The past two years have been particularly important ones in the history of the international Marxist-Leninist movement. The death of Mao Zedong and subsequent events in China have sharply emphasized the key importance of the struggle against revisionism. The clearly opportunist and fundamentally revisionist path openly adopted by the Chinese leaders; their total break with the Party of Labour of Albania (PLA) and socialist Albania; and the deep division in the international communist movement that became immediately apparent: all this was a rather brutal shock for our Organization, and undoubtedly for many other groups around the world as well. But all in all, the shock was also a healthy one in more ways than one.
To begin with, we have to admit that our knowledge of the international communist movement was rather flimsy. As a matter of fact, our Organization had never even developed links, much less official relations, with any foreign party. Our acquaintance with the movement was limited to what we had read in whatever communist publications we could lay our hands on. Clearly, this was not enough to enable us to foresee either the nature or the seriousness of the contradictions which divided some parties and organizations.
We were to discover something else which was even more important: our denunciation of revisionism had remained on a pretty superficial level up to that point – we had not really grasped just how great the problem was. The preparation of the Fourth Conference of Canadian Marxist-Leninists in February 1978 allowed us to realize more fully the importance of this question in our own country.
Our leadership then made a number of extremely important decisions. We were henceforth to accord much more attention to getting to know the international communist movement better. We were to try to understand what its characteristics and level of development were. We were to try to understand why it was not more developed than it was. Finally we were to try to determine how we could help to build this movement. In short, the problem we had to solve was how to ensure that Marxism-Leninism won out over revisionism. It was obvious that the working-class movement in Canada and in a number of other countries was not led by a communist vanguard. On the contrary, in most of the non-socialist countries revisionism was far and away the dominant force.
We could have taken up a fight to the finish against the “three worlds theory”. We could have concentrated our attacks on the revisionist leaders of the Chinese party. We could have addressed ourselves to the “question of Mao”: was he or was he not a great Marxist-Leninist? We could have again taken up the defence of Stalin... All of the foregoing questions have been openly raised in the past few months, and they are likely to remain points of concern for a long time. We are not trying to dodge any of these questions, far from it. But given our objective limitations, we cannot be expected to come up with an answer to all these questions overnight. This is all the more true since only one of the many possible ways of approaching a problem is correct and serves the interests of the revolution. And this is the approach which we want to adopt, even if it is not necessarily the most popular one right now.
Where do the interests of the proletariat in Canada and on an international scale lie at a time when the part of the world still dominated by decaying imperialism is experiencing its worst economic and political crisis since World War II? This crisis creates conditions favourable to winning decisive victories for proletarian revolution, not necessarily on a world scale but certainly in some regions of the globe.
Where do the interests of the proletariat, the only thoroughly revolutionary class in our era, lie? In the vast majority of countries today, the fundamental interests of the proletariat lie with the success of the struggle to build (or rebuild) its revolutionary party, a Marxist-Leninist party, the vanguard of the proletarian class, the party uniting its best leaders and fighters and all those who have come together to fight for the same cause, workers or not. Without this kind of party, proletarian revolution is impossible even in the most favourable objective conditions.
There is one essential precondition which must be met in order to win victory in this struggle: we must demolish the hegemony which revisionism exercises over the working-class movement and win the most active, dynamic and honest strata of the proletariat away from the domination of revisionism, the most deceitful and dangerous form of bourgeois ideology. This means coming to grips with a thorough understanding of revisionism.
We do not wish to and must not reproduce the phoney charade already performed by the CPC(M-L), the “party” created eight years ago for the supposed purpose of fighting revisionism, but which in fact put forward a line which was a direct descendant of the 100% class-collaborationist programme of the Labour Progressive Party (LPP) in the 1940’s. We’ll leave this task to the Canadian Communist League (M-L), (CCL(M-L)), which is going to create its Marxist-Leninist-Mao-Zedong-Thought party in the next few months. It will simply be the third party created on the basis of a line of class collaboration with the capitalist class and of struggle against an imperialist power bigger than Canada – the U.S.A. for some people, the U.S.S.R. for others.
That will make three parties that are concretely opposed to the proletarian revolution in Canada. Some oppose it with the rationale that we must build a “united front against the U.S.S.R.”. Others talk about “peace, disarmament and progress”. Still others talk about the defence of national sovereignty or preparation for the inevitable third world war. Three revisionist parties (or more precisely, two-and-a-half for the time being) are quite a few. This is especially true if we add the New Democratic Party (NDP), the party of the social-democratic Second International which still manages to make some people believe it is fighting for socialism. And then, or course, there are the Trotskyists, not to mention the Canadian Party of Labour (CPL), founded in Toronto in 1969, and the Parti des travailleurs du Quebec (PTQ, Quebec workers’ party) founded in 1974 (and which has no links with the CPL).
