Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Red Star Collective

The International Situation: World United Front & Proletarian Revolution

Internal and External Aspects of the World United Front Against the Superpowers

The question of who can and should be united in the struggle against the superpowers is only poorly understood within the Marxist-Leninist movement in Canada. There is much general and vague talk about a world-wide united front, but when it comes down to who is and who is not in this united front, or under what circumstances others can be brought into the front, disagreements are legion.

Let us first be clear on the nature of the united front. The world-wide united front against the superpowers is not a sharply defined thing to which countries sign allegiance and then act in concert in a clearly delineated battle against a common enemy. Rather it is a summation of all the forces in oppostion to the superpowers at any one time. Certainly there are countries, such as Albania and China and other third world countries, which will consistently struggle against the hegemonic aims of the superpowers. To these countries we must add, as consistent members of the united front, the peoples of the third world countries who are engaged in national liberation struggles. However, many countries of the third world are still controlled by bourgeois, and in some cases puppet classes and cannot be said to be consistent members of this united front,but rather are only members in so far as they have some interests in opposition to the superpowers and stand up to defend those interests. Even Marcos, in the Phillipines, a US puppet, very occasionally stands up to his masters. For the present then, the country of the Phillipines can only be said to be a very occasional, vascillating element in the world-wide unite front, while the people of the Phillipines a very firm element in this united front.

The second world is a different situation. These peoples are, for the most part, not engaged in revolutionary struggle and must yet be led to become part of the united front against the superpowers. It is the pressing duty of every Marxist-Lenin party and group to do this. The countries of the second world vary in their relationships to the world, as we stated earlier. Canada and the Eastern European countries are closely allied to one or the other superpower. Therefore, they can become a part of the united front against the superpower only in extremely limited and short-term ways, as when Canada upholds the rights countries to establish 200 mile territorial waters. In general though, these countries are allies of the superpower. Some other second world counties are more consistently opposed to the superpowers (e.g. Austria, Switzerland, and France) and in that sense can be said to be part of the united front. The bourgeoisies in these countries do not oppose the superpowers because of their selfless goodness; their actions are based on their own imperialist interests and their need to protect their home markets from encroachment by the superpowers. Regardless of the motives of the bourgeoisies of these countries, some of their actions are objectively in the interests of the people of the world. Again the example of the declaration of the 200 mile territorial limits is good one.[1]

Marxist-Leninists must separate the positive from the negative aspects whe supporting the struggle of these second world countries against the superpowers That is, in order to help build the broadest united front Marxist-Leninists should always strive to educate the peoples of their countries as to the nature of the superpowers and he necessity for a united front against them. This includes support for the actions of their own bourgeois class when they objectively are against the interests of the superpowers and in the interests of the people. It does not include support for actions of the ruling class when they exploit and oppress people even if such actions oppose the superpowers. Nor should Marxist-Leninists in any way give up their role in leading struggles against their ruling classes for national liberation or for proletarian revolution. These aspects of the struggle are by no means mutually exclusive.

The relationship of the struggle for national liberation and/or proletarian revolution to the struggle against the superpowers is particular to each country. In the present situation where the danger of imperialist war exists, but the war itself does not exist, the principal contradiction of each country depends upon its internal class relationships. If one or the other superpower constitutes a major internal class force (as in the case of Canada,or the Phillipines or Poland,but not in the case of Holland) then the struggle against that superpower constitutes an internal part of the struggle for national liberation and/or proletarian revolution. If the principal contradiction in the country is between the proletariat and the domestic bourgeois class as is the case in Western European countries, then the struggle to resolve that contradiction, that is, to overthrow the bourgeois dictatorship and establish proletarian dictatorship, is only indirectly aimed at the superpowers, which are an external force at present.In Canada, US imperialism is an internal force. That is, through its alliance with the Canadian bourgeoisie it forms part of the bourgeois forces which directly confront the Canadian proletariat. Therefore, in Canada in order to establish the dictatorship of the proletariat it is necessary to confront one of the superpowers directly, to defeat US imperialism within Canada as well as defeating its ally, the Canadian bourgeoisie.

This description of the worldwide united front is correct for the present time, when a third world war is not in progress. However, in the event of war the situation will surely change. In the first place, it will become much more polarized and countries will either be in or out of the united front against the superpowers. In a country where one of the superpowers already constitutes a major internal force and the bourgeoisie is comprador or closely aligned to the superpower, there could be no thought of a national united front which includes the ruling class of the country against the superpowers. These countries will not join the world-wide united front against the superpowers. But the peoples of these countries,led by the genuine Marxist-Leninist forces, will struggle against the superpowers.

