Lessons of 1905 and 1917
Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Bolshevik Union

Speech in New York

Lessons of 1905 and 1917: The Inevitable War and the Inevitable Proletarian Revolution

First Published: International Correspondence, No. 3, Spring 1981.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
Copyright: This work is in the Public Domain under the Creative Commons Common Deed. You can freely copy, distribute and display this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit the Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line as your source, include the url to this work, and note any of the transcribers, editors & proofreaders above.

We meet here on the occasion of the 63rd anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution and in the year of the 75th anniversary of the 1905 Russian revolution. For years the bourgeoisie has tried to hide the international significance of these revolutions in every sort of demagogy, saying that they were the result of national peculiarities of Russia and the Russian temperament. The bourgeoisie, as part of its all-out assault on Bolshevism, has tried to obscure the real nature of how these revolutions came about. The revolutions did not come about merely because of the tremendous oppression of the people under the yoke of Tsarism.

At the end of the nineteenth century the imperialist countries began an intense struggle to redivide the Pacific region. Russia participated with other imperialists to suppress popular uprisings in China but this also brought Russia more into contradiction with Japanese imperialism. Japan struck the first blow but both had been preparing the war and it was an unjust war to repartition the region. The Mensheviks and Trotsky called for “defense of the fatherland” but the Bolsheviks denounced Russia’s participation in this war and called for the defeat of the Tsars armies as a means to hasten the development of the revolution. The first proletarian revolution, the Paris Commune, happened in relationship to the defeat of France in the Franco-Prussian War. The defeat of Russia in the war with Japan hastened the outbreak of the revolution.

As capitalism passed into the imperialist epoch Russia emerged not only as gendarme of international reaction but therefore as the weakest link in the imperialist chain, and instead of strengthening the Tsarist regime, the war with Japan greatly intensified all the contradictions and propelled Russia into revolution. This revolution was defeated but it was nevertheless a victory for the proletariat because it was a “dress rehearsal” for what was to come. The lessons of this revolution were not only of importance to the Russian proletariat but were also of tremendous international significance for the proletariat of all countries.

This revolution was the first open struggle in the 20th century between the world proletariat and the world bourgeoisie and it signaled the rapidly approaching epoch of war and revolution. As Lenin said, it was the “prologue to the coming European revolution.” The struggle between the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks was also the prologue of the struggle between internationalism and social-chauvinism in the Second International. The unprincipled attempts of Kautsky and Trotsky to reconcile the split was a prologue to the emergence of the centrist social-pacifist trend in the international. The 1905 revolution proved the absolute necessity of splitting with opportunism and this experience steeled the Bolshevik Party. It prepared Bolshevism for the great historical tests of 1914 to 1917. It prepared Bolshevism for the role of vanguard and leader of the world proletarian revolution. The Bolshevik party was the only one which did not turn traitor at the beginning of the first imperialist world war.

The 1905 revolution was not just the action of the proletariat but was in conjunction with the agrarian-peasant revolution and a national-liberating anti-imperialist struggle by the 57% of the population that belonged to oppressed nations. The conditions of Russia and the revolution against them had many similarities to the backward countries in the world as well as some important differences. “But one very basic feature remains in common,” said the Communist International on the 25th anniversary of the 1905 revolution, “the task of the proletarian leadership of the wide peasant movement, essentially of the bourgeois-democratic character, aiming at turning a bourgeois revolution into a Socialist one. The slogan ’the democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry’ preserves its political reality for a large number of countries to this very day. The revolution of 1905 and the Bolshevik tactics in this revolution are a model which Communist Parties of the above-mentioned countries must follow.”[1] The differences between the Bolsheviks and Mensheviks on this question in 1905 were a prologue of the differences that have always marked Bolshevism from revisionism. The modern revisionists whether of the Khrushchevite, Maoite, or Hoxhite variety have always rejected this path for the revolution in the colonies, semi-colonies and dependent countries. Mao tse-tung developed his “new democracy” in struggle against the “dogmatic” models of the 1905 and 1917 revolutions. The Communist International had to say that, “unfortunately, the experience of the proletarian leadership of the bourgeois-democratic revolution gained by the Bolsheviks in 1905 has neither been studied nor mastered sufficiently. The Chinese Communist Party, which won a number of important victories which are of colossal value to the world proletariat, also made a number of mistakes because it did not understand clearly how the proletarian leadership of an agrarian-peasant, anti-imperialist revolution must carry out its task.”[2] History has obviously proven that the Chinese Communist Party never sufficiently studied or mastered the experience of the Bolsheviks. The Communist International said: “One must suppose that its own rich experience, added to the experience of 1905, will keep the Chinese Communist Party from repeating in the future either right or ’left’ mistakes, particularly since the Comintern systematically struggled and struggles to set the Chinese Communist Party on a correct line.”[3]

Mao and his followers, however, struggled against the Comintern’s attempts to have the Chinese Communist Party follow a correct line. Despite the tragedy that has befallen the Chinese proletariat and peasantry, there are many today who continue to reject the correct Bolshevik line of the 1905 revolution, of the democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry, and continue to advocate the class betrayal of “new democracy.” The revolution of 1905 and the Bolshevik tactics in that revolution remain a model for communists in the colonies, semi-colonies and dependent countries and continue to serve as a line of demarcation between Bolshevism and Menshevism or Maoshevism.

The experience of the 1905 revolution are not relevant only to the backward countries. The basic, moving and leading force of the revolution was the proletariat and the decisive methods of struggle were proletarian. The proletariat of even the most advanced countries have much to learn from this revolution. The 1905 revolution saw the emergence for the first time of the tremendous role of mass political strikes, where the struggle of the workers broke the bonds of the purely economic strikes that confine themselves to the immediate, concrete, economic demands of the working class. The political strikes signified a passing of the workers’ movement to a higher level where there was the beginning of the struggle for the demands of the proletariat as a class against the bourgeoisie as a class. But the political strikes were only the beginning of a truly class struggle that the experience of 1905 proved must be merely a transition to an armed uprising. No matter how successful political strikes may be or how long their duration, they are by themselves only a means of applying “pressure” on the bourgeois government. Limited concessions are the only possible result; the question is, will the proletariat go on to the armed uprising or will the bourgeoisie gain a “respite” and thus the future means to throw the proletariat back from the positions won. It was only the Bolsheviks that understood this and who prepared and carried out armed uprising of the workers as well as work in the military to turn the guns around. The proletariat was defeated in 1905, but the experience gained ensured the victories of 1917. It was then and remains today a dividing line between Bolshevism and Menshevism, the necessity of proletarian revolution going forward to armed uprisings of the workers.

It was from the mass political strikes and the tendency to convert them into armed uprising that gave rise to the means by which the working class can exercise revolutionary power, either alone or with the peasantry as the conditions require. “The Soviets originated, for the most part, as strike committees, and in the course of the struggle developed into organs of rebellion and embryonic organs of revolutionary power. This significance of the Soviets, as organs of the dictatorship of a revolutionary nation, was defended by the Bolsheviks against the Mensheviks with all their power.”[4] All the modern-day Mensheviks, whether they openly preach the peaceful transition to socialism or claim some revolutionary mask, all ignore the question of Soviets as the organ of revolutionary power of the proletariat and the very basis of the dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry. Mao’s “new democracy” line was formulated to attack the Soviets in China and to replace them with a four-class alliance. It is not for nothing that Mao called Russian imperialism “Soviet social-imperialism.” The Comintern’s systematic struggle “to set the Chinese Communist Party on a correct line” was no doubt seen by Mao as the highest form of “Soviet social-imperialism”! Modern-day Maoshevism never mentions the question of Soviet revolution and neither do the Hoxheviks of the PLA camp. Lenin said many times: “The Soviet system is the dictatorship of the proletariat,” and as Stalin said: “The fundamental thing in Leninism is the dictatorship of the proletariat.”[5] What does it mean to call yourself a Leninist but ignore the fundamental thing? What does it mean to speak of the dictatorship of the proletariat in general but to avoid the question of the Soviet system in particular? Those who do this are revisionists and subservient to their national bourgeoisie no matter what they call themselves or what they think of themselves.

This is a particularly important question in relation to the coming imperialist war. It was by means of the Soviets that the workers, soldiers and peasants in Russia turned the civil war into the revolutionary power of the toiling class. What does it mean in the final analysis to even speak of turning the imperialist war into a civil war if we cannot speak to the proletariat on how to turn that civil war into victory, of how the proletariat can exercise a revolutionary dictatorship that can put an end to capitalism and imperialist war? It is tiring to hear the Maosheviks preach ad nauseam how they can prevent war with “revolution” but they do not know what kind of revolution or which class will exercise a dictatorship or how it will be exercised. Mao never told them how to do this in an advanced country, he considered it irrelevant, as irrelevant as he always considered his followers in the advanced countries. And if they cannot “prevent” war with “new democracy,” certainly war will give rise to “new democracy”!

