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 Vancouver Red Collective and Red Wind Collective

Comrades and friends,

We welcome this opportunity to present our position on the present international situation in the interests of developing a correct Marxist-Leninist line on this important question. This position is that of both the Vancouver Red Collective and Red Wind Collective. We are hopeful that our contribution will add to the debate and discussion taking place within the movement and among its supporters and friends.

Comrades, we see the international situation as a developing process of class struggle on a world-wide basis. Our methodology for analysing international questions is to do a concrete analysis of the politics of world forces and the relationship between them. In order to determine who are our friends and who are the enemies of world revolution we examine the degree of division and disintegration of the forces of reaction, as well as the degree of consciousness and organization of the international proletariat and its allies.

We adopt proletarian internationalism as a general guide in determining our tasks as communists of an oppressor nation. In the words of Mao Tse Tung, “Leninism teaches that the world revolution can only succeed if the proletariat of the capitalist countries supports the struggle for liberation of the colonial and semi-colonial peoples and if the proletariat of the colonies, colonial and semi-colonial, support the proletariat of the capitalist countries”.

While proletarian revolution in any one country must be seen in terms of the world revolutionary picture, the international situation does not take precedence over, or liquidate, internal class struggle. For example, as Canadians, the greatest support which we can offer to world revolution is revolution in Canada.

With the revisionism of the Soviet Union and its subsequent development into an imperialist power, the influence of revisionism must be seen as an ever present danger, not only for each country in its struggle against imperialism, but also for the international Marxist-Leninist movement. Communists all over the world must maintain a vigilant attitude against revisionism in all its forms.

* * *

The present reality of international relationships confirms the view put forward by Teng Hsiao Ping in 1974. We agree that the world consists of three parts or worlds. The first world is made up of the two superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union. Between these two imperialist powers, contention for world hegemony is absolute and any collusion is always relative.

The second world consists of capitalist and/or imperialist countries. For the most part these countries are in the sphere of influence of one of the superpower. In the second world, proletarian struggle is principally for the overthrow of the bourgeois ruling class.

The third world, for the most part, is made up of colonized and neo-colonial countries which are exploited by imperialism and social imperialism. These are undeveloped but developing countries, in which the struggle is aimed at national liberation and political and economic independence, which are conditions for socialist revolution.

The three worlds view by itself cannot take into account the various contradictions and classes within and between each world. However, used in conjunction with the four main contradictions fundamental to this era of imperialism, the three worlds analysis becomes a useful tool for understanding the international situation. These four contradictions, first identified by Lenin and Stalin, and later brought forward by the CPC in 1971, are: one, between oppressed peoples and nations on the one hand, and, on the other hand, imperialism, (particularly that of the superpowers); two, between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie of capitalist and revisionist countries; three, between imperialist and social imperialist countries themselves; and four, between socialist and imperialist countries.

The three worlds described above exist because of the particular development of the four contradictions at this time. Each of these contradictions correctly identifies a major feature of the struggle for socialist revolution. By keeping in mind the interaction of world forces identified in the four contradictions, we avoid the error of mechanically assuming that each of the three worlds is an homogeneous bloc which acts in a uniformly predictable way.

Among the four contradictions, that between oppressed peoples and nations on the one hand, and imperialism on the other, is principal at this time. It correctly alerts us to the international nature of our struggle, and to the fact that it is an international system of exploitation and oppression which we must defeat, rather than any one country in particular.

Naming this contradiction as principal at this time does not mean that the other three contradictions are forgotten, for all four are essential to a correct view of the present world situation. The establishment of a principal world contradiction does not replace the need to analyse the principal contradiction internal to each country, for internal factors are decisive. Nor does the establishment of a principal contradiction on a world scale determine the path for the revolution in each country.

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Regarding the two main trends in the world today, we see that the trend towards imperialist war for the redivision of the world is represented by the actions of both superpowers. The trend towards revolution is represented by the socialist countries, the peoples of the third world, the world proletariat, and the countries of the third world. In assessing the political reality of the third world, we see the victories of the Vietnamese people over the American war machine, the storm raging in Africa, and the resolute struggles of the people of Latin America for revolution against their repressive military regimes. We conclude that the main trend in the world today is proletarian revolution.

We do not ignore the aggressive military actions of the two superpowers in escalating the arms race between themselves, or in arming the reactionary bourgeoisies of some third world countries. The most effective way to counter these actions is to make revolution, both within our country and around the world. Not only does this increase the revolutionary activity which will delay a war between the superpowers, but it properly prepares the proletariat to turn such a war into a war of revolution.