However, in those countries where the superpowers constitute primarily an external class force, then invasion by one or the other of the superpowers would constitute a fundamental change in the internal class forces. Both the bourgeois class and the proletarian class would be opposed to the same enemy, the invading force. The principal contradiction would change. Then a national united front including all classes in opposition to the superpower would be possible.

In the struggles of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, not only the toiling peoples of Indo-China, but also the national bourgeois forces, the intellectuals,the religious leaders, the petit bourgeois elements and even some of the feudal landlords united to defeat US imperialism. In Indo-China, as in China, all other contradictions in society were temporarily relegated to a secondary position while foreign imperialism was dealt with. This does not mean that tnese contradictions disappeared. Rather, all the various contradictions between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, the landlords and the peasants, etc. remained to be dealt with after the victory over the imperialist aggressor. In the case of China it took four years after the defeat of the Japanese, in which the national bourgeois forces had played a role, to defeat the feudal, capitalist and comprador classes which were supported by the US.lt took several more years to consolidate that victory.

Thus we can see that the role that some of the classes play in fighting imperialism is two-sided. Though the role of the proletarian and peasant classes is entirely positive because it represents the forward motion of history, the role of the national bourgeois forces has a dual character. In so far as the national bourgeoisie fights to defeat imperialist aggression in its own country it is positive; but in so far as it seeks to put itself into power and turn its country into a new bourgeois state which oppresses the proletariat and peasantry, it is reactionary and must be opposed. But as long as the national bourgeoisie is primarily occupied in fighting the imperialist aggression, its positive aspects predominate and unity must be the main aspect of the relations between it and the proletarian and peasant forces.

The Canadian Marxist-Leninist movement understands this point fairly well; in the case of third world semi-colonial countries. It is in the case of the imperialist countries of Western Europe that misunderstandings and disagreements arise. Is it possible for the bourgeois forces of Western Europe to have a positive aspect in the struggle against superpower military invasion of their country? Or does the fact that most of these countries are already imperialist mean that these bourgeoisies can have no positive aspects and any contradictions between them and the superpowers are merely contradictions among the enemy in which the revolutionary forces cannot take sides? Our view is that given the present historical circumstances and trends it will be possible for some Western European (imperialist) bourgeoisies to play a positive role in the united front against the superpowers and that the revolutionary forces must be prepared for this fact.

We base our position on the analysis of two major factors. Firstly although most Western European countries have not developed large political contradictions with the United States and are still largely dependent upon it militarily, they do contend with both superpowers economically and are also uniting with third world countries in opposition to them around various issues.

Secondly the war that is building between the superpowers is primarily over the seizure of Europe itself, not the colonies of Europe or the imperialized areas. The European bourgeoisies are gravely threatened and have no interest in being defeated by other imperialists. Some of them may therefore engage, along with the proletarian forces in national wars of self-defense.

The question of economic contention between the Western European countries and the superpowers can be illustrated in the relations between the United States and the European Economic Community. The nine members of the EEC form a free trade association that works towards finding more markets for the goods of its members and reducing the price of imports by eliminating tariffs. Its eventual goal is complete economic and political union. Given its internal conflicts this is unlikely in the near future. However, the unity the EEC has displayed within itself and with the third world has been enough to cause conflicts with the United States on several counts. For example, the EEC has had a Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) since 1962. This gives price supports to European farmers and imposes numerous levies on imports of agricultural goods. The United States has complained bitterly about this policy ever since it came into existence,but has been extremely unsuccessful in getting it changed. So far the US has been able to negotiate a reduction in tariffs only on citrus fruits and tobacco.

Industrial tariffs are another source of disagreement. The United States has continually agitated for lower tariffs on industrial goods coming into the Common Market, but achieved little progress since the ’Kennedy Round’ of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) in the mid-60’s. The EEC went on to sign many two-way preferential agreements with the other nations of Western Europe (the European Free Trade Association) and with various third world countries. These agreements either significantly reduced or eliminated tariffs on industrial goods but the United States was left out in the cold.

In recent years the struggle waged by the second world countries of Europe in unity with the third world countries against hegemonism in the international economic sphere has developed quite significantly. More and more these second world countries have come to realize that by increasing their ’dialogue’ and economic relations with third world countries, they, too, can shake off or reduce control and exploitation by the two super powers.

The Lome Convention signed in Togo in 1975 by 46 African, Caribbean, and Pacific (A.C.P.) developing countries and the nine EEC countries is a case in point. This agreement is a step forward in the isolation of the superpowers in the economic field.The agreement stipulates:

a system for stablizing the earnings from exports to the EEC of certain commodities important to the economies of a number of ACP states.The system was introduced in recognition of the fact that fluctuations in the world price of commodities exported by the developing countries make formulation and implementation of effective national development programmes difficult.

