Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Cathal Brugha

The Curse of Revisionism

First Published: Progressive Worker Vol 2. No. 2, Dec 1965
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Malcolm and Paul Saba
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A century ago there were still a few adherents of scientific socialism who could listen, perhaps with bemused tolerance, to the spiel of those who proposed the practicality of a peaceful transition to socialism; there always was the hope that such befuddled characters would in time awaken to reality. Today. however, with a vast heritage of proletarian struggle to substantiate the correctness of Marxist-Leninist theories, it is extremely difficult for serious socialists to remain cool and calm in the face of such provocative nonsense.

Like a cancerous growth, the contemporary “revisionist” phenomenon has proliferated to considerable proportions throughout the International Communist Movement. Sincere Marxist-Leninists, who strive to retain the socialist offensive against the bourgeois dictatorship within its proper revolutionary orbit, are being assailed, not alone by the forces of Capitalism, but also by erstwhile comrades who have succumbed to the dictates of the Soviet Union. For reasons of its own, the powerful C.P.S.U. has thrown its weight and influence behind the propagation of this “Union of Hearts,” this peaceful coexistence between Capitalism and Socialism; so that a proposition which hitherto possessed but mere tactical value at best, has now become a principle of dogma.

Naturally, International Capitalism continues to make every effort to exploit the deterioration in Socialist solidarity, which emanates from the emergence of a Moscow-orientated anti-revolutionary block in world Communist ranks. From the outset Capitalist propaganda has endeavoured to portray this dissension as a “split” in the Communist Movement; the breakup of a monolithic body whose pyramid-like organizational structure allegedly culminated in the Kremlin. This theory glibly attributes the cause of the “split” to a power struggle between “Peking and Moscow” for control of the Communist Movement; and while this may sound plausible to the politically ignorant, it is difficult to appreciate the reactions of some “Party Men” who, at the outset, agreed with the Capitalist line, in as much as to suggest that the solution of differences should be left to the forementioned centres of Communist power.

The facts of the matter are the present rupture in the Movement represents, not a “split” in communist ranks arising from any power struggle, or even from a dispute on opposing interpretations of Marxist-Leninist theories, but, a complete desertion from Marxist-Leninism by a faction who have donned the mantle of Social-Democracy. To be sure, the Chinese Communist Party has emerged as a dominant figure in the polemics which have ensued. But this simply reflects the undeniable facilities of the C.P.C. – due to its position – to mount an adequate defence against such a serious deviation from Marxist-Leninist orthodoxy; and, does not imply that China is advocating a so-called “line” of its own. The only policies China has hitherto proposed are in complete harmony with long-established principles; and any literate person can readily ascertain the accuracy of this by referring to the original works.

In addition, the Government of China has, from the beginning, insisted that the ideological differences which are at the root of modern revisionism, are the concern of all socialists; and rightly so. Pronouncements from the C.P.C. have always stressed the fact that: “The disease germs of modern revisionism hit everybody ... Nor are such questions ’best left to Moscow and Peking.’ Such attitude ... would, if left unchecked, result in collapse of the faculty to make independent judgement and in failure to contribute to the anti-imperialist struggle at home and abroad.” Surely, this states the correct position on revisionism clearly enough, for any intelligent individual.

It would be extremely difficult to exaggerate the harm caused by erstwhile socialists who now espouse anti-revolutionary policies. This is especially true of countries under colonial rule, where broad revolutionary fronts are always in ferment, and where socialists are constantly faced with the task of counter-acting petty bourgeois nationalist influences in such movements. One factor, however, favours Marxist-Leninists in the long-run and that is a general political realism which years of strife has endowed to the peoples of these areas. The common people of colonial states do not require the scientific reasoning of Marx or Lenin to enlighten them of the inevitability of violent struggle, should they persist in their quest for freedom. Experience alone has taught them that this is a natural contingency, to be automatically taken into account. Still, although colonial-ruled peoples are not themselves confused on the issue of fighting for freedom, there are instances where leadership elements of functioning revolutionary movements have become tainted with revisionist ideas. The latter have introduced a certain havoc by continuing to talk as revolutionaries, while proceeding to set in motion policies that are basically of a social-democratic content. It will in some cases, take time before the significance of the violent contradiction between the talk and the deeds of those pseudo-socialists is fully grasped by the masses. It will also require a constant and strenuous labor on the part of Marxist-Leninists to expose the essence of the contradiction; and this represents labor that could otherwise be expended more profitably in the direct struggle against imperialism.