In looking at the first world, we see that the United States and the Soviet Union are the two common enemies of the peoples of the world. Because the system of imperialism requires ever greater sources of raw materials and markets, the two superpowers are in contention for division of the world. This contention is the principal aspect of their relationship. The apparent collusion between the two has the purpose of buying time for one or both superpowers, and, more importantly, masking the contention, so as to leave the world’s peoples unprepared for possible war. Whenever the two superpowers collude it always results in the further exploitation of the world’s masses. The collusion and rivalry between the superpowers are two expressions of the same imperialist strategy, that of robbing the peoples of their freedom and of dominating the world. The first world is the main source of a possible third world war.

As Lenin has indicated, war is the continuation of politics by other means. The politics of the current rivalry within the first world leads us to conclude that, as both belligerents in this situation are imperialist powers, both are enemies of the world’s peoples. Therefore the proletariat can never rely on one superpower to defeat the other, nor can it forego its own class interests in an alliance with one superpower to defeat the other.

Within the contradiction between the superpowers, the Soviet Union represents the more dangerous source of war at this time, because it is new and on the rise and growing; it is struggling to redivide the markets of other imperialist powers and, in comparison with other imperialist powers, has vastly increased its military strength. Of particular importance is the fact that the Soviet Union carries out its imperialist actions in the name of socialism. In keeping with our position that the principal aspect of possible world war is its class character, it is most important to make clear that the contradictions between the first world superpowers are between imperialist powers, not between capitalism and socialism.

The third world is significant among the international forces of revolution because of its extreme oppression by imperialist powers; it is the focus of the most intense anti-imperialist activity. Thus it is in the third world that we find the most dedicated and determined struggles for national liberation and economic independence from first and second world interference. However, because imperialism, colonialism and hegemonism exist on a world scale, revolutionary forces must fight on a global level.

The foundation of a world-wide united front against the system of imperialism is the proletariat of the world and the peoples of the third world. The socialist countries represent the highest development of proletarian forces in the world today, and are at the head of the stable members of the united front. These forces have the long-term interest of establishing socialism, which is the only way imperialism will ultimately be defeated.

Third world countries have an interest in ending economic and political domination, and therefore can contribute to the world-wide united front. The national liberation struggles of the third world are a direct blow against imperialism, and the development of productive forces in independent countries breaks the monopoly of the superpowers and weakens imperialism on a world scale. We must not forget, however, that the ruling classes leading the national independence struggles in many third world countries are bourgeois or feudal classes, whose long-term interests are to establish their own capitalist (and eventually imperialist) states. Therefore, they cannot be relied upon in the long-term to bring about the defeat of the world-wide system of imperialism. Thus, their contribution to the world-wide united front is of a temporary nature.

The role of second world countries internationally is very complex. The principal point we want to raise about these countries is that they are capitalist and/or imperialist, and are in the camp of reaction: examples are Britain’s role in Hong Kong and Belize, and France’s role in Martinique and Guadaloupe. To varying degrees these countries are concurrently under the control of one or another superpower, as well as having interests in defending their national sovereignty against superpower encroachment. There can be no denying that conflict and contradictions exist between first and second worlds, but the principal tendency is towards alliance between the second world countries and their respective superpowers on a State-to-State level. While there may be instances where bourgeois interests in opposing the superpowers coincide with the proletariat’s interests, this is a highly vascillating and transitory situation. These circumstances are never the basis for subordinating the fundamental interests of the proletariat in favour of an alliance with one’s own bourgeoisie.

The principal way in which second world countries can be brought into the world front against imperialism, colonialism, and hegemonism, especially that of the superpowers, is for the proletariat of the second world to overthrow the bourgeois dictatorship and establish the dictatorship of the proletariat. We believe any alliance with bourgeois forces, in the hope of delaying war, will only delay revolution by effectively strengthening the forces of reaction. We recognize that a secondary aspect of second world participation in world affairs is that they may support or take actions that support the struggles of the peoples and countries of the third world against the superpowers; for example, we refer to the Lome Convention of 1975.

Canada fits into the international picture as a weak imperialist country of the second world. Vancouver Red Collective recognizes that in the position put forward at the National Conference on the Path of the Revolution, it was incorrect to say that some aspects of Canada’s economic policies are imperialist but that we were uncertain as to whether or not Canada had reached the stage of imperialism. It is now recognized that a country cannot be semi-imperialist. Imperialism is a necessary stage in the development of capitalism; a country does not choose to be imperialist. Capitalism in any country has either reached the stage of imperialism or it has not. By applying Lenin’s five criteria of imperialism to Canada, it is evident to us that this stage of development has been reached in this country.

