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

Montreal, September 9, 10, 11, 1977

Speech by Red Star Collective

Comrades and Friends,

The Red Star Collective warmly greets this third conference of Canadian Marxist-Leninists. We hope that through honest discussion and debate, carried on in the spirit of unity-criticism-unity, the entire Canadian Marxist-Leninist movement can advance its understanding of the international situation. What we are trying to determine is, firstly, what effect the international situation will have on the revolutionary struggle in Canada and the consequent tasks of Marxist-Leninists who must lead this struggle and, secondly, the responsibilities and tasks of Canadian Marxist-Leninists in upholding proletarian internationalism.

When discussing the international situation we must view the world as being in motion, as a process in itself. Any discussion which does not do this cannot possibly result in the all-sided analysis that is essential to arriving at a proper assessment of world relations.

The world revolutionary process has greatly progressed in the years since the turn of the century. The emergence of a socialist Soviet Union at the end of the great imperialist war of 1914-1918, marked the breaching of the capitalist system at one of its weakest links, Czarist Russia.

Though revolutionary forces were defeated in the rest of Europe, the process of moving the world out of the imperialist era and into the socialist one was by no means stopped. The anti-imperialist, national liberation struggles in various colonial and semi-colonial areas advanced, and therefore the world revolution moved forward. As Chairman Mao said in On New Democracy, “in this era any revolution in a colony or a semi-colony that is directed against imperialism... is part of the new world revolution, the proletarian socialist world revolution”. (MSW, Vol.2, p. 344).

As the era of imperialism matured, another inter-imperialist war of redivision took place. However this war, unlike the first world war, also had an aspect of opposition to fascism. The concrete conditions made possible the building of a united front against fascism which included peoples, the socialist Soviet Union and various imperialist and capitalist countries. This united front on a world level advanced the revolutionary process within countries. It weakened the Japanese imperialists and exposed the reactionary Nationalists in China and thus aided the forces of revolution.

From the war there emerged two opposing camps, the camp of socialism headed by the Soviet Union and the camp of imperialism headed by the United States. Between the two camps was an intermediate zone which included mainly the colonial and semi-colonial countries.

In the second decade following the war, the world revolutionary process sustained a giant setback and the international situation was drastically altered. In the Soviet Union a new bourgeoisie was able to seize State power. Capitalism was restored and the country, once at the heart of the socialist camp, caused this camp’s disintegration.

The Soviets, having reverted to a social order based on capitalist relations, became imperialist, seeking out neo-colonies and spheres of influence. The Eastern European States became no more than satellites of the new imperialist power.

The United States continued to be a dominant imperialist power as well, with a host of secondary capitalist and imperialist countries influenced by it. Thus there are now two large imperialist powers – superpowers – in the world, contending for world hegemony and preparing, not just for a redivision of the world, but for complete world domination.

Taking this fundamental change of world forces into account, Mao Tse-Tung advanced his three worlds analysis. The first world consists of the two superpowers – the Soviet Union and the United States. The second world is composed of imperialist and capitalist countries that are simultaneously in collusion and conflict with one or the other superpower. While they themselves are subject to domination and exploitation by a superpower some of these second world countries also oppress and exploit other nations and peoples. The third world consists mainly of colonial, semi-colonial and underdeveloped countries that all must struggle to achieve and consolidate national liberation. This category also includes the socialist countries. The Red Star Collective upholds the three worlds analysis as correctly defining the main enemies, the main revolutionary forces and the middle elements which must eventually align with one or the other main force.

It would be an error to view each of the categories as remaining constant and immutable. In the third world, for example, the continuing struggles for independence are constantly altering relations – some countries advance towards victory, while others, falling under the leadership of opportunist and traitorous elements, sometimes shift from alliance with or domination by one superpower to that of another. Angola is one example of the second situation. There is also a constant shifting of relations between the second world countries and the superpowers. This is especially true in the case of the United States whose capitalist and imperialist allies exercise a degree of independence and mobility that is not present in the Soviet sphere.

