Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Red Star Collective

The International Situation: World United Front & Proletarian Revolution


In Struggle has made bold criticisms of Marxist-Leninist groups and parties around the world which it identifies as constituting a “social-chauvinist” tendency. This is a serious charge. If it were true it would mean that these were false communists, that they made it their business to defend the interests of their “own” bourgeoisies, and had given up the internal class struggle for socialism in their countries.

In PU #2 (p 38-39) IS attempts to make mutually exclusive the support by Marxist-Leninists in all countries for the actions of certain internally reactionary governments in the Second and Third Worlds which contribute to the world united front against the superpowers, on the one hand – and support for the revolutionary struggles of the peoples of those countries, on the other. They imply that Marxist-Leninists in Western Europe, who recognise the progressive aspects of the EEC or the need for greater union of European countries against the superpowers, have given up the struggle against their own bourgeoisie and have been reduced to petty-bourgeois reform of imperialism. Two particular examples are thrown in – devoid of any context – to oppose the practice of “French Marxist-Leninists” and “certain Marxist-Leninists”. We assume they are referring to the Parti Communiste (Marxiste-Leniniste) de France and the former October League (ML) – now dissolved into the Communist Party (ML) USA. IS has added to this “critique of social chauvinism” elsewhere, particularly in the supplement to #91 of their newspaper, but has been remarkably vague as to which groups they are referring to.

The RSC views this as an unprincipled and unwarranted attack on fraternal parties. It diverts attention away from IS’s incorrect views on the world scene and is used to justify its undialectical view that all we have to do is identify proletarian revolution as the answer to all problems and questions in the world. By remaining vague as to the target of their attack, IS puts its readers in the position of accepting its characterisation and criticism of opposing views on faith.

Well, let’s look at the political line and practice of this supposed “social-chauvinist” trend. We are assuming that the parties and groups in this category are defined by seeing something positive in the actions of their “own” 3rd and 2nd world ruling classes in opposing the superpowers. We will look at the PC MLB (Communist Party of Belgium – Marxist-Leninist); the PCMLF (Communist Party of France – Marxist-Leninist); the Marxist-Leninists of Tunisia and Zaire and the PCP-ML (Communist Party of Portugal – Marxist-Leninist).

The PC MLB, in conjunction with the communist group Lutte Communiste (ML) held a May Day meeting attended by workers from all over Belgium. The flyer which they distributed widely advertising this meeting, lets us understand the main thrust of their agitation and propaganda work among the masses. Roughly equal space was devoted to three central themes: (1) refusing to pay for the capitalists’ crisis and moving on to the offensive on immediate economic demands; (2) defense of national independence against the superpowers; (3) the overthrow of the reactionary Belgian state and the institution of socialism in the place of capitalism.

Their slogans under the defense of national independence were:
“– for national independence
– for a non-aligned Belgium, free of all foreign domination
– for the broadest union, including in the area of defense, of the independent European countries, on an equal footing
– for the unity of Belgium and the other European countries with the Third World.”

The role of communists is seen as leading a “political struggle at the head of the popular masses for a united front against the hegemonism of the two superpowers and most particularly against Soviet social-imperialism, the greater danger in Europe.”

These ideas ought certainty to qualify the PC MLB for membership in IS’s “social-chauvinist trend”. But how does IS explain the fact that rather than proceeding to defend its “own” bourgeoisie, the PCMLB links this closely with a firm denunciation of capitalism, the Belgian state, and the revisionist schemes of peaceful transition and structural reform. The goal of proletarian revolution is advanced not as some far-off goal which can be contemplated when the superpowers have been repulsed, but as the immediate goal of the working class.

The pages of the Party’s newspaper Clarte et L’Exploite, are full of articles each week supporting and providing leadership to a variety of workers struggles against the Belgian bourgeoisie. There is also ample coverage of the struggle against imperialism and the two superpowers around the world, including support for all aspects of the World United Front.

