Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

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



In opposition to our line on ideology and the source of opportunism and revisionism, PRRWO said:

Bourgeois ideology in all countries has the same source, the same material base – private ownership of production - socialized production – upon this economic base is built a superstructure – the courts, institutions of learning, etc. through which bourgeois ideology is promoted. The different forms it takes does not mean that one form is unique to a particular country – this would imply that the material base for these bourgeois ideas are unique. MLMTTT teaches us that the laws governing capitalism, in both its economic base and superstructure, are universal and not that there are exceptions to this universal law. Palante, March-April 1976, p.11.

This statement, besides being a piece of verbal acrobatics, reflects the deepest kind of fast talking sophistry, a vulgar materialist line in conformity with the rest of the lines of PRRWO.

Comrades, repeatedly study this vulgar materialist line of PRRWO and expose it for what it is.

To begin to deal with this “dialectical materialism” of PRRWO’s – we must first reiterate the general relation between being and consciousness, base and superstructure, to make sure we are talking about the same kind of dialectical materialism as PRRWO is.

Dialectical and historical materialism tells us that “It is not consciousness that determines man’s being, on the contrary, it is man’s social being that determines man’s consciousness.” This is the cardinal rule of Marxism.

But the question of the relation of thinking and being has yet another side. Engels asked: “In what relation do our thoughts about the world surrounding us stand to this world? And he answered: “Political, juridical, philosophical, religious, literary, artistic, etc. development is based on economic development. But all these react upon one another and also upon the economic basis. It is not that the economic situation is cause, solely actively, while everything else is only passive effect. There is, rather, interaction on the basis of economic necessity. (“Engels to W. Borgius in Breslau,” Selected Works of Marx and Engels, Vol.3, p.502)

The economic situation is the basis but the various elements of the superstructure – political forms of the class struggle and its results, to wit; constitutions established by the victorious class after a successful battle, etc., juridical forms, and even the reflexes of all these actual struggles in the brains of the participants, political, juristic, philosophical theories, religious views and their further development into systems of dogmas – also exercise their influence upon the course of the historical struggles and in many cases preponderate in determining their form. (emphasis added) There is an interaction of all these elements in which, amid all the endless host of accidents (that is, of things and events whose inner interconnection is so remote or so impossible of proof that we can regard it as nonexistent, as negligible), the economic movement finally asserts itself as necessary. Otherwise the application of the theory to any period of history would be easier than the solution of a simple equation of the first degree. (“Engels to J. Bloch in Konigsberg,” Selected Works of Marx and Engels, Vol.3, p.487)

Chairman Mao similarly answered it this way:

True, the productive forces, practice and economic base generally play the principal and decisive role... But it must also be admitted that in certain conditions, such aspects as the relations of production, theory, and superstructure in turn manifest themselves in the principal and decisive role. (On Contradiction, Mao)


When the superstructure (politics, culture, etc.) obstructs the development of the economic base, political and cultural changes become principal and decisive. (On Contradiction, Mao)

Ideology includes political line, law, ethics, natural science, philosophy, culture, religion, and other ideological superstructural elements. All these different spheres in a given society affect each other and either retard or advance the proletariat in class struggle.

In class society, one’s ideology is stamped with the brand of a definite class.

Ideology is also nationally distinctive – due to uneven economic development as well as concrete history, though their class character, that is, the question of what class they serve, is the same in different nations. This ideology can also be “transmitted” so to speak from one nation to another.

The bourgeoisie borrow “advanced” bourgeois ideology from the previous or other ruling classes. For example, the U.S. bourgeoisie “borrow” bourgeois democracy from Europe (Locke, French philosophers during bourgeois revolution in Europe); incidentally that is why U.S. did not have to go through a long period of developing its bourgeois ideology in its relatively short period of transforming to capitalism. Just like the Declaration of Independence borrowed bourgeois democracy from Europe, the revisionists in China borrowed Confucianism which was originally a slave-owners ideology.

Another aspect of ideology is that different domains of ideology affect each other. Although many of its components are the same in many countries (like bourgeois democracy, chauvinism, etc.), together, in a unique combination, they act upon class struggle in history in particular forms. This, together with particular conditions, gives rise to particular ideological deviations such as the “White Blindspot” ideological trend in the communist movement in the U.S.

