First Published: In Struggle! No. 211, July 1, 1980
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Malcolm and Paul Saba
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“Our Organization can best participate in the struggle against revisionism by drawing the lessons of the struggle for socialism as it has developed up until now. In this way, we will best serve the triumph of the Marxist-Leninist point of view within the ranks of the communist forces of the world and convince the working class to rally to this point of view.”
Reaffirming the point of view which it had adopted at its previous meeting, the Central Committee of IN STRUGGLE! summed up the research that it had undertaken along these lines. The following article presents the main decisions that it took on this question.
For years now, particularly since the coming to power of the Deng Ziaoping-Hua Guofeng clique in China, IN STRUGGLE! has put a lot of time and energy into the struggle against revisionism. During the preparation of our Third Congress, it became quite clear that the struggle against revisionism had to be carried through to its conclusion if communists wanted to really understand and explain not only the setbacks of the struggle for socialism in China and the U.S.S.R. but also what we must today recognize as the degeneration of the international communist movement after the Second World War. In the past year, our Organization has participated more actively in the debates of the international communist movement and this experience has reinforced our convictions.
For over twenty years now, the Marxist-Leninists of the world have waged a struggle against modern revisionism. Unfortunately this struggle has more often than not been limited to showing how the leadership of different revisionist parties had abandoned the fundamental principles of Marxism-Leninism on questions like the dictatorship of the proletariat, the violent revolution, and others. As we have come to realize with time, this method, which resembles more an exercise in comparative literature than scientific analysis of history, has led us into increasingly sterile debates that boil down to comparing the respective betrayals or merits of Stalin, Mao Zedong, Hoxha and other communist leaders. This method of debate, which the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) and the Workers Communist Party have mastered in Canada, does not take into account the economic and social conditions in which these leaders worked or the evolution of conditions during the last century. The fact that the international communist movement is incapable of answering the concrete questions posed by the very evolution of capitalism and socialism is not unrelated to the lack of interest that workers in general, and even the most advanced workers, seem to show in these same questions.
In short, for some time now IN STRUGGLE! has come to consider that communists have started off on the wrong foot to study and criticize revisionism. This is why we have decided to make a thorough analysis of history to study the conditions in which the struggle for socialism has been waged for over a century, and particularly since the 1917 October Revolution. Indeed, how can we dissociate the bourgeoisie’s return to power in China from the numerous alliances and compromises that Chinese communists had to realize with the peasantry, the petty bourgeoisie and even the bourgeoisie itself? These alliances and compromises cannot be explained without taking into account the fact that Chinese society (like Russian society in 1917 and East European societies after the Second World War) was a relatively backward society in which the proletariat represented only a small part of the population as a whole.
In the same sense, the domination of reformism and revisionism over the workers’ movement in advanced capitalist countries during the 20th century cannot be separated from the development of imperialism and the existence of the labour aristocracy, the sector of the working class that has grown fat on the superprofits reaped by the imperialist monopolies. Those are but a few examples that show how the criticism of revisionism can quickly become futile if it is not linked to the analysis of the social and economic conditions in which comunists act.
We need to correctly apply the method of historical materialism, the science that studies the evolution of societies to the history of the struggle for socialism. Last autumn, IN STRUGGLE! undertook more intensive research in this direction, and we plan to pursue this work in upcoming months. This work aims first and foremost to understand the concrete conditions in which the struggle for socialism has developed so far. We plan to do this by basing our studies on historical facts but also on the events that marked the class struggle, including the actions of the working class itself as well as those of the parties that defended its interests and of the forces that it battled. This will give us a basis for understanding the real impact of the actions of communists as a factor in class struggle.
Evidently this method of analysing the history of the communist movement may, and most probably will, lead to the expression of different and opposed points of view on a number of important question. Already, the last meeting of the Central Committee indicated that in the analysis of present or past events, more or less importance can be given to objective factors – economic and social conditions – in relation to subjective factors – political positions, the policy of socialist States, etc. In the same way, political facts and actions can lead to different evaluations.
Far from limiting or stifling the debate, the Central Committee has decided to broaden it as much possible. The history of our own Organization and of the international communist movement in general has taught us that it is through frank and open debates, based on facts, that we can succeed in reaching scientific conclusions that move forward the cause of the revolutionary struggle. This is why, starting in August, we plan to open the pages of our newspaper and journal to all those who want to contribute to this debate, whether or not they agree with the Organization’s point of view.
We invite all those who are concerned with the advancement of the struggle for socialism in Canada and the world to contribute to our research. This can be done by sending us the results of their own research on the question, historical documents, their point of view on a given question or simply questions that they think important to answer.
In August, we plan to undertake the publication of different texts on the history of the class struggle, and particularly of the struggle for socialism, in order to put the work on a solid footing and to encourage workers to take part in the debate. Other articles will also be published to give more details on our orientation and method of struggle against revisionism and to supply our readers with the theoretical references necessary to ensure a rigorous analysis of the question. The results of our research will be published as working documents in our publications, particularly in the journal PROLETARIAN UNITY. These partial draft documents cannot be considered to be the official positions of our Organization, but should be seen as means to help us reach such positions.
We also plan to debate the question in various ways, such as conferences and public study sessions, debates with other organizations, etc.
Within our own Organization, we will pay considerable attention and time to the study and discussion of all these questions. Charles Gagnon, the Organization’s Secretary-General, has been mandated by the Central Committee to direct the research and debate within the Organization and working people in general. He will express the Organization’s positions on these questions but may also put forward points of view on the research and on-going debates.
Our work has one aim: to serve the advancement of the revolutionary struggle of the working class. Though the subjects we will be dealing with in the course of this process are of great importance, we do not plan to sit back, arms folded. until we have come up with definitive answers! As in the past, our members will continue to defend and apply our political Programme and the orientations of our leadership, while remaining open to discussing the different points of view that will emerge in the course of the debates.
As our own history has taught us, political debate draws all its strength and meaning from the work among the working class and people. Our political programme is the result of study, political debate and interventions within the working masses. We consider that the conclusion we have reached on modern revisionism and our evaluation of the results of the struggle for socialism up until now will be all the more valuable in as much as they will have stemmed from the process that we have just explained above.