First Published: The Call, Vol. 5, No. 29, November 22, 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.
Communist strategy and tactics is the science developed by Marxist-Leninists to give leadership to the working class struggle for socialism. One of the most hotly debated and misunderstood questions of revolutionary strategy in the Marxist-Leninist movement today is where to aim the main blow. This question must be answered in the context of the fight to overthrow the ruling class in the U.S., as well as internationally in the fight against both superpowers.
The Russian communist leader Stalin summed up the principles of revolutionary strategy developed by Lenin during the course of the first successful working-class revolution in Russia. In an article on ’The October Revolution and the Tactics of Russian Communists,” he pointed out that determining the direction of the main blow is the “fundamental strategic rule of Leninism.” (C.W., Vol. 6, p. 401)
In order to understand where to aim the main blow, says Stalin, it is necessary to recognize three things: “1) the compromising parties are the most dangerous social support of the enemies of the revolution; 2) it is impossible to overthrow the enemy.. .unless these parties are isolated; 3) the main weapons in the period of preparation for the revolution must therefore be directed towards isolating these parties, toward winning the broad masses of the working people away from them.” (Ibid., p. 402)
He points out that the direction of the main blow was determined In each stage of the revolution by identifying those forces who were “most dangerous” because they advocated “compromise” between the people and the enemy (Ibid., p. 402). They were the main props of the enemy within the revolutionary movement.
Within the U.S., the strategic objective of the revolutionary movement is to overthrow imperialism, the dictatorship of the U.S. monopoly capitalist class, and establish socialism, the dictatorship of the proletariat, in one stage.
As in the Russian revolutionary movement, there are forces in the U.S. workers’ movement who try to tie the workers to the capitalist system. In order to reach our strategic objective, we must direct the main blow at these forces– the reformists and revisionists. They are the main props of imperialism, advocating compromise with the system rather than all out struggle against it.
The reformists are those forces who say they are fighting for the workers, but whose aim is limited to reforming the system in order to preserve it. The principal promoters of reformism in the workers’ movement, the majority of the trade union leadership, are paid handsomely for carrying out the dirty work of the class they claim to oppose.
The other of these twin enemies, the revisionists in the organizational form of the CPUSA, are even more dangerous because their brand of reformism is cloaked in phony socialism. The revisionists not only preach compromise with U.S. imperialism; they are especially dangerous because they also act as direct agents of Soviet social-imperialism inside the workers’ movement and have the strength of international revisionism behind them.
But a Marxist-Leninist strategy is not limited to analyzing the contradictions within one country. Stalin pointed out that with the complete division of the world between the different imperialist countries around the beginning of the 20th century, and with the victory of the Russian revolution which broke this imperialist chain for the first time, the question of strategy in one country became inseparable from the question of strategy for world revolution.
Our strategy for revolution in the U.S., then, must include an analysis of this international sphere*of the struggle and a strategic plan for defeating imperialism internationally. The strategic aim of this struggle today is the defeat of the two superpowers– the U.S. and the USSR-who are together the main enemies of the working class and oppressed peoples of the whole world.
While opposing both superpowers as the main enemies, the main blow internationally must be directed at the Soviet social-imperialists. Soviet social-imperialism today is the greatest danger because in addition to being one of the main enemies it is also the main prop of imperialism. As long as the Soviet revisionists are able to portray the USSR as a “socialist” country and the “natural ally” of the world’s people, the defeat of imperialism is impossible.
In the case of the USSR, the ideological danger posed by modern revisionism has been augmented greatly by the fact that the social-imperialists are the more aggressive of the two superpowers.
Stalin warns against confusing the main danger (the object of the main blow) with the main enemy (the strategic objective of the revolutionary struggle itself). “Many people,” he pointed out, “did not understand this specific feature of Bolshevik strategy and accused the Bolsheviks of excessive ’Cadetophobia.’” when they directed their main blow against the liberal Cadet Party. These opportunists claimed that, for the Bolshevik Party, the struggle against the Cadets “overshadowed the struggle against the principal enemy–tsarism.” Stalin points out that these accusations “revealed an utter failure to understand the Bolshevik strategy, which called for the isolation of the compromising party in order to.. .hasten the victory over the principal enemy.” (Ibid., p. 402) – This is a distinction that has been confused and blurred over by the opportunists in our own movement. These people have accused the OL and other Marxist-Leninists of neglecting the struggle against U.S. imperialism and concentrating “too much fire on Soviet social-imperialism.”
Our task today, as in Lenin’s and Stalin’s time, is to isolate this main danger–the reformists and revisionists within the U.S. and the Soviet social-imperialists internationally. In order to hasten the overthrow of U.S. imperialism at home and the two superpowers around the world, it is necessary to thoroughly expose the props of the imperialist system and bring the struggle under the leadership of Marxism-Leninism, the only force that can lead the struggle to victory.
In addition to agitation and propaganda to carry out this exposure, rejecting “united action” with revisionism is an essential component of targeting the revisionist prop. “No united action” clearly distinguishes Marxism from revisionism and social-imperialism from socialism.
Opportunists like the centrist Guardian and the Revolutionary Communist Party have not correctly analyzed the direction of the main blow and call for “united action” and “joint conferences.” In this way, they serve to perpetuate the myth that the reformists, revisionists and social-imperialists are all part of the anti-imperialist struggle. While claiming to oppose U.S. imperialism, they cover up for the props of imperialism domestically and internationally. They leave the door open for an alliance with one superpower against the other or with the reactionary trade union bureaucrats and revisionists. Such a strategy can only lead our movement down a dead-end street.
By mastering Marxism-Leninism and its strategic applications and especially the fundamental concept of “direction of the main blow,” correct leadership can be given to the struggle of the working class and oppressed peoples through all of its complicated twists and turns.