However, our situation is far from unique. The situation is even more dramatic in some countries where there are as many as a dozen Marxist-Leninist organizations or parties. And then you can add on the Eurocommunist party, one or two socialist parties and a bunch of anarchist and terrorist groups, to say nothing of the endless string of mutating Trotskyist sects.
We must admit that is a confusing situation for everybody – not just for the working class but, in many cases, for the Marxist-Leninists themselves. For twenty years now, the Marxist-Leninist communists have to all intents and purposes been left to their own devices in each country. The sole exception to this has been the bilateral relations maintained during this period between some of the parties that did not sink into revisionism at the end of the 1950’s.
Looking at things on an international scale, it can be seen that besides being weak in most countries the communist movement is still divided. This adds further to its weakness and limits its ability to defeat revisionism. To put it bluntly, the results of the struggle against modern revisionism which has been going strong for twenty years now are as yet pretty skimpy indeed. It is not enough for Marxist-Leninists to simply observe and record reality. They must go on to analyse it and determine its roots. One thing is clear - it is not the creation of a series of parties, each one more Marxist-Leninist than the other, that will ensure the defeat of revisionism. Just the contrary.
As far as we are concerned, the skimpy results of the struggle against modern revisionism – illustrated very concretely by the feeble development of organizations or parties in the different countries – can be attributed to the absence of unified leadership. Note that we said leadership, and not leaders. What we are talking about is the absence of a common orientation shared by all Marxist-Leninists, of an objective that could guide the work of everyone and strengthen everyone. This objective can be nothing other than the unity of all the Marxist-Leninists in the world. Such unity would be a principled unity, built in the common struggle against revisionism and oriented towards rebuilding strong Marxist-Leninist parties in each country. These parties would have a single common international leadership as their reference point and the concrete expression of their political unity.
In short, we consider that the Khrushchevite split, the stagnation of the international communist movement since then and the new Chinese split all point to one conclusion: the Marxist-Leninists of 1979 should take up again in practice the internationalism that has characterized the communist movement since its creation. They must build their unity anew and thus give themselves another instrument – indispensable, in our opinion – to put an end to the reign of revisionism over the working-class movement, a reign which has already lasted far too long.
Unity is obviously not an aim in itself. It must be based on a clear demarcation with revisionism. Nevertheless, if the struggle against revisionism is to be more than an academic exercise, it must be waged with a specific goal. In each country, this goal is to build the party of the revolutionary vanguard of the proletariat. On a world scale, this goal is a unified organization of communists. It is in this way, and in this way only, that communists around the world will be able to rebuild the only forces capable of successfully waging the struggle for socialism and communism in each country and in the world.
The Comintern (the Communist International, or Third International) was dissolved in May 1943. The Communist Information Bureau (Cominform), set up in 1947, never included more than nine parties. It was in turn dissolved in 1956, the same year that Khrushchev presented his notorious secret report to the 20th Congress of the CPSU describing Stalin as an unscrupulous dictator. Since then, the modern revisionist split has been completed, and the party of Khrushchev and Brezhnev has dragged down with it the vast majority of the parties that had created the Communist International barely thirty years earlier.
After this, there were the Moscow Conferences of 1957 and 1960, which ultimately proved to be unsuccessful attempts at rebuilding the international unity of communists on the basis of Marxism-Leninism. The international unity of communists continued to disintegrate and give way to bilateral relations between, on the one hand the various parties and organizations in the world that were attempting to counter the influence of Soviet revisionism and win the proletarian vanguard to Marxism-Leninism, and on the other hand the Party of Labour of Albania and the Communist Party of China, the two main parties that had remained faithful to the proletarian revolution.
The recent evolution of the situation in China, where the party is adopting a road more and more alien to Marxism-Leninism, a road which is already threatening to very quickly totally compromise socialist construction in that country, makes a situation which was already sufficiently complex even more complicated. The new Marxist-Leninist forces which emerged in the 1960’s and even the 1970’s, and which had just begun to merge with the working-class movement in different countries, now find themselves divided amongst themselves. Many of them have rallied to the revisionist “three worlds” line adopted by the Chinese party.
The identification and criticism of an erroneous tendency within communist forces is in itself, of course, a victory and cause for rejoicing. We can indeed only rejoice that the nationalist, chauvinist and profoundly opportunist character of the b“three worlds theory” has been unmasked and that many Marxist-Leninists have taken up the struggle against it. Such struggles against superficially Marxist-Leninist but fundamentally revisionist positions have always been the basis for progress in the international communist movement.
