Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Red Star Collective

The International Situation: World United Front & Proletarian Revolution

The Three Worlds

For a time it was possible to speak of two opposing world camps representing opposing social objectives. There was a camp of imperialism headed by the United States, but not yet fully dominated by the American imperialists. Opposing this imperialist concentration was the camp of socialism headed by the Soviet Union. Within the imperialist camp the United States began to emerge as the sole dominating power – a superpower – through the agency of such international policies as the Truman Plan and the Marshall Plan. But this alone would not have resulted in any fundamental change in world relations. The really crucial development was the degeneration of the Soviet Union into an imperialist power and the transformation of the socialist camp (with exception of certain countries which remained socialist) into a social-imperialist USSR and several revisionist countries under its domination. In place of a struggle between a socialist camp and an imperialist camp, we were confronted with a struggle of two superpowers contending for world hegemony. This is a most significant development in world relations.

At present the world is divided into three main types of countries, or three worlds: the first world, consisting of the great imperialist powers which seek hegemony on the world scale; the third world, the countries on the road to development which have just emerged from colonialism and whose main task is to obtain and consolidate national liberation;and the second world, the developed countries between the two which both exploit and oppress other countries to some extent and are themselves exploited and oppressed by the first world countries. (Canada; Imperialist Power or Economic Colony? p 76)


The first world consists of the US and the SU. These superpowers are significantly stronger than any other imperialist country. The “general economic, financial, military strength, etc.” enables them, and only them, to compete for world hegemony, each struggling to bring the world under its complete domination . Because of this continual battle to bring more peoples and nations under their control, the two superpowers are the greatest enemies of the peoples of the world. Their struggle for hegemony necessitates contention with each other, particularly in Europe where a military confrontation is in the making. If unchecked this contention will lead to a world war.

The Soviet Union is the more dangerous of the superpowers. This is because it has only recently become imperialist and is therefore forced into an agressive role in order to seize territory already held by other imperialist nations. As well it can still hide its intentions behind a mask of socialist rhetoric.

In the 1960’s when the SU was still quite weak, it opposed just struggles against national oppression under the pretext that “... any small ’local war’ might spark off the conflagration of a world war.” (Khrushchev, Radio and TV speech, June 15, 1961 , quoted in the Polemic on the General Line of the International Communist Movement, p 243). Today, when it is stronger, the SU claims to be the “natural ally” of the newly emerging forces of the third world. With this new tactic the Soviet social-imperialists “support” national liberation struggles only as a means of gaining domination over them. The decision of whether or not to “support” a struggle is based on which ruling class would give the SU the best opportunity for domination and exploitation of that country. Thus in Angola they backed the MPLA via the intervention of Cuban troops. But in the case of Cambodia and Eritrea the SU refused to help the national liberation forces as they thought the old regime could be brought to better serve Soviet social-imperialist aims. It is absolutely necessary to strip away the false mask of “protector of world peace and security” that the SU hides behind and expose their predatory aims towards other countries.

The US was once the only world superpower, but this situation has altered. Not only has the SU gained in strength, but the US has suffered some defeats.Through relying on their own strength the people of Indo-China won national liberation and defeated US imperialism. In the US dominated North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), there are clashes between member groups (e.g. the conflicts between Greece and Turkey), the withdrawal of France, and the threat of governments being elected with pro-Soviet sympathies (e.g. Portugal).

Unlike the SU , the US has been thoroughly exposed as an enemy of the peoples of the world, and it can no longer deceive people with its phoney image of “defender of democracy”. In this regard it is not as dangerous as the SU.

Nevertheless the US has considerable strength and remains a superpower, contending with the other superpower for world domination.


Second world countries have a dual character. On the one hand they are capitalist countries exploiting and oppressing labouring people including people of other nations.

On the other hand they are subjected to domination and exploitation by the superpowers.

Some second world countries are definitely imperialist in that they hold colonies (political,economic) and/or are dependent upon their imperialist ventures. That is, they are dependent upon the capital they have invested in foreign countries, they are dependent upon foreign sources for markets, labour and raw materials. France, West Germany and Japan are examples of such countries.