For example, several articles appeared denouncing the Soviet-sponsored invasion of Zaire and supporting the Zairese people and government and those governments (e.g. Morocco, France and Belgium) which aided them. Does this mean that the PCMLB has forgotten about class struggle within each country? Not at all. For instance in the June 22 issue (#1 86) we find an article clearly denouncing King Hassan II of Morocco for his repression of the workers movement (including arrest of 176 Marxist-Leninists, and torture and murder of communist leaders), his opposition to the liberation of the Saharan people and to their Polisario Front, and as well his signing of an unequal treaty with the Soviet Union which allows it to plunder Moroccan phosphates. While affirming their view that Hassan “took a correct position of defense of the principle “Africa for the Africans” in relation to Zaire, the article ends with the sentiment that “we are convinced that the Moroccan people, headed by our heroic Marxist-Leninist comrades, will expand its fight for national and social liberation.”

The Second Congress of the PCMLB was held in January of this year. In summarising its results, the newspaper said the following in relation to the united front for national independence:

The fight for national independence doesn’t exclude the fight for proletarian revolution but is rather a component part of it. We struggle for national independence because it is absolutely necessary for the victory of the proletarian dictatorship, because the two superpowers, especially Soviet social-imperialism, constitute on the world scale the greatest obstacle to the world revolution. Any strategy we develop, any tactic we employ, are always aimed at the institution of socialism and communism. Our Party’s name, its general program, our Marxist-Leninist ideology allow of no doubt on this subject.” (#167, p. 7)

The PCMLB firmly supports the 3-worlds analysis and the world united front, as in their article in Clarte et L’Exploite #176 (April 6, 1977) attacking the Trotskyists, who oppose this theory. The Trotskyists (like IS) are always accusing them of “forgetting class struggle”. The PCMLB answers that this is exactly a theory of class struggle on the world scale, while the class struggle certainly goes on within the countries of each of the three worlds, including the socialist countries.

“In the First World, there is oppression of the working class and popular masses, and thus resistance to oppression, and class struggle. The American and Soviet peoples are not our enemies but our brothers and we are in solidarity with their struggles.

“In the Second World, the countries which are at the stage of imperialism are on the eve of proletarian revolution; communists designate the monopoly bourgeoisie as the target of the revolution and they unceasingly call for class struggle.

“In most Third World countries, there are exploitative classes – feudal, comprador bourgeois and national bourgeois – in power, and they oppress the people. Therefore the communists of these countries place themselves at the head of the revolutionary struggles of their peoples. Clearly Marxist-Leninists everywhere are in solidarity with this struggle.”(pp.7-8)

The Second Congress of the PCMLF held in early 1975, produced a new program, which lays out the short- and long-term goals of this Party. (It was reproduced in Proletariat #10, p. 13.) After laying out the ultimate objective – world communism – and the strategic objective – socialism in France – it passes on to the path of the revolution in France. Placing the French revolution as part of the world socialist revolution, it underlines the need to understand the international situation, based on the “3-worlds analysis”. The Second World is described as “constituted by the developed countries (including France) situated between the superpowers and the developing countries.” Their decline was accentuated at the end of the Second World War. The bourgeoisies in power in these countries attempt to maintain their old imperialist and colonialist privileges, but at the same time, they are themselves confronted to varying degrees with the attempts at control and domination of the two superpowers. The considerable aggravation of the general crisis of capitalism leads them, with the aim of defending their class interests and their very existence, to make the working class and working masses of their country bear the weight of the crisis, while at the same time opposing more and more each day the control and attempts at control on the part of the superpowers, thereby trying to preserve national integrity and sovereignty.

This is why the path of the proletarian revolution involves the indispensable historic struggle against the hegemonism of the two superpowers, notably against the main danger constituted by Russian social-imperialism. (pp. 16-17)

Although a revolutionary mass movement exists in France, a proletarian insurrection is by no means an immediate possibility. Thus in the present period defense of national independence against the superpowers is seen as central. The program calls on the people to heighten its vigilance against the expansionist and aggressive aims of the superpowers; to prepare to resist against the expansionist and aggressive aims of the superpowers; to prepare to resist any external military aggression; to develop the class struggle for immediate economic demands and for socialism; to unite with all European peoples in all spheres under the leadership o their Marxist-Leninist parties; to unite with the peoples of the Third World particularly those of China and Albania.

