Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

The New Voice

Three Articles on the Bribe

I. How The Bribe Theorists Defend Their Line And Attack Marxism-Leninism

The New Voice pamphlet Imperialism Today: An Economic Analysis began with the questions: “Will U.S. workers fight U.S. Imperialism? Is there a material basis for this struggle?” A primary goal of the study was to correct the negative, pessimistic and anti-working class answers to these questions which were and are being peddled under the pseudo-Marxist trappings of the “bribe theory.”

We were also concerned to defend proletarian internationalism against the bribe theory. As the opening paragraph of the pamphlet continued, “If this [theory] were true, then the great slogan ’Workers and oppressed peoples of the world, unite!’ would have no basis in reality. Unity between classes requires that they share a common material interest.”

In its newspaper People’s Tribune, March and April 1974, the Communist League (CL) ran a two-part reply entitled “Comradely Polemics on Imperialism.” The New Voice stands on a comparison of its pamphlet with this rebuttal by the Communist League. Anyone who takes the trouble to read both documents, discarding the one-sided, out-of-context quotations and summaries of our position given by the Communist League and some of its allies, can judge for himself where truth lies. However, there are certain errors and distortions in the CL articles which may not be apparent right away. The New Voice intended to point these out in a comradely way in the two-line struggle taking place in the Continuations Committees, an organization dominated by CL. As discussed below, CL interrupted and suppressed this two-line struggle, making it quite clear that “comradely polemics” were not their real intention. Therefore, in this article we will summarize and prove with facts the essence of the Communist League position in this struggle. The three main things we learn are the following:

1. The Communist League freely distorts facts and quotations from Marx, Lenin and Peking Review to peddle its unsupportable bribe theory.
2. The Communist League’s bribe theory is the basis of anti-working class political practice.
3. The Communist League leadership is an enemy of the Leninist analysis of imperialism, clothing its extremely reactionary bourgeois theories in the appearance of “rigid Marxism.”

Let us take up some points from the Communist League polemics to investigate the matter.

Quoting Lenin Against Lenin

The New Voice pamphlet gave statistics to show that most U.S. capitalist profits come from U.S. workers. In 1969, total profits of U.S. non-financial corporations before taxes were $73.8 billion. Of this total, profits in the colonies and neo-colonies from direct investments, net interest income, and royalties and fees from foreign affiliates of U.S. corporations were billion. Also presented were statistics on the geographic location of U.S. corporate plant and equipment (productive facilities) and of workers in manufacturing.

Since Imperialism Today was published, the 1973 Year Book of Labour Statistics came to our attention. We now find that wage and salary earners in manufacturing numbered 76.3 million in the developed capitalist countries and 25 million in the Third World. Less than one manufacturing worker out of four is found among the vast population of the colonial world. Furthermore, within the Third World the distribution of workers is very uneven. Over 30% of the workers there, or 7.6 million, are found in three countries–Brazil, Mexico, and Argentina. Capitalist relations have made some inroads here. Another third of the 25 million colonial manufacturing workers are found in India alone. The contribution of the dozens of other countries in the Third World to the rolls is extremely small. Third World populations are mostly peasants, not workers. Yet we know that these countries are greatly oppressed by imperialism.

Clearly, the notion that this oppression consists of profits sweated out of colonial workers, profits supposedly shared by the imperialists with U.S. workers, is directly contrary to the facts.

The Communist League saw that this material undercut forever their thesis of the bribe, which requires that all or nearly all profits of U.S. corporations come from the colonies. Therefore, unable to confront and deny these facts directly, CL tried to nibble away at them from a number of different approaches.

One approach was to deny one of the two main reasons for imperialist expansion overseas in the monopoly capitalist epoch. In order to play down the main reason for holding colonies-to secure supplies of raw materials–CL ignored it and played up the other reason for Imperialist expansion as the main one.

First, what is imperialism? According to Lenin, it is the highest stage of capitalism. It is the monopoly stage of capitalism, most commonly characterized by the export of capital. (People’s Tribune. March 1974, p. 5)

CL then gave the following quotation from Lenin: “Under modern capitalism, when monopoly prevails, the export of capital is the typical feature.” (Ibid.) For the source of this statement CL gave, one month later in the April issue, a footnote attributing the quotation to Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism. But CL gave no page number. Nor did it specify which edition it used. It turns out CL used an edition published by International Publishers. On page 62 of that edition, we find:

Under the old capitalism, when free competition prevailed, the export of goods was the most typical feature. Under modern capitalism, when monopolies prevail, the export of capital has become the typical feature.

Thus, the Communist League left out the underlining of the word “capital.” It distorted the quotation. Lenin contrasted capital export with simple commodity export. He was not comparing export of capital and the drive for raw materials. Why did CL use this edition? And why did it leave out the italics? Because CL misquotes Lenin to oppose Lenin. The talk about “the typical feature” is absent in the translation of the Peking edition:

Typical of the old capitalism, when free competition had undivided sway, was the export of goods. Typical of the latest stage of capitalism, when monopolies rule, is the export of capital. (P. 72)

Lenin always emphasized both necessities of capitalism, capital export and the drive for raw materials.

