To: L’Union de Lutte Communiste (Upper Volta) Linea Bolchevique (Puerto Rico) La Voie Ouvriere (Ivory Coast) Bolshevik Union (Canada) En Avant! (Togo) Bolshevik League (United States)
Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

MPLO Marxist-Leninist Party of Austria Gegen die Stromung, Westberliner Kommunist

To: L’Union de Lutte Communiste (Upper Volta) Linea Bolchevique (Puerto Rico) La Voie Ouvriere (Ivory Coast) Bolshevik Union (Canada) En Avant! (Togo) Bolshevik League (United States)

First Published: International Correspondence, No. 3, Spring 1981.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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We have received your invitation for the meeting ... and would like to reply to you about it. As you know, there exist between the Marxist-Leninist Party of Austria (MLPO), Gegen die Stromung (GDS) and Westberliner Kommunist (WBK) on the one hand, and the various organizations (such as the Bolshevik Union of Canada) which initiated this conference on the other hand, fundamental ideological and political contradictions. We will go into them now.

We would like to stress that we did not intend from the beginning to refuse to participate in the conference out of considerations of principle. On the contrary, it seemed significant to us since, to our three organizations, a discussion on the standpoint of the “Appeal,” on the political and ideological basis of this initiative and on all other questions to be clarified with participation, could not be more timely. Without such a preparation, it seems senseless to us to send representatives of our organizations to such a conference.

Fundamentally, we too are interested in a discussion on the questions which are essential for the world communist movement. Thus we would have expected the signatories of the “Appeal” to ensure all of the organizations invited to the conference the right to the possibility of bilateral or multilateral discussions with all of the initiators of the conference. This, however, is unfortunately not the case. It says in your letter that inquiries about bilateral meetings would be “taken into consideration,” provided that such meetings are necessarily held by one of the invited organizations. We hold that it is not an appropriate method of ideological discussion that, within the framework of such an international conference, the organizers responsible for such possibilities for discussion and contact are not fully ensuring them from the beginning – or, at least, leaving no unambiguous promises about them. In any case, this is how we have understood this passage of the letter.

We are particularly interested in an ideological discussion with those organizations with which we have had no possibility for contact before now. We would like to call upon those organizations which we have so far not been able to reach because of the absence of a suitable address to give us their addresses, so that arrangements can be made for the exchange of documents, for discussions, etc.

Concerning the “Appeal” and the initiative of the six organizations, at this point we can make only a preliminary and limited assessment.

The “Appeal” contains a range of correct positions on the struggle against the imperialist war, which have our support as well. Thus we agree with the statement that it is the task of the proletariat, in the case of an imperialist war, to struggle to transform this war into a civil war against its “own” bourgeoisie. This is a fundamental thesis of Lenin which is today “forgotten” by various opportunists.

Likewise it is correct that the precept formulated by Lenin concerning the inevitability of the imperialist war in the epoch of imperialism holds its full validity, now as before.

It is, however, an incalculable shortcoming of the “Appeal” that these positions are not developed in ideological demarcation from the prevailing opportunist view. Thus we hold it absolutely necessary to struggle against the war hysteria fomented by the opportunists. This war hysteria of course presents the very serious problem of soporific illusions of pacifism. This dangerous opportunist propaganda, which fatalistically explains any struggle against imperialist war as hopeless and superfluous, is not opposed with one word in the “Appeal.”

Besides these mistakes immediately connected with the struggle against the imperialist war, we see profound and essential problems in the political and ideological foundation and in the objectives of this initiative.

In the “Appeal” it is definitely stressed repeatedly that it is now time for communists internationally to join the signatories of the appeal to take up the struggle against the imperialist war. Underlying this request, in our opinion, is the false conception – categorically rejected by us –that the unity of the world communist movement is to be attained in the first place around the struggle against the imperialist war and the positions taken thereon in the “Appeal.” The political and ideological unity necessary for the union of the world communist movement, however, includes the whole spectrum of the basic questions of the world proletarian revolution, around which the ideological struggle is kindled internationally today. We deny that, in this ideological discussion, agreement on some questions of the struggle against the imperialist war should be placed in the foreground and all other ideological questions should be effectively treated as being secondary problems. We look at this as a real danger of the “Appeal.” In particular, it can be shown that such a comprehension is propagated by the Bolshevik Union of Canada. However, we do not assume from the start that all of the other signing organizations share this comprehension of the BU. We would like to call upon the other organizations to examine the following position of the Bolshevik Union!

