Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Committee for a Proletarian Party

Strategy and Tactics of the Proletariat in the Era of Imperialism

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First Published: January, 1978.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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Through study and struggle, the members of the Committee for a Proletarian Party have come to realize that our principle of unity on the international situation (Principles of Unity; pp. 6-11) must be further clarified in some places, is no longer correct in other places, and was incorrect from the start in other places. Our main error was that we uncritically adopted the “Three Worlds” theory without really studying it to see if it met the requirements for Marxist-Leninist strategy and tactics in the era of imperialism. We, like all Marxist-Leninists, are indebted to the Albanian comrades for daring to struggle against this incorrect theory of the “Three Worlds.”

As we began to study and struggle over the Marxist-Leninist teachings on the question of strategy and tactics, it became clear to us that the Albanians were fundamentally correct in their criticisms of this theory. We were also helped by seeing how the “Three Worlds” theory degenerates into social-chauvinism in practice, as is exemplified by the CPML. (Supporting the increased arming of your own bourgeoisie, as does CPML, and supporting it as a lesser evil than the USSR, as does the CPML, is U.S. national chauvinism, no matter how many “socialist” words you try to cover it with.)

We were also helped by seeing how our own position on the international question made us underestimate the strength of U.S. imperialism. Given the recent successes of U.S. imperialism vs. Soviet social-imperialism, we came to understand that the U.S. is not as weak and hopelessly declining as some forces would have us believe. The “Three Worlds” theory had kept us from coming to this understanding.

As a result of this struggle, we have bettered our ability to look at the world from a Marxist-Leninist perspective, and guide our practice with Marxism-Leninism. We realize that we still have an incomplete grasp of this, though, and are striving to become better at it. We must learn to apply the following words of Mao Tsetung:

Communists must always go into the whys and wherefores of anything, use their own heads and carefully think over whether or not it corresponds to reality and is really well founded; on no account should they follow blindly and encourage slavishness. Selected Works; Vol. III; pp. 49-50.

We are presenting this paper not as any definitive position on this question, but rather as the representation of our present understanding of it, our contribution to the debate on the international situation which is currently raging in our country and around the world. Because, in the final analysis, the day-to-day practice of Marxist-Leninist organizations flows out of their understanding of the international situation, clarity on this question is vital to Marxist-Leninists world-wide. This is especially true for us here in the heart of one of the two superpowers, because an incorrect view of the international situation can rapidly degenerate into objectively supporting Soviet social-imperialism, like the Guardian. We hope our contribution will help to clarify and sharpen the struggle around the international situation. We welcome all comments and criticisms, and encourage comrades and friends to point out our errors.

* * *

Of all the classes that stand face to face with the bourgeoisie today, the proletariat alone is a really revolutionary class. The other classes decay and finally disappear in the face of modern industry; the proletariat is its special and essential product. Communist Manifesto, 1848 (FLP; p. 46)

This statement by Marx and Engels about the working class in the middle of the 19th century is no less true today in the epoch of imperialism, capitalism in its final dying stage. As the only really revolutionary class, the proletariat must play the leading role in overthrowing the bourgeoisie and establishing socialism. Because of its class nature, the proletariat stands at the center of our epoch and determines the basic motion of world history.

This leading role of the proletariat is not diminished by the transformation of competitive capitalism into monopoly capitalism. On the contrary, when historically progressive capitalism degenerates into its decadent, parasitic, moribund opposite, imperialism, the importance of grasping the world historic mission of the proletariat becomes that much more critical. The reason is that imperialism is the epoch marking the transition from capitalism to socialism; it is the “epoch of proletarian socialist revolution,” as Lenin states.

Throughout the historical development of capitalism, the fundamental contradiction remains that between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie. This fundamental contradiction remains at the base of the epoch of imperialism as well. The difference under imperialism is that the bourgeoisie has passed its zenith historically and is in decline, and the proletariat is the rapidly rising aspect of the contradiction.

In the epoch of imperialism, this fundamental contradiction finds its clearest, most acute form in the contradiction between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie in the developed capitalist and imperialist countries of the US, USSR, Europe, Japan, Canada, and Australia. In addition, as the revolutionary movements of the proletariat and its allies succeed in overthrowing the bourgeoisie in a number of countries, the fundamental class contradiction expresses itself in a new historical form – as the conflict between antagonistic social systems, socialism and imperialism.

These direct forms of the fundamental contradiction are also supplemented by other contradictions which are basic to the imperialist epoch. Being a world system, imperialism also greatly intensifies the contradiction between itself and oppressed nations, countries, and peoples. Thus, in this epoch another great social movement, the struggle for national liberation in colonial and dependent countries, steps to center stage-supplying the proletarian movement with a powerful ally.

Also, since imperialism is a world-wide system, it must necessarily bring into being an acute, world-wide competition among imperialist powers themselves in the battle to divide up the globe and exploit the world’s peoples. It is the intensification of this contradiction, among great imperialist powers-, that leads to world war and greatly weakens the front of capitalism. It is this law of uneven development among imperialist powers that leads to breaches in the world imperialist front and lays the conditions for the success of proletarian revolution and the consolidation of socialism as a real historical alternative.

All four of these contradictions (between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie in capitalist countries; between socialism and imperialism; between the oppressed nations, countries, and peoples and their enemy, imperialism; and between imperialist powers themselves) are basic to the epoch of imperialism because they will only cease or die away with the passing of imperialism itself and its influence on the new and growing system of socialism.

Strategic Disposition of Forces

Guided by these four basic contradictions, their relationship to the fundamental contradiction and their interrelationships, Stalin elaborated a world-wide strategic plan for the disposition of revolutionary forces to overthrow imperialism:

Our revolution had already passed through two stages, and after the October Revolution, it entered a third one. Our strategy changed accordingly... Third Stage. Began after the October Revolution. Objective: to consolidate the dictatorship of the proletariat in one country, using it as a base for the defeat of imperialism in all countries. The revolution spreads beyond the confines of one country; the epoch of world revolution has begun. The main forces of the revolution: the dictatorship of the proletariat in one country, the revolutionary movement of the proletariat in all countries. Main reserves: the semi-proletarian and small-peasant masses in the developed countries, the liberation movement in the colonies and the dependent countries. Direction of the main blow: isolation of the petty-bourgeois democrats, isolation of the parties of the Second International, which constitute the main support of the policy of compromise with imperialism. Plan for the disposition of forces: alliance of the proletarian revolution with the liberation movement in the colonies and dependent countries. Foundations of Leninism (FLP, pgs. 84-86)

This basic strategic plan for the disposition of forces elaborated by Stalin in 1924 is valid still to this day. The reason that this plan has not become obsolete or outmoded is that we are still living in the “epoch of world revolution.” We are still living in the epoch of imperialism, “the eve of the proletarian revolution,” as Lenin explained. There may be ebbs and flows of the world proletarian revolution, but these do not necessitate any basic changes in our strategy. There may be temporary re-alignments of political forces, but the basic class alliances necessary to carry through world proletarian revolution remain unchanged.

The main forces of the revolution still remain the same – the dictatorship of the proletariat and the revolutionary movement of the proletariat. Their main enemy still remains the same – the international imperialist bourgeoisie. The fundamental contradiction which underlies the epoch still remains the same – the contradiction between the international imperialist bourgeoisie and the international proletariat.