The principal feature of the latest stage of capitalism is the domination of monopolist combines of the big capitalists. These monopolies are most firmly established when all the sources of raw materials are captured by one group, and we have seen with what zeal the international capitalist combines exert every effort to make it impossible for their rivals to compete with them by buying up, for example, iron ore fields, oil fields, etc. Colonial possession alone gives the monopolies complete guarantee against all contingencies in the struggle with competitors, including the contingency that the latter will defend themselves by means of a law establishing a state monopoly. The more capitalism is developed, the more strongly the shortage of raw materials is felt, the more intense the competition and the hunt for sources of raw materials throughout the whole world, the more desperate is the struggle for the acquisition of colonies. (Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism, Peking, 1965, P. 98)

Comrades of the Communist League, you should not put quotation marks around your fantasies and attribute them to Lenin!

Why did CL distort Lenin’s theses on the drive for secure supplies of raw materials (which applies mostly in the colonies) and the export of capital (which applies mostly to the developed capitalist countries)? First, the bribe theorists had to pretend that most colonial people are sweating out super-profits for the people of the United States. But Lenin showed that the main form of oppression of the colonial people is the monopolies’ forcible prevention of industrial development. Monopolies oppose industrial development by colonies because this would mean that Chile, for example, would use her own copper instead of letting Kennecott Copper ship it out of the country. It would also mean the development and appearance of new capitalist countries on the already strife-torn world market (or worse, new socialist countries). So the cornerstone of monopoly capitalist policy in the Third World is the prevention of development. This condemns the people of the country to a subsistence agricultural economy, spotted with a few enclaves of economic activity in the extraction of raw materials. Subsistence agriculture Instead of industry means more disease, lower living standards, less consumption of meat proteins, etc.

The monopolies of the imperialist countries support the local semi-feudal and landlord ruling classes in the colonies. The colonial people are mostly peasants, exploited by these local ruling classes. Therefore, the colonial peasantry has two reasons to struggle against U.S. imperialisms 1) to overthrow the local reactionary ruling classes supported by Imperialism, and 2) to open the path to industrial development. And the peasants of the world, under working-class leadership, do understand these reasons and do wage a fierce and often successful struggle against U.S. imperialism. They are not about to change their practice to fit the fantasies of the Communist League.

CL also wanted to emphasize the export of capital because it has an erroneous conception of the reason for this capital export. CL, and some of its allies, think that capital is exported mainly to grab superprofits, profits at higher rates than are available in the U.S. Why, they ask, is capital exported if not because profit rates in the colonies must be higher?

Monopolies export capital because they cannot reinvest it at home without destroying their monopoly profits. Monopoly profits depend on restricting production. If production were expanded, the price would have to be lowered to clear all the goods off the shelves. This would destroy monopoly profits. As Lenin said,

Cartels come to an agreement on the conditions of sale, terms of payment, etc. They divide the markets among themselves. They fix the quantity of goods to be produced. They fix prices. They divide the profits among the various enterprises, etc. (Imperialism, p. 20)

Therefore, monopoly markets expand slowly compared to production potential. At the same time, enormous profits are being obtained each year by the monopolies. These profits cannot be used to expand the monopolized market. Other outlets must be found. ”An enormous ’superabundance of capital’ has arisen in the advanced countries.” (Ibid., p. 73) To leave profits idle would lead to depression levels of stagnation and hence to immediate revolution. So the capital is exported.

The rate of profit on the overseas Investment (which goes not only to colonies but to developed capitalist countries) is not of prime importance. The capitalists would still export capital even if the rate of profit were lower than at home, because the home market is saturated and because any rate of profit is better than idle, un-invested capital.

Making Up Quotations from Peking Review

However, the CL bribe theorists were bent on proving that colonial investments yield fantastic profits. So they gave the following “direct quotation from Peking Review:

“In addition,” CL wrote, “the Peking Review. No. 35 of 1969 reveals the plundering of Asia by the USNA, ’US investment of $4 million in India yielded a return of $12 million.’ (People’s Tribune. March 1974, p. 5)

This quotation does not exist. CL does not realize that it is possible to go to issue number 35 of Peking Review for 1969 and read it for oneself. What CL did was to twist the following words, which do come from Peking Review:

Even more shocking is the situation in India’s manufacturing industry where U.S. capitalists got $12 million in 1967 before taxation for a net investment of a mere $4 million that year. (P. 15)

Peking Review also pointed out that by 1966, U.S. private capital had been exported to India in the amount of $300 million. What Peking Review was observing was that the capitalists that year had taken out more than they put in to develop production; it was not asserting that a 300% rate of profit was obtained. Peking Review got its figures from the Survey of Current Business, October 1968, pp. 24-5. Here we find that by 1967 the U.S. capitalists had accumulated a total direct investment in Indian manufacturing amounting to $125 million. It was this total investment that produced a profit of $12 million. The profit rate was 10%, not 300%. But the Communist League thought that it could ignore the total investment, only $4 million of which was added on in one year, and thus boost the rate of profit. We say: do this if you wish, comrades of the Communist League; you may distort the facts if you want to travel the road to bankruptcy. But please do not be so modest as to attribute your views to Peking Review. Troublesome as it is, direct quotations should faithfully copy what the source says.

