Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Martin Nicolaus

The Guardian’s Man in Havana: An Exposure of ’Centrism’

First Published: Class Struggle, No. 3, Winter 1976.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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Publisher’s Note: What is “centrism”? Using the instance of the Guardian’s words and deeds around the Havana conference on Puerto Rico, the author illustrates the opportunist essence of the “centrist” political trend. The hopeless effort to reconcile the movement to form a new communist party with the politically rotten, moribund forces of revisionism and Soviet social-imperialism– this is the particularity of “centrism” in the present period.

* * *

A “friend” invites you to attend an exotic banquet in another city. You hesitate; but the “friend” is adamant. In glowing colors he paints the menu, the kitchen, the chefs, the hosts. You give in; you go. The banquet begins. Appetizers, drinks, bread, salad, soup and wines are brought in one after the other, setting the stage for the main dish. At last: the piece de resistance is brought in and served. All rise and cheer – except your “friend.” Remaining seated,’ he pokes at the main dish disdainfully, and refuses to eat. Later, back home, the “friend” tells everyone what a wonderful banquet it was! Those who missed it, he says, were foolish indeed ...

Strange and unlikely as the behavior of the “friend” in this tale may appear, it is the real-life conduct of the representative of the Guardian weekly – its executive editor, Irwin Silber – at the conference on the independence of Puerto Rico held Sept.5-7, 1975, in Havana, Cuba. After having promoted this conference with every show of enthusiasm for about five months, the Guardian’s delegate to the assembly, in effect, would not eat the main course – the principal conference document. This is how the climactic adoption of the final resolution is described by one of Silber’s fellow delegates to Havana, Grace Mora, who is the head of the Puerto Rican commission of the revisionist Communist Party U.S.A.:

All of us were cheering except one who remained seated, Irwin Silber... Of all the delegates to the conference, he alone refused to vote for the resolution. (Daily World, Nov. 4)


All Marxist-Leninists have cause to be grateful to the out-and-out revisionist, Grace Mora, for holding the Guardian representative’s mute sit-in at Havana up to the light where all can see it. The Guardian’s own report back from the conference gave Silber’s nay-vote so little publicity, to put it charitably, that most of that newspaper’s readers might never have become aware of it. The anti-imperialist public would have been deprived thereby of the most important material by which to judge an individual, a group or a tendency: the actual political conduct, the deeds, acts.

Words, as everyone knows, are cheap. “Speech has been given to man to enable him to conceal his thoughts.” If one judged the Guardian’s role in regard to the Havana conference solely on the basis of its words one could be led to the opinion that the Havana conference was the most significant step forward for Puerto Rican independence of 1975 and that the Guardian was correct in advocating that U.S. anti-imperialists should participate in the event. Other organizations, such as the October League, the Congress of Afrikan Peoples and the Puerto Rican Revolutionary Workers’ Organization, according to the Guardian’s words, were grievously wrong for advising U.S. anti-imperialists not to go.

That is what the Guardian’s words have said. But the Guardian’s action, in refusing to endorse the principal document of the conference, reinforces the opposite viewpoint:
– the principal aim of the conference was not genuine support for the independence of Puerto Rico, but rather to sidetrack the Puerto Rican independence movement and its U.S. supporters onto the path of revisionism and into the arms of Soviet social-imperialism;
– the conference was effectively “owned” and controlled by Soviet social-imperialism and revisionism, and any document produced by the conference would reflect this fact;
– U.S. Marxist-Leninists could not play a principled and effective role if they attended this conference, but would inevitably place themselves in a false, compromised position; and therefore
– to make promotion of this conference the principal task of U.S. supporters of Puerto Rican independence meant to divert the support movement into Soviet social-imperialist arms.

This, in brief, is what the October League consistently maintained, and why the OL did not attend the Havana conference and advised others in the Puerto Rican Solidarity Committee – in which the OL has been a longtime active member – to remain away likewise. (See The Call, April, July, September and November 1975)

By staying in his seat at the climactic moment in the Havana proceedings, the Guardian representative admitted wordlessly that those who advised against going had been a hundred times correct. His silent deed confirmed that the principal thrust of the conference was not of the sort that U.S. Marxist-Leninists and anti-imperialists should be standing up for.

