Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

In Struggle!

Against Right Opportunism on International Questions

Declaration of the Canadian Marxist-Leninist group IN STRUGGLE! on the occasion of the 3rd National Conference of Canadian Marxist-Leninists, held in Montreal on September 9, 10, and 11, 1977

First Published: September 6, 1977
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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Comrade workers,
Marxist-Leninist comrades from Canada and from abroad,
Comrades and friends,

On the occasion of the Third Conference of Canadian Marxist-Leninists, which is being held in Montreal on September 9, 10, and 11, 1977, the Canadian Marxist-Leninist Group IN STRUGGLE! sends its fraternal greetings to all the participants. We sincerely hope that all the groups and organizations in our country will take an active part in these important sessions and that the work of the Conference will lead to new victories over the forces of reaction, and in particular over modern revisionism, which, within the workers’ movement and among the progressive strata, still constitutes the main obstacle to the greater progress of Marxism-Leninism and of the revolutionary movement of the world-wide proletariat, of the socialist countries, and of the oppressed peoples and nations.

We are confident that we will win these victories, for not only does Marxism-Leninism teach us that capitalism which has attained the stage of imperialism is condemned to be overthrown by the proletariat and the peoples, but also the historical experience of the October Revolution and of the Chinese and Albanian Revolution is further irrefutable proof that the movement of the proletarian revolution, despite all the obstacles and defeats which it might encounter, is an irreversible movement.

The difficulties, mistakes and defeats should not cause us to become pessimistic. On the contrary, they should bring us to more attentively consider the situation and to analyse the concrete conditions by more rigorously and enthusiastically basing ourselves on Marxism-Leninism Because, all difficulties have a solution, all mistakes can be corrected, and all defeats can be rectified, on the condition, of course, that we base ourselves on Marxism-Leninism and not on substitute theories no matter how popular.

The international (Marxist-Leninist) communist movement is currently engaged in a struggle whose outcome is of extreme importance for the future of the proletarian revolution in the world. The very stakes of this struggle make it our duty to resolutely become involved with the goal of seeing that the truth of Marxism-Leninism triumphs over the deformations, deviations and revisions which mark its application in various parts of the world. It’s all very well for those who, like the League, prefer to hide their heads in the sand, and to pass over in silence the positions which circulate in the movement which are different from theirs, to try and make us believe that an ”absolute identity of views” exists among Marxist-Leninists, it’s all very well for them to do this. But they should know that by their doing so, we can seriously put into doubt the quality of their internationalism.

The international communist movement is not and should not become a sort of “red UN”, that is, a meeting of diplomats who get together here and there around the world so as to afterwards send out ”communiques” informing the universe that their meetings were fraternal, warm, positive, and promising for the future... The international communist movement is, and must remain a movement of revolutionary struggle whose every action, whose every deed is destined to lead the proletariat and the masses to revolution. To do so, it must be a movement where line struggle, where the struggle for a correct application of Marxism-Leninism must be constant, a movement where this struggle must use the means and the language demanded by the situation, that is, the relative importance of what is at stake in the struggle at a given time, and the extent of the development of the mistakes to be a struggled against. Those whose feelings are hurt by direct and frank language should only reread a little Marx, Engels, or Lenin. They should reread the articles in Peking Review, which in 1976 reported on what Mao had say about ”those in authority (within the Party) who had taken the capitalist road”.

The communist international (or Comintern) no longer exists. Thus there are no longer recognized formal means by which the general line of the movement can be elaborated nor are there Parties or organizations which can be recognized as such. And since the split of modern revisionism, caused by the Party of the Soviet Union, there have not even been international Conferences of Parties where common resolutions could be adopted. In the past few years, this situation has led to a sort of mad rush on the part of some who seek a “father Party” to get into the good graces of the Parties which led the struggle against revisionism in the ’60’s, the CP of China and the Party of Labour of Albania and to have these Parties grant them recognition.

The development of fraternal links between the Parties and organizations of different countries is of great importance for us, and we have too long neglected it in the past. But at the same time we attach the greatest importance to our political independence. The history of this century has witnessed great, very great, communist Parties, in the Soviet Union (before its downfall into revisionism), in China, in Albania... The victories of these Parties are a source of inspiration for us. The history of the communist movement has also witnessed great leaders such as Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin, Mao Tse Tung, Enver Hoxha, whose writings constitute the present sum of the principles and teachings of Marxism-Leninism.

This history also has its traitors, such as Bernstein, Kautsky, Trotsky, Liu Shao Chi..., many of whom had a long history in the movement, sometimes even playing a leading role. And if today it is easy to distinguish past heroes from traitors, it should be clear that things weren’t so easy at the epoch when the traitors and the heroes were active in the movement. Both sometimes waged the same struggles, and this for a long time. There are also traitors who tried to butter up the heroes, both at home and abroad.

Whether there is a “international” communist as was the case three times in the past, or whether there isn’t one, as is presently the case, the first duty of communists is to apply Marxism-Leninism to the concrete conditions of their country while taking into account the international situation, and on this basis, to obtain in the process of the struggle the practical recognition of the proletariat and the masses of their country. And in the final analysis, it’s the history of the struggle, it’s the victory or not of the revolution which will permit us to definitively judge the correctness or not of the line put forward.