Hence, the Party of Labor of Albania is putting itself squarely in the Leninist tradition when it states that “the carrying out of the proletarian revolution is a universal law and the main trend of our epoch.” (Theory and Practice of Revolution) This law applies on a world scale, to countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, as well as to developed capitalist countries, such as the US, USSR, France, and Japan.

From a Leninist strategic viewpoint, the national liberation struggles of the people in the colonial and dependent countries have never been considered the main force (in Stalin’s sense of the word) which will overthrow imperialism; these struggles do not determine the basic motion of world history. The Leninist position has always been that these national liberation struggles represent a powerful reserve of the proletariat. This is why Lenin is clear to point out that:

...The Communist International should support bourgeois-democratic national movements in colonial and backward countries only on condition that, in these countries, the elements of future proletarian parties, which will be communist not only in name, are brought together and trained to understand their special tasks, i.e., those of the struggle against the bourgeois-democratic movements within their own nations. The Communist International must enter into a temporary alliance with bourgeois democracy in colonial and backward countries, but should not merge with it, and should under all circumstances uphold the independence of the proletarian movement even if it is in its most embryonic form. Preliminary Draft Theses on the National and the Colonial Question, for the Second Congress of the Communist International, Lenin, Selected Works in Three Volumes (Progress Publishers, 1975; pgs. 376-377, Vol. 3)

There has been much confusion on this point caused by certain theorists, who try to claim that the national liberation struggles are the main force opposing imperialism. It can be true that, in the present tactical period, the people of Asia, Africa, and Latin America are the main force opposing imperialism. They are the main force in the sense of being the great majority of the world’s population. But this point does not correspond with the strategic meaning of main force as laid out by Stalin and Lenin. It is the proletariat and the proletariat alone which has a fundamental interest in overthrowing imperialism and has the ability to carry the struggle through to the end and buildup socialism. In terms of strategy, they are the main force in contradiction with imperialism, no matter which class forces may play the principal role in any particular tactical period.

Which Class Leads the Revolution

Even though the national liberation movements may be in the most intense struggle with imperialism in any particular period, the revolutionary direction of these movements is still basically determined by which class is able to gain leadership of them. The urban petit-bourgeoisie may play a politically significant role at different times of the national liberation movement, but it cannot maintain real leadership of this movement. The rural petit-bourgeoisie, the peasantry, represents the main mass support for the struggle against imperialism, but the role it plays is determined by which class leadership it follows.

This role of leadership is only contested by two classes – the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. The bourgeoisie itself divides into two – the big comprador bourgeoisie which bases its existence mainly on commercial and industrial ties to imperialism, and the middle bourgeoisie which is mainly based in local banking, trading, handicrafts and small manufacturing. The former depends for its very existence and profit on the imperialist bourgeoisie and it is therefore predominately reactionary. The latter can take up a revolutionary struggle against the imperialist bourgeoisie because its growth and future are opposed by imperialism and the comprador bourgeoisie and by feudalism and the landlord class. The middle bourgeoisie’s interest is in securing a home market which it can exploit to its own advantage. But the very capitalist nature of the middle bourgeoisie causes it to vacillate in the face of imperialism and the rising threat of the proletariat, which is directly antagonistic to the middle bourgeoisie’s own exploitative class interests.

Despite revolutionary qualities, the middle bourgeoisie is not a reliable ally for carrying through the revolutionary process to socialism. In essence, its conflicts with imperialism boil down to whether it is going to take over the right to exploit the native proletariat. But, in the long run, from the standpoint of the proletariat, it is a matter of indifference whether it is going to be exploited by an imperialist bourgeoisie or by its own native bourgeoisie.

So we can see that the fundamental contradiction retains its validity and remains at the base of even the contradiction between the national liberation struggles and imperialism. Determining the motion of these national liberation struggles are primarily the contradiction between the native proletariat and the imperialist bourgeoisie and secondarily the contradiction between the native proletariat and the native bourgeoisie. In other words, the fundamental contradiction of our epoch still defines the manner in which this major contradiction expresses itself or is played out.

It is necessary to grasp the fundamental contradiction of our epoch because to fail to do so leads to a lack of clarity on our basic international strategy. The principal contradiction in the world is that contradiction which only defines the particular period in which the world revolutionary movement finds itself. At this particular period the principal contradiction is that between the people, nations, and countries of Asia, Africa, and Latin America and the two superpowers. This principal contradiction may change with the passing from one period to another of the imperialist epoch. The fundamental contradiction, however, will only change with the passing from one epoch of world history to another, i.e., from imperialism to socialism and the world-wide dictatorship of the proletariat.

In On Contradiction Mao Tse tung lays out how to understand the relationship between the fundamental contradiction and the other major and minor contradictions of the epoch of imperialism:

The fundamental contradiction in the process of development of a thing and the essence of the process determined by this fundamental contradiction will not disappear until the process is completed; but in a lengthy process the conditions usually differ at each stage. The reason is that, although the nature of the fundamental contradiction in the process of the development of a thing and the essence of the process remain unchanged, the fundamental contradiction becomes more and more intensified as it passes from one stage to another in the lengthy process. In addition, among the numerous major and minor contradictions which are determined or influenced by the fundamental contradiction, some become intensified, some are temporarily or partially resolved or mitigated, and some new ones emerge; hence the process is marked by stages. Selected Readings from the Works of Mao Tsetung (FLP, 1967, pgs. 83-84)

The Tactic of the United Front

Internationally, the particular period in which the world revolutionary movement is situated determines the tactical orientation it will employ to hasten the approach to proletarian revolution. It is in light of these particular stages that the tactic of the united front takes on significance.

In the period prior to the present one, the united front against U.S. imperialism was the correct tactical orientation for the world communist movement to utilize in order to most effectively prepare the conditions for proletarian revolution. U.S. imperialism was the number-one enemy of the world’s people, stepping into the shoes of British, French, and other European imperialists, who were in a period of decline and could not stop the rise of Nazi Germany. With the restoration of capitalism in the USSR and its rapid rise as an aggressive social-imperialist country, the united front against U.S. imperialism had to be changed. In light of the changes in the world contradictions, the united front against the two superpowers was developed.

Neither of these united fronts has been considered a strategy for world proletarian revolution. Both have been tactical orientations in which temporary alliances are developed with the middle bourgeoisie and even to a limited extent the comprador bourgeoisie of the colonial and dependent countries and the lesser imperialist bourgeoisies and middle capitalists of Europe, Japan, Canada, and Australia. In no way can these alliances be considered revolutionary alliances which are developed by the basic plan for the strategic disposition of forces.

The tactics of the united front are used to prepare the conditions for world proletarian revolution, but they are not the basis for actually carrying that revolution through to the end. The goals of the united front are short term, used in order to unite all who can be united, even the most vacillating and unreliable ally, and develop contradictions among the enemy, turning our lesser enemies against our chief and strongest enemies.

Strategically, when we are talking about world proletarian revolution, our enemy in this stage of capitalism is the whole imperialist system. The proletarian revolution is an international process spanning the whole epoch of imperialism and encompassing a number of different components’, proletarian revolutions in advanced capitalist countries, wars of national liberation and New Democratic revolutions led by the proletariat in the colonies and dependent countries. In each country, depending upon the level of development of capitalism, the proletariat will come to power by a variety of ways and degrees of rapidity; but we are still talking about one international process with one strategic goal – overthrowing imperialism and establishing the world dictatorship of the proletariat.