Bravo, Irwin Silber! By your deed – even if it was not an active deed, but an act of omission – you have eloquently vindicated the position of the October League.


Of course, it would be naive to think even for one moment that it was Silber’s intention to concede, with his vote, that the October League had been correct. On the contrary. Virtually Silber’s first act on returning from Havana was to launch a new attack on the October League for its boycott of the conference.

Why then did Silber “boycott” the conference’s principal document? What were his reasons for this action, so contradictory to his words?

The only explanation so far published of the peculiar role the Guardian representative played is the one by Silber’s colleague Jack A. Smith in a significant Dec.3 article. This short defense speech condenses into a few words a number of political ideas that are typical not only of the Guardian but also of the whole political drift of which it is a leading voice.

“Bravo comrade Silber!” Smith writes. “The resolution contained a couple of phrases which the Guardian, in good conscience, could not go along with, and, while you didn’t make a big fuss about it at the plenary meeting, you had made your views clear to the rest of the U.S. delegation and you kept seated as a representative of this newspaper should have.” (Emphases added)

Concerning this defense of the Guardian’s representative, three remarks are in order.

Firstly, the Guardian representative made clear the reasons why he could not unite with the resolution “to the rest of the U.S. delegation” – but so far to no one else, certainly not to the readership of his newspaper.

This practice, of explaining one’s real principles of unity only in private to a select group of fellow-delegates, but keeping the broader public in the dark, is a harmful one which Marxist-Leninists have always criticized. The failure to make clear one’s basic principles of unity is a petty-bourgeois method that leads to the “settlement” of key political questions by hidden squabbles and private “understandings” without any meaningful accountability to the masses of the people. Note how the Guardian’s Jack Smith, in the same article, alludes vaguely to the “need” to “not make certain differences splitting questions.” Which differences? Isn’t this important?

The desire to cultivate this method is what really lies behind the Guardian’s repeated snickering at the serious ideological struggle among Marxist-Leninists (for example on the national question) and behind the Guardian’s negative attitude toward democratic centralism. Of course ideological struggle that is divorced from practice is harmful; and this is what the ultra-“leftist” sectarians cannot seem to grasp. But a disdainful attitude toward ideological struggle is even worse. A purpose of ideological struggles is precisely to draw the masses into decision-making, to bring about unity on the basis of democracy. What results from Guardian methods, by contrast, is the superficial “assent” to the arbitrary rule by bourgeois bureaucrat-“geniuses” which is characteristic of the revisionist party.


There is a difference as between night and day between the Guardian’s mumbling about “certain differences” which have been “made clear to the other delegates” on the one hand, and, on the other hand, the Marxist-Leninist approach displayed by the October League, which has published the principles on the basis of which it is ready to unite, for all to see and inspect. (The Call, Nov. 1975)

Guardian organizational methods can never serve to build a new communist party. They amount to the preservation of organizational and political backwardness. This is why Marxist-Leninists are treating these Guardian methods as so much petty-bourgeois baggage that must be left behind in order to advance.

A second point. According to the Guardian’s Jack A. Smith, the Guardian representative refused to vote for the Havana declaration because it contained “a couple of phrases” that the newspaper could not (“in good conscience”) agree with.

Of course we are not told what these phrases were. All the same, Smith’s declaration is revealing. It can mean one of two things. Either the Guardian representative is a purist, who refuses to stand up for a cause out of pickiness over mere words, over terminology. In that case the Guardian is guilty of sectarianism. Or: Smith is making clear that the obstacles between the Guardian and the revisionist, Soviet social-imperialist principles embodied in the document which prevent Silber from rising to cheer for that cause, amounted to – just a “couple of phrases.” In that case, Smith’s explanation amounts to the declaration that the Guardian representative is a revisionist in all but words.

