Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

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




PRRWO contends that opportunism and revisionism within the communist movement always develop consciously.

Revisionism is a system of views. It is conscious bourgeois ideology in the communist and workers movements. The role of the revisionists is, in fact, to consciously distort the role of the state. To do this, they have developed an elaborate set of views – the theory of peaceful transition to socialism, peaceful coexistence, the productive forces theory, the theory of the inevitable peaceful collapse of capitalism. They are not confused or muddled. They are very conscious. They profess to be Marxist-Leninists, only to try and lull the communist and workers’ movements to sleep while they carry out their criminal designs in peace... But the WVO says: ’Revisionism is characterized by muddle on the question of bourgeois democracy, which objectively disarms the proletariat and the oppressed.’ No, we must insist that this is anti-Marxist. The struggle against modern revisionism today is not characterized by Marxist-Leninists struggling against some ’muddled’ being. It is, in fact, a struggle against a vicious enemy. (Palante, March-April 1976, p. 8)

They say that what constitutes revisionism is the literal revising of the letters of Marxism. First we want to make clear that as far as consolidated revisionists working in the interests of the bourgeoisie are concerned, they do literally revise and consciously distort Marxism to justify their treachery.

It’s easy to point one’s finger at the brazen class collaboration of the “C”PUSA as the RCP does and declare, “We won’t go revisionist”! Even the revisionist Guardian is “opposed” to the “C”P and calls them revisionists. What’s harder, and in the final analysis, more important for the communist movement is to understand the process of development of revisionism, is to identify among our own ranks, within our own thinking, the various bourgeois ideological sources which lead to this or that incorrect line, and formulate line and policy on the ideological front to criticize revisionism in the course of struggling against capitalism. To do this we must examine our thinking, those conscious or unconscious modes of thought, prejudices, illusions, the forces of habit that come into play concretely in our practice. PRRWO says that to talk about conscious and unconscious aspects of bourgeois ideology is “conciliation” to revisionism, that it serves to justify the opportunist deviations that are made by the revisionists. We will show that it is in fact PRRWO who conciliates to opportunism and revisionism by narrowing everything to “bowing to the motion of spontaneity”, their “essence” of “metaphysics and idealism” and that it is PRRWO who really blunts the struggle against all forms of opportunism and revisionism.

Marxism believes that ideology has both conscious and unconscious aspects to it. But what’s important is the objective class content of ideology: whom does it serve? Their claim that “bourgeois ideology is always conscious” besides being a copout of the meticulous ideological work necessary to remould ourselves in the course of class struggle, also leads comrades to speculate on “motives”. Chairman Mao teaches us that we seek a unity between “motive” and “effect” and this unity lies in one’s active social practice. Most importantly, it’s a question of the objective class content of ideology and its effect on class struggle, not a question of “intent”.

In contradistinction to both, we dialectical materialists insist on the unity of motive and effect. The motive of serving the masses is inseparably linked with the effect of winning their approval; the two must be united... The criterion for judging subjective intention or motive is social practice and its effect. (“Talks at the Yenan Forum on Literature and Art”, Mao, Selected Works, Vol. III. p. 88)

Many opportunists, especially those who have to defend their line, Consciously distort the correct position, engage in verbal acrobatics and slander. They consciously, and with great effect, speculate and create their “systems”. At the time they do these things, even with clear opposition from the correct line, these opportunists are fully conscious. However, the majority of comrades in the communist movement do not engage in these opportunist acts of splitting and maneuvering, as opportunist “leaders” do. Their bourgeois ideology, most often the unconscious aspect inherited from the past, must be ferreted out and repudiated. The “left” opportunist line on this question cops out of real ideological struggle by accusing everybody of being “cops” and “agents”.

To elaborate on the objective class content of ideology, which is both conscious and unconscious, we must go into the 18th Brumaire. There, Marx said,

The entire class creates and forms them (ideological superstructure, sentiments, illusions, modes of thought and views of life) out of its material foundations and out of the corresponding social relations. The single individual, who derives them through tradition and upbringing, may imagine that they form the real motives and the starting point of his activity. ... And as in private life one differentiates between what a man thinks and says of himself and what he really is and does, so in historical struggles one must distinguish still more the phrases and fancies of parties from their real organism and their real interests, their conception of themselves from their reality. (18th Brumaire, Marx, International Publishers, p.47.)