The Party of Labor of Albania is correct when they state “to divide imperialisms into more or less dangerous from the strategic point of view is wrong.” (Theory and Practice of Revolution) Tactically, in this period, the world communist movement targets the Two Superpowers as the chief enemies because they are the two main kingpins holding this world imperialist system together. Their conflicts with the monopoly bourgeoisies of Japan, Canada, Australia and Europe are solely of an inter-imperialist character. These monopoly bourgeoisies who oppose the bullying and interference of the Two Superpowers have not changed their own imperialist nature, nor the ruthlessness and aggressiveness with which they pursue their own class interests. As a matter of tactics, it makes some sense to fan the contradictions these lesser imperialists have with the Two Superpowers, and even turn one Superpower against the other, but these inter-imperialist contradictions can only be an indirect reserve of the proletariat, and must never be relied on in any strategic sense. It is an extremely dangerous error to spread illusions about imperialism or particular monopoly capitalists; the proletariat stands in irreconcilable strategic opposition to the whole monopoly class.

The Theory of the Three Worlds

In view of these strategic considerations, let us take up an examination of the theory of the Three Worlds, which, according to its theorists, lays out the “present-day strategic situation in the world.” How is it that such an analysis, which places class analysis in a subordinate position, can be the “correct strategic and tactical formulation for the world proletariat in the present era and its class line in its international struggle”?

First, let us try to apply dialectical and historical materialism and ask on what class basis the world is being divided into three parts. Where is the class analysis which brings out the defining characteristics of the so-called First World, Second World and Third World?

All Marxist-Leninists, from Marx to Mao Tsetung, have analysed the world primarily in terms of classes, not in terms of nations or countries. If we ask ourselves what a nation is, we quickly find that any nation is composed of a number of different classes. In the developed capitalist countries, the class situation is fairly simple: on one side stands the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie, and on the other side stands its polar opposite – the revolutionary movement of the proletariat. Other classes like the petit-bourgeoisie and the lumpen-proletariat are minority classes, and do not have revolutionary qualities as a whole class. From a strategic viewpoint, the fundamental stand of the proletariat in both the so-called First and Second World is not substantially different–overthrow the imperialist bourgeoisie and establish the dictatorship of the proletariat. The pivot of the proletariat’s strategy cannot be unity with the lesser imperialists of the so-called Second World against the Two Superpowers’ monopoly bourgeoisie, as the theory of the Three Worlds implies. At best, this kind of objective alliance with these reactionary lesser imperialists is tactical in nature and completely subordinate to the irreconciliable antagonistic contradiction between the proletariat and the whole imperialist bourgeoisie and its world-wide system.

This stand represents a foundation principle of Marxism-Leninism, from which all departures represent a progressive degeneration into opportunism and revisionism. The division of imperialist countries into so-called First and Second Worlds relies on inter-imperialist contradictions for such a separation. Such a clarification can possibly prove helpful in exploiting contradictions among the enemy, but if it is put forward as a strategic orientation with the basic class lines between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie being blurred over, it represents an abandonment of Marxist-Leninism and serves to dampen the revolutionary struggle of the proletariat and its allies.

Class Analysis for the “Third World”

When we try to apply a class analysis to the differences between the so-called First and Second Worlds on the one hand and the Third World on the other, the situation might appear to be much more complicated. What the theorists of the Three Worlds bring forward in their analysis and hold up as being primarily important is the anti-imperialist revolutionary alliance of all classes in a colonial or dependent country. Supposedly, the lumpen-proletariat, the proletariat, the urban petit-bourgeoisie, the peasantry, the middle bourgeoisie, and even the comprador bourgeoisie stand shoulder to shoulder in fundamental “strategic” opposition to imperialism and in favor of national independence and the protection of national sovereignty.

This analysis represents an opportunist distortion of the anti-imperialist movement. It fails to differentiate between progressive, middle, and die-hard forces in these national liberation struggles or struggles for national sovereignty. It also does not clearly lay out why and how the proletariat must lead these struggles if they are to deal effective blows to imperialism, and against what classes the proletariat must wage struggle in order to gain such leadership.

The first point that must be clarified initially is that a number of these classes in colonial and dependent countries, the lumpen-proletariat, the urban petit-bourgeoisie, and especially the peasantry, cannot give leadership to the anti-imperialist struggle, and are able to fulfill their revolutionary potential only under the leadership of the proletariat. To the extent that these class forces, and not the proletariat, win leadership, the revolutionary movement will stumble, lose its orientation, and end up seeking compromise with imperialism.

The second point that must be clarified is that the comprador bourgeoisie, which is clearly represented by such people as Mobutu of Zaire, Pinochet of Chile, Geisel of Brazil, and the Shah of Iran, cannot be considered to be any real allies of the anti-imperialist movement. To the extent that they line up with one Superpower, they may have contradictions with the other. They may even develop some limited contradictions with both Superpowers by seeking aid from lesser imperialists, such as those in Europe or Japan. Their own expansionist ambitions, such as those of the Shah of Iran for a Persian Empire, may place them in some contradiction with the Superpowers. But the contradictions that they develop with the Two Superpowers and the whole imperialist system are very definitely the minor aspect of their class nature. Overall, they serve as agents of imperialism in the colonial and dependent countries, and must be treated by the proletariat as basic enemies of national liberation.

The third point that must be clarified is that the middle bourgeoisie of the colonial and dependent countries cannot be considered to be a reliable foe of imperialism. The proletariat strives to build a united front with the middle bourgeoisie in order to weaken the Two Superpowers and carry through the New Democratic revolution; but in order to move on to the proletarian revolution, this united front should be based on resolute struggle as well as unity. In order to carry out the proletarian revolution, the working class must fight for its own hegemony in the national liberation movement. Accomplishing this task requires a struggle against the middle bourgeoisie, a fight to prevent it from gaining leadership of the movement.

Tactics of Unity and Struggle in Relation to the Middle Bourgeoisie

It follows from the dual character of the national bourgeoisie that, at certain times and to a certain extent, it can take part in the revolution against imperialism and the governments of bureaucrats and warlords and can become a revolutionary force, but that at other times there is the danger of its following the comprador big bourgeoisie and acting as its accomplice in counter-revolution. Mao Tsetung, The Chinese Revolution and the Chinese Communist Party (Selected Works, Vol.II, pg. 321, emphasis added)

This analysis of the middle bourgeoisie by Mao Tsetung reveals its class essence very well. Given its position, it is, at best, a vacillating class, constantly torn in allegiance between imperialism and socialism, between the comprador bourgeoisie and the proletariat in a colonial or dependent country. In this respect, it differs from the other sectors of the bourgeoisie, namely a) the big or comprador bourgeoisie, and b) the petit-bourgeoisie. As far as national liberation struggles are concerned, the main aspect of the petit-bourgeoisie is progressive, even though it is not a very homogeneous class and some of its sectors lean toward reaction and anti-communism. National liberation struggles also disclose the main aspect of the big bourgeoisie, which is overwhelmingly reactionary.

The middle bourgeoisie, however, flip-flops throughout the course of the anti-imperialist struggle, for a period lining up with the proletariat and the peasantry and during another period seeking protection in the arms of imperialism. The middle bourgeoisie can play a limited and conditional revolutionary role, not because its basic class aims are progressive, but because its desire to become a big bourgeoisie puts it into immediate conflict with imperialism and the already existing big bourgeoisie.