It would, however, be extremely dangerous to end the struggle here. The lessons must be drawn from the recent experience of the struggle against modern revisionism. We must seriously question why no better results have been obtained after twenty years of efforts. For, as we said previously, the working-class movement remains largely dominated by revisionism in most countries at a time when revolutionary storms are imminent or already in rapid development in various parts of the world.
This situation has in fact lasted now for more than twenty years, during which the efforts to rebuild genuine parties of the proletarian revolution have generally met with very limited success. In fact, the situation of the world proletariat in relation to revolution is less favourable today than it was on the eve of the Second World War. The proletariat remains divided in the various countries and on a world scale.
This situation leads some people to the peculiar conclusion that if the proletariat is not united and organized around a revolutionary line, then it may as well ally with the weaker bourgeoisies against the “imperialist power on the rise”. According to them, we should mark time, develop the national economy, defend our country’s sovereignty, work for a new economic world order (new, but still capitalist, it should be mentioned!) and oppose war. This is pure and simple capitulation. The question is not that of deciding what we should do while waiting for the proletariat to adopt the revolutionary point of view; the question is, on the contrary, that of how to work to develop the struggle so as to really win the proletariat over to this point of view. The question is essentially that of knowing how to wage the struggle against revisionism correctly, so as to ensure the victory of Marxism-Leninism in the working-class movement. Because it is only by waging today’s struggle on the basis of a Marxist-Leninist line that the proletariat will be armed to face victoriously any revolutionary situation, or any threat of war or fascist dictatorship.
Precisely because the victory over revisionism is a prerequisite for the victory of revolution, it would be particularly irresponsible to reduce this struggle to reciting a few slogans or making superficial claims without any concern for really educating the proletariat. This requires that communists themselves not content themselves with watered-down communism that amounts to little more than a patchwork of quotations from Marx. This requires that we deepen our understanding of the errors and deviations that have hindered the action of the international communist movement since the Second World War.
The struggle against modern revisionism has not been completed. On too many questions it has gone only half-way, with the result that the nature and source of certain errors, in particular that of the total revisionist degeneration of most communist parties in existence in the 1950’s, remain not only largely unexplained but even totally unknown to the “new generation” of Marxist-Leninists.
Of course, certain names like those of Trotsky, Browder, Tito, Togliatti and Khrushchev are familiar, as are certain facts – for instance, that each of them was condemned at one time or another as revisionist.
As the Albanian and Chinese communists pointed out in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, Khrushchev did not invent anything new. His “theories” on the “peaceful transition” to socialism and “peaceful coexistence” with imperialism, etc., can be traced back to the conciliatory and collaborationist positions of the renegades of the Second International. The essence of revisionism has always been the same everywhere: the abandonment of the proletariat’s class struggle to seize State power from the hands of the bourgeoisie (i.e., proletarian revolution); or else, if revolution has occurred, the abandonment of the proletariat’s struggle to keep State power and prevent the restoration of capitalism (i.e., the dictatorship of the proletariat).
Now, if we study even minimally the ideological and political development of communist parties, in Eastern as well as Western Europe, in America and in particular in the United States and Canada, we can only conclude that these two forms of the class struggle of the proletariat have been explicitly, or implicitly, at the heart of many debates and have given rise to many theoretical and political errors.
In Canada and the United States, the communist parties were dissolved at the end of the Second World War, and the parties that replaced them gave full support to the bourgeoisies of their respective countries. They did so, first in the name of the struggle against fascism and then shortly afterwards in the name of postwar reconstruction in a climate of domestic and international peace!
At the same time, in the countries of Eastern Europe, the question of “people’s democracy” was the object of much debate. Some were worried because it was an abandonment of the dictatorship of the proletariat. Others were glad to see what they considered to be a non-Soviet model for attaining socialism. In other words, they were glad to find that a socialist society could be built without the dictatorship of the proletariat.
Let us sum up here, because this is very important. We have just seen how, as early as the last years of the Second World War, there were communist parties in the imperialist countries which adopted the path of collaboration with the national bourgeoisie with the avowed goal of favouring social peace, assuring the development of the national economy, and thwarting the domination of foreign imperialism. This was the line of the LPP created in 1943 in Canada to replace the CP, which was simultaneously dissolved. And the LPP was not alone in advocating this line. The same thing was advanced in Western Europe and the U.S.A.
In Eastern Europe where fascism had just been defeated, other communist parties, or at least some of their leaders, put forward the line that socialism could be built without the dictatorship of the proletariat. In 1948, the Eastern European communist parties merged with the socialist parties, the very parties that had sprung from the Second International whose revisionist degeneration thirty years earlier had sparked the creation of the Comintern. Many other European parties, including the Communist Party of France, adopted the same line, abandoning the Soviet path of the dictatorship of the proletariat as an essential condition for the victory of socialism.
