Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Red Star Collective

The International Situation: World United Front & Proletarian Revolution

IS’s line and “Social Chauvinism”

We are faced with real problems in trying to understand In Struggle’s views on the international situation. Their documents on the question contain an abundance of references to Marxism-Leninism, proletarian revolution, etc. – but precious little in the way of consistent analysis of the present-day world process. How does IS see the opposition of forces on the world scale?

On the one hand, they say that “... all the peoples of the world without exception have two common enemies, American imperialism and Soviet social-imperialism. This is a fundamental characteristic of our era. ” (PU#2, p. 31) They recognise the positive character of the “. . . struggles of the peoples and countries of the Third World against imperialism and the superpowers in particular, (and) the rapprochement between the Second and Third worlds ...” (PU#2, p. 30) They recognise the positive character of equal trade agreements between Second and Third World countries and of the struggle by Third World countries for a New Economic Order. (PU#2, p. 31) They express general support for the Third World countries , as distinct from the peoples of these countries. (PU#2, pp. 36 & 37) The economic (e.g. OPEC) and political (e.g. recognition of the PLO) victories of these countries are applauded. IS correctly advances the idea that “the struggle against imperialism is developing the world over especially against the two superpowers. In this struggle Marxist-Leninists work ceaselessly to unite all those who can be united. That is why on the international level today the socialist countries have taken it upon themselves to develop the largest possible united front against imperialism and the superpowers. That is a task which directly contributes to strengthening the world revolution. However we must distinguish between the support we should give to the struggles of the countries and the unconditional and militant support of the struggles of the peoples and of the proletariat. ” (p. 37) IS is always ready to give support in words to the “3-worlds analysis” formulated by Mao Tse-tung.

And yet other things have been written by IS which lead us to believe that it rejects the 3-worlds analysis, denies the existence of a Second World in other then purely formal ways, and reduces all analysis of the world to “revolution vs. counter-revolution”. For example in the supplement to IS! #91, IS! talks of the war preparations of “the two superpowers and their respective allies”, where “it is essential to recognize that all the imperialists, including the secondary powers, are currently conducting a policy of oppression and exploitation which leads to war. ” (p.4) On the same page, IS! shows that they see the distinction between the First and Second Worlds as essentially irrelevant for the working class. No actions of the Second World against the First are to be supported, since all are enemies.

The chapter in “For the Unity of the Canadian Proletariat”[1] dealing with the international situation says absolutely nothing about the struggles of countries, as opposed to nations and peoples, against the superpowers. This tendency to reject the “Three Worlds analysis” in all but words is reflected in seeing the world as basically divided into two camps (PU #2, p.31) which is essentially the view of the Albanian Party. Likewise, on p.36 of PU #2, IS! makes the defense of national independence the sole property of the proletariat and thus negates an essential element of the Three Worlds analysis. IS! once again lumps all imperialist countries together in its article in #93 on the CAPT conference, when they say that the world revolution has no interest in supporting certain actions of the Second World against the First World.

We believe that there is a profound difference between the “Three Worlds” analysis and that of the “Two Camps” presented by the Party of Labour of Albania. IS! however, wants to have its cake and eat it too. As we’ve seen, they can produce quotes from their material to show that they agree with all positions. As we will show, they hide behind criticism of the distortions of the Three Worlds analysis and in fact oppose the entire theory.

IS! feels compelled to support the idea of a world united front against the superpowers. To deny this concept would be to deny the notion of a main enemy (i.e. the superpowers) on the world scale and to make the Three Worlds theory irrelevant. Along with other places, we read on p.40 of PU#2,

The proletariat of the capitalist and imperialist countries united with the people of the Third World countries, that is the essence of a world united front against imperialism and the superpowers.