The 6th Congress of the Comintern clearly laid out the orientation of the proletariat towards the bourgeoisie, whether big or middle-striving-to-be-big: “The support the proletariat renders in these wars and the temporary alliance which–in certain cases – it enters into with the bourgeoisie, must under no circumstances, imply abandonment of the class war. Even when the bourgeoisie, for a long time, fights side by side with the proletariat against the imperialists, it still remains the enemy and strives to utilize the proletariat for its own aims. The Struggle Against Imperialist War and the Tasks of Communists,(pg. 34, MLOC reprint, 1976)

The comprador bourgeoisie, as an agent of imperialism, is clearly an enemy of the revolutionary movement in a colonial or dependent country, but within the revolutionary movement itself, the middle bourgeoisie is our main antagonist. It continually maneuvers and vies with the proletariat for leadership of the revolution. Its own aims do not coincide at all with those of the proletariat, semi-proletariat, and peasantry. As Mao says, “politically they (the national bourgeoisie) stand for the establishment of a state under the rule of a single class, the national bourgeoisie.” (Analysis of Classes in Chinese Society, Vol. I, Selected Works, pg. 14). The fact that when the middle bourgeoisie assumes leadership of a national liberation struggle, it cannot really achieve independence does not make it a less dangerous class, but, on the contrary, a more dangerous class. Its ability to pose as a champion of national independence and sovereignty and to gain leadership of national liberation struggles and world-wide movements such as the non-aligned movement makes it especially important that the proletariat, through its communist parties, in the spirit of unity and struggle, carry out consistent exposure of and struggle against its influence, in propaganda and agitation among the masses.

In uniting with these middle-bourgeois forces against imperialism, Marxist-Leninists must apply correct united front tactics. Communists enter into a united front from above with these basically bourgeois forces, not because we cherish any illusions about their real progressiveness, but because they are middle forces who have considerable influence among the masses, and it is these masses whom we strive to win over. We must be prudent in such struggle, but such revolutionary prudence is not synonymous with bourgeois diplomacy which maintains a discreet and opportunist silence.

It is in relation to the middle bourgeoisie that the hegemony of the proletariat takes on upmost importance. The proletariat, through its communist party, must be unrelenting and uncompromising in seeking and consolidating leadership of the revolutionary movement. Although the middle bourgeoisie is one of the governing classes in the stage of New Democracy, it must not be allowed to be the leading force in the New Democratic Revolution or in the stage of New Democracy. Historically where the communists have done their work correctly, the middle bourgeoisie has been politically defeated in the stage of socialist revolution, although the fight against bourgeois ideology and the elimination of bourgeois right is a protracted struggle throughout the period of socialist construction.

Mao explained fairly explicitly why the proletariat must lead the revolution:

The entire history of revolution proves that without the leadership of the working class, revolution fails and that with the leadership of the working class, revolution triumphs. In the epoch of imperialism, in no country can any other class lead any genuine revolution to victory. This is clearly proved by the fact that the many revolutions led by China’s petty bourgeoisie and national bourgeoisie all failed. Mao Tsetung, On the People’s Democratic Dictatorship (Selected Works, Vol. IV, FLP, pg.421)

The Strategic Concept of Non-Alignment: Illusion or Reality?

The strategic concept of non-alignment, or the consolidation of a Third Force in the world besides imperialism and socialism, which is promoted by the theorists of the Three Worlds, can serve as a harmful and dangerous illusion.

We must immediately ask ourselves whose class interests, whose class aspirations, this strategic concept of non-alignment serves. For the proletariat, it should be clear that the only “non-alignment” of any lasting benefit is the “non-alignment” achieved by the dictatorship of the proletariat and socialism. Socialism is the only viable historical alternative to imperialism. We have not entered any new historic epoch in which there is some third way between these two systems of imperialism and socialism.

This false conception of non-alignment caters to the backward illusions and longings of the middle bourgeoisie in the colonial and dependent countries. The middle bourgeoisie harbors hopes of carving out its own territory which it can control and exploit without outside interference from the imperialist powers. But to the extent that the proletariat and peasantry rise in revolutionary struggle, the middle bourgeoisie takes fright for its capitalist interests and increasingly seeks aid and comfort in the arms of imperialism.

Thus, the middle bourgeoisie is a class which finds itself caught in the middle, between imperialism and socialism, between the imperialist bourgeoisie and the proletariat. This is the reason that it so fervently longs for some middle way, some middle course of development, in which it can escape from imperialism but avoid the dictatorship of the proletariat.

The opportunist formulation of the Three Worlds provides just the solace that the middle bourgeoisie seeks. In essence, it represents a signal from the world communist movement that it is willing to back off on the struggle for the dictatorship of the proletariat, that it is willing to live in peace with the middle bourgeoisie in this illusory world of non-alignment.

Because there is no such Third Way, setting non-alignment as a strategic objective only serves the imperialist system. This represents the accomplishment of Marshall Tito of Yugoslavia, a real pioneer of revisionism. Insofar as Tito moved Yugoslavia away from the socialist camp in the 1950’s, he allowed greater penetration by the imperialist system. Tito should be branded as a traitor to socialism, and not hailed as an “initiator of the non-aligned movement.”

To seek alignment with lesser imperialist countries is no way less of a compromise with imperialism from the strategic point of view. Unfortunately, when the class interests of the proletariat and the bourgeoisie are merged, when non-alignment is set as a strategic objective, then such desired non-alignment from the Two Superpowers amounts to the same opportunism. The idea is put forth that colonial and dependent countries can gain independence by playing off one Superpower against the other or by playing off the lesser imperialists such as in Europe and Japan against the Two Superpowers. Such maneuvers can be used by the proletariat in these colonial and dependent countries, but these are purely a matter of tactics and are not put forward as any kind of long-term solution. In the case of these lesser imperialists, when unity is promoted by Three World theorists between the “Second” and “Third” worlds, what is conveniently forgotten is that their main aspect is not independence from the Superpowers, but subservience to them. Reliance on the French monopoly bourgeoisie, for example, does not really weaken the Two Superpowers or the imperialist system as a whole. The French monopoly capitalists act, to a great extent, as junior partners of U.S. imperialism in the colonial and dependent countries, despite their own limited independent ambitions, and will inevitably line up with U.S. imperialism in any war with Soviet social-imperialism. Relying on them, such as the Algerians do, may provide a veneer of independence from the Two Superpowers, but in the course of common struggle, such a veneer must be exposed by Marxist-Leninists, who are duty-bound to point out that only the dictatorship of the proletariat and socialism provide any real independence from the Two Superpowers and the imperialist system.

