Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Documents of the 3rd Conference of Canadian Marxist-Leninists on the International Situation

Montreal, September 9, 10, 11, 1977

Speech by CAPT (Third World Peoples’ Anti-Imperialist Committee)

Comrades and friends,

The Third World Peoples’ Anti-Imperialist Committee is an anti-imperialist organization. We are not a Marxist-Leninist organization. We, like some other patriotic groups, had the option to participate in this conference either in the form of an intervention or a solidarity message or both. After seriously considering our possible role at this conference, we decided to make an intervention. Since this conference has undertaken the task of opposing the all around anti-imperialist struggles of the third world, ironically in the name of the defense of Marxism-Leninism, we decided against giving a solidarity message.

We had earlier prepared a document for this conference on the basis of the statement of IN STRUGGLE!, No 95, August 18, that their basic document for this conference is contained in their journal “Proletarian Unity”, Vol. 1, No 2, and in IN STRUGGLE!, No 91. However, overnight IN STRUGGLE! decided to go with the tide and produced a supplement rejecting the Three World Analysis as a strategic concept. This forced us to change the orientation of our original document which explained our understanding of the Three World Analysis and its revolutionary significance, and come out with the present document which intends to defend this scientific analysis from impetuous attacks in the name of Marxism-Leninism.

Barely two months ago at a conference organized by us on July 9, we placed our views on the significance of the Three World Analysis and on the characteristics of the third world as the main force against colonialism, imperialism and particularly the hegemonism of the two superpowers. We did not say that it was the leading force. This conforms to the objective reality of the current international situation. To say that a scientific analysis curbs revolution, merely shows the bankruptcy of those who cannot use dialectical materialism for the cause of revolution, for they find dialectics too complex and idealism too familiar to grasp. Therefore we do not wish to dispel illusions; we wish to show that it is a correct analysis of the present world situation and because it is a correct analysis, it must serve the cause of revolution.

Our position is not based on our independent analysis of the world situation. Our Committee neither has the experience nor the maturity to analyse the complex world situation through our own efforts alone. We lay no such tall claims. Our position is the result of an intense struggle within our organization on the question of the correctness and significance of grasping the Three World Analysis in order to conduct a thoroughgoing anti-imperialist program. The correctness of this analysis is in accordance with our experience in anti-imperialist work and our understanding of the aspirations of our peoples in the third world. It is not based on familiarity with various points of view.

Since our founding 9 years ago, we have fought against the line that an anti-imperialist organization need not have a world view, should not involve itself in raising the anti-imperialist consciousness of the people, should not have any views on principal enemies and principal contradictions but rather should be content with an assorted list of contradictions, should not oppose both superpowers, but only the US imperialist superpower and make up for the leniency shown to the other superpower by attacking the reactionary regimes in the third world, and should not have the same anti-imperialist line which Marxist-Leninist organizations have. The type of attack on the third world’s anti-imperialist struggle that is coming now in an organized form, taking advantage of the passing away of Chairman Mao, has been faced by us for the last 9 years. Only it is coming in the name of Marxism-Leninism at this historical period.

We uphold that the struggle of the oppressed peoples, nations and countries, mainly against the two superpowers, constitutes the main force in the era of imperialism and proletarian revolution, the era of Leninism. We uphold that a genuine anti-imperialist line is the same for anti-imperialist organizations as for other organizations, including the Marxist-Leninists. There are other differences between the two types of organizations and it is not up to us to deal with that.

Comrades and friends,

The Three World Analysis was developed by Chairman Mao, not withstanding the wild claims of those who specialize in slander of communist leaders that this concept was developed behind his back and that he did not approve of it. The concept of the third world which is the main target of the attack on the Three World Analysis has a long history. As early as 1963, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China stated: “The various types of contradictions in the contemporary world are concentrated in the vast areas of Asia, Africa and Latin America; these are the most vulnerable areas under imperialist rule and the storm-centres of world revolution dealing direct blows at imperialism”. As early as 1964, in a statement supporting the struggle of the people of Panama, Chairman Mao said: “The people of the countries in the socialist camp should unite, the people of the countries in Asia, Africa and Latin American should unite, the people of all the continents should unite, all peace-loving countries should unite, and all countries subjected to US aggression, control, intervention or bullying should unite, and so form the broadest united front to oppose the US imperialist policies of aggression and war and to defend world peace”. That which reflected a necessity became a trend and in the 10th Party Congress of the CPC, preseded by Chairman Mao, it was stated: ”The awakening and growth of the third world has strengthened its unity in the struggle against hegemonism and power politics of the superpowers and is playing an ever more significant role in international affairs”. And the Three World Analysis was presented formally a year later. Much blood has spilled in the third world since then and the revolutionary struggles have only developed. It is surprising that it took so long for these so-called genuine supporters of national liberation and revolution to discover that the Three World concept is causing illusion and curbing revolution.