The next sentence of the CL fantasy went on to give statistics from Africa Today. Here, CL was dutiful enough to specify the source down to the volume, issue number, and page number. And if anyone goes to that page, he will not find the cited statistics there. There are no statistics on that page; it is taken up with a report of a dialogue. We could not find, with a cursory search through the issues of the magazine, the statistics CL cited. They may exist. They may even by taken properly from context. But we cannot proceed until CL clears up its practice of composing quotations creatively instead of citing them factually.

Quoting Selectively from Lenin Again

A great diversion of the Communist League is to whip up a cloud of dust about the distinction between the rate of profit and the rate of surplus-value, and to talk about the lower rate of profit associated with a higher organic composition of capital.

What is important, of course, is the mass of profit from the colonies, not the rate of profit there. The bribe theory is based on the claim that all or nearly all U.S. profits come from the colonies. This is false. And the figures on investment in the U.S. and in developed capitalist countries are so lopsided over the figures on investment in the colonies that it would not matter if the rate of profit were several times higher in the colonies. Of course, the rate of profit is in reality approximately the same. There are factors that tend to increase and factors that tend to decrease the profit rate on colonial investment In comparison to profit on U.S. home investment.

But CL concentrated on the rate of profit, and so we will see how they distorted Marx and Lenin here, too. They quoted Lenin:

An increase in the productivity of labor implies a more rapid growth of constant capital as compared with variable capital. And since surplus value is a function of variable capital alone, it is obvious that the rate of profit (the ratio of surplus value to the whole capital, and not to its variable part alone) tends to fall.”(People’s Tribune. March 1974. p. 12)

This is reasonably accurate copying of a few words from Lenin. But it distorts the sense of what Lenin said. For in the next sentence Lenin added:

Marx makes a detailed analysis of this tendency and of a number of circumstances that conceal or counteract it. (“Karl Marx,” in Lenin, Selected Works in Three Volumes. International, 1967, vol. 1, p. 22, emphasis added, Peking edition, see p. 28)

Lenin, following Marx, did not speak of the law of the falling rate of profit. He spoke of the law of the tendency of the rate of profit to fall. And there are counteracting tendencies. Let us mention two of them; the reader may study what Marx said on this subject in volume three, chapter fourteen of Capital.

One counteracting influence is the increase in relative surplus-value. The same force that underlies the tendency for the rate of profit to fall–technological development– also reduces the time needed to produce the goods the workers need to live. These are the product of their necessary labor, represented in the magnitude of variable capital (v). Therefore, with less labor time devoted to producing the wage goods, there is more time in a working day to produce surplus-value (s). This raises the numerator of the fraction which expresses the rate of profit, s/v+c, and lessens v in the denominator.

Another counteracting tendency also stems from increased productivity. The greater mass of machinery and so forth which is represented by constant capital (c) is not reflected in a proportionate increase of constant capital. The improved technology cheapens the elements of constant capital, so that their value does not increase as fast as their mass. Therefore, the growth of part of the denominator in the fraction for the rate of profit, the element c, is slowed to some extent.

Lenin, following Marx, did not mechanically project a decline in the rate of profit. On the contrary, he knew that there is a basic tendency toward such a decline which calls forth countertendencies. The significance of the tendency of the rate of profit to decline is that it poses the capitalist system with certain necessities and consequences at periodic junctures. Marxists analyze development in capitalist economy in terms of these contradictions and struggles. By quoting Lenin out of context, CL tried to deny the Marxist analysis and method and to substitute schoolboy arithmetic in its place. But as usual, CL left a telltale trace of its anti-Marxist approach in its distortion of quotations from Lenin.

Falsifying Marx, Too

The New Voice pamphlet noted that the difference in productivity between investments in the U.S. and in the colonies was a factor tending toward a decreased mass of surplus-value from colonial investments, and hence contributing to push down the rate of profit on colonial investment. “The type of industries to be found in the colonies is labor intensive and has a low productivity.” (Imperialism Today: An Economic Analysis, p. 3)

The Communist League tried to confuse “labor intensive” with “intensity of labor.” Then it went on to a quotation from Marx about intensity of labor. However, labor intensive methods are methods of low productivity and little machinery, without specifying the intensity of labor (the speed at which the machinery is operated or the rate at which the workers are forced to expend labor-power in each hour of the working day). CL quoted Marx:

the more intense working day of one nation [the colony, according to CL] would be represented by a greater sum of money than would the less intense day of another nation [the U.S.]. (People’s Tribune. March 1974. p. 12)

