First Published: New Dawn, Vol. 6, No. 1, August 1976.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
Copyright: This work is in the Public Domain under the Creative Commons Common Deed. You can freely copy, distribute and display this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit the Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line as your source, include the url to this work, and note any of the transcribers, editors & proofreaders above.
Modern revisionism, just like old revisionism, is not something accidental, is not just a betrayal by certain particular persons, but it is a social product of a whole historical epoch. ’Every more or less ’new problem’ every turn of events,’ Lenin said, ’will always be made a cause for the birth of this or that variety of revisionism.’ (Some Questions of Socialist Construction in Albania and of the Struggle Against Revisionism, pp. 132-133)
Within the present world situation – where the factors for both war and revolution are on the rise and where all the basic contradictions are rapidly sharpening – a new flag of revisionism has been hoisted within the ranks of the U. S. Communist movement.
Promoting itself under the attractive cover of “anti-dogmatism” and advertising itself as a “friend of China,” the new flag has come to serve as the rallying point for an entire trend within the movement. It is a modern revisionist trend – a trend which has emerged under certain historical conditions and has taken on certain special features. Standing out as the foremost representative of this trend – the standard bearer of the new flag of revisionism – is the Guardian newspaper.
Starting from the standpoint of there being presently “no center in the international communist movement,” the Guardian has called for the necessity to “oppose dogmatism” and to develop an “independent” analysis of world conditions. In practice, this has manifested in conciliation toward Soviet social-imperialism and the selling out of the movement of countries for independence, nations for liberation and people for revolution. In practice, this has required the Guardian to construct an elaborate argument to deny the restoration of capitalism in the Soviet Union and to launch both a veiled and heavy-handed attack on China and other Marxist-Leninist forces throughout the world.
In short, the Guardian’s cries to “oppose dogmatism” and to take up an “independent” analysis amount to nothing more than a demagogic cover for its real activities – its “freedom to criticize” the “dogma” of Marxist-Leninist Mao Tse-tung Thought.
At present, the Guardian is moving one step further in advancing its revisionist deviation. Taking advantage of the present party building motion in the U.S., the Guardian is attempting to organizationally consolidate the trend represented by its thinking in the form of a new and better revisionist party – a party capable of more effectively misleading the masses than the present CPUSA.
For Marxist-Leninists, the tasks presented by these developments are clear; the Guardian trend must be exposed and defeated.
The form of modern revisionism represented by the Guardian is marked by certain special features. Starting from the standpoint that there is presently “no center in the international Communist movement,” the Guardian has developed an “independent” analysis of the world situation that stands in opposition to the analysis of Marxist-Leninists. For the Guardian, there are “three principal factors” in the world today (Guardian, June 16, 1976):
1) U.S. imperialism is still the most powerful, oppressive and exploitating force in the world;
2) Hegemonic interests of the Soviet Union;
3) Revolutionary power of the Third World.
On the basis of these three “principal factors,” the Guardian has reached the conclusion that the principal contradiction in the world today is that between U.S. imperialism and the oppressed nations and peoples of the world (Guardian, May 26, 1976). According to the Guardian, Soviet social-imperialism is a “secondary contradiction.” The main danger in the world, as they see it, is U.S. imperialism and the main blow must be struck against the U.S. imperialists.
The Guardian’s starting point for analyzing the world situation stands in marked contrast to that by Marxist Leninists, who identify a definite center in the international Communist movement – the Chinese Communist Party and the Party of Labor of Albania. Marxist-Leninists have also analyzed four main contradictions in the world today:
1) Between the oppressed nations on the one hand and the imperialists and social imperialists on the other;
2) Between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie in the capitalist and revolutionary countries;
3) Between imperialist and social imperialist countries and among imperialist countries;
4) Between the socialist countries on the one hand and imperialist and social imperialists on the other.
In contrast to the above, the Guardian has split apart the two superpowers – the U.S. and Soviet Union – identifying U.S. imperialism as “the principal contradiction” in the world, and Soviet social-imperialism as “a secondary contradiction”.