In a comment of the BU on the significance of the “Appeal” and the conference already held in the summer of 1980, it says:

“At first, this rupture happened in certain countries, but it is now being consolidated on an international scale. Organizations from six countries came together 65 years after Zimmerwald to hold a Bolshevik conference against imperialist war, a conference where on the international level Bolshevik strategy and tactics against imperialist war were reestablished as a first step in once again building an International.”

And further on it says:

“Those who ignore this appeal only confess to their own social-chauvinism, centrism and narrow nationalist mentality.” (Proletarian Revolution, no. 24, p. 2)

The Bolshevik Union unambiguously considers the initiative of the six organizations on the question of the struggle against the imperialist war as the first step for the political and ideological union of the world communist movement and for the reconstruction of the Communist International. We, on the contrary, are of the opinion that the question of the “Bolshevik strategy and tactics against the imperialist war” in no way must be the decisive and more or less single criterion to carry on the struggle for the unity of the world communist movement today.

The Bolshevik Union unambiguously makes positions held in the “Appeal” on the question of the imperialist war the dividing line determining whom to treat as Marxist-Leninist and whom to treat as opportunist, or social-chauvinist and nationalist. The article of the BU holds that this plainly ultimative call to other communist organizations to “join” with the appeal and the initiative of the six organizations is the first step in the establishment of the unity of the world communist movement, and thus puts into the background all remaining fundamental ideological contradictions.

In no way can we agree with this. For it is indispensible that a broad, open ideological discussion and exchange unfold, including all Marxist-Leninist forces, if the struggle for the forging of a truly principled unity is to be successful, a unity based on a stable foundation in its contents. The procedure propagated by the BU stands opposed to this indispensible requirement, since, despite assurances to the contrary, such ideological exchanges around all of the basic questions of the world proletarian revolution are declared to be superfluous. For this reason it is considered a superfluous and burdensome duty, because, according to the comments of the BU –and unfortunately the “Appeal” as well – even despite all of the ideological contradictions, all should allegedly “join” the initiative of the six organizations in the struggle for the establishment of the unity of the world communist movement.

We hold that it is a venture condemned to failure from the beginning, if today a group of organizations presents itself as the core or leading force of the world communist movement and yet seeks to omit the stage of ideological discussion and exchange around the fundamentals of the unity of the world communist movement.

Our criticism of the political and ideological line of the Bolshevik Union is in no way exhausted in the rejection of this radically wrong concept of the struggle to establish the unity of the world communist movement. Beyond this there remains a whole range of fundamental differences. Here we wish only to outline the most important.

We hold, for example, that fundamental agreement on the very essential question of what position to take on the work of Mao Tse-tung must prevail before it is justified to speak of political and ideological unity. However, the conceptions of the work of Mao Tse-tung advocated by the BU contradict any explanation oriented to the principles of Marxism-Leninism.

The identification which the BU makes between the line of the Trotskyite opposition in the CPSU(B) and the line of Mao Tse-tung on the tasks of the Chinese revolution is leveled not only at the essential Marxist-Leninist work of Mao Tse-tung on the anti-imperialist and anti-feudal revolution in China, but also immediately against Stalin’s conception of central questions of the Chinese revolution. The polemic of the BU against factually opportunist views of Mao Tse-tung, such as his erroneous position on the national bourgeoisie in the mid-fifties, held up against this background, is only an apparent justification for the unscrupulous slander of the significant revolutionary uprising after the victory of the October Socialist Revolution.

