Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Bay Area Forum Hits “Social Imperialism, Revisionism”

First Published: The Call, Vol. 2, No. 3, December 1973.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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Oakland, California – Over 400 people gathered here on November 10 for an October League sponsored forum on “Social Imperialism and Revisionism.” The crowd represented the growing sections of revolutionaries and anti-imperialist fighters who are coming to see the real role of the counterfeit revolutionaries, the modern revisionists.

They heard speeches from Bay Area activist and translator, Martin Nicolaus; Guardian executive editor, Irwin Silber and Michael Klonsky, chairman of the October League.

Nicolaus, speaking on the restoration of capitalism in the Soviet Union, used various Soviet publications as evidence that the once proud homeland of socialism is now, again, a capitalist’s paradise. He showed how restoration brought with it widespread unemployment; production based upon profits and not on the needs of the people; economic chaos and constant crisis and a situation where workers no longer have any say in planning or decision making.


Nicolaus pointed out that capitalism doesn’t necessarily mean “private” ownership in the strictest sense, but can take the form, as it often does in the United States, of “state ownership” or state monopolies. With the leadership of the Soviet party and the government in the hands of capitalist roaders and revisionists since Stalin’s death, a complete reversal has taken place, leading back to the conditions of exploitation and misery for the people.

While calling themselves socialist in word, the Soviet government, Nicolaus pointed out, “is practicing fascism against the people of the Soviet Union.”

Irwin Silber next described the reactionary role that the Soviet social-imperialists are playing throughout the world. He discussed their lack of support for the revolutionary forces in Cambodia, and their full recognition to the fascist Lon Nol regime in Phnom Penh. Silber also described the imperialist role of the Soviet Union in the division of Pakistan and the setting up of the puppet state of “Bangla Desh.” The treachery of the invasion of Czechoslovakia was shown to be another part of the revisionist’s disregard for the sovereignty of small countries.

Silber traced the history of the dispute between the Soviet Union and China and how under the leadership of Khrushchev, the Soviet party tried to push its line of “peaceful transition” to socialism on the entire communist movement. Silber pointed out how this betrayal began with a vicious attack of Stalin which confused many people and made them lose their bearings. It was later exposed that the revisionists were attacking Stalin from the standpoint of the imperialists and were really attacking the whole idea of the dictatorship of the proletariat. They substituted instead their version of the “dictatorship of the whole people” and told people that classes and class struggle had disappeared from the Soviet Union. This provided a good cover for the old exploiters to make their comeback.

Silber showed how this attack on Marxism-Leninism was met head-on by the Chinese and Albanian communists, who exposed these efforts to turn back socialism and whose efforts gave rise to the young and growing communist movement in the world today.

On the subject of the struggle against the Communist Party of the U.S., OL Chairman Michael Klonsky, pointed out the necessity to “fight opportunism as we fight imperialism.” He showed how the CPUSA revisionists rooted themselves in the “bribed sections” of the working class, the labor aristocracy. This upper strata, which has as its spokesmen, such union misleaders as Meany and Abel, is out to accommodate itself to the system, rather than do away with that system.

He pointed out that the CP’s line of peaceful transition to socialism which calls on the people to work for change “within the framework of the constitution” is the same line that led to fascism in Chile.

Klonsky then used excerpts from CP leader Henry Winston’s book to show how the CPUSA has abandoned the Black liberation movement and now tells Black people that that they can work for change peacefully within the system.

He warned that it is not enough to engage in name-calling at the revisionists. Pointing to the danger of “ultra-leftism” within the ranks of the anti-revisionists, Klonsky showed the need for the CPUSA to be exposed in the course of struggle, and not from the sidelines.

This forum and the response that it received, shows that large sections of the revolutionary movement are coming to see through their own experiences, the real role of revisionism and social-imperialism as the main prop of the imperialists within the ranks of the peoples’ movement.