There are advanced theories, such as Marxism, which is the correct historical summation of the experience of the proletarian class. This theory, the basis for proletarian ideology, once grasped by the working class, is transformed into a material force of history. Backward ideologies and theories (such as the idea of abstract equality, “all men are created equal”) which are dominant in all bourgeois and revisionist societies, serve the interests of the ruling class in duping the masses by blurring the real class contradictions and class struggle.

In every bourgeois society, due to its concrete history, there is also a nation-ally distinctive ideological superstructure. The dominant aspect of it is bourgeois ideology, which serves the bourgeoisie. Through their class representatives, the petty bourgeoisie, labor aristocracy, and lumpen elements among the proletariat and other oppressed classes, this nationally distinct bourgeois ideology also affects us and derails our struggle against the bourgeoisie. That is why Lenin taught

It is now essential that Communists of every country should quite consciously take into account both the fundamental objective of the struggle against opportunism and “Left” doctrinairism, and the concrete features which this struggle assumes and must inevitably assume in each country, in conformity with the specific character of its economics, politics, culture, and national composition (Ireland, etc.), its colonies, religious divisions, and so on and so forth. (’Left-Wing’ Communism –An Infantile Disorder, Peking ed., p.95)

But our “dialecticians” in PRRWO lecture us:

Bourgeois ideology in all countries has the same source, the same materialist base – private ownership of production [sic] – socialized production...” (Palante, Mar. 76, p. 11)

Yes, indeed, you are very profound Marxists. But perhaps you have conveniently forgotten the Marxist law of the uneven economic and political development of capitalism? Or perhaps you would rule it out as “Anti-Marxist”! Comrades, this is either pure Trotskyism or pure ignorance.


Lenin once remarked about these “friends of the people, these self-proclaimed ’proletariat’” that

When I speak of a narrow understanding of Marxism, I have the Marxists themselves in mind. One cannot help remarking in this connection that Marxism is most atrociously narrowed and garbled when our liberals and radicals undertake to expound it in the pages of the legal press. What an exposition it is! Just think how this revolutionary doctrine has to be mutilated to fit it into the Procrustean bed of Russian censorship! Yet our publicists light-heartedly perform that operation! Marxism, as they expound it, is practically reduced to the doctrine of how individual property, based on the labour of the proprietor, undergoes its dialectical development under the capitalist system, how it turns into its negation and is then socialized. And with a serious mien, they assume that the whole content of Marxism lies in the “scheme,” ignoring all the specific features of its sociological method, the doctrine of the class struggle, and the direct purpose of the inquiry, namely, to disclose all the forms of antagonisms and exploitation in order to help the proletariat abolish them. It is not surprising that the result is something so pale and narrow that our radicals proceed to mourn over the poor Russian Marxists. [emphasis added] “What the ’Friends of the People’ Are and How They Fight the Social Democrats, LCW, Vol. 1.


But PRRWO’s “dialectics” don’t stop here. They continue “...upon this economic base is built a superstructure – the courts, institutions of learning, etc., through which bourgeois ideology is promoted. The different forms it takes does not mean that one form is unique to a particular country – this would imply that the material base for these bourgeois ideas are unique.” (Palante, op. cit., emphasis added.)

Now we really start to wonder what kind of “material base” PRRWO is talking about here. Is it their abstract “material base,” or is it the material base in the concrete, which generally varies from one place to another, due to concrete features in each country – as Lenin put it, because of the “specific character of its economics, politics, culture and national composition (Ireland, etc.), its colonies, religious divisions and so on and so forth.”

G. Plekhanov, whose The Monist View of History – which Lenin commended as the best philosophical work to have been found anywhere to that day, and which Chairman Mao also recommended – stated similarly:

...any historical research has to begin with studying the condition of the productive forces and economic relations of the given country. But naturally research must not stop at this point: it has to show the dry skeleton of economy is covered with the living flesh of social and political forms, and then – and this is the most interesting and most fascinating side of the problem – of human ideas, feelings, aspirations and ideals. Selected Philosophical Works, Vol. 1, p. 649.

For PRRWO, however, this is a distortion of Marxism-Leninism, a “fixation on ideological line.” They say it is not a part of Marxism, it is not a part of the essence of dialectical and historical materialism. And they talk about distortion of Marxism and revision of historical and dialectical materialism!!


