Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Bolshevik Union

The Party of Labor of Albania Came to Canada Under a Stolen Flag

Menshevism Is Not Dead

(Part I)

Proletarian Revolution, vol. 1 no. 10, Editorial. February 1979.

The victory of Lenin and the Bolsheviks over revisionism that was realized with the collapse of the Second International and the formation of the Third, along with the tremendous victories of the socialist camp under the leadership of Lenin and Stalin, have forced those that want to destroy the revolutionary proletariat from within to attempt to mask themselves as “Marxist-Leninists.” These modern revisionists claim to uphold the legacy of the Bolsheviks, but, in fact, they cover up what the Bolsheviks really struggled against and they instead adopt the very line of the opponents of bolshevism.

The Bolsheviks got their name in the struggle against the mensheviks in the period of building the party in Russia. This struggle was in no way a peculiarity of Russia but represented at an early stage the struggle against the revisionism of the Second International. The mensheviks were the representatives of international revisionism in Russia. Although all the so-called “Marxist-Leninists,” all the modern revisionists and their centrist conciliators say they side with the Bolsheviks against the mensheviks, they in fact uphold the politics of the mensheviks. It is for this reason that they denounce anyone who wants to apply the lessons of the struggle against menshevism to today as “dogmatists,” “sectarians,” “trotskyites,” “book worshipers” etc.

If we take a look at the classics of Marxism-Leninism it is, however, easy to understand why they do not want us to study theory. The first major struggle against the mensheviks was around the question of the party.

In 1903, serious differences arose between the Bolsheviks and Mensheviks on the question of party membership. By their formula on Party membership the Bolsheviks wanted to set up an organizational barrier against the influx of non proletarian elements into the party. The danger of such an influx was very real at that time in view of the bourgeois-democratic character of the Russian revolution. The Russian Mensheviks advocated the opposite position, which threw the doors of the Party wide open to non-proletarian elements. (Stalin, “Some Questions Concerning the History of Bolshevism,” Problems of Leninism, FLP, p. 565)

All the modern revisionists, in one form or another, take up the menshevik conception of the party in order to destroy proletarian parties, or to prevent their formation. The forces of modern revisionism took up this cause, most actively in the forties and early fifties when the influx of non-proletarian elements was a very real danger because of the united front against fascism and war, and then the struggle to preserve peace, as well as in the conditions of bourgeois-democratic character of the revolution in many backward countries of the world.

Revisionists like Browder in the US and Buck, his follower in Canada, sought to liquidate the Party and substitute in its place social-democratic menshevik parties. Browder’s open capitulation to imperialism was too easily exposed, so various centrist elements, like Duclos and Foster, led an attack on Browder for his revisionism in order to cover for their own menshevism. These centrists sought to transform the parties of the former Communist International into menshevik social-democratic parties dominated by non-proletarian elements but preserving a Marxist-Leninist mask.

It may not have been until the sixties that Khrushchev proclaimed his “party of the whole people” but revisionists like Mao Tse-tung were waging this struggle back in the thirties when he turned the Chinese Communist Party into a party of peasants, kulaks and the national bourgeoisie. The Chinese party is a menshevik party that managed to wear a Bolshevik mask until recently. It managed to do this by taking a centrist posture in the struggle against modern revisionism.

If the struggle against modern revisionism and the struggle against the Chinese variant in particular, has taught us anything, it has taught us that talk is cheap. Many forces have proclaimed themselves Marxist-Leninist parties and have self-proclaimed their importance in the struggle against revisionism. But in practice we see them carrying out the same old revisionism.

The Chinese revisionists, in fact, attempted to set up its own international movement by promoting into existence all kinds of “Marxist-Leninist parties” that served to promote Chinese revisionism all over the world. We have seen this clearly in Canada with “CPC(ML)”, “CCL(ML)” and In Struggle. None of these “parties” ever became real Bolshevik parties. None of these “parties” have acquired the characteristics of a Bolshevik party outlined by Stalin.