These are all tasks for the people and the program emphasises that only in certain circumstances are some of them in harmony with the interests of the French bourgeoisie, which acts according to its class interests which are fundamentally opposed to those of the proletariat. The Party’s line in the Program is thus not of alliance with the bourgeoisie, but of defense of national independence as a necessary condition of proletarian revolution. A commentary on the Program in the same issue of Proletariat, (p. 2) correctly poii out the potential right opportunist danger in this line and warns against it: “On the question of the central target the first point of the program is quite unambiguous the two superpowers constitute the central target and West-European capital a secondary target. But a new right danger is present on this question. It tends to limit the target to the two superpowers who have thus become the sole target of the revolution, while the program of the PCMLF emphasises that they are only the central intermediate target. This tendency if not combatted leads rapidly to the transformation of the revolutionary proletariat into an adjunct of the European bourgeoisie in its rivalry with the two superpowers instead of allowing the proletariat and its party use the contradictions between imperialists.” (pp. 4-5)

The French bourgeoisie is identified as a decadent, reactionary class, and longer progressive at all. “All mass struggles directed against its class domination are a good thing, not a bad thing, which bear on the target of the revolution, even they don’t bear directly and openly upon central point.”

Those who assert that the PCMLF has given up the struggle against its “own” bourgeoisie to unite with it against the superpowers should read this commentary carefully, Its viewpoint, which defies IS!’s “social-chauvinist” charge is summed up by the following: “Our line is to put all efforts on the political plane toward the primary defense of the endangered national independence all the while struggling consistently and firmly against the economic and social domination of the bourgeoisie in preparation for the proletarian revolution.” (ibid, p. 5) The commentator on the PCMLF program, in dealing with the question of war, criticises those who talk glibly of the prevention of war through proletarian revolution. While this in itself is not a wrong idea, it leads its partisans in France to call for the destruction of the bourgeois military, which in a non-revolutionary situation such as now exists in France weakens national defense against the central enemies of the proletarian revolution, the USA and USSR. Without national independence,socialism itself is impossible. Emphasis is placed on the fact that in transforming the imperialist war into a war of defense of national independence, although the latter is the immediate objective, it isn’t however the “goal in and of itself of the revolutionary war directed by the working class: the war of the people here will be a war for independence and socialism. In taking up arms for national defense, the people won’t be defending capitalist France, but will be struggling, arms in hand, for socialism, under the leadership of its Marxist-Leninist Party. In other words, national independence and socialism are indissociable. To disassociate them is to betray the revolution just like Thorez did in calling for the reconstruction of a capitalist and colonialist France in 1945.” (ibid p.6)

We would be interested in seeing concrete evidence from IS! that the PCMLF, surely a leading element of the “social-chauvinist trend”, has sold out to its “own” bourgeoisie. The pages of Humanite Rouge, reflecting the position of this Party, fly in the face of this assertion. The French Marxist-Leninists have a long history of opposition to French colonialism, from Indochina and Algeria to the Comoros (see Humanite Rouge, #303), Djibouti and countries, such as Guadaloupe still under the yoke of French domination. Internally, the French bourgeoisie is clearly identified as the mortal enemy of the working class, including the immigrant workers whose struggle is taken up in particular. All actions of the French bourgeoisie are recognized as arising from imperialist class interest. But the PCMLF is able to grasp the dual character of these class interests, (opposed to both the working class and to the hegemonistic superpowers) and use this to the advantage of the proletarian struggle.

As we can see the PCMLF in 1975 was very clear on the relationship between the interests of the proletariat and those of the bourgeoisie. Yet at this time, in carrying out this fundamentally correct line, it was making a right error of seeing war as imminent, and thereby downplaying the possibility of proletarian revolution coming to France before war. This led it in practice to make the struggle for national independence primary over the struggle for socialism. This error is recognized in a self criticism in early 1976 found in Proletariat #11 .They see their subjectivism (in ignoring the actual factors postponing war) on this question as a mechanical response to the lack of consciousness amongst various classes in French society about the danger of war. Their self-criticism emphasises to a greater degree than the original position that for the French proletariat it is a matter of a certain congruence of interest with the bourgeoisie, but in no way an alliance , where the struggle against it for socialism is lessened.