Today, one of these struggles is taking place, and from the start we would like to establish that in our eyes “arguments” like “photo taken in Tirana” or “communique following the visit to Peking” don’t carry much weight. No more than those which consist of saying that we should believe that the “three worlds theory” was elaborated by Mao, or that since Mao is dead, we should follow Enver Hoxha. Our task does not consist of following this or that person or accepting “elaborations” which no one has yet shown us. Rather it consists of correctly applying Marxism-Leninism. To do this we can, of course, turn to the works of Marxism-Leninism, but not to repeat them like parrots. Rather we turn to them to, as Mao said, find “the position, the point of view, the method” of Marxism-Leninism.

We are in the era of imperialism and of proletarian revolution. These are the two aspects of the fundamental contradiction which characterizes the epoch of capitalism which has arrived at its supreme stage, the stage of its agony. The era of imperialism, the era of monopoly and finance capitalism, the era of the end of the territorial division of the globe, the era of inter-imperialist wars for a new division of the world, began at the end of the last century. At the same time, like the opposite side of the same reality, the era of the proletarian revolution, the era of the liberation of the oppressed peoples and nations, the era of the building of socialism in the countries where the proletariat has established and maintained its dictatorship, began. It’s in this way that the law established by Marx according to which class struggle is the motive force of history, has proven itself for more than a century.

This law is still applicable today. It is manifested by the four great contradictions which have served as the basis for the general line of the international communist movement since the October Revolution. These contradictions are: the contradiction between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie, the contradiction between the socialist countries and the capitalist and imperialist countries, the contradiction between the oppressed peoples and nations and imperialism, the contradiction between the different imperialist countries, (including social-imperialism).

Following the course of history, one or the other of these contradictions can become principal and determine the development of the others. Thus, during the two world wars, in 1914 and in 1939, the inter-imperialist contradictions were principal. But in the two cases, in 1917 with the October Revolution, and in 1945 and 1949 with the liberation of Albania and China, the contradiction between the socialist and imperialist countries was sharpened. As well, during the 50’s and 60’s, the contradiction between the oppressed peoples and nations on one hand, and imperialism on the other were undoubtedly at the center of historical development.

But we shouldn’t forget that during this whole period, it is the contradiction between capital and labour, between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, which is and remains the fundamental contradiction. That is, the only one which alone can definitively resolve all the others. Because in the era of imperialism, the key to social progress, the key to the proletarian revolution resides in the overthrow of the power of capital and the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat. The desire to analyze the present international situation while forgetting this law of the proletarian revolution, can only lead to taking the path of revisionism.

Today in the world, many manifestations of the four great contradictions can be seen. The nations and peoples are struggling against colonialism, racism, Zionism and oppression, against imperialism and social-imperialism, the socialist countries are struggling against imperialist and social-imperialist encirclement, the imperialist countries and social-imperialism are opposing each other over supremacy in the different regions of the world. They talk of peace and detente, but are continually better arming themselves and their friends in planning future local or general confrontations. All the while, the proletariat of the entire world is pursuing its struggle against imperialism and reaction in the oppressed and capitalist countries where the crisis accentuates without let up, as well as in the socialist countries where bourgeois elements are always on the lookout for the least little occasion to weaken the dictatorship of the proletariat, and possibly to overthrow it...

It is not surprising that in a context like this where the contradictions between the forces of progress and the forces of reaction are sharpening, that contradiction loom up even within the Marxist-Leninist movement, and that they take on an acute character. How are we going to tackle these contradictions? How are we going to defeat opportunism and revisionism? How are we going to assure the victory of Marxism-Leninism? There is no other path than the one which consists of analyzing the concrete situation in the light of the principles and teachings of Marxism-Leninism.

This isn’t what the League does in its last issue of The Forge (Vol. 2 no. 16, Sept. 2, 1977, page 15) where it launches a new unprincipled attack against IN STRUGGLE!. Under a headline worthy of those small sensationalist newspapers, “IN STRUGGLE! now turns to direct attacks on socialist China”, the League once again shows that it doesn’t understand what line struggle is. For the League, to criticize the line of a Party or organization is to be against that organization or Party. Such a position is essentially divisive. It transforms all differences of line, no matter what they be, into confrontations between Parties or organizations. According to this point of view, if you criticize the position of a Party on a point, you are not denouncing a mistake, but rather, the Party. The League does not wage line struggle in Canada or on the international level. It wages “clan struggle”. And this falls completely into line with its positions on unity since its creation: from sectarianism to divisiveness.

Thus, in the article in question, it doesn’t hesitate to write:

“As a matter of fact, who else rejects the theory of three worlds, refuses to take a stand on the ’gang of four’ actively spreads doubt about China and attacks the Communist Party of China? None other than the Bains’ clique”.

And there in five lines, the League has reduced an entire section of the international communist movement, including the PLA, to the rank of “the Bains clique”. For one should know that “sowing doubt on today’s China” means “to refuse to take a position on the gang of four” and that “rejecting the three worlds theory” constitutes an “attack against the Communist Party of China”.

That’s called unprincipled struggle, a struggle which replaces arguments based on principles which are waged in the spirit of destroying the mistake to achieve unity on Marxist-Leninist bases, by sarcastic and cutting denunciations. For the League there are only absolutes. A party can not make one mistake. It has the correct line or it is a personified mistake and counterrevolutionary. Khrushchev reacted in the very same way to the criticisms of the CPC and the PLA in the 50’s and 60’s. He accused the latter of anti-Sovietism! Moreover, those who qualify others who differ from the CPC on one point as being revisionist right down the line, fall into the same trap of revisionism and unprincipled struggle.