One of the most significant changes is that which has taken place in the relative positions of the two superpowers. By far the strongest of the powers emerging from the war years, the United States seized the initiative in an effort to expand its sphere of influence and zone of domination. Some successes were registered in the early stages, but soon difficulties and setbacks were encountered. Its Korean war ended in an unsatisfactory stalemate. The war in Viet Nam represented a crucial military defeat. Losses of a different character, but no less significant, were sustained in India, the Middle East and Africa. The second world countries in the American orbit also developed a greater degree of economic strength, and became more independent minded. The striving for economic and political unity by the countries of Western Europe is one indication of their changing relationship to the US. Within Western Europe, France is undoubtedly the best example of resistance to both superpowers. Although the United States has sustained some serious defeats, and has been weakened relative to the Soviet Union, it is still stronger than its hegemonistic rival and is still able to rely heavily on its Western European allies for support against Soviet moves, especially where they affect European interests.

The Soviet Union has considerably expanded its area of control and is reaching out to ever more regions to dominate and exploit. To some extent its pretence of being socialist and unselfishly interested in aiding struggles for national liberation is serving the Soviets well in clamping control over still unsuspecting peoples. The Soviet Union is also an imperialist country which, like Germany before it, entered upon the imperialist scene late, and therefore can expand only through a REDIVISION of the world, that is by seizing territory from imperialists already in control, and chiefly from the United States. It is this expansionism which makes the Soviet Union the “main danger” of war at the present time.

* * *

We would like to state our views on a few of the key issues now under debate in the Canadian Marxist-Leninist movement.

First: We have already stated general support for the three worlds analysis as correctly defining the main enemies, the main revolutionary forces and the middle elements that will eventually align with one or the other force. This does not mean that we deny that most of the second world countries are presently aligned with one or the other superpower, or that many second world countries are themselves imperialists and exploit third world countries. Also we see differences among third world countries according to their social system and the role they, as countries, play against the superpowers. The analysis of three worlds defines the general situation or relationships at the global level. This analysis in no way replaces the understanding afforded us by the four major contradictions characterizing the present era.

Second: We emphasize the fact that there are tow superpowers – not just one, and not one that is totally incapacitated while the other is powerful and belligerent. It is crucial that the struggle be conducted against BOTH superpowers simultaneously. The necessity of this can be seen clearly in Western Europe where the United States is the dominant economic power while the Soviet Union is the more dangerous military threat. We emphatically reject any suggestion that might imply a basis for unity with one superpower against the other.

Third: We hold that at present the world revolutionary process can be moved forward by building the broadest possible united front against the superpowers. The defeat of the superpowers at the hands of this united front will clear the way for socialism to triumph in many more countries. We recognize that the defeat of the superpowers will not necessarily be the defeat of the imperialist system, and that there is a danger of a new imperialist power growing on the ashes of the old. Marxist-Leninists must attempt to exercise leadership in this united front to expose these dangers and advance the struggle for socialism, the only end to imperialism. Within the united front there must be struggle as well as unity.

Fourth: The factors of both war and revolution are increasing. In the era of imperialism war is inevitable. Only with the end of imperialism will the danger of war cease. At present the superpowers are preparing tor war in Europe. The revolutionary forces in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America are growing. War is not necessarily imminent, and can be postponed by the united action of peoples and countries in their opposition to superpower hegemony. In the last analysis war can be prevented by revolution. Revolutionaries must build the factors of revolution to struggle against the factors of war.

Fifth: There must be a clear understanding of the distinction between the different levels of contradictions, especially between contradictions that are external in character and those that are internal. CCL(M-L), in particular, seems to be incapable of making the correct appraisal of these two, and accordingly makes some basic errors. CCL(M-L) exert themselves to ”prove” that the Soviet Union is guilty of oppressing and exploiting Canada. (They make the same error regarding Latin America where it is clearly the United States that is the chief superpower oppressing the people). This is done for the very obvious purpose of convincing the people of Canada (and other countries) that it is necessary to subscribe to the united front. The implication is that if the Soviet Union is NOT oppressing Canada then we have no material interest in the building of a united front against the two superpowers. This demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of the basis on which the united front against the superpowers can be built. In addition, the overwhelming desire of CCL(M-L) to establish the Soviet Union as an exploiter of the Canadian people when set against the backdrop of the same organization’s attempts to prove that the United States’ presence in Canada is inconsequential, brings into question their capacity to correctly analyse a situation.

Sixth: There can be no national united front in Canada. The Canadian bourgeoisie is in fundamental alliance with US imperialism. The Canadian proletariat is part of the world-wide united front against the superpowers but unless unforeseen circumstances arise this cannot be true of the Canadian bourgeoisie.