And Engels in “Feuerbach and the End of Classical German Philosophy” said:

...we have seen that the many individual wills active in history for the most part produce results quite other than those intended – often quite the opposite; that their motives, therefore, in relation to the total result are likewise of only secondary importance. On the other hand, the further question arises: What driving forces in turn stand behind these motives? What are the historical causes which transform themselves into these motives in the brains of the actors?

The old materialism [vulgar, mechanical materialists] never put this question to itself. Its conception of history, in so far as it has one at all, is therefore essentially pragmatic; it judges everything according to the motives of the action...

When, therefore, it is a question of investigating the driving powers which – consciously or unconsciously, and indeed very often unconsciously – lie behind the motives of men who act in history and which constitute the real ultimate driving forces of history, then it is not a question so much of the motives of single individuals, however eminent, as of those motives which set in motion great masses, whole peoples, and again whole classes of the people in each people... (“Ludwig Feuerbach and the End of Classical German Philosophy”, Engels, Selected Works, Vol. 3, pp. 366-367. Emphasis added)

Engels in a letter to J. Bloch in Konigsberg also said:

...there are innumerable intersecting forces, an infinite series of parallelograms of forces which give rise to one resultant – the historical event,. This may again itself be viewed as the product of a power which works as a whole unconsciously and without volition. (Marx and Engels. Selected Works, Vol. III. p. 488)


Ideology refers to reflections in people’s minds of different questions and spheres of life, real or imaginary, scientific or mystical. Although material basis determines ideology, ideology, however, does not passively reflect the material conditions. Due to various uneven development and the relative independence of ideology, even when a certain aspect of the material basis disappears, for example, its corresponding ideology does not immediately disappear. The relative independence of ideology is due to the division of ideology into many different spheres or domains, like different branches of science, philosophy, law, ethics, culture, etc. This division is a necessity, in part reflecting the necessary division of labor in the economic base to push forward the development of the productive forces.

Political line and law, for example, unlike the other domains of ideology, like music, art, and culture, are linked closest to property relations and the state, because they have a most direct and clear relation to the economic base. But even the revisionists preach and practice bourgeois lines, like putting “economics in command,” “profits in command”, “economics for economics sake”, that the government is neutral and can reconcile class conflicts, or the electoral cretinism of changing the government through elections. But historically it has been principally used by the ruling classes to maintain their class rule. They promote this “independence” in certain definite domains of ideology, such as the state, law, politics, art, music, culture, ethics, etc., to obscure their relation to the economic base, and therefore the class basis of these definite domains of ideology.

As Engels put it:

The consciousness of the interconnection between this political struggle and its economic basis becomes dulled and can be lost altogether (“Ludwig Feuerbach and the End of Classical German Philosophy”, Engels, Selected Works, Vol.3, p.371)

The bourgeoisie tries to obscure the link between state power and the economic base that it serves, posing state power as something neutral, “making itself independent vis-a-vis society, and indeed, the more so, the more it becomes the organ of a particular class (the bourgeoisie), the more it directly enforces the supremacy of that class.” (Ibid.)

Certain still higher ideologies, that is, such as are still further removed from the material economic basis [i. e. seem more remote – e.g. methodology – ed.] take the form of philosophy and religion. Here the interconnection between conceptions and the material conditions of existence becomes more and more complicated, more and more obscured by intermediate links. (Ibid.)

In those ideological domains, where the bourgeoisie historically rules supreme, revisionists and opportunists find it still easier to influence and hoodwink communists, by further promoting “their relative independence,” by treating these questions as “private affairs,” as questions not part of class struggle.

That’s why the relative independence of bourgeois ideology, in the spheres of “acceptable” ways of doing things – unchallenged methods, customs, culture, especially disguised in forms we are most familiar with, and unquestioned, assume sentiments ingrained most deeply into our force of habit, modes of thinking, i.e. the nationally specific ideological superstructure that we are brought up with – corrupts our line and practice in a most profound, deep, and most unconscious way. That’s why, if hoodwinked by opportunist lines or drawn into narrow nationalist or “friendship”-type circles, we can most easily be led to talk Marxism and practice revisionism. Engels gave us another example of this in the ideological domain of law. He said:

The reflection of economic relations as legal principles is necessarily also a topsy-turvy one: it goes on without the person who is acting being conscious of it; the jurist imagines he is operating with a priori propositions, whereas they are really only economic reflexes; so everything is upside down. And it seems to me obvious that this inversion, which, so long as it remains unrecognized, forms what we call ideological outlook, reacts in its turn upon the economic basis and may, within certain limits, modify it. (“To Schmidt,” Oct. 27, 1890. Engels, Selected Works, Vol. 3, p. 492, emphasis original)

That’s why fee bourgeoisie and revisionists can get away with a lot of trash like “above class love,” “art for art’s sake,” above class ethics, culture, etc. All these are due to the bourgeoisie’s ability to use this relative independence of bourgeois ideology which affects our movement in a powerful way, whether we are conscious of it or not.

