up socialism in the Soviet Union under the leadership of Lenin and Stalin. Different parties defend different class interests. The millions of communists organised in the bolshevist party and in the international communist movement, in the twenties, thirties and forties, formed the vanguard of the international working class and this vanguard gave expression to the interests of the working class. It was normal that this vanguard should know internal struggle, splits, serious errors, but it was the only one to express the class interests of the working class all over the world. In Europe, the bourgeois and social-democratic parties gave voice to imperialism and to the petty-bourgeois strata that became reconciled with this imperialism.
4.2.4. The working class can only constitute itself as the leading revolutionary class when it assimilates its own revolutionary past. The twenties, thirties and forties constitute a long period in the revolutionary history of the world communist movement. The young marxist-leninist movement that sprang up after 1968 doesn’t count many cadres who were in that very struggle themselves. Hundreds of bourgeois ideologists have written countless studies in order to falsify, destroy and dissimulate the fundamental revolutionary acquisitions of that period. We have to make serious efforts to discover and assimilate the positive experiences of the world communist movement. On that sole basis will we be able to criticize the errors committed in that period correctly. Intensive study of Marxism-Leninism, criticism of reformism, revolutionary practice in the construction of the party and in the class struggle are fundamental to all fertile criticism. We do criticize certain points of view widespread in the world communist movement at Stalin’s time, with the aim of constructing our party, handling revolutionary practice and applying proletarian internationalism in a better way.
4.3. Under the cover of so-called ’maoist’ phrases, one fights socialism in China.
4.3.1. Bettelheim was an ideologist of maoism in France. After the fall of Chiang Ching, he accused Hua Kuo-feng of following a ’revisionist line’. The Chinese party ’invited him over to check his ideas with the facts. He refused. To him no doubt China had restored capitalism. So much for Bettelheim in his ’extreme left wing’ form. Let us look at his ’extreme right wing’ colours. Bettelheim had been involved in the struggle against ’stalinism’ for quite a while, calling it a kind of counter-revolution against Leninism. A couple of years later he was saying: “Today, I don’t think the October Revolution was a real proletarian, socialist revolution ( ... ) It was a special sort of capitalist revolution.” “In the Soviet Union the capitalist relations developing during the first five-year-plans gave way to relations of exploitation, the reproduction of which was governed by the party. I propose to call this capitalism a ’party capitalism’” (Interview in Le Monde, 30-10-82)
The ’enthusiasm’ of petty-bourgeois academics for socialism can easily turn into its contrary. Bettelheim and many European revolutionaries had idealistic views about China for a long time. Their starting point was their own ideal image of socialism and the way to proceed in the construction of socialism. Their ideal image was often determined by their experience of an industrially developed, bourgeois democratic society. A realistic image should start from an understanding of the coherence of the revolutionary process at world level. The wealth of the industrially developed, imperialistic camp is largely built on the ruthless exploitation of the Third World. In the Third World, all economic, social and political contradictions have been pushed to extremes. Only in the Third World is revolution a direct, vital necessity for the large masses. There, the bourgeoisie is not able to lead the national democratic revolution; only the working class can lead the peasants and the workers in this most bitter revolutionary struggle. Once victory is obtained, the working class will proceed to socialist transformation and construction, step by step, relying upon the ideological, political and economic experience of the international working class. The dialectics of history have created a situation in which socialism can only triumph in countries where the material conditions for socialism are the least developed. The development of productive forces, industry, communications, trade, science and culture was very backward in China. This poses very complex problems. It is therefore essential to discover a means of building socialism which is adapted to the concrete, specific reality of the country. It is inevitable that in so complex a situation left wing and right wing opportunist errors appear at times. But as long as the party is based upon Marxism-Leninism and upon the masses, these errors, even when they are serious and lasting, can be corrected. Bettelheim condemns imperialism; but he condemns revolutionary socialism as well: the October Revolution and the Chinese Revolution were just specific forms of the bourgeois revolution. The petty-bourgeoisie condemns both the bourgeoisie and the working class with a torrent of words masking their complete sterility in action. Bettelheim and other ex-maoists are full of themselves because of their creative, scientific marxist work; in fact, they are only rewriting the Mensheviks. Theodore Dan, leader of the Mensheviks, writing in 1932, had this to say: “The great historical achievements of the revolution under the bolshevist leadership ( ... ), including industrial state-capitalism and agricultural cooperatives, took place fundamentally within the framework of a bourgeois revolution.” (p 28) 14.
“Bolshevist dictatorship is no working class dictatorship ( ... ) It is degenerating more and more towards the dictatorship of a new privileged layer thrown up by the plebeian-masses.”(p 31) (Speech at the University of Brussels, December 1932. In the brochure Dan and Martov: Working class dictatorship, Ed. de la Liberte, 1947) Kautsky, the ideologist of Western European social-democracy, said in 1930: “Up there in the reactionary countries and in the Soviet Union, we find the aristocracy. In Russia it is formed by the Communist Party which governs the State ( ... ) Communists form the master class,· disposing at will of the rest of the population, of which they barely constitute one percent. It is evident that this class is watching over its own privileges ...”(Le Bolchevisme dans 1’impasse, p 69)
4.3.2. Some ’maoists’ have learnt a number of catchwords about ’revisionism’, ’restoration of capitalism’, ’state capitalism’ by heart. No sooner do they feel unhappy about some changes in China, than they let forth these same gruesome slogans. Dialectics teach us that a case can turn into its opposite. History goes forward, but it can also leap backwards in given countries and at given times. In history, the transition from capitalism to socialism is inevitable; but in some countries, socialism can degenerate and turn into some form of capitalism. Working class dialectics have to be materialistic. The decay of socialism into a new system of exploitation of the working masses must exist in reality and in the facts, before the dialectic proposition “socialism has decayed into state-capitalism” can be a correct expression of historical dialectics. Many marxist-leninists don’t seem to understand that this dialectic proposition separated from its material basis was first put forward by the bourgeoisie in its struggle against the new socialism. The ideas ’state-capitalism’ and ’new bourgeoisie’ were initially used by the right and the extreme right in their attacks against the socialism of Lenin and Stalin. The clergy stormed against lithe mighty domination apparatus of the Soviet bureaucracy”(p126) “The Soviets having destituted the old Russian bourgeoisie and reduced them to poverty, have brought a new bourgeoisie to life in about 4 years. A whole collection of bureaucrats belonged to this new bourgeoisie ... ” (p129) (Sixteenth Flemish Social Week -9-11 September 1929) A very interesting example of how catholic ideologists fight communism, is to be found in the ’Gids op maatschappelijk gebied’ (Social guide) of September 1931, in a study of ’The Russian 5-year plan’. First fighting method: Stalin is on his way away from pure Marxism (he is a ’revisionist’, we should say ... ) “The Soviets have even given up some of their basic principles. Some examples: they recognize personal interest, they have abolished the doctrine of equality, the theory of state worship has received a knock, the decentralisation of industry is praised; private initiative is being encouraged. The Soviets are changing their policy towards non-members of the party; the ’kulaks’ and the other peasants are recognized as fit to work in Soviet industry; production costs have to be made; piecework is reinstalled and technicians are going to get their place of honour back. All of this was rejected and condemned as ’capitalist methods’ before.” The more positively the country is advancing, the more pure marxism is being abandoned. a) There is a need for capital b) there is a return to personal interest, to higher wages, to division between the apt and the less apt, etc. And who knows? One day there will perhaps be a return to private property.”Second fighting method, on the same page: “Russian communism is not a short-lived phenomenon. It is the logical and relentless application of an economic system that wants to take into account neither spiritual life nor divine laws. What has the application of this system given to the Russian people up till now? Much, very much misery: Soviet leaders have a lot on their consciences: 2.500.000 people have been murdered by them, and 2.000.000 were banished.” (De Gids, no. 9, 1931, P 502-504)