* * *

While in the world today the imperialist structure is cracking all over; while the crisis is accentuating and the rivalries between the vultures are being aggravated; while the imperialist war is a growing eventuality; while the bourgeoisies in various countries are hardly able to govern these countries, thus manifesting their own internal contradictions; while the workers are poisoned and under-paid, the unemployed scoffed at, the women oppressed, and the peoples, nations and national minorities sacrificed on the altar of capitalist profit; while revolt is growing among the masses and could perhaps be channeled onto the path of the revolution; at this very same time when the Marxist-Leninist movement is once again beginning to become a force in the world, what happens but that right within this same force, once again, the capitulationist path shows its face again. Their battle cry is not Down with imperialism! Forward to revolution! No, their battle cry is: Unite with the greatest number of people possible against the superpowers and especially against the USSR, for that’s where the main danger is. What danger? The danger of war, and thus the danger that our country lose its independence because our bourgeoisie is less powerful. So support our bourgeoisie, because one fine day it might discover that it needs us to resist the more aggressive superpower. And then, once again, the proletariat and the bourgeoisie will find themselves united to defend their common interests, that is, the homeland, or rather, national independence.

That’s what we call an opportunist and capitulationist line, a line which when the right conditions exist will become social-chauvinist. And we maintain that this line currently exists within the Marxist-Leninist movement in embryonic form. We maintain that it is our duty to clearly demarcate from and combat it. Finally, we maintain that the main carriers of this opportunist line are to be found among those who defend the “three worlds theory – strategic concept”.

IN STRUGGLE! has sometimes spoken of the “three worlds theory” in the past few months. We have been accused of either not understanding anything or else of applying this theory in a completely confused way. And today we must recognize that these criticisms are not without foundation. On more than one occasion, what we have said about the “three worlds theory”, as much as our occasional silences might have created confusion. And if what we have said or our silences have had such a result, it’s quite possible that this is due to, among other things, the real confusion which existed in our minds on this subject. We would like to thank those comrades whose criticisms led us to show proof of more rigour.

Thus Red Star Collective, as well as the League were right in saying that up until now IN STRUGGLE! has not correctly applied the “three worlds theory”. On one hand, we didn’t understand the ”three worlds theory” very well, and on the other, now that we understand that it should be considered as a “strategic concept”, and to the extent that it must be so considered we have to say that we don’t agree with this “strategic concept”. This explains our regular criticism of what we thought to be an erroneous, dogmatic application of the “three worlds theory”. Because we never considered that the “three worlds theory” should constitute a basis for communist strategy.

But the comprehension of a strategic or tactical theory is inseparable from the positions and actions which it leads to Red Star Collective’s arguments in its pamphlet the International Situation: World United Front and Proletarian Revolution which say that the PLA would be right if the “three worlds theory” meant this or that..., run the risk of becoming very abstract if we don’t take into account what is being said and what is concretely being done by the defenders of this theory. There isn’t a theory on one hand and practice on the other. And RSC must recognize that if IN STRUGGLE! created ambiguities by its presentation of the ”three worlds theory”, the source could be, at least in part, in the very contradictions which are to be found in the remarks of those who are putting it forward, particularly since it has become a “strategic concept”.

* * *

As for IN STRUGGLE! we saw the “three worlds theory as the conjunctural form taken by the four contradictions that govern the development of class struggle in the era of imperialism. We accepted the theory and we put it forward. We considered it as the basis for the correct rallying cry for a “world united front against imperialism, colonialism, and particularly the hegemonism of the two superpowers”. But as the months passed, it became clearer and clearer that the “three worlds theory” wasn’t only a capsule form of the analysis of the present situation, but also a “strategic principle” to guide the actions of communists the world over. In addition, it became clearer and clearer that the rallying cry to be drawn from the theory was not “united front against imperialism...”, but “united front against the superpowers, in particular against the USSR”, when it wasn’t simply “united front against Soviet social-imperialism”.

We must say that from that moment on, we had trouble with the “three worlds theory”.

Since the publication of Create the Organization of Struggle for the Party in December 1974, we have held that the actions of communists must be based on the central element of the general line of the communist movement that is to say, on the four great contradictions.

Thus, we criticized those positions which made use of the “three worlds theory” but neglected to take the “four contradictions” into consideration, as being dogmatic and erroneous applications of the “three worlds theory”, as being positions that abandoned the proletarian class viewpoint.

We continue to hold that communists must establish their strategy on the basis of the “four contradictions” and not the “three worlds theory”.

To date, our mistake has not been an accident. Other than the fact that we are not war-hardened communists capable of detecting the merest deviation as soon as it makes the slightest appearance on the scene, there is a fact that is perhaps more important, namely that it is in practice that a theory shows its true scope, its correctness or its erroneousness. That is why it was necessary for the partisans of the “three worlds theory ” strategic concept” to push its application to its very limits for us to seize its opportunist nature. We reject, therefore, the position of the “three worlds theory-strategic concept” even in the limited sense that is given it, or seemingly given it, by the Red Star Collective in its recent pamphlet. We categorically reject this point of view because it amounts to pure and simple abandoning of the general line of the international communist movement.

Thus, back in 1975, we should have smelt something fishy in what the League was putting forward. For in its Statement of Political Agreement, which remains to this day the only detailed account of its political line, it writes that, since the First World War, the world has invariably been divided into three. After 1917, it was:

(1) the capitalist and imperialist countries
(2) the colonial and dependent countries and
(3) the USSR under Lenin and Stalin.