Irreconcilable differences also exist in regard to the position on the PLA and its development. As you know, the BU has not advocated the assessment of the work of Mao Tse-tung or the CP of China from the beginning which it holds today. On the contrary, accompanied by the abrupt repudiation of earlier positions taken up by the PLA, such as the ones in the course of the year 1978, it began to initiate the unprincipled condemnation of Mao Tse-tung and the Chinese Revolution. Shortly before its new assessment of the PLA, the BU based itself most closely on the political and ideological line of the PLA throughout its whole development and even literally raised “complete agreement” with the line of the PLA and “recognition of the leadership of the PLA” to the “line of demarcation between right and wrong.” (see Recueil no. 5, p. 214, first published in Bulletin no. 3, October 10, 1977)

It seems to us that this is worth mentioning here above all because in practice it was overnight, after the participation of an Albanian delegation at a rally of the CPC(ML) in March, 1979, that the BU passed over from unqualified displays of solidarity and devout declarations of loyalty to the complete condemnation of the PLA as revisionist and centrist from the beginning.

Without regard to the fact that these turnabouts were accompanied by no serious self-criticism, without regard for the fact that the circumstances of this abruptly changed assessment throw a significant light on its ideological basis and their motives, we wish to emphasize that we can in no way take part in such a characterization of the PLA. The facts, which no Marxist-Leninist can deny, facts which could not be annulled even by today’s systematic development of a revisionist line of the PLA, are that the ideological struggle of the PLA against Khrushchevite revisionism (just as against the “theory of three worlds”) dealt serious blows against opportunism and offered numerous Marxist-Leninist arguments against it. An essential critical process of this exchange with modern revisionism, and the analysis of its principal errors and weaknesses, go directly against the assessment found by the BU of “revisionist and centrist from the beginning.”

This “argument” concerning Mao Tse-tung or the PLA, stamped with false and unsubstantiated conclusions and expressed with unserious methods, is only the reverse side of the position which the BU takes towards the great tasks, the teachings of our leaders Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin which must be defended against all opportunist attacks. Thus, with slogans such as “Long live Stalinism,” the BU seeks to propagate in particular a consistent defense of Stalin. (See the declaration of the BU on the 100th birthday of Stalin, December 1979.) Such apparent representations of honour towards Stalin, however, in truth support the division of Stalin’s works from the teachings of Marx, Engels, and Lenin propagated by the revisionists from the beginning. The construction of a “Stalinism” is aimed directly against the outstanding defense of Marxism-Leninism and the great continuation of Lenin’s work by Stalin, who always characterized himself as a pupil of Lenin. Such phrases have nothing to do with a real defense of Stalin’s work. (We have already pointed out that the complete denial of the work of Mao Tse-tung on the anti-imperialist and anti-feudal revolution in China inevitably is also directed against the teachings of Stalin on the Chinese revolution.)

In this connection, we further hold that it is a method used less for contents than for a sensational “exposure” when the BU believes it is defending Stalin against real and supposed attacks on the part of the PLA and the CP of China by characterizing these two parties as “accomplices in the murder of Stalin.” (Ibid.)

A particularly crass present-day example of what the BU does with its standpoint and method is its position on the struggle of the people of Afghanistan. The BU characterizes all Afghani struggles of resistance as reactionary and tied to imperialism. The reactionary character of a part of the forces directed against Russian social-imperialism is equated with the just struggle of an oppressed people against imperialist intervention. The basic communist idea, that the just struggle of a people must always be steadfastly supported, is completely missing in the BU; instead, the struggle of the people of Afghanistan is represented as an inter-imperialist conflict, (see Proletarian Revolution, no. 20, pp. 6-7) Such a position clearly represents a mockery of the struggle of the people of Afghanistan.

For our organizations it is completely out of the question to overlook such “trifles.” For this reason we reject the attempts made by the BU to achieve unity on such opportunist foundations.

(We have already put forward our differences with the line of the BU elsewhere in detail in our Internationalen Informationen, no. 3. This commentary can be obtained from our address.)

In conclusion, we would again like to call upon the organizations which signed the Appeal to examine and reply to our criticism, in order to discuss the questions dealt with in this letter and all other positions and problems.

With communist greetings,
Gegen die Stromung (GDS) Marxistisch-Leninistisch Partei Osterreichs (MLPO) Westberliner Kommunist (WBK)

P.S. We would like the Bolshevik Union or the other organizations which we can reach to please forward this letter to the organizations of Togo, Upper Volta and Ivory Coast and to assist with translation if possible.