We see the following as our internationalist tasks and those of the entire Canadian Marxist-Leninist movement:

1) to support the national liberation struggles of the peoples of the third world, and the struggles for socialism of the people of the first and second worlds. To support the peoples of all countries in opposition to superpower domination and aggression and to support those other elements of the world united front when they advance the world process through opposing the main enemy, the superpowers. This task involves agitation, propaganda and in the case of the struggles of the peoples, material support. It involves denouncing the counterrevolutionary role which the Canadian bourgeoisie and other reactionary classes play in various parts of the world.
2) to make the Canadian proletariat aware of the growing danger of war and the nature of that war, as well as to expose the nature of the superpowers. This includes denunciation of both NATO and the Warsaw Treaty Organization.
3) to defend the socialist countries.

Our pamphlet on the international situation is regrettably available only in English. In it we defend two basic concepts: the three worlds theory elaborated by Comrade Mao Tse-Tung to explain the relation of forces on a world scale; and the world united front of all peoples, nations and countries which oppose the superpowers.

In this pamphlet we deal extensively with the often contradictory views of IN STRUGGLE!, and come to the conclusion that this group is fundamentally opposed to us on these essential points. We say that “we believe that there is a profound difference between the “three worlds” analysis and that of the “two camps” presented by the Party of Labour of Albania. IN STRUGGLE! however, wants to have its cake and eat it too. As we’ve seen, they can produce quotes from their material to show that they agree with all positions. As we will show, they hide behind criticism of the distortions of the three worlds analysis and in fact oppose the entire theory” (p. 44)

If there were any doubt about this conclusion, it has been dispelled by the appearance of the supplement to number 96 of IN STRUGGLE!’s newspaper. In it IN STRUGGLE! openly discards the three worlds theory, totally distorting its meaning, while hypocritically pretending to simply laying out various questions for consideration and debate.

While this supplement comes as no surprise to us, we must still comment on the fact that IN STRUGGLE! has waited until a matter of a couple of days before this conference to come out with their real views. We believe that our pamphlet shows that this is not a last-minute change of view based on studying the positions of various groups, but is rather simply the making explicit of a position which IN STRUGGLE! has been implicitly supporting for some time. To not even suggest the postponing of this conference in order for groups to analyse IN STRUGGLE!’s position as now outlined is another indication of the lack of concern on the part of this group for real debate within the Marxist-Leninist movement, in spite of all its statements to the contrary.

Despite IN STRUGGLE!’s; advice not to attach oneself to a foreign party, but rather to use one’s own brains to take a stand on issues, it has in fact attached itself to the Party of Labour of Albania in its formulations on the international situation. Afraid to denounce the three worlds theory openly even after the 7th Congress of the Albanian Party, IN STRUGGLE! is now able to hide behind the editorial in Zeri i Popullit and its equation of this theory with modern revisionism. IN STRUGGLE! has not done a concrete analysis, even to a limited extent, of the world situation. Until recently it contented itself with vague remarks on the need to take a class viewpoint and to overthrow imperialism. This was combined with contradictory statements on the world united front and the role of peoples, nations and countries in it, and with slanderous attacks on Marxist-Leninists around the world who were doing a concrete analysis, albeit not without errors.

The article by the “KPD-ML” in IN STRUGGLE!’s; supplement number 96 is well titled: “An insidious attack against comrade Mao Tse-Tung – this is exactly what it is. It ignores the entire development of Mao Tse-Tung’s thought and that of the entire Communist Party of China on world affairs, and all but says that the present CPC leaders are Trotskyists, revisionists and opportunists. Its attack on the three worlds analysis is an attack on the entire history of the CPC’s struggle against modern revisionism and in particular on its leader, Comrade Mao Tse-Tung. We are prepared to defend Mao’s views extensively in the workshops, as the expression of the line of true Marxist-Leninists in opposition to Soviet-led revisionism following World War Two.

Our attitude toward the Party of Labour of Albania and socialist Albania is very clear. It is the same as the one we have toward the Communist Party of China and that socialist country. We declare ourselves in firm solidarity with both. Any group which fails to do so is not Marxist-Leninist. At the same time we reserve the right to criticize any policy of either Party privately within the framework of the international communist movement and to publically respond to unprincipled, open attacks by any Marxist-Leninist Party on another.

In spite of the Canadian movement’s solidarity with these Parties, it is essential to develop our policy based on our own experience. The RSC will not be drawn into a debate at this conference or elsewhere based on attacks on one or another foreign Party. We have come here to debate the views of the Canadian Marxist-Leninist groups with the aim of advancing the level of the much-needed unity of the forces of the Canadian revolution.