4.3.3. The social democratic liquidationist tendency inside the Marxist-Leninist movement is characterized by an antagonistic position towards socialist China and by the adoption of all anti-communist criticisms against socialism in construction. This kind of antagonism had been in step by step preparation for a long time in many parties. Members of the party abandon the standpoint of proletarian internationalism; they gradually slide over to bourgeois and petty-bourgeois ’criticism of China’. They no longer have any class position of comradeship and solidarity among Marxist-Leninists all over the world; they don’t feel themselves responsible anymore for the common world revolutionary movement. They have never studied the basic documents of the Chinese party seriously; if they do read anything at all, they do so in search of passages ’to be criticised ’. How can one give a well-founded verdict on the work of a Communist Party that has to organize the lives of a billion people in such conditions? They do read lots of bourgeois publications and they think that is a sufficiently solid basis for formulating ’serious doubts’ about the Chinese Party. In such a situation, extreme left wing criticism of China is as good as extreme right wing criticism. As long as it is criticism and so long as it sounds all right. “Being Information is mere propaganda; it is ridiculous to rely upon state propaganda; the bourgeois press has proved to be more objective. They predicted the split between Albania and China while we were still talking about solidarity between the two countries.” What would those eminent marxist-leninists say if they heard on a trip to China: “We don’t read your newspaper Solidaire. That is communist propaganda. It would be ridiculous for us to study events in Belgium by reading such propaganda.”Imagine anybody wanting to make a study of Belgium but obstinately refusing to read any Government declarations and documents because they are mere propaganda. The Government decisions in Belgium are no propaganda; they constitute the actual measures that reflect the interests of the ruling class. The decisions of the Chinese Party and the Chinese government are the actual measures reflecting how the Chinese working class is organizing the development of the country today. The bourgeois press also predicted there would be a split between China and Korea, that China would sign a strategic alliance with America, that the works of Mao Zedong would not be studied anymore, that manual labour and the links with the workers would be abolished for cadres and intellectuals, that political-ideological work would be done away with ... none of which came about. But the China critics don’t bother about that. We are no ’pro-Chinese’ party. We are a Belgian revolutionary party, yet we declare our solidarity with marxist-leninists all over the world. As communists and internationalists we ought to see it as our duty to keep our-selves informed as to how our Chinese comrades give guidance to one billion people, ideologically as well as politically and economically. Being Information offers realistic and concrete views of the politics and the decisions of the Chinese CP and of the Chinese government. We ought to get acquainted with the things our Chinese comrades undertake in their country, but we shouldn’t want to judge things too hastily. Anyway, our knowledge of the specific reality of China is very limited and it is very difficult to pronounce a grounded judgement about most of their specific policies.
“We were raised on the cultural revolution. Now this whole cultural revolution is being rejected. We don’t have anything anymore to pull us along. Today we write articles about Chinese factories. This is ridiculous. In 1970, during the cultural revolution, we also wrote articles about Chinese factories and now, they are all being disavowed.” During the cultural revolution, many positive things did happen which we rightly published. We have our own point of view; when some people in China began to criticize everything that happened during the cultural revolution, we did not agree with them. Meanwhile, the Chinese Party has adopted an official resolution recognizing quite a number of positive points, achieved during the cultural revolution. During the cultural revolution, we learned a lot from China. During the present period, we also have to learn a lot from the experiences of socialist construction in China. Building up socialism in an immense Third World country is not an easy task. China is now undeniably making a whole series of very positive experiences. For instance, in the matter of the relationship between consumption and accumulation, between agriculture, light industry and heavy industry, in collectivisation politics in agriculture as well as in stimulating the individual peasants materially, in the reinforcement of the Party’s leading role and the maintenance of the united front of all forces wanting to transform socialist China into a modern developed society, etc.
4.3.4. All party members have to stick to the basic principles of proletarian internationalism: we are in favour of a total and unwavering solidarity with all the marxist-leninists of the world. We all have the same enemies, we all pursue the same goal; our struggle may be extremely complex at some times and encounter severe setbacks but we always need mutual solidarity. We have our problems and China has her own ... The Chinese communists may have made many errors during the last twenty years. But what did we, communists in Western Europe, do that is so brilliant during these last twenty years? All communist parties have their weak and strong points. We must not be disamed when the weak points come to light, we have to consider them as a warning to ourselves; we have to learn as much as possible and as creative a way as possible, from their positive experiences and we must declare our solidarity for better and for worse ... A proletarian class position in the matter consists of:
1. Studying essential documents of the Chinese CP seriously and weighing up their fundamental positions.
2. Showing one’s interest and enthusiasm for everything positive and for all progress.
3. Criticizing in a responsible way, i.e. among communists. This means that:
1. Our enthusiasm with regards to socialism has to show from our propaganda for the main lines of CCP policies which we back up on the basis of our own independent judgement.
2. We refute all anti-communist attacks on principle.
3. Above all, we defend everything we think to be correct and positive in every movement or document.
4. We show a communist, critical spirit, we formulate our own opinion. In doing so, we must, above all, be prudent. We must try to take into account the real situation in China and the real intentions of the Chinese CP.
4.4. Under the pretext of ’fighting the right wing’, of creating a ’front against the reactionary offensive, certain people range themselves behind social-democracy.
4.4.1. In our party, some people got up and refused to go on with the hard work of preparing the socialist revolution any longer. Their viewpoints: “We have achieved nothing in 10 years, we might achieve more if we reinforced the left wing of the social reformism or revolution is an academic debate; the revolution may not take place in our life time; the real debate is between the non-liberal trend and the progressive trend, between Thatcher and Mitterand.”
4.4.2. Historical experience has shown the European bourgeoisie her domination is most stable when she uses alternating political tactics, when she lets the country be governed first by conservative bourgeois politicians, then by progressive bourgeois politicians. On the whole, the liberal and the progressive fractions of bourgeois politicians defend the positions of capitalist society: private property of the means of production, the institutions of the bourgeois state. In some crisis situations, only the ’progressive’ bourgeois parties can manage to contain the masses and guarantee bourgeois order. It was social-democracy that played a prominent part in this way in the crucial years of 1944-1945, and it was thus that the CIA invested a lot in social-democrat parties.
4.4.3. For years, those who betrayed the revolution and rallied bourgeois democracy have been using the argument of “reinforcing the socialist party in the struggle against the right.” August Lecoeur, former member of the political bureau of the PCF, joined the SFIO (social-democrat) in 1958. “We were convinced that it was urgent to reunify in order to put up an efficient barrier against the ambitions of the reactionary forces who were taking advantage of the situation and of the long-lasting Algerian war, and in order to prepare ourselves politically and militarily for the abolition of the republic.” (Partisan, Flammarion, p 293) After the war, Bert Van Hoorick became organisation secretary of the CPB. In his autobiography he indicates the simple arguments he used to renounce the cause of socialist revolution and entered bourgeois democracy and the SP. ”I ascertained that there were doubts about the vanguard role of the Party (... ) Therefore, we had to make clear to ourselves whether Khrushchev’s proposition of realizing socialism through Parliament was applicable to Belgium or not.” “I thought all objective conditions were pointing in that direction. But then again we should have considered that the social-democratic workers movement formed the most important element in this strategy.” “The new viewpoint which said that socialism could be achieved through Parliament and by means of universal suffrage, took away most of the reasons for the split between communists and socialists (... ) The general interests of the working class and thus their class interests had to be given priority. This seemed primordial to me, above all in the Aalst-district where on one hand there were masses of socialist workers with a lack of leading cadres and on the other hand a still worthy communist cadre apparatus without a broad basis.” (In Tegenstroom, p281;285)
4.4.4. Every 20 years, a political party has to renew a part of its cadres if it wants to maintain its dynamism. This kind of operation has been going on for some years within the socialist party. The catchwords: “renovation”, “rejuvenation”, “radicalisation”– in short, the whole register of demagogy. These three words stand for anything in fashion. “Renovation”is to be found on the village green.” The dynamics of political renovation are no longer to be found in organised far left.” (De Morgen 12-10-82) In other words = it is no longer a question of being directed towards the revolutionary class struggle or towards an anti-capitalist program. Spitaels, talking about an ’overture’ of the socialist party towards the progressives: “This overture is an absolute necessity in order to keep the party alive. What has struck me is the extent to which our meetings are gatherings of men already past their prime ... ” (Le Peuple 1-3-82) The liquidationists who no longer believe in the revolution and in the working class, thus have a good chance to build up a career within the social-democrat parties.