Socialist ideology, based on the theory of MLMTTT, which is far weaker and far less established, is not backed up by the material force of the state in bourgeois society, cannot deeply penetrate those domains of ideology where the capitalist class rules supreme.

As a result,

... the spontaneous movement, the movement along the line of least resistance, leads to the domination of bourgeois ideology, [because] bourgeois ideology is far older in origin than, socialist ideology; because it is more fully developed and because it possesses immeasurably more opportunities for being spread. (WITBD)


PRRWO understands that the economic base is the source of all ideology. But they do not understand the aspect of historical materialism, the relative independence of ideology from the economic base, despite the fact that they constantly parrot the “subjective factor” in class struggle.

PRRWO charges that WVO “narrows the scope of communists and advanced elements into looking for examples of pragmatism instead of broadening our outlook to deal with the essential question – idealism and metaphysics... This view itself flows from an empirical method – looking at form, phenomena, and style of pragmatism instead of looking for the essence, the source of all ideological deviations.” Therefore, “.. .we must not be fooled by all the verbiage of new systems of thought that constantly bombard us, but rather we must grasp the common thread running throughout, which is idealism and metaphysics.” (Palante, March-April 1976) Comrades, now who is really narrowing the scope of communists and advanced elements as PRRWO does by making them only look at appearances, their forms, manifestations and words instead of the essence?? Revisionism is not mere “metaphysics and idealism” in the abstract. The essence, truth or falsehood, is always concrete. Lenin said:

...the very same social and political content of modern international opportunism reveals itself in a variety of ways according to its national peculiarities.” Therefore, “familiarity with the various forms in which this tendency is displayed in the Russian Social-Democratic, movement in different periods of its development is necessary in order to strengthen revolutionary Marxism and steel the Russian working class in its struggle for emancipation.” (“Preface to the Collection Twelve Years,” LCW, Vol. 13, our emphasis)

That was the concluding sentence from the “Preface to the Collection of Twelve Years,” where Lenin summed up his work in party building during the early years.

And yet PRRWO wants to “broaden our outlook” by dealing only with the “essential question – idealism and metaphysics” and reducing everything to their “dialectics”. Concrete analysis of concrete conditions – this is the soul, the essence, of Marxism. Marxism is a guide to action – PRRWO throws this out the window. Meanwhile, the hustlerism and narrow nationalism of the PRRWO leadership is brought in wholesale in the midst of loud cries of “Don’t worry, they’re only manifestations,” “Look for the essence – metaphysics and idealism” in general! And when they are caught red-handed in some ugly business, they tell their cadre everything “proceeds from perceptual to rational.” We were only at the “perceptual level” then! And worse come to worse, when their hustlerism, their careerism, their anti-working class scabbing actions are exposed, they claim: “We were only bowing .... bowing to spontaneity.” Why? “We were not conscious” for we were at the “perceptual level”. We are not opportunist and revisionist because – “opportunism and revisionism are always conscious.... very conscious...”


Rivulets of opportunism flow into the same muddy stream today. We have PRRWO advocating that revisionism and bourgeois ideology are always conscious; we also have the opportunist IWK, who advertises their startling innovation that “party building is a question of the conscious realm.” Now, certainly we can’t build the party asleep! This slogan is as profound as saying “you’ve got to put shoes on your feet and not on your head!”

Chairman Mao pointed out very clearly that the proletariat strives to change the world according to its own image. The bourgeoisie and petty bourgeoisie, too, strive to change the world according to their image and ideology.

Inevitably, the bourgeoisie and petty bourgeoisie will give expression to their own ideologies. Inevitably, they will stubbornly express themselves on political and ideological questions by every possible means. You cannot expect them to do otherwise. (“On the Correct Handling of Contradictions Among the People,” Selected Readings. Mao.)

