Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Red Dawn Committee (M-L)

Critique of OL’s Opportunism

Opportunism and Social-Chauvinism

We are including a separate section on OL’s social-chauvinist line and program regarding its attitude to US imperialism’s role internationally, and to the national liberation struggles, both around the world end in the US. This analysis is more detailed than our analysis on many other of their programmatic positions, since the significance of social-chauvinism is far greater than, say, common right or ultra-“left” errors on, many other points. We will briefly examine the particular importance we must place on combatting it.

Social-chauvinism actively supports “the ’right’ of one or other of the ’great’ powers to plunder colonies and to oppress other nations.” (Lenin, “Socialism and War,” in Lenin on War and Peace, Peking, p.l4) While using Marxist rhetoric, it is “actually defense of the privileges, advantages, robbery and violence of one’s ’own’ (or every) imperialist bourgeoisie.” (Ibid.) One of its favorite and typical slogans is “defense of the fatherland” in imperialist countries during imperialist wars. It lines up with its “own” bourgeoisie in the inter-imperialist rivalry for world hegemony. It is also unalterably opposed to wars of national liberation, especially against its “own” bourgeoisie. Like all opportunism, it actually advocates class collaboration—an alliance between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie to carry out imperialist plunder, which is actually an alliance between a small privileged section of the proletariat(the labor aristocracy), the petty bourgeoisie, and the bourgeoisie, against the mass of the proletariat and oppressed people. Thus while it is socialism in words, it is actually chauvinism, defense of imperialism, and opposition to revolution in deeds.

In his famous work, “The Collapse of the Second International,” Lenin spoke of ”the most intimate and indissoluble connection that exists between social-chauvinism and opportunism.” (The Imperialist War, Int’l. Pub., 1930, p.307) He outlined three fundamental characteristics common to both currents. “For one thing, the economic foundation of chauvinism and opportunism in the labor movement is the same: it is an alliance between the none too numerous upper strata of the proletariat and the petty bourgeoisie, strata enjoying crumbs out of the privileges of ’their’ national capital as opposed to the masses of the proletarians, the masses of the workers and oppressed in general.” OL, born of the petty bourgeoisie and the labor aristocracy, fits this description well as it tries to share in the blood-soaked privileges afforded to it by US imperialism.

“In the second place, the political ideology of both currents is the same.” (Ibid., p.308) He also said that “the fundamentals of the political ideology of social-chauvinism perfectly coincide with the foundation of opportunism. It is the same orientation.” (Ibid, p.305) He then went on to show that, for both opportunism and social-chauvinism, “The main thing...is the idea of class collaboration.” (Ibid. pp.305-6) This question is especially important to us today. Rooting out the ideological basis of social-chauvinism can only be done by rooting out the ideological basis of opportunism in general. This, as Lenin and Stalin taught, is bowing to spontaneity. As we have shown in the section of this article on theory, OL is a devout worships of the theory of spontaneity. Further, the existence of social-chauvinism is evidence of the existence of opportunist bourgeois ideology. The “political line is the key link” analysis which wrongly claims that the ideological break with revisionism was in the main completed in 1972, can thus never fully defeat social-chauvinism because it cannot dig out its ideological roots. Evidence of this can be seen in that many groups that attack OL as social-chauvinist but belittle or distort our ideological tasks, like “RC”P, “W”VO, and others, have a similar social-chauvinist line if only in a somewhat different form than the OL.

“In the third place, the old divisions of Socialists into an opportunist and revolutionary wing characteristic of the period of the Second International(1889-1914) in large corresponds to the new division into chauvinists and internationalists.” (Ibid.) Lenin further went on to say, “If we take trends and currents we cannot fail to realise that, by and large, it was the opportunist wing of European Socialism that betrayed Socialism and went over to chauvinism.” (Ibid., p.309) In Russia, he showed that the struggle against social-chauvinism was a continuation of the struggle against the same forces, the same trend, that was previously known as economism, then Menshevism, and later liquidationism. In the US, OL has long been an important part of the right opportunist, economist trend. The struggle against their social-chauvinism must thus be viewed as a continuation of the struggle against right opportunism and as an important component part of defeating the rightist trend and building a Leninist trend.

