Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Communist Committee Letter to the Guardian

Written: September 11, 1977.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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We thank the Guardian for printing excerpts from, the July 7 editorial of Zeri i Popullit, organ of the Central Committee of the Party of Labor of Albania. We would like to respond to the Guardian’s statement, in introducing the excerpts, that it has “reservations” about the thesis presented in the editorial concerning the two superpowers. That thesis is: “Practice has proved that the two superpowers, to the same degree and to the same extent, represent the main enemy for socialism and the freedom and independence of the nations, the greatest, force defending exploiting systems, the direct danger that mankind will be hurled into a third world war. To ignore this great truth, to underestimate the danger of one or the other superpower, or even worse, to call for unity with one superpower against the other, is fraught with catastrophic consequences and great dangers to the future of the revolution and the freedom of the peoples.”

The Guardian, in response, states: “We hold that U.S. imperialism is the main enemy of the oppressed peoples and nations of the world, not both superpowers equally ...At the same time, as we have been saying for the past two years, we are particularly aware of the danger of class collaboration in our movement stemming from the thesis of ’striking the main blow at Soviet social-imperialism. Yes, the Guardian has been vocal in denouncing the class collaboration of the October League, now the CP (M-L). The positions of both the Guardian and the CP (M-L) on the two superpowers, however, each, in their own way, betray the Leninist theory of imperialism.

In point number 20 of its proposal, “On Building the New Communist Party,” Guardian Special Supplement, June, 1977), the Guardian characterizes the Soviet Union as a “social-imperialist superpower which practices hegemonism and national chauvinism in its relations to other countries.” How is it possible for a socialist country to pursue a social-imperialist foreign policy? The Guardian’s less than satisfactory explanation of this paradox is that, while the dictatorship of the proletariat has been overthrown, and the process of capitalist restoration in the Soviet Union has begun; capitalist relations have not yet been fully restored. While the Guardian is quite clear about the material basis of U.S. foreign policy, its criticism of Soviet foreign policy as based on “narrow, national self-interest” is no different than the liberal view ascribing U.S. involvement in Vietnam to an erroneous policy. The Guardian refuses to acknowledge that Soviet actions worldwide, too, are not merely accidental, but rooted in an imperialist system subject to the same laws of imperialism as the U.S. The Guardian is thus left in the contradictory position of regarding the Soviet Union as a “social-imperialist superpower” while arguing that we must aim our “main blow” at the U.S. and characterising our own bourgeoisie as the “main source of war.”

At the opposite pole, is the position of the CP (M-L) that the Soviet Union is the “most dangerous” of the two superpowers. (See, The Call, “The Direction of the Main Blow,” November 22, 1976). The political report of Michael Klonsky, adopted unanimously at the Founding Congress of the CP (M-L), made a special point of attacking the Albanian view of the two superpowers. According to the CP (M-L), not to aim our main blow at the Soviet Union, as the rising imperialist power, is to deny the law of unequal development. (See Class Struggle, “Whitewashing Enemies and Slandering Friends,” Spring, 1977, p. 21). It is the CP (M-L), however, which betrays Leninism and distorts this basic law to serve as the theoretical justification for its collaboration with our own bourgeoisie.

What is the “law of unequal development?” In his classic study, Imperialism, The Highest Stage of Capitalism, Lenin refuted Kautsky’s theory of “ultra-imperialism” which consisted of the view that capitalism had entered a new phase of the “joint exploitation of the world by internationally united finance capital.” In this new phase, according to Kautsky, wars would cease to occur. “Peaceful co-existence” is but the modern expression of this concept which was ridiculed by Lenin as “ultra-nonsense.” Kautsky’s theory, wrote Lenin, “only brings grist to the mill of the apologists of imperialism, vis. that the role of finance capital lessens the uneven-ness and contradictions inherent in world economy...The question is,” asks Lenin, “what means other than war could there be under capitalism of removing the disparity between the development of the productive forces and the accumulation of capital on one side, and the division of colonies and ’spheres of influence* for finance capital on the other?” (Peking edition, pages 104-118)

Today, undeniably, there is uneven development between the two superpowers. The law of uneven development, however, in no way dictates that we unite with or against the rising imperialist power. Speaking against the social-chauvinists of World War I, Lenin declared that the Anglo-French and German imperialist blocs were “equally bad.” In so doing, was Lenin denying the law of unequal development? Obviously not. By “equally bad,” Lenin meant that “both sides” in the war were the same in their imperialist essence and to form an alliance with one bloc against the other was to betray proletarian internationalism.

It is precisely in this Leninist sense of “equally bad,” that we must understand the Albanian thesis that the two superpowers, as “the main and biggest enemies of the peoples today,” constitute “the same danger.” Today, both the Soviet Union and the U.S. stand at the head of a bloc of lesser imperialist powers. No challenge to Soviet or U.S. hegemony from any quarter takes place without an attempt on the part of the other superpower to intervene, to replace its competitor, and to establish its own sphere of influence. Each superpower poses as the liberator of the nations oppressed (by the other. By singling out one or the other superpower as the target of our “main blow,” the Guardian and the CP (M-L) obscure this essential fact. To illustrate, let us examine the analyses offered by each of developments in Egypt over the last year and a half.