4.5. In the name of ’democracy’ and ’freedom’ they engage in the destruction of the leninist conception of the party.
4.5.1. During the campaign against sectarianism, we opportunistically allowed some people to join the party who absolutely didn’t satisfy membership-conditions. One of these people has since left the party on issues very close to extreme right wing and anti-communist propaganda. In particular the leninist conception of the party is aimed at, in terms straight out of extreme right wing publications. We quote: “It would be interesting to watch closely the working style and the organisation methods of religious-fascist sects. The sect of Melchio, for instance, manages to control its members from inside out. Each member is carefully surrounded, not being allowed to talk to anyone but to other members of his unit. Thus, they arrived at a system of pseudo-military ’democratic centralism’, killing all initiatives, all personal thinking and political life. The leaders control the whole apparatus, by means of a perfectly working hierarchical structure. ’Horizontal’ discussions between rank and file members are forbidden.”
4.5.2. The leninist party is the organisational form necessary in order to realize the program of socialist revolution. Militants who do real revolutionary work, based upon industrial and other workers realize that leninist party rules are the only organisational and working methods capable of materializing their ideals. But those who no longer believe in revolution and in the working class feel the Leninist party to be a curse and a tyranny. Those who find bourgeois society acceptable will of course feel oppressed, abused and under obligation when they have to work efficiently for the liberation of the working class within a proletarian party. That is why the attacks of ex-communists and of fascists against democratic centralism have so many aspects in common. August Lecoeur, ex-member of the political bureau of the PCF has written: “One single reference remained stamped in bronze: ’democratic centralism’, the pillar upon which all of the arbitrariness of the communist system relies (... ) The continuity of its methods and means, of the leninist-stalinist structures which underlies it, are never questioned ( ... ) Unity and efficiency! These are indeed the two key-words of the barbed-wire bound fortress of the communist world. ’Unity’ in communist practice, springing as it does from ’democratic centralism’, is in fact the prohibition of each and every original thought and of all creative opposition. This unity forbids the organisation of tendencies inside the party ( ... ) And the efficiency! That is the very least one can say about the communist world where the aim justifies even the most appalling means. In communist practice it is the unanswerable efficiency of dictatorship compared to democracy, of the Gulag compared to the liberty to express one’s opinion, the efficiency of the united or dominating party against the pluralism of political opinions; the efficiency of the press written by state-officials against the free press written by free journalists. These are only a few aspects of the ’unity’ and the ’efficiency’, brought about by democratic centralism, a euphemism used to hide the most efficient and unified totalitarian police system.” (Le PCF, P 19-20)
Roger Cosyns-Verhaegen, fascist ideologist and man of military security, an admirer of Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera, “who founded the Phalange, in a spirit of national and social synthesis”, writes: “The communist enterprise is built like any totalitarian construction. There is:
1. A doctrine reflecting the conception worked out by one or more leaders.
2. An ’intelligentsia’ which builds up the apparatus necessary for the application of the doctrine.
3. The apparatus itself, that is to say the party.
4. The militants, willing molecules whose conditioning and working together must ensure the impact of the party.”(25 ans d’impact communiste en Belgique, Les Ours, 1967, p 29; P 12) Lecoeur pleads for the liberty for all bourgeois conceptions within the party; the ideas exalting capitalism must not be ruled out, because that is ’dictatorship’. “Original thinking, creative opposition” these attractive terms are thought up to designate everything that deadens the revolutionary character of the party, everything that pleases the bourgeoisie. Cosyns-Verhaegen speaks about the communist militant as if he were a ’willing molecule ’, an aement not thinking by himself but only obeying blindly. A leninist party can only be built by militants who combine a maximum of consciousness and of theoretical and practical education. The leaders of a communist party know they cannot do much more than resume and enrich the correct ideas which are present in their party, among the members and the cadres. The more conscious and educated the members, the richer the political life of the party and the greater the possibilities of formulating correct, revolutionary positions. Cosyns-Verhaegen speaks as though the leaders do as they like while the members have to follow discipline blindly. This probably says a lot about his own fascist organisation. In a leninist party, the rules of discipline are the same for each and everyone, from high rank to low rank. In the PvdA/PTB, discipline is applied more strictly to the cadres who have also more duties. Between 1903 and 1917, Trotsky was one of the most fervent opponents of the Leninist party-conception in Russia. In 1904, Trotsky wrote in ’Nos taches politiques’ (Our Political Tasks)(Ed Belford, 170, p 198)
“This philosophy (of Lenin) can be resumed in three theses:
1. The preparation of the working class for dictatorship is an organisational problem; the working class must be prepared to accept a strong organisation headed by a dictator.
2. In the interest of working class dictatorship, it is necessary consciously to prepare the advent of this dictator ruling over the working class.
3. Each deviation from this program is the expression of opportunism.”
4.6. In the name of independence and autonomy of the mass-organisation they reject the role of the communist party.
4.6.1. The liquidationist tendency appeared first in a number of mass organisations of the PvdA containing party members and sympathisers. In the Anti-Imperialist League there arose a trend to be ’detached from the party’; it refused to base its Third World solidarity work upon marxism-leninism and also no longer wished to propagate socialism in China as an example for the Third World. A party-comrade responsible for a mass-organisation left the party; he felt a mass-organisation should have an independent dynamics and therefore should not be under the leadership of the party nor take marxism-leninism as its guiding vision of history. In the name of ’struggle against sectarianisms’ they wanted to bring more and more party-activities under the flag of ’non party mass organisations’. The review ’Medicine for the People’ of the PTB-PvdA was dropped in favour of a ’non-party review of a broad progressive front’ – The activities of our student organisation MLB were diminished in favour of those of a mass-character organisation, the SVB. When the youth-organisation was refounded, they first wanted to build up a non-party mass-organisation. A proposition was made to change our party newspaper into an ’overt, popular, non-party paper’. The whole tendency would have ended in the rejection of the basic principles of our work:
1. the ideological, political and organisational construction of the party as the essential organisation of the progress of the revolutionary movement;
2. the study and the creative application of marxism-leninism as the essential condition or the elaboration of proletarian revolutionary politics.
4.6.2. In the same spirit, the principle of the leading role of the marxist-leninist party in the construction of socialism was rejected. In the name of ’absolute democracy’ there was refusal to make a class analysis any longer. The fascists, the extreme right and other spokesmen of the bourgeoisie are always the first to demand ’trade-union independence’, as soon as a country is on its way towards socialism. They seek an organisation they can manage to withdraw from the influence of the party, in which they can concentrate their counter-revolution forces and from where they can undertake a regular war for the reconquest of power. The clerical ideologists in 1939 in a study note on “communism (which) brings up as an invention of the spirit of Evil against Christ and against christian civilisation said about the Soviet Union:
“About 6 million workers were to become members of the red trade-unions which were subject to the ruling party to which their leaders adhered.” (AVC-weekly, 11th volume, 1939, 19/4, p 393;380) After the last World War, the review ’Europe Amerique’, since renamed ’Nouvelle Europe Magazine’, assembled the fascist ’thinkers’ of French speaking Belgum. In 1951, this review wrote about the construction of. socialism in Poland: “The struggle between the two tendencies, the free trade unions on the one hand, and Moscow-dominated trade-unionism on the other, was to go on from 1945 to 1947.” “The struggle for the demands of the masses was reflected during that same period mainly by strikes.” “In 1946, the work stoppages took on the character of a mass-movement.” “They limited themselves to insulting the strikers because a strike was bound to be ’reactionary’ in a progressive regime.” (Europe-Amerique 15-3-51, p 19) In 1947 Leon Jouhaux organized a split in the French CGT and founded Force Ouvriure. This split was financed by the CIA who, in the name of ’free trade-unions’ wanted to withdraw as many workers as possible from the influence of the communist trade union movement. In that same period the CIA was manoeuvring in favour of ’free trade unions’ in Poland, in order to assemble all reactionaries against the young socialist regime in Poland. Twenty-five years later, the situation of the world has changed profoundly. The Soviet Union has become a social-imperialistic country. We support all those forces within Solidarnosc that demand independent and democracy, in particular those forces opting for a socialist Poland. At the same time, we know that the old extreme right wing forces, supporters of Pilsudski and the Homel and Army, are present inside Solodarnosc and that the CIA is completely involved in it.