Historically, the struggles against revisionism and social-chauvinism have been inseparably linked. An important component part of the opportunist line of all revisionists has been social-chauvinism. This has been confirmed time and again since Lenin’s death. Stalin fought against revisionists like the Trotskyites and Titoites, both of whom sought on alliance with imperialism against socialism and revolution. The modern revisionists led by Khruschev also allied with US imperialism, opposed the national liberation struggles and proletarian revolution, and became “apologists for neo-colonialism.” In the US, the Lovestone group in the CPUSA in the late 1920’s following in the footsteps of the old chauvinist Socialist Party opposed the Comintern’s resolutions on self-determination for the Black nation and prettified the nature of US imperialism with, their line Of “American exceptionalism.” After that, Browder in the ’30’s and ’40’s also liquidated the right of self-determination and even liquidated the party because he claimed that US imperialism’s nature had changed, that it had become progressive and benevolent, and that it was peacefully growing into socialism. In the 1950’s, the modern revisionists in the CPUSA again got the party to eliminate even talk of the right of self-determination for the Black nation, while uniting with Khruschev’s line of “three peacefuls” (peaceful transition to socialism, peaceful coexistence as the general line, and peaceful competition of capitalism and socialism) to replace revolution against US imperialism and support for national liberation struggles. After them, in the ’60’s and ’70’s, the struggle against opportunism included struggle against the likes of PLP’s chauvinist line of “all nationalism is reactionary” and neo-Trotskyite opposition to national liberation struggles; and “RC”P’s similar chauvinist line of “all nationalism is nationalism” and “nation of a new type.” Although the opportunists have to raise their social-chauvinism in slightly different forms each time, as OL has done, their essence is all the same. Thus social-chauvinism has been and remains a continuous feature of opportunism, and must be struggled against hand-in-hand with the overall struggle against opportunism.

As we will show, OL’s social-chauvinism has been maturing and becoming more open of late. This is no accident. Lenin taught that the objective conditions of the relatively “peaceful” development of capitalism in Europe at the end of the 19th century and the very beginning of the 20th century created favorable conditions for the growth of opportunism and reformism in the revolutionary movement,, “Opportunism,” he said, “has been reared by legalism.”(“Collapse,” p.,311) The conditions of the first imperialist war beginning in 1914 ”accelerated this development and transform opportunism into social-chauvinism, transformed the secret alliance between the opportunists and the bourgeoisie into an open one.” (“Socialism and War,” op. cit., p.18) There has been a somewhat analogous development in the US. In the US, although we are under the bourgeois dictatorship, as was Europe in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, there has been neither fascism nor the actual fighting of imperialist war on our soil. This is what is meant by the relatively “peaceful” development of capitalism, of bourgeois democracy. Further, the defeat of the US in its war of aggression in Indochina and the ejection of its troops meant that the US was not engaged in any open new aggression and war (they of course still are aggressive and even have covert military personnel and instigate wars in the Persian Gulf, the Middle East, Southern Africa, and elsewhere, while maintaining troops and bases all over the world). This situation of no open war coincided with the emergence of Soviet social-imperialism as a superpower vying for world hegemony with US imperialism, its big military build-up, especially in Europe and on China’s border, and its dispatching puppet troops to Angola, Zaire, Ethiopia, and Eritrea. The growing danger of a new world war was becoming more evident. It was in these conditions, as we shall show, that the OL began to paint US imperialism as having become “peaceful” and having given up its aggressive designs. They then came out more openly for “directing the main blow at the Soviet Union,” for an alliance with US imperialism, and its allies, as the opportunists in the first imperialist war openly came out as social-chauvinists to “defend the fatherland.”