Firstly, IS! confuses the issue by speaking of a “united front against imperialism and the two superpowers. ” We can only assume that they’re talking about a united front against all imperialists, where the US and USSR are only quantitatively but not qualitatively more significant enemies. This sort of formulation, which boils down to “imperialism vs. the people of the world”, is the basic communist line going back to Lenin’s time, but says nothing about the new situation which has developed since WW II. IS! goes on to talk about countries which oppose imperialism being part of this united front. But when IS! says that “... it’s the interests of the world revolutionary and the struggle against imperialism is fundamental (sic) and should always guide the politics and the alliances of the proletariat and the peoples”[2] (ibid), it’s clear that they see the world united front as an alliance with the revolutionary peoples to overthrow imperialism. Thus IS! refuses to allow into this category any force which is in serious contradiction with the proletariat and people of the world. But the whole point of the Three Worlds analysis and the concept of world united front is to unite all who can be united with on a world scale against the main enemy the superpowers. A substantial part of this united front is made up of forces which have absolutely no interest in the overthrow of imperialism itself. It is IS!’s “revolutionary purity” which refuses to let them acknowledge that the Shah of Iran can play a role in this united front. They think that if they did they would have to say that he is a great anti-imperialist, which he obviously isn’t.

IS! seems to think they’re really opening peoples eyes in exposing the fact that the Second World is made up of capitalist and imperialist countries. “Far from being victims which we should lament and support, these countries are all sworn enemies of the revolution and of the peoples.” (PU #2, p. 37) No kidding! This obvious truth is then used to justify ignoring the real contradictions between these countries and the superpowers. The significance of their opposition to the superpowers is advanced as simply a weakness in the enemy camp, which we should exploit to attack all our enemies at once.

IS! cannot grasp the fact that certain bourgeoisies in Western Europe are willing or can be brought to defend national independence, albeit in their own class interests. Herein lies the basis for common action with this class by the proletariat. Of course, this is only relevant if one recognises that the Second World is made up of lesser capitalist and imperialist countries, unable to compete on a world scale and suffering from the domination or threat of the superpowers. It is because they ignore this basic element of the Three Worlds analysis that IS! can say the following:

... this does not excuse us from constantly paying attention to how the many contradictions in the camp of the bourgeoisie and of imperialism in various countries and the world might and should be used to benefit the revolution. It is precisely in this way that the ’theory of three worlds’ is clearly of value. But to argue, supposedly on the basis of the ’theory of three worlds’, that the bourgeoisie of any or many countries could engage in war against imperialism and hegemonism, is to cross a very dangerous line!

An imperialist bourgeoisie or an imperialist ’bloc’ can engage in war with another bourgeoisie or another bloc, but this is not a revolutionary war; this is an imperialist war, a war of pillage, a war for hegemony. An imperialist war is not a war against imperialism!” (For the Unity of the Canadian Proletariat, pp. 12-13)

IS!’s confusion about Western Europe is also manifested in its analysis of the EEC. First they assert that the EEC represents an attempt to get a “bigger piece of the pie” for the Western European imperialists. But, as if they sense that this would lead them into seeing something positive in the EEC thus opposing the First World, IS! reverses itself and portrays it as a tool of US imperialism:

In Europe, with regard to the Common Market, it (US) tries to draw under its contact certain European countries threatened internally by the revisionist parties fervent defenders of social imperialism. (PU #2, p. 32)

And yet IS! feels it’s correct for a socialist state to promote the EEC in opposition to the superpowers.

Thus the People’s Republic of China pays special attention to the reinforcement of the Common Market which is a good mirror of the sharpening of inter-imperialist conflicts. In fact, both superpowers are hostile to it.(IS!, July 7, 1977, p. 11)

Does or does not IS! recognize the positive aspect of the EEC? They’re making it hard to tell:

Thus we have seen Marxist-Leninists accord for example, more importance in supporting the European Common Market countries against the two superpowers rather than to firmly support the proletariat in struggle in these countries against their own imperialist bourgeoisie and the two superpowers. (PU #2, p. 38)

Thus in classic IS! style they have made the two aspects of the struggle mutually exclusive (i.e. either support the EEC or support the European working class) and leave us with the impression that there’s nothing positive about the EEC at any level without saying so in so many words.