This evolution of the communist parties should be more deeply analysed and considered in relation to the concrete situation which existed at the time. But the least that can be said is that in many parts of the international communist movement the purity of Marxism-Leninism was already not very firmly defended!
These events date back to the 1940’s and 1950’s. Unfortunately, the Comintern was dissolved in 1943, and the Cominform, created in 1947, lacked the authority that could have been conferred by decisions made democratically by all communist parties. The historical conditions for the emergence of a “father party” thus existed. The divergences within the movement could only be solved through the authority enjoyed by the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) and its leader Stalin. Unfortunately for communists, with Stalin’s death in 1953 and the CPSU’s subsequent decisive degeneration into revisionism in 1956, the “father party” decisively plunged most communists into revisionism along with it.
Generally, the 20th Congress of the CPSU and Khrushchev’s “secret report” on Stalin in 1956 are presented as the starting point for the degeneration into revisionism of the majority of the parties which had belonged to the Comintern. The facts, however, tend to show that this was instead more like the finishing point which officialized the revisionist line that had already been gradually corrupting the international communist movement for some years. The very fact that the erroneous positions of the 20th Congress were accepted by many parties without any resistance clearly illustrates that they were not anything radically new.
The defeat encountered by Marxism-Leninism at the end of the Second World War could only have one result: defeats for the camp of proletarian revolution. And this is indeed what happened in the U.S.S.R. and Eastern Europe. At the time, only China and Albania rejected the path leading back to capitalism. This is also what happened in the advanced capitalist countries, where the working class was invited to support the efforts of “its own” bourgeoisie in rebuilding the postwar national economy and defending national sovereignty.
And this is what happened in the vast colonized regions of Africa and Asia that conquered their political independence during this period. In the broad majority of cases, the progressive elements involved in these historic struggles remained in total confusion, torn between the different paths proposed to them, each one said to lead to revolution and socialism. In the midst of this confusion, different bourgeois theories more or less disguised in socialist jargon appeared: from the “original road” to socialism, “non-alignment”, and so on right up to the famous “three worlds theory” which crystallizes all the past mistakes that led to the abandonment of the proletarian political line to the profit of the bourgeois line of nationalism.
And the result was predictable. The former colonies that became independent did not take the path leading to socialism. They remained subjected to imperialism, which encouraged the establishment of fascist regimes.
What is more, fascism is today a threat in many imperialist countries because of the worsening crisis of capitalism. Once again the danger of a new world war lurks behind the growing rivalries between the great powers.
A tree is judged by its fruits. And these were the fruits of the abandonment of Marxism-Leninism: the camp of the revolution was terribly weakened. Why do we say that? Because, in the majority of countries, communist forces have remained marginal; because, on a world scale, the communist movement no longer represents the beacon towards which the proletariat and the oppressed peoples and nations turn to find an orientation for their struggles and genuine revolutionary inspiration.
And yet that orientation and inspiration are more necessary than even. Humanity is still subjected to the yoke of capitalist exploitation, the majority of peoples and nations in the world still live under the yoke of imperialism. The capitalist crisis is getting worse, fascism looms on the horizon in light of the rise of reactionary forces in many countries. World war is a very real danger.
This is certainly not the moment to put the teachings of Marxism-Leninism into mothballs, to be replaced by various confused theories which have already been shown up for what they are. It’s already been proven that there is no middle path between capitalism and socialism, that there is only one single path to socialism: proletarian revolution.
Nor is this the moment to simply reaffirm the value of Marxism-Leninism, and much less to sound off about the inceasing supposed victories of Marxism-Leninism. This phoney optimism can only lead to one result: turning the struggle against revisionism into a purely academic affair. And this would lead to spreading defeatism and even cynicism in the working-class movement with affirmations that don’t take reality into account.
Marxism-Leninism constitutes the only theory capable of accounting for the political situation which prevails in the world today. It is the only theory capable of furnishing the orientation necessary for the revolutionary transformation of that situation. This is why it must be defended against the attacks to which it is regularly subjected.
However, Marxism-Leninism only becomes a material force which can really influence the course of history to the extent that it is applied in practice, to the extent that it is translated into a political programme and above all calls to action whose application does in fact transform the balance of power between the bourgeoisie and the reactionary forces on the one hand, and the proletariat and the working people, on the other. It is not enough today to affirm the inestimable value of Marxism-Leninism and the necessity of applying it in all circumstances, for that is very abstract. The very concrete question facing us is how to apply Marxism-Leninism to current conditions.
There’s no need to rack one’s brains to answer this question. Marxism-Leninism provides an answer, the only real answer. At the turn of the century, Lenin established that we live “in the era of imperialism and proletarian revolution”. We agree wholeheartedly with this conclusion. Evoking Marx, Lenin wrote: “Workers of all countries, oppressed peoples and nations, unite!” We unreservedly adhere to this call.