For the Canadian proletariat, US imperialism is the main direct threat politically, economically and militarily, as Canada exists within the sphere of American economic hegemony. The struggle of the Canadian working class against US imperialism is therefore qualitatively different from the struggle against Soviet social imperialism. On the international level, the ties between Canada and US imperialism will embroil Canada in any world war on the side of the United States.

Even though Canada is a weak imperialist power, the Canadian bourgeoisie is an active and direct oppressor of the people of the third world. As a second world country, the principal feature of Canada’s relationship with the countries of the third world is exploitation and imperialism. As examples of this activity we note the adventures of Brascan in Brazil, Noranda in Chile, and the Royal Bank in the Caribbean. While Canada may give the third world slightly better deals in its bilateral economic pacts, the principal reason for such “concessions” is to try to break into new markets of the third world to advance its own imperialist aims.

Canada relates to the second world powers as an imperialist country. There is competition and capitalist contention between Canada and other countries of the second world. The main effect of the unity of second world countries, including Canada, is that this will invariably strengthen their capacity to imperialize and contend for markets and resources around the world.

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We now turn our attention to the tasks of the Canadian proletariat which arise out of our understanding of the international situation. The main task of the Canadian proletariat is the struggle for socialist revolution. This contributes to the weakening of world-wide reaction and isolates the superpowers. We must also support, without compromise, all struggles which oppose imperialism’s hegemonism and colonialism, particularly that of the superpowers. We must give our support to the proletarian forces in capitalist and revisionist countries. These weaken imperialist attempts to dominate developed countries and build the world united front against the system of imperialism.

It is also the duty of the Canadian proletariat to denounce and combat the imperialist actions of its own bourgeoisie.

We must support the socialist countries of the world. We must spread the lessons of their successes and experiences throughout the Canadian working class.

We must prepare the proletariat for the dangers of war by preparing them to wage proletarian revolution. While we hold that, in the stage of imperialism, wars are inevitable, we do not hold that world war is necessarily inevitable.

* * *

We would like to comment briefly on the other positions that have been advanced in the debate and discussion concerning the international situation, in particular the positions of Albania, Bolshevik Union, China, Canadian Communist League (M-L), Red Star Collective and IN STRUGGLE!

According to the point of view of the Party of Labour of Albania, which groups countries according to the social system prevailing in each, countries of the world fall into one of two camps: bourgeois-capitalist or socialist. Albania reduces the four world contradictions to one between the socialist and capitalist systems. We say that this is not the principal contradiction at this time. Further, this position liquidates the other three contradictions which are crucial to an understanding of the complexities of world imperialism.

Albania’s position misrepresents the three worlds analysis and incorrectly holds that this view is anti-Leninist and liquidates class struggle. We disagree that those who apply the three worlds view necessarily try to keep the status quo of the capitalist order in existence by preaching social peace, collaboration with the bourgeoisie, and hence give up the revolution. We disagree that those who hold the three worlds view ignore the class character of the third world and thereby ignore the contradictions between the oppressed peoples and the reactionary, pro-imperialist ruling classes of some third world countries. It is also incorrect to charge that those who hold the three worlds view necessarily see the Soviet Union as the main enemy of the world’s peoples.

We see these criticisms as directed at those who apply the three worlds view without bearing in mind the four main contradictions of this imperialist era. We vehemently reject such a mechanical application of the three worlds view.

We have read the concluding remarks of the Special Bulletin of Lines of Demarcation from July, 1977, in which it is stated that Bolshevik Union’s position is essentially that of Albania. We understand this to be a total about-face for BU. Their current position is an uncritical acceptance of the Albanian line with no attempt to apply it to Canada. Our criticisms of the Albanian position hold for Bolshevik Union as well.

With regard to the Communist Party of China, we find the differences between our position and theirs to be differences in application of the three worlds view. China sees the third world countries as the main force in opposition to world reaction. Our position holds that the contribution of the non-socialist countries of the third world countries to the world united front is of temporary nature. This is because these countries may continue to struggle for socialism after achieving economic and political independence, but this is no certainty. In fact, once independence is gained, the reactionary and gluttonous ruling classes in the third world will certainly oppose the struggles of the united front against the system of imperialism.

We agree with China that the two superpowers are the main source of world war. However, there appears to be a difference in emphasis between our position and that of China in applying the understanding of the Soviet Union as the more dangerous source of war. This difference can be seen in China’s calling on the countries of Western Europe to unite and strengthen their defences to face Soviet expansion. We, however, recognize the importance of Europe as the focus of hegemonistic contention between the two superpowers. Within this difference of application, we note that the effect of China’s call for unity in opposing the Soviet Union is to direct the united front at one or both superpowers. We hold that it is necessary to defeat not only the superpowers but other imperialist powers as well in order to bring down the world-wide imperialist system.

