Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Red Star Collective

The International Situation: World United Front & Proletarian Revolution

The Present Situation In Europe And The Drive To War

In the imperialist era, wars of redivision among the imperialist powers are inevitable. As Lenin has pointed out, the rule of finance capital does not decrease “the unevenness and contradictions inherent in the world economy. . .in reality it increases them” (LCW Vol. 22, p 272)

The US which grew in strength rapidly after the Second World War,is now not the unchallenged world imperialist power it was. The Soviet Union, although not without difficulties, is growing in power. As the relative strength between these countries changes, so will the division of the world between them. This will not come peacefully. “Once the relation of forces is changed,what other solution of the contradictions can be found under capitalism than that of force?” (ibid p 274) The SU will attempt to seize parts of the American empire by force of arms, and the US will defend it in the same way. War will be the inevitable result. Only by ending the system of imperialism can the inevitability of war be denied.

Marxist-Leninists must adopt the correct attitude towards the coming imperialist war of redivision. It is in the proletariat’s interest to postpone war by strengthening the forces of the world united front and to prevent war by proletarian revolution. If it is not possible to prevent war then Marxist-Leninists must work to turn the imperialist war into proletarian revolution, and thus prevent future imperialist wars. This must be the long-term guiding line for Marxist-Leninists.

Marxist-Leninists in Canada generally agree that Europe is the present focus of contention between the superpowers. Why this is so and the consequences that arise from it, are not so well understood.


It is natural that Europe would not be overlooked in the superpowers’ struggle to protect and expand their economic exploitation and political domination. As an industrially developed area, Europe would make an invaluable asset to either country attempting to dominate the world. The steel production of the European Economic Community is greater than either the US or the SU; the combined Gross National Products of the EEC countries lies between those of the two superpowers. Besides industrial development, Europe also possesses many natural resources .These include hydro-electric capabilities, uranium, coal, iron, tin, tungsten, lead, zinc and gas. There are large oil deposits in the North Sea and not far to the south east is the oil-rich middle east. As well, Europe is strategically located between the superpowers. No other area of the world has a similar combination of factors.

The superpowers aim in the war will be to conquer, not destroy Europe. A Europe won by nuclear war would be of little use to the victorious superpower as a place for capital investment and further expansion. The idea of destroying Europe to prevent the other superpower from having it has only momentary attractiveness. The risk of all out nuclear war would be very great once the weapons were used. This possibility cannot be ruled out, however, if for no other reason than that one superpower might resort to nuclear weapons to stave off total defeat.

The Soviet Union’s role as the more dangerous and aggressive superpower is clearly apparent in Western Europe. The US has a firmer foothold economically, but the Soviet Union, with its dominant position in Eastern Europe, is preparing to wrest Western Europe from US influence and place it firmly under its own domination.

At the present time, the SU’s aspirations for economic domination of Western Europe outreach its capabilities. Unlike the US, the Soviet Union is not in a position to export capital to Western Europe. In fact, it is forced to borrow capital and trade for technology. Both the capital and the technology are used for military expansion and to assure its economic development in preparation for war. Soviet arms expansion is a dominant part of total production. In the SU approximately 85% of investment goes to means of production and 15% to consumer goods.(This has caused shortages in materials for consumer products, which has in turn resulted in plant shutdowns.)

The SU trades raw materials for the technology it needs. For example, in the Federal German Republic (West Germany) trusts have made transactions with the USSR valued at 1 5 to 20 billion marks for heavy equipment, payable in energy, gasoline, electricity and uranium .(Proletariat #10, 2nd quarter, 1975) In like fashion, Pechiney of France invested 6 billion NF in the Soviet Union (of which 3 billion were from the government of France) in exchange for aluminum for 10 years.

The means by which the SU supplies some of the raw materials is in itself an interesting insight into this “socialist” country. Throughout its trade agreements the SU attempts to establish control over the European supply of raw materials. It uses its long term “aid” agreements with the third world countries to buy resources cheaply and enable it to resell to other countries at higher prices.