This is why, before jumping into the promotion of all the various successive kinds of anti-imperialist united fronts in the decades since the Second World War, communists should first take up the task of uniting workers – and there are workers in every country in the world, whether this country is oppressed or not! – and uniting the peoples and nations struggling for liberation. And the only way to achieve the unity of the workers of the world is to first achieve the unity of communists themselves.
In each country, the task of communists is to build the party of the proletariat, a Marxist-Leninist party. On a world scale, the task of communists is to rebuild their political and organizational unity. We should not hesitate to state that adhering to these objectives is the first condition to be met for a genuine break with the modern revisionism which has led to the disintegration of the world communist movement and the degeneration of the majority of parties which composed it into nationalism. In many cases, this nationalism has led to chauvinism, as it did in the U.S.S.R. in the past and is now doing in China. It has also led to social fascism, as has happened in the U.S.S.R.
At the present time, the Marxist-Leninist movement is divided for lack of a political leadership capable of orienting the efforts of the groups, organizations and parties in the different countries which are engaged in the essential task of rebuilding the vanguard party of the proletariat. Not only does this leadership not exist, but the very conditions for establishing such leadership do not exist. In reality, each Marxist-Leninist party or organization is left on its own when it comes to establishing the practical rules to follow in the conduct of its relations which other parties. This results in a particularly difficult situation, when we know that some parties have the rule – applied in the time of the Comintern, dissolved 35 years ago! – or only recognizing one party or organization in each country, on the basis of the correct principle that there can be only one communist party in any given country.
Reality today is quite different from what it was between 1919 and 1943 or even 1950. The Comintern had a Programme and a Constitution, and joining the Communist International meant adhering to this Programme and this Constitution. All those in the same country who joined the International necessarily belonged to the same party; that is quite obvious. But today, where is the Programme? Where is the Constitution? On what basis should we recognize this or that party or organization rather than another? This situation not only creates serious confusion; we are convinced that it has already led to serious errors, such as the recognition of the CPC(M-L) in relation to the Canadian situation. If this gang which behaves in a literally fascist way in Canada has been recognized by three, four, five or ten foreign parties, we have to take this into consideration; but we also have to take into consideration that Bains’ gang is totally rejected by the proletariat in our country, just as its U.S., English, Indian and Irish branches are totally rejected by the proletariat in those countries. We also take into consideration that this same party puts forward a line borrowed directly from the revisionist programme of the LPP developed under the leadership of the renegade Tim Buck during the Second World War. Here we have a situation which is, to say the least, rather embarrassing for the international unity and international solidarity of the Marxist-Leninist movement. It is a situation that must be rectified, for the interests of the proletariat are at stake.
The international unity of Marxist-Leninists can only be built in the same way that the unity of communists in each country is built. Lenin formulated the fundamental guideline for any struggle for principled unity: “Before uniting, and to unite, we must begin by demarcating clearly and resolutely. Otherwise our unity would be fictitious and only serve to conceal the existing disorder and prevent us from putting an end to it.” Lenin applied this guideline both to the unity of the Soviet party and to unity between different parties. The Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party (RSDLP) was rebuilt on the basis of a rigorous criticism of, and polemic on, economism and a call to all communists in the country to unite around a programme which re-established its foundation in Marxism after demarcating from the opportunist errors of that period. The Communist International was created after five years of intense struggle and polemic against the social chauvinist revisionism of the opportunists of the Second International, on the basis of a call to communists (parties or party factions) around the world to unite around the revolutionary line resulting from this demarcation with opportunism. In fact, the creation of the Comintern led many communists who had remained isolated up to then to unite and create the party of the Communist International in many countries.
It must be said that since the modern revisionist split, Marxist-Leninists have failed in their duty to build their unity on a solid basis, a principled basis. For reasons that still remain unclear today, we have not only moved away from the principle of an international organization of communists – could it be that this is a tacit rejection of the Comintern?... Why?; we have also replaced collaboration between communists, the common definition of line and programme, by bilateral relations based on one’s own particular conclusions as to the correctness of the line of those with whom one establishes such relations.
And on the pretext of breaking with the practice of a “father party”, the practice was reintroduced in a new form... with the results that are now evident. The most striking of these is undoubtedly the new revisionist split now taking place, a split which developed without the knowledge of many Marxist-Leninists throughout the world, a split that has caused considerable disarray in many countries and that thus has serious negative effects that must not be underestimated.