Marxist-Leninists neither unite nor split in this fashion. Marxist-Leninists oppose the idea of passively going along with things that are wrong in principle, and uphold the line of “going against the opportunist tide” – even if some people will accuse them of “making a big fuss.” At the same time Marxist-Leninists do not refuse unity over differences of terminology, over a “couple of phrases” if this really means secondary questions. Such intellectual daintiness is appropriate to a tea party, or a cocktail party, or an embroidery bee; but such methods cannot lead to the broad, solid, proletarian fighting unity on sound basic principles that is required to unite the proletariat and the oppressed nationalities, overthrow imperialism and build a socialist society.

Thirdly. The Guardian representative, Smith declares, “did not make a big fuss at the plenary session” on the final day of the three-day event. Out of politeness toward the hosts? Perhaps. But the more likely reason is that the Guardian representative was aware that, had he proposed an alternate resolution more to his liking, he would not have found a seconder. All others in that hand-picked throng voted for the final document. Only Silber remained in his seat.

This state of affairs puts into its proper perspective Smith’s passing jibe – that the October League, by not joining Silber at poolside in Havana, had placed itself “above the battle.” The fact of the matter is that all the Guardian representative’s “battling” in Havana did not win over even one other delegate. At the end of three days of undoubtedly strenuous campaigning, not a single person was slain by the force of Silber’s arguments.

The Guardian’s campaign of ideological warfare on this, its preferred battleground, facts show, was as miserable and total a failure as is to be found in the military annals since the Charge of the Light Brigade.


In one of his columns – the one in which he accuses the October League of “chauvinism” for not going to the conference – Irwin Silber compared himself to an old, experienced courtroom lawyer, giving advice to a young colleague (the October League) who is stuck defending a hopeless case.

The October League had so little grounds for its position, Silber claimed, that it was forced to fabricate evidence – such as the assertion, made by The Call, that the U.S. delegation was predominantly revisionist in its political line. Not so! said Silber, “the U.S. delegation was one of the few that was not dominated by Communist Party forces...”

Unfortunately for Silber, his line of argument was shot down not only by the indisputable record of who voted how, but also by the explicit declaration of his fellow-delegate Grace Mora. This leading member of the revisionist party replied to Silber as follows:

In his article Silber brags that ’the U.S. delegation was one of the few that was not dominated by Communist Party forces but contained elements who were markedly anti-revisionist.’ In making such a statement Silber slanders not only the U.S. delegation but also the delegations of other nations. (Daily World, Nov. 4, emphasis added.)

It is clear that in pounding the table and shouting about the alleged political “independence” of the predominant part of the U.S. delegation, it was Irwin Silber’s “Fan the Flames” column that was disseminating misinformation, and not The Call.

Wise old courtroom lawyer? If Silber did not expect beforehand that the final document of the Havana conference would be one to which the Guardian could not be seen subscribing, without forfeiting all its Marxist-Leninist and anti-imperialist credentials, then God protect such child-like innocence from harm! At least the Marxist-Leninists did their comradely duty in warning the Guardian beforehand that in this cruel, capitalist world, if you go to a social-imperialist banquet, you’ll get served a big, smelly social-imperialist fish for the main course.

Counsellor Silber! Who really gave sound advice to the Marxist-Leninist, anti-imperialist movement, and who was it that embraced a hopeless cause? When all is said and done, the truth is that the Guardian representative led himself into an obvious revisionist trap, in which he could at the end neither stand up nor sit down without falling on his face, politically speaking.

This in itself, however, is not the worst thing. Anyone can make tactical errors. What is most harmful, and must be mercilessly exposed, is the effort to make such tactics into a system or a strategy, and the attempt to foist off such debacles on the movement as “victories for Marxism-Leninism.”


The Guardian’s line of conduct before, during, and after Havana is a representative and illuminating sample of a whole political trend “centrism,” that tends to flare up at historical moments when both the factors making for war and those making for revolution are intensifying.

