Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

PRRWO: Anarcho-Socialism U.S.A. Expose PRRWO’S Hustlerism!


B. To Learn Marxism, We Must Criticize Revisionism


To quote comrade Wang Hung-wen, Vice Chairman of the CPC, “To study Marxism and criticize revisionism is our long-term task for strengthening the building of our Party ideologically.” (Documents of the Tenth National Congress, CPC, p. 47)

This, strategic concept, “Study Marxism and criticize revisionism,” embodies the very idea that truth – Marxism, and falsehood – bourgeois ideology, coexist in our thinking. When we strive to learn Marxism, to use Marxism to formulate line and policy in accordance with concrete conditions in the U.S., or to implement the line in practice, we at times will deviate from it.

When we study Marxism, we tend to assimilate only certain aspects of it, because of established theoretical prejudices. In formulating the line, policy and plan of action, the same thing will happen; we will tend to separate them from concrete conditions in either under- or over-estimating the objective or subjective conditions. During the process of implementation, again discrepancies will creep in, in either not firmly grasping and undeviatingly pursuing the line, or allowing our own “common sense” to take command. In all aspects of practicing Marxism, we tend to deviate, due to the strength of bourgeois ideology, compounded by our class basis. This is bound to happen.

The Marxist theory of knowledge teaches us to understand the basis for it but also the means to rectify it ideologically, to get rid of the dross and take in the fresh, and minimize deviations due to bourgeois ideology. And this method of rectification is embodied in the slogan “Study Marxism and criticize revisionism.” This is the most advanced understanding on the question of how to combat and prevent revisionism. Chairman Mao said, as with all reactionary things, if you don’t hit it, it won’t fall. As he generalized in “The Correct Handling of Contradictions Among the People,”

There is no construction without destruction, no flowing without damming and no motion without rest; the two are locked in a life and death struggle. There is no construction without destruction. Destruction means criticism and repudiation, it means revolution. It involves reasoning things out, which is construction. Put destruction first and in the process you have construction.

This applies to the development of our line, to the remolding of comrades’ ideology as well as to building the proletarian party of a new type on the ideological plane.

“Study Marxism and criticize revisionism ” not only links up our theoretical and political tasks, but also our ideological tasks. The latter are being treated as “private affairs” by many opportunists today and is the crack where opportunists sneak through.

Certain opportunists in the communist movement, such as the IWK, in only half digesting Marxism, substitute this understanding with their own slogan of “making MLMTTT central in party building.” In appearance, this sounds like an innocent truism. In essence, however, in counterposing that task to the task of investigating, seeking out, grasping and predicting concrete manifestations of bourgeois ideology through criticism, they actually preach the most metaphysical conception of “making MLMTTT central” in the building of the party.

The essential question is how to make MLMTTT central in building the party on the ideological plane, how to get rid of the stale, the dross, and take in the fresh and how to remold comrades’ ideology in the course of steeling ourselves in class struggle.

In Workers Viewpoint Journals Vol. I, No. 2 and Vol. II, No. 1, through our struggle with the RCP and the OL and through some study of the history of the international communist movement and the “C”PUSA and the PLP, we came to some understanding of and attempted to generalize 5 ideological pitfalls in the communist movement in the US which are at the ideological (as distinct from class) root of revisionism. (Later, we will go into the reasons how and why revisionism and opportunism, generally in every country, always sneak into the communist movement under the cloak of nationally specific forms.)

This method of seeking out, identifying, grasping and criticizing, in the context of class struggle and study of Marxism, these ideological sources of revisionism which has fertile class and ideological bases is our understanding of the approach used by Chairman Mao during the anti-Lin Piao, anti-Confucian campaign. To quote our Chinese comrades:

All anti-Marxist trends of thought that appear in society today have their historical origins. To discern them, it is necessary to link present-day struggles with those in the past and trace the “stream” to its “fountain-head,” so as to study how they go back to their “predecessors” and how they inherit those viewpoints that have already been overcome and put on a new face of counterrevolutionary restoration by invoking the dead souls of history. (Peking Review)


Criticism of Confucius is by no means an “academic issue” but a serious class struggle in the political and ideological spheres. In the protracted struggle between restoration and counter-restoration in the days to come, it is to be expected that all reactionaries will still use the doctrines of Confucius and Mencius as their ideological weapon. We must thoroughly eliminate this big poisonous weed. (Peking Review)

Our Chinese comrades, who have summed up the rich lessons of the international communist movement, and particularly their own experience in party building and the fight against revisionism, said again in a recent Peking Review article, “Carry on the criticism of Confucius:”