This lasted until 1945, at which time the world looked like this:

1. the capitalist countries with the United States at their head (the first world)
2. the socialist camp with the USSR at its head (the second world) and
3. (we quote) “at the same time the Third World emerged, formed by countries having achieved or struggling for national independence...”

The League goes on: “The socialist camp and the international proletariat formed, at that time, the nucleus of a broad united front against imperialism and reaction, headed by the United States”.

And today? The League teaches us that “great changes, however, came about towards the end of the 50’s and especially in the early 60’s, which led to a radical alteration” (our emphasis: IS). And what, according to the League, happened? First, “the socialist countries, China and Albania in particular, achieved tremendous successes in their struggle to build a new society and form a new man”. Second, “the national liberation movements continued to grow in strength and win important victories”. Third, “the Soviet Union became a social-fascist dictatorship and a social-imperialist superpower”. Fourth, as a consequence of the preceding point, “we no longer speak of a socialist camp but of the existing socialist countries such as China and Albania... where the dictatorship of the proletariat and the construction of socialism is continually being reinforced”. Fifth, there developed “a deep split in the western world, as a result of the uneven development of the imperialist countries”. Sixth, “the countries of western Europe, Oceania and Japan built themselves up and underwent new economic development, putting themselves forward as strong competitors to the United States”. But this “strong competition” is not a struggle for hegemony, because Seventh, that struggle is taking place between the USSR and the United States.

From this list of “great changes” which have taken place since the 60’s drops the following “scientific” conclusion of the League:

“There now exist three worlds which are interconnected and, at the same time, in contradiction to one another: the United States and the Soviet Union form the First World; the developing countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America and other regions make up the Third World, and the developed countries between the two make up the Second World”.[1]

Anyone who can count to ten will find these calculations most bizarre. For in doing its arithmetic, the League forgot some of the figures, and in fact, some pretty important figures: indeed, the socialist countries and the international proletariat! Yet, ten lines earlier the League had said that the socialist countries had won great victories since the 60’s. Strange victories, we say, that have been shot into orbit, outside of the known world... and yet, a few lines earlier, the League said that during the 50’s the socialist camp and the international proletariat formed the nucleus of a broad united front against imperialism. But somehow in the three worlds of 1970, the proletariat is to make common cause with the various bourgeoisies of the world...

Need we say that the League’s “science” is hardly put together in a way to convince us of its correctness. Nevertheless, by basing itself on this ”science” of the conjuncture, the League can decree that whosoever opposes the “three worlds theory” is going deeper into the swamp of revisionism. Between the swamps the League has cast us into, and the disappearance of the international proletariat and the socialist countries which is the result of its “three worlds theory”, our choice is an easy one.

Although at first glance the RSC pamphlet appears to be a solid defence of the ”three worlds theory”; although it has the appearance of establishing the fact that there is no contradiction between the “three worlds theory” and the “four contradictions”; although RSC repeatedly maintains its conviction that the proletarian revolution is its central objective and that the application of the “three worlds theory” works to better serve proletarian revolution; yet, even a summary study of the RSC position convinces us that its pamphlet in no way gives proof for all these claims.

First, RSC’s banterings about IN STRUGGLE! run the risk of backfiring, if one takes a close look at the more subtle contradictions and slips, that are quite numerous in the pamphlet. Thus, on page 34, RSC, in its attempt to demolish the position of the PLA, writes: “The three worlds theory is a global analysis, that is, it deals with interaction between states. It does not deny internal contradictions within states”.

But five pages further on, on page 39, in dealing with the case of Bolshevik Union, this time RSC writes, with equal conviction, that:

“The Bolshevik’s Union’s wording obscures the three worlds analysis and makes it seem as if it is only an analysis of state-to-state relations and not class relations”.

The least we can say is that RSC’s wording of things is at times hardly less “obscure” than BU’s.

But this in itself only illustrates the clumsiest errors. What is more serious is that the RSC pamphlet maintains a continuing confusion and ambiguity as to the precise nature of the “united front” that it advocates, which, in the final analysis, leads to an important deformation of the nature of imperialism. Incidentally, on the question of whether or not Canada is imperialist, the RSC would do well to carefully study two passages from its own pamphlet. The first of these is on page 2, where the RSC quotes Lenin at length on the role of banks in finance capital. Says Lenin, “industrial capital becomes more completely dependent on the bank” – and we must emphasize “completely dependent”. The second is on page 29 where RSC writes: “the American bourgeoisie controls the manufacturing and resource extraction sectors of the Canadian economy, while the Canadian bourgeoisie does the same in the financial sector and in transportation and merchandizing”. We ask the RSC, how is it that in Canada it is not the banks (under Canadian control) which have industrial capital (in part, American) dependent on them, in accordance with the general law as formulated by Lenin and taken up again by the RSC itself?

But let’s go back to the question of the “united front” as “advocated” by the RSC. On page 5 of its pamphlet, RSC says:

“On a world scale, communists attempt to push forward a united front of all forces which can be mobilized, to one degree or another, to oppose the plunder and aggression of these international robbers”, (that is, the two superpowers as mentioned three lines previously).

Yet, in many places in the text, the RSC puts forward the following (in this case taken from page 34): “the three worlds theory is founded on opposition to imperialism and sees Soviet and US imperialism as the main enemy. This constant “slip” takes the reader from the superpowers to imperialism and from imperialism to the superpowers and ends up leaving the impression that struggling against the superpowers is sufficient. And that this struggle in itself is the struggle against imperialism in general.

This is completely false: one need only keep in mind that since the beginning of the century every one of the big, important imperialist powers, with the exception of the USSR, has experienced military defeat; yet, it can’t be said that imperialism as “a world system” is less powerful.