This quotation is taken from volume one, chapter seventeen of Capital (p. 525 of the 1967 International edition). However, it is taken from the subsection of that chapter headed, “II. Working-Day Constant. Productiveness of Labour Constant. Intensity of Labour Variable.” Thus, CL “examined” the implications of different productivities by looking at what Marx said where he assumed that productivity was constant! Marx discussed the matter at hand in the preceding subsection of the chapter, “I. Length of the Working-Day and Intensity of Labour Constant. Productiveness of Labour Variable.” And here, there are ample quotations asserting what The New Voice repeated:

A variation in the productiveness of labour, its increase or diminution, causes a variation In the opposite direction in the value of labour-power, and in the same direction in surplus-value. (P. 520)

In other words, where productiveness is higher (the U.S.), the surplus-value is higher, and where it is lower (the colonies), the surplus-value is less. Such is the import of this factor on the mass of profit (surplus-value).

In this way it is possible with an increasing productiveness of labour, for the price of labour-power to keep on falling, and yet this fall to be accompanied by a constant growth in the mass of the labourer’s means of subsistence. But even in such case, the fall in the value of labour-power would cause a corresponding rise of surplus-value, and thus the abyss between the labourer’s position and that of the capitalist would keep widening. (P. 523)

Comrades of the Communist League, when you are going to “use” Marx, please quote from Marx where he is dealing with the applicable assumptions.

Exploitation and Oppression

The last quotation above from Marx brings up another fundamental error of the bribe theory. This is the confusion of two distinct things, oppression and exploitation. Exploitation refers to the extraction of surplus labor from one class for the benefit of another class, the exploiting class. Oppression refers to the absolute physical and social level of the oppressed people. The volume of the means of subsistence can be relatively large, yet the exploitation of the U.S. workers who enjoy these means of subsistence is greater than that of colonial people whose means of subsistence are smaller in volume per capita.

Thus, the New Voice pamphlet observed the fact that colonial people have shorter life expectancy, lower literacy rates, and less meat consumption. (P. 7) We explained why this has happened and will not repeat the details here. But CL quoted again its standard set of statistics about these matters. CL confuses exploitation and oppression. It does not understand political economy and exploitation. CL thinks that because the colonial people are oppressed so highly, most profits must be exploited out of them. This is false, as we have seen.

What is the importance of this distinction? Exploitation is a reflection of the fundamental antagonism between the classes in a class society. Where there is exploitation, there will be oppression and revolution. It is not true that the most oppressed people are the most revolutionary. This point is discussed in an appended article reprinted from The New Voice. People like the bribe theorists of the Communist League who think that the most oppressed people are the most revolutionary are limiting the areas where revolutionaries can fruitfully work among their class. This is the result of a bourgeois, income conception of class.

The argument that you must be poor to be revolutionary is a typical bourgeois line. Capitalist-hired hacks employ it all the time to undermine confidence in revolutionary China. They tell us that the Chinese are militant right now because they are poor, but that when their income rises, they will become “soft” (that is, capitalist-minded). What is the bribe theory but the application of the same income-based theory of militancy to slander the revolutionary potential of the U.S. working class?

Furthermore, history bears out the fact that revolutions do not occur first where oppression is heaviest. Russia in 1917 was not the poorest, most oppressed country on earth. China, for example, was more oppressed. Yet the revolution of 1917 occurred in Russia, not China. And revolutionary struggles occurred in Germany, Hungary and Finland, and threatened other parts of Europe, which even in war was more prosperous than the colonial world.

In 1949 the Chinese revolution succeeded in overthrowing imperialism and feudalism. But China was about as poor as India, yet 25 years later, India continues to decline into more abject poverty and her people are more oppressed than ever without revolution having succeeded as yet. Revolution is the product of many contradictions. It cannot be predicted on the basis of degree of oppression. If the Communist League theorists would study the facts and Marxist theory, instead of altering both, they might be able to contribute to speeding the revolution in the United States.

Non-Class Statistics

But with their confusion of oppression and exploitation, the bribe theorists are inevitably led to a non-class outlook. CL quoted statistics on infant mortality and meat consumption per person in its rebuttal (March 1974, PP. 5, 12). By and large, these are acceptable: here there are real differences between the workers of the U.S. and the colonial peoples. Then CL went on to quote differences in gross domestic product per person per year, showing the figure for the U.S. at $4,734 and those of colonial countries ranging to as low as $64. Again, these differences exist, but the unmodified quotation of these statistics is a striking illustration of the non-class outlook of the bribe theorists.

Do not the bribe theorists know that the total product of the U.S. is not divided equally per person but is very unequally divided between the working class and all is members on one hand and the handful of capitalists on the other hand? According to CL, the average working class family of over three persons enjoys a gross domestic product of $15,000 per year (in 1971 dollars)! What Marxist does not know that the total product of a capitalist society is divided into two parts – the product of necessary labor, which produces the wage goods enjoyed by the working class, and the surplus product at the disposal of the capitalist class? The “per capita” figures used by the Communist League attribute to the enjoyment and consumption of workers the luxury consumption of the capitalist class, its investments and its vast military machine. Such is the upside-down, anti-working class slander which results from the use of the non-class bribe theory and its income definition of class.