On March 15 of last year, Egypt abrogated the 1971 Egyptian-Soviet “Treaty of Friendship and Co-operation.” Soon afterwards, Egyptian port facilities, which had been granted to the Soviet Union in 1968 were closed to Soviet navy vessels.

While critical of the Soviet Union’s role in Egypt, the Guardian described it in terms of a policy, rather than as an expression of Soviet imperialism. In an analysis of the events leading up to the abrogation of the treaty, Irwin Silber wrote,...“The Soviet-Egyptian relationship had always been an uneasy one. All throughout the 1960’s and right up to the 1973 war, Moscow had carefully orchestrated the flow of arms to Cairo in order to curb Egyptian initiatives and keep them within the framework of Soviet policy objectives...” (“Middle East Contradictions Build.” Guardian, April 7, 1976, p. 24). A year later, Silber referred to the role of the Soviet Union in Egypt as being “heavy-handed.” (“U.S. Foreign Policy at Key Impasse,” Guardian, April 28, 1976, p. 3).

Were the actions of the Soviet Union towards Egypt simply one of “heavy-handedness”? Or, did they, instead, constitute a neo-colonial relationship based on the power of Soviet capital and arms? For the Soviet Union, as well as the U.S., arms sales are not merely a source of great profits, but, also, a means of advancing its military and political aims. Both superpowers make their arms sales conditional on the sending of military experts and the creation of military bases with extraterritorial rights. Absent from Silber’s articles is any analysis of how Egypt is a typical example of the Soviet Union’s imperialist arms policies.

Absent, too, is any exposure of how the Egyptian economy became dependent on the Soviet Union through the export of Soviet loan capital. At the height of the 1973 Middle East war, for example, the Soviet bourgeoisie extracted some 80 million dollars of interest on loans from the Egyptian government. At the time when the 1971 “Friendship” Treaty was abrogated, Soviet loans constituted fully one-half of Egypt’s foreign debts. These debts, moreover, were often paid in the form of commodities, valued at well below their market prices. Under the Egyptian-Soviet Trade Protocol of 1976, Egypt, in repayment for debts, was to export to the Soviet Union goods valued at 195 million pounds sterling in exchange for Soviet goods valued at only 125 million pounds sterling. Is this not a clear example of what Lenin described as the imperialist practice of “skinning the ox twice,” first, by charging exorbitant interest rates and, secondly, by the unequal exchange of commodities?

In contrast to the Guardian, the CP (M-L), then the OL, did, of course, expose the imperialist nature of the Soviet role in Egypt. Yet, when soon after the annulment of the treaty, Egypt was brought into the orbit of the U.S. with a billion dollar economic loan, the CP (M-L) remained silent. The grant of a $140 million dollar loan from the International Monetary Fund, too, did not receive any attention in The Call. Is this not an example of concealing from the U.S. proletariat the imperialist character of our own bourgeoisie? Perhaps these latest developments in Egypt are of no concern to the CP (ML) as, after all, the “most dangerous” of the two superpowers has been “exposed.” The CP (M-L) would do well to explain to the oppressed proletariat and peasantry of Egypt how their condition has improved now that they no longer face the rising and “most rapacious” Soviet Union, but merely declining U.S. imperialism. It was, for example, precisely in response to the severe austerity measures conditioned by the International Monetary Fund loan that food riots broke out in January of this year, leaving many dead-victims of Sadat’s brutal repression.

As the Guardian and CP (M-L) analyses of Egypt show, to single out one superpower as the target of our “main blow” is to objectively ally with one against the other.

What difference does it make if the Guardian objectively allies with the Soviet Union in Egypt? Is not our greatest impact on our own proletariat and bourgeoisie? Yes, and precisely for this reason, the Guardian position is “fraught with dangerous consequences.” Today, in the view of the vast majority of the U.S. proletariat, the Soviet Union is a socialist country. The interests of the U.S., as well as the Soviet bourgeoisie, lie in preserving this fiction. For the U.S., what better Indictment of socialism exists than the living example of Soviet social-imperialism disguised with a socialist mask? By refusing to acknowledge and expose the fully imperialist character of the Soviet Union, the Guardian position lends credibility to bourgeois propaganda which is daily directed against the socialist system, in general, and the genuine socialist countries, in particular.

As for the CP (M-L)’s position, we would ask how it is possible to engage in the internationalist education of the U.S. proletariat, deeply imbued as it is with national chauvinism while, simultaneously, focusing on the Soviet Union as the “most dangerous” and “most rapacious” of the two superpowers? It is exactly this argument which the U.S. employs to justify its contention with the Soviet Union.

We must, in contrast to the Guardian and the CP (M-L), fully expose the imperialist essence of the contention and collusion of both superpowers.

Submitted: September 11, 1977
Communist Committee
P.O. Box 6525
Chicago, Illinois 50680

For the past two years, especially, the Guardian has spoken of the necessity for debate on the international question. It has now been almost four months since the above article was submitted to the Guardian Radical Forum. We have yet to see the article published in the Guardian nor have we received any written explanation for why it has been rejected. Therefore, we have reproduced the article for general distribution. We believe that it is particularly relevant given recent events in the Middle East precipitated by Sadat’s treacherous “peace offensive.” Additional copies are available, at cost, for 20c per copy. Write to: C.C., P.O. Box 6625, Chicago, Illinois 60680.