Comrades and friends,

The fact that the countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America have been long subjected to colonial and imperialist domination has been recognized by everyone. It was Marx who hailed the uprising of the Indian people in 1857 against British colonial rule as the First War of Independence although the leadership of this struggle was in the hands of the disintegrating feudal rulers. The British and Indian Marxist theoreticians on the other hand continued to denigrate this struggle because it was led by the feudal lords and not by the non-existing communists at that time. Lenin drew the attention of the Communist International to the question of colonies and oppressed nations, and formulated his thesis on the national and colonial questions. There is a boom in quoting Lenin to prove a point rather than analyse a concrete condition. According to some, the Three World Analysis is contrary to Leninism and instead of looking at the national question as a part of the proletarian revolution, they suit themselves by stating: ”That Marxism-Leninism teaches us that the national question must always be seen as a subsidiary to the cause of revolution”. Lenin stated that the “Communist Party... must base its policy in the national question, too, not on abstract and formal principles, but, firstly, on an exact estimate of the specific historical situation and, on an equally clear distinction between the oppressed, dependent and subject nations and the oppressing, exploiting and sovereign nations...” (Col. W. V 31 pp 122-28). In order to combat a dogmatist trend on the revolutionary significance of the struggle of the oppressed nations, Stalin stated: “the revolutionary character of a national movement under the conditions of imperialist oppression does not necessarily presuppose the existence of proletarian elements in the movement, the existence of a revolutionary or a republican program of the movement, the existence of democratic basis of the movement. The struggle the Emir of Afghanistan is waging for independence of Afghanistan is objectively a revolutionary struggle, despite the monarchist views of the Emir and his associates, for it weakens, disintegrates and undermines imperialism.” (F.L.) Elaborating the principles of Leninism he stated that the world is divided into two camps: “The camp of a handful of civilized nations... and the camp of oppressed and exploited peoples in the colonies and dependent countries, who comprise the majority”.

Several significant changes have taken place during this period. But the most important development which is contained in the thesis of the Three Worlds is that countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America have now emerged as a force of which principal aspects are not division but unity, not colonialism but political independence and not political backwardness but advanced political consciousness. Lenin’s declaration of 1913 “Backward Europe and Advanced Asia” now has gone beyond Asia and has engulfed the whole of the third world. The Three World Analysis is a recognition of this new feature of the third world as well as of the continuing menace of imperialism. This analysis correctly assesses the role played by the third world, by the two superpowers and by the imperialist powers of the second world.

Some opponents of the third world accept that: “The collapse of colonial system, the winning of political independence by the overwhelming majority of the countries of Asia, Africa, etc., is another confirmation of the Leninist theory...” but do not accept that the forces which won the political independence can take part in defending and enlarging the scope of this independence. After all in many of these countries the political independence was not achieved under the leadership of the proletariat, nor was it based on worker-peasant alliance. Well suit yourself.

Comrades and friends,

The attack on the third world is at the centre of the attack on the Three World Analysis. But the third world is real; it consists of 80% of the world’s population and 60% of its land area. It possesses an overwhelming proportion of the world’s natural resources. It has a common history of colonial and imperialist oppression and of resistance against it.

The third world consists of socialist countries and countries in the stage of new democracy, of oppressed and colonised nations fighting for national liberation, and of the majority of countries which are tied by varying degrees to imperialism and are under the rule of feudal-comprador classes or the national bourgeoisie, but which are all struggling by varying degrees to defend sovereignty, independence and natural resources.

The forces that stand for the independence of countries in the third world are extremely heterogenous; their desire for independence arises from different class aspirations. Except for a handful of committed traitors, the forces that stand for independence of a country are not just the working class but also other classes – the peasantry, the petty bourgeoisie, the national bourgeoisie and to a certain extent the comprador bourgeoisie. The contradictions between the compradors and imperialism have always existed[1]. In the present historical condition the compradors in only certain areas such as South Korea, Taiwan province of China are puppets. With the rise of the third world, particularly the revolutionary struggles, the comprador bourgeoisie in many countries are now forced to take certain steps against imperialism and exercise certain degree of independence. At the same time they are incapable of achieving independence and their dominant role is subservience to imperialism. The working class is in extreme minority in many of these countries because of the perpetuation of feudalism and because of a long colonial history. Although numerically small, the working class based on worker-peasant alliance leads the struggle for total independence of the country.