Further, the Guardian then distorts the position of China and other Marxist-Leninist forces in the world. According to the Guardian’s system of thinking, China identifies the main danger in the world as Soviet social-imperialism and leaves o-pen the possibility of the building of a world united front, possibly including the U.S. bourgeoisie, against Soviet social-imperialism. Thus, the Guardian creates the specter of “class collaborationism” and conciliation to the U.S. imperialists which it sees as inherent in China’s positions.
It is, in fact, the position of the Guardian that harbors the dangers of class collaboration and conciliation to imperialism. In singling out the danger of one superpower and belittling the danger of the other, the Guardian position logically leads to the possibility of a world united front against U.S. imperialism, a united front which includes Soviet social-imperialism to help strike the main blow against the U.S. imperialists. In short, the Guardian’s position leads to class collaboration with Soviet state monopoly capitalism and conciliation to Soviet social-imperialism.
The Guardian’s class collaborationist line amounts to uniting with one superpower to oppose the other. This is essentially the same line advocated by the American revisionist Browder, who urged the U.S. proletariat in the 1930’s and 1940’s to unite with its own bourgeoisie to oppose the fascist ruling classes of Germany and Japan. Following Browder, the Guardian would see as a “progressive” development the defeat of U.S. imperialism (the “main danger”) in imperialist war by Soviet social-imperialism. This position stands in fundamental opposition to the correct viewpoint held by Marxists-Leninists: to actively oppose both superpowers in their oppression of the peoples of the world.
The cornerstone of the Guardian’s class collaborationist line lies in its denial that the essence of Soviet social-imperialism is the same as U. S. imperialism and its denial that the two superpowers are the main enemies of the people of the world. The Guardian belittles the danger of Soviet social-imperialism by asserting that capitalism has not yet been fully restored in the Soviet Union and that the Soviet Union’s drive for world hegemony can be sometimes imperialist but can also sometimes “assist” national liberation movements, such as in the case of Soviet aid to Vietnam and the MPLA in Angola.
There is hardly a corner of the world where Soviet influence is not being brought to bear. In some cases, the Soviet Union assists national liberation movements – as in Vietnam or Africa – up to a point. In other cases, they are actively meddling in the internal affairs of other countries with only the faintest pretense to ideological considerations, as in Bangladesh. (Guardian, August 22, 1973).
Through assertions such as these, the Guardian attempts to portray Soviet social-imperialism as simply a “policy.” The argument is similar to that advanced by the renegade Karl Kautsky on the eve of World War I who attempted to define imperialism as a “policy” preferred by capitalist nations, rather than as a stage of capitalism, as analyzed by Lenin. In exposing Kautsky’s deviation, Lenin showed that it in essence separated imperialist politics from imperialist economics and paved the way for conciliation with the bourgeoisie.
Lenin pointed out during World War I that unless ’the question of the economic essence of imperialism’ is studied, ’it will be impossible to understand and appraise modern war and modern politics,’ (Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism) Soviet social-imperialist military expansion and hegemonism are by no means accidental, still less something dependent on certain people’s subjective will; they are determined by the political system of Soviet revisionism, a system of the fascist dictatorship, and its economic base which is state monopoly capitalism, and are an inevitable result of the predominance of the law of imperialism. (Peking Review, November 7, 1975)
Significantly, the Guardian has retrogressed beyond Kautsky by attempting to argue that Soviet social-imperialism can even play a progressive role. It cites the example of Soviet aid to the MPLA and the use of Cuban mercenaries in Angola as shining examples of “proletarian internationalism” and aiding socialist construction.
In this way, the Guardian resurrects the views held by the social chauvinist Bernstein. It was Bernstein who in 1907 argued that Marxists should not oppose all forms of colonialism, since ”progressive colonialism” – or “socialist colonial policy” – could be used in a “helpful” and “civilizing” way. In much the same manner, the Guardian justifies and defends the role of the Soviet Union and Cuban mercenaries in Angola.
In picking out ”progressive” aspects of Soviet social-imperialism, the Guardian’s position results in denying the totally reactionary nature of imperialist politics. As pointed out by Lenin, imperialist powers strive for world domination; they strive to annex every kind of country.