And what of the “socialism” that these opportunists claim to live under or claim to aspire to? As Lenin said: “Soviet power is the road to socialism that was discovered by the masses of working people, and that is why it is the true road, that is why it is invincible.”[6] “New democracy” is the power of the national bourgeoisie hidden by Mao’s demagogy that is an attempt to divert the masses of working people from the road to socialism that they discovered and on which they are invincible if not side-tracked by revisionism. The task of Bolshevism since 1905 has been to keep the workers on this road, the task of the bourgeoisie through their Menshevlk agents has been to divert the proletariat from its road. It is a fact that international imperialism through the agency of modern revisionism has managed to divert the international proletariat off this road. But should our struggle be to divert the international proletariat back onto its own road or should we submit to the Mensheviks who struggle so the proletariat never finds that road to socialism again? This is the fundamental question today, as it has been since 1903 – Bolshevism or Menshevism? The revolution of 1905, the struggle to turn the imperialist war into a civil war and the consequent revolutions of 1917 established Bolshevism as an international phenomenon, where Lenin said “that Bolshevism has indicated the right road of escape from the horrors of war and imperialism, that Bolshevism can serve as a model of tactics for all.”[7]

This is particularly important in the face of the impending imperialist war. The Russian-Japanese war was part of the process of preparing the imperialist world war and the 1905 revolution was part of the preparation to turn that war into a civil war. Despite the revolutionary experience of 1905 and the revolutionary upsurge of 1912-1914 and despite the role of the Bolshevik party, the Russian proletariat like all the others was swept up in the nationalism and chauvinism that occurred at the outbreak of the war which was aided everywhere by the utter and base betrayal of the leaders of the second international and their social-chauvinist support of their own imperialist bourgeoisie. The Sixth World Congress of the Communist International stated in its thesss on war: “The Bolsheviks, having a well set up illegal organization, were the only Party able to carry on revolutionary work during the war. Yet even they could no more prevent the masses from responding to the bourgeois call for “national defense” than they could prevent the outbreak of war, notwithstanding the fact that the proletarian struggle in Russia was at high tide at that period. In fact, only a few weeks before the outbreak of war, barricades were erected in the streets of St. Petersburg.”[8]

It is for this reason that the Sixth Congress laid particular stress on the following words of Lenin: “It is essential again and again, and as concretely as possible, to explain to the masses what the situation was at the time of the last war, and why that situation was inevitable.”

“It is particularly necessary to explain to the masses the significance of the fact that the question of ’national defense’ is becoming an inevitable question, which the enormous majority of the toilers will inevitably decide in favour of their own bourgeoisie.”

“In view of the recent experiences of war, we must explain that on the morrow of the declaration of war, such an enormous number of theoretical and social questions will arise, that the overwhelming majority of the men called up for service will find it utterly impossible to examine them with a clear head and with any degree of impartiality.”

“We must tell the masses the real facts about the profound secrecy in which the governments make their plans for war and how impotent the ordinary labor organizations, even those that call themselves revolutionary, are in the face of impending war.”[9]

There remained, however, a core of revolutionary proletarians in Russia led by Lenin and the Bolsheviks who not only opposed their own bourgeoisie and struggled for its defeat, but also struggled to transform the war into a civil war. The Bolsheviks led this struggle not only in Russia but also internationally. International opposition to the open social-chauvinism developed in the carcass of the Second International but most of it was covert social-chauvinism hidden under pacifism, multinationalism and conciliation with chauvinism. Part of this Kautskyite “center” organized, 65 years ago, a conference in Zimmerwald, Switzerland that agreed on the imperialist character of the war but refused to agree with revolutionary tactics to transform the war into a civil war. Lenin and the Bolsheviks led a split in Zimmerwald that formed the Zimmerwald Left with various internationalists. Their numbers were small but it was they who represented the growing aspirations of the international proletariat to put an end to the carnage of the imperialist war. The revolutionary tactics put into practice by the Bolsheviks led to disintegration of the imperialist armies, particularly the Russian army, and the result was the outbreak of revolution in Russia in February 1917.

The revolution, however, was not limited to Russia. The imperialist world war also led to revolutions in other countries like Germany, Hungary and Finland and revolutionary crises developed in many countries. Even in Canada entire trade unions supported the Bolshevik revolution in Russia and called for Bolshevik revolution in Canada. There was armed resistance to the war, disintegration of the army, general strikes and the formation of workers’ Soviets.[10] Had the revolution spread further in Europe there could have been revolution in North American because it would have intensified the situation in Canada as well as the situation in the US, where there was also growing unrest among the workers and the returning soldiers.

It was what was started with the 1905 revolution and the struggle against opportunism that laid the basis in theory and practice for the rupture with social-chauvinism and social-pacifism and the emergence of a real revolutionary position in the war. The result was the October revolution and the creation of the Communist International. For more than thirty years the international proletariat marched on this road – the road of international Bolshevism. As international Bolshevism came about in relationship to the struggle against imperialist war, its temporary defeat came about by the abandonment of the Leninist-Stalinist principles on the question of war. Comrade Stalin was assassinated in the midst of struggle against the emergence of modern revisionism which sought to revise Leninism and denied the inevitability of imperialist war and advocated capitulation to the nuclear blackmail of the imperialist camp.[11]

This modern Kautskyism grew up inside the international communist movement and was nurtured by international imperialism and participated in the plot to assassinate Stalin and the rest of the top Bolshevik leadership in the international communist movement to restore capitalism and crush the international revolution. The cornerstone of modern revisionism is the open revision of the principle of the inevitability of war as long as imperialism exists, a revision made by Khrushchev at the 20th Congress of the CPSU. Khrushchev openly repudiated Leninism and attacked Stalin, who in 1952 made it clear that “to eliminate the inevitability of war, it is necessary to abolish imperialism.”[12] The History of the CPSU(B) says:

“Lenin showed that under imperialism the une-venness of development and the contradictions of capitalism have grown particularly acute, that the struggle for markets and fields for the export of capital, the struggle for colonies, for sources of raw material, makes periodical imperialist wars for the redivision of the world inevitable.

“Lenin showed that it is just this unevenness of development of capitalism that gives rise to imperialist wars, which undermine the strength of imperialism and make it impossible to break the front of imperialism at its weakest point.”[13]

The modern revisionists denied that imperialism was in fact imperialism. They said it could be tamed and made passive, that the law of uneven development was no longer relevant, and they denied to the proletariat the strategy to use imperialist wars as the opportunity that undermines the strength of imperialism and makes it possible to break the front of imperialism at its weakest point. These revisionists did not want the front of imperialism to be broken because they are part of this front. It was necessary to repudiate the inevitability of imperialist wars in order to undermine Lenin’s theory of imperialism and rob it of its revolutionary essence while maintaining the pretence of continuing to support it. This was necessary in order to advocate the theories of “peaceful transition to socialism” and “peaceful” collaboration with imperialism. Imperialism had become “peaceful,” the revisionists had removed its teeth and forced it to hide in fear, so now it was time for the communists, for the proletariat to become peaceful and abandon the class struggle. There was no longer anything to worry about, humanity was saved from the horrors of the imperialist system by the peaceful collaboration of the revisionists with the imperialists. The Christian dream of “Peace on Earth and Goodwill to Men” had truly come to pass. The last 25 years and particularly the coming imperialist war will show what a cruel and base betrayal of the international proletariat was made by the modern revisionists at that infamous Congress. Even those forces such as the Communist Party of China and the Party of Labour of Albania that claimed to oppose modern revisionism denied the inevitability of war and denied Lenin’s theory of imperialism and repudiated its revolutionary essence. They supported the 20th Congress of the CPSU and its revisionist positions on these questions. They supported the codification of these revisionist positions in the international communist and workers’ movements through the 1957 and 1960 Moscow declarations. The 1957 declaration says there is only “the danger of a new war” and that “there is a real possibility of averting wars.” It is advocated to make an alliance with most of the bourgeoisie and that “these mighty forces could prevent war” and that “the Communist parties regard the struggle for peace as their foremost task. They will do all in their power to prevent war.”[14] Lenin took quite a different view on these questions: “A mass sentiment for peace often expresses the beginning of a protest, an indignation and a consciousness of the reactionary nature of the war. It is the duty of all Social-Democrats to take advantage of this sentiment. They will take the most ardent part in every movement and in every demonstration made on this basis, but they will not deceive the people by assuming that in the absence of a revolutionary movement it is possible to have peace without annexations, without the oppression of nations, without robbery, without planting the seed of new wars among the present governments and the ruling classes. Such deception would only play into the hands of the secret diplomacy of the belligerent countries and their counter-revolutionary plans. Whoever wishes a durable and democratic peace must be for civil war against the governments and the bourgeoisie.”[15]

The modern revisionists not only promoted pacifist illusions about imperialist war when they declared that “the defense of peace is the most important world-wide task of the day,” they did this precisely to negate the wars of the proletariat against the bourgeoisie. They proclaimed that “the working class and its vanguard –the Marxist-Leninist party– seek to achieve the Socialist revolution by peaceful means.” They told the workers that they must “win state power without civil war” and instead of smashing the state the workers can “secure a firm majority in parliament, transform parliament from an instrument serving the class interests of the bourgeoisie into an instrument serving the working people.”[16] This was not only the complete abandonment of the revolutionary content of Communism but it was also in fact directly contrary to the proclaimed goal of “peace.” It is, as Lenin said, only possible to have a durable and democratic peace through civil war against the governments and the bourgeoisie. By diverting the international proletariat from this road, by restoring the supremacy of capital in the socialist camp, the modern revisionists did what they claimed to be against – ensured the inevitability of war not only between the old imperialists but also within the new Russian imperialists. The contradiction between the old imperialists and the Soviet Union ceased to be a contradiction between capitalism and socialism, where socialism does not pursue an aggressive policy to redivide the world for plunder and exploitation, to a contradiction between two imperialist blocs that are actively preparing to redivide the world through war. This only increased the likelihood of another imperialist war. The Russian imperialists, no doubt, understand this but they do not have to worry about the proletariat turning the war into a civil war if it continues to follow this revisionist road.