An Iranian journal reports that in 1974 the SU was buying Iranian gas and reselling it to Austria at an estimated profit of 64 billion dollars, (ibid) And in India: “This diversion of Indian goods is so rampant that West German official statistics now divide imports from India into two categories: direct imports from India and indirect imports from India. . . ”This switch trade was first noticed in 1965, but though brought to the notice of the Delhi Government, nothing was done to check it. Later on a clause banning re exports was written in the annual trade agreements. But it continued to flourish and the East Europeans became more brazen in their conduct of this trade. In many cases the goods do not even reach the East European countries. They are re-sold directly at ports like Rotterdam or diverted on the high seas.To finance this very profitable switch trade,the East European countries have set up financial companies in West Germany and Switzerland.” (Soviet Social Imperialism in India, a CPI-ML publication, reproduced by IPANA , p 12)

The East European countries are also guilty of the reverse switch trade. In the bilateral trade agreements they are reported to have included on their supply side a number of items of machinery that are not manufactured in their countries. They are bought from the West European countries and re-sold to India – with a 40 to 50 per cent higher price.(ibid p 13)

The reasons for these differences in price are not difficult to find. The Soviet Union in the western countries has to lower its price in order to enter markets dominated by already established monopolies. In the Third World countries, remembering a bulk of the trade is with countries where the Soviet capital has been invested, the sales are done in areas where the Soviets have in one way or the other managed to get preferential positions, and are thus able to charge higher prices. These, however, are not the principles on which a genuine socialist country would base its principles. These are the principles on which monopoly capitalist (i.e. imperialist) organizations base their trade.(ibid p 15)

The Soviet Union does not restrict itself to trade agreements; it also participates directly in companies in other countries.In 1976 it had 8 joint-stock companies in Belgium alone.These include companies engaged in shipping, assembling motor vehicles and tractors, petro-chemicals, electronic computers and other electronic equipment. These companies must sell their products to the Soviet Union.(PR #22,. 1976.)

While presently limited in its ability to economically penetrate Western Europe, the SU is systematically using its trade and investment there to serve its expansionist aims.The Soviet Union is concentrating its production on a military build-up and is hovering eagerly over Europe.


Each superpower has a military alliance under its control in Europe. For the Soviet Union this is the Warsaw Treaty Organization, which effects Soviet military domination of Eastern Europe. The WTO was set up in 1955, supposedly as a mutual defense organization. Members were the SU, Rumania, Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Bulgaria and Albania.(Albania quit in practice in 1961 and formally in 1968.) The unified armed forces command of the Warsaw Treaty has always been under Soviet control – commander-in-chief and chiefs-of-staff are all Soviet officers. (TKP Dec. 26, 1974.) Soviet personnel are[1] stationed in other member countries as representatives of unified command and are charged with “communicating” the “directives” of the organization’s commander-in-chief to the Defence Ministers of the states in which they are stationed.

From 1968 to 1974 (while the US was busy in Indo-China) the SU strengthened its troops force in Europe by 20%, its tactical airforce by 50% and its artillery by 100%. They also increased their tank force and upgraded their artillery and anti-tank rockets. From 1971 to 1974 the SU doubled its strategic nuclear weapons. Also, a Southern European command has been added to the Warsaw Treaty Headquarters.

70% of the Soviet submarines and 75% of their surface vessels are stationed in European waters. In the last decade the SU has built 911 warships. Their Mediterranean fleet now totals 70 permanent ships and the first Soviet aircraft carrier[2], the Kiev,has sailed into the Mediterranean.

The Soviet Merchant shipping activities are serving the SU in their struggle for economic hegemony as well as in the inevitable military nature of the struggle. From 1971 to 1975 the SU purchased 990 ships from abroad and has spent a good deal on her own ships. The SU has undertaken the policy of undercutting world shipping rates to get business and now plies many of the routes that formerly belonged to Britain, West Germany, Greece, Japan and the US. this includes the river routes along the Rhine. Their merchant fleet now frequents over 1 ,000 ports in 100 countries. The particular significance of this is that many of the ships are specially designed to be able to carry armaments below decks. It was these ships that carried arms to Angola. The Soviet merchant marine is all part of their naval reserves and their crews are interchangeable with military personnel. In some cases soldiers and sailors already man merchant ships.