The fundamental aim of all imperialist activity is to guarantee high profits for monopoly capital. It is imperialism’s nature to plunder. Imperialism cannot exist without violence or plunder and without aggression or expansion. Since capital-imperialism and social-imperialism are both imperialist, they are inevitably governed by imperialist laws; they carry out reactionary imperialist policies and take the imperialist road to decadence and decline. (“On Studying Some History About Imperialism,” Peking Review, July 23, 1971)
How is it that the Guardian can attempt to deny the imperialist nature of the Soviet state? The answer lies in its attempt to argue that capitalism has not been restored completely in the Soviet Union, and that, therefore, the Soviet Union can sometimes act imperialistically and sometimes not.
In defending this position, the Guardian has cited seven questions exhibiting “inconclusive evidence” of capitalist restoration in the Soviet Union (Guardian, June 16, 1976). These are:
1) lack of private ownership of the means of production,
2) lack of production for private profit,
3) lack of unemployment,
4) lack of cycles of economic crisis,
5) lack of capitalist chaos and planlessness,
6) lack of export of capital as a compulsion,
7) lack of transformation of the Soviet super-structure.
While conclusive evidence around each of these seven factors has been published, the seven questions raised by the Guardian reveal most of all its revisionist concept of capitalist restoration, particularly around the role of state monopoly capitalism.
According to the Guardian, capitalism has not been restored in the Soviet Union because there is a lack of conclusive evidence to show that there is private ownership of the means of production and production for private profit.
In contrast, the Marxist-Leninist viewpoint on the nature of the Soviet State stresses the role of state monopoly capitalism – not private capital – as the dominant and principal factor in restoration of capitalist relations.
According to the Albanian comrades, the Soviet Union today is characterized by state monopoly capitalism of a new type. By “new type,” they refer only to the way of its birth and role. As far as its essence is concerned, it is capitalism as in all the capitalist countries. “State capitalism in the western countries came into being mainly as a result of nationalizations with compensation carried out by the bourgeois state, whereas in the Soviet Union it came into being through the completion of the process of the degeneration of the dictatorship of the proletariat into a dictatorship of the new bourgeoisie. In the western capitalist countries, state capitalism plays a role dependent on private capital, as a tool of the latter, while in the present day Soviet Union it plays the dominant and principal role.” (“The Soviet Economy – A Completely and Definitely Capitalist Economy,” Albania Today, July/August 1975, p. 45)
As in all capitalist countries, the state in the Soviet Union is used as an instrument of class rule, the domination of the bourgeois class over the proletariat. But here again, the Guardian presents a serious deviation, amounting to a wholesale revision of Marxism-Leninism.
Let’s trace the Guardian’s arguments. According to the Guardian, a new bourgeoisie has risen to state power in the Soviet Union, replacing the dictator ship of the proletariat. However, capitalist relations have not been fully restored. In other words, the Soviet Union can have a bourgeoisie in power without being capitalist. Or conversely, the dictatorship of the proletariat can be abolished but the Soviet Union can remain socialist.
Is this not an argument for a “Russian exceptionalism” – a “socialism of a new type”?
The Marxist-Leninist analysis of the Soviet Union is far different. The state is an instrument of class rule: either it serves the dictatorship of the proletariat or the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie. There cannot be something in between.
For the Guardian to argue that the dictatorship of the proletariat has been abolished in the Soviet Union but that the bourgeoisie has somehow not become a capitalist exploiting class places it in the same camp as the Soviet revisionists. For the Soviet revisionists similarly argue that they can abolish the dictatorship of the proletariat without restoring capitalism. According to their viewpoint, the dictatorship of the proletariat is only necessary for the transition from capitalism to socialism – not for the entire period of socialist construction as Marxist-Leninists maintain.
In short, the Guardian’s views regarding the Soviet Union reflect a wholesale revision of Marxism-Leninism. The Guardian conciliates with Soviet social-imperialism, believing that unlike U.S. imperialism, it can play a “helpful” role in national liberation movements. This deviation is linked to the Guardian’s views on the nature of the Soviet state where, by conveniently ignoring the role of state monopoly capitalism, the Guardian has argued that capitalist relations have not been fully restored. And further, the Guardian has even gone on to liquidate the role of the state as an instrument of class rule by maintaining that the dictatorship of the proletariat can be replaced by a new bourgeois class without a restoration of capitalist exploitation. The Guardian’s views can be summed up in two words: class collaborationism. Its revisionist concepts liquidate the difference between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. Its revisionist formulations result in defense of and conciliation toward the Soviet bourgeois ruling class.
