Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Michael A. Miller

Against Revisionism


It is clear from the history of the proletarian class struggle that Marxist theory advances in opposition to revisionism. What is Marxism? “Marxism is the science of the revolutionary class struggle of the proletariat against the bourgeoisie from capitalism to communism.”[1] As anyone who is familiar with Marxism knows, this science is not integrated with the working class movement in our country. The working class movement and the movement of all the oppressed masses of people remains a movement to resist oppression and exploitation and is still in the process of becoming a revolutionary class struggle against the bourgeoisie. In the sense that Marxism represents general and universally applicable principles, theory reckoned in centuries, it is far in advance of the working class movement. But in the sense of the concrete unity of theory and practice, in the sense of theory reckoned in decades and years, Marxism is far behind the spontaneous struggles of the U.S. working class movement.

The philosophy of Marxism, the method of thinking and analysis developed by Marx and Engels, is dialectical materialism, which is most simply expressed as “concrete analysis of concrete conditions.”[2] The point of philosophy, as Marx commented, is to change reality. In order to change it, it first has to be analyzed correctly; through scientific abstraction it has to be broken down into its main component parts, its main unities of opposites in order to determine its self-movement and the relative conditions influencing its development. This is also called, in Mao Tsetung’s words, “seeking the truth from facts.”[3] The method of thinking and analysis used by the bourgeoisie is idealism (and metaphysics, which is actually a form of idealism). The idealist approach to the world precludes the comprehension of concrete conditions on a theoretical level, and it is only that comprehension which makes possible the purposeful and conscious transformation of objective reality.

There is one thing we know for sure about concrete conditions, one absolute, and that is that they are always changing. New conditions give rise to struggle over their meaning and significance. It is in the interests of the proletariat to make a really concrete analysis of concrete conditions because the proletariat has a practical task to accomplish, viz., the abolition of wage-slavery. Marxism is absolutely irreconcilable with any defense of wage-slavery. It is in the interest of the proletariat to take account and proper measure of all changed conditions so as to understand how this affects the overall class struggle of the proletariat against the bourgeoisie. It is in the class interest of the bourgeoisie to avoid a materialist approach to the subject and to avoid the dialectical method. The bourgeoisie strives theoretically to defend wage-slavery mainly by means of concealment. The response of the bourgeoisie to changed conditions is to declare Marxism obsolete. Within the Marxist movement, the bourgeoisie struggles to defeat the proletariat by saying that new conditions necessitate the revising (discarding) of certain principles of Marxism. What becomes of the revisionists’ “Marxism”? It becomes transformed into an extension of bourgeois liberalism.

How then do they see the principles of Marxism? “People who are liberals look upon the principles of Marxism as abstract dogma.”[4] Thus revisionism divides in two, gives rise to its own opposite, dogmatism, which says in effect: “there are no new conditions.” For the dogmatist, there is an unchanging reality, as Marx knew it, as Lenin knew it, as the Russians or the Chinese knew it: a reality abstracted from the concrete circumstances in which it exists, a metaphysical reality containing a pure class struggle, unaffected by the movement of time, place, or any objective contradictions in the real world. The continual assertion of Marxism as dogma serves as a nutrient of revisionism which agrees that Marxism is a dogma and therefore argues that we should get rid of it.

Both dogmatism and revisionism run counter to Marxism. Marxism must certainly advance; it must develop along with the development of practice and cannot stand still. It would become lifeless if it remained stagnant and stereotyped. However, the basic principles of Marxism must never be violated, or otherwise mistakes will be made. It is dogmatism to approach Marxism from a metaphysical point of view and regard it as something rigid. It is revisionism to negate the basic principles of Marxism and to negate its universal truth. Revisionism is one form of bourgeois ideology.[5]

Marxism has been correctly applied and developed by Lenin, Stalin and Mao Tsetung. The contributions of the last two have been mainly concerned with the struggle of the proletariat against the bourgeoisie after revolution, i.e., continuing the revolution in the circumstances of the struggle of the dictatorship of the proletariat against the capitalist elements, against restoration internally and imperialist pressure externally.

While these contributions have been very great, we are as yet not in a position to apply them directly, living as we do under the imperialist bourgeoisie. What we can apply directly and what is most important for us to grasp, are Lenin’s theories on imperialism and on the proletarian party of a new type. It is on these questions that the struggle of Marxism against revisionism focuses. “Leninism is Marxism in the era of imperialism and the proletarian revolution.”[6] The basic features of that era have not changed. Moreover it was only possible to apply Marxism correctly to the problems of national liberation, socialist construction, and continuing the revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat because Lenin’s theories on imperialism and the party were firmly grasped.

The basic features of the era of imperialism and the proletarian revolution have not changed. But the concrete conditions have certainly changed and certain features of the overall struggle have changed. While our immediate task is not that of continuing the revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat, socialism exists and has consolidated itself, reliable base areas for the world revolution exist, and this certainly affects the objective conditions with which we are confronted.

Without a clear comprehension of imperialism and its effect on the proletariat in the imperialist country, there is no way to understand the proletariat nor to implement the mass line; without this comprehension there is no way to understand the causes of revisionism and opportunism; no way to understand the struggle against fascism; no way to understand the rise to power of the bourgeoisie in a socialist country; national liberation movements nor their relation to proletarian revolution in the imperialist country.

“Imperialism and the split in socialism” is the fundamental problem of the communist movement. Our fundamental practical problem is to root the party among the most oppressed and exploited workers and to expose the opportunism of the bourgeoisified strata of the class. Our fundamental theoretical problem is to expose and defeat revisionism.


[1] Political Statement of the League For Proletarian Revolution 1973-74.

[2] As quoted by Mao Tsetung in On Contradiction* MSW, 1:323. In LCW, 31:166 (translated differently).

[3] Mao Tsetung, Reform Our Study*, MSW, 3:22-23

[4] Combat Liberalism*, MSW, 2:31-32

[5] ”Speech At The Chinese Communist Party’s National Conference On Propaganda Work,” Selected Readings From the Works of Mao Tsetung, Foreign Language Press, Peking, p. 496.

[6] J.V. Stalin, Foundations of Leninism* SW, 6:73