Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Proletarian Revolution and National Liberation

First Published: The Communist, Vol. 1, No. 3, August 15, 1974.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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This issue of THE COMMUNIST is dedicated to the struggle for the independence of Puerto Rico, and the liberation struggles of oppressed peoples the world over. The question of the correct Marxist-Leninist stand towards the struggles for national liberation is of vital importance to the proletariat. In this era of the downfall of imperialism and the rise of proletarian revolution, the national question has become a component part of proletarian revolution and proletarian dictatorship. As Stalin said:

the national question can be solved only in connection with and on the basis of proletarian revolution, and that the road to victory of the revolution in the West lies through the revolutionary alliance with the liberation movement of the colonies and dependent countries against imperialism. (Foundations of Leninism, Peking ed., pg. 73)

We at this time would like to speak to the question of proletarian revolution and national liberation. In doing so, we resolutely reaffirm our support for the just struggles of the oppressed peoples and raise the cry of the right of all nations to secession!


Imperialism means the oppression of nations. This is because the imperialists, in their constant drive for maximum profits , need raw materials, bigger markets, cheaper labor, and areas to export their capital. To get these “spoils”, the imperialists forcibly subjugate the less developed countries of the world. The result has been the division of the world into two opposing camps: the handful of wealthy, imperialist countries, which plunder and exploit the vast majority of the world’s population; and the oppressed and exploited peoples in the colonies and dependent countries.

Imperialism means aggression and war. Wherever the imperialists go, with them comes their army, navy, and marine corps ” because in the final analysis armed, force is the only way they can maintain their dominance and oppression. The imperialists, with the two superpowers, the US and the Soviet Union at their head, are the murderers of millions, and the main source of misery and destruction in the world today.

But imperialism also brings forward its opposite. In opposition to the reaction of the bourgeoisie, there is the revolution of the proletariat. And in opposition to reactionary imperialist war, there are the revolutionary wars of national liberation. More and more nations are lighting the fire of revolution and taking up arms against the imperialist aggressors. Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Dhofar, Palestine, Angola, and Mozambique are prime examples of the fact that revolution is the main trend in the world today.

What should be the stand of the proletariat towards wars of aggression and wars of liberation. This question, from the days of Lenin, in battle with the 2nd International, to the struggle today against the Soviet revisionists, is one that has distinguished the Marxist-Leninists from the chauvinists and opportunists. As our Chinese comrades have said: “The attitude, taken towards the revolutionary struggles of the people in the Asian, African, and Latin American Countries is an important criterion for differentiating those who do not and those who are truly defending world peace, from those who are abetting the forces of aggression and war.” (Proposal Concerning the General Line of the International Communist Movement, Peking, 1963, p, 15)


Lenin and the Bolsheviks firmly established, particularly in the struggle against the Second International, that the proletariat stands against unjust wars of imperialist aggression and for the right of all nations to self-determination.

The struggle against the 2nd International occurred against the backdrop of the first World War. The development of imperialism, the highest stage of capitalism, intensified the competition among the imperialist countries. Each wanted to get bigger and better, areas of the world to exploit. And, because of the uneven development of capitalism, there were those countries (like Germany) that were becoming stronger and more powerful, and those that were becoming weaker, economically and militarily (like Great Britain).

Before this period, there had always been new areas of the world to conquer. But by the end of the 19th century, the entire globe had been divided up. World War I was a struggle among the imperialists to redivide the world; it was a war created by imperialism and fought for the imperialists.

The war brought increased misery and exploitation for the masses. The objective conditions were ripe for revolution. But the majority of the Communist Parties of Europe (then termed Social-Democratic Parties) wavered and hesitated, capitulating to the bourgeoisie.

Only the Bolsheviks, led by Lenin, stood firm. While the social chauvinists called for class peace at home and war on the workers of other nations, the Bolsheviks demanded that the imperialist war be turned into a civil war. The Bolsheviks were aided in this by Rosa Luxemburg, Karl Liebknecht, and others of the German left and the genuine Marxist-Leninists of Europe. Together these internationalists held-high the banner of the proletariat, organizing against the imperialist war and for the liberation of the colonies and oppressed nations.