The Albanian comrades have identified one of the fundamental features of modern day revisionism as an incorrect understanding of the subjective and objective factors in the theory and practice of revolution and the building of socialism. “The modern revisionists... absolutize the importance of the material conditions of life, of the base, of the economy, thus slipping into a new variety of economics, of vulgar materialism, of the theory of spontaneity.” (Some Questions of Socialist Construction in Albania and of the Struggle Against Revisionism, p. 94) This form of revisionism arose following World War II and took its concentrated expression in the views of Nikita Khruschev who argued that in the period of socialism, it is the economic side of Marxism which has first importance. This formed the theoretical base for a wholesale revisionism of Communism, and the advocating of concepts such as the state of the whole people, peaceful coexistence, peaceful competition and the peaceful road.
The vulgar materialist viewpoint of modern revisionism rests on the same ideological basis of old revisionism – the bowing to spontaneity, the negation of the role of the conscious factor. However, under the period of socialist construction, the vulgar materialist viewpoint must be understood in relation to new conditions affecting the relationship between the objective and subjective factors.
The materialist viewpoint, that social being, the base, the economy are primary, remains completely valid in socialism, too, but their relationship with the conscious factor, with the superstructure, with politics is greatly changed. In socialism, as an order which is not born and developed spontaneously, the role of the subjective factor takes first-rate importance. Directly dependent on this is not only the rate of development but even the very fate of socialism. What is new in our revolutionary practice is precisely the reestablishment of the Marxist-Leninist understanding and application of the relationship between the objective factor and subjective factor, taking the objective factor as primary and giving first hand importance to the. subjective factor. (Ibid, pp. 95-96)
Proceeding from this analysis, the Albanian comrades have identified the bourgeois degeneration of socialism in the Soviet Union as “first of all” determined by the degeneration of the socialist superstructure. Thus, the Khruschevite revisionists, by laying stress on the economic factors of socialist construction to the neglect of the ideological and political questions promoted the bourgeois degeneration of the Soviet superstructure, leading directly to the changing of the socialist ownership of the means of production into state monopoly capitalism.
The entire superstructure of Soviet society degenerated. The former dictatorship of the proletariat was transformed into a savage fascist dictatorship of the new revisionist bourgeoisie, the socialist Soviet state was transformed into a social imperialist state. Although the beginning of the process of the degeneration of the Soviet superstructure was also the beginning of the restoration of capitalism, this degeneration of the superstructure could not advance itself without the degeneration of the economic base. Therefore, with the beginning of the process of the degeneration of the superstructure, the process of the degeneration of the economic base began, too. (“The Soviet Economy – A Completely and Definitely Capitalist Economy, Albania Today, July/August, 1975, p. 44)
In contrast to the Marxist-Leninist analysis of the reemergence of capitalism in the Soviet Union, the Guardian peddles vulgar materialism. According to the Guardian, capitalism has not been fully restored in the Soviet Union due to lack of “conclusive evidence” around seven factors, one of them being the lack of transformation of the Soviet superstructure. The Guardian, however, believes that the transformation of the Soviet superstructure rests solely with the restoration of the economic base of capitalism. It, therefore, believes that since private ownership of the means of production has yet to be restored, that the superstructure has yet to show evidence of being transformed. It is on this basis that the Guardian has further defended its conclusion that while the capitalist degeneration has begun, capitalism has not yet been fully restored. It is an argument that rests on vulgar materialism.
The Guardian’s focus on the economic base alone as the basic indicator of restoration absolutizes the objective factor. It negates class struggle as the key link throughout the entire period of socialist construction. Significantly, based on this vulgar materialist outlook, the Guardian has followed faithfully the path of all opportunists, launching “friendly criticisms” of Stalin back in 1973, in much the same way that their “friendly criticisms” of China have surfaced this past year.