Other second world countries cannot be said to be imperialist because they have been reduced to dependency on one or the other superpower for investment, supplying it with any or all of markets, labour, and raw material. This is true for many Eastern European countries which are economically and politically dominated by the SU. It is also true of Canada which, while it is politically independent, is economically dominated by the US (the RSC uses the term “economic colony”). In these cases the predominant nature of the political economy is one of suffering from imperialism, not of being an imperialist country – imperialized rather than imperialist.

The case of the developed countries in between the superpowers is a complicated one. Some of them retain colonialist relations of one form or another with the Third World countries, and a country like Portugal even continues with its barbarous colonial rule. An end must be put to this state of affairs. At the same time, all these developed countries are in varying degrees controlled, threatened or bullied by the one superpower or the other. Some of them have, in fact, been reduced by a superpower to a position of dependencies under the sign-board of its so-called ’family’. In varying degrees, all these countries have the desire of shaking off superpower enslavement or control and safe-guarding their national independence and integrity of their sovereignity. (“Speech by Teng Hsiao-ping to Special Session of the UN General Assembly,” Peking Review, April 15/74.)

In the event of war the reaction of the bourgeoisies of the different types of second world countries will reflect their relationship to the superpowers. Relatively weak and dominated second world countries will have no choice but to follow the lead of the superpower which dominates them, because the bourgeoisie’s interests are tied in with those of the superpower. Canada will be drawn in on the side of the US and most Eastern European countries will be allies of the SU.

In Western European countries, however,the situation is different. The bourgeoisies of some of these countries have interests which are in conflict with both the US and the SU. In the event of war it is possible that they could fight to defend their own interests against those of the superpowers. Therefore, in these countries the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, for separate reasons, would have in common their opposition to the superpowers. This must be kept in mind – both the different goals and the common enemy – when determining our tasks in relation to world war.


In colonies and former colonies a great force exists and is rising up against imperialism. In Asia, Africa and Latin America, we have witnessed a great movement to throw out imperialist aggressors and to establish independent countries.

Among the third world countries there are many stages of independence. Some countries and nations,such as Namibia (South West Africa), have not reached even nominal independence. Some have gained political independence,but are still in reality under the thumb of one imperialist country or another, as in the case of Angola. Others have succeeded in establishing political independence and are not dominated by any imperialist country,for example, the socialist countries, and Mozambique and Cambodia.

All these countries are characterized by their desire to oppose imperialism, to establish and maintain their national liberation and by their economic underdevelopment.

The socialist countries, Albania and China[1] are part of the third world. This is because they are fundamentally opposed to imperialism, in particular to the superpowers, and give unswerving support to revolutionary struggles.

As the socialist countries become economically advanced,or if an economically advanced second world country becomes socialist,the world balance of forces would be changed. The position of the third world countries in relation to imperialism would be strengthened. Third world countries could turn to a socialist country rather than an imperialist country for military, economic, etc, assitance. No longer would the superpowers be able to use aid as a means of interfering with and exploiting peoples.

We must also note that the third world is not a static category. While relatively stable in the short term, in the long term there could be significant change. For example, if the Middle Eastern oil countries, which now export capital, were to emerge as capitalist counties.

Recent history has shown thaŁ in general, it is the two superpowers that are the main enemies of the third world peoples and countries. The struggles of the Indo-Chinese people against US,imperialism, the CIA-backed coup in Chile, the exploitation of India by both contending superpowers particularly the SU and Soviet aggression in Angola and Zaire give testimony to this. So does the fact that it is the US and the Soviet navies which ply all the world’s waters. Certainly second world countries exploit and oppress what countries and peoples they can. The people of Angola, Mozambique and Guinea-Bissau had to wage a long and bitter struggle against Portugal for their independence. France still holds colonies (French Guiana, Guadaloupe, Martinique and Reunion) and Japan has extensive economic holdings in South East Asia. But these political and economic holdings of the second world do not enable them to compete in the domination of the world.[2]

Although all forms of imperialism must be struggled against,on a global level it is principally against the two superpowers that the main blow must be struck.


[1] We have not done sufficient investigation to determine if the countries of Vietnam, and North Korea are proletarian dictatorships. However, they are definitely part of the third world.

[2] Japanese Imperialism Today, Jon Halliday.