Building the United Front Against the Two Superpowers

To carry on a war for the overthrow of the international bourgeoisie, a war which is a hundred times more difficult, protracted, and complicated than the most stubborn of ordinary wars between states, and to refuse beforehand to maneuver, to utilize the conflict of interests (even though temporary) among one’s enemies, to refuse to temporize and compromise with possible (even though temporary, unstable, vacillating and conditional) allies – is not this ridiculous in the extreme? Lenin, Left-Wing Communism (FLP, pg. 66)

This maneuvering, compromising, and use of conflicts among the class enemies are an integral and vital part of the tactic of the united front. But to raise the use of such tactics to the level of a strategy for proletarian revolution is to preach opportunism and spread confusion and disorientation among the revolutionary ranks. It is ultra-left childishness to argue that revolutionaries will never accept any compromises; accepting any gain, success, or reform short of the revolutionary seizure of state power is, in reality, a form of compromise. There is no way that accepting compromises is, ipso facto, an abandonment of revolutionary principles. The crux lies in whether the basic approach to compromise is revolutionary or reformist. The Chinese Communist Party put the question quite well back in 1963:

While adhering to policies based on principle, the party of the proletariat must also exercise flexibility. In revolutionary struggle, it is wrong to refuse to adjust to changing circumstances or reject roundabout ways of advance. The difference between Marxist-Leninists and the opportunists and revisionists is that the former stand for flexibility in carrying out policies based on principle, while the latter practice a flexibility which is actually the abandonment of principled policies. More on the Differences with Comrade Togliatti, (FLP, p. 185)

Compromises should not be painted as anything more than what they are, and the necessity for resorting to them should be clearly explained. It is in this context that the tactic of the united front takes on significance. The tactic of the united front is utilized by the proletariat in circumstances, short of a revolutionary situation, in which, for the most part, the revolutionary forces are still relatively weak and the enemy relatively strong. Under such conditions, it is imperative to narrow the target to zero in on our chief enemy and unite all who can be united, no matter to what extent, in a broad front against this chief enemy.

The goal of such a front is not proletarian revolution, for insistence on this maximum programme would serve to split the united front and narrow down the allies of the proletariat. But, under such conditions it is all the more important for the proletariat and its party not to give up its independent identity and initiative and merge itself politically with other bourgeois and petit-bourgeois forces.

Within the united front, the leading role of the proletariat must be boldly championed and resolutely fought for. While the proletariat remains flexible and endeavors to unite a broad range of forces, it never relinquishes its right to carry on political struggle with other class forces in order to win hegemony within the united front. Mao Tsetung was very clear about how unity and struggle were interrelated in united front tactics:

In the period of the anti-Japanese united front, struggle is the means to unity and unity is the aim of struggle. If unity is sought through struggle, it will live; if unity is sought through yielding, it will perish. This truth is gradually being grasped by Party comrades. However, there are still many who do not understand it; some think that struggle will split the united front or that struggle can be employed without restraint, and others use wrong tactics towards the middle forces or have mistaken notions about the die-hard forces. Current Problems of Tactics in the Anti-Japanese United Front (SW, Vol. II, pg. 422)

The Leading Role of the Proletariat

In developing the current world-wide united front against “hegemonism”, the theorists of the three worlds have been flexible enough in seeking to unite a broad range of forces against the Two Superpowers. But what is consistently lacking is the aspect of struggle that must be carried out within the united front to ensure the leading role of the international proletariat and the socialist countries.

In the first place, in order to carry out struggle from a position of strength, the international proletariat and the socialist countries must be able to develop a high level of cohesion and unity among themselves. After the restoration of capitalism in the USSR, the theorists of the three worlds contended that the socialist camp was destroyed. But today with the existence of a number of socialist countries, these theorists still argue that it is not possible to unite them into a socialist camp, but they are not able to explain why. In the second place, when the idea of re-constituting the Communist International, a directing center for the world communist movement, is mentioned, these same forces dismiss the idea with undeveloped remarks about how such a center would inevitably become a bourgeois headquarters for ordering the world’s people about. If it is not possible or desirable to re-constitute a Communist International, the reasons should be laid out in a clear and principled manner. In addition, some concrete program, such as convening multilateral conferences of Marxist-Leninist parties, should be put forward as an alternative in order to carry out the much-needed function of increasing unity and solidarity among world communist forces. But the theorists of the three worlds discharge relatively few of these responsibilities and duties in upholding and furthering proletarian internationalism.

Not only this, they actually reduce proletarian internationalism to petty-bourgeois nationalism by lumping together socialist countries with colonies and semi-colonies in one amorphous, supra-class category, the so-called “Third World.” Such a categorization does not bring out and highlight the fundamental class differences between socialist countries ruled by the proletariat and countries still remaining within the capitalist sphere and ruled by the bourgeoisie, no matter how progressive or “anti-imperialist.” Such muddling of basic class differences only helps to merge the class interests of the proletariat with those of the bourgeoisie and the petit-bourgeoisie, and does not clarify the leading, hegemonic role that the proletariat must play in the national liberation struggles in the colonies and semi-colonies as well as in the struggle directly for socialism in the developed capitalist countries.

In its battle with Soviet revisionism in the 1960’s, the Communist Party of China took a much different view of the need for the independence and leadership of the proletariat. In addressing themselves to how one determines whether a party policy is based on principle, the CPC stated:

Every policy we put forward and decide upon must be based on the class stand of the proletariat, on the fundamental interests of the proletariat, on the theory of Marxism-Leninism and on the fundamental standpoint of Marxism-Leninism. The party of the proletariat must not confine its attention to immediate interests, veer with the wind and abandon fundamental interests. It must not simply submit to the immediate turn of events, approving or advocating one thing today and another tomorrow, and trading in principles as though they were commodities. In other words, the party of the proletariat must maintain its political independence, differentiating itself ideologically and politically from all other classes and their political parties–not only from the landlords and the bourgeoisie, but also from the petit-bourgeoisie. More on the Differences, (FLP, pg. 184)

In the united front against the two superpowers, it is not enough to pay lip service to the leading role of the international proletariat and the socialist countries, but this leading role must be fought for and won as a result of struggle against and isolation of bourgeois and petit-bourgeois forces. Within this united front, a precise class analysis of the progressive forces, the middle forces, and the die-hards must be conducted as well as recognizing the role of struggle in determining the relationship between these three sectors.

In the formulation developed by the three-world theorists for their united front against ”hegemonism,” although passing note is taken of how the proletariat must lead, the “Third World” as a whole is put forward as the main progressive force combatting hegemonism. This formulation flies in the face of Marxist-Leninist theory which always regards class analysis as the decisive factor in determining progressive, middle, and die-hard forces.

It is possible that almost all class forces in the “Third World”, even the comprador bourgeoisie, can be brought into some opposition to the two superpowers and their drive for domination and war. The immediate tactical goals which can unite this broad front of the “Third World” itself can even be such things as non-alignment or the “New Economic Order.” But, in substance, these tactical objectives are basically bourgeois-democratic, and are only minimally capable of realization under imperialism. Consequently, it is the duty of the party of the proletariat that while it unites with the middle bourgeoisie and the petit-bourgeoisie in order to struggle against imperialism and for new democracy, it must also consistently point out that socialism and the dictatorship of the proletariat are the only viable alternative to imperialism.

Marx himself made no bones about the correct relationship between bourgeois-democratic revolution and proletarian revolution even in the period of pre-monopoly capitalism, when it was still possible for the bourgeoisie itself to lead the revolution in the first stage:

In Germany they [the Communists] fight with the bourgeoisie whenever it acts in a revolutionary way, against the absolute monarchy, the feudal squirearchy, and the petty bourgeoisie. But they never cease, for a single instant, to instill into the working class the clearest possible recognition of the hostile antagonism between bourgeoisie and proletariat... in order that, after the fall of the reactionary classes in Germany, the fight against the bourgeoisie itself may immediately begin. Communist Manifesto (FLP, pg. 76)

Classes in the Colonies and Dependent Countries

If the bourgeoisie could play a progressive, leading role in the era of pre-monopoly capitalism, this role has undergone a fundamental change in the epoch of imperialism, in which any national bourgeoisie cannot really muster the economic wherewithal to achieve self-reliance. This situation is no cause for complacency. To the contrary, it lends even greater importance to differentiating out the progressive, middle, and die-hard elements within the united front in the colonial and dependent countries.