In preparation for war,war materials are being stockpiled in the Soviet Union and in the past year airfields and depots in Eastern European countries have been expanded. The highways from Moscow to Warsaw and Berlin are being rebuilt and improved. The Soviet wide-guage rail system is being extended into Northern Poland, East Germany, Hungary and Czechoslovakia.

In preparation for seizing Europe, the SU has militarily threatened that region.The SU has been out to lay claim to the Spitzbergen Islands in the North Sea, which belong to Norway. They have 3,000 “coalminers” on the islands and have carried out extensive missile testing there.

Soviet naval vessels are making repeated intrusions into Greek waters. The Soviet Union has repeatedly buzzed the North Sea drilling operations of Britain and the Netherlands with submarines, fishing vessels and planes.

The Warsaw Treaty Organization continually carries out military exercises with Northern European countries as the hypothetical enemy. For example, in September 1976 the WTO conducted military exercises in Western Poland involving 35,000 troops.

In addition to these forms of preparation, the SU also widely employs espionage. On and off for several years now there have been reports in the European press of spying by Soviet KGB agents. For example, in 1971, 105 Soviet spies were expelled from Britain. There are approximately 10,000 Soviet informants in West Germany and another 1,000 in Italy.[3]

All of this activity in preparation for war by the Soviet Union adds up to a very direct threat to the sovereignity of the Western European countries.[4]

And for its part, the United States is not standing idly by. There are about 200,000 US army troops and another[5] 73,000 airforce personnel stationed in Europe. They also have the Second Fleet in the Atlantic and the Sixth American Fleet in the Mediterranean.

The situation of the US in Europe is somewhat more complicated than that of the SU. While Soviet “allies” are largely under Soviet control, the US allies have considerably more independence. The dominant aspect of most Eastern European countries is that of being oppressed by a superpower.In most of the countries of Western Europe their imperialist nature is their dominant aspect.[6] The US domination over them is not so direct nor so complete as that of the SU over Eastern Europe.

The US was involved in a massive aggressive war in Indo-China and consequently its strength in Europe suffered during the late 60’s and early 70’s.This can be easily seen by studying the indices of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s military spending over the past several years. Taking 1970 as the 100 mark and using constant prices,[7] the US spending for war has declined from 115.7 in 1968 to 82.5 for 1975. Every other NATO country has increased its real spending.

But NATO[8] is still primarily an alliance to defend US interests and is under US control. For example, the US has control of NATO’s nuclear weapons except for a few British warheads. US officers head the Supreme Command and the Supreme Atlantic Command. Only the Allied Command is under British officers.

Since the peoples of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia defeated the US it has returned some of its attention to Europe and has been strengthening its position there. In Southern Europe the US position was particularly weak. The political situation in Portugal, Spain and Italy has made the US very nervous. Revisionists close to the SU were strong in all these countries. Greece and Turkey were at each others throats over Cyprus. Turkey had already shut down the US military bases on its soil and Greece was threatening to withdraw from NATO.

The US has gone to considerable effort to fortify its position. The CIA is reported to have spent anywhere between $6 million (The New York Times) to $75 million (Albania Today) in Italy ensuring that not too many members of the Communist Party got elected. After considerable diplomatic manoeuvring the US and Turkey signed a new military agreement (March 1976) whereby 11 the US will finance Turkey with $250 million[9] annually in return for which Turkey agreed to reopen the 26 US military bases.Greece is to receive $700 million from the US over the next four years in the way of military aid. In return the US retained the use of its four military bases there.