The CIA’s conception of ’free trade unions’ has remained the same. They are a weapon to defend imperialism, an organised form of anti-communism. While supporting democratic forces within Solidarnosc, we distinguish ourselves from these reactionary elements.
4.7. In the name of the ’individual liberation’ work for the party, work for the working class, for the revolution is rejected.
4.7.1. A supporter of the liquidationist tendency writes: “Stalinist ideology denies individual liberation which is considered to be petty-bourgeois. The aims of liberation will not be achieved if one does not try to develop individual autonomy and the autonomy of the collective units of society as much as possible.” “Under post-industrial socialism, a new morality, new ways of life, new forms of the family will spring up. This new ideology is already gaining ground vaguely, spontaneously. This is what we see in feminism, ecology and all sorts of ’alternative’ experiments.” All this has been neatly copied from anti-communist, bourgeois ideologists.
4.7.2. Andre Gorz has written: “Proletarian militants have generally fought back their desire for individual autonomy, which they see as ’ being a remnant of petty-bourgeois individualism in workers (... ) The’ desire for autonomy is not a proletarian value. (... ) Each proletarian who hopes to make it on his own, saps the possibility the working-class would have, if all of its members stuck together, to drive the bourgeoisie from power and to put an end to class-society. Thus, the political needs of the class-struggle have prevented the workers movement from questioning the possibly legitimate desire of autonomy as a specific existential demand.( ... ) A need can exist for other than political reasons (... ) Such is the case of existential needs (aesthetical, erotic, inter-personal, affective needs), more precisely of the need for autonomy. Not to recognize the relative autonomy of existential needs and to pretend to subordinate them to a political obligation is to repress the least expression of them as possible political deviations or acts of treachery. This repression is as old as the political trade union organisation based upon class, upon a working class largely deprived of its capacities for autonomous work. This repression existed long before Stalin and it continued to exist after him. It has its roots in the impossibility of experiencing ’being a proletarian’, and even less ’the unity of the working class’ as an individual development and liberation (... ) The exemplary militant is the one who no longer exists as an autonomous individual (... ) He represses his own subjective thought of the class which thinks through him, rigidness, dogmatism, materialism, wooden language and authoritarian passion are features proper to this thinking which claims to presses his own subjectivity in order to become the objective thought of the class which thinks through him: rigidness, dogmatism, materialism, wooden language and authoritarian passion are the features proper to this thinking which claims to be original (... )
As Herbert Marcuse has indicated, post-industrial socialism, i.e. communism, will be feminine or will be nothing. It presupposes a cultural revolution which will root out (... ) the principle of profitability, the ethics of competition and accumulation, in order to establish the predominance of values such as reciprocity, tenderness, giving for nothing, love of life in all its forms.” (Au dela du socialisme. Adieux au proletariat. p 55-56; P 129) What Marcuse means by ’feminine socialism’ is paradise for parasites from the aristocracy and the upper bourgeoisie, parasites in public service, well paid to do very little; for this kind of people, the principle of profit and competition does not exist, they can live out the best part of their days in ’tenderness and giving for nothing’. Gorz has a special liking for general phrases about ’autonomy’. He probably hopes in this way to stir up some left wing intellectuals against the working class and against militantism for the revolutionary cause. We would have liked some precise examples of what that ’individual autonomy’ could consist of. On p 130 and 131, Gorz becomes concrete. Individual autonomy means: firstly ’look after young children fulltime’ – i.e. women back to the kitchen -or men to the kitchen, because Gorz is for equality; secondly, “unpaid and autonomous activities within the framework of the family’; third, ’thanks to partial unemployment, family life and affective interchange can develop’; as we all know, an even greater impulse is given to this affective interchange by full unemployment. Fourth, ’we, men, have already recovered some of our rights to feelings, to relationships with children’. That is the way the petty-bourgeoisie confiscates erotic love, affectivity, tenderness, feeling and love. By waving the flag of ’eroticism and love’, Gorz cherishes the secret hope of luring some left wing intellectuals ’beyond Marxism, beyond the working class, beyond socialism’. Issues like class-struggle, workers struggle, revolutionary struggle make the petty-bourgeois yawn with boredom, shrug their shoulders or laugh their heads off. There was a time when he believed in all this, as he once believed in Santa Claus (do not read as he once believed in the Holy Ghost, for materialism is one thing he went back on: there is a deeper spiritual origin of things, that much is sure) Andre Gorz is looking for true socialism, post-industrial socialism, in the field of tenderness, eroticism and love. Alas, other gold-diggers have been there before him. The leader of the French fascist organisation ’La Cagoule’ kept a diary. During a search, the police got hold of it. Forty years later, an editor published the effusions of this fascist: next to bomb attacks, murder, intrigues and acts or terrorism, the author addresses dozens of pages of touching romanticism to his three girlfriends, where tenderness and affectivity and ’giving for nothing’ know no bounds. Workers are being dulled by exhausting labour and never ending class struggle; the soul of the capitalist is perverted by his craving for money and power. Only the petty-bourgeois is wise enough to hold himself far from the social struggle, from revolution and other dogmatic trials; he is the only one who knows how to spend his life in True Love and Real Tenderness. In the name of the petty-bourgeoisie, Gorz pretends to monopolize erotic love, affectivity, tenderness, and emotions and love though he lacks all grounds for doing so. All these beautiful things and everything they imply, and all the forms they can take, are to be found among the working class as well as in the bourgeoisie or the petty-bourgeoisie. The way somebody does or does not express his personal feelings, the way he dominates them or gives way to them or lets them shrivel up has nothing to do with his class origin or his class standpoint. Not all militants are neurotic, and not all Andre Gorzes are great lovers. Gorz talks about ’autonomous individuality’ as if it were something absolute. And as if a revolutionary militant were necessarily devoid of that autonomy. Gorz fails to see that the autonomy of a militant lies in the full consciousness with which he chooses his side; not the side of Andre Gorz, not the side of Valery Mitterand d’Estaing, but the side of the working class and of the revolutionary struggle. The communist militant decides in full autonomy to educate and transform himself for the better service of the proletarian struggle. Putting the ’autonomous individuality’ above all, as Gorz does, is putting yourself on the side of the bourgeoisie or the petty-bourgeoisie. Only in those surroundings can one preach the ’development of self’ as the highest good because the exploitation and oppression of the Third World and of the working class are taken for granted there and considered to be immutable. He who works for the working class sees his own development in the framework of the revolutionary struggle for the liberation of all working class people. The formula ’individual autonomy’ is a fashionable definition of the idea of ’liberty’. And liberty is a word with a totally different meaning for each class. Gorz preaches the liberty to keep as far away as possible from the working class and then he takes up post in a corner already occupied by Giscard d’Estaing. “The history of French society is one of a thousand years of efforts of the individual to affirm and develop his autonomy.” “Our society is based upon individual development ( ... ) To favour the development of each personality, to allow everybody to give a sense to his life : this aim corresponds with the liberating stage of economic development which we have reached.”(Democratie francaise, Fayard, p 31 + 71) By singing the praises of ’individual autonomy’, Gorz is in fact praising the bourgeois and petty-bourgeois style of life. Being a proletarian and a militant means as much to him as being devoid of any ’individual autonomy’. He fails to see that there are proletarians who are proud of their professional skills and of their work, who acquire technical and scientific knowledge after their work, who acquire political education and a thorough understanding of economy and of political and trade union life. Of course, the exploitation and oppression of workers considerably limit their possibilities of educating and schooling themselves and enriching their spiritual and cultural life. That is another reason why socialist revolution is necessary. And to make that socialist revolution possible, there are militants who have consciously decided to break with the bourgeois and petty-bourgeois style of life, ideals and way of thinking. Whatever Gorz may think about it, they manage to keep their ’own subjectivity’ very well; but they fight on the side of the other class.