Mixing Up Hobson and Lenin

Let us look at one more “direct quotation from Lenin.” The Communist League wrote:

“In quoting the non-Marxist Hobson, Lenin states, ’There is first the habit of economic parasitism by which the ruling state has used its provinces, colonies and dependencies, in order to enrich its ruling class and to bribe its lower classes into aquiescence.’” (People’s Tribune. April 1974. P. 4) This quotation is a fairly accurate one–from Hobson. CL did not go on to give us Lenin’s evaluation of Hobson. For Lenin quoted Hobson because he recognized a phenomenon which the revisionist Kautsky was trying to deny–the opportunism which arises as a result of the tendency toward decay and parasitism in the imperialist countries.

We follow Lenin and all Marxists in recognizing that the monopoly capitalists employ some people to maintain their empire and that the provision of such jobs can breed false consciousness among some workers. Thus, some munitions and armaments workers feel that they must support militarism because it supposedly creates their jobs (which is false). But the situation is contradictory; workers also recognize that it costs them in taxes and sons sent to die for no good cause to maintain militarism and imperialism. It is our job, as communists who take Marxism-Leninism to the workers, to explain the system of imperialism (monopoly capitalism) and to point out their material interest in fighting it. On the one hand, there are some jobs. On the other hand, export of capital allows the capitalist to escape pressure that would be generated at home by full employment for higher wages. (This is a matter of struggle over the general wage level, and not a matter of competition for the marginal jobs of runaway shops; the confusion between Marxism and the position of George Meany is a figment of CL’s Imagination.) Added to taxes and death, this spells a material interest for U.S. workers to struggle against monopoly capitalism, both for immediate gains and for revolution.

However, CL has a class collaborationist position that U.S. workers gain from imperialism. So they quoted Hobson, who as a bourgeois liberal had the same notion, as if Lenin endorsed bourgeois liberalism without qualification. But Lenin did not. He said,

The author [Hobson] is quite right: if the forces of imperialism had not been counteracted they would have led to precisely what he has described… We must not, however, lose sight of the forces which counteract imperialism in general, and opportunism in particular, and which, naturally, the social-liberal Hobson is unable to perceive. (Imperialism, p. 125)

Thus, we see that Lenin rejects the pessimistic conclusion drawn by Hobson and followed by the bribe theorists.

Because the book just quoted was written to pass censorship, Lenin had to be vague about the forces which counteract opportunism and imperialism. So he took the occasion in an article written for the underground press, “Imperialism and the Split in Socialism,” to be more explicit:

Hobson, the social-liberal, fails to see that this ’counteraction’ can be offered only by the revolutionary proletariat and only in the form of social revolution. (Lenin, Collected Works, vol. 23, P. 110)

Lenin was optimistic and confident that the working class was revolutionary, despite the opportunist strata, and it is only liberals like Hobson and the bribe theorists who paint a picture of pessimism and total bribery. The difference between Hobson and the bribe theorists is that the latter pretend to be Marxists. This they do by putting their line into alleged quotations and statistics which do not exist, which Marx, Lenin and Peking Review never uttered, and which portray the world as the opposite of what it is in fact.

A Long History of Misquotation and Idealism

Creating such anti-Marxist fictions is, of course, an idealist approach. In philosophy the bribe theorists are idealists, not materialists. Here, too, they proclaim their idealism with a misquotation of Marx.

In his famous statement on dialectics in the ’Poverty of Philosophy’ Marx wrote:

’Where in does the movement of pure reason consist? In posing itself, opposing itself, composing itself, in formulating itself as thesis, antithesis, synthesis) or, yet again, in affirming itself, negating itself and negating its negation.’

We should search carefully and find out how and why the Marxist revolutionary movement posed itself, opposed itself and elevated itself as a composition to a higher level. Only in this manner can we understand the qualitative level and historical tasks of our Communist League. (Dialectics of the Development of the Communist League, mimeographed, p. 1)

Unfortunately for the philosophical idealists of CL, this quotation does not represent Marx’s views. It represents his characterization of Proudhon’s views. Proudhon was an idealist. Marx is pouring scorn on the “absolute method” of Proudhon, which is nothing but a ”form of applied metaphysics.” (Marx, The Poverty of Philosophy, Moscow, 1956, p. 935) The idealist version of dialectics, the masturbatory “posing Itself, opposing itself and elevating itself” earns nothing but ridicule from Marx. The Communist League is so un-Marxist it does not realize this and willingly embraces idealism–or it thinks that no one will ever check up on the falsified quotations from Marx, Lenin, Peking Review, etc. which are its stock in trade. Marx was a materialist: he respected, studied and explained facts. Can the Communist League claim to be revolutionary and adhere to idealism at the same time? No, it cannot perform this feat. But it certainly tries, as we shall now see.