According to the Guardian, Stalin’s “revolutionary contributions in the long run, were much more significant than the negative aspects of his work and life – serious though those were. “However, the Guardian then criticizes Stalin for being “subjective and increasingly out of touch with concrete experience.” (Guardian, March 21, 1973). Furthermore, the Guardian states that it would be “mindlessly obsequious,” to deny “mistakes, errors, violations of socialism, even crimes committed not only by Stalin but the entire Soviet leadership during this era. ” (Guardian, July 18, 1973) It concludes that, “Stalin’s most glaring blindspot was his failure to understand the nature of what Mao has described as ’contradictions among the people. ’” (Guardian, October 3, 1973)
But who is it, in fact, that fails to understand the distinction between “contradictions among the people” and “contradictions with the enemy” – is it Stalin or is it the Guardian? Is it the Guardian or was it Stalin who failed to make clear lines of demarcation with revisionist viewpoints?
In its attacks on Stalin, the Guardian demonstrate that it does not grasp the profound lessons of the present day struggles in Albania and China – that even after the construction of the economic base of socialism and the liquidation of the exploiting classes from state power, that class struggle does not die out. Class struggle cannot be directed mainly or only on the external front, against foreign enemies, for as Mao Tse-tung has stated, “the capitalist roaders are the bourgeoisie within the party.” Class struggle remains the key link during the period of socialism and becomes even more intense as the bourgeoisie attempts to regain power.
By focusing its criticisms on Stalin’s “gross violations of socialist legality in Soviet society” and the “destruction of inner party democracy” under Stalin (Guardian, March 21, 1973), the Guardian fails to recognize class struggle as the key link during socialist construction. The Guardian commits exactly the same error that the Albanian comrades warn against: “The opportunists and revisionists see all the contradictions of socialist society as contradictions amongst the people, they do not accept the existence of antagonistic contradictions. On this basis they hide the dividing line with the class enemy and negate class struggle in socialism.” (Some Questions of Socialist Construction in Albania and of the Struggle Against Revisionism, p. 102)
In combatting the vulgar materialist viewpoint advanced by modern revisionists, the Albanian comrades have stressed the importance of arming cadre and the masses with the most advanced revolutionary theory.
Summing up this experience (the degeneration of the Soviet Union – editor) as well as its own experience, our Party, without negating or in any way undervaluing the decisive role of the economic base, in the development of the socialist society, gives first importance to the strengthening and perfecting the socialist superstructure, to the struggle against any alien manifestation, to its cleansing from any remnants of the former superstructure, seeing this as one of the main guarantees to ensure the uninterrupted development of the socialist revolution.” (Ibid, pp. 97-98)
When any social problem is analyzed, it is necessary that it be put forward in a definite historical context and, if phenomena which by their nature and context are the same are being analyzed, it is necessary to keep in mind the concrete special features, which distinguish them from one another on the basis of the historical conditions under which they occur. (Ibid., pp. 132-133)
Modern revisionism, the Albanian comrades point out, is not something accidental but is a social product of a whole historical epoch. The special features of the Guardian’s form of modern revisionism are readily identifiable: 1) a conciliation to Soviet social-imperialism, even to the point of identifying progressive aspects of imperialism, resulting in a belittling of the danger of superpower contention and the danger of imperialist war; 2) under the guise of “friendly criticisms” and anti-dogmatism, the Guardian has launched an attack on the Chinese Communist Party, denying its role along with the Albanian Party of Labor in developing the correct Marxist-Leninist analysis of the world situation Soviet social-imperialism in particular. 3) The Guardian has undertaken a wholesale revision of Marxist-Leninist concepts of imperialism and state monopoly capitalism, marked by a vulgar materialist approach to the subjective and objective factors in revolution and socialist construction.
Each of these special features has arisen in the context of the present historical period.
As noted by the Chinese comrades, the international situation today is marked by “great disorder under heaven.” All the basic contradictions of the world are sharpening, and the factors for both war and revolution are on the rise. The situation is excellent, the people of the world, as the struggles of the Third World countries in particular against the two superpowers are growing in momentum.
For the two superpowers, on the one hand, the present world situation is marked by severe imperialist crisis – an all-around, general crisis.