It was in this period that the Leninist principles on the national question – that is the stance of the proletariat towards the oppression of nations by the warring imperialists were forged into an invincible weapon. Lenin showed the inseparable link between proletarian revolution and national liberation:

the communist International’s entire policy on the national and the colonial questions should rest primarily on a closer union of the proletarians and the working masses of all nations and countries for a joint revolutionary struggle to overthrow the landowners and the bourgeoisie. This union alone will guarantee victory over capitalism, without which the abolition of national oppression and inequality is impossible. (Lenin, from pamphlet, Selections from Lenin and Stalin on the National Question, Calcutta Books, p. 56)

Lenin and the Bolsheviks concretely proved that a correct position on the national question is essential if proletarian revolution is to be victorious. The opportunists of the 2nd International showed that an incorrect stand will lead to the defeat of the proletariat. While these chauvinists surrendered to the bourgeoisie, the workers and. peasants and oppressed nationalities of Russia, led by Lenin and the Bolshevik Party, turned the imperialist war into a Civil war. They turned their guns on the Tsar and the Russian bourgeoisie and successfully overthrew them both. The first proletarian dictatorship in the world was established!

With this great victory, the Bolsheviks immediately set about solving the national question in Russia itself. Russia was a prison house of nations, and this task was a difficult and complicated one. But standing firm on the principle of the right of all nations to seIf-determination, striving to eliminate all privileges, however slight, constantly educating the masses in a spirit of internationalism, in a spirit of the closest unity of all workers, the Bolsheviks succeeded.

They demonstrated in practice that the only correct stand for the proletariat was to break the chains of national and colonial oppression and liberate the oppressed nations of the Russian state. Based on the principles of internationalism and voluntary unity, the Bolsheviks forged the fraternal union of workers and peasants of the most diverse nations. The right of self-determination became a concrete reality, with the oppressed peoples enjoying a wide range of autonomy and self-government. Without this, as Stalin said, the revolution would not have been victorious. (see Foundations of Leninism)Thus once again, we see the two sides, the interconnection between proletarian revolution and national liberation.

The Russian revolution did not belong to Russia alone, it was a revolution of International significance. It ushered in the era of proletarian revolution in the imperialist countries, and made the dictatorship of the proletariat a living reality. It set a contagious example for oppressed nations of the world and brought in the era of colonial revolution under the leadership of the proletariat. It confirmed on a world scale, once again:

1) That the national and colonial questions are inseparable from the question of emancipation from the power of capital; 2) That imperialism (the highest, stage of capitalism) cannot exist without the political and economic enslavement of non-sovereign nations and colonies; 3) That the non-sovereign nations and colonies cannot be emancipated without the overthrow of the power of capital; and 4) That the victory or the proletariat cannot be a lasting one unless the non-sovereign nations and colonies are emancipated from the yoke of imperialism. (National Question Presented, from pamphlet, Selections from Lenin and Stalin on the National Question, Calcutta Books, p.135)

The era of the collapse of capitalism had begun!

The victory of the proletariat and oppressed peoples of Russia is a treasured victory of the worldwide proletariat, a shining example of the correctness of Marxism-Leninism. November 7th marks the 57th anniversary of the victory of proletarian revolution in Russia. It is a time to celebrate this great victory and reaffirm our great love for the Soviet people. The Soviet people will forever be our class brothers and sisters, our close comrades-in-arms.

But in celebrating this victory of the proletariat, we must necessarily reaffirm our allegiance to Marxism- Leninism. This means taking a firm and principled stand against revisionism, chauvinism, and opportunism, and in defense of proletarian internationalism.

The Communist Party of the Soviet Union is no longer the great Bolshevik party of Lenin and Stalin, but a revisionist party. The Soviet Union is no longer a socialist country, but a social-imperialist one. It is socialist; in words and imperialist in deeds. Capitalism has been restored and once again Russia is a prison house of nations. The Soviet Union has, taken up a policy or aggression and is actively trying to extend its “sphere of influence“ , bullying the peoples of the world. The leaders of the Soviet party have followed in the footsteps of the 2nd International and betrayed the world’s proletariat. But they will not remain forever. We are fully confident that the Marxist-Leninists of the USSR will build anew the Bolshevik Party. The soviet people will overthrow the new Soviet bourgeoisie, and once again establish the dictatorship of the proletariat!


In opposition to the revisionist betrayal of the Party of the Soviet Union, stand the great Chinese and Albanian Parties. The Chinese and Albanians have taken the lead in exposing the line of the revisionists as thoroughly bankrupt. They have staunchly upheld the banner of proletarian internationalism and helped Marxist-Leninists the world over grasp the fact that “it is impossible for the working class in the European and American capitalist countries to liberate itself unless it unites with the oppressed nations and unless those nations are liberated.”(Proposal for General Line, p. 14) And that neither the imperialists nor the social-imperialists will liberate the oppressed nations. Only the revolutionary struggle of the oppressed peoples themselves can win liberation. The masses are the makers of history!