Various constituents of this broad united front for the independence of the country range from the most resolute to the most compromising, from the most democratic to the least democratic classes. But the very concept of a united front is based on the principle of unity and struggle between different classes for a specific program in a given historical condition. Since the struggle for independence of the countries of the third world is a struggle against imperialism, mainly the two superpowers, the united front for the defense of independence is clearly a class concept.

If the concept of oppressed nations and oppressor nations, the concept of united front against fascism and war, the concept of united front for the liberation of Indochina and Palestine, the concept of united front against the Japanese aggression of China was a class concept, then the concept of the third world unity for safeguarding national independence and opposing the hegemonism of the two superpowers is also a class concept.

To proclaim that the building of a united front of different classes even antagonistic classes, for a definite program determined by a correct analysis of the principal contradiction is denial of class concept is to deprive the proletariat of an important weapon in its historic task.

If the new enthusiasts of this “class concept” had to advise the proletariat of the whole world of the necessity of a class point of view, they could have refrained from opposing the third world analysis and the third world unity and from dividing the third world between progressive and reactionary – which will invariably lead to strengthening of imperialism and the weakening of the anti-imperialist forces; they would instead have participated in leading this united front in the ultimate interest of the proletariat and the oppressed peoples and nations.

While the united front is a magic weapon in the hands of the working class in the era of imperialism and proletarian revolution, this does not automatically serve the cause of revolution and of the working class. The independence and the leading role of the working class alone ensures that the united front will serve the cause of the revolution and the ultimate interest of the working class. But none of these problems can be solved by abandoning the task of building a united front, for to do that is to do disservice to revolution and enter into self-purification campaign. In the specific case of the role of the third world unity in the struggle against colonialism, imperialism and superpower hegemonism, two questions are important: 1) the broad united front against the two superpowers is related to but not identical with the united front within a given country of the third world because of the particularity of the contradiction, and 2) it is not possible for revolutionary forces to enter in united front with the ruling classes in many countries, defend their class and national interest and lead the united front to achieve its goal. That is why the people 0f neo-colonial countries do not enter into a united front with the ruling classes. The third world analysis by no means implies that they ought to. For example, the Communist parties of Philippines, Thailand and Malaya, all of whom uphold the three world analysis, have not entered in any alliance with the ruling classes and are waging a fierce armed struggle. On the other hand, liberation movement of Palestine and southern Africa maintain a relationship of unity and struggle with the ruling classes of the Arab and African countries knowing full well the existing ties of these countries with imperialism.

However, the international proletariat through the concrete manifestation of its existence in socialist States alone is capable of leading these struggles, of retaining its independence as well as of building the international united front against imperialism, social imperialism and war. In doing so, they do not abandon their independent role nor do they abandon their principal task within their own country of consolidating socialism and maintaining closest possible ties with revolutionary parties and movements in other countries.

The three world analysis is based on the recognition of the third world as the main force against colonialism, imperialism and the hegemonism of the two superpowers. And this in turn is based on the unity of the three great movements – countries want independence, nations want liberation and people want revolution – the irresistible trend of history. These three revolutionary movements are at once the outcome and the basis of the understanding of the third world. And those who cannot grasp this relationship will never find class basis of the three world analysis and will always blame the oppressed so as not to oppose the oppressor.

As long as the nations and nation States exist, as they do now, the people, especially those of the oppressed nations and countries, deeply aspire to achieve independence of their countries and the liberation of their nations as an essential step towards building a democratic society without exploitation. In other words, in order to build a democratic society without exploitation, the nations must be liberated and the independence must be won and defended. The question of the independence cannot be treated as an exclusive privilege of socialist and western countries. If we recognize that the fulfilment of the aspirations of the people necessarily requires the defense of the independence, we will also recognize the bankruptcy of the claim that the concept of third world is a non-class concept. And because these three movements are inter-linked, one cannot give a thoroughgoing support for one without supporting all the three. The proletariat has lofty revolutionary aspirations and because it not only has these aspirations but also the practicality of how to fulfill them, it has undertaken the task of leading all these three struggles.