Within the colonial and dependent countries, the reactionary comprador bourgeoisie and big landlords can, at certain times and to a certain extent, play the role of a die-hard force within the united front against the two superpowers. Reactionary as they are, they can display a dual aspect, even though the struggle they put up against the two superpowers is very much the minor aspect of their class nature. Their predominant aspect is collaboration with imperialism, for which they can be handsomely rewarded. At certain times, they can be forced into tailing after the anti-imperialist movement insofar as they fear isolation and losing political power and influence. They can develop limited contradictions with the two superpowers to the extent that they attempt to play one superpower off against the other, play the lesser imperialists off against the two superpowers, or develop their own imperial designs, such as those harbored by the fascist forces ruling over Iran and Brazil. But when the chips are down and the superpowers move in with armed might, such as in a civil war or a war between colonial countries, these reactionary forces quickly become capitulationist, and scurry for cover under the wing of one superpower or the other.

A good example of the comprador bourgeoisie is the Shah of Iran, whose main aspect is to serve as a gendarme of US imperialism in the Persian Gulf, but whose actions can contribute to a limited extent to the anti-imperialist struggle, such as his recognizing the People’s Republic of China, severing ties with Taiwan, and taking part in OPEC. The differences that do exist between the Shah and the two superpowers should be exploited by the proletariat and socialist countries, but never to the extent that the Shah is promoted as a prominent or leading member of the anti-imperialist front, and always in the context of giving primary support to the revolutionary struggle of the proletariat and its allies within Iran to overthrow this dictator.

The middle forces in the colonial and dependent countries are the middle bourgeoisie and the liberal or capitalist wing of the gentry. Unlike the peasantry, the urban petit-bourgeoisie, and semi-proletarians, the middle forces cannot be considered basic allies of the proletariat, but only conditional allies, to be united with against the two superpowers. Their unreliability becomes more pronounced, the more imperialism is able to spread its stranglehold over a colonial country. As a general rule, the differentiation of the middle bourgeoisie from the big bourgeoisie becomes more difficult precisely because of capitalism’s world-historic tendency, as Lenin spoke of it, to “break down national barriers, obliterate national distinctions, and to assimilate nations–a tendency which manifests itself more and more powerfully with every passing decade, and is one of the greatest driving forces transforming capitalism into socialism.” (Critical Remarks on the National Question) Over-all, because of their class position, the middle bourgeoisie and capitalist gentry have a marked tendency to vacillate, and should be won over not because they can become a reliable ally but because their support will strengthen the struggle against the two superpowers and prevent them from joining the camp of the die-hards.

The basic allies of the proletariat in the colonial and dependent countries are the peasantry, urban petit-bourgeoisie, and semi-proletarians. The power of this progressive bloc must be constantly expanded under the leadership of the party of the proletariat, and this effort necessarily involves carrying on struggle with the die-hards and keeping the middle forces in a subordinate position.

This is the kind of class analysis that Mao Tsetung carried out in developing the tactics of the united front in the war of resistance against Japanese imperialism (cf. Current Problems of Tactics in the Anti-Japanese United Front)” It was this kind of analysis of classes and their political motion that was necessary in order to successfully implement that united front and defeat the Japanese imperialists. But, as a matter of contrast, instead of such a similar class analysis providing clarity for the current united front against “hegemonism,” the theorists of the three worlds can only offer us such vague characterizations of the class forces as “some people are revolutionaries who firmly stand for carrying through the national democratic revolution. Others are progressives and middle-of-the-roaders of various descriptions. A few are reactionaries. And there are even some agents of imperialism or social-imperialism.”

The Subjective and Objective Factors in the Revolution

One of the chief reasons that the whole aspect of struggle within the united front is downplayed is that there is an opportunist over-estimation of the objective factor and a downgrading of the critical and decisive revolutionary role that the subjective factor plays. National liberation struggles can objectively weaken imperialism, but this objective state can easily turn into its opposite unless Marxist-Leninists fight for leadership of these movements and carry them through to the dictatorship of the proletariat in alliance with the peasantry.

It is this critical world-historic mission of the proletariat in the colonial and dependent countries as well as in the developed capitalist countries that the theorists of the three worlds attempt to sidestep or belittle. Thus, they naturally drum up the importance of the objective factor by quoting approvingly from Stalin about how even feudal forces such as the Emir of Afghanistan can objectively weaken and undermine imperialism, and quote from Mao Tse-Tung about how it does not matter which classes, parties or individuals join the revolution in an oppressed nation so long as they oppose imperialism. It is true that a basically feudal force, whose main aspect would be to capitulate with imperialism, such as the Emir, can objectively at times help to weaken imperialism. But, great Marxists such as Lenin recognized that simply to endorse such movements was not sufficient. In a letter to the Emir in 1919, Lenin salutes his Majesty’s accession to the throne and the Afghan people’s heroic determination to uphold their freedom against foreign oppression, but he is not hesitant to add, ”May the desire of the Afghan people to follow the Russian example be the best guarantee of the strength and independence of the Afghan state.” (CW, Vol. 50, pg. 386) The importance attached to such additions represent a line of demarcation between Marxist-Leninists and diplomatic opportunists.

The basic problem with the position of the three-world theorists is that while the national liberation struggles in the colonies and semi- colonies have become part of the world proletarian-socialist revolution, this conjoining of different social movements has not happened spontaneously, solely as a result of objective factors. The leading role of the proletariat and its party ensures that the key subjective factor is supplied to consciously link up these two social movements and prevent the national liberation struggles from ending up objectively strengthening imperialism by allowing the bourgeoisie to gain leadership of them. This is the major reason that Lenin insisted on differentiating between strictly bourgeois-democratic movements and national-revolutionary movements and spoke out at the Congress of the Comintern about the “need for determined struggle against the attempt to paint the bourgeois–democratic liberation trends in the backward countries in communist colors.” (Preliminary Draft of Theses on the National and Colonial Questions (Selected Works in Three Volumes, Progress Publishers; 1975; p. 376)

Following in the Leninist tradition, the Party of Labor of Albania has explained very well how the over-estimation of the objective factor is one of the hallmarks of revisionism:

The preaching of spontaneity, as the ideology of opportunism in the labor movement, is spearheaded, in the first place, against the necessity of the Marxist-Leninist theory and party. The modern revisionists are spreading the illusion that... socialist consciousness springs from the spontaneous movement itself, that the push towards socialism comes spontaneously from the development of the productive forces and from the change of the ratio of forces in the world to the detriment of imperialism. Objective and Subjective Factors in the Revolution, Foto Cami, Albania Today, (8), 1973

Fanning Inter-Imperialist Contradictions

The need for clarity on the role of the proletariat and its Marxist-Leninist party is especially important in evaluating the role that so-called “Second-World” imperialists, such as in Europe, Japan, Australia, and Canada, can play in the united front against the two superpowers. In the first place, the theorists of the three worlds have introduced a subtle change in the nature of the united front in the last year, substituting “hegemonism” for “imperialism” as the target of the front. This change facilitates seeing the “Second-World” imperialists as allies rather than as part of the target of the united front. In addition, it tends to liquidate imperialism itself as the defining aspect of the chief enemies, the two superpowers, and instead focuses on their bullying, interference, and domination, as though these were the main problems, and implying that the lesser imperialists are exempt from such tactics.