Origin and Development of These Polemics

These polemics have been necessary because of attempts by the Communist League to impose its anti-Marxist line on the movement aiming to found a new and genuine communist party in the United States. The Communist League and The New Voice have long known of their disagreement on the assessment of imperialism, the place of the U.S. working class in relation to imperialism, and the material basis for unity between U.S. workers and colonial peoples in the anti-imperialist revolutionary struggle. In June 1973 at the suggestion of the chairman of the Communist League, the two groups agreed to a series of polemics in an effort to demarcate views, seek truth, and unite on principle. The New Voice ran a series of articles in its newspaper as part of these polemics, later collected into the pamphlet Imperialism Today: An Economic Analysis. After some delay CL issued its two-part reply. The time for dialogue and summing up had arrived. The San Francisco Continuations Committee had agreed to make the assessment of imperialism one topic in a series of forums to expose views and carry out the two-line struggle on vital questions before honest revolutionaries committed to Marxism-Leninism.

This forum was set for June 8, 1974. But at the May 25 meeting of the Continuations Committee, the Communist League carried out a surprise attack “expulsion” of The New Voice from the Committee. Three members of the National Continuations Committee, an organization staffed and controlled by the Communist League, were on hand.

Stated reason for this breaking of unity was violation of the point of unity specifying “adherence to the science of Marxism-Leninism.” The New Voice, it was said, with its line on imperialism violated this point of unity! It was not proposed to expel CL for its bribe theory slander of the Leninist analysis of imperialism.

So it is clear that the Communist League realized that indeed there was no unity between it and The New Voice on the matter of adherence to Marxism-Leninism. For the Communist League is an enemy of Marxism-Leninism and The New Voice adheres to Marxism-Leninism.

When the Communist League realized that The New Voice was going to defend Marxism-Leninism and expose the non-Leninist nature of the CL bribe theory, it had to expel The New Voice before the forum could occur. To carry out the two-line struggle at the forum and to rally Marxist-Leninists to the necessary decision after the forum would be too late, for many honest persons were scheduled to hear the two lines, to weigh them and to act on their own conclusions. It was necessary for the anti-Marxists to expel the adherents of Marxism-Leninism before the forum.

The New Voice, on the other hand, knew of the differences and sought to carry out the two-line struggle to the end. Every opportunity would be given CL to repudiate the bribe theory or to rally the widest backing it could for this line.

By announcement of the Communist League, the Continuations Committees were democratic organizations. They were to conduct full ideological struggles in order to arrive at principled unity. The Communist League did not have to open up such shops as these Committees. But it did. And once it did, it was pledged to open struggle. By squelching this struggle within the Continuations Committees, the Communist League has merely exposed its true intentions. But it has not stopped and cannot stop the struggle between Marxism-Leninism and bourgeois reactionary lines clothed in ultra-leftist misquotations.

The intention of CL is to rename itself a Communist Party USNA, to found such a thing on the basis of distortions of Marxism-Leninism, and to draw in as many persons as it can to such a doomed venture. That is why it set up a Continuations Committee, falsely announced that it would conduct an open struggle and practice democracy, and then ousted those who would expose its distortions of Marxism-Leninism. But a genuine communist party cannot be founded on the bribe theory. A genuine communist party must be based on Marxism-Leninism, not shabby distortions of Marx and Lenin.

Why did The New Voice oppose the bribe theory? Like any bourgeois Ideology, the bribe theory is extremely reactionary. It can never be the basis of a communist party. Since The New Voice is committed to participating in the building of such a party, the bribe theory had to be exposed and its adherents asked to repudiate it. The New Voice always followed the path of unity based on principle.

Political Consequences of the Bribe Theory

The bribe theory of the Communist League is an extremely serious bourgeois reactionary ideology. It has, if followed, a number of grave political consequences. They amount to anti-working class practice and objective support to capitalism. Let us list and briefly discuss these political consequences.

1. The bribe theory says that revolution in the United States Is impossible until most colonies are truly liberated.

Until the bribe runs out, until U.S. imperialists lose their major source of profits according to the bribe theory–namely, the colonies–the U.S. working class is going to be bribed and hence Incapable of revolution.

This, of course, is false. It is not possible to arrange the order in which countries will liberate themselves from imperialism. We have seen that revolutions in the past have not followed what the bribe theory predicted and we should expect things not to follow it in the future. Yet the bribe theorists are not actively preparing for U.S. revolution in the full measure that the situation at any given time allows. They are waiting until a previous sequence of revolutions occurs elsewhere. This is using the uneven development of the world revolution as an excuse for pessimism and passivity, not as a spur to be in the forefront of revolution.

2. The bribe theory says we have to wait for U.S. incomes to fall to colonial levels for revolution to occur.

Revolutionary consciousness is associated with poverty, according to the bribe theory. The colonies show us to what level of absolute poverty U.S. workers must fall before revolution can occur. If Lenin had followed such a preposterous line, he would have refused to lead the Russian Revolution of 1917, because Russia’s average incomes had not fallen to the level of contemporary China, which up to 1917 had had only a mild bourgeois revolution, in 1911.

