First Published: In Struggle! No. 174, October 3, 1979
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Malcolm and Paul Saba
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Events with serious consequences for the unity of communists took place at the international anti-imperialist youth meeting in El Saler, Spain. The meeting, which took place in August, brought together “socialist, progressive, anti-fascist and anti-imperialist youth of the world”. It was organized by the youth organizations of the Communist Parties (M-L) of Spain, Germany, Italy and Greece (this last one, however, was not present at the meeting), as well as by the Communist Party of Portugal (Reconstructed) and the Workers Communist Party of France.
The first day, 70 militants from the Communist Party of Turkey (M-L) and from Turkish democratic workers’ and students’ organizations who arrived at the camp were prevented from entering. The meeting’s executive accused them of “coming to provoke and attack the international Marxist-Leninist movement”. When the Turkish militants began to distribute a leaflet denouncing this act and explaining their position, the leaflets were torn out of the hands of those who took them and the Spanish police was finally called in to put an end to their distribution.
A few days later, militants from the organizing committee of the Communist Party of Cyprus (M-L) and the German organizations Against the Tide and Westberliner Kommunist were expelled for “having begun a discussion”. The Communist Party of Austria (M-L) was not able to sell its pamphlets because they contained criticisms of other organizations present at the camp.
Meanwhile, the representatives from the Revolutionary Communist Party of Chile (RCP) began to sell a recent pamphlet defending Mao Zedong’s work. After a few days, they were told that, contrary to what had previously been agreed upon, it was henceforth forbidden to publicly defend Mao Zedong at the camp since “everybody is now in agreement and there’s nothing left to discuss on this question among Marxist-Leninists”.
After trying to stop circulation of both the pamphlet on Mao Zedong and the Joint Declaration of four Latin American parties, the camp organizers told the RCP militants that they were expelled from the camp. Before leaving, these militants distributed a leaflet explaining the reasons for their departure. At that point, they were attacked by the camp’s marshalls, who again tore the leaflet from the hands of those who took it – in the name of party discipline. Certain Chileans were hurt in the scuffle and escorted out of the camp to cries of “Cop” and “Maoist provocateurs”. Representatives from the People’s Front of Chile who tried to circulate information about the Chilean resistance were also expelled.
These acts are in complete contradiction with the interests of the struggle against revisionism and for the unity of the international communist movement. Methods such as calling on the police or physically attacking other communists are totally inadmissible. However, what is even more serious is that these actions are signs of an utter refusal to debate openly questions which divide the communist movement, such as the evaluation of Mao Zedong’s work, or questions which involve an evaluation of the political lines of the different communist organizations. It even seems that particular efforts are deployed to prevent ordinary members from learning about the different positions so as to debate them.
Many declarations of fidelity to Marxism-Leninism were made at the camp, as were many declaration about the war on revisionism. But what value do these declarations and this kind of unity have if they cannot stand up to collective examination?
There are important differences in the international communist movement. They are the result of thirty years of history during which revisionism has grown by leaps and bounds. The only way to distinguish what is Marxist-Leninist from what is revisionist and to rebuild the unity of communists is to publicly take up a principled debate on the programme for world proletarian revolution. This is the position put forward in the Appeal issued by the Third Congress of IN STRUGGLE! to the international communist movement.
The current difficulties in the international communist movement – difficulties which have impeded its action for too many years already – prove that we must put an end to unprincipled division and phoney unity.