First Published: In Struggle! No. 211, July 1, 1980
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Malcolm and Paul Saba
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We interviewed the person in charge of international affairs for IN STRUGGLE!, who told us about the work undertaken by the Organization since its Third Congress and the results of this work, which are already tangible.
Q: How has IN STRUGGLE! gone about following up on the decisions made at its Third Congress?
A: First of all, the Organization undertook a broad distribution of the Appeal for the political and organizational unity of the international communist movement. It has been distributed in English and French and translated into Spanish. It will soon be translated into Persian by Iranian comrades. Hundreds of communists around the world are now acquainted with the Appeal, which has been received by some 150 organizations in more than 35 countries.
Second, the Organization put forward a proposal for a private conference, addressed to several dozen Marxist-Leninist parties and organizations. Third, the Central Committee of IN STRUGGLE! decided last fall to publish INTERNATIONAL FORUM, a journal whose purpose is to make known the points of view of the various Marxist-Leninist and revolutionary organizations around the world and to intensify the polemic in the ranks of the movement. The first issue of INTERNATIONAL FORUM was published in May 1980.
Fourth, IN STRUGGLE! has devoted considerable time and effort to supporting the development of the publications of Marxist-Leninist organizations in Chile, Venezuela and so on, supporting specific struggles waged by such organizations and contributing more direct financial support for their work, as has been the case in El Salvador, Iran and the Philippines. We have also participated in solidarity actions abroad – for instance the recent meetings held in support of the Tunisian patriots and the struggle against repression in Turkey.
Q: What kind or reactions have there been to the positions of IN STRUGGLE!?
A: So far, we have met with close to thirty parties or organizations in Latin America, North America, Africa, Europe and even Asia. Today, after several months of work, we can say that our positions are shared by a certain number of organizations. What is most significant is that our positions are taken very seriously in the international communist movement as a whole.
The Revolutionary Communist Party of Chile has publicly supported the Appeal, and translated it into Spanish. It has also received public support from the Revolutionary Communist Party (M-L) of Belgium and Ech Choola, the Tunisian Marxist-Leninist Communist Group, both of which have published excerpts from the Appeal.
There are, of course, organizations and parties that do not agree with this orientation at the present time. These organizations see unity in a much more limited way, as unity among a certain number of organizations that agree on new lines of demarcation from revisionism – for instance, one’s evluation of the works or actions of specific Marxist-Leninist leaders, such as Mao or Stalin. But in many cases, these organizations nevertheless agree to meet and debate with us.
Q: Are there organizations that are open to the idea of a debate on these issues, even if they don’t necessarily agree with all of IN STRUGGLE!’s positions?
A: Today, I think we can say without a shadow of doubt that there are organizations and parties that see the problem of unity in much the same way as we do. This is a definite change from the situation a year ago. Our own work certainly has something, to do with this development, but it is also a result of the current crisis in the movement and the attempts to understand it in a more realistic way.
More and more organizations are taking stands in which they recognize the reality of the movement for what it is, namely a movement that is still relatively dispersed and that is not capable of providing an orientation for the struggles of the proletariat in a situation in which revisionism predominates.
A concrete example of this is Unidad communista, a Portuguese organization that we learned about only a short time ago through its publications. It is made up of former members of the Communist Party of Portugal (reconstructed) (PCP(r)) who either left the party or were expelled about a year ago, but who are still waging a struggle for unity with the PCP(r) today. Unidad communista has serious criticisms of the way in which relations are established in the international communist movement. It also criticizes the way in which the debate on revisionism has been taken up – on the basis of an evaluation of the work of this or that leader. It puts forward the necessity of a more thorough criticism of modern revisionism with the goal of uniting communist forces throughout the world in an international, on the basis of an orientation shared by communist forces as a whole.
Unidad communista is also very critical of the communist movement’s inability to influence the development of revolutionary struggles in Iran, Nicaragua and El Salvador. It points out unambiguously that the purpose of its struggle for unity is to move forward the revolution in each country and around the world, not to unite on the basis of demarcations that would not necessarily have any practical effects on the development of the class struggle.
There are also the stands taken by the Communist Party of Greece (M-L) and the Communist Party of Japan (Left), as well as the positions of Marxist-Leninists in Venezuela, Tunisia, Cyprus, Iran and so on, excerpts of which have been published in INTERNATIONAL FORUM, PROLETARIAN UNITY and the newspaper IN STRUGGLE!. When I say that there is an openness to debate and polemics, I am not necessarily referring to a consolidated tendency in the movement that can be identified with a precise number of organizations. I am talking about a trend that is evident in the behaviour and stands taken by various organizations and in the questioning being done by groups and individuals who are becoming committed to Marxism-Leninism and who are trying to apply it in their work with the working class. Their positions are based on the necessity of understanding scientifically the evolution of the struggle for socialism and its victories as well as its defeats, so as to be able to convince the proletariat that this is still the path that serves their interests.
Q: Has IN STRUGGLE! been able to make its positions known to the Party of Labour of Albania?
A: We addressed the PLA directly. But the PLA already has official relations with the Communist Party of Canada (M-L), and recognizes it both as Marxist-Leninist and as having a supposed vanguard role within the Canadian proletariat. This means that there are serious obstacles to any in-depth exchange of views. Nevertheless, we were able to make our points of view known to the PLA both in letters and orally. So far, it has not made any official response to either our Appeal or our proposal for a conference.
Although it is obvious that our Organization has divergences with the PLA on important questions, we continue to wage the struggle on these divergences in a spirit of unity, and we encourage other organizations to do the same.
Q: What has been the reaction to the publication of INTERNATIONAL FORUM?
A: First of all, it should be remembered that INTERNATIONAL FORUM came out just over a month ago. Nonetheless, the preliminary reactions from various organizations are fairly encouraging. A dozen organizations read it and then indicated their willingness to distribute it in their own ranks and also more broadly. There are also several organizations that consider the journal as a very useful instrument in the current debate and polemics in the movement, even if they do not necessarily share our positions. Progressive and Marxist-Leninist individuals and groups in India, Sri Lanka, the Netherlands and Senegal have indicated that they are interested in working with FORUM, either by sending texts or by publishing their own comments. One organization has even volunteered to translate it into Spanish.
There has also been some feedback on the contents of FORUM. For example, it has been suggested that the next issues of FORUM should be more polemical.
Q: What is happening with the plan for a conference put forward by IN STRUGGLE!?
A: The proposal still stands, and some organizations have said they are willing to attend. As well, we are waiting for a definitive answer from more than a dozen more. There is not agreement from a majority of Marxist-Leninist organizations, but an increasingly significant number do agree.
At the present time, we are working actively, together with the organizations that have already indicated that they intend to participate, to convince other organizations to commit themselves fully to the idea. There should be new developments in the coming months. The conference is a means to achieve unity, because it will be a way of sharing the collective efforts of the movement to succeed in examining the history of the struggle for socialism more thoroughly and examining very concretely how the movement can solve the political contradictions with which it is faced at the present time.