But this tactical change still does not serve to elevate these lesser imperialist forces to the level of being some kind of “middle force” in the united front. These forces are died-in-the-wool imperialists of long standing who oppose the hegemonism of the two superpowers only to the extent that they would long to be hegemones themselves. Thus, it is more accurate to regard these forces as, at best, die-hards, who can be united with only temporarily and conditionally because they have limited contradictions with the two superpowers. But Marxist-Leninists must be clear that the contradictions these lesser imperialists have with the two superpowers are only contradictions among the enemy, and therefore constitute indirect reserves of the proletariat. This tactic of uniting with these lesser imperialists to the extent that they oppose the two superpowers and make concessions to their old colonies in Asia, Africa, and Latin America should not, by any means, go to the opportunist lengths of portraying them as some kind of progressive force and thereby spreading illusions about the nature of imperialism itself.

If there are middle forces in the developed capitalist countries who can be won to the united front against the two superpowers, it is certainly not the reactionary monopoly capitalists, who care little for national boundaries or national sovereignty. The middle forces are more likely to be the non-monopoly bourgeoisie and the upper petit-bourgeoisie, who can be more consistent in opposing hegemonism because their basic class interests call for the protection of small capital against unfair encroachments by foreign imperialist powers.

The progressive forces in these developed capitalist countries are made up by the proletariat, which is the great majority of the population, and its main reserves, the small urban and rural petit-bourgeoisie and semi-proletarians. In uniting with the middle forces and utilizing the contradictions of the die-hards with the two superpowers, the party of the proletariat in these developed capitalist countries can point out how the two superpowers sabotage any chances for national independence and how they find little real opposition from the lesser imperialists, but the focus of its propaganda and agitation must be on fighting for the dictatorship of the proletariat as the only real guarantee of any kind of national independence.

National Independence and Social-Chauvinism

The road to revolution in these developed capitalist countries cannot be found by insisting on “holding high the banner of national independence.” The opportunism of the theory of the three worlds is seen in its clearest form in the way it attempts to tie proletarian revolution in these developed capitalist countries to a war of national liberation against the two superpowers, but principally against Soviet social-imperialism.

The theorists of the three worlds quote Lenin (out of context) to try to justify their position. As an example, they quote Lenin from the Junius Pamphlet declaring that “national wars against imperialist powers are not only possible and probable; they are inevitable, progressive and revolutionary.” But in that historical context, Lenin was clearly referring to small annexed or nationally oppressed nations such as Northern Ireland, Serbia, Albania, and many others in Eastern Europe. It is a complete and unabashed distortion of Marxism-Leninism to attempt to compare these small, nationally oppressed countries to old-line imperialist countries such as Great Britain, France, and Germany. The fact that imperialism attempts to annex highly industrialized regions as well as agrarian territories does not transform the resistance of the monopoly capitalists in these industrialized regions into a progressive or revolutionary force.

The lesser monopoly capitalists of Europe, for instance, can have limited contradictions with the two superpowers, and thus play a die-hard role for a while in world political alignments, but an inter-imperialist war between the two superpowers will quickly convert these die-hard forces into outright capitulationists, lining up faithfully behind one superpower or the other. Under such circumstances, the proletariat of Europe has no business aligning itself with these monopoly capitalists to oppose invasion by one or the other superpower. The class character of the war will be unquestionable; it will be an inter-imperialist war. Consequently, the strategic task of the proletariat is unequivocably to turn the imperialist war into a civil war.

Lenin left no room for social-chauvinist doubt on this question:

If the war is a reactionary, imperialist war, that is, if it is being waged by two world groups of the imperialist, rapacious, predatory, reactionary bourgeoisie, then every bourgeoisie (even of the smallest country) becomes a participant in the plunder, and my duty as a representative of the revolutionary proletariat is to prepare for the world proletarian revolution as the only escape from the horrors of a world war. The Proletarian Revolution and the Renegade Kautsky (FLP, pg. 80)

The error of the three world theorists should be apparent in their attempt at treating war in Europe as though it is going to be principally a matter of these capitalist countries defending their national sovereignty against a Soviet invasion. The three-worlds theorists try to draw a parallel between the just opposition to Russian Tsarism by Marx and Engels and the present-day opposition to social imperialism. But, such comparisons completely distort the different historical contexts. Opposition by the European bourgeoisie against Russian Tsarism, which represented feudal reaction, was indeed progressive, and should have been supported by the proletariat to further its own class interests. Capitalism at that time was a more progressive historical alternative than feudalism, and wars of national liberation versus feudal autocracy could be characterized as progressive wars.

But such a class analysis is not relevant to the epoch of imperialism and the present tactical period in which two imperialist superpowers, the US and the USSR, are vying for world domination. The class character of war between these two monsters will be an inter-imperialist war. The class which represents progressive development in the epoch of imperialism is the proletariat, not the imperialist bourgeoisie of any stripe, whether ruling openly with terrorism or behind the facade of bourgeois democracy. In any inter-imperialist war, the duty of a revolutionary proletariat, as Lenin states, is to prepare for civil war and thus direct aid world proletarian revolution. To do otherwise is to abandon proletarian internationalism and practice social-chauvinism, no matter how subtle, refined, or sophisticated.

The Relation Between Strategy and Tactics

In order to practice proletarian internationalism, it is necessary to remain firm on the strategic orientation of Marxist-Leninists in the stage of imperialism. In order to elaborate correct tactics for any period, it is imperative to grasp tightly the fundamental contradiction between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie and the four basic contradictions of the imperialist epoch. Tactics flow from strategy, and tactical defeats or victories can only be judged in light of whether they help realize our strategic plan.

In this respect, we must be irreconciliably opposed to any opportunist attempt to revise our basic strategy for the epoch of imperialism, as laid out by Lenin and Stalin, or to treat it as some abstract formula that can only become relevant down towards the end of the epoch. Struggle never ceases in united fronts principally because tactical allies are not synonymous with strategic allies, the goals of such united fronts are not identical with the strategic objective of world proletarian dictatorship.

As an example, within the current united front against the two superpowers, the proletariat and its Marxist-Leninist party must fight for leadership, isolate and discredit the die-hards who constantly seek conciliation with the two superpowers, consolidate the progressive forces under the undisputed leadership of the proletariat, and win the middle forces over to support of the progressive forces and away from the die-hards.

In terms of supporting world proletarian revolution, the strategic allies of the proletariat are only the progressive forces within the current united front against the two superpowers. As classes or strata, the middle forces and die-hard forces within the united front are bourgeois or feudal and cannot be won to proletarian revolution. It would be opportunism to think that these kinds of political forces could be won to struggle for socialism. Marxist-Leninists enter into united fronts with them not because they consider these forces to be an/ kind of progressive supporters or reliable allies, but because Marxist-Leninists seek access to the masses over whom these forces have influence in order to win these masses to socialism.