Now that Portugal has an established bourgeois democracy and the SU attempts to gain control have been repulsed to some extent, the US and Portugal have signed an agreement in which the US is to help Portugal equip and train an army brigade that would be a reserve force at the disposal of the NATO community in Europe.[10]

In Spain a similar situation has prevailed.In late May of 1976 the US and Spain signed a “friendship treaty”, which stipulated that the US would supply Spain with $1.2 billion in “aid” and Spain agreed to allow continued use of the US naval and strategic air command bases over the next five years.Spain has now applied for NATO membership.[11]

The US also has its own spy network in Europe. While it is difficult to get complete statistics, what has come to light in the French, Dutch and Danish press is that many CIA agents are working as diplomats. There are supposedly 3,700 CIA collaborators in Italy.

Time and again the US has gone out of its way to assure its western European allies that the US policy is for the continued existence of a strong NATO. As part of this the US put considerable pressure on Canada to spend $160 million to modernize its tank force. And there has been much emphasis recently on the need to standardize NATO equipment.

The NATO alliance has also engaged in military exercises. In Nov. 1975 the NATO forces conducted “Ocean Safari” exercises in and around Norway, involving 65 ships and submarines and 17,000 troops.

This followed similar exercises in the Mediterranean area. A year later NATO carried out much more extensive military exercises, involving 250,000 troops, from Norway to the Mediterranean. This time the mock invasion of Norway involved 80,000 troops, 900 aircraft, 200 ships and 30 submarines .These exercises were clearly monitered by the SU.

The US’s use of NATO as a means of fortifying its position vis a vis the WTO is clear in the “NATO Nuclear Plan Group Final Communique” of May 1976:

“The meeting started in accordance with precedent with a briefing by the United States Secretary of Defense on the balance of strategic nuclear forces and on the latest developments in this field, ”echoing the views expressed during the recent Defence Planning Committee meeting Ministers expressed concern at the continuing increases in military strength of the Warsaw Pact forces beyond levels justified for defensive purposes and at the resulting effect on the strategic balance between East and West particularly in regard to Europe. They discussed the importance of the contribution of theatre nuclear nuclear forces to NATO’s strategy of flexible response as a part of the NATO Triad of strategic theatre nuclear and conventional forces in particular. Ministers agreed on the need to improve the effectiveness of NATO’s theatre nuclear forces including their survivability. They emphasized their continued support for broad Allied participation in nuclear planning and in NATO’s nuclear defence posture.

Against this background the subject of improving the effectiveness of NATO’s theatre nuclear forces was highlighted in a paper forwarded by the United States.

The general situation in Europe is extremely complex, and of such a character that makes error and miscalculation an ever present danger, and error could well prove catastrophic in its consequences. Marxist-Leninists are well advised to chart their course carefully so as to avoid the many traps and pitfalls that lie in wait along the path ahead.

On the one hand there is no doubting the fact that the Soviet Union is now, and is likely to continue to be, the most active initiator of plots and plans aiming at the undermining and ultimate seizure of the countries of Western Europe.This is not only because the region is so important to the struggle for world hegemony. lt is also because the United States retains a strong economic, military and political foothold in Western Europe, while the Soviet Union has only a bare economic toehold and must extend its influence there if its thirst for world power is to be assuaged.

On the other hand the United States has been a fairly dominant force in the economy of Western Europe for some time, and its position is additionally strong by reason of traditionally close relations existing between North America and Western European nations. So while the people in the region have nothing to gain – indeed a great deal to lose ” should the United States be displaced by a Soviet advance across Europe, it would constitute an infinitely better situation if the countries of Western Europe were fully independent as to their relations with both superpowers.

Marxist-Leninists need to be alert lest the United States, assisted by reactionary allies, seek to seize advantage of the struggle against the hegemonic plans of the Soviet Union to consolidate its own economic, political and military base under the guise of “defending freedom”. NATO represents not only aspects of defense against the real threat of aggression from the Soviet Union; it represents as well counter-revolutionary tendencies. A struggle to transform NATO from an alliance dominated by the US into a strictly Western European alliance for the protection of the integrity and independence of all the countries in the area could well be one way in which to effectively struggle against BOTH superpowers and their hegemonic tendencies.

Although the US was weakened by the long war and defeat in Indo-China it has been recouping some of its losses and consolidating some of its strength in Europe. The US as well is preparing for war.