The mainstream of modem revisionism more and more adopted the same revisionist and social-chauvinist theses of the old Second International. As happened in the old Second, there arose a vacillating and Centrist, Kautskyite opposition in the form of the CPC and the PLA that had some disagreements with the Russian revisionists. But they conciliated with revisionism and social-chauvinism, refused to split with it. It was the Russians that threw them out. They went on to form their own “two-and-a-half” international that lasted until the Chinese threw the Albanians out to abandon a centrist posture in faovur of an open social-chauvinist stand of allying with U.S. imperialism. Even then the PLA continued to follow the same policy as they did with the Russians, to conciliate with social-chauvinism, to refuse to split with it until China cut off its economic and military aid to Albania. The Chinese committed the unforgivable sin for opportunist alliances – allowing ideological differences to mean something and to apply them to state-to-state relations. As long as it is just rhetoric to deceive the international proletariat and the oppressed peoples, it is fine. But cutting off the export of capital to Albania–that is going too far!

During the whole “heroic” struggle against modern revisionism the CPC and the PLA never broke with the social-pacifist theses of the XXth Congress of the CPSU. Never did the CPC and the PLA defend the Leninist-Stalinist line on imperialist war; they always denied the inevitability of war as they always denied the conversion of those wars into civil wars. In the programmatic declaration of the new “two-and-a-half” international, the CPC declared its full adherence to the 1957 and 1960 Moscow Declarations and in its proposal for a general line for the international communist movement the CPC continued the same social-pacifist Kautskyite line. Incredibly, the CPC stated:

“In order to overcome the present ideological confusion in the international working-class movement on the question of war and peace, we consider that Lenin’s thesis, which has been discarded by the modern revisionists, must be restored in the interest of combatting the imperialist policies of aggression and war and defending world peace.

“The people of the world universally demand the prevention of a new world war. And it is possible to prevent a new world war.

“The question then is, what is the way to secure world peace? According to the Leninist viewpoint, world peace can be won only by the struggles of the people in all countries and not by begging the imperialists for it. World peace can only be effectively defended by relying on the development of the forces of the socialist camp, on the revolutionary struggles of the proletariat and working people of all countries, on the liberation struggles of the oppressed nations and on the struggles of all peace-loving people and countries.

“Such is the Leninist policy. Any policy to the contrary definitely will not lead to world peace but will only encourage the ambitions of the imperialists and increase the danger of world war.”[17]

“Any policy,” like the real Leninist policy! The CPSU responded to this position of the CPC by stating: “the C.P.C.... acknowledges the correctness of the conclusion of the Statement (1960) concerning the possibility of preventing a new world war.”[18] The PLA strongly upheld this proposal of the CPC and in its statement supporting it the PLA said: “The danger of war exists so long as imperialism holds its own. Great changes have been brought about in the world today as regards the ratio of forces of war and of peace and the real possibility has been created to forestall a new world war and other aggressive wars which imperialism may undertake by the joint efforts of all the peace-loving forces. ... War is neither the cause nor an essential condition for the triumph of the revolution; no Marxist has ever been or can be in favour of exporting the revolution, in favour of winning socialism through wars between states.”[19] This is the depths to which the PLA has sunk in its “heroic” struggle against modern revisionism, to deny to the international proletariat the very road by which three previous revolutions had happened, not to mention what happened as a result of World War II. These great “defenders” of Lenin and Stalin against the Russian revisionists turn around and in a disguised manner attack them for not being Marxists. Lenin and Stalin were “in favour of winning socialism through wars between states,” that is to transform these wars into civil wars. Their actions speak louder than any of these words. The position of the CPC, PLA and all the modern revisionists certainly has nothing to do with Lenin and Stalin but it certainly has something to do with Social-Democracy. The central organ of international social-democracy, Vorwaerts, said the following in commenting on the Sixth Congress of the Comintern and what it was doing on the question of war: “Again we get a rehash of the old vulgar-Marxian theory: the growth of productive forces under capitalism leads to the struggle for markets; the struggle for markets leads to war– this prospect is inevitable and without any possibility of evasion. .. As sure as the sun will rise tomorrow, so sure will war break out – soon and even very soon.... If war breaks out then further consequences will inevitably follow: Imperialist war will give rise to civil war, to world revolution, or rather, as this is only the second act, long live war! And so they believe in miracles. ... History commences all over again from the year 1914. A new 1914, this is the illusion that is held out to the Communist Parties of the world in order that their eyes may be closed to the cheerless perspective and the hopelessness of the position that confronts them; and they cheerfully return to the thesis: War is the beginning of all beginnings.”[20] The PLA and all the neo-social-democrats all agree with the old social-democrats that “no Marxist (of their type!) has ever been or can be ... in favour of winning socialism through wars between states.” And what of all these “vulgar Marxians”?

The “vulgar Marxian,” Karl Marx, said in 1854: “But we must not forget that there is a sixth power in Europe which at a definite moment will establish its domination over the other five so-called ’Great Powers’ and make every one of them tremble. This power is revolution. After a long period of calm and restraint is now again called to the field of battle by crises and the phantom of famine. At the required signal–the sixth greatest European power will come forth in shining armour, sword in hand. ... That signal will be the threatening European war. .. .”[21]

Another well-known “vulgar Marxian,” Friedrich Engels, said in 1887:

“... For Prussian-Germany no other war is possible except a world war, and this world war will be of a power and magnitude hitherto unparallelled. From eight to nine million soldiers will be hurled against each other, and Europe will be laid desolate to a degree that no swarm of locusts has ever desolated a land. It will be the desolation caused by the Thirty Years War compressed into three or four years and over the whole continent of Europe, will rage – famine, starvation, and the brutalisation of the troops as well as the general population, acute poverty caused by the hopeless chaos in the artificial mechanism of trade, industry and credit – all this will end in universal bankruptcy; in the collapse of the old States and their routine political wisdom, a collapse so complete that crowns will roll in the gutter in dozens and no one will think it worth while to pick them up. No one can foresee how all this will end, and who will emerge the victor. But there is one result about which there is absolutely no doubt whatever: General exhaustion and the creation of the conditions for the final victory of the working class.

“This is the prospect, when the system of mutual competition in armaments carried to the extreme, finally brings its inevitable fruits. It is to this, O Kings and statesmen, your wisdom has brought old Europe! and if your only alternative is to commence the last war dance, we shall not weep (uns kann es recht sein). What if the war does push us into the background for a time; what if it does rob us of a few of the positions we have already captured? If you unleash the forces which later on you will be unable to control then, no matter what turn events may take, at the end of the tragedy your power will be reduced to ruin and the victory of the proletariat will either have been achieved or at all events (doch) will be inevitable.”[22]

This shows what those “vulgar Marxians” thought about the connection between war and revolution. If for the PLA, no Marxist can say such things, we reject their “Marxism,” the “Marxism” of the betrayers of the Second International. Against this “Marxism” we uphold the real ideas of Marx and Engels as Lenin did against the ever so “Marxists” like Kautsky and Plekhanov. And if these predictions of Marx and Engels have already partly come about, we also know, as Lenin taught us, that we live in an era when mankind will suffer these horrible wars until imperialism is destroyed. As Lenin, that “vulgar Marxian,” said: “We do not wish to ignore the deplorable possibility of humanity experiencing – at the worst – a second imperialist war, notwithstanding the mass ferment and the numerous outbreaks of mass discontent and notwithstanding our efforts, revolution fails to spring out of the present war.”[23] Revolution did spring out of the first imperialist world war, but it was defeated everywhere but in Russia. This was a great victory, but it in no way prevented the inevitability of new imperialist wars. This was clearly established at the Sixth Congress of the Comintern. It was this the social-democrats so abhorred and attacked so bitterly. Why? To disarm the proletariat in the face of the imperialist war preparations, to promote pacifism in the proletariat so it is caught unarmed and unprepared. In speaking about the Sixth Congress Stalin said: “The most important thing in all this is that Social-Democracy is the main channel of imperialist pacifism within the working class–consequently, it is capitalism’s main support in preparing for new wars and intervention.”[24] What is modern revisionism doing but the same thing? Can there be any doubt that the modern revisionists are the main channel of imperialist pacifism in the working class and capitalism’s main support in preparing new wars and interventions? The centrists of the CPC and the PLA are only like Kautsky – no real opposition to the opportunist essence of Social-Democracy.