The united front has always been considered by the world communist movement to be a tactical means to prepare the conditions for the success of proletarian revolution, but never a substitute for struggling directly for socialism itself. The interrelationship among the basic contradictions may change, the principal contradiction may change, the alignment of bourgeois political forces may change, and therefore the tactical allies of the proletariat may change; but the conception of the strategic allies and the conception of the strategic plan for the whole epoch does not change. Therefore, it only causes confusion and breeds opportunism to claim, as the theorists of the “Three Worlds” do, that “victory in the world-wide struggle against hegemonism and victory in the international proletariat’s struggle for socialism and communism are identical as far as fundamental interests are concerned.”

At his closing speech to the Seventh Congress of the Comintern, where the United Front Against Fascism was adopted, Dimitroff demonstrates a clear grasp of the relation between strategic firmness and tactical flexibility:

Ours has been a Congress of a new tactical orientation for the Communist International. Standing firmly on the impregnable position of Marxism-Leninism, which has been confirmed by the whole experience of the international labor movement, and above all by the victories of the great October Revolution, our Congress, acting in the spirit and guided by the method of living Marxism-Leninism, has reshaped the tactical lines of the Communist International to meet the changed world situation. United Front Against War and Fascism; Gamma Pub. Co.; 1974; p. 49.

The Chief Enemies of the World Proletariat

Strategically, the proletariat stands in implacable opposition to the whole imperialist system, whether that system be represented concretely by U.S., Soviet, French, Japanese, or Canadian imperialism. Tactically, however, the proletariat does a concrete analysis of the world situation to determine who are its chief enemies, who are its lesser enemies, and how it can utilize contradictions among its enemies to its own advantage.

In a tactical sense, it can even be correct to utilize contradictions between the two Superpowers themselves, in order to benefit socialist states and the proletariat worldwide. Such compromises as the Brest-Litovsk Peace Treaty, signed by the new Soviet government toward the end of World War I, and the Russo-German Non-Aggression Pact of 1939, are examples of necessary, temporary tactical agreements with imperialist powers used to protect a socialist state and benefit the world revolutionary movement.

Following this logic, if the People’s Republic of China were faced with an immediate threat from the USSR, it would be possible for it to seek a tactical agreement with U.S. imperialism in order to lessen the chances of a Russian attack. Through such agreements a socialist state can play off one imperialism against another and prevent any consolidated opposition from both at the same time. But these kinds of tactics could in no way signify that both Superpowers today would not still be considered, together, as the main enemies of the proletariat and its allies throughout the world.

Although it is likely that one or the other Superpower would be the main enemy in certain countries, or even regions of the world, on a world scale both Superpowers are the main enemy. The USA and USSR are the only two countries which have achieved the status of Superpowers, striving with immense military, political and economic power to divide and re-divide the world between them. For the proletariat and the world’s people to slacken their vigilance against one or the other would prove to be a grave miscalculation.

As a matter of tactics, however, this situation in which the proletariat has two main enemies world-wide should not be viewed statically. While the imperialist system as a whole may live on, great imperialist powers can come and go, rise and decline. Theoretically, it is possible in the far distant future the proletariat could be faced with only one main enemy. But the proletariat is interested in a dialectical analysis of rising and falling imperialist powers only insofar as such an analysis can enable it to more successfully turn one imperialist power against another. Strategically, it is really a matter of indifference to the proletariat which imperialist powers rise, and which fall: the imperialist system as a whole remains the general enemy, and the basic motive force for world history remains the class antagonism between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat.

Differences Between the Superpowers

When we do a concrete analysis of Soviet social-imperialism and U.S. capital-imperialism, we find some significant differences that we must take into account in elaborating our worldwide tactics. Relative to the U.S., the Soviet Union is a rising imperialist power, which is greatly helped in its contention with U.S. imperialism by being able to masquerade as a socialist country supposedly interested in detente and peace and willing to give “proletarian internationalist” aid to the national liberation struggles. Because of this confusion about the true nature of the USSR, Marxist-Leninists throughout the world have a responsibility, especially those in the colonial and dependent countries, to carry out consistent and relentless exposure of the social-imperialist actions of the USSR.

It is true that the USSR has been gaining ground on U.S. imperialism since the 1960’s. In any contradiction, the two aspects of it are always changing position relative to each other. Since World War II, U.S. imperialism has suffered significant setbacks in Korea, Cuba, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Angola. But these facts do not in themselves imply that the USSR is a greater danger to the world’s people. If we look at the record of the Soviet social-imperialists recently, we find that, at best, the results are mixed. As examples, the USSR has been massacred in Chile, beaten back in Portugal, kicked out of Egypt, politically defeated in India, and stymied in Zaire. We must not forget these cases when looking at Soviet successes over the past few years.

Hence, while it is not correct to regard the Two Superpowers metaphysically as being in some kind of static equilibrium, it is equally incorrect to jump to conclusions and make unwarranted extrapolations about one of them inevitably superceding its hopelessly declining rival. In the case of U.S. imperialism, premature obituaries only spread a dangerous complacency and amount to social-chauvinism on the part of U.S. Marxist-Leninists.

While losing ground relative to the USSR, U.S. imperialism is still a fiercely aggressive and dangerous Superpower, under intense pressure to expand its empire. The picture of the U.S. as a bloated, contented and passive imperialist power is a misreading of history, and a distortion of the basic laws of imperialism. Every imperialism must expand or die: aggressiveness and the tendency to war are inherent parts of its nature. Moreover, the imperialist system as a whole is wracked by a general crisis, with the effects being very pronounced on the leading imperialist power, the U.S. The U.S. therefore remains a desperately aggressive power, seeking out new conquests and squeezing more out of the colonies and neo-colonies it already controls. Increasingly, it must load more and more of the crisis squarely onto the backs of the U.S. working class, and turn to more and more repression internally to defeat any organized opposition.

The general line which sees the USSR as the main danger to the world’s people has already caused disarray and disorientation among the world revolutionary movement. In practice, this erroneous line has already led, in a number of cases, to a downplaying of the danger of U.S. imperialism, especially in its domination of colonial and neo-colonial countries.

As a recent example, when the Shaba province of Zaire was invaded by Soviet-backed Katangese mercenaries, some opportunist forces began to portray President Mobutu (a long time lackey of U.S. imperialism) as a staunch anti-imperialist fighter, and a firm champion of Zaire’s national sovereignty and independence. But what was conveniently overlooked was that, of all the countries in Africa, Zaire has probably the least degree of national sovereignty and independence from U.S. imperialism.

Yet, a wide array of revolutionary forces in this country assured the proletariat that Mobutu was no problem, and would “undoubtedly” and “inevitably” be toppled by the people of Zaire, and U.S. imperialism kicked out. But the trouble is, nothing will inevitably happen unless people are educated about the role of U.S. imperialism and the need to carry out determined armed struggle against it and its comprador lackeys. Especially after the bloody and tragic experience in Chile, to breed complacency about how easy U.S. imperialism is going to be routed is an opportunist crime.

But, the proletariat of the world is learning a valuable revolutionary lesson: it is being ever more strongly steeled in Marxism-Leninism in the current battle against the incorrect theory of the “Three Worlds.” Brushing these conciliators aside, the proletariat will carry world revolution through to the end, defeating the Two Superpowers on the way, overthrowing the world imperialist system, and establishing the world dictatorship of the proletariat and socialism. Here in the U.S. it is our greatest duty to this world proletarian revolution, to combat social-chauvinism, rout it from the communist movement, and overthrow U.S. imperialism – ruled by the most powerful and bloody monopoly bourgeoisie yet seen in the epoch of imperialism.