This “subtlety” on the part of RSC is far from innocent. Because leaving the impression that the resistance to the superpowers is equivalent to struggling against imperialism in general allows it to include the other imperialist countries in the united front against imperialism... no, sorry, in this case it would be better to call it the “united front against the superpowers!”

Okay, okay, let’s be honest with RSC: the imperialists do have to fill certain conditions to be eligible to be in the “anti-imperialist front”, no, no, “anti-superpower”, that is to say “anti-imperialist”. The RSC gives these conditions on page 12 and 13 of its pamphlet when it lists the two conditions under which communists of the Second World can and must support “their” imperialist bourgeoisies. First, and foremost the actions of the capitalist ruling classes of the “second world” must go against the interests of the superpowers; as well, these actions must not lead to the exploitation and oppression of peoples. On page 16, the RSC gives an example of such an action where the unity of the second and third world worked against the USSR while not working against the peoples – the French and Belgian shipping of arms to Zaire and the transport of Moroccan troops to that country in French planes.

So, what we have to understand is that when the USSR sends Soviet and Cuban troops to Angola, it’s to oppress Angolans. But when France and Belgium send French and Belgian arms to Moroccan troops in Zaire, it’s to protect the people of Zaire, since everyone knows that the French and the Belgian imperialists would never commit acts of exploitation and oppression in Zaire. Well, we’re sorry to say the subtleties in all this escape our comprehension.

But these obscure subtleties become clearer indeed upon the discovery of RSC’s real objectives as far as the imperialist countries of “the second world” are concerned. After reaffirming – and how could it do otherwise? – that the aim of communists everywhere is revolution and that any imperialist war must be transformed into revolution, the RSC has the candor to add, on page 17, that “this must be the long-term guiding line for Marxist-Leninists”. This could mean that imperialist war will only take place in the long term but it could also mean that the revolution is only a long term objective.

And what would the short-term objective be? To take it from what RSC says on pages 22, 23, and 26, it seems that this objective is independence and liberty. Thus, we find in several places, including on page 22, the following:

“It would constitute an infinitely better situation if the countries of Western Europe were fully independent as to their relations with both superpowers”.

But for whom would the situation be so much better? For the French, the Belgians, the Germans... in general, no doubt, including the bourgeoisie? Most probably, for on page 26, RSC writes with assurance: “Western Europe, still under the rule of capitalists and imperialists, could itself become a superpower engaging in the struggle for hegemony”.

We would like RSC to tell us what is to become then of the independence and the liberty of the peoples of Zaire, the Congo, Senegal, Guadeloupe, Martinique as well as the independence and liberty of the proletariat and peoples of Belgium, France, Germany and Italy. Isn’t it up to them to liberate themselves? Because, after all, the “united front against the superpowers” is a short term objective and if more imperialist countries remain independent, that means more of the world is free since they’ll be more capitalists... free, and independent along with “their” people.

And so goes life, from one anti-imperialist front to another: yesterday, it was the anti-fascist united front, then, it was the anti-American united front, soon it’ll be the anti-Soviet united front, and after that, the anti-Western European or maybe the anti-Japanese front... Anyway, it’s wrong to ask the boring questions we ask above, because the proletarian revolution, as every revisionist, social-democrat and opportunist in general knows, must remain “a long-term guiding line”.

And that’s why the RSC can write as it does on page 26:

“At the present time the Marxist-Leninist movement cannot take a stand against the emergence of a powerful Western Europe. Such a position would only aid the existing superpowers and contribute nothing to the struggles of the people for freedom.

“The only proper course for Marxist-Leninists to follow is to recognize and support what is positive in the developing unity of Western Europe, while resolutely struggling to strengthen the Marxist-Leninist Party and the mass mobilization of the proletariat so that a revolutionary transformation can be effected”.

We would like to ask the RSC how European communists can both support their own bourgeoisies who, according to RSC could indeed unite to form another hegemonic superpower and at the same time build the Party and mobilize the masses to effect “a revolutionary transformation”. Indeed, how do you strengthen the Party and mobilize the masses if it isn’t by intensifying the struggle against the bourgeoisie, and by struggling to weaken the bourgeoisie, not strengthen it. How can the RSC put forward such nonsense? How can it say that European communists must strengthen both at the same time the camp of the revolution and the camp of the reaction?

There is only one possible answer: the Party doesn’t strengthen itself and mobilize the masses by struggling to weaken its bourgeoisie in all possible ways – which, let us point out in passing would favour the liberty and independence of the peoples exploited and oppressed by their bourgeoisies. No, indeed, instead the Party carries out these tasks by fighting to weaken... the superpowers and promote the independence of the European imperialist countries in the perspective of attaining the rank of another superpower. And this is what RSC qualifies as a “revolutionary transformation”!

If it was because we had a bad understanding of the “three worlds theory – strategic concept” that we applied it badly, we must say that it’s not RSC’s brochure which is going to help us take the road that it proposes we take.

RSC accuses many of understanding nothing about the “three worlds theory” and takes the trouble to point out in two different places (pages 34 and 38) that if indeed the “three worlds theory” leads to opposing the revolutionary struggle of the proletariat and the peoples, then it would in fact be revisionist and not Marxist-Leninist. We would like to point out that one can say one is in favour of the revolution... in the long term, and at the same time do things and put forward slogans that are in opposition to the revolution. And the example we just gave of the role of Western European communists as defined by the RSC is in this category of actions and slogans that look revolutionary but lead, and this even according to the RSC itself, to supporting the eventual formation of another superpower.