Many parties and organizations, starting with the PLA, have firmly rejected the revisionist path of Houa Guofeng’s CPC. One can say that this is the result of the demarcation around the “three worlds theory”. This is true. But does this mean that the rejection of the “three worlds theory” is sufficient proof in itself that the programme of those who reject it is devoid of all traces of revisionism? We think not, for at least one good reason: in our country there is a “party”, the CPC(M-L), and a group, Bolshevik Union, which both noisily reject the “three worlds theory” but whose lines are still thoroughly revisionist.
It is also of interest to point out that, in many cases, the opponents of the “three worlds theory” have differing positions on many fundamental questions. One reason for this is that for many of them, their opposition to this theory is completely formal. This is the case with the CPC(M-L). Some people feel that the victory of revisionism within the leadership of the Chinese party is a relatively recent affair corresponding to Houa Gouofeng’s arrival in power after the death of Mao Zedong in 1976. For others, however, the CPC, and more especially, Mao Zedong, hadn’t applied Marxism-Leninism since the 1930’s!
It could be said that, after all, the differences are of a secondary nature and will be resolved in time. Perhaps... But there is something which is somewhat more troublesome. The programmes put forward by all of the parties which reject the “three worlds theory” contain a variety of rather astonishing positions on essential questions of strategy. Among these viewpoints, there are some which are dangerously close to the positions of the “three worldists”, such as the positions on two-stage revolution in capitalist countries which have reached the stage of imperialism. A striking example of this is the CPC(M-L)’s line on the “mass anti-imperialist and democratic revolution” in Canada.
The situation is all the more troubling given that, in practice, it leads to interminable splits. In certain European countries, where “parties” of a dozen people are formed, every month brings new reasons why demarcations leading to splits should take place. Sectarianism is winning out – we have to call a spade a spade. And sectarianism is winning out because the desire for unity is not there. Without a struggle for unity, drawing lines of demarcation becomes an end in itself, and the winner is the one who can find the most reasons for differing from the others and rejecting them into the swamps of opportunism.
The same situation is to be found on an international scale. The demarcation made with the “three worlds theory” was a step forward. Then there was demarcation with the CPC and Mao Zedong, and already we’re starting to hear about demarcations with the PLA and Enver Hoxha! If things continue like this, we have to have enough clear-headedness to understand that the international communist movement will never rebuild its unity and that the disunity which has reigned for the past twenty years will be perpetuated indefinitely.
Another factor has played into the game of division. This is the application which is today made of the principle according to which there shouldn’t be more than one party in each country. A certain number of parties mutually recognize one another and maintain relationships among themselves. This would be a factor of unity if, at the same time, they didn’t make it a rule to close their eyes to everything that is not “the party” in countries where they have recognized this party. This would be a factor of unity if they didn’t keep the fruits of their exchanges, which sometimes deal with basic questions where major differences exist, to themselves.
Given current conditions, this exclusiveness – which deprives a large part of the Marxist-Leninist forces of the chance to take an active part in the struggle against revisionism on an international scale because, to a large extent, they are unaware of what is really at stake – is nothing but sectarianism. It leads to unacceptable situations, such as the fact that many communists did not learn before 1977 that several parties had had major differences with the CPC for years. We will never be convinced that such methods can ever advance the unity of the international communist movement.
To progress along the path of unity, we must want unity. Unity must clearly be posed as an objective to attain and we must put into place the means for truly uniting the communist forces that want to do so. Today, however, instead of being seen as a political and organizational objective, unity is sometimes seen as the organization of different forms of meetings which provide an opportunity to demarcate from the different manifestations of revisionism. We believe that you do not unite in order to demarcate but that you demarcate in order to unite! As long as our unity is not oriented towards a clear objective which would give meaning to demarcation, we will not be able to unite. This objective, let us repeat, is the reconstitution of the international communist movement as the only force capable of offering leadership to the proletariat’s struggle for socialism in the different countries, the only force capable of combining the different national liberation, anti-fascist and democratic struggles with the fundamental struggle of our era, the struggle for socialism. From this point of view, unity is not one eventuality among many others; it is an historic necessity. And it is this point of view which is the Marxist-Leninist point of view.
The history of the communist movement since the end of the 1950’s is as a whole not too well known. In fact, it is as little known as the history of the period of the Second World War and the years immediately afterwards. We do know that major struggles were waged against various forms of revisionism. Some of those forms were the line preached by Tito, by Khrushchev, by Togliatti and by others besides them. We know that those who tried to re-unite communists into new parties in places where the old party had been swept up in the modern revisionist wave were given some real encouragement. We know that many different kinds of relationships existed between the communists in different countries.