3. The bribe theory reverses the Leninist thesis that imperialism Is capitalism that is marked by more acute contradictions.

In the eyes of the bribe theorists, U.S. imperialism is papering over or eliminating all its internal contradictions. The bribe gives the imperialists the means to do this. Thus, the bribe theory runs directly counter to the words of Lenin,

The extent to which monopolist capital has intensified all the contradictions of capitalism is generally known. It is sufficient to mention the high cost of living and the tyranny of the cartels. This intensification of contradictions constitutes the most powerful driving force of the transitional period of history, which began from the time of the final victory of world finance capital. (Imperialism, p. 150)

What is the bribe theory if not the cultivation of gloom masked with ultra-revolutionary slogans, a denial of the contradictions of the last stage of capitalism?

4. The bribe theory gives revolutionaries only a liberal moralistic basis for working toward revolution.

If the working class is bribed and shares with monopoly capital a material interest in the profits of imperialism, then it has no material basis for revolution. It is well known that a class is not revolutionary unless it has a material basis for being revolutionary. Therefore, we cannot base ourselves on the working class. What is left except to delude ourselves and rail at others with moral strictures about the need to fight the bribe and be revolutionary?

The same applies to proletarian internationalism. The Leninist analysis of imperialism shows us the material basis for the slogan, “Workers and oppressed peoples of the world, unite!” Lacking any comprehension of this material basis, the Communist League can only exhort us to proletarian internationalism, it cannot really practice it.

5. The bribe theory objectively teaches workers to be pro-imperialist.

The “facts” presented by the bribe theory teach workers that they have a material interest in maintaining imperialism and thus their bribe. Independently of the wishes of the bribe theorists, they are helping to spread pro-imperialist attitudes among the working class.

6. The bribe theory breeds a non-class outlook.

Because it is a topsy-turvy confusion of the facts of the class struggle, the bribe theory continually leads to confusing the forces of the capitalists and the revolutionary forces of the working class. Thus, the Communist League writes:

The support by unions, such as the AFL-CIO and UAW, to close off the border to Mexican Nationals is another example of how the bribe forces the working class to take backward positions regarding their counterparts in colonial and dependent nations. (People’s Tribune. April 1974, p. 4, emphasis added)

Because the union bureaucrats–the labor lieutenants of the capitalist class–have forced through a jingoist policy, mis-educated union members, and suppressed the working class line on this question, CL blames the “bribed” working class! What is this if not confusion between the agents of the bourgeoisie on the one hand and the working class on the other hand? What is this if not mixing and confusing opposites? What is this if not the bourgeois line of attributing capitalist reaction to the workers?

Another anti-working class application of their line is the following:

In Germany, fascism had its base in uniting the German proletariat against the proletariat of other nations. (Ibid., p. 12)

The Communist League seems to think that the German working class supported the rise of fascism. They do not seem to know that fascism was installed in Germany by the monopoly capitalists only after a sharp struggle by the working class against capitalism. They do not seem to know that the first action of the Nazis after being handed state power was to smash the trade unions and the Communist Party. The social basis of fascism, insofar as the capitalists ever got one, was primarily in the petty bourgeoisie.

Furthermore, where did the German capitalists get the means to bribe the German workers? Germany had few colonial possessions. Are we to believe that advance installments of the bribe were borrowed by the German capitalists and paid to the workers?! Clearly, it was force and fraud, the two tools of capitalist rule, that were used to maintain fascism for a few years in Germany. As Lenin said, capitalism relies on the hangman and the priest. But the working class cannot be bribed and the capitalist class cannot bribe those It exploits. It can only terrorize, suppress, delude, demoralize and mis-educate workers. The job of a revolutionary Communist Party is to organize the vanguard that sees through this fraud and mobilize the working class to oppose force with force. Teaching workers that they are bribed has no place in the practice of communists.

7. The bribe theory limits our activity to very narrow strata of people.

The Communist League, basing itself on the bribe theory, is continually speaking of the need to base ourselves among the least bribed strata, namely, those with the lowest incomes. Here, CL faces a real contradiction. For on the other hand, it speaks of rooting ourselves among the most strategic sectors of the working class, the unskilled and semiskilled workers in the basic industries and large factories.

The problem is that these two groups are by no means the same people. Let us look at gross hourly earnings for production workers by industry in 1973. Of all industries, transport equipment manufacturing (e.g., auto) ranked third with wages of $5.07 per hour. (Monthly Labor Review, April 1974) It was exceeded only by petroleum and coal products and by contract construction.

Let us set the gross average weekly earnings of the transportation equipment workers at 100%. Then the earnings of apparel and other textile products workers were of this. The earnings of retail trade workers were 45%. That is, auto workers earned over double what apparel and retail trade workers earned.