In addition, still on the question of the meaning of the “three worlds theory”, we would like to add to the debate the point of view put forward in the journal of a party whose president enjoys international recognition as an authentic defender of the “three worlds theory”. We are referring to the journal published by the Communist Party of Australia (Marxist-Leninist), whose president, E.F. Hill has distinguished himself in recent months by his firm support for the “three worlds theory”.

To date no document to our knowledge has presented the strategic consequences of the “three worlds theory” with the same clarity, and, we must add, frankness, as the article by the Australian communists entitled “The Theory of Three Worlds Enriches Marxism-Leninism”[2]. The first part of the article is devoted to the history of the formation of the “three worlds”. Then the article goes on to show how the “three worlds theory” makes possible not only an analysis of the internal situation of Australia, but of the international situation as well. The article informs us that in Australia, “which is and must be a country of the second world”, the country’s ruling class is divided into two sections, the class of traitors, sold out hand and foot to foreign multinationals, and the national bourgeoisie which has no links to imperialist capital and is in fact threatened by it. This document then goes on with the following:

“Our knowledge that we are a second world country clarifies our immediate task, which is to win independence from superpower control. Having won that independence we consolidate it and protect it in the course of struggling for socialism. But it would be wrong to demand immediate transition to socialism as this would strengthen the traitor class, by driving into its arms the entire national bourgeoisie and sections of the petty bourgeoisie and the working farmers. This would lead to the failure of the revolution”, (page 24)

It is worth noting that for the Australian Communists, the “three worlds theory” also applies to the revolution within the country, and in this sense, it is different from what RSC puts forward. But it is also of value to point out that in practice there is no significant difference between the path of the revolution in Australia, as put forward by the Australian Party and that advocated by the RSC for the countries of Western Europe. Which just goes to show how “theories” which appear to be so different, sometimes lead to identical results. And this sometimes has the effect of clouding things over for a while and harming the comprehension of these “theories” which are so different while all the while being identical.

But let’s go on now to the international situation where the “three worlds theory” also turns out to be of inestimable help, because:

“Externally, denial of the theory of the three worlds means recognition only of the divisibility of the world according to social systems. According to this theory the socialist countries and the revolutionary peoples are the progressive forces in world history, whereas the countries of the Second and Third World are inevitably reactionary and a barrier to progress. By defining the immediate enemies of the world’s peoples as “the superpowers, the international big bourgeoisie and reaction” or as “the superpowers and the bourgeois State power of every country”, the theory of social systems, by itself, overestimates the strength of the enemy and underestimates the strength of the people and their allies. It is bound to lead to great mistakes and setbacks. It is not possible to use the theory of social systems alone to determine whether or not, and at a given moment or period of history, the government of a particular country is capable of offering resistance to imperialism and hence to determine whether or not to make use of necessary revolutionary compromises (if needed) to draw that country into the arena of united activity against Soviet social-imperialism and US imperialism. The theory of the three worlds is the most powerful analytical weapon we possess for solving this important question”, (ibid, page 26)

The words of the Australian communists are crystal clear. They are much less subtle than those of the RSC yet they ultimately lead to the same conclusions. And these completely opportunist conclusions in practice, put off the proletarian revolution until later, put it off in favour of the defence of the national independence of all other countries with the exception, of course, of those under the heel of, among other things, European imperialism. In these cases, the “revolutionary compromise” not only dictates giving up revolution but also independence, because to get the better of the superpowers it is necessary to be ready for anything, including supporting the formation of a new superpower.

The “three worlds theory – strategic conception” covers up a certain confusion which has already been circulating in the movement for awhile now, concerning the national question. At a time when numerous colonies were winning their political independence in the ’50’s and 60’s, the question of national liberation became very important, and progressively “national independence” came to be considered as something good in itself. Leninism teaches that the national question must always be considered from the viewpoint of the socialist revolution. National liberation and the safeguarding of independence must serve the revolution. Otherwise they aren’t an objective for the revolutionary proletariat, but only for the bourgeoisie.

Less than ten years ago, millions of French workers went out on strike and it took the concentrated efforts of all the generals of the great General de Gaulle himself, as well as the efforts of revisionism, to stave off the onslaught. In Quebec, less than ten years ago, thousands paraded in the streets of Montreal to the cries of “Revolution!” and it took Trudeau’s army and the nationalist demagoguery of a Rene Levesque to dam up the dike. In Poland, the workers are in revolt and striking by the thousands. In Italy, the Italian bourgeoisie has to count on its revisionist friends to keep from going under. Everywhere in the world, including within the USSR and the United States, the ground swell of revolt is growing. Yet there are those who consider that all this is nothing but a flash in the pan and that the struggle for national independence has to take priority over the struggle against the bourgeoisie. If the revolt of the masses turns into a flash in the pan instead of turning into the sparks that set off the prairie fire, it will be precisely because there are too many phoney revolutionaries who have used up too much time and paper repeating to the working class that revolution is all fine and dandy but that it’s not around the corner. It will be precisely because the working class movement is still under the domination of these opportunists who, like it or not, play the game of the bourgeoisie and imperialism. As far back as 1915 Lenin understood how to expose the treachery of these opportunists. And the truth of his point of view has since been fully demonstrated:

“Opportunism and social-chauvinism have the same politico-ideological content – class collaboration instead of the class struggle, renunciation of revolutionary methods of struggle, helping one’s ’own’ government in its embarrassed situation, instead of taking advantage of these embarrassments so as to advance the revolution. If we take Europe as a whole... we will find that it is the opportunist trend that has become the bulwark of social-chauvinism”.[3]

We would like to present the way in which we understand what is at stake in the present struggle within the Marxist-Leninist movement and to show on the basis of historical facts that we are dealing with a question which has regularly been posed in the communist movement. This will allow us to see that the question is crucial and that there is much interest in basing ourselves on past lessons to correctly resolve it.

