Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

In Struggle!

What road leads to unity in the world communist movement?

First Published: In Struggle! No. 207, June 3, 1980
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Malcolm and Paul Saba
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Recently, the Revolutionary Communist Party of Chile made public its support of the struggle for unity in the international communist movement, when they translated and wrote an introduction to a Spanish version of our Appeal for the Political and Organizational Unity of the International Communist Movement.[1]

But in this introduction our Chilean comrades also expressed some important reservation or disagreements about our positions. They indicated that they considered our stress on the need for programmatic unity to be premature until basic ideological problems have been resolved. And they suggested that our insistence on the need for the organized unity of the world communist movement was dangerous in a period where ideological and political unity has not yet been achieved.

There disagreements, reflect the opinions of forces active in the movement: they are shared by a number of other parties and organizations which, like the Chilean comrades, put the defence of “Mao-tse-tung Thought” at the heart of the struggle to defeat revisionism and build unity in the communist movement today[2]. But these kinds of criticisms of our positions are also expressed in different ways by the forces which condemn “Mao-tse-tung Thought” as a form of modern revisionism.

The communist programme must be the basis for unity

IN STRUGGLE! continues to insist that the question of the communist programme for the world proletarian revolution must be the basis both for a real split with all forms of opportunism and for a solid unity in the international communist movement. In fact, a dangerous error at this time is to continue to wage the struggle against revisionism in a way that is detached from the question of the communist programme.

The unity necessary for the international proletarian vanguard cannot be reduced to the positive or negative evaluations of certain communist parties and leaders. Such a vanguard must be united on the application of the principles of Marxism-Leninism to current world conditions in relation to such problems as the global strategy of the international proletariat against its enemies, as the road to revolution in both advanced capitalist and backward and dependent countries, as the essential historical lessons of the struggle to defend the proletarian dictatorship etc. And this means that such a vanguard must be united on the basis of its communist programme, just as must be the case with Marxist-Leninist parties in individual countries, just as was the case with the Communist International in the past.

Does struggling for unity on the programe compromise a real ideological rupture with revisionism? We think that both historical experience, and the current situation, show the opposite. For decades now the unity of the world communist movement has been based on a “general line”, which is limited to an analysis of the current world situation, declarations of support for one or more socialist countries and communist leaders, and lists of the kinds of organized opportunism to be opposed.

Therefore, it has been easy for many recognized communist parties and leaders to accept this “general line”, and at the same time to promote in theory and practice grave opportunist deviations concerning the struggle for proletarian revolution in their country and in the world. The tragic results of this kind of unity risk being repeated today by following those who would reduce the ideological and political rupture with opportunism to the evaluations of Mao or Stalin.

At the same time, the struggle for unity on the programme also permits us to successfully battle against sectarianism, because the programme is made of only the most fundamental and essential aspects to guide the oppressed masses towards proletarian revolution.

In the context of the bitter spirit of sectarian warfare which is spreading in the international communist movement this element should not be ignored.

The need for organized unity

If communists are to be united on the programme for world proletarian revolution, then they will also have to be united on the means to apply this programme. And that can only mean a democratic centralist organization of the world proletarian vanguard.

Defending this position has nothing to do with putting organizational unity ahead of the necessary struggle for a solid ideological and political unity. But it does mean struggling against the erroneous attitudes that oppose the necessity of the organized unity of all communists. It means both opposing the idea that each separate party must never be criticized or judged for its own programme and practice, and the sectarian thesis that organized unity must first begin with a certain fraction of the existing forces in the world movement.

Is our position centrist?

When we defend these positions, we are not denying that the current debates on Mao or on Stalin, are raising a number of questions that are important for the unity of communists, including some basic questions of a programmatic character. We are simply saying that these questions cannot be answered correctly, from the point of view of the struggle for principled unity, with the present methods of debate.

Do we really have to choose between thinking that Mao made no fundamental errors, and the position that he was a revisionist? Do we really have to pretend either that the experience of the Chinese revolution gives the road to revolution in all the dependent countries today, or that this experience teaches us nothing positive for these countries? Do we really have to ignore such nationalist deviations as reduction of the struggle against imperialism to the struggle against “the main imperialist enemy” or against the “two superpowers”, simply because this thesis has been upheld for a long time in the international movement?

Our Organization, and a growing number of other forces, reject these alternatives. Not because we are “centrists”, but because these alternatives are wrong. We will continue to struggle for a solid unity that is based on the communist programme, and we will continue to uphold the need for the organized unity of all the communist forces that can be won to a real split with all forms of opportunism.


[1] The text of the RCP of Chile evaluating our Appeal, entitled Forward in the development of the revolutionary struggle and the unity of Marxist-Leninists on a world scale is available in English and French in the first issue of International Forum. The Appeal is available in English, French, and Spainish. Both these documents are available at the Spark and L’Etincelle bookstores and from May 1st Distribution.

[2] For the position of the RCP of Chile on Mao, see their document Evaluation of the Work of Mao tse Tung, available in Spainish and English.