Not only the concept of the three world analysis is a class concept, it is at once a formulation based on the four major contradictions of the contemporary world, namely 1) the contradiction between the oppressed nations and peoples and imperialism and social imperialism, 2) the contradiction between the imperialist countries and the social imperialist countries and among the imperialist countries, 3) the contradiction between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie in the capitalist and the revisionist countries, and 4) the contradiction between the socialist countries and imperialism and social imperialism. Within this context of world contradictions, the contradiction between the oppressed nations and the peoples and the two superpowers, and the contradiction among the two superpowers for world hegemony lie at the base of the formulation. The three world analysis is based not only on the recognition of contradictions but on the recognition of the principal contradiction and the principal aspect of a contradiction. It does not consider the contradiction between the oppressed peoples and nations and imperialism without recognising that the principal contradiction is between them and the two superpowers. This is so because the two imperialist superpowers are the only imperialist powers at this stage which not only plunder the third world but also are contending for world hegemony and are capable of starting a war and daily preparing for it. Not to single out these two superpowers in the name of opposing all imperialist powers is an objective defense of these two superpowers. This is not to deny the imperialist nature of the relations of the second world countries with the countries of the third world and this is not to deny that they may assist one or the other superpower in their wars of aggression against the third world countries fighting for independence and liberation. But they are not in a position of pursuing a policy of aggression and bullying on their own without the encouragement of one of the other superpower. Therefore the target of all liberation struggles and all struggles for new democracy are against all imperialism but the main target has been against one or the other or both the superpowers. There were many imperialist powers assisting the US aggression in Indochina, but at no time the target of attack of the Indochinese people was other than US imperialism.

The Three World Analysis is based on seeking truth from facts and has not fallen from the sky. It places the specific position of the third world in relation to the two superpowers and other imperialist powers, as well as the relation of the two superpowers with each other and with the third and second worlds. It does not merely recognize the contention between these two superpowers, but extends this recognition to the necessity of waging concrete struggle against them. Some people claim to recognize the existence of the two superpowers and even the existence of the contention between them for world hegemony. But they refuse to extend this understanding for the purpose of developing any specific program. If it is these two superpowers and not all the imperialist powers which are contending for hegemony, it follows that they are the main enemies of the people. To relegate these two superpowers to the position of any imperialist power is to deny the very nature of the two superpowers. Furthermore the contention between the two superpowers is for world hegemony and the threat of war is a necessary consequence of this contention. Therefore the struggle against hegemony is at once a struggle against war preparation. Some people admit that both superpowers are capable of starting the war but even then do not wish to distinguish between these two and other imperialist powers.

Chairman Mao teaches us: “Hence, if in any process there are a number of contradictions, one of them must be the principal contradiction playing the leading and the decisive role, while the rest occupy a secondary and subordinate position. Therefore, in studying any complex process in which there are two or more contradictions, we must devote every effort to finding its principal contradiction”.

If we take the question of war seriously, it certainly does not give rise to the line that we should wait until it has broken out. It is not only essential to know the source of war but also the main source of war. Recent history has shown that both superpowers start war, are capable of starting world war and are daily preparing for it. And if they are preparing for it, why should the people not be preparing against it; preparation requires not only the recognition of who can start the war but also who is the main source of war. That is why the Three World Analysis of the world contradictions also points out that the Soviet Union is the most dangerous source of war. Just as considering all imperialist powers as equal leads to non-recognition of the ferocious nature of the two superpowers, so also non-recognition of the Soviet Union as the main source of war amounts to a defense of social imperialism.

We stated it before and we state it once again that it is not the three world analysis that leads to abandoning of revolution. This is a scientific analysis and if any one were seriously in disagreement with it, they should have taken the serious task of disproving the correctness of this analysis, rather than simply asserting it causes illusion and curbs revolution. If it is correct, it cannot but advance the cause of revolution. And we have presented our views on why we think it is correct. The world situation or the situation in a given country does not change to suit revolution much less to suit the understanding of groups and organizations, big or small. Rather, revolutionary line must deal with the real situation in order to transform it to the advantage of the people and the revolution.

Comrades and friends,

It is revisionism that leads to abandoning revolution. Making revolution depends on the correctness of the political line within ones own country and the correct assessment of the international situation. Whenever the revolution has been betrayed it has been due to the revisionism within the working class movement in the given country. But whenever it happened, Trotskyism blamed the correct Marxist-Leninist line for it: first it was the alliance between the working class and the backward peasantry, then it was socialism in one country, the New Economic Policy, and the Brest-Litovsk Treaty, then it was the Red Army not marching to liberate all Europe, then it was the united front against war and fascism, then it was Chairman Mao’s thesis that the peasants are the main force in the New Democratic Revolution which did not eliminate all capitalists, and now it is the Three World Analysis.

But the revolution has advanced. Countries want independence, nations want liberation and people want revolution. This has become the irresistible trend.



[1] In the French text, It reads:”... have existed in many countries” (Editor’s note)