But the practical results of all this work over more than 20 years are pretty meagre as of yet. Not only has the unity of communists in the world still to be accomplished, but many of the parties created in this period have in turn fallen into opportunism such as, for example, the “three worlds” theorists. The analysis which has been made of the main deviations of modern revisionism has so far not succeeded in bringing about the one practical result that we have the right to expect: the reformulation of the programme for proletarian revolution, adapted to present conditions and freed of all traces of revisionism. We are lacking, in other words, a programme which takes into account the lessons drawn from the successes and errors of the communist movement since the creation of the Comintern.
The struggle against revisionism is only useful insofar as it enables us to chart a correct path towards the proletarian revolution. Today, as in the past, it is in the programme that communists must formulate the basic outlines of the path to be followed to accomplish the historic mission of the working class.
If communists are today disunited, without a programme and haunted by an endless series of new deviations which all lead to new splits, it is not by chance. The unity of the communist movement has never been placed on the agenda as a necessary task since the Communist International was dissolved. The programme has not been put forward either as the means to accomplishing the unity of communists on a genuinely Marxist-Leninist basis. People seem to be satisfied with the view that accompanied the disbanding of the Comintern, to the effect that all this wasn’t necessary any longer. Parties had been consolidated in the different countries and conditions were too uniquely different from one country to another.
Since that point the struggle against revisionism has suffered from a major handicap: it was out of the question to challenge or even to analyse a decision taken while Stalin was alive, a decision which was made undoubtedly at his initiative. To do that would play right into the hands of the Trotskyists! Wonderful logic, it turns out. The result has been just the opposite of what was intended. The field has been left clear for the Trotskyists and the capitalist elements of all sorts who have taken up the task of doing the evaluation of the Comintern and of Stalin – in their own way, of course, which has nothing to do with Marxism-Leninism.
The struggle against revisionism was then carried out in the way that many people seem to wish to continue it, that is by criticising various parties and communist leaders one at a time and in isolation from one another. This has been done with Tito, Togliatti, Khrushchev, Liu Shaoshi, Lin Biao, Deng Xiaoping... and now Mao Zedong! We have almost gotten to the point now where to be accepted in certain communist circles one has to be ready to say that Stalin never uttered a single sentence that was not a pure expression of Marxism-Leninism – and to add that Mao Zedong was never anything but a bourgeois patriot. We reject these simplifications for the very sound reason that they do not do justice to historical reality.
There is no doubt in our minds that Stalin was a firm defender of Marxism-Leninism. He upheld steadfastly the fundamental principle of building socialism in the U.S.S.R. under the dictatorship of the proletariat. We also feel that he played a decisive role within the Comintern and thereby in the development of communist forces in the world. And, briefly, we are of the opinion that Trotsky had become, certainly by the time he was expelled from the U.S.S.R. if not well before, a genuine counter-revolutionary in terms of his line and his practice. He objectively served the counterrevolutionary forces in the world up to the end of his life, and his disciples are worthy continuers of his work.
But to say that Stalin never made the slightest error and to chant it over and over again like the rosary is quite something else. It amounts to simply dismissing the need for any historical materialist analysis of the dissolution of the Comintern and the subsequent evolution of the majority of the parties which belonged to it. This is a frontier we are not prepared to cross, for the simple reason that such an attitude deprives today’s communists of a proper comprehension of the modern revisionist-engineered split. It makes the struggle to drive modern revisionism out of the workers’ movement impossible to carry through to the end and to complete victory.
The question is all the more important because it is coming up again in yet another form. Just yesterday all the communists around the world had nothing but fulsome praises for Mao Zedong. When he died in 1976, messages flowed in from everywhere declaring that his death was a great loss for the international communist movement. We were ourselves part of this universal tribute.
But today people say that Mao was never a Marxist-Leninist and that this has been known since 1960’s. That is where we lose track of the argument completely. We would like to know why, if Mao was known to be a “phoney Marxist” all these years, people have been pretending that just the opposite was true. The problem is posed.
As far as we are concerned, we believe that the history of the international communist movement, and that of the communist parties in different countries, is still a source of lessons which the working class must learn to master fully in order to deal properly with today’s struggles. We think that the Comintern left an indelible mark on the shape of a quarter of a century of the history of the workers’ movement. It was a period when the communist forces shook the very foundations of imperialism. We believe that Stalin played a leading role during this period and that he showed himself to be a great communist leader. We also think that, during the same period, the Communist Party of China, whiih belonged to the Comintern, played a major role within it. We think that the CPC led the liberation struggle of its people to victory over foreign imperialism. We believe that that struggle contributed greatly to the defeat of the fascist Axis countries of Germany, Japan and Italy and to the victory of democratic forces around the world as well as to the consolidation of socialist power in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. We affirm all this because this is what the facts of history tell us.
As for the last twenty years, we would say that an intense struggle has been carried out in China to guarantee the triumph of socialism in the wake of liberation. We think that, generally speaking, Mao Zedong was in the camp of those fighting for socialism.