At a time when the crisis of imperialism is developing, at a time when the imperialist powers, in particular the superpowers, are preparing war, there is a tendency within the Marxist-Leninist movement which is saying war is a danger which threatens all the peoples of the world, presently this danger comes from the hegemonic visions of the superpowers, especially the USSR. This tendency says: prepare the peoples to be able to face the war and in particular to defend the independence of their country, there where the threat of the superpowers, especially the USSR is greatest. It says: form a world wide united front of all those who can be united, (in whose interest it is) – nations, peoples, and countries – against the superpowers and in particular against the USSR, which is a rising and aggressive, social-imperialist and social fascist power.

There is another tendency which says: imperialism is in crisis, the inter-imperialist rivalries are sharpening, the two superpowers risk provoking a new world war. At the source of imperialist wars, be they past or future wars, are the contradictions of imperialism, and as a solution to imperialist wars there is socialist revolution. Thus, prepare the peoples, and first of all the proletariat, to make revolution, intensify the struggle against the bourgeoisie and the reaction in our country and on the international scale, work to unite into a world wide united front all those who can be united in the struggle against imperialism, colonialism, and the hegemonism of the superpowers.

What difference is there between the two positions? The latter places the proletarian revolution which, in each country as well as on the world scale, means the victory over imperialism and the reaction, at the center of its strategy. More concretely, this means that at all times the first duty of the proletariat is to struggle against imperialism as it is found in the different countries and also to support the other anti-imperialist struggles and the struggles against reaction, everywhere in the world. The proletarian revolution, which in the long term is the only anti-imperialist struggle of any consequence, does not consist of an indefinite series of world struggles against the most powerful imperialist country of the hour, the US and then the USSR and then afterwards who knows? Germany, Japan, and once again the US or the USSR, France...

As for the first position, it masks the revolutionary character of the anti-imperialist struggle. It leads us to believe that we can defeat imperialism by counting on imperialism, on the pretext that we must exploit inter-imperialist contradictions. Yet history has shown us in cases like this, with such a strategy, it is imperialism which has profited from the division of the proletariat. The same proletariat which was led to defend its own homeland first, because, just like today, it was said that the road to socialism passes through national independence or the defence of the homeland.

Let’s closer look at history and rather than only considering the evolution of the contradictions in the camp of the imperialist enemies, let’s study the victories and the defeats of the proletarian revolution during the past 60 years in order to see if there aren’t lessons to be drawn from them with regards to the direction in which we must orient our struggle at the present time.

First of all, let’s go back to the era of the First World War, which, with regards to the communist movement, led to the first great revisionist split. On one hand, there were the Bolsheviks, who, like Lenin, said that imperialist wars were not in themselves the business of the proletariat, and that the latter should not become involved. The proletariat had no business supporting “its” bourgeoisie to defend the homeland, but that rather it had to become involved in the revolutionary struggle, in the civil war against the ruling class in its country. On the other hand, there were all the social-democratic parties of Europe who, precisely, remained social-democratic and lined up on the side of their bourgeoisie, not, of course, because they supported their bourgeoisie, but because the homeland was threatened.

Thus, in 1915, Lenin wrote: “The war has undoubtedly created a most acute crisis and has immeasurably increased the distress of the masses. The reactionary nature of this war, and the unblushing lies told by the bourgeoisie of all countries to conceal their predatory aims with “national” ideology are, on the basis of an objective revolutionary situation, inevitably creating revolutionary moods among the masses. It is our duty to help the masses become conscious of these moods, deepen them and give them shape. This task finds correct expression only in the slogan: convert the imperialist war into a civil war; all consistently waged class struggles in wartime and all seriously conducted “mass-action” tactics inevitably lead to this. It is impossible to foretell whether a powerful revolutionary movement will flare up in connection with, during or after the first or the second imperialist war of the Great Powers; in any case it is our bounden duty to work systematically and unswervingly in this direction.”[4]

Undoubtedly, this quote is a part of what RSC calls the “revolutionary posturing” of IN STRUGGLE! But let’s look at the facts of history. This should also interest RSC, for after the war, in what situation did the workers’ movement find itself? The Bolsheviks had overthrown the ruling classes in the Soviet Union. Many of the social-democrats were in the midst of rebuilding “their” homelands, in the ministries or in the opposition parties which had become bourgeois. Their direct descendants are the Golda Meir, Indira Ghandi, Helmut Schmidts, Harold Wilsons, David Lewises and Dave Barretts of today. They waited for the appropriate conditions for the revolution and their sons and daughters are still waiting. And while waiting they really know how to denounce foreign imperialism which smashes the peoples of the world. And while waiting they collaborate in the development of their capitalist homelands right up until the day when perhaps once again they will have to risk their lives to defend it...

But at the same time, we should remember, even if some give the impression of forgetting, the Second World War did take place. And what happened then in the communist movement? On one hand, there were those who, like the Chinese and Albanian communists, said that to make socialist revolution it was necessary to take power. They looked at who was in power and they struggled – and let’s not forget they had to struggle vigorously in their own ranks – to unite all those who could be united in the struggle against those who were in power. And once those who held power had been beaten, these communists continued the struggle to establish proletarian power, the dictatorship of the proletariat.