The reactionary effects of modern revisionism are more easily appreciated in areas of colonial struggle than in capitalist nations, where the fight between the forces of Socialism and Capitalism has not yet evolved to classical revolutionary proportions. Nevertheless, this does not mean that the damage inflicted in the latter case is less severe. In many of the capitalist countries, of the western hemisphere especially, the degree of degeneration in Communist parties that have embraced the revisionist dogma has actually reached fantastic proportions. Indeed, the speed and completeness with which these “peaceful evolutionaries” have accommodated themselves to the bourgeois order of things, makes it difficult at times for steadfast Communists to appreciate that these are actually the same comrades with whom they associated only a short time back.

The antics of the Communist Party of Canada are typical; and it certainly does not require the services of a theoretician to enumerate the descent of this illustrious body to the lower reaches of the social-democratic ladder. As an example, take the Election Platform released prior to the recent Federal Election, and styled “A New Direction for Canada.” In overall content this paltry excuse for an election manifesto was more eloquent by far for what is omitted, than in what it expressed. With an obvious timidity it ventured into discussion on control of the means of production, by suggesting that: “Labor, the producer of wealth, must have an equal say in how the technological revolution is to develop.” Marx must surely have rolled over in his grave at that gem. This idea Was so radical that E. M. Chisholm, the Social Credit[1] candidate for Vancouver-Burrard, expressed the exact same desire when speaking on Saturday, October 30, Chisholm advocated “A national council on automation and job security,” and said “the council should be set up by the federal government, with equal representation from labor and management” (The Sun, Nov. 1). Prior to the electIon there were those of us who were inclined to lump the Communist Party, the N.D.P. and the Troskyists together. Now, however, it would appear that the Communist Party is equally at home with the “funny money” men.

The Communist Party’s “New Direction” also called for “the election to Parliament of a substantial group of progressive spokesmen ready and able to challenge the Establishment and to fight for radically (sic) new policies.” Tommy Douglas usually has a rare old time complaining about the “Liberals” stealing his N.D.P. platform; now he can also include the C.P, in the same category. The whole affair is so grotesque that a certain amusement is provided for those endowed with the questionable faculty of appreciating sick humour.

It is amazing how this fad for electing progressive spokesmen to parliament has caught on in Communist Party circles within the Anglo-American sphere of influence. The British and Irish parties, for instance, dish out the same rigmarole. In Ireland the Communist Party has even taken that “One Step Beyond”; they have divided their organization to complement the imperialist partition of the country, and what is more, they are now presenting a course of parliamentary action to the people, which is similar in essence to that of right-wing Sinn Fein, and which has actually cast Sinn Fein in complete disrepute with Irish revolutionaries over the past two or three decades.

It would be pointless to proceed and enumerate further the depths to which “evolutionary communists” have sunk these past few years. It is easy enough to blame the opportunism of the C.P.S.U. for the mess; but the fact is the germs of revisionism could not have proliferated to the present extent without a receptive carcass. Many of the Parties in the West have been short on revolutionary zeal for decades. Many within leadership circles have, in fact, always been social-democrats at heart, and to them it was no mean blessing when the powerful C.P.S.U. gave the nod to proceed openly along the social-democratic road. Certainly, it is difficult to account in any other way for the rapidity with which many western parties jumped on the revisionist band-wagon.

[1] EROL Note: The Social Credit Party was a right-wing populist party formed in Alberta during the 1930s by “Bible Bill” William Abherhart. It combined “traditional Christian values” with the social credit theories of Major C.H. Douglas. The party was elected in Alberta during the Depression and ran candidates nationally until the federal party dissolved in 1993.