Prompted by the vulgar materialism so rampant in the U.S., PRRWO flies in the face of all the above fundamental laws of MLMTTT, and goes so far as to say that

The rapid development of capitalism in the U.S. did not mean that the U.S. developed its own particular ideology. This is a negation of universal principles guiding bourgeois ideology. (Palante, op. cit. our emphasis)

So! Now the U.S. has no particular ideology! In that case, we’d like to know, comrades, exactly what law guides the development of bourgeois ideology, since you have raised it. Could it possibly be your “law” that

The different forms it takes ... would imply that the material basis for these bourgeois ideas are unique[?]

Who’s negating the universal laws guiding the development of bourgeois ideology? Comrades, we need more comment on that.

As far as the effect of concretely different and varied history on the forms and development of opportunism in the revolutionary movement goes, PRRWO, following from their own “dialectical materialism,” says that “forms are only forms,” and that the essence is “dialectical materialism.”

But where does real life itself, which dialectical materialism describes, come into the picture? PRRWO, as do all opportunists, tries to turn dialectics on its head: they think that particularity lies in universality, that life itself lies in their “dialectics” and not, as is in fact the case, the other way around! With such “dialectics,” PRRWO can now conveniently explain away concrete forms of their own opportunism by appealing to their “essence.”

Lenin once ridiculed those

people who regard history literally from the “Ilovaisky” point of view. To explain the unity of the German Socialist Party and the disunity of the French Socialist Party, there is no need whatever to go into the special features in the history of these countries, to contrast the conditions of military semi-absolutism in the one country with republican parliamentarism in the other, to analyze the effects of the Paris Commune and the effects of the Anti-Socialist Law; to compare the economic life and economic development of the two countries , or to recall that “the unexampled growth of German Social-Democracy” was accompanied by a strenuous struggle, unexampled in the history of socialism, not only against mistaken theories (Muhlberger, Duhring, the Katheder-Socialists), but also against mistaken tactics (Lassalle), etc., etc. All that is superfluous! The French quarrel among themselves because they are intolerant; the Germans are united because they are good boys. (WITBD, Peking ed., p.13)

For our “left” dogmatists, dialectical materialism is similarly “mere addition and subtraction,” as. Engels put it. For them, dialectical materialism is simpler than an “equation of the first degree.”


Comrades should study this same Chapter One of WITBD where, as further illustration of his point, Lenin quotes Engels extensively to show why the working class in one country belittles theory, while another is more theoretically oriented.

Perhaps we will shock PRRWO by quoting a few more words from Engels, where he described the particular ideological superstructure of different countries which give people different attitudes towards theory.

Of the U.S., Engels said, “...for good historical reasons, the Americans are worlds behind in all theoretical questions.” (Letter to Sorge, Nov., 1886, Letters to Americans, p.16.)

History is on the move over there at last, and I must know my Americans badly if they do not astonish all by the vastness of their movement, but also by the gigantic nature of the mistakes they make, through which they will finally work out their way to clarity. Ahead of everyone else in practice and still in swaddling clothes in theory – that’s how they are, nor can it be otherwise.

Again, in a letter to Wischnewetzky, in December, 1886:

There is no better road to theoretical clearness of comprehension than to learn by one’s own mistakes.... And for a whole large class, there is no other road, especially for a nation so eminently practical and so contemptuous of theory as the Americans .... To expect that the Americans will start with the full consciousness of the theory worked out in older industrial countries is to expect the impossible. Selected Works of Marx and Engels, Vol.3, p.482.

Perhaps these ideological characteristics will, as Engels put it, “for good historical reasons” shock the wits out of PRRWO. (Emphasis added) Does this resemble anything close to what PRRWO said about how

Bourgeois ideology in all countries has the same source the different forms it takes does not mean it’s unique.... If so, that would imply a different material base [?] (Palante, March 76)

Would PRRWO like to charge Engels with “American Exceptionalism” for his “good historical reasons” for the ideological weakness of the U.S. working class movement? Isn’t this tradition of belittling theory an effect on the communist and working class movement of a particularity of the U.S. ideological superstructure?

And is Engels right or wrong since history has proven that organizations such as the “C”PUSA and PLP, and now the RCP and OL, have all belittled theory, in a consistent historical pattern? And given that this trait, which is bound to repeat itself in the communist movement, is particular to the U.S., what stand should we take on Engels’ “good historical reasons”? PRRWO would still “insist” that the U.S. does not have its own particular ideology, and that to say otherwise “is a negation of the universal principles guiding bourgeois ideology,” or that it “implies a different material base”!