As noted by Enver Hoxha of the Albanian Labor Party, “This is a general, economics political, ideological and military crisis of all the capitalist states, their structures and their superstructures. It is a crisis of their regimes and alliances. And this great crisis has just begun, the catastrophe will come later.” (Albania Today, December, 1970)
As the crisis of world imperialism has deepened, the contention of the two superpowers for world domination has grown fiercer and more desperate. The danger of imperialist world war is growing, and the people of the world must become prepared. Of the two superpowers, the Soviet Union, as the more aggressive of the two, is the main danger of war. Moreover, the Soviet Union by masquerading as a “supporter” of national liberation movements against U.S. domination has emerged as a particularly treacherous force for the people of the world. It is a danger that cannot be belittled.
Domestically, the situation within the U.S. reflects the sharpening contradictions of imperialism, as the U.S. bourgeoisie, has attempted to shift the crisis on the backs of working and oppressed people. But the intensifying oppression has brought rising resistance and a growing spontaneous mass movement.
For U.S. Communists, the deepening crisis of imperialism and the growing mass movement have emphasized the necessity for the building of a new genuine anti-revisionist Communist Party. Under the guidance of revolutionary theory, a growing number of Marxist-Leninists and advanced elements drawn from the mass struggles have set party building as the central task. But the party building motion itself has been the target of different trends and deviations, reflecting the twists and turns of developments on the world-wide scale.
It is in the context of these developments on the international and national levels that the Guardian has hoisted its flag of revisionism. It is a flag that has been raised within the ranks of the U.S. Communist movement as a new rallying point for the forces of revisionism, most particularly the modern revisionist defenders of Soviet social-imperialism.
Starting from the standpoint of there being “no center for the international Communist movement,” the Guardian has called for the need to “oppose dogmatism” – a demagogic cover which it has used to attack the “dogma” of Marxism-Leninism and the Chinese Communist Party.
Furthermore, under the guise of attacking the “main danger” of U.S. imperialism, the Guardian has emerged as a defender of Soviet social-imperialism, objectively belittling the danger of superpower contention and the danger of imperialist war. In this way, the Guardian,” under the guise of Marxism, has sown confusion in the ranks of the U.S. working class and communist movements by covering over the crisis of imperialism and the sharpening of the fundamental contradictions in the world.
Presently, the Guardian is attempting to move one step further by consolidating a segment of the U. S. movement into a new, revisionist Communist Party, a party more effectively able to mislead the masses than the present CPUSA. It is attempting to gather and give organizational form to an entire trend of revisionist thinking within the movement, to further consolidate its role as the new Guardian of modern revisionism.
As summarized by the Chinese Communist Party in its recent struggle to beat back the right deviationist attempt at capitalist restoration, the role of theory is decisive in attaining victory. Especially under conditions of complex class struggle – where revisionist trends mask themselves behind the guise of Marxist phrases – the role of theory is essential in order to detect, expose and thoroughly repudiate revisionist lines.
The Australian Marxist-Leninist E.F. Hill, Chairman of the Communist Party of Australia (M-L), has hailed the great victories scored by China in its struggle to repulse the right deviationists attempt at reversing correct verdicts. Hill has particularly focused on the decisive role played by revolutionary theory in arming cadre and the masses. Writing in the Australian Marxist-Leninist organ, “Vanguard,” Hill recently stated:
Chairman Mao Tse-tung is the great leader of the Chinese proletariat. Correctly the Chinese people refer to Chairman’s proletarian headquarters. The bourgeoisie has thrown up a series of leaders in recent times – Liu Shao-chi, Lin Piao and Teng Hsiao-ping and their followers collapsed like a house of cards when the Chinese people joined struggle against them. Lin Piao collapsed quicker than Liu Shao-chi, and Teng Hsiao-ping collapsed quicker than Lin Piao. This is because of the gigantic continual advance in the revolutionary consciousness and activity of the Chinese people. Illustrating this is the publication and reading by the Chinese people of millions and millions of copies of works by Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin, Mao Tse-tung. This is revolutionary study and learning on a scale never before known in history. (Hsinhua, July 8, 1976, pp.18)
In similar fashion, U.S. Marxist-Leninists today must arm ourselves with the most advanced revolutionary theory to expose and defeat the Guardian’s form of modern revisionism and the trend that it represents within the movement. Only in this way will Marxist-Leninists be able to detect the Guardian’s revisionist deviations, expose its political line and manifestations, uncover its ideological roots, trace the historical context under which it has emerged, and thoroughly smash its influence in the developing working class and communist movements.