Does this mean that we should abandon work among the “bribed” auto workers and go first and primarily to the apparel workers and the retail clerks? That is one logical implication of the bribe theory. It is impossible to maintain the bribe theory and direct ourselves to the very militant auto industry without a contradiction. CL, so long as it adheres to the bribe theory has some choices to make. It might drop work in auto and go to the apparel industry. Or it might stay in auto and teach the auto workers that they are bribed. Thus, “revolutionary” activity is limited to the very lowest income strata. It may or may not be supplemented by outright reactionary work among the higher income strata of the working class.

8. The bribe theory sabotages work in the economic struggle of the working class.

The Communist League does not understand that the U.S. working class has the standard of living it does for two reasons: 1) the economy is developed and productive enough so that the goods are available, and 2) the working class has won a share of the product of Its labor by struggle. The capitalists do not hand a bribe to the working class. They minimize the wages of the working class, no matter what superprofits they may make elsewhere. They will spend some money on means to mislead the working class, such as on the union bureaucrats and the revisionists. But they cannot and will not bribe the working class. As Marx noted in discussing another phenomenon:

The favoured country recovers more labour in exchange for less labour, although this difference, this excess is pocketed, as in any exchange between labour and capital, by a certain class. (Capital, Vol. 3, International, p. 238)

But CL regards an increase in wages won by struggle as a bigger bribe. Where, according to the bribe theory, does the wage increase come from? Not from profits that would otherwise be sweated out of U.S. workers, but out of that third party so convenient to U.S. workers and businessmen, the colonial workers. Therefore, CL is apologetic for wage increases. A strike to increase wages in a shop from $2.20 per hour to $3.00 is regarded as improper, embarrassing, shameful.

For example, some CL members write, “To say, ’We have a right to organize and fight for a better standard of living and working conditions’ in the imperialist USNA [United States of North America] without exposing that the standard of living which now exists in this country is based upon the imperialist plunder and rape of the colonies and semi-colonies is blatant white chauvinism, is reinforcing and heightening the divisions in the working class, not healing them. (Proletariat, Vol. 4, no. 1, pp. 40-41)

True to the non-struggle, pro-business, anti-working class outlook of the bribe theory, its adherents isolate themselves from joining and leading the economic struggle. They regard it as a bad thing. But it is a good thing. It teaches the working class to struggle, It teaches communists how the class struggle is fought and can be fought, and it is another place where communists can unite socialism and the working class.

All this is useless for the bribe theorists. They either Ignore economic struggles, or they walk Into them in order to begin to lecture and preach to the workers about their highest revolutionary duty–to fight the bribe. Ultra-leftist sloganeering is often employed. This tactic should be left to some of the various Trotskyite groups, not proclaimed as a communist style of work.

All in all, the bribe theory is the basis for a whole series of anti-working class slogans, attitudes and actions. As peddled by the Communist League, it is a very clumsy distortion of Marxism-Leninism, built on the most elementary errors and distortions. At first encounter, it has some attraction to those who see “revolutionary” phrases and have not had time or occasion to investigate the facts. The bribe theory is a bourgeois reactionary line dressed up with misquotations of Marx and Lenin. Despite last-minute “expulsions,” the exercise of organizational resources, and the weakness of some persons for unprincipled maneuvering, it is bound to be defeated. We should do this as speedily as possible, and we should draw lessons from this task, so as to be armed for the recurring attempts of the bourgeoisie to unloosen deluded, demagogic, ultra-leftist “Marxists” in the Marxist-Leninist movement.

* * *

Postscript: CL was unable to prevent a struggle against the bribe theory at the June 8, 1974 forum. During discussion a New Voice speaker presented much of the preceding material. The bribe theorists further exposed the errors of their line in debate, and the expulsion of The New Voice from their committee remained.

Since then, CL and a few others have renamed their group the Communist Labor Party of the United States of North America. It is an insignificant sect, as any organization based on the bribe theory must be.

While the extremely reactionary bribe theory has been driven from the communist movement, similar ideas hold sway in the form of the “superprofits” analysis. It holds that the main reason for imperialist expansion overseas is to obtain superprofits based on cheap labor. The superprofits theorists hide the fact that the main form of imperialist oppression of the colonies is forcible underdevelopment, not capitalist development for “superprofits.”

Like the bribe theorists, the exponents of the superprofits line are saying that revolution is impossible here until most colonies are liberated. They hide the exploitation of U.S. workers. Often, the superprofits theorists encourage national chauvinism by implying that there is job competition between highly paid U.S. workers and low paid foreign workers over whether shops will “run away” to other countries. Plant closings should be fought as part of the struggle against the general stagnation that monopoly capitalism brings. The underlying error of these persons is the failure to realize that monopoly capitalism is capitalism in decay, a fetter on the development of production. This is the era of proletarian revolution.

Although CL is a bankrupt sect, the struggle for the class analysis of imperialism continues. Since a number of readers have found the information and analysis in this pamphlet helpful in understanding the enemy–monopoly capitalism–these articles have been kept available.