IS! essentially groups all the imperialist and capitalist countries together. They propose that the proletariat and peoples oppose them all equally and at the same time. They seem to be saying that a blow against one imperialist is also a blow against another:

The working class of these countries (First and Second World) directly confronts their imperialist bourgeoisie; the proletariat of these countries, in their struggles and under the leadership of Marxist-Leninist organizations or parties, wage relentless struggle against the grasp of the two superpowers on their country. By doing so they deal direct blows against imperialism, mainly of their own bourgeoisie and also of the two superpowers. (PU #2, p. 38)

What does IS! mean by “using the contradictions between the imperialists within the bourgeoisie” (PU #2, p. 39)? Does it mean that we can concentrate our blows on a main enemy or even bring secondary enemies to contribute to this effort? No, IS! is clear that their very “correct” and “pure” “Marxist-Leninist” strategy involves attacking all our enemies at once, equally. Their idea of “using” (?) contradictions is to hope these enemies won’t all unite to resist.

We have to comment on IS!s attempt to isolate “Chinese foreign policy” from Marxist-Leninist analysis. Certainly there are many agreements and com promises which a socialist state makes which we shouldn’t feel bound by. But what IS! has done is to make the Three Worlds analysis of relevance only to this state policy. For IS!, there is no reason for Marxist-Leninists in our country to have an analysis of the world process, but only of ”(our) country and with respect to (our) own bourgeoisie on international matters” (PU #2, p. 40). Again on p. 11 of IS! #92, we are told that the Three Worlds analysis is something developed by the Chinese Communist Party to guide state-to-state relations , which is somehow different from the ”class viewpoint” which should guide the actions of Marxist-Leninists here. IS! really confuses the issue in # 93, p. 10 when they take up the principle (correct in itself) that each Marxist-Leninist party is equal and independent and must think for itself. They, however, distort the struggle of the CPC against Soviet revisionism into a simple struggle against the domination of this party, rather that a struggle against a revisionist political line. The CPC fought for a correct general line for the international communist movement. In our day, this correct general line on the international situation is bound up with Mao’s Three Worlds analysis, an analysis which IS! rejects. Rather than say so openly, IS! distorts the theory and then criticizes their distortions. At no time do they recognize the need to apply the general theory to particular conditions.

IS! ’s lack of analysis of the factors at work on the world scene is reflected in its approach to world war. In speaking about the “politics which leads to war” IS! feels it is sufficient to identify various countries as imperialist and therefore the nature of war involving these countries necessarily imperialist. Nothing more need be said IS! ’s answer for the peoples of all countries in opposing imperialist war is short and simple: “make revolution”. Unfortunately for us all, life and world events are not so simple. What of World War II? This war, fought by imperialist states, had two aspects – imperialist and anti-fascist. The occupation of imperialist countries such as Belgium and France called for a just war of resistance on the part of the people of these countries, in conjunction with those capitalists who were willing to resist. How does IS! explain this indisputable fact that the ”politics” of these countries was certainly imperialist prior to the war (and afterwards as well )? Where does this leave IS!’s very “correct” quote from Lenin about defense of one’s country being social-chauvinist?

IS!’s non-analysis of war is carried further when it insists that Canada (which they have yet to show is imperialist!) is preparing like all other imperialist power for imperialist war. (We would be very interested in seeing what territory Canada is planning to seize with what armed forces. Basing ourselves on concrete analysis of the Canadian ruling class and its participation in previous wars, we believe it is quite clear that Canada will enter the coming war as an adjunct to the US military effort, happy to try to maintain the power of this superpower. But for IS! this is much too much analysis.