In the current struggle to beat back the Right deviationist wind to reverse correct verdicts, the Chinese people are continuing their criticism of Confucius. This is because the doctrines of Confucius and Mencius are an important ideological origin of the revisionist line pushed by that unrepentant capitalist-roader in the Party... In China, the history of class struggle since the decline of slave society, the first class society, has again and again proved that all those who strove for restoration and retrogression and practised revisionism advocated the doctrines of Confucius and Mencius. Today that unrepentant capitalist-roader also attempted to use these doctrines to put back the clock and restore capitalism. (Peking Review. #15, 1976)

Revisionists and opportunists always appeal to the strength of the old world, as we stated in our article on the OL (Workers Viewpoint Journal, Vol. II, No. 1). They try to appeal to the specific concrete retrograde instincts of comrades, not only through anti-Marxist theories, but most often through what the Chinese comrades call the bourgeois trend of thought, slogans, tendencies, insinuations and rumors, that are most convincing and easily assimilated by the masses. To disclose their class character, we must identify their form, which clothes the essence its class content. That’s why the same article in Peking Review concluded that “We must continue to criticize Confucius if we want to thoroughly criticize the ideological origin of the revisionist line pushed by these Right deviationists. ” (Ibid., emphasis added.)

For example, steel workers in China sail “In making steel we must remove the phosphorous and sulphur; to make revolution, we must criticize Lin Piao and Confucius” (Peking Review, 1974, #24, p. 8). Professor Feng Yu-len of Peking University’s Dept. of Philosophy also said, “Put destruction first, and in the process you have construction. In the course of criticizing Lin Piao and Confucius, one learns MUMTTT. Knowledge acquired this way is quite different from what is obtained through reading books, for it is acquired from practice and struggle. This is what is meant by changing the subjective world in the course of transforming the objective world. (Peking Review, 1974, #12, p. 16)

Chairman Mao said we must “put destruction first and in the process you have construction” because Marxism (representing the historical sum total of relative truths) is always concrete.

Marxism is not just some abstract truth to be retrieved in leisure, in a vacuum, in order to make it “central in party building.” The struggle to build a party itself is class struggle; it itself is urgent and has immediacy. Marxism has immediacy for its stand, viewpoint and method mean it has to be used to change the world, to wage tit-for-tat struggle against class enemies and bourgeois ideology within our ranks. That’s why Marxism is characterized by its combativeness against the bourgeoisie and all its influences.

Lenin considered the whole value of Marxism to lie in the fact that it is

in its essence critical and revolutionary. And this latter quality is indeed completely and unconditionally inherent in Marxism, for this theory directly sets itself the task of disclosing all the forms of antagonisms and exploitation in modern society... that this world outlook... combines the quality of being strictly and supremely scientific with that of being revolutionary, it doesn’t combine them accidentally... but does so intrinsically and inseparably. .. . ...to be able to understand the necessity of this struggle, its content, course and conditions of development. It is impossible to provide a “slogan of struggle” unless we study every separate form of the struggle minutely, unless we trace every stage of the struggle during the transition from one form to another, so that we can define the situation at any given moment, without losing sight of the general character of the struggle and its general aim, namely, the complete and final abolition of all exploitation and all oppression.

Try to compare this with the “critical and revolutionary” theory, the colourless trash which “our well-known” N. Mikhailowsky, in this “criticism,” expounded and which he then did battle with, and you will be astonished that there can really be people who regard themselves as “ideologists of the working people,” and confine themselves... to that “worn-out coin” into which our publicists transform the Marxist theory by obliterating everything that is vital in it. (“What the ’Friends of the People Are”, LCW, Vol. 1 (Emphasis original)

This is an apt description of the opportunist IWK and PRRWO, “Marxists” who today are “obliterating everything that’s vital in it” through ossification of Marxism.

Marxism can develop only through struggle, and not only is this true of the past and the present, it is necessarily true of the future as well. What is correct invariably develops in the course of struggle with what is wrong. The true, the good, and the beautiful always exist by contrast with the false, the evil, and the ugly, and grow in struggle with the latter. (“On the Correct Handling of Contradictions Among the People”, Mao. Four Essays on Philosophy)

The essential world outlook of communism is the world outlook of one divides into two, the philosophy of struggle. This is the methodology that governs the internal development of the communist movement.

“To study Marxism and criticize revisionism is our long-term task for strengthening the building of our Party ideologically.” This is the dialectical unity between destruction – disclosing and making conscious what’s unconscious, bourgeois ideology, through criticism of revisionism and bourgeois ideology; and, in the process, construction – study of Marxism, assimilating proletarian ideology, that have to be combined to remold comrades ideologically.

For only “because we were so vigorously straightening out whatever had been twisted, our line of action would always be the straightest.” (Lenin, “Preface to the Collection Twelve Years.” LCW, Vol. 13, pp. 107-108)