China and Albania were both once oppressed nations. They were poor and underdeveloped countries. But with the leadership of the Communist Party of China and the party of Labor of Albania both successfully overthrew their imperialist oppressors and won their national liberation. And because of the leadership of the proletariat and its Party, both countries have consolidated this victory, defeated their “own” bourgeoisie , and established the dictatorship of the proletariat. These countries are now a shining beacon to all oppressed peoples , and a great inspiration to press onto victory! They once again have concretely proven the correctness of Marxism-Leninism and the importance of linking national liberation to proletarian revolution.


Marxist-Leninists the world over have joined with the Chinese and Albanians, meeting Soviet revisionism steel to steel. As Lenin broke with the parties of the 2nd International, genuine communists today are breaking with the revisionist parties in their country. And, just as Lenin called tor the formation of new parties, Marxist-Leninists today also raise the cry – BUILD PARTIES OF A NEW TYPE THAT HOLD HIGH THE BANNER OF PROLETARIAN INTERNATIONALISM!


In this battle against revisionism, the question of the stand towards the revolutionary struggles of the oppressed peoples has once again been a decisive factor. The revisionists of the Soviet Union and all the Parties which followed them (including the Communist Party USA – CPUSA) have thoroughly betrayed the struggles of the oppressed peoples.

In a period where the storm of national liberation is on the rise, the revisionists cry out for “peaceful coexistence.” This basically means that the oppressed people should not rise in opposition to the imperialists and defend their territory and their rights. And if they do, the revisionists scream they will bring nuclear war down on their heads. Instead, the oppressed peoples should rely on the Soviet union to resolve their problems. “Peaceful. competition” and the might of the Soviet Union cannot help but force the US to automatically collapse. These are lies, concocted to deceive the peoples of the world. And the revisionists do not, stop here. They continue their deception by telling the people that revolutionary armed struggle is no longer necessary, that there will be a “peaceful transition” from capitalism to socialism.

The line of peaceful transition is especially dangerous to the proletariat and oppressed peoples. It leaves the proletariat totally unprepared against the reactionary attacks and assaults of the bourgeoisie. Nowhere in the world has ’there been an example of the bourgeoisie peacefully giving up its rule and stepping down. If the proletariat and its party in any country fail to make thorough preparations for anted struggle with the bourgeoisie, then it will paralyze the revolutionary will of the proletariat. The proletariat will be disarmed ideologically, and sink into a passive state of unpreparedness both politically and organizationally. The proletarian cause will be buried. (see Proposal for General Line, page 22) The tragic effect of the line of peaceful transition can hardly be denied in Chile, where the fascists triumphed.

The essence of the. revisionist position is to deny the great revolutionary potential of the struggles of the oppressed peoples. It is a line that says that these so-called “backward” and “under-developed“ peoples of a darker race cannot successfully make revolution. It is a line that attempts to cow the peoples of the world with the spectre of nuclear war. It is a position that is racist and chauvinist and one that only serves the needs of the imperialist super-powers: the US and the Soviet Union.

In this country , the Soviet revisionists are represented by the CPUSA. CPUSA betrayed the US working class, and has left it totally unarmed and without conscious leadership. They have sabotaged the struggle of the oppressed peoples by denying that these struggles are revolutionary, and by refusing to fight for the right of all nations to secession. They too deceive the people with illusions of “peaceful transition”, calling on workers to rely on Congress and the “nice” wing of the bourgeoisie. All communists in this country must make a thorough break with these revisionists, and join in the struggle for a new Party.


In making this break we must take up the correct Marxist-Leninist stand. To summarize the correct, position, we turn to FOUNDATIONS OF LENINISM, where Stalin says: “ the victory of the working class in the developed countries and the liberation of the oppressed peoples from the yoke of imperialism are impossible without the formation and the consolidation of a common revolutionary front; the formation of a common revolutionary front is impossible unless the proletariat of the oppressor nations renders direct and determined support to the liberation movement of the oppressed peoples against the imperialism of its “own” country ; this support implies the upholding, defense and implementation of the slogan of the right of nations to secession, to independent existence as states” (Peking edition, p, 77, our emphasis)

Historically in this country, communists have stumbled and faltered when it came to support for the liberation of the Black nation and Chicano peoples of the Southwest. From Lovestone in the 1930’s, to Browder in the ’40’s, to the CPUSA today – all took a revisionist stand, denying the Black nation the right to self-determination.