These all point to the fact that it is not merely a question of the “conscious realm.” Ideology, as a product of class society, is both conscious and unconscious. And even within the conscious realm, there is consciousness and consciousness. There is the petty bourgeois conscious realm and there is the bourgeois conscious realm. A petty bourgeois liberal can be the best intentioned and solidly conscious, nevertheless he can unconsciously do great, great harm to the cause of the proletariat. The point is therefore, certainly not just “to build the party on the conscious realm.” The point is how to build the party based on proletarian ideology, how to “get rid of the dross, take in the fresh” in order to solidly base our thinking on the theoretical basis of MLMTTT. So again, it’s a question of how to discern bourgeois and petty bourgeois ideology from proletarian ideology, to practice Marxism and not revisionism. That’s the crucial question that the slogan “Party building is a question of the conscious realm” (or the replacing of “criticize revisionism” with the slogan “Make Marxism-Leninism central in building the Party”) doesn’t answer. To avoid answering this question, but merely repeat partial truisms which miss the essence of the question, and then to palm them off as something “profound,” is the worst kind of demagogy.


An explanation of the persistence of the petty bourgeoisie, how they stubbornly try to impose their ideological and political character on the proletariat with their petty bourgeois conscious realm is given by Marx in an historical episode where there was an alliance between the petty bourgeoisie and the working class, when the bourgeoisie was squeezing out the petty bourgeoisie, and when the petty bourgeoisie was trying to corrupt the proletarian party. (This alliance formed into a group called the new Montagne, under the name of Social-Democracy). Marx wrote:

From the social demands of the proletariat, the revolutionary point was broken off and a democratic term given to them; from the democratic claims of the petty bourgeoisie, the purely political form was stripped off and their socialist point thrust forward ... However... the content remains the same. This content is the transformation of society in a democratic way, but a transformation within the bounds of the petty bourgeoisie. Only one must not form the narrow-minded notion that the petty bourgeoisie on principle, wished to enforce an egotistic class interest, (emphasis added) Rather, it believes that the special conditions of its emancipation are the general conditions within the frame of which alone modern society can be saved and the class struggle avoided. Just as little must one imagine that the democratic representatives are indeed all shopkeepers or enthusiastic champions of shopkeepers. According to their education and their individual position, they may be as far apart as heaven from earth. What makes them representatives of the petty bourgeoisie is the fact that in their minds they do not get beyond the limits which the latter do not get beyond in life, that they are consequently driven, theoretically, to the same problems, and solutions, to which material interests and social position drive the latter practically. This is, in general, the relationship between the political and literary representatives of a class and the class they represent. (The 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, Marx, p. 5, International Publishers)

Another instructive lesson on the question of the conscious and unconscious realm of ideology can be drawn by looking at Lenin’s position on the Otzovists (semi-anarchists):

It is really not ’obvious to the whole world’ that the authors of the platform did not, after all, understand the relation, in spite of the fact that for a whole year, it was chewed over and over again in the Party press in a thousand ways. And they failed to understand it, of course, not because they are dull witted, but because of the influence over them of otzovism and the otzovist ideology. (“Note’s of a Publicist,” LCW, Vol.16)

Lenin talked about why “the present split among the Mensheviks is not accidental but inevitable... why it is easy for some Mensheviks to go over to the independents, while for others it is difficult and even impossible. A Social-Democrat, who by his maneuvers leads the working class to follow the Cadets, does it no less harm than he who acts in this way because of his imminent gravitation towards opportunism. But whereas the former will be able and will manage to call a halt in time, the latter will end up in the ditch. A Russian proverb says: make a certain person pray and he will do it with such zeal that he will bang his forehead against the ground! Plekhanov might have said: make the Potresovs and the Dans go to the Right for the sake of a maneuver and they will go to the right on principle!!” (“Notes of a Publicist, LCW, Vol.16)

We think that these quotes are sufficient to illustrate that opportunism, due to its profound class and ideological source, can be both conscious and unconscious, independent of anyone’s will, and that PRRWO therefore has revised Marxist teachings on ideology and opportunism.

We must point out that it is not simply the conscious aspect that is important (or simply IWK’s metaphysical, above-class, and abstract “conscious realm”), but rather its class content, conscious or unconscious, represented by ideology, that has a corresponding class interest that’s important, and, most important, the question of how to combat and prevent revisionism. To do that we must seek out, identify and grasp nationally specific forms of ideology, which bourgeois ideology always hides under and which we art least conscious of. Seek out in both its conscious and unconscious realms concretely the “hidden reef” covered up by these forms which political swindlers of all ages have appealed to and hoodwinked the people with. We must grasp the real, concrete ideological content of opportunism and revisionism of bourgeois ideology, in all its forms. And it is here that the unconscious aspect of ideology must be recognized.