The general situation in Europe is extremely complex, and there is a danger of errors and miscalculation that could have catastrophic consequences. Marxist-Leninists must chart their course carefully to avoid the many traps that may arise.

The Soviet Union is now, and is likely to continue to be, the superpower most actively engaged in plans aimed at the undermining and ultimate seizure of the countries of Western Europe. This is because the region is extremely important to the struggle for world hegemony, and while the United States retains a strong economic, military and political foothold in Western Europe, the Soviet Union has only an economic toehold. In order to achieve its goal of world domination, the Soviet Union must extend its influence in Europe.

For the people of Europe, domination by Soviet social-imperialism would mean subjection to fascist-like repression. The interests of the people of the region are not in replacing one superpower with another but in being fully independent.

It is possible that the United States, assisted by reactionary allies, will attempt to take advantage of the struggle against the hegemonic plans of the Soviet Union, and consolidate its own economic, political and military base under the guise of “defending freedom”. In this way NATO represents not only aspects of defense against the real threat of aggression from the SU; it represents as well counter-revolutionary tendencies. A struggle to transform NATO from an alliance dominated by the US into a strictly Western European alliance for the protection of the integrity and independence of all countries in the area is one way in which to effectively struggle against both superpowers and their hegemonic aims.


An understanding of the Soviet military build-up and the relative weakness of the US at the time allows us to analyze the real meaning of the attempts to cover-up war preparations by peace talks. Diplomatically the SU has for a long time been singing the serenade of detente trying to lull everyone into a false sense of security. In mid-1975 the US was relatively weak. It was only just returning its attention to Europe. This weakness showed up clearly at the Helsinki Conference on European Security.

The agreement that was signed was clearly one of appeasement towards the SU. All talk of detente notwithstanding, the stipulations of the agreement recognized the post-WW II boundaries of Europe and Soviet dominance over the eastern sectors. They also allowed for more trade and cultural exchanges and more “economic co-operation” between East and West. There was supposed to be voluntary notification of troop manoeuvers involving over 25,000 people. The SU and other countries of the WTO were to allow more emigration.There was no agreement on arms or troops limitations.

Most of the Conference was hot air.In return for some vague promises of allowing freer movement across borders and cultural exchanges the SU gained tacit recognition of its Eastern European empire and the promise of more loans and trade agreements. The SU used these to buy Western technology to aid it in war preparations and to buy food grains to help it cover its harvest difficulties.

Appeasement can never satisfy an aggressive power.

While Europe is the focus, contention in other parts of the world also exists. The Soviet navy is building up in Asian and Indian waters and even occasionally foraying into the waters of South America. Recent events such as Soviet aggression in Angola and Zaire and interference in Southern Africa and the diplomatic flurries of Washington to try to recoup its losses clearly show that that continent is also a field of contention. The US is stepping up activities in India in an attempt to counterpose the Soviet presence in that area of the world. Certainly the Middle East – Red Sea areas have had an overabundant supply of superpower interference.

Though the actions of the Soviet Union clearly show that it is more aggressive, those of the United States cannot be discounted. As our Chinese comrades have put it, “Though it fell from the apex of power with defeat in its war of aggression against Korea, and was generally forced into a strategic defensive by subsequent defeats, the United States will not easily give up its vested interests in any part of the world. It is strenously working to fortify its positions and beef up its strength. It is adjusting its relations with Western Europe and Japan, trying to seize the initiative in the Middle East and other areas and seeking to penetrate in Eastern Europe.” (PR, #29, 1977, P 6)

So, while contention is global, the immediate focus is Europe. While both superpowers contend,the Soviet Union is the more aggressive. Again as our Chinese comrades put it, “By going all out in contention for Western Europe, the Soviet Union expects to deal the United States a fatal blow and with the help of the great economic and technological facilities of Western Europe, to attain its goal of global domination.

The aim of the war between the superpowers would be the domination of Europe. Thus, unlike the Second World War, it will not be possible for any European country to ally with one of the dominant contending forces without sacrificing national integrity.