4.7.3. Many traitors to the working class who went over to the bourgeoisie did so with a cry of revelation: Eureka, I have discovered myself. Henry De Man, for instance, explains: “In fact, I had been searching in previously existing socialist doctrines what corresponded with my own mood. I had thought, for a moment, when I discovered Marxism, that I had reached this balance point. But I saw how it went on escaping me little by little at the same time as my own experiences made my convictions ripen. (...) That is how I was forced to search outside books and eventually found myself.”
“I did not want to do anything else than to reach harmony with myself.” One can easily imagine how excited Henry De Man became when after 40 years of presence on our good earth, he suddenly found himself. We are interested above all in what he found, when he discovered himself. And for Henry De Man it was simple: he found fascism. Cosyns-Verhaegen says the same thing, on an extreme right wing note: “The bolshevist revolution had levelled the social edifice downwards. So we must oppose an upwards levelling (... )This transformation must not only include the material level but also cultural and moral rules ( ... ) Mussolini’s attempts in this direction were rapidly corrupted( ... ) Only Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera (founder of Spanish fascism) seems to have combined enough generosity and realism in his conceptions.” “Another explanation why the individual gets pushed into the background in the case of rank and file communists, is this: ( ... ) He sees no possibility of asserting himself, of realising himself as a person by his own means. Consequently, he agrees to do away with the little potentiality for self he still has, in order to melt into the monolithic mass of the party.” People outside the party though “persevere in their search of an autonomous way towards their personal destiny.” (25 ans d’impact communiste p16;11;12)
4.8. In the name of the ’struggle against dogmatism and sectarianism’, they turn away from the working class and get involved in the mass movements of the petty bourgeoisie.
4.8.1. The liquidationists within the KPD have said: “Today, in fact, resistance potential with some social activity is to be found rather in the ecology movement. There you find a desire to break out of totalisation of developed capitalism.” (Alexander Von Plato) – “Today, large parts of this movement (of the middle classes) reject the capitalist system more than the working class does, since the latter is, precisely as it was before, essentially part of the capitalist system, through social democracy and trade union leadership.” (Kommunistische Briefe, no. l, June 80, p 36)
4.8.2. Those who turn away from the proletarian revolution reject the notion that the working class is the only consistently revolutionary class, and the driving force of socialist revolution. Hendrik De Man: “The future will tell whether I was right when I wanted to combine socialism with the class struggle and link it with the more general, human driving forces such as the sense of justice and dignity.” “The declaration said that social ism was inspired only by the general good, by social justice and national interests; it put the middle classes, the peasants, the intellectuals and generally all of the productive classes on the same level. In short, it was a total rupture with the old marxist dogmas and with the obsession with the working class.” (Apres Coup, p 195; P 298-299) Andre Gorz: “The young revolutionary activists of before and after May 1968, like Marx himself, do not take up a militant activity in the revolutionary movement and do not go to work in factories because the working class acts, thinks and feel in a revolutionary way, but because it is revolutionary by destiny, i.e. it has to be that way, it has to ’become what is is’. ( ... ) The impossibility of every attempt to verify the theory has always weighed like a deadly sin upon marxism.” Capitalism can only be transcended by the social strata that represent or prefigure the dissolution of all classes.” “The feminist movement takes part in capitalist logic when it aims at liberating women from activities without economic purpose ( ... ) These activities are only inferior and menial to the extent that economic activities go on dominating not only society but also the family community. It is precisely this dominating role which is being questioned now. It is only to the extent that the women’s movement can radicalize this questioning by making autonomous activities and non-economic values the essential ones and economic activities and values subordinate to them, that it can become a driving force of the post industrial revolution and in many regards its vanguard.”(Adieux au proletariat p 37; 29; 128-129)
4.8.3. Historical materialism says that the production of material goods is at the base of every society. The decisive issue in the struggle is which class possesses the means of production and decides about the methods and the goals of production. Only the working class under the leadership of its revolutionary party is able to gather the other workers round itself and develop enough force to abolish the bourgeoisie. – Gorz has discovered the deadly sin of marxism; facts cannot possibly prove the working class to be the most revolutionary class. The bourgeoisie strikes those who desire to serve her all too well with blindness. The sole movements that have really scared the Belgian ruling class, were mass working class actions: the popular revolutionary movement at the Liberation in 1944, when a large part of the working class was armed; the general strikes of 1950 and of 1960-61; the struggle against the closing down of the mines in Zwartberg in 1966; the struggle against the winding up of the steel industry in Wallonia in 1982. In all the crisis periods that have shaken society, only the working class has offered a basis for mass revolutionary struggle. This was most clearly to be seen in the last revolutionary period in Europe, the period of anti-fascist resistance. On the attitude of the French workers to the German occupation: “The judgement of prefects concerning the attitude of the working class towards the new regime and its politics was unanimous; for no other class was their judgement so undividedly categorical and negative (... ) Soon there was no doubt at all: the workers “are on the whole has the to the government” ( ... ) “The workers go on resisting the appeals of the government”. “They are all hostile to the present regime”, “The working class is the most clearly hostile towards the government”(Reports of the Prefects from 1942-1944) (Madgarian; Conflits, pouvoirs et societe a la liberation; Colla 10 18, P 37) Gorz, and with him the right wing of the ecologist and feminist movements, wants to take the main struggle out of the field of production: leisure, the consuming society, the family. Nothing is keeping the Societe Generale from embracing post- industrial Andre Gorz in this field and from putting up prizes for the most deserving ’individual liberation through leisure’, for the most environmental conscious consumer’, for the ’most tender family’ and for the man with the best ’capacities of relationships’. (p 130)The women who fly the flag of ’non-economical values’ are the driving forces of the ’post-industrial revolution’: the vanguard is thus formed by housewives. The liquidationist movement within the KPD put forward the following proposals: “A step by step elaboration of a left socialist movement independent of SPD and of SED-DKP, in which communists take an active part.”(Semmler) “This means to be politically, ideologically and organizationally oriented towards self-dissolution in the framework of the new unity of communist and socialist tendencies left of the SPD and the SED(KP)”(Steinhauer, Zur Bilanz, p 62) These propositions mean a betrayal of the central task of constructing and reinforcing a revolutionary working class party based upon clear marxist-leninist foundations. They deny the implacable contradiction between marxism-leninism on the one hand and reformism and trotskyism on the other. The wives of the directors of the Societe Generale could obviously stand for the central committee of this new vanguard organisation.