PRRWO claims “the different forms it takes does not mean that one form is unique to a particular country – this would imply that the materialist base for these bourgeois ideas are unique.” (Emphasis added) Why? PRRWO replied, profoundly of course, that it is because

MLMTTT teaches us that the laws governing capitalism, in both its economic base and superstructure, are universal, and not that there are exceptions to this universal law. (Palante, op.cit., p. 11.)

Comrades, we don’t wish to use four letter words inappropriate for communists, to describe this utter vulgar materialist line. Not only does this frozen “materialism” of PRRWO preclude any effect on class struggle of ideology and its relative independence (which we will discuss later), but it even leads them to deny the uneven development of the economic base and concrete conditions, which real life as it is must inevitably assume itself, for “universality always resides in particularities.” What’s worse, PRRWO ignores the impact of bourgeois ideology on class struggle (the relation between the subjective and objective factors), and equates the universal law with concrete manifestations. Certainly, “laws governing capitalism, in both its economic base and superstructure, are universal.” Just like the laws of physics governing the motions of all particles, this is a truism. But the fact that the law that governs the motions of all particles is the same for particles in general does not mean that specific paths which different particles travel must also be the same. But, incredible as it may sound, that is exactly what PRRWO is preaching here. Perhaps the thinking of PRRWO’s leadership has already flown off to Never-Never Land, and They imagine that we are living in the era of the United States of the Globe or some such fantasy, where states, nations, languages, and uneven development have all withered away, where we have transcended all that and have surpassed it.

No, comrades. History has not yet wiped out all national distinctions or all particulars. Come back! This is still the United States of America in the world of 1976.

These “left” dogmatists, as well as Trotskyites, have historically neglected the factor of uneven development of productive forces and concrete features of history.

Sharpening of the struggle between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie is to be observed in all the advanced capitalist countries. The tendency is the same everywhere,...

But, Lenin, continued,

it manifests itself differently in accordance with the difference in historical conditions, political systems and forms of the labour movement.... The international revolutionary movement of the proletariat does not and cannot develop evenly and in identical forms in different countries. “Inflammable Material in World Politics,” LCW, Vol. 15, pp.186-7.

This is so, for

History generally, and the history of revolutions in particular, is always richer in content, more varied, more many-sided, more lively and “subtle” than even the best parties and the most class-conscious vanguards of the most advanced classes imagine. (’Left-Wing’ Communism, An Infantile Disorder, Peking ed., p.100)

This is significant to the communist movement because

As long as national and state distinctions exist among peoples and countries – and these will continue to exist for a very long time to come, even after the dictatorship of the proletariat has been established on a world-wide scale – the unity of the international tactics of the communist working-class movement in all countries demands, not the elimination of variety or the suppression of national distinctions (which is a pipe dream at present), but an application of the fundamental principles of communism (Soviet power and the dictatorship of the proletariat), which will correctly modify these principles in certain particulars, correctly adapt and apply them to national and national-state differences. Investigate, study, seek, divine, grasp that which is peculiarly national, specifically national in the concrete manner in which each country approaches the fulfilment of the single international task, in which it approaches the victory over opportunism and “Left” doctrinairism within the working-class movement, the overthrow of the bourgeoisie. .. . Ibid., Peking ed., pp.95-6

Even within the U.S., a land where bourgeois democracy is relatively more consummated, despite its unprecedented centralization and uniformity due to monopoly capitalism, there are still particulars, such as the superexploitation of oppressed nationalities and working class women’s oppression, etc. Perhaps PRRWO has forgot all that!

Lenin said that for the naive and the young, making such foolish mistakes is almost a license to grow up. But PRRWO is not innocent. They are consciously polemicizing, picking words, advocating a definite line in opposition to what’s correct and vital. Lenin would mercilessly tear the masks off of these people, these self-proclaimed “proletarians” whose exposition of Marxism is in fact a sham and mockery of MLMTTT. Chairman Mao also knew these opportunists for what they are,

...dogmatists [who] can easily assume a Marxist guise to bluff, capture and make servitors of cadres of working class and peasant origin who cannot easily see through them; they can also bluff and ensnare the naive youth. “Rectify the Party’s Style of Work,” Mao, Selected Works, Vol.3, p.42.