Was there a “new era” after World War II, with the growth of the Socialist camp, the international communist movement and forces for peace? Khrushchev thought so, Mao thought so, Hoxha thought so, but that “vulgar Marxian,” Joseph Stalin denounced these new revisionists: “It is said that Lenin’s theses that imperialism inevitably generates war must now be regarded as obsolete, since powerful popular forces have come forward today in defence of peace and against another world war. That is not true.. .. To eliminate the inevitability of war, it is necessary to abolish imperialism.”[25] This revisionist line condemned by Stalin in 1952 was adopted in 1956 at the XXth Congress of the CPSU. It was adopted by all the ruling parties in 1957 in the Moscow Declaration by all the Communist and workers’ parties in 1960. It was upheld by the CPC in its polemic with the Russian revisionists as it also was by the PLA from its 3rd Congress on. It is today upheld by the PLA in its contradictions with the CPC. If Deng Hsiao-ping today says that war is inevitable, it is not because he has become a “vulgar Marxian” like Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin. It is not realizing that war is inevitable that makes one a “vulgar Marxian,” it is transforming it into a civil war against the government and the bourgeoisie that makes one a “vulgar Marxian.” Deng is just an “honest” social-chauvinist who is saying: why wait until the war breaks out to ally with imperialism, like the old social-democrats did before 1914, why not pick sides now and start profiting from it now? Such is the reasoning of a social-chauvinist who is in power. Before 1914, all those who claimed to be socialist signed the Basle Manifesto, most of them abandoned this for support of the bourgeoisie, it was the Bolsheviks that continued on this revolutionary tradition all the way to 1953, it was the social-democrats that consistently attacked the Bolsheviks for upholding this revolutionary tradition and it was the modern revisionists, including the CPC and the PLA, that went over to the side of social-democracy, to the side of the bourgeoisie. The only condition that changed is the class point of view of these traitors who prefer the vulgar revisionism to revolutionary Marxism. This is why today Hoxha is not ashamed of his revisionism and in his memoirs as a conciliator of the Khrushchevites: “The 1957 Moscow Declaration, in general was a good document.... It constituted a correct program of joint struggle for the coming battles against imperialism and revisionism.” Hoxha tells us about “modern revisionism, which was defeated at the Moscow Meeting in 1957”![26]

These modern revisionists tried to deroute the proletariat from the path of civil war not only by trying to revise Marxism-Leninism, but also by directly threatening the proletariat by saying that using the weakening of imperialism caused by war to overthrow it would inevitably lead to the destruction of the human race. The 1957 Declaration states: “Were a war to break out before agreement on prohibition of nuclear weapons, it would inevitably become a nuclear war unprecedented in destructive force.”[27] This is still the argument of the PLA today, when it states: “The Marxist-Leninist communists are against that road of the triumph of the revolution which goes through imperialist war, because such a war and more so in the present-day conditions of thermo-nuclear war, would be fraught with devastating consequences for the peoples, for the present and future of mankind.”[28] This is a total repudiation of the theory of Leninism because of the fear of the destructive power of certain weapons. The “vulgar Marxian” History of the CPSU(B) states:

“The inestimable importance of Lenin’s theory of Socialist revolution lies not only in the fact that it has enriched Marxism with a new theory and has advanced Marxism, but also in the fact that it opens up a revolutionary perspective for the proletarians of separate countries, that it unfetters their initiative in the onslaught on their own, national bourgeoisie, that it teaches them to take advantage of a war situation to organize this onslaught, and that it strengthens their faith in the victory of the proletarian revolution.

“Such was the theoretical and tactical stand of the Bolsheviks on the questions of war, peace and revolution.

“It was on the basis of this stand that the Bolsheviks carried on their practical work in Russia.”[29]

The PLA wants to close this revolutionary perspective, it wants to suppress it. This can only fetter the initiative of the proletarians of separate countries in the onslaught on their own, national bourgeoisie. It does not want the proletariat “to take advantage of a war situation to organize this onslaught.” It wants the proletarians to lose their faith in the victory of the proletarian revolution and only have faith in the ability of the imperialists to incinerate the world in a nuclear ball of fire. It wants the international proletariat to abandon “the theoretical and tactical stand of the Bolsheviks on the questions of war, peace and revolution.” It especially does not want this stand to be the basis of the practical work carried on by communists today!

The theses of the Sixth Congress of the Comintern exposed this kind of pacifism: “... ’Radical’ or ’revolutionary’ pacifism, advocated by certain ’Left’ Socialists who admit the danger of war, but strive to combat this danger frequently by meaningless phrases against war. These pacifists lay excessive stress upon the destructiveness of modern weapons of war in order, either to prove that protracted wars are impossible, or else to demonstrate that it is impossible to transform imperialist war into civil war.”[30]

Today the PLA is trying to prove that protracted wars are impossible because there will only be a nuclear holocaust and that it is impossible to transform this kind of war into a civil war because the civil population will be destroyed. The PLA substitutes the pacifist hysteria of the petty-bourgeoisie in the face of the horrors of imperialist wars for the revolutionary theories of Leninism. The PLA thinks that the existence of nuclear weapons has transformed the nature of imperialism. The nature of war is no longer determined by classes, it is by weapons technology. The military no longer serves imperialism, it is no longer capable of being the tool of the imperialists to redivide the world but can only destroy the world the imperialists want to redivide.

There is, of course, a danger of mistakes and miscalculations by the imperialists which can lead to considerably more destruction than might be desirable to the imperialists, but there is no need to fall victim to the pacifist hysteria that any war leads to the destruction of the world or that limited nuclear war inevitably will lead to nuclear holocaust. This view is predicated on a denial of the nature of imperialism and, therefore, imperialist war. Lenin said of imperialism: “It has developed the productive forces to such an extent that humanity must either pass over to Socialism, or for years, nay, decades, witness armed conflicts of the ’great’ nations for an artificial maintenance of capitalism by means of colonies, monopolies, privileges, and all sorts of national oppression.”[31] In the view of modern-day pacifists, “armed conflicts of the ’great’ nations” can only lead to the destruction of the world. So how then can capitalism be maintained? Has imperialism changed its nature because of the invention of a new weapon? It is the economic laws of capitalism and the intensification of contradictions in the imperialist era that force wars between the imperialists. None of these things have changed since the introduction of nuclear weapons.

Nor have we entered a Kautskyite era of “ultra-imperialism” where the imperialists maintain the peace by agreement and where the danger of war derives only from the “bad policy” of certain “bad leaders.” The objective development of capitalism makes maintenance of the “status quo” impossible. The law of uneven development and maximum profit forces the imperialists to redivide the world. There is no way to “stay the hand of the imperialists” because they cannot change the nature of capitalism nor refrain from “armed conflicts of the ’great’ nations for an artificial maintenance of capitalism.” As Stalin said after the emergence of nuclear weapons, “the inevitability of wars between capitalists remains in force.”[32] All the feverish activity of the imperialists today to prepare the war proves that Kautsky’s dream is as fallacious today as it was when he expounded it in the very month that World War I started.

But this fact has unfortunately led to a situation of despondency and despair in the proletariat, which sees the imperialists preparing for war but which has been inundated with years of pacifist propaganda about the destructiveness of modern weapons, propaganda which holds that any “armed conflicts of the ’great’ nations” will lead to nuclear holocaust. This leads the proletariat to pacifist actions that will not prevent war or to despondency rather than to preparations to transform the war into a civil war.

The proponents of the theories that conventional war is impossible without nuclear weapons, or a limited use of nuclear weapons, do the greatest disservice to the proletariat. This view denies that the imperialists are capable of waging a war “for an artificial maintenance of capitalism by means of colonies, monopolies, privileges, and all sorts of national oppression.” The view that nothing can “prevent” a limited nuclear war from becoming a nuclear holocaust is a view that imperialists are incapable of waging an imperialist war for imperialist objectives. It is the quest for “colonies, monopolies, privileges” that prevents the imperialists from incinerating the “colonies, monopolies, privileges” with nuclear weapons. It is the basic law of modern capitalism that determines the behaviour of capitalism. It is not the actions of an individual with his finger on a button that determines the development of capitalism. Stalin described this law in the following way: “the securing of the maximum capitalist profit through the exploitation, ruin and impoverishment of the majority of the population of the given country, through the enslavement and systematic robbery of the peoples of other countries, especially backward countries, and lastly, through wars and militarization of the national economy, which are utilized for the obtaining of the highest profits.”[33]

If imperialist wars are inevitable, it is also inevitable that they be waged on the basis of this law. How is it possible that “wars and militarization of the national economy” be “utilized for the obtaining of the highest profits” if the means of making those profits are totally destroyed? There cannot be “the securing of the maximum capitalist profit through the exploitation, ruin and impoverishment of the majority of the population of the given country” if the majority of the population is destroyed with nuclear bombs. These profits cannot be secured “through the enslavement and systematic robbery of the peoples of other countries” if these peoples are totally destroyed by nuclear weapons. Indeed imperialist war will mean the destruction of millions, but in such a way that can be “utilized for the obtaining of the highest profits.” Imperialists engage in war and militarization precisely to obtain the highest profits.