4.9. In the name of the ’unity of the left’ they become conciliatory towards trotskyism.
For 50 years, the essential significance of trotskyist groups lies in the fact that they are ”in the forefront of the struggle for the destruction of the world marxist-leninist movement. The anti-communist standpoint of the extreme right is given left wing clothing and spread among progressives by the trotskyists. The trotskyists can take up ’extreme left wing’ positions first, then extreme right wing ones, but their goal still remains the same: to do a maximum of harm to the socialist countries, the marxist-leninist parties and the national and democratic revolution in the Third World. The trotskyists said about our party in 1976: “The irrevocable degenerescence to a mao-stalinist, counterrevolutionary sect is reached when on a key-issue of the class struggle, AMADA subordinates the interests of the Belgian working class to those of the Chinese bureaucracy” – “Without a fundamental political change in strategy, it is inevitable that she will become sectarian and eventually degenerate. However, thus there is a threat that a whole section of the vanguard will be lost. Meanwhile, however, a first important obstacle within that vanguard has been got rid of, so the revolutionary party can continue to be built.” (Documents of the Third Congress of the Revolutionary Workers League (Trotskyists) March ’76) In 76, the trotskyists were convinced they could give our party the death-blow and they were already rubbing their hands with glee at the prospect of our party being soon ’got rid of’. Their bluff and boasting could not however erase the permanent work of our party among the workers. It was apparent that the influence of our party was three times as great as theirs … Hence, the trotskyists came running back to the PvdA longing to realize the ’union of the left’. Trotsky himself wrote, in 1938, in his ’transitional program’, about the Chinese Communist Party: “The Communist International took advantage of the Chinese-Japanese War to liquidate ’Soviet-China’ by one dash of the pen, while subordinating’ not only the Red Army of peasant soldiers but also the so-called communist party to the Kuomingtang itself, i.e. to the bourgeoisie ( ... ) The policy of Popular Fronts and ’national defense’ has as one of its tasks that of turning the hundreds of millions of people of the colonial population into cannon-fodder for ’democratic’ imperialism.”(p 27) Mao Zedong drew the right conclusions from this tirade of course: he said the trotskyist agitation directly served the fascists. Trotsky fought socialist construction in the Soviet Union with grimness and a hatred not to be equalled elsewhere. The themes developed by Trotsky in his propaganda against the Soviet Union and against Stalin were copied by the ideologists of anti-communism in Nazi-Germany, by the CIA, by clerical milieus. ”We accuse the ruling clique to be a new aristocracy oppressing and robbing the masses.” (p 281) – “The upper layer of the bureaucracy leads about the same life as the prosperous bourgeoisie in the United States and in other capitalist countries.”(p 292) “A new oppressive and parasitical caste headed by Stalin, raised above the Soviet Republic and against the people.” (p 301) “The only politician who could impress Stalin in these circumstances was Hitler. Ecce Homo. Hitler and Stalin have everything in common: contempt for the masses, absence of principle, ambition, a totalitarian apparatus. But Hitler has got something Stalin has not got: imagination, the power to captivate the masses, and daring.” (p 297) “Soviet bureaucracy includes all the features of the abolished classes, but it has not got its social roots and traditions. It can only defend its monstrous privileges by means of organized terror.” (p 165) “A considerable part of the Soviet apparatus which is gaining more and more in importance, is formed by fascists who have not yet recognized themselves as such ( ... ) To identify the Soviet regime as a whole with fascism would be a bad historical mistake (... ) But the symmetry of the political superstructures, the equality of the totalitarian methods and of the psychological types are striking.” (p15) “One can only assure the defense of the country by destroying the autocratic clique of saboteurs and defeatists. The catchword of Soviet patriotism is “Away with totalitarian defeatists, away with Stalin”. (p 169) The subjective intentions of Trotsky are of little importance. He had become a pathetic little man, whose self-conceit had grown as his following dwindled. His appeals to resist and destroy the ’new aristocracy’ were helpless provocations from which only the Nazis could profit. During their aggression against the Soviet Union, Hitler’s armies gave out the following propaganda: ”You are not the masters of your country, nor even of your very existence: your master is Stalin. You were promised the life of free people, and instead they have made slaves of you. What did they do to your right to speak and to write as you will? Down with the parasites of the Russian people! Overthrow your tyrants.” (p 480) 27.
Towards the end of the Second World War, part of American imperialism wanted to change alliances and start a war against the socialist Soviet Union. The Soviet official Kravchenko, an American secret agent, went over to the West in March 1944 and published a book that had to win over public opinion for an American aggressive war against the USSR. ”As long as a sixth of the world is subordinate to totalitarian slavery, peace will always remain vulnerable (...) They tell me it is up to the Russians and to the Russians only to break their chains. Those who think this, think wrongly; because in many regards the salvation of the whole of civilization and the hope of maintaining peace depends on the liberation of my country.”(p 635) Kravchenko writes about “the new Soviet system with its privilege classes” (p 490), “the patriots who hate despotism and the cruelty of Stalin are millions in number.” (p477). “I thought the Kremlin capable of the worst and meanest methods, hardly less to be condemned than those of the Nazis.” (p 448)(Quotations: J’ai choisi la 1iberte, Ed. Seuil 1947 – I’ve chosen liberty)
4.10. They idealize “our present democracy”, they pretend it is superior to socialism and they choose to forget it is built on the exploitation of the Third World.
4.10.1. A supporter of the liquidationist movement writes: “A centralized economy is in the hands of the party leadership which amalgamates with the State” “The party is the historical representative of the working class vanguard” “There you have a conception closer to enlightened despotism than to democracy” “One has to admit that the political system (in Russia and in China) is far less democratic than the limited democracy in the imperialist countries. There is no valid democratic right in our country that would not be valid in China.”
4.10.2. There you have the conception of democracy as it is honoured by the imperialist bourgeoisie. Democracy emptied of its class contents becomes a ’value in itself’ not determined by the interests of one or other class. Our democracy is limited, socialist democracy is even narrower, the question is thus to enlarge our democracy: this basic conception is what the liquidationists have in common with all ideologists of imperialism. According to Edgar Hoover, chief of the FBI, one can quietly install socialism in the United States, provided this happens by means of a “peaceful political revolution within the framework of the constitution”(Le FBI p 390) In 1958, Colby, later chief of the CIA, financed socia1democracy in Italy. “The progress of the socialist party proved that left wing electors were attracted by a democratic form of socialism” (30 years of CIA p 129) Giscard d’Estaign has written: “Pluralist democracy is naturally dialectic. The very existence of an opposition, the criticism it makes, the alternative it represents, give concrete power to the sovereignty of the citizen. This citizen becomes an arbiter, he is the one who makes the final choice, he is the one who decides in the last resort. There is nothing simpler than knowing whether a political regime’s democratic or not, at least in industrialized countries. ( ... ) Does this regime tolerate the existence of an effective opposition that really disposes of the possibility of becoming, in turn, the majority? If so, it is indeed a democratic and popular regime.” (Democratie francaise, p 146) All this talking about democracy has a material, economic, basis: the monopoly capitalists. The bosses of medium sized and small businesses constitute a vast network comprising the whole country. Belgium counts 64.000 businesses employing more than 5 workers. Imperialist exploitation of the Third World has contributed to the creation in Europe of a stable, vast and strong capitalist class whose positions change very little in peaceful periods. This class has sufficient financial means to propagate its ideology and its ideals via cultural and religious institutions, publishing houses, daily and weekly papers, conferences, surveys and publications by bourgeois ideologists, etc. The whole is protected by the police, the gendarmerie and the army, by an “impressive arsenal of the most modern technical means of espionage and control and by an equally impressive arsenal of repressive laws that can be applied at any time. It is on this basis that the bourgeoisie can afford to build up a ’pluralistic democracy’, and to display various bourgeois parties to the public under different colours. These tactics serve to give the workers the illusion that ’the final choice’ is theirs and keep them from the elaboration of a revolutionary class party which refuses to compromise with the foundations of bourgeois order. When a real revolutionary people’s opposition rises up, the democratic demagogy is hastily exchanged for sticks, guns and teargas. Today we can see this most evidently in the way English democracy is acting in Ireland and in the attitude of Israeli democracy towards the Palestinians. The much-sung present day democracy rests on two pillars: private property of the means of production in the hands of the upper bourgeoisie; and the gigantic power apparatus for repression control and influence. The opportunists talk about “preserving and extending present day democracy”. Do they want to keep these two pillars? If so, true economic and political democracy is impossible for workers. There are two antagonistic classes. Hence, there are two antagonistic forms of democracy. There is no such thing as an absolute democracy which can be extended or restricted according to whether the intentions of members of parliament are good or bad. When there is democracy for the monopoly bourgeoisie, it will preserve the private property of business and keep the present state machine intact. When the workers come to power and realize their democracy, they cannot but demolish those two pillars of the monopoly bourgeoisie. Russia experienced a bourgeois democratic republic in 1917. The socialist October Revolution fulfilled two essential tasks: it expropriated the big landowners and the big capitalists; it dissolved the Constitutional Assembly founded the Soviet State and eliminated tsarist and reactionary elements from top positions in the army and the state administration. Kerensky started the civil war under the banner of maintaining democracy and the Constitutional Assembly. He gathered around him all the ’democratic’ forces: the peasants party of the social revolutionaries, part of the Mensheviks, the bourgeois party of the Cadets ... , the tsarist generals commanded by Alexeiev and Denikin and ... the interventionist armies of the English and the French. ”I also told Lloyd George (the British prime minister) there were (... ) two political centres trying to form a new coalition government ( ... ) The aim of the government being formed, so I continued, is to continue the war on the side of the Allies, to liberate Russia from the tyranny of the Bolshevists and restore the democratic system.” (La Russie au tournant de l’histoire, p 642) Socialism cannot possibly “preserve and extend” “present day democracy” in favour of the capitalists: “democracy” for the owners of the means of production automatically signifies oppression and exploitation for those who have only their labour force to sell in order to stay alive.