The current position of the French Marxist-Leninists is clearly expressed (with no possibility of a social-chauvinist interpretation) in an article by J.Jurquet in Humanite Rouge #609 (“The Thesis of the Three Worlds – a Leninist analysis of the international situation”). Particularly noteworthy is the position that French monopoly capital is part of the central target of the revolution at the present time, along with the superpowers. Equally useful is an interview with Jurquet in The Call, Dec.6, 1976, p. 6, where the attitude toward the French bourgeoisie and its contradictory interests is very clearly outlined. Once again, we insist that IS! concretely examine this material and the practice it reflects and provide some sort of justification for its charges of “social-chauvinism”.

The PCMLF has been illegal since 1968. One legal outlet for the ideas of the French Marxist-Leninists is the publishing house “Editions du Centenaire”. It recently published an extract from a speech given by a representative of the Tunisian Marxist-Leninist newspaper El Amel Tounsi (The Tunisian Worker), delivered at a meeting to denounce the severe repression by the Tunisian regime. The ideas expressed in it can help us to understand the task of Marxist-Leninists in Third World countries. We believe that it could well fit into IS!’s “international social-chauvinist trend” and is thus included to show the hollowness of of this charge.

The Tunisian Worker shows how Tunisia suffers from a neo-colonial economic relationship to the imperialist countries. Unequal trade goes on between Tunisia (a producer of raw materials, mainly olive oil and petroleum) and the industrial countries, mainly France, West Germany and Italy.

Tunisia’s national debt comes close to half its yearly output. Nearly 350,000 Tunisian workers are forced to emigrate and send their wages home. Tourism, dependent on imperialist markets, plays a significant role in the economy.

Tunisia is clearly identified as a country which has been formally independent for over 20 years yet where the revolution still involves overturning the neo-colonial relations of imperialist domination. The President of this country, Bourguiba, is seen as tied to imperialism. The Tunisian Marxist-Leninists advance the necessity for a new-democratic revolution, against imperialism and for national democracy. Their involvement and leadership in the struggle of the peasants, workers and students is directed to this goal.

IS! would have us believe that such an organization of Marxist-Leninists could not at the same time see anything positive in the actions of such a pro-imperialist ruling class as headed by Bourguiba. For IS!, it is enough to identify Bourguiba (and even other Third World heads of state who retain the character of national bourgeois as internally reactionary and supportive imperialist interests, and the entire question is settled. But the Tunisian Communists also understand events on a world scale and understand the role that even a trail like Bourguiba can play in the world uni front against the superpowers.

Their understanding of the world situation (into which that of Tunisia fits’ based on the theory of Three Worlds;

Important changes have occurred in the world situation, leading to constitution of three main blocs of countries. The first of these important changes is the transformation the Soviet Union from a proletarian socialist state into a social-fascist state internally and a social-imperialist superpower externally. The second of these changes is the sic and beginning of decline of the other imperialist superpower, the USA.

These two imperialist superpowers constitute the first bloc or the first world. Their rivalry for hegemony over not only agrarian but also industrial regions creates a serious war danger which weighs down on the whole of the world’s peoples.

The third of these changes is in constitution of the Third World bloc of countries. The aggravation of crisis of imperialism has pushed forward and greatly encouraged the tendency toward unity of the countries of the Third World against colonialism, neo-colonialism, imperialism and hegemonism. The Third World constitutes today the motive force of history, the revolutionary struggles its peoples constituting the fundamental and main element.

The fourth of these changes is appearance of the Second World constituted by the rich countries of Europe and Japan who,to differing degree hope to throw off the hegemonism the superpowers. While being forced to deal on more favourable terms with the countries of the Third World, the capitalist countries of Western Europe and Japan pursue no less imperialist objectives... (The Tunisian Worker)

Is this not a clear expression of social-chauvinism, as IS! defines it? Do the Tunisian Marxist-Leninists not directly oppose IS!’s ’correct’ approach of analysing “the international situation without tirelessly repeating the statement that the world is divided in three and that war is inevitable!”? (IS! , For the Unity of the Canadian Proletariat, p. 12) In analysing the role of blocs of countries on the world scene, the Tunisians directly contradict IS!’s cure for social-chauvinism, which is to “seek out the revolutionary forces where they really exist in the long term: in the exploited proletariat, in the poor peasantry, in the oppressed peoples who still bear the yoke of imperialism, rather that in the inevitably self-seeking and often deceitful manoeuvres of the big and petty bourgeoisies of the ’second’ and ’third world’.” (ibid, p. 12)