In this “new era” of nuclear weapons, Stalin explained that “it is precisely the necessity of securing the maximum profits that drives monopoly capitalism to such risky undertakings as the enslavement and systematic plunder of colonies and other backward countries, the conversion of a number of independent countries into dependent countries, the organization of new wars –which to the magnates of modern capitalism is the ’business’ best adapted to the extraction of maximum profit–and, lastly, attempts to win world economic supremacy.”[34] This reality frightened the modern revisionists and it continues to frighten the PLA. The PLA’s fear of imperialism’s wars led to its utter betrayal of revolutionary Communism. In its polemic with the CPSU, the PLA made its continued rejection of Leninism clear: “We are well aware of the nature of present wars, of their catastrophic consequences, and that is why we are dead set for peace, for avoiding war, and we deem it our primary duty to strive to stay the hand of the imperialists before they succeed in launching a nuclear war.”[35] The PLA today still calls for the struggle “to stay the hand of the imperialists and to prevent them from unleashing a new world war.”[36] The frightened pacifists of the PLA called for a reformist pacifist struggle to stop the imperialists from being imperialist, to stop the operation of the law of maximum profit with promises to detour the proletariat from the road of civil war. “The peace slogan is in my judgment incorrect,” Lenin said. “This is a philistine’s a preacher’s, slogan. The proletarian slogan must be civil war.”[37] In the face of the coming imperialist war we are not afraid to take up this old “vulgar Marxian” slogan of the proletariat and we must educate the international proletariat to reject the truly vulgar social-pacifism of the PLA and all the modern revisionists. It is not the PLA and its ragtag collection of opportunist followers that will “stay the hand of the imperialists,” it will be the civil war of the proletariat and its allies that will destroy the imperialists. Our point of view is the one expressed in the second paragraph of the Programme of the Communist International: “With elemental force, imperialism exposes and accentuates all the contradictions of capitalist society; it carries class oppression to the utmost limits, intensifies the struggle between capitalist governments, inevitably gives rise to worldwide imperialist wars that shake the whole prevailing system of relationships to their foundations and inexorably leads to the world proletarian revolution.”[38]

Today, however, there are not only those forces like the PLA which so blatantly deny the application of Leninism to our era and so openly take a pacifist position. There are also forces that criticise the PLA for pacifism and make a big show of their revolutionism and internationalism but a closer analysis reveals what a rotted moribund bunch of petty-bourgeois democrats they all are, including those that yell the loudest against petty-bourgeois democracy. “OCML Eugene Varlin,” a French group that takes the name of one of the heroes of the Commune in vain, assures us that in theory wars are inevitable, but in responding to the “Appeal to all Revolutionary Communists” tells us that: “In this context, affirming that ’war is inevitable’ can only encourage passivity in the working class.”[39] We “intellectuals” know that theoretically war is inevitable, but let’s not tell the workers, because scientific knowledge about the world they live in will promote passivity in the proletariat! If “Eugene Varlin” is looking for a petty-bourgeois democrat, he need only look in the mirror. That great promoter of “passivity” in the proletariat, Lenin, spent a great deal of time promoting this “passivity” before the first imperialist world war, and history knows only too well the incredible “passivity” of the Russian proletariat! The History of the CPSU(B) explains how Lenin did this:

“Long before the actual outbreak of the war the Bolsheviks, headed by Lenin, had foreseen that it was inevitable. At international Socialist congresses Lenin had put forward proposals the purpose of which was to determine a revolutionary line of conduct for the Socialists in the event of war.

“Lenin had pointed out that war is an inevitable concomitant of capitalism. Plunder of foreign territory, seizure and spoliation of colonies and the capture of new markets had many times already served as causes of wars of conquest waged by capitalist states. For capitalist countries war is just as natural and legitimate a condition of things as the exploitation of the working class.

“Wars became inevitable particularly when, at the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth century, capitalism definitely entered the highest and last stage of its development – imperialism.”[40]

And what lesson did Lenin draw from these years of promoting “passivity” in not only the Russian but the international proletariat? As quoted earlier but cannot be repeated too often: “It is essential again and again, and as concretely as possible, to explain to the masses what the situation was at the time of the last war, and why that situation was inevitable.”[41] What “Eugene Varlin” is afraid of is that all this talk about the inevitability of war might disrupt his own passivity. The French proletariat need not worry about war, his one or two “factory cells” will bring them the glories of the “immediate socialist revolution.” “Eugene Varlin” accuses the Bolsheviks to make the “promise to be communist ... tomorrow,” but he not only promises not to be communist tomorrow, he promises to be opportunist today. It must be admitted that what “Eugene Varlin” says one way or another does not have a tendency to promote anything in the proletariat, but the fear of the inevitable consequences of imperialism by this petty-bourgeois is typical of a whole strata of the decaying Maoist movement, from the oh so “revolutionary” semi-Trotskyites like “Eugene Varlin” to the “critical” supporters of Salvador Allende, the “RCP” of Chile.

Mao Tse-tung, himself, said very little on the subject, but the Maosheviks cling to one of Mao’s platitudes on the subject like a pilgrim to a phony holy grail. Mao said: “With regard to the question of world war, there are but two possibilities: One is that war will give rise to revolution and the other is that revolution will prevent war.”[42] This seemingly profound nonsense is a totally classless formulation. What kind of world war? There have been two with entirely different characters, one unjust imperialist war and the other a just anti-fascist and liberating war. What kind of revolution? National anti-imperialist, social emancipatory or proletarian revolution?

Mao eliminates the class point of view and provides a meaningless prescription for any kind of war. Mao confuses the two World Wars together because in his mind he saw little difference in what is to be done about them. Mao in a rare comment talking about the first imperialist world war said, “World War I is an instance in which both sides fought for imperialist interests; therefore the Communists of the whole world firmly opposed that war. The way to oppose a war of this kind is to do everything to prevent it before it breaks out and, once it breaks out, to oppose war with war, to oppose unjust war with just war, whenever possible.”[43] Indeed the way to oppose imperialist war is to preach social pacifism before it breaks out, and, after it breaks out, to oppose it with a “just war.” Is that the “just war” of the Russian social-chauvinists against German imperialism or is that the “just war” of the German social-chauvinists against the Tsarist autocracy or is that the Kautskyite “just war” where the proletariat of each country has an “internationalist” right to shoot workers of the other countries? Mao is like Kautsky, whom Lenin exposed in this way: “Kautsky is remarkably vacillating as to the character and meaning of the present war; this leader dodges the exact and formal declarations of the Basle and Chemnitz Congresses as carefully as a thief dodges the place of his last theft.”[44] Mao dodges these exact and formal declarations just as he also dodges those of Lenin, Stalin and the Communist International. Obviously, he does not agree with them. First Mao denies the inevitability of these kinds of wars, and secondly he refuses to discuss the subject of civil war. He is like Kautsky who maintained that the war was “not a ’purely’ imperialist one.’” And that “this is a national war as well!”[45] Mao’s typical vagueness allows the Maoists to maintain a high degree of flexibility to be able to appear revolutionary one day but to ally with the bourgeoisie and imperialism the next. Mao learned a lesson from the old Social-Democrats that it is not wise to commit oneself to explicitly internationalist stands before the war because Bolsheviks can make this so embarrassing during a war.

With their options left open in the coming imperialist war the Maoists try to put on a revolutionary mask today. They tell us that revolution can prevent war. These Maoists try to stand to the left of the PLA on the question of war. They try to ignore the years of conciliation by Mao and the CPC with the Russian revisionists on these questions. Like all of the modern revisionists, however, they deny the inevitability of imperialist war, but try to appear revolutionary by saying revolution can prevent it. This line is theoretically revisionist and absolutely absurd in the present historical circumstances. How can revolution prevent imperialist war? Certainly a revolution in one country, even one of the great powers, even in one of the Maoist “superpowers” is not, in itself, going to abolish imperialism. Even when the Soviet Union was socialist, even when there was a large socialist camp, comprising one third of the human race along with a large international movement, it was impossible to prevent war. Stalin was clear about this. It was the thesis of Khrushchev and the other modern revisionists that it was possible on this basis to prevent war. If a similar situation was to “suddenly” creep upon us, this would still not prevent imperialist war. Although it might withdraw a country or countries from the imperialist camp, it would not prevent other imperialist wars or wars of intervention against the revolution. If it is not the theses of Khrushchev in revolutionary clothes, it can only be the thesis of Trotsky. A revolution in one country will not abolish imperialism, but if this revolution were simultaneous in all the imperialist countries, or if the revolution breaking out in one or several countries were to spread more or less immediately and simultaneously to the other imperialist countries, then imperialism would be abolished and wars no longer inevitable. But what is this if not Trotsky’s theory of “permanent revolution”? And what is it but the old Menshevik theory into which Trotsky tried to breathe new life, that the revolution will begin and be expanded in the most advanced countries first and this will therefore “prevent” the imperialists from redividing the colonies, semi-colonies and dependent countries? This is so absurd that Mao did not even uphold this view, but it is a fact that many of his followers in the advanced countries do and that it is part of the growing convergence of Maoism and Trotskyism.