Under capitalism, industrial and other workers can extort certain democratic rights which they can make use of in order to wage socialist struggle. For the workers, this democracy within capitalist society is always limited, conditional, watered down. Only by breaking down exploited democracy can the realization of true democracy for the working masses become a possibility.
When our bourgeoisie can keep up a certain democratic facade, it is because her power is still largely based upon the exploitation of the Third World. What will happen when the Third World really becomes independent, i.e. when it expropriates Western multinationals and demands trade relations on an equal basis? In 1930, Kautsky defended the position that imperialist democracy was superior to socialist democracy in the USSR. In 1930, Kautsky preached a ’democratic revolution’ that would abolish the bolshevist ’aristocracy’. (p 91) What will happen after that revolution? “In general, the capitalist countries are far ahead of the Soviet Union where social policies are concerned. When democracy is in power it will have to assume the important task of giving the workers all that their comrades in the West have already got: an elaborate workers protection, well-built houses (... ), complete liberty to form trade unions, etc.” (Le bolchevisme dans 1’impasse, p 139) As a socialist country, the Soviet Union cannot exploit colonies. European imperialism sucked the blood of hundreds of millions of people in Africa and Asia; of all the immense wealth ’our’ capitalists gathered there, they left some crumbs (’well-built houses’) for European workers. Furthermore, the prophet Kautsky could not, of course, foresee what would become of ’workers protection’ and other ’trade union liberties’. Three years later, when German democracy brought Hitler to power...
5.1. Significance of this conciliatory attitude.
The contradiction with the right wing anti-party tendency is antagonistic. It has already destroyed many parties and crippled hundreds of militants. Inside the PvdA/PTB, only a few such elements have gone as far as openly rejecting Marxism, Leninism and the party. We have to be very attentive to the conciliatory attitude towards the social democratic liquidationist tendency: it is excused, protected, reasons are found for it, no reason is seen for fighting this tendency systematically. In all ML-parties that broke up, the dissolution of the party was a result of a number of alliances. Originally there was only a limited core of bitter, grim anti-marxists, seeking all sorts of means and arguments to do away with the party. This right wing succeeded in forming a fighting group, functioning as an organising centre and using marxist, revolutionary and ’scientific’ terms in order to attract discontented forces. A large group of people with very differing positions formed an alliance with this right wing centre thus allowing it to realize its plan: liquidate the party. A number of honest, conciliatory doubters will probably be gnashing their teeth for many years to come: the irreparable harm is done, the ship went down.
5.2. The party reinforces itself by purging itself of incorrigible opportunist elements.
The party is the voluntary getting together of all revolutionaries fighting for a common program according to common organisational principles. He or she who no longer knows whether a marxist-leninist party is necessary, whether there should be a socialist revolution, whether the working class is the most important revolutionary force, can no longer be a member of the party. We cannot allow anybody who largely agrees with the ideas of the social-democratic liquidationist tendency, to remain a member of the party. In the first place, we want to have thorough, detailed discussions with such comrades. We want to take special measures for education, study and discussion. The party has to make all possible efforts to win them back for Marxism-Leninism and for our program. If those comrades make no political progress, however, we ask them to leave the party; if they do not want to, they are to be excluded. The conciliatory attitude expresses itself in the issue: “expulsions always harm the party”. That’s the idea of an ’absolute’ democracy, above the classes: bourgeois and anti-marxist tendencies, too, should be allowed to develop within the party, it is their democratic right. The expulsion of anti-marxist elements makes the party stronger. Many other ML-parties have kept incorrigible opportunists in the party: it was those elements that got the upper hand and destroyed the whole party. One should not be intimidated by anti-communists who, as soon as they catch a rumour about expulsions start screaming about ’stalinism’. The expulsion of incorrigible bourgeois elements is a principle formulated by Marx and Engels. They wrote the following sentences about a document written by Bernstein and two other leaders of the German socialist party, a document that broke with all revolutionary ideas: “These ideas are certainly justified in a petty-bourgeois country such as Germany but only outside the social democrat party. Had these gentlemen erected a petty-bourgeois social democrat party, it would have been their full right.( ... )
“But within a workers’ party, they constitute a foreign element ( ... ) The Spilt with these people is only a matter of time. This moment ever seems to have arrived now. We do not understand how the party can still tolerate the authors of this article.” (Marx-Engels, Circular letter, 17-18 sept.1879 – Correspondence p 338)
5.3. The struggle on the second front.
In the present situation within the PvdA/PTB, those who agree with the social-democratic liquidationist tendency dare not openly fight for their convictions. They do not speak out in favour of their right wing opinions. They do not fight on the first front but retire to the second, the front of “criticizing the party”. They hope to set up a “broad united front” of all those who are “criticizing the party”and they hope to form a fertile soil within such a front upon which their real liquidationist standpoints can grow openly later on. A supporter of the liquidationist tendency writes that he does not agree with the uncritical attitude towards the so-called marxist-leninist classes”. He left the party because he did not want to take part in bringing to power an organisation when “I don’t know in fact what I am bringing to power”. And he goes on: “I have been defending the position that I and other comrades should stay within the PvdA/PTB so that we could bring more comrades to this kind of considerations. I’ve been doing so for months.” The situation of this ’second front’ is very complex. We always make distinction between antagonistic contradictions and contradictions that can be very serious but nevertheless remain among the people. It is possible for some people who have already broken ideologically with Marxism and the party to retire to the second front. Their number within our party is very small indeed. Most of the comrades fighting on the second front have a conciliatory attitude towards the liquidationist tendency, but it is a matter here of contradictions among the people.
5.4. The kinds of conciliatory attitudes towards the liquidationist tendencies.
5.4.1. On the whole, every position taking an overtly antagonistic character within the social democratic tendency is to be found in the party but in a less developed, less explicit and non-antagonistic form.
5.4.2. They cry out general phrases, they do not openly fight Marxist-Leninist points of view, but they do not struggle to defend them, either. We do not want vague phrases behind which the most diverse and even anti-communist positions can take shelter. There can only be proletarian democracy in the party when everybody speaks his mind as precisely and concretely as possible. Only then can a fruitful discussion be achieved. “Yes, but the distinction between marxism and revisionism is no longer clear.” In borderline cases, all distinctions are unclear. In order to pass judgment, we concentrate on the most important issues of our political line. We want there to be distinct positions on our concrete policies, on home affairs as well as on international issues. Only on that basis is it possible to have discussions about ’the distinction between Marxism and revisionism that make sense. As for our own struggle, it is up to us to determine what is marxism and what is revisionism. The opinions of the other parties about what is marxism and what is revisionism can only be used as side information; in most cases, we do not know enough about the real situation and the different positions facing each other, to give a well-founded verdict.
5.4.3. They start with doubts; and no sooner is one doubt resolved (by others) than the following doubt is already there. One doubt takes the place of another. They do not succeed in criticizing their class position and thinking method in a communist way. The anti-communists exploit every flaw in the party: they hope to change doubts into political criticism and criticism into antagonism and splits. We do need revolutionary doubt: with every complex problem that occurs, different solutions are possible and hence, there is room for doubt. What is essential is the will to resolve problems and to find the solutions which are the best for the party and for the revolution. Revolutionary doubt leads to study and investigation, to revolutionary self-education and transformation.