To directly charge Marxist-Leninists, such as those in Tunisia, with social-chauvinism would be much too difficult to substantiate. Rather IS! hides its attack on the Three Worlds analysis behind vague general criticisms of potential errors, mainly the giving up of the struggle against reactionary Third World regimes. But unlike IS!, the Tunisian Worker is capable of seeing contradictions at different levels, both national and international. For instance, it analyses changes in Tunisian foreign policy in recent years. Whereas in the ’60’s the Tunisian regime was a loyal defender of US imperialism at the UN and in the Arab League, it now declares itself to be in solidarity with the struggles of Third World countries. While in 1968, it supported the Saigon regime and US agression in Vietnam, in 1973 it congratulated Sihanouk on the victory of the Cambodian people. While in 1973 it doubted the usefulness of the the oil embargo and sold oil to boycotted countries, in 1975 it supported the struggle of Third World countries for a New Economic Order. Were these actions the result of a new-found fundamental opposition to imperialism and the superpowers? By no means. The crisis of imperialism , as it affects Tunisia has led it to raise its oil prices and it thus “finds a material interest in supporting the struggle of the countries of the Third World”. (The Tunisian Worker) “These changes in the foreign policy of the Tunisian regime are explained on one hand by the gravity of the effects of the imperialist crisis on the Tunisian economy and on the other hand by the positive effects of the struggle waged by the countries of the Third World for the defense of national wealth.” (The Tunisian Worker)

An even more striking example of the hollowness of IS!’s charge of social-chauvinism is in the case of Zaire. According to IS!’s logic, the people of Zaire had no interest in aligning with the present Zairese regime in resisting Soviet aggression, since both Brezhnev and Mobutu are in the camp of imperialism and reaction. The only mention made by IS! of the Soviet-sponsored invasion (IS!,April 28,1977,p 1 4) spends most of its time denouncing Mobutu and accuses the Soviets simply of “exploiting the just revolt of the people of Zaire.” IS! neatly sidesteps the most immediate question, i. e. whether or not to support the Mobutu government and others in taking up arms against the aggression. IS! ignores the practical necessity for the Zairese people to participate in a united front with secondary enemies to defeat the main enemy of the time.

Well, undoubtedly these sentiments constitute naked social-chauvinism! They are also the sentiments of the Marxist-Leninists of Zaire,who have no illusions about Mobutu being a revolutionary and in fact are in the forefront of the internal struggle against him and for true liberation. In a letter to Humanite Rouge (organ of the French Marxist-Leninists and a notorious centre of “social-chauvinism”) shortly after the invasion,the Zairese Marxist-Leninists wrote:

the people are resisting. We greet and support without hesitation all popular and patriotic actions both inside Zaire and abroad, both civil and military.They are living proof of the ardent desire of the people from the bottom of their hearts to liberate themselves from imperialism and to valiantly combat Soviet social-imperialism. They allow us to denounce and isolate this enemy.It’s because they emanate in the first place from our people that we support these actions and add to them. It’s true we have no illusions about the possibility of the present regime defending to the end in a consistent manner our national independence, nor to undertake a resolute mobilization of the people. This is a long-term project of unbroken tenacity,whose effective leadership can only be taken up definitively by the proletariat guided by its party. . . .We’re entering a new phase in the struggle of our people,which fixes clearly for us the tasks of opposing this aggression and defending without hesitation, but rather by showing revolutionary self-sacrifice and dauntlessness, our national sovereignty and independence.

This struggle, for us communists, should be firmly linked to that of ensuring the objectives of the deep aspirations of the popular masses leading to real national liberation and the establishment of a democratic and popular regime. . . (Quoted in Clarte et L’Exploite, #179, p 8-9)

For the Marxist-Leninists of Zaire the united front against Soviet aggression is a precondition for true national liberation. We challenge IS! to either follow through on the logic of their position and phoney charge of “social-chauvinism”, and thereby condemn this supposed accomodation with the reactionary Mobutu,or else to publicly express their support for Mobutu and the countries which aided him and the Zairese people in throwing back the aggression (while at the same time remaining faithful to the Marxist-Leninists and people of Zaire in their internal struggle).