This theory of revolution preventing war fundamentally denies Lenin’s theory of proletarian revolution. Lenin saw the inevitable imperialist wars and all their horrible consequences as propelling the masses towards civil war to end the war. For Lenin this made the revolution possible in one country, but for the Maoists, imperialist wars are not an important part of the development of revolutionary crises in our era. Revolution for them is likely to arise in advance of war, to “prevent” war. Stalin, in attacking Trotsky’s rotten theory, explained Lenin’s theory of proletarian revolution and those wavering towards Maoism would be wise to consider it carefully:

“In his study of imperialism, especially in the period of the war, Lenin arrived at the law of the uneven, spasmodic, economic and political development of the capitalist countries. According to this law, the development of enterprises, trusts, branches of industry and individual countries proceeds not evenly –not according to an established sequence, not in such a way that one trust, one branch of industry or one country is always in advance of the others, while other trusts or countries keep consistently one behind the other–but spasmodically, with interruptions in the development of some countries and leaps ahead in the development of others. Under these circumstances the “quite legitimate” striving of the countries that have slowed down to hold their old positions, and the equally “legitimate” striving of the countries that have leapt ahead to seize new positions, lead to a situation in which armed clashes among the imperialist countries become an inescapable necessity. Such was the case, for example, with Germany, which half a century ago was a backward country in comparison with France and Britain. The same must be said of Japan as compared with Russia. It is well known, however, that by the beginning of the twentieth century Germany and Japan had leapt so far ahead that Germany had succeeded in overtaking France and had begun to press Britain hard on the world market, while Japan was pressing Russia. As is well known, it was from these contradictions that the recent imperialist war arose.

“This law proceeds from the following:

”1) ’Capitalism has grown into a world system of colonial oppression and of the financial strangulation of the vast majority of the population of the world by a handful of “advanced” countries’ (see Preface to the French edition of Lenin’s Imperialism, Vol. XIX, p. 74);
“2) ’This “booty” is shared between two or three powerful world robbers armed to the teeth (America, Britain, Japan), who involve the whole world in their war over the sharing of their booty’ (ibid.);
“3) The growth of contradictions within the world system of financial oppression and the inevitability of armed clashes lead to the world front of imperialism becoming easily vulnerable to revolution, and to a breach in this front in individual countries becoming probable;
“4) This breach is most likely to occur at those points, and in those countries, where the chain of the imperialist front is weakest, that is to say, where imperialism is least consolidated, and where it is easiest for a revolution to expand;
“5) In view of this, the victory of socialism in one country, even if that country is less developed in the capitalist sense, while capitalism remains in other countries, even if those countries are more highly developed in the capitalist sense – is quite possible and probable.
“Such, briefly, are the foundations of Lenin’s theory of the proletarian revolution.[46]

The theory of preventing war with revolution can only deny the unevenness of this development of take the theoretically absurd position that while capitalism develops unevenly, the revolution does not and, in fact, can destroy imperialism as a system without the development of imperialist contradictions to the point of war. This theory denies that the “inevitability of armed clashes leads to the world front of imperialism becoming easily vulnerable to revolution, and to a breach in this front in individual countries becoming probable.” In the “era of Mao Tse-tung Thought” everything is turned on its head and now the inevitability of the Maoists rising up in revolution will destroy the entire front of imperialism before the contradictions in the imperialist front make it vulnerable to “the inevitability of armed clashes.” This theory can only lead to such nonsense as “immediate socialist revolution” or the kind of absurd anarchist and terrorist activities carried on by the likes of the “RCP”U.S. and the “CWC”U.S. The anarchist Herve at least put forward the call to immediately respond to the war with a general strike and an immediate uprising. Our modern-day Maoists want to respond to the “danger” of war with such nonsense. The theory of preventing war with revolution is the “theory of simultaneous victory of socialism in the principal countries of Europe (now Europe, North America, Japan, Russia and even China – BU) which, as a rule, excludes Lenin’s theory of revolution about the victory of socialism in one country.”[47] Or is it a theory that denies the necessity of abolishing imperialism as the means to abolish the inevitability of war? In either case it is social-pacifist theory, or shall we say a “revolutionary” pacifist theory that denies the inevitability of war and denies the necessity of civil war and how imperialist war can be eliminated only through a whole epoch of wars and revolutions that leads to the final abolition of imperialism. It denies the real possibilities, in fact, probability of socialism in one country for the Trotskyite fantasies of socialism suddenly replacing imperialism as a world system and preventing the world from suffering any more imperialist wars and interventions. This is nothing but the idealist dreamings of petty-bourgeois “revolutionaries” who cannot stomach the real business of revolution and who cannot face the real and inevitable consequences of imperialism.

This theory is even more absurd and the desperation of these petty-bourgeois democrats more apparent when we consider the actual state of the international workers’ movement. Revolution did not “prevent” war when all of those who called themselves socialist, at least in word, upheld an internationalist position with the existence of truly mass workers’ parties, nor did the existence of the first socialist country and a strong Communist International, nor would have a large socialist camp, as Stalin made clear. Even most of the Maoists admit there is no socialist camp today, no real socialist countries, no international and no truly mass workers’ parties. What forces are going to prevent this war in the imperialist countries? Is it going to be the workers in the revisionist and social-democratic parties? Is it going to be the workers in the U.S., in the AFL-CIO? Is it going to be the workers in Russia that are not allowed even trade union organization? Or do the masses make revolution without organization and without consciousness? On what basis do we have to assume the revolution is imminent in any of the imperialist countries, let alone in all of them? Yes, the objective factors for a revolutionary crisis art; ripening throughout the world and in some countries in a particularly acute manner, but where is the organized conscious open class struggle for political power occurring? Certainly the activity of more than two “factory cells” in France is needed to turn an objective revolutionary crisis into a proletarian revolution, not to mention a successful one! Certainly the hysterical and comical circuses put on by the “RCP”U.S. are not enough to turn the U.S. into a proletarian dictatorship. Given the actual state of the Maoist forces in the world, it is laughable to talk about preventing war with revolution; they cannot even prevent themselves from getting murdered by the Ku Klux Klan. But as we demonstrated above, even in Russia, which was the weakest link in the imperialist chain, where the proletariat went through the experience of 1905, where there was a strong Bolshevik party, where there was a great upswing in the revolutionary struggle in 1912-1914, the Bolsheviks “could no more prevent the masses responding lo the bourgeois call for ’national defense’ than they could prevent the outbreak of the war.”[48]

Given that experience, what can be said about the United States, where the proletariat is so infected with chauvinism and not only “national defense” but national aggression. What can be said about Russia, France, Germany, japan, Canada, etc.? Certainly the revolution is imminent only in the fantasies of certain petty-bourgeois who have lost all connection with reality, who serve no other purpose than to confuse the theoretically impoverished and the practically impotent. This does not mean that a revolutionary crisis is not possible before the war; there was one in Portugal (arising out of their defeat in a colonial war!), but subjectively the proletariat was not prepared or organized to seize power and the Maoists were all supporting the bourgeoisie, some playing an even more counter-revolutionary role than the revisionist party, by openly allying with fascism against the “main danger.” Of course, even if there were a successful revolution in such a circumstance it in no way would prevent war. Although it could well influence the time and place of the war, and also the character, in the sense that imperialism could engage in a war of intervention against a revolution.

It is, however, important to understand the “comparative ease,” as Stalin put it, “with which the proletarian revolution in Russia succeeded in breaking the chains of imperialism and thus overthrowing the rule of the bourgeoisie.”[49] In addition to the favourable internal circumstances, which were conditioned by the Russian defeat in the war, Stalin first lists three external factors.

“Firstly, the circumstance that the October Revolution began in a period of desperate struggle between the two principal imperialist groups, the Anglo-French and the Austro-German; at a time when, engaged in mortal struggle between themselves, these two groups had neither the time nor the means to devote serious attention to the struggle against the October Revolution. This circumstance was of tremendous importance for the October Revolution; for it enabled it to take advantage of the fierce conflicts within the imperialist world to strengthen and organize its own forces.

Secondly, the circumstance that the October Revolution began during the imperialist war, at a time when the labouring masses, exhausted by the war and thirsting for peace, were by the very logic of facts led up to the proletarian revolution as the only way out of the war. This circumstance was of extreme importance for the October Revolution; for it put into its hands the mighty weapon of peace, made it easier for it to link the Soviet revolution with the ending of the hated war, and thus created mass sympathy for it both in the West, among the workers, and in the East, among the oppressed peoples.