China also asserts that the second world countries constitute important allies of the united front opposition to the two superpowers and the links between the second and third world should be developed whenever they can be forged. We recognize that second world countries may support or take actions that support the struggles of the peoples and countries of the third world against the superpowers, but hold that this is a secondary aspect of the second world’s participation in world affairs.

In the position advanced by the CCL(M-L) we find an incorrect emphasis on the world contradiction between the superpowers and an erroneous conception of second world countries. With regard to emphasizing the contradiction between the superpowers, the League makes two errors. On the one hand, by viewing superpower contention to be more significant than the struggle of revolutionary forces against imperialism, the League mistakenly identifies war to be the main trend in the world. This flies in the face of the evidence of third world anti-imperialist victories, of increasing revolutionary momentum gaining strength all over the world. The League makes a static evaluation of the forces of revolution and concludes that since revolution cannot prevent war at this time, we should prepare the proletariat to accept as certain the oncoming superpower conflict, instead of preparing the proletariat for revolution.

The other error stemming from misidentifying the principal contradiction in the world is the League’s target for united front activity. In arguing for an alliance of third world countries and Canada, the League calls for a united front against the superpowers, rather than against imperialism.

The League’s understanding of second world countries emphasizes the contradictions between the first and second worlds, in spite of their acknowledgement that Canada will jump into the next world war as a defender of American imperialism. In addition, the contradictions between the second and third worlds are de-emphasized, and the interests of the Canadian bourgeoisie are ignored, by not taking into account that second world countries are capitalist and/or imperialist countries and that their interests lie in a more favourable (to them) redivision of the world.

With regard to Red Star Collective, we hold that they have erred in failing to recognize the imperialist nature of Canada. They also fail to correctly analyze the effect of the unity of Western European countries by arguing that these capitalist and imperialist countries can play a positive role in the united front. There are two errors here. The first is directing the united front at one or the other superpower, which, as we have said, does not take up the long-term struggle of defeating imperialism, but simply replaces one country with another. The other error is the proposal that Marxist-Leninists support Western European bourgeoisies in uniting to defeat the superpowers. Has Red Star fully considered the consequences for the forces of revolution in Europe, of establishing a formidable power consisting of objectively anti-revolutionary bourgeoisies? How far is Red Star willing to go to defeat the superpowers? When it comes to forging military power blocs that will surely act in concert to put down revolutionary uprisings the instant they occur, we say, too far!

With regard to the position of IN STRUGGLE!, it will be clear to you that our intervention was prepared before the recent declaration. After considering this line development, we hold that we still have substantial unity with IN STRUGGLE! on the international question. Our position is characterized by the second tendency described in page 9 of the Declaration; the position which places the victory over the system of imperialism and reaction at the centre of its strategy.

We have not to date, understood the 3 worlds theory to be in contradiction with this tendency in the international Marxist-Leninist movement, and have been against the use of the 3 worlds theory as a strategic concept without the necessary application of the four contradictions.

Over the next two days we look forward to struggle over this question, for it is only struggle which will allow the differences to become clear. We still pose the questions addressed to IN STRUGGLE! in our written intervention, as they remain unanswered to our satisfaction.

First we wonder why IN STRUGGLE! has not specified one world contradiction to be principal at this time. We recognize the danger of subordinating one to another, but our understanding is that for any given moment, one and only one contradiction is principal. We request clarification on this point. Second, IN STRUGGLE! has said that we must make use of the contradictions between the first and second worlds, but has not specified how to do this. What forms of activity are being considered here? Third, the position of IN STRUGGLE! is unclear on the role to be taken up by third world countries in the united front.

Specifically, what role does IN STRUGGLE! propose for reactionary third world regimes? Fourth, we find the charge of social chauvinism directed at the League to be, as yet, confusing. We urge IN STRUGGLE! to draw together a clear and concise definition of social-chauvinism, delineating it from bourgeois nationalism, and to indicate in what ways the League is concretely social chauvinist.

Comrades and friends,

Vancouver Red Collective and Red Wind Collective recognize that this position represents only the beginning of a comprehensive analysis of the international situation, and that it needs factual substantiation in a number of areas. However, we stand by the theoretical principles we have put forward today, in the interests of correctly formulating a Marxist-Leninist line on this most important question. We affirm that a correct analysis of the international situation is fundamental to the success of world socialist revolution. We must correctly identify our responsibilities and tasks, and take them up in a consistent and systematic manner. Marxist-Leninists all over the world, united in the struggle against the shameless plunder of oppressed peoples and nations, must resolutely support the determined efforts of the world proletariat to build international socialist revolution. World-wide peace among nations and peoples depends on the success of these efforts.