The Partido Communista de Portugal(ML) held its 7th Congress in Lisbon in January of this year. The line developed at this Congress in relation to the international situation helps us evaluate whether this party in fact suffers from IS!’s “social chauvinism”. This comes out in an article in Seana Vermelha, April 1977, called “The 7th Congress of the PCP-ML: The anti-social imperialist strategy”.

This summary of the PCP-ML’s political line states that “the principal contradiction in the world, at this time, is that opposing the peoples, countries and nations of the whole world (including the American people and the people oppressed by American imperialism) to Russian social-imperialism – the main factor for war, the most aggressive, the main enemy” (ibid, p.4)

Following on this line, they propose a united front of all peoples, nations and countries which can be united against Soviet social-imperialism. This is a position with which we are in disagreement, since it ignores the struggle against US imperialism, which is still a very much alive imperialist superpower and part of the main enemy of the world’s peoples.

The Political Report to the 7th Congress said, to its credit that:

“in relation to the other superpower, American imperialism, we firmly oppose its hegemonic ambitions. In relation to the imperialist countries of the Second World, we support them in their just struggles against the hegemonism of the two superpowers, in particular in their struggles against the social-imperialist threat, and firmly oppose the colonialist and neo-colonialist oppression and exploitation which they exercise over the peoples of the Third World.” (ibid, p.5) But this tends to reduce US imperialism to the same level as the other imperialists, and opposition to “its hegemonic ambitions” is of little relevance when this is the superpower which is fighting to preserve its actual hegemony over much of the world.

The pages of the Party’s paper, Unidade Popular, are full each week of articles attacking the Soviet Union for its role inside Portugal and elsewhere in the world. There is virtually nothing on the role of the US or other imperialist powers. The struggle internal to Portugal is seen as a national-democratic struggle against the Soviet Union and its lackeys, which allows all patriotic classes to unite against this main internal enemy.

While we would not question the PCP-ML’s analysis of the situation within their own country, we would criticise what we see as a right opportunist line on the international situation. But rather than being an indication of social-chauvinism, this suggests the possibility of uniting with one part of the main enemy against the other. The internal struggle in Portugal might well leave aside the national bourgeoisie as a main enemy (if the PCP-ML analysis of the centrality of the struggle for national independence and democracy is correct); the international struggle should in no way leave aside one of the two most vicious and aggressive imperialist powers of our time. The correct view understands that both superpowers constitute the main enemy of the world’s people. The Soviet Union, the rising power, which, having arrived late on the scene, is aggressively attempting to build its empire, is the more dangerous of the two.

IS! accuses the “social-chauvinist trend” of two major errors, laid out on page 3 of the supplement to IS! #91. The first “error” in fact consists in defending national independence in the face of aggression by the superpowers. Although IS! may not be interested, the people of Europe would certainly like to know from where and when and how war will come. We have already shown how this “trend” by no means loses “sight of the interests of the world wide proletariat and the class analysis on an international scale.” (IS! Supplement #91 , p.3)

The second “error” is to make defense of national independence a precondition for the victory of socialism, rather than “answering with the immediate preparation of the proletarian revolution.” (ibid p.3) The only Party we know of which this might apply to is the Portuguese, which is operating in a particular situation (recent emergence from 50 years of fascism and a recent near-siezure of power by the Soviets) where national democracy may well be the stage of revolution in that country. In any case, it is a matter of concrete analysis, since, as IS! must agree, without national democracy we cannot proceed to socialism.

But as we’ve shown earlier, the real target of this attack on “social-chauvinism” is the practice of the European parties in putting themselves in the forefront of the fight to defend national sovereignty against the superpowers, while at the same time struggling directly for socialism. In its attempts to attack those who defend the Three Worlds analysis in practice and not just in words, IS! is forced to slander these parties and mislead us about the actual lines. This is not to say that there is not a danger in applying this analysis (that is to liquidate the internal revolutionary struggle like the European CPs did in the struggle against Hitlerite fascism); the problem with IS!’s attitude is that they are not warning us against a danger but rather are denying the entire analysis.