Thirdly, the existence of a powerful working-class movement in Europe and the fact that a revolutionary crisis was maturing in the West and in the East, Drought on by the protracted imperialist war. This circumstance was of inestimable importance for the revolution in Russia; for it ensured the revolution faithful allies outside Russia in its struggle against world imperialism.[50]

It is because of the lack of these conditions, and certain others, that Lenin said “it will be more difficult for Western Europe to start a revolution than it was for us.”[51] Even though the Soviet Union and the Communist International already existed as a very important factor in assisting that revolution. Lenin, Stalin and the Comintern always saw the outbreak of revolution as a very difficult matter that developed most easily in relationship to war. The whole theory of Leninism based on the law of uneven development means that revolution is most likely to come about in this way, that the possibilities in other ways are unlikely and even if it does, the chance of victory is less. To Lenin and Stalin the whole idea of preventing war through revolution is an absurdity that is never discussed. It is, however, the calumny of Social-Democrats and the modern revisionists that Bolsheviks advocate imperialist war and support its outbreak. These opportunists want to kill the messenger that brings the bad news. These wars are inevitable, and the subjective wishes of the petty-bourgeoisie to “prevent” them will not change this reality. The Comintern in answering this silly calumny said that Communists “strive to prevent imperialist war by proletarian revolution.”[52] The key thing here is to “strive,” not that war will be prevented. The Comintern made it clear that “only through the overthrow of the bourgeoisie in the most important countries can imperialist wars be prevented.”[53] The reason we strive to prevent war is to postpone it. “It is clear that a postponement of the imperialist war measures by mass actions of the proletariat will create conditions that will considerably facilitate the transformation of this war into civil war and the overthrow of the imperialists.”[54]

The social-pacifist theories of the PLA of “staying the hand of the imperialists,” of the Maoist theories of “preventing war with revolution” are nothing but social-pacifist theories to deceive the proletariat and hide the eyes of the petty-bourgeoisie from the horrors of imperialism. The result is pacifism and anarchist putchism. As the Comintern said: “War is inseparable from capitalism. From this it follows that the ’abolition’ of war is possible only through the abolition of capitalism, i.e., through the overthrow of the bourgeois class of exploiters, through the proletarian dictatorship, the building of Socialism, and the elimination of classes. All other theories and proposals, however “realistic” they may claim to be, are nothing but a deception calculated to perpetuate exploitation and war.”[55]

To give Mao some credit, he was not as idiotic and infantile as his followers in the advanced countries. He rarely talked about and was little concerned by the revolution in the advanced countries because he was not concerned with abolishing imperialism and replacing it with socialism in the classical sense. Mao took a purely nationalist point of view on these questions. In his last known “thought” on these matters, in 1970, he said: “The danger of a new world war still exists, and the people of all countries must get prepared. But revolution is the main trend in the world today.”[56] What “revolution” is Mao talking about? He gives as examples of his theses, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. Mao proclaimed: “I warmly support the fighting spirit of Samdech Norodom Sihanouk”; supposedly this “fighting spirit” was going to prevent war. Today we can certainly see the “profundity” of Mao’s “thought” because this did not even prevent a war between China and Vietnam. And another war by Vietnam to overthrow the incredible regime to which Sihanouk’s “fighting spirit” gave birth. These wars between China and Vietnam, and between Vietnam and Cambodia, have been unjust wars in the service of imperialism and part of the preparation for the next imperialist war. They are part of the process of the redivision of the world. Sihanouk is now selling his “fighting spirit” to U.S. imperialism, trying to take Cambodia from the sphere of influence of Russian imperialism. Vietnam has become the gendarme of Russian imperialism in the region and China is applying for the job of gendarme of U.S. imperialism. For Mao the way revolution “prevents” war is the activity of the national bourgeoisie to “stay the hand of the imperialists,” or as Mao put it: “the people in various countries have been continuously waging revolutionary wars to defeat the aggressors.” Ten years later it is obvious what has become of Mao’s “main trend of revolution” if we simply recall the way he described it: “The revolutionary armed struggles of the people of the Southeast Asian countries, the struggles of the people of Korea, Japan and other Asian countries against the revival of Japanese militarism by U.S. and Japanese reactionaries, the struggles of the Palestinian and other Arab peoples against U.S.-Israeli aggressors, the national liberation struggles of the Asian, African and Latin American peoples, and the revolutionary struggles of the peoples of North America, Europe and Oceania are all developing vigorously. The Chinese people firmly support the people of the three Indo-Chinese countries and of other countries of the world in their struggles against U.S. imperialism and its lackeys.” Maybe it was possible for young and gullible people to believe such fairy tales ten years ago, but what can be said for those who cling to them today? In any case, Mao makes no mention of the proletariat or the struggle for socialism; it is the national struggle against the U.S. that is going to prevent war! The oppressed peoples of the world can refuse to be redivided by the imperialists, and this will put an end to imperialism! Of course, Mao does not even have the oppressed peoples in mind, but the national bourgeoisies who are struggling against one imperialist bloc with the aid of the other.

Mao, in concluding his “thought” about how to defeat the U.S., not imperialism in general, says: “A weak nation can defeat a strong, a small country can certainly defeat aggression by a big country, if only they dare to rise in struggle, dare to take up arms and grasp in their own hand the destiny of their country. This is the law of history. People of the world, unite and defeat the U.S. aggressors and all their running dogs!” What is this but the theory of “three worlds,” the “people” including the “patriotic” bourgeoisie of the “third world” and the “second world” unite to defeat the U.S. “superpower”? This is the continuation of Mao’s theory of “intermediate zones” and a prelude to the theory of “three worlds.” This is only a further Maoist development of the modern revisionist theses in 1957 about “the peace-loving countries of Asia and Africa taking an anti-imperialist stand,” and “the peoples of the European countries who have proclaimed neutrality.”[57] The goal was to unite these forces “for joint action on the broadest possible scale with all forces favouring peace and opposed to war.”[58] In the face of war, the modern revisionists in 1957 called for defense of the fatherland and took a social-chauvinist position for the sake of “unity” against the U.S. The defense of “national independence” against the “American monopolies” by all other countries was put forward as principle, the CPC continued to maintain this position in 1963, as Mao did in 1970. But Mao’s move from pacifism to “revolutionary” pacifism was short lived and probably more related to internal problems than anything else because shortly thereafter the “fascist” Nixon came to Peking to hatch an alliance with Mao to sell out the struggle in southeast Asia and to shift the “main enemy” to Russia (for propaganda purposes it was both “superpowers”) and now Mao was “preventing” war by allying with every lackey of U.S. imperialism, as the pages of Peking Review so graphically illustrated over the years. This was formalized in the theory of “three worlds” and the concealed social-chauvinism has given way to open social-chauvinism.

So it has fallen to the Maoists discarded by China to try to maintain some sort of revolutionary mask to Mao Tse-tung Thought. The remnants of the pro-“Gang of Four” Maoists are trying to build an international trend to keep alive the centrist and pseudo-revolutionary politics of Mao. The leaders of this trend, the “RCP”U.S. and Chile, or more exactly Avakian and Palacios, have jointly appealed for the consolidation of this trend. They declare their “recognition of the growing danger of a third world war.”[59] They declare that “an inter-imperialist world war could break out soon and there is a very great likelihood that it will break out in the next ten years unless it is prevented by revolution... if the revolution is not able to prevent a war it will be in a position to turn a inter-imperialist war into a war against the imperialists and their collaborators.” Avakian and Palacios avoid the precise formulations of Leninism as carefully as Mao did. It is not inevitable, they can prevent it, but if they can’t, turn it into a liberation struggle against the “imperialists and their collaborators.” Which imperialists, which collaborators? We get no answers, this would only lessen their own options to sell out like Mao did. Social-pacifist nonsense today and open options when war is declared. And what of civil war? Not a word but maybe some phoney declarations later to confuse the gullible.

Unfortunately, there exist today a number of forces that conciliate with Maoshevism who waver between Bolshevism and Menshevism, who particularly in relation to the question of imperialist war will on occasion take a correct position in principle but who resist as much as possible from actually making a split with centrism. An example of this is the statement made by five organizations from Cyprus, Turkey, Austria, West Germany and West Berlin against the International Youth Camp held in Germany last summer. They “boldly” attacked KPD(ML) for pacifism, but they avoided mentioning the principle backers of the camp that supports the participants in the camp, the PLA! These five organizations declare:

“Against imperialist war – pacifism? “An urgent task of the toilers and revolutionary youth of the world today is to fight the war preparations of the imperialist powers. However, unless propaganda is made of the most effective weapon against imperialist war, propaganda of the destruction of imperialism through revolutions, propaganda of peoples’ war, of national liberation wars, is possible only through revolutionary wars. The platform makes propaganda of “peace and friendship of the peoples” only. But no propaganda of the necessity of revolutionary wars. This is sufficient evidence that the camp organisers are submerged in the mire of pacifism.[60]

Not a word about the inevitability of war, not a word about transforming imperialist war into civil war. Instead we hear only about “peoples’ war” and “national liberation wars.” Why is it that these bold denouncers of German revanchism say nothing about civil war? If Germany is invaded, will they apply the tactic of “peoples’ war” and “national liberation wars”? On this occasion they failed to distinguish themselves from the social-chauvinism that lurks beneath the positions of KPD(ML) and the PLA. Yes, it is true that some of these organizations can be found to say the correct thing in theory upon occasion, but what about this mass propaganda? Was it necessary to compromise on principle to maintain unity of critical Maoists and Maoists? Was this more important than Leninist-Stalinist principles? Clearly in this case it was.