As the CPUSA itself said, when it was a revolutionary Party, “There is no surer touchstone of the revolutionary understanding, the Bolshevik clarity of any member or section of our communist party than the degree to which he understands the struggle for the national liberation of the Negroes as part and parcel of the struggle for the emancipation of the working class.” (from a CP pamphlet on the Negro Question. (1931)

This statement is just as true today. And in the struggle to make a clear demarcation between ourselves and the revisionists, to stand firm on Bolshevik principles, we must pay special attention to tis burning question. For those forces trying to build a new Party in this country, this necessarily means defeating the right opportunist line of the Revolutionary Union (RU). Like the CPUSA, RU places the revolutionary struggle of the Black nation in contradiction to the class struggle of the proletariat. The RU upholds the right of self-determination in words, only, and never in actual deed. They have thrown down the sword of Stalin and picked up the revisionist twig of American exceptionalism. (See BWC pamphlet, “Struggle in the RU: In Opposition to the Consolidation of the Revisionist Line on the Black National Question,” for a full analysis of RU’s line.)

But comrades we must do more than simply refute an incorrect line. It is also necessary to bring forward a correct stance. Proletarian internationalism for US communists today means following the lead of the Chinese and Albanians in making a complete break with revisionism – ideologically, politically and organizationally – and forging ahead to build a new Marxist-Leninist Party. These two tasks are inseparably linked. The proletariat cannot hope for a successful revolution, and the oppressed people will not win complete liberation, without a communist party to guide the proletariat through all the twists and turns on the road to emancipation.


Puerto Rico is a colony of the US whose people face great exploitation and oppression. Puerto Ricans in the US also face tremendous oppression and discrimination as a national minority. The only correct stand for Marxist-Leninists is the revolutionary alliance or the US proletariat with the struggle for the liberation of Puerto Rico. All communists should support the demonstration in New York on October 27th; and show our unwavering stand for the INDEPENDENCE OF PUERTO RICO.

Our task does not end here however. There is also a question of support for the struggles of oppressed peoples within the borders of the US. Indians and Asians in this country suffer discrimination and oppression at the hands of the imperialists. The struggle to end discrimination, and win full social equality and freedom must receive our daily support.

The oppressed Chicano nationality has played a vital role in the struggle against US imperialism, and is today playing a vanguard role in the struggles occurring in Southwest. A correct line on this question is also of prime importance to proletarian revolution in the USA.

The struggle of Black people is the struggle of an oppressed nation, and fundamentally a fight for the right of self-determination. It is a part of the world-wide struggle that is profoundly popular and profoundly revolutionary and demands our full and complete support.


On the basis of a correct understanding of the national question, we must move to show in action, that our line makes a difference in the real world. For BWC cadres this means several things. First, our understanding of the national question must be integrated into all our work, particularly our analysis of events. It is especially necessary to concentrate on linking the partial demands – like an end to police repression, harassment from foremen, etc. – to the revolutionary struggles of the oppressed peoples. In particular, the struggle of Blacks must be linked to the fight for the right of self-determination. Unless this is done, errors will be made, as we can see in the article on Atlanta in the last issue of THE COMMUNIST (no. 2, pg. 6-7). WE FAILED TO LINK THE STRUGGLE AGAINST REPRESSION TO THE REVOLUTIONARY STRUGGLE FOR NATIONAL LIBERATION. THIS IS THE TYPE OF UNPARDONABLE ERROR THAT CADRES MUST AVOID! (In future issues of THE COMMUNIST, we will again take up the struggle in Atlanta.)

Secondly, the task of bringing a scientific understanding of the national question to the masses can not wait for a particular event, or the outbreak of struggle in the Black, Puerto Rican, or Chicano ghettoes. Propaganda and agitation on this question has got to be daily, it must be part and parcel of our everyday work in the factories and among the working class. In this way, when a particular struggle does arise , we are in a better position to rally the masses in support of it – because we have done same preparation and laid the ground work.

Thirdly, in carrying out our propaganda, we cannot shy away from the education of the masses in a spirit of internationalism. This is especially true in regards to white workers, where long and patient work is necessary to defeat their chauvinism. We can’t leave these workers, as both RU and October League do, in the grip of bourgeois ideology! We must also struggle to overcome the aloofness, and distrust of Blacks towards whites. Our constant call to the Black masses is “revolutionary struggle against the ruling bourgeoisie through a fighting alliance with revolutionary white proletariat.” (Comintern Resolution, 1930)

Comrades these are the first steps necessary to distinguish ourselves from the right opportunists. This work is essential if the revolutionary alliance between the white proletariat and the oppressed peoples of the US is to be forged into the iron unity necessary for national liberation, and the victory or proletarian revolution.