5.4.4. Essential marxist-leninist positions are hushed up, concealed, buried away silently; when the atmosphere seems favourable, they are called in question, criticized and rejected. Essential positions acquired through intense ideological struggle in the years between 1970 and 1977 are liquidated, not by a fair and open struggle but by putting them into oblivion. Many basic principles of party work, written down in the statutes, disappear spontaneously, following the ’normal’ course of events in the day-by-day life of the party’. “There is again talk about the struggle between two lines, a conception which underlay the excesses of the cultural revolution.” The texts of the Congress of 1979 explicitly mention the principle of struggle between two lines as being a basic principle of the PvdA/PTB. Never did anyone question this principle explicitly. In some units, however, it has obviously been tacitly abolished.
5.4.5. The struggle against sectarianism is treated in an absolute, abstract way; sectarian errors are criticized blindly, rightly or wrongly, even when one is up to the neck in right wing opportunism.
At the 1979 Congress, different principles were stressed: we fight sectarian errors on the basis of the acquisitions of the period between 1970 and 1977 against right wing opportunism; our basic principle is the struggle on two fronts, against the ’left’ as well as against the right; one always has to make a concrete analysis to determine which errors are the most important and one cannot blindly stick the label ’sectarianism’ on every case. Some comrades speak about the ’sectarian period before 1979’. During the first Congress, there was no one who accused our party of having followed an altogether sectarian line in the previous years. Broadly speaking, our politics were found to be revolutionary and correct; but while investigating various errors, – some right wing, and some left wing in origin – we came to the conclusion that we had to aim our criticism and struggle essentially against dogmatic and sectarian errors.
5.4.6. Bourgeois pessimism. The bourgeoisie expresses its class position as follows: optimism about the permanence of the capitalist order, pessimism about the possibility that the working class could realize another social system. Weary ex-revolutionaries no longer ’believe’ in the working-class and in the revolution. The cause of the working class is not progressing fast enough; they decide to change over to the side of the bourgeoisie and the petty-bourgeoisie. Bourgeois pessimism (little achieved, little progress) is an immediate springboard for conversion to social democracy. Our standpoint in this question is threefold:
First one has to stick to the standpoint of the world proletarian revolution which is a historical process comprising the whole world, experiencing periodical and local defeats and setbacks but irrefutably dominating the world of today. The question has to be asked whether the objective situation in Europe makes it possible for revolutionary forces to develop much faster than is actually the case. The question ’what did we achieve’ is conditioned by the question ’what can one achieve as a revolutionary in the present situation’.
Secondly, full value has to be accorded to the real progress we have made since 1968, and to the enormous efforts this has necessitated. We can only advance step by step. The next move is only possible if we rely upon the vanguard experiences we have acquired in certain places.
Thirdly, we are revolutionary realists; we face up to our deficiencies, our shortages, our errors; we analyse them on the basis of marxism-leninsm with this question before us: how can we realize a real, measurable progress in our revolutionary cause.
5.4.7. Unprincipled alliances. Everyone has to feel responsible for the party and for the revolution and not make alliances without regard to principles. Someone can have particular things to criticize and make an alliance straightaway with anybody who makes the ’same sort’ of remarks. One should first of all make a basic judgment about the general attitude of the person who criticizes. One has to check what political and ideological tendencies certain criticisms are rooted in. The whole determines the parts. When one sees that a tendency is right wing opportunist and liquidationist on the whole, one should refuse to join one’s own criticisms to this tendency. One has to distinguish between the main contradiction and the secondary ones. In our concrete example, one should contribute to the analysis and the criticism of a trend that is right wing opportunist on the whole; only after that and explicitly distinct from it should one formulate one’s own criticism on certain aspects of the work undertaken.
6.1. Actively apply the orientation of the Congress.
During the congress, a large unanimity was reached concerning the analysis of the social democratic liquidationist tendency. There was unanimity concerning the fundamental appreciation of this tendency. When the specific points were voted, 1 to 2 % of the congress members voted against the texts submitted and 2 to 3% of the persons present abstained. This large unanimity proves we are able to criticize thoroughly the liquidationist tendency in the whole party and to eliminate it. This large unanimity however contains the danger of underestimating the seriousness and the importance of the liquidationist tendency. The congress must lead to the mobilization of all the party members. Nothing is solved by passive condemnation. A unanimous vote is not yet an ideological unification. All party members must be mobilized to understand and master the documents voted at the Congress. The whole party must actively apply the voted positions in all fields. Much work will have to be done to defeat the different forms of the social democratic liquidationist tendency, as to their contents. The whole party must be mobilized to take concrete initiatives to put into practice the sense of our congress.
6.2. Vigilance and active ideological struggle.
The experience of many other ML-organisations has taught us how antagonistic political lines can spring up within a revolutionary organisation. We must study the opportunist positions which sprang up in the communist movement in the past and which have developed into rightist and even fascist political positions. This enables us to understand better how anti-communists fight Marxism. We get a better insight into the class character of the coherent, anti-marxist ideology developed by those ex-communists who manipulate all left wing and revolutionary ideas as they will. One can only become a communist if one is prepared to be educated, to be transformed in the often difficult struggle against well-versed renegades of the marxist movement. Such study allows us to reinforce our vigilance. First of all, we want to make clear that opportunist lines within the party that are not criticized or corrected, can develop into anti-communism. We also want to reach a better understanding of how such a qualitative transformation is prepared and achieved. Some comrades have objected that the study of the positions of anti-communist is not useful, because no comrade within the party wants to identify himself with a De Man or a Doriot. De Man and Doriot called themselves Marxists before they went over to fascism. Their experiences teach us that quantity can turn into quality that contradictions among the people can turn into antagonistic contradictions. It would be unpermitted ultra-leftism to pretend that a comrade defending opportunist positions has the same ideology as De Man or Doriot during the Nazi-period. But on the other hand, the study of De Man and Doriot can help these comrades to understand better in which way opportunistic stands which are not correctly treated can become antagonistic. Such a study should also strengthen our will to carry out an active ideological struggle. Some comrades who read texts by Bernstein, Kautsky, Vandervelde or De Man say: “I cannot refute this”. The study of works by such overt renegades is an absolute condition for acquiring a profound; understanding of the general truth of Marxism-leninism; Bernstein, De Man etc. have become well-versed, marxist-educated spokesmen of the bourgeoisie. Nobody is expected to be able to formulate an answer to their positions, off-hand. Every member of the party has to be a revolutionary factor in his own right. It is no good always relying upon others to find the answer to difficult political questions. Kautsky, De Man and others have been through the whole evolution from marxist to overt spokesmen of the bourgeoisie. So we know that their works, breaking as they do with revolutionary Marxism, reflect a coherent, bourgeois conception of the world. Every party member has to be willing to analyse his or her positions, to discover arguments, in order to refute the basic principles of Kautsky, and De Man, through the study of Marxism, of history, of the actual facts.
6.3. Ideological consolidation.
The whole party has expressed itself unequivocally against the social democratic liquidationist tendency. The struggle we went through can teach every cadre and every member a lot. We can educate ourselves by making a critical evaluation of our own standpoints and our own attitudes. The more lessons we can draw from this struggle, the more correctly will we act in similar situations in the future. In 1970-71, there was a tendency in the European ML-movement and in our organisation to reject the construction of the party and to elaborate all kinds of ’rank-and-file committees’ on a vague political line. In 1975-1976 we experienced the liquidation of the Union of ML-communists of Belgium, an organisation which had led a big attack against our party before going down completely itself. Making a critical evaluation means checking which of our conceptions went more or less into the same direction as the social democratic tendency, which conciliatory standpoints were formulated, which allowed liquidationist positions to develop, which errors were made in party work allowing liquidationist stands to spread more easily. This evaluation can be carried out more thoroughly on the basis of the following questions. What would have been my attitude if a strong, theoretically well-versed group of liquidationists had existed in our party? Would I have been vigilant enough? Would I have had enough revolutionary will to fight back? In many countries, the anti-party tendency could speculate on real, serious errors on the part of the party leadership in order to draw a whole series of militants into an apparently honest, revolutionary critical movement against these errors; but once certain barriers were down, a flood of anti-marxist positions came rushing in. Every communist militant has to ask himself whether he would react correctly if serious errors occurred in the leadership work of the party.