On the other hand, there were the European communists, the ones who fell definitively into revisionism shortly afterwards, who rushed out to unite with all those who wanted, not to make socialist revolution, but rather to counter the foreign fascist danger. (Remember that Europe was capitalist and imperialist at the time and had been for a long time, and the emergence of German fascism did not, in our opinion, send it back to the stage of feudalism, no more than social-imperialism can do so today. These communists collaborated in the liberation of “their” homeland or else in the reconquering of the threatened or actually denied independence of their country. United with “their” bourgeoisies against the foreign threat during the war, in most cases they couldn’t find anything better to do, than to remain united with them after the war to rebuild... national capital. Sometimes they became ministers, just long enough to control the revolutionary ardour of the masses, while waiting to be replaced by the generals of bankers who were better able to administer the affairs of the bourgeoisie and more comfortable about repressing the national liberation struggles which were multiplying in the colonies of those same metropolises. And, even in the opinion of these communists, the reconstruction of the metropolises required the maintenance of colonial power in those regions which were in any case, too backward to be independent.

To the great dismay of these communists heroes of the anti-fascist struggle and artisans of the reconstruction of imperialist and colonial Europe, the liberation movement of the colonies of Asia and Africa continued. Unfortunately, the ravages of the second revisionist split were felt there as well and in many places the struggle stopped in mid-course. And instead of taking the socialist road as in China or Albania, it took the capitalist road. For there is no middle or third road.

The European peoples suffered greatly from the war and from fascism. Those who gave their lives in the struggle against these evils which were born of inter-imperialist rivalries fully merit our respect and esteem. And we have no less respect and admiration for the revolutionaries who died in Albania, China, Korea or Indochina...

But that isn’t the point. Rather it is to know what useful lessons we can draw from this historical period for our own struggle here, and to seek to discover the political line which guided those who advanced in the struggle for socialism, and the nature of the mistakes which led the others to defeat.

And don’t come and tell us that it’s all due to objective conditions, and that the political line isn’t at all important. If we look at the objective conditions, the Albanians would have had dozens of reasons for accepting Yugoslav, Greek, American or British aid at a time when they had barely finished chasing away the fascist invaders. The Vietnamese could have found dozens of occasions to end their liberation struggle which was being waged against the most powerful imperialist force in history. The Chinese, as well, could have yielded to the pressures, both the external ones, and the ones that were even internal to the Party, as an excuse for interrupting the struggle after the liberation from the Japanese invaders. They could have agreed to “team up” with the Kuomintang and the Americans for awhile, those same Americans whose “generosity” was being so boasted about by certain communists elsewhere at the same time.

The lesson to be drawn from all of this is that we musn’t let the wolf enter by the back door while we’re chasing the tiger away from the front. It’s a lesson which teaches us that we shouldn’t count on one imperialist force to defeat another.

As Lenin said, there is no way to know if the revolution will take place here or in other countries, at the time of the Third or the Fourth World War, or after.

Unlike the Canadian Communist League (Marxist-Leninist), another fervent defender of the “three worlds theory”, we have not benefited from premonitions. Indeed, in The Forge of March 31, 1977, (page 16) the League was already able to say what had to be done when “war breaks out between the two superpowers...” by foreseeing all possible eventualities: invasion of the country or absence of invasion... For our part, we don’t know whether revolution will take place before the war of after; we don’t know if war will take place.

What we do know is that our task is to prepare revolution here in our country and support revolution elsewhere in the world. Imperialism, including the superpowers but not only the superpowers, is the enemy of revolution. It is the enemy of the proletariat of socialist countries, and of nations and oppressed peoples. It is by building the party in the course of the struggle itself against the Canadian bourgeoisie and its American ally, and by waging this struggle with the primary aim of weakening the Canadian bourgeoisie and its ally and their capacities to exploit and oppress not only the Canadian proletariat and people but also the nations and peoples of other countries that we will be working to prepare revolution. Because to defeat the Canadian bourgeoisie, our principal enemy, we have neither to support it in any way nor to strengthen it on the pretext of weakening other bourgeoisies. That is how we will accomplish both our tasks as Canadian revolutionaries and our internationalist tasks.

We will also accomplish these tasks by giving our fullest support to all those struggling against imperialism, colonialism and hegemonism and by collaborating with them to form a vast world united front to fight the common enemy.

And finally, we will be accomplishing these tasks by taking into account the concrete situation, the conjuncture, at every step of the way. Thus, we must take into consideration inter-imperialist rivalries and the resulting risks of war; and we must especially take into account the fact that it is the superpowers which are in a position to unleash another world war and that the USSR has two particular characteristics: its ambitions are very great, and it still gets away with passing itself off as a “friend of the peoples”.

Down with Canadian imperialism! Struggle for the proletarian revolution! Down with imperialism, colonialism and hegemonism!

Long live proletarian internationalism!


[1] See Statement of political agreement for the creation of the Canadian Communist League (Marxist-Leninist), November 1975. p. 16-17

[2] The article appeared in ”The Australian Communist, A Journal of Marxism-Leninism - Mao Tse-tung Thought” No 83, June 1977, pages 19-27

[3] Lenin Collected Works, Social-chauvinism is the acme of opportunism. Vol. 21, page 310

[4] Socialism and War, Collected Works. Vol 1