Because of this it will be possible for some Western European bourgeoisies to join in the world united front against the superpowers. In this situation, the bourgeoisies would contribute to the struggle against the superpowers because of their desire to defend their own interests, i.e. they would struggle to protect the sovereignity of their country.

Lenin spoke of this possibility and of the necessity to defend such countries when he criticized Kievsky’s opposition to all wars: “If we follow Kievsky’s line of reasoning we would have to oppose either the republic or a war really fought to preserve the republic.” (LCW, Vol. 23, p 35, emphasis in original.)

Lenin was referring to the Republic of France, then, as now, an imperialist country.

As we have stressed elsewhere in this pamphlet, it is necessary to distinguish between real opposition to the superpowers and alliance with them. Many bourgeoisies will find it more in their interests to ally with one or the other superpower.

But where the bourgeoisies will struggle for national self-determination in the event of war, this will have important consequences for the working classes of those countries. Invasion by a superpower would change the principal contradiction in those countries from being between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie to being the people versus imperialism. In order to unite all the forces to defeat imperialism, the international united front against the superpowers will take the form on a national level of a national united front.

Within this united front, the working class and its vanguard will have the important tasks of giving leadership and of maintaining independence. That is, while opposition to the invading enemy temporarily creates the basis for an alliance between the working class and the bourgeoisie of those countries, the working class must never surrender the right to put forward a proletarian perspective. The role of the proletariat would be to provide leadership in the struggle against the superpowers and in taking the struggle for national self-determination on to the struggle for socialism.

Marxist-Leninists in those countries must educate the working class on the nature of the threatening war and the possibility of an alliance with the bourgeoisie. Tasks of Marxist-Leninists at the present also include supporting the anti-hegemonic actions of third and second world countries. All forces genuinely in opposition to superpower hegemony must be strengthened if war is to be postponed or, in the event of war, are to be defeated. This includes not only the revolutionary movements of the first , second and third world countries,but also the progressive anti-hegemonic forces of self-defense in the 2nd and 3rd world countries. Support of such concepts as an independent European defense (as opposed to supporting NATO in its present form which is dominated by the US), equal trade agreements with third world countries,and European unity is objectively in opposition to the interests of both superpowers.

There are many problems that still cause divisions among the countries of Western Europe. Nevertheless, under the impact of world events there has emerged a definite trend towards economic, political and military union with the region.

It seems obvious that Western Europe, if operating as a single unit, possesses tremendous economic and military potential which could make it a formidable power able to challenge the superpowers. This is a positive development in that Western Europe would be able to maintain an independent posture and resist the encroachments of both superpowers. But there is an aspect of the realizable potential that is negative. Western Europe, still under the rule of capitalists and imperialists, could itself become a superpower engaging in the struggle for world hegemony.

Marxist-Leninsts must confront the real world. Western Europe can, and conceivably will, become united and a great economic and military base. At the present time the Marxist-Leninist movement cannot take a stand against the emergence of a powerful Western Europe. Such a position would only aid the existing superpowers and contribute nothing to the struggles of the people for freedom.

The only proper course for Marxist-Leninists to follow is to recognize and support what is positive in the developing unity of Western Europe, while resolutely struggling to strengthen the Marxist-Leninist Party and the mass mobilization of the proletariat so that a revolutionary transformation can be effected.


[1] Ta Kun Pao (TKP) an English language newspaper published in Hong Kong.

[2] Peking Review #8, 1976.

[3] Peking Review #9, 1976.

[4] TKP articles in 1975-76 on the Soviet military.

[5] The Military Balance, London, Institute of Strategic Studies..

[6] We have not examined the political nature of all the Western European countries.

[7] The Military Balance.

[8] NATO was established in 1949. Its members are: Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Federal Republic of Germany (1955), Iceland, Great Britain, Greece (1952), Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Turkey (1952), and the USA. France withdrew in 1966.

[9] Peking Review #16, 1976.

[10] The Guardian, New York, Oct. 6/76.

[11] The Guardian, June 2/76.