Stalin says first the Party is “the advanced detachment of the working class” (Foundations of Leninism, FLP, p. 103) None of these “parties” set up by the Chinese revisionists rallied the advanced workers in their country. These “parties” were never “armed with revolutionary theory, with a knowledge of the laws of movement, with a knowledge of the laws of revolution.” (Ibid.) What they were armed with is “Mao Tsetung Thought” and an acquired knowledge of metaphysics and counter-revolution. “The Party cannot be a real party if it...drags at the tail of the spontaneous movement” (Ibid.) yet, this is exactly where one finds all these opportunists except on rare occasion when one finds them leading some aspect of the spontaneous struggle. The Party must “divert the working class from the path of trade unionism and convert it into an independent political force.” (Ibid., p. 104) These opportunists have never done this. In fact, they have fought against it by trying to divert the working class from becoming an independent political force, dragging it back into trade unionism.

“The Party is the political leader of the working class” but none of these “parties” have in practice been able to lead more than a handful of workers let alone a significant part of the class. “But the Party cannot be only an advanced detachment. It must at the same time be a detachment of the class.” (Ibid.) None of these so-called “parties of the proletariat” set up by Chinese revisionism are made up of the advanced workers. Not only is proletarian ideology absent from these “Parties” so is the proletariat. These “parties” are nothing but paper organizations with, at best a few hundred petty-bourgeois who get labour aristocrat jobs to try and pass themselves off as workers in order to lead the trade union straggle.

Secondly the Party is “the organized detachment of the working class” (Ibid., p. 106) but these opportunist sects, called “parties,” are poorly organized even as sects of petty-bourgeois.

Neither do they represent nor are they composed of the advanced workers grouped around a core of professional revolutionaries.

Thirdly the Party is “the highest form of class organization of the proletariat” (Ibid., p. 109) that is capable of leading the many organizations of the proletariat. These Maoist sects that have tried to pass themselves off as “parties” have only managed to lead those “mass organizations” that they have created and that are made up of their own petty-bourgeois adherents.

Fourthly the Party is “an instrument in the hands of the proletariat for achieving the dictatorship (of the proletariat)” (Ibid., p. 1ll) But these sects have been an instrument to ally with the imperialist bourgeoisie in its ambitions. This is seen through their adherence to the “theory of three worlds.”

Fifthly, the party is “the embodiment of unity of will, unity incompatible with the existence of factions.” (Ibid., p. 113) These Maoist “parties,” however, have made factions and many lines a principle in their organizations. They water one-hundred flowers and enshrine the bourgeoisie’ s existence in the anti-Leninist thesis of the “two-line straggle.”

Sixthly “the Party becomes strong by purging itself of opportunist elements.” (Ibid., p. 114) These Maoist “parties” don’t purge opportunist elements; they unite with them. Most of them came into existence by uniting different opportunist factions with different opportunist lines under a compromise programme. No matter what twists and turns they take in political line, the same cliques ran these organizations. One day they can be the most ardent defenders of the theory of “three worlds” and Mao Tse-tung thought and the next, without self-criticism, they proclaim themselves as having always opposed Chinese revisionism and having always defended the purity of Marxism-Leninism. But in reality they are building the same kind of menshevik parties that they claim to oppose.

We thoroughly reject the notion that these opportunists will Bolshevize themselves and that somehow they can be brought along.

The theory of ’defeating’ opportunist elements by ideological struggle within the party, the theory of ’overcoming’ these elements within the confines of a single party, is a rotten and dangerous theory, which threatens to condemn the Party to paralysis and chronic infirmity, threatens to make the Party a prey to opportunism, threatens to leave the proletariat without a revolutionary party, threatens to deprive the proletariat of its main weapon in the fight against imperialism. (Ibid., p. 116)

This applies to both building the party in Canada and the international communist movement as well. We will not overcome social-chauvinism or overcome the centrist conciliators by uniting them in a single party in Canada or with them in an international movement. This will only deprive the proletariat in Canada of its Bolshevik Party and weaken the international communist movement.

We do not need a party in Canada that is Marxist-Leninist in name but menshevik in essence. We need a party in Canada and an international movement that is Bolshevik in essence, that becomes Bolshevized by purging out the social-chauvinists and the centrists. As to those who vacillate between menshevism and Bolshevism we can only say as Lenin did. “Let the dead bury the dead. Whoever wants to help the waverers must first stop wavering himself.” (“The Tasks of the Proletariat in Our Revolution,” LCW 24:84)