First Published: In Struggle! No. 226, November 11, 1980
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Malcolm and Paul Saba
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The debate on modern revisionism is in full swing in the Organization IN STRUGGLE! and many have written letters indicating their growing interest in it. The Organization recently held its first study sessions on the question and, while a thorough evaluation of the sessions has yet to be made, we can say that, in general, most comrades participated with great interest and often great enthusiasm. These debates allowed people to bring up many questions and to put forward different points of view.
Furthermore, we have begun getting feedback on the articles by the Political Commission on the first stage of the struggle for socialism that were published in the newspaper, and the articles published in PROLETARIAN UNITY on the question of revisionism. We have received many letters and even some relatively elaborate studies on the question as contributions to the on-going research and debate. We have received comments not only from our own Organization but also from many groups and parties throughout the world.
Whether in discussions or in letters, the questions posed are varied but they all underline the necessity to “dust off the science of Marxism” which, especially since the fifties, communists themselves have more often than not reduced to a series of memorized conclusions and empty slogans.
The possibility of socialism “in one country alone”; the relationship between objective and subjective factors in the struggle for socialism; the development of productive forces and production relationships; the danger of falling into the trap of the “theory of productive forces”... are just a few of the issues at stake in the present debate. As one can easily see, to delve more deeply into these questions through personal and collective study may well help the Organization to advance considerably on the political and theoretical level which would in turn permit it to serve the interests of the revolution in a more correct way. And that is precisely the objective set by the Organization when it took up the debate.
In the different criticisms that have been adressed to the Organization in the present debate, a certain number touch on the historical articles. Those who have a good knowledge of history criticize these articles for being too schematic; those who know little about history find that they only accumulate a series of facts, even a series of anecdotes, that do not seem to be related.
I have two comments to make on these criticisms. First, to establish scientific conclusions on the lessons drawn from the struggle for socialism up till now, it is necessary to have a solid knowledge of history. We must admit that our articles have not always succeeded in demonstrating this important fact. Second, history cannot be reduced to a series of facts: history takes on all its meaning if we establish the relationships between different events at a given period, if we bring out the scientific laws that permit us to understand why things happened in one way rather than in another.
So, from this point of view – the point of view of historical materialism – we have to admit that our historical articles contained, real weaknesses, that they may even have contained errors of fact and analysis. But this will not keep us from pursuing our efforts. In the present situation, we can only learn by doing and through our mistakes. Our Organization also decided at the outset that it would learn more by opening up the pages of its press, and not by shying away from criticisms, in this way, we hope that when readers see mistakes, they will help us overcome our ignorance.
We will continue to publish the series of historical articles because we believe that, it is the only way that we will succeed in correctly deepening our understanding of the laws that govern the evolution of society. To reach our goal, we will not seek to cram a series of facts into the space allotted in the newspaper, but rather try to present the facts that best illustrate the reasons that explain the evolution of class struggle at a given time in history. This effort to improve the historical articles explains in part why the article on anti-colonial struggles has yet to be published even though it was planned for two weeks ago. But the article is on the way!
By deciding to publish texts on the question of modern revisionism, our Organization wanted to debate these questions openly with our readers. Once again, we urge readers to send us their comments, questions and points of view.
The Workers Communist Party (WCP) has responded to our invitation by publishing an article by Roger. Rashi in the October 3 issue of The Forge, no. 80, p. 10 and 11. We hope that the WCP will pursue this further for their first article does not really deal with the fundamental questions faced by those who are struggling for socialist revolution at present.
We plan to publish articles that will deal with the WCP’s point of view, as well as with the most important questions found in our own articles, as best as we can while respecting the space allotted to these questions in our press. The article on the following page is an example of this type of article. It deals with certain aspects of the question of productive forces.
C. Gagnon, Secretary General of the MLOC IN STRUGGLE!