What we can also say is that the Canadian bourgeoisie is imperialist that it practices imperialist politics. What role will it play therefore in a world war? It would be a good bet to say an imperialist role. The Canadian imperialist bourgeoisie will wage an imperialist war to pursue its imperialist politics in a logical manner. And is it necessary to underline that this is not in the interest of the Canadian proletariat and people! (PU #2, p. 33)

Let us be clear that the Canadian bourgeoisie is a reactionary class, as are the ruling classes of Western Europe. The Canadian bourgeoisie, in particular, is not about to defend Canada’s national in dependence – its class interests don’t dictate this stance. But this is not to say that many of the Western European capitalists will not do just that, like they did (in obviously an inconsistent way) in WW II.

IS! doesn’t seem to understand that there is a real danger of the loss of national independence in Western Europe under the jackboot of Russian imperialism. Their lame answer to everything, “make revolution”, would provide no answers for the people of Europe to know how to prepare for the coming war of aggression against their country. Obviously revolution is the way to prevent war, but what if war comes before this is accomplished? Is the working class supposed to sit back and watch its country being occupied, repeating to itself that all imperialists are reactionary?? Apparently it should according to IS!, “. . .the Marxist-Leninists should loudly proclaim that there is no meaningful policy of defense in our country as long as our bourgeoisie is in power. ” (PU #2, p. 34) It is only by eliminating everything but proletarian revolution as a response to the war preparations that IS! is able to attack those like the CCL-ML who at least attempt to do a serious analysis of the situation in Europe (even if this group wrongly applies the analysis to Canada).

IS! hints that they do have an immediate program to resist war, but it remains absolutely murky,

We must on the contrary intensify our preparations to destroy (the bourgeoisie). In the framework of these preparations we must put forward immediate demands which aim at assuring the protection of our people against the danger of war and always strengthen the camp of proletarian revolution. (PU #2, p.34)

We believe that since IS! has been so self-rightious in denouncing the League’s attempts to develop a program to deal with the question of war, that we are justified in asking what on earth they are talking about when they speak of “immediate demands”? It should be clear that IS!’s position that ”...given the conditions of the moment, it is the proletarian revolution which principally arms the people to defeat imperialist wars” (PU #2, p.33) is no position at all.

IS! seems intent on debating the question of the international situation by means of “revolutionary” posturing and denouncing all who disagree with them as “social-chauvinists”. We strongly encourage IS! to deal seriously with the criticisms made of their position by the CCL-ML and ourselves.

For example in IS! #93, p. 10, in dealing with the CAPT conference, IS! lists off a number of accusations and criticisms made of them by the League at the Conference. But rather than go through them one by one and either accept them and self-criticise or prove them wrong, IS! chooses to ignore them and proceeds to talk about the “real issue”, which is the League’s supposed abandonment of a class viewpoint. Everything is directed to proving that the CCL-ML and other “social-chauvinists” who support the three worlds analysis are supporting the Canadian bourgeoisie against the struggling peoples of the world. They have utterly failed to demonstrate any of this.

From time to time IS! comes to grips with the fact that a country can have a dual nature – somewhat progressive externally while totally reactionary internally, (e .g. PU # 2, p 38, the example of Iran). Yet in many other places other ML’s are denounced for recognizing this fact (the implication that if you support the EEC, the Shah of Iran, Mobutu, etc., in their anti-superpowers struggles you are naturally against the people which are oppressed and exploited internally.

The bulk of IS!’s material is directed toward showing the danger of supporting oppression in the name of anti-superpower struggle. Unless it can show where and how this has occurred, we will continue to assume that its refusal to see the world united front as encompassing more than the proletariat and peoples of the world (and perhaps consistently anti-imperialist third world countries) means a rejection of the 3-worlds analysis and not simply of its possible dangers.


[1] “For the Unity of the Canadian Proletariat,” Brief notes on the present conjuncture, published by IS, April 1977.

[2] We assume IS means to say ’it’s the interests of the world revolution in the struggle against imperialism that are fundamental and should always guide the politics and alliances of the proletariat and the people’