The growth of opportunism into social-chauvinism, its maturing, is inevitable in the era of imperialism end as the general crisis of capitalism develops. It is for these reasons that Lenin said that ”social-chauvinism is consummated opportunism.” (Socialism and War, op. cit. p.18) It is not just another common error or mere mistake. He also pointed out that “opportunism is no accident, no sin, no slip, no betrayal on the part of individual persons, but the social product of a whole historical epoch.” (Collapse, 310) Characterizing the opportunists Lenin said that “objectively, they are a political detachment of the bourgeoisie, that they are transmitters of its influence, its agents in the labor movement.” (Ibid.) Further, he said “Social-chauvinism is opportunism ripened to such an extent that the existence of this bourgeois abscess inside of the Socialist parties, as it was hitherto, becomes impossible.” (Ibid., p. 307)

This inevitable “ripening” of opportunism is so treacherous and so much of a betrayal that it is impossible to tolerate its existence within a Social-Democratic Labor party.” (Ibid., p. 312) Lenin also said that Communists who did not firmly and unswervingly uphold the right of self-determination of oppressed nations “should be treated as enemies of the proletariat and deceivers of the worst kind, and expelled from the party.” (CW, Vol. 39, pp. 737-38)

To label OL as social-chauvinist, then, is a more serious charge. We do not make this charge lightly, in haste, or without ample proof. The sections to follow are evidence of that.

We must isolate the social-chauvinists, like the OL, and eradicate their ideological influence, if we are to fulfill our central task of building a genuine communist party. We must keep them out of our ranks. We must be ever-vigilant against social-chauvinists, especially now that they are more openly revealing their previously mere concealed class collaborationism, especially on the international situation, by appealing for an alliance with their “own” bourgeoisie, with US imperialism, to fight Soviet social-imperialism.

The special importance of the struggle against social-chauvinism is also highlighted by some of the specific features of the present burning tasks of the US communist movement.

First, we are still in the period of winning the advanced ideologically to communism and making propaganda our chief form of activity. The socialist consciousness we must introduce cannot be genuine unless it includes an active proletarian internationalism, which is an important component part of socialist consciousness. This education is an important part of our overall training of revolutionary leaders. Further, socialist consciousness cannot come from the realm of relations of the individual employers and the workers, but only from a scientific overview on the inter-relation of all classes. Thus propaganda and agitation on the international situation and the national struggles both around the world and in the US are absolutely necessary and must be consistent in principle if they are to serve as tools for fulfilling our tasks. If there is any adoption of, or concession to, social-chauvinism, if there is any deviation from proletarian internationalism, there can be no socialist consciousness, and, therefore, no genuine cadre and no genuine party.

Second, we must build a multi-national party. Social-chauvinism will wreck and prohibit principled unity of cadres of various nationalities. It will lead the party into basing itself on the petty bourgeoisie and the labor aristocracy, instead of being the advanced detachment of the proletariat. Further, since the oppressed Nationalities make up a very important part of the entire proletariat in the US, and since the movement of the oppressed nationalities is the main strategic ally of the proletariat in the US, social-chauvinism will prevent uniting the proletariat and building this key revolutionary alliance, thus preventing the party from leading the revolution.

Third, since we are in an imperialist country, and a superpower at that, we have a particular responsibility to oppose the national oppression and war preparations by US imperialism, and to support the people’s struggles, especially those against our “own” bourgeoisie. Social-chauvinism aims at splitting the revolutionary alliance between the international proletariat, the socialist countries, and the national liberation movements, and instead getting the workers of each country to ally with their “own” bourgeoisie and slaughter each other in the interests of imperialism. This question is of particular importance in the present situation when the storm-center of world revolution is still in Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

Since opportunism and social-chauvinism are so closely connected, and since the ideological and social basis for opportunism is so great in this richest of imperialist countries, the dominance of right opportunism in our movement thus has more and more also meant the dominance of social-chauvinism. We shall show how this is most definitely the case with OL. They want to unite with US imperialism to “defend the fatherland,” even more, to defend and expand its empire, against Soviet social-imperialism, and oppose self-determination and national liberation struggles, both inside and outside of the US’s “legal” borders.

Let us now see why OL is social-chauvinist, and why if they continue down the present path that they have already gone so far along, they will assure themselves of the same fate as that “bourgeois abscess,” as Lenin called it, the fate of revisionism and the fate of defeat along with their imperialist masters.