Today we are confronted with a whole array of social-pacifists and their conciliators that are trying to save the moribund and decaying carcass of Mao or the PLA with some revolutionary phrases, but they avoid at all costs the precise formulations of the entire history of revolutionary Communism. Stalin once denounced the traitor Zinoviev before the international communist movement for writing articles on war where “there is not a single word, literally not a single word, about war having become inevitable.”[61] Stalin castigated Zinoviev for only seeing war as “possible” instead of inevitable. But today we have the sad spectacle of forces who call themselves communist denying the inevitability of war and asserting that it is only “possible” and quite “preventable.” And of course the question of civil war is hidden from view even by the most “well intentioned.”

It is, in fact, this array of petty-bourgeois forces that is promoting the greatest passivity in the proletariat. The proletariat cannot be deterred from social-chauvinism by absurd Maoist and Hoxhaist promises of “preventing war.” In the face of the imminent and inevitable war the revolutionary proletariat can only be won from a feeling of passivity and hopelessness by a trend that tells the proletariat the horrible truth about imperialism, but also tells it the vital truth that this war can be used to destroy imperialism and that it is once again possible to walk down the road of socialism. It is by telling the proletariat the truth that it will be prepared for its historic mission. It is in this way that the revolutionary proletariat can once again walk in the revolutionary traditions of the Commune, of 1905, and of 1917. It is the road of Bolshevism that will show the proletariat once again that socialism is possible, that imperialism can be defeated, that a world can be created where the horrors of imperialist wars and interventions will no longer be the nightmares of our children.

The international Bolshevik conference against the imperialist war once established on an international level that the international proletariat once again has a voice to take up those long lost but so vital Leninist-Stalinist, Bolshevik principles that will show the international proletariat and oppressed peoples a way out of the carnage of imperialist wars. Once again Bolshevism exists and is being propagated on an international level. For the first time in over 25 years the revolutionary content of Communism is being upheld. Once again the real content of the Great October Socialist Revolution and the 1905 revolution is being upheld both in the imperialist countries and the colonies, semi-colonies and dependent countries.

Instead of collaboration with the bourgeoisie, the Marxist thesis of revolution against the bourgeoisie is once again being upheld. We give no support to the bourgeoisie in the imperialist countries. We work for the defeat of all bourgeoisies, particularly our “own,” we prepare a civil war against the bourgeoisie. We do not confine this position to the imperialist countries. We give no support to the national bourgeoisie in the colonies, semi-colonies and dependent countries.[62] The leadership of the revolution must be in the hands of the proletariat who will, in alliance with the peasantry, establish the democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry.

And once again the Soviet path to revolution, the road discovered by the revolutionary proletariat itself, the revolutionary power of the proletariat and toiling masses against the bourgeoisie, is openly propagated. It is Soviet revolution, Bolshevik revolution that is the salvation of the international proletariat and of all the oppressed peoples.


Note: For those who attended this rally, this speech was not presented in its entirety, because of time considerations and to allow ample time for discussion.


[1] “The International Significance of the Revolution of 1905: On the 25th Anniversary of the Revolution of 1905,” The Communist International, Vol. VIII, Nos. 3-4, February 15,1931, pp. 114-15.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid., p. 117.

[5] Quoted in “75th Anniversary of the Russian Revolution of 1905: The Meaning of Soviets for the Working Class Today,” Proletarian Revolution, no. 25, Nov., 1980, p. 42.

[6] Ibid.

[7] The Proletarian Revolution and the Renegade Kautsky, FLP, p. 88.

[8] “The Struggle Against Imperialist War and the Tasks of Communists,” Resolution of the Sixth World Congress of the Communist International –1928, Section 14b, reprinted in International Correspondence, no. 2, p. 151.

[9] Ibid., pp. 150-1.

[10] See “The Conscription Crisis of 1917-18,” Proletarian Revolution, no. 25, Nov., 1980, p. 33.

[11] See “Nuclear War?”, ibid., p. 1.

[12] Economic Problems of Socialism in the U.S.S.R., FLP. Chapter 6, p. 37.

[13] The History of the CPSU(B), Chapter 6, Section 3b, p. 168.

[14] “Declaration of Communist and Workers’ Parties of Socialist Countries,” Nov., 1957, Section 1.

[15] “Socialism and War,” Collected Works (1930), Vol. 18, p. 235, emphasis added.

[16] “Declaration .. .”, 1957, Section 4.

[17] “A Proposal Concerning the General Line of the International Communist Movement,” 1963, FLP, Section 14, pp. 30-1.

[18] “The letter of the C.C. of the C.P.S.U. tb the C.C. of the C.P.C.”, Feb. 21, 1963, ibid., p. 11.

[19] “A Document of Great International Significance,” Tirana, 1963, p. 13. This is a pamphlet reproducing an article from Zeri i popullit, July 24, 1963.

[20] Quoted in International Press Correspondence, Vol. 8, No. 49, August 13,1928, p. 866.

[21] Quoted in ibid., also “the European War,” Collected Works, Vol. 12, p. 557.

[22] Quoted in ibid., pp. 866-7.

[23] Quoted in ibid., p. 867.

[24] “Results of the July Plenum of the C.C, CPSU(B),” Works, vol. 11, p. 210.

[25] Economic Problems of Socialism in the USSR, FLP, Chapter 6, pp. 36-7.

[26] The Khrushchevites, Tirana, 1980, pp. 337-8 and 386.

[27] “Declaration . . .”, 1957, Section 1.

[28] “The Marxist-Leninist Stand of the PLA on the Problems of War and Peace,” Albania Today, no. 2, 1979.

[29] The History of the CPSU(B), Chapter 6, Section 3b, p. 170.

[30] Theses, Section 12c, reprinted in International Correspondence, no. 2, p. 149.

[31] “Socialism and War,” Collected Works (1930), Vol. 18, p. 221.

[32] Economic Problems, chapter 6.

[33] Ibid., Chapter 7.

[34] Ibid., emphasis added.

[35] “Concerning the Theses for the Xth Congress of the Italian Communist Party,” Nov. 1962, Oppose Modern Revisionism and Uphold Marxism-Leninism and the Unity of the International Communist Movement, Tirana, 1964, pp. 85-6.

[36] Albania Today, no. 2, 1979.

[37] “Letter to A.G. Shlyapnikov, Oct. 17,1914,” Collected Works (1939), Vol. 18, p. 75.

[38] Program of the Communist International, Workers’ Library, p. 5.

[39] See this issue for an article by OCML Eugene Varlin.

[40] History of the CPSU(B), Chapter 6, Section 1, p. 160, emphasis added.

[41] Op. cit., International Correspondence, no. 2, p. 150.

[42] The Ninth National Congress of the Communist Party of China (documents), FLP, p. 83.

[43] “On Protracted War,” Selected Works, Vol. 2, p. 150. This quote is cited in Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-tung, FLP, 1989, p. 60.

[44] “The Collapse of the Second International,” 1915, Collected Works (1930), Vol. 18, p. 298, Section VI.

[45] Ibid.

[46] “The October Revolution and the Tactics of the Russian Communists,” Problems of Leninism, FLP, pp. 128-9, Section 2, emphasis added.

[47] Ibid., p. 132.

[48] Op. cit.. International Correspondence, no. 2, p. 151.

[49] “The October Revolution...”, op. cit., p. 117.

[50] Ibid., pp. 117-18, emphasis added.

[51] Cited by Stalin, ibid., p. 102.

[52] Theses of the Sixth Congress, op. cit., paragraph 11, p. 148.

[53] Ibid., paragraphs, p. 145.

[54] Ibid.

[55] Ibid., paragraph 7, p. 146.

[56] “People of the World, Unite and Defeat the U.S. Aggressors and All Their Running Dogs!”, Statement of May 20, 1970, FLP, 1971.

[57] Declaration 1957,op.cit., Section l.

[58] Ibid., Section IV.

[59] “Joint communique from the Revolutionary Communist Party of Chile and the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA,“ Forum International, no. 2, p. 11.

[60] “On the ’4th International Youth Camp’: Neither Revolutionary Nor Anti-Imperialist,” International Correspondence, no. 2, pp. 172-3.

[61] “Joint Plenum of the Central Committee and Central Control Commission of the CPSU(B), July 29-August 9, 1927, The International Situation and the Defense of the USSR, Speech delivered on August 1, Section IV, The Threat of War and the Defense of the USSR,” Works, Vol. 10, p. 49.

[62] This does not mean that certain tactical alliances, under certain conditions and for certain lengths of time cannot occur, as they have historically. But in general the national bourgeoisie in these countries has gone even farther down the road of opposition to the revolution and support of imperialism that was demonstrated at the Sixth Congress of the Comintern. This question is dealt with at length in contemporary Bolshevik literature, but it is mentioned here so as to avoid any confusion with opportunist positions. The question of tactical alliances with the national bourgeoisie in these countries is today principally a theoretical and historical question and not a practical one. It is important to study, however, because in certain circumstances it could once again become a practical question.