IN STRUGGLE! has made a crude attempt to equate use of the three worlds analysis with social-chauvinism and modern revisionism. They make constant references to the “Proposal Concerning the General Line of the International Communist Movement” issued in 1963 by the CPC. This document centres on attacking the revisionist practice of peaceful coexistence, peaceful competition and peaceful transition as the general line of the movement. IN STRUGGLE! attempts to use this article to claim that the Chinese Party agreed with IN STRUGGLE!’s “super-revolutionary” position of attacking all imperialists at once and of equating the fundamental contradiction of the imperialist era with the present principal contradiction at this stage.

The question of the ideological dispute in the early sixties is a serious one deserving of real study. The pulling out of phrases from one or two articles, as IN STRUGGLE! does, has nothing in common with such serious study. The following quotes demonstrate that there was more to the debate than IN STRUGGLE! deals with.

During this debate, in October 1963 the Communist Party of India made many “revolutionary” statements. They said that the Communist Party of China sought “to replace the social class standpoint by a geopolitical approach”. According to the Communist Party of India, “the Chinese concept of ’intermediate zone’ is liable to lead to an underestimation of dangers posed by the imperialist blocs and to the blunting of vigilance against them. This thesis of the Communist Party of China underplays the neo-colonialism of Britain, France, West Germany, Japan underplays the neo-colonialism of Britain, France, West Germany, Japan and so on.”

Yet in spite of all its super-revolutionary talk, the Communist Party of India subordinated itself completely to the Congress Party of the Indian national bourgeoisie, led by Nehru, and echoed the revisionist line of the CPSU.

The position of the Communist Party of China on the world situation was clear, but we hear nothing about this from IN STRUGGLE!. In 1964 Mao stated that:

The people of the countries in the socialist camp should unite, the people of the countries In Asia, Africa and Latin America should unite, the people of the continents of the world should unite, all peace-loving countries and all countries that are subject to US aggression, control, Interference and bullying should unite and should form the broadest united front to oppose the US imperialist policies of aggression and war and to safeguard world peace. (Peking Review, Jan 17, 1964)

Did Mao believe that this united front was going to overthrow the imperialist system and institute socialism? Hardly. Did he believe that it was the correct strategy to unite all forces possible against the main enemy, the main embodiment of the imperialist system at that stage? Most definitely.

What does the present debate mean for the development of unity in the Canadian Marxist-Leninist movement? The Red Star Collective believes that although many points of detail and application must be resolved through discussion and practice both before and after the creation of the new Communist Party, we cannot entertain thoughts of unity with any group which opposes the three worlds analysis and the notion of a united front on a world scale against the superpowers. Unless IN STRUGGLE! and others in the movement such as the Bolshevik Union, recognize that there is a main enemy on a world scale at this time – namely the superpowers – and see the development of the world struggle as profoundly conditioned by this fact, unity cannot advance.

What does unite us at this conference? We would say 1) support for proletarian revolution in the capitalist countries and national revolutions in the colonial, semi-colonial and neo-colonial countries; and 2) proletarian internationalism – placing our own Canadian struggle as only one element of an international struggle.

While these points of agreement are of some importance and must not be lost sight of, they are not enough. The task ahead for us this weekend and the coming period is going to be a difficult one. Everyone of us must attempt to rally all genuine Canadian Marxist-Leninists behind a correct application of Marxist-Leninist principles to this important question.

If any progress is going to be made it is essential that all Marxist-Leninist groups attempt to work out their differences in an honest spirit of unity-criticism-unity. We urge CCL(M-L) to add their voice to the debate and deplore their lack of participation to this point. We also note that IN STRUGGLE!, although taking the initiative to organize these conferences, has done so in such a way as to create obstacles to the process of honest and thorough debate. We have repeatedly made know our criticisms of the last conference at which we were given insufficient time to respond to questions, and our recommendations for the organization of this conference. We hope that IN STRUGGLE! will not, as they did at the last National conference, use their numerical superiority to stifle debate by limiting the time for other positions to be heard.

The Red Star Collective is committed to struggling over the questions facing the Marxist-Leninist movement in Canada in order to reach a united correct application of Marxist-Leninist principles. We will continue to participate in these conferences of the Canadian Marxist-Leninist movement and to demand of the CCL(M-L) that they participate in them, until such time as the conferences cease to be a factor for real progress in achieving this goal.