A more developed analysis of history will undoubtedly make it possible to comprehend why a revisionist leadership was able to take over the leadership of the CPC. As it stands now, we think that certain errors were made after liberation in the attitude which was taken towards the bourgeoisie; we think that democratic centralism was violated in many respects, illustrated for instance by the lengthy intervals of time between Congresses. The analysis and understanding of the precise reasons for the recent evolution of the CPC, whatever these reasons may be, is an important task that remains to be accomplished.
However, the analysis of the Communist Party of China cannot be separated from that of the whole international communist movement. For example, while it is true that “concessions” may have been made to the bourgeoisie in China during the 1950’s and 1960’s, we must not forget that the same thing occurred in the Eastern European countries as far back as the 1940’s. In other words, it is by no means certain - far from that – that the source of modern revisionism is to be found in the history of the CPC in the 1950’s.
In order to avoid the slightest ambiguity about what we mean here, we would like to add that we attach very great importance to the positions of the Party of Labour of Albania and its leader, Enver Hoxha. The PLA is one of the few parties which has held fast to its Marxist-Leninist positions throughout a whole series of splits in the movement since the 1940’s. It remains the party which led the Albanian people to victory in its struggle against fascism and consolidated Albania’s national independence against imperialist manoeuvres at the end of the Second World War. It is the same party which established the dictatorship of the proletariat and which has since that point led the Albanian working class in building socialism. These are victories which nothing can ever erase from the historical record. The same is true for all the other working-class victories since the Bolshevik Revolution.
All that we have said up to now indicates that we do not share the viewpoint of those who would reduce the struggle against revisionism to a storm of wild, fiery denunciations. Such an approach has the rather fundamental drawback that it dilutes the lessons that can be drawn from the historical experience of the communist movement in the struggle for socialism.
The fight against revisionism must not be waged in the perspective of trying first and foremost to unmask a few individual “imposters”. Rather it must be conducted with a view to uniting the communists and the international proletariat around the road that will lead the workers of the world to victories over imperialism right up to the victory of socialism. Communists are not going to unite around a series of policies and personalities that have to be condemned. They will unite around a programme, the programme of the proletarian revolution. The programme will move the struggle forward precisely inasmuch as it is formulated on the basis of drawing lessons from the past, of avoiding past errors that paved the way to revisionism.
Communists today are in a good position to give correct leadership to the struggle of the proletariat, for the problems that are posed by this struggle are for the most part not new ones. The working class has already taken part in struggles for national liberation, in the fight against fascism. It has fought in times of war and in times of peace. It has struggled to take power and it has battled to build socialism under the dictatorship of the proletariat. It has won victories in all of these situations.
What remains to be done today is to single out those errors which led to the defeats. Once this is done it is undeniable that the proletariat will be in possession of a rich panoply of experiences such as has never been seen in any other period of history. Communists do not have the right to deprive workers any longer of these formidable lessons by reducing the struggle against revisionism to just one or two of its aspects.
The international situation suggests that conditions favourable to revolution may well emerge in some parts of the world. The proletariat aspires to socialism because capitalism is increasingly incapable of putting an end to misery. Indeed, it only succeeds in making things much worse.
If the socialist revolution is going to succeed, then the struggles of the working class and working people must have proletarian leadership.
Revisionism is dominant within the working-class movement in most countries. Serving the interests of the revolution, the working class and oppressed nations and people today requires that the struggle against revisionism be waged through to victory.
We think that Marxist-Leninists will accomplish this historical task by uniting in order to deepen their understanding of revisionism and by uniting their efforts to defeat it within each country and on a world scale. For it is clear that the division and isolation that have been the rule for communist forces for the past twenty years and more have in fact ultimately served the interests of imperialism rather than the interests of revolution and socialism.
As far as we are concerned, we intend to pursue the struggle to better understand and combat revisionism.
In this task we will be guided by one single concern: to serve the revolutionary proletariat. We will also continue our efforts to achieve greater unity of communists throughout the world on a principled basis.
The struggle against revisionism has made important progress in a number of countries. Parties are being reconstituted. The working class will soon be able to rely on revolutionary leadership in many parts of the world. The development of this trend on a world scale requires the unity of communists on an international level. It is in the struggle to unite around a communist programme that communists will be able to win a decisive victory over modern revisionism.
In short, we believe that:
1. In the conditions prevailing today, communists must commit themselves resolutely to the struggle to unite on the basis of a Marxist-Leninist programme for proletarian revolution.
2. It is in the framework of this struggle for the political and organizational unity of all communists that the past errors can be identified. This will make it possible to defeat revisionism within the very ranks of the communist forces and dislodge it as the dominant ideology in the working-class movement.