Commodities covered by the scheme are cocoa, coffee, cotton, coconut products, groundnuts, palm products, hides and skins, wood products, bananas, tea, sisal and iron ore. The list is reviewed every 12 months.

ACP countries are also eligible for financial assistance from a European development fund over the five-year life of the 1975 Convention of approximately US $2,750 million.This includes expenditure on the export earning stabilization scheme. (Far Eastern Economic Review, 10-77, P 41)

This agreement has obvious advantages for the third world countries,making them more sure of their markets for products and lessening their dependence on the superpowers.lt also shows that the EEC recognizes that it must treat the third world countries more fairly if it is to gain advantage over the superpowers. Other aspects of the agreement make clear that the EEC is, none-the-less, an imperialist organization. The EEC members, as part of this agreement, are able to invest in the ACP on terms no worse than those applicable to other countries, provided the investment takes account of national development plans.The EEC invests in foreign countries to make a profit from them, that is to exploit them, and for no other reason.

Other agreements between European and third world countries also indicate the contention with the superpowers. The fast breeder reactor arrangements between West Germany and Brazil and between France and Pakistan, and Argentina’s $358 million loan from 12 European countries are examples. The EEC countries have become the major trading partners of the Arab countries.“In 1974, trade with EEC nations accounted for 46% of their exports. ”(PR,No.25, June 18, 1976) In addition there have been a number of plans and proposals put forward in the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development for setting up international stockpiles of various commodities and a common fund to help administer these commodities. The European countries have expressed some sympathy for these plans but none of them have come into effect because of the opposition of the superpowers.

In general the strengthening of economic co-operation between the European countries and the third world has not gone unnoticed by the super powers,who have attempted to disrupt and coerce these countries into following an economic policy of subservience to themselves.

In the early seventies the United States retaliated against the EEC’s two-way preferential trade agreements with other countries stating that it would refuse to enter into a general (i.e. many-nation) tariff reduction scheme with any country that continued a specific two-way reduction scheme past 1975. More recently in the 1976 93 nation General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade negotiations Walker, the American representative, expressed the attitude that the EEC proposals were ’profoundly disappointing’ and ’puny’ and that they would result in the talks stalled at a level far short of the goal set by the ministerial council of GATT.

But it would be incorrect to view the United States as an already waning power in Western Europe. Despite these efforts of the EEC, the US still is able to play a strong role in European economic activities. The Common Agricultural Policy and the high tariffs on US goods have affected the volume of potential trade between the two areas, but the US continues to send most of its exports to EEC countries and they in turn send one-fifth of their exports to the United States. As well, the EEC has not yet made any move to limit foreign investment. This allows American capitalists to invest and produce in Europe to avoid the tariffs on imported goods. For example, in 1973 American investment in the EEC countries increased by over $5 billion[2]. (This figure is over and above the American investment added to the total by Britain, Denmark and Ireland joining the EEC that same year) By 1974 the US had $40 billion invested[3] in Europe, located mainly in the areas of petrochemicals, electronics, machinery and automobiles. Thus we can see that to this point the efforts of Western Europe and the EEC in particular, have not been great enough to extract themselves from the US’s economic influence. However,the trade agreements with the third world and the economic unity within the EEC demonstrate the potential to resist superpower hegemony on the economic level.

For its part the Soviet Union has opposed any price support system for the exports of third world countries, prattling on and on about how “long-term trade agreements” between itself and the third world countries are the best way to achieve stability in this field.

The relations between second and third world countries has also gone beyond the economic sphere. A clear example of unity in opposition to the superpowers exists in the case of Zaire. France and Belgium both gave military supplies to Zaire (and Morocco gave troops support which have now returned to their own soil) to aid in repelling the Soviet sponsored invasion.[4]

The superpowers will not be content, however, to hold back European and third world co-operation, or to prevent free trade from squeezing them out of the markets. They want much more. The US and the USSR each want all of Europe itself to be entirely under their domination. To this end the superpowers are actively preparing for war.


[1]We are speaking here of upholding the right of nations to establish such a limit. We are not suggesting that Canada itself has implemented this law in such a way as to provide genuine opposition to imperialist infringement.

[2] Statistical Abstracts of the United States, 1975. No. 1347.

[3] Proletariat $10, 1975. 2nd quarter, p. 37.

[4]The guiding principle in a question such as Angola or Zaire is “Africa for the Africans”. The peoples of this continent must be free from outside interference. Thus we oppose first of all the Soviet-sponsored aggression. Likewise we would oppose the presence of any imperialist troops (such as French or Belgian) on Zairese soil, while welcoming all material aid to the forces which are resisting aggression.