All opportunism exposes itself in the contradiction between its declarations and its actions, between its words and its deeds. But “centrism” is a particular kind of opportunism, a distinct brand. Its trademark is the attempt to act as go-between, as mediator and conciliator between a discredited, dying, chauvinist and imperialist camp on the one side, and a new, rising, creative and energetic Marxist-Leninist force on the other.

In just this way did the followers of Kautsky–a name that has become synonymous with “centrism”-attempt to reconcile the “stinking corpse” (Rosa Luxemburg’s expression) of the bankrupt, chauvinist Second International during World War I, with the Leninist forces who were fighting against imperialism, against opportunism, for a new type of party, for proletarian internationalism, for revolution.

In the same way, the contemporary “centrists” are trying–consciously or not-to merge the increasingly exposed, discredited, moribund camp of U.S. revisionism and support for Soviet social-imperialism, with the honest, rising forces who are fighting for the birth of a new communist party in this country.


Wavering, vacillation, oscillation between one camp and the other is a basic tactic of “centrism.” Just as the Guardian representative made a big fuss in favor of participation in the Havana conference, but then would not subscribe fully to the conference’s basic principles, so does “centrism” also make a big noise about its membership (or even leadership) in the Marxist-Leninist movement–without subscribing to fundamental Marxist-Leninist principles of unity. For example: all U.S. Marxist-Leninists today agree on the necessity of working actively to build a new communist party as quickly as practicable. The Guardian merely pays lip service, at best. All U.S. Marxist-Leninists agree that the USSR has become a capitalist country, and–as an imperialist superpower–is one of the two principal enemies of the people of the world. Not the Guardian.

Centrism uses its refusal (apparent or real) to go along completely with the one side as a ticket to gain entrance to the opposite side; and so on, back and forth. Thus the Guardian abstained from voting for the Havana resolution in order to keep its door open to the Marxist-Leninist camp; and it abstains from upholding the right of self-determination and from declaring the USSR a capitalist country in order to keep up its bridges to the revisionist camp. This all-sided parasitism is the centrists’ vaunted “independence.” Many people who come to the contradiction between Marxism-Leninism and revisionism–to political consciousness–for the first time, move back and forth from one side to the other for a little while before they find their permanent bearings. That is not “centrism,” it is the wobbling of politically young legs learning to walk. But the Guardian editors have “been around.” They have raised this toddling into a permanent system, and staked their political fortunes upon it.

Whom does the Guardian’s wavering help?

In the first place, the Guardian’s “centrist” positions are much, much nearer to those of revisionism and Soviet social-imperialism than to Marxism-Leninism. Its contradictions with Marxism-Leninism revolve around basic principles, key judgements as to who are friends and who are enemies. Its differences with social-imperialism and revisionism, on the other hand, amount–as the conference shows–to just “a couple of phrases.”’ And in the second place – all Marxist-Leninists will feel this even in their bones – wavering is in itself a political line that harms the Marxist-Leninist movement and helps the revisionists. Marxist-Leninists are striving to build a new communist party on firm principles, to close ranks tightly and advance toward proletarian revolution. Marxist-Leninists have no use for wavering, flexibility of tactics, by all means! But wavering disorganizes the ranks, sows confusion and illusion, dulls the mind, hampers the ability to maneuver flexibly in a compact mass, to strike blows like a single fist. Wavering delays indefinitely the day of revolution, of liberation. It works only to the advantage of revisionist and social-imperialist intrigues, is a thoroughly petty-bourgeois trend and has no place in the ranks of a proletarian party.

The attempt to reconcile a dying chauvinism with a rising Marxism-Leninism means the attempt to suffocate, to stifle, to kill off the latter at birth.


What is to be done about “centrists” and waverers like the Wise Men of the Guardian? The advice of Lenin hits the truth squarely: “There is only one way of helping waverers, and that is by ceasing to be a waverer yourself.” (“Social-Chauvinists and Internationalists,” Collected Works, Vol. 24, p. 324)

It was in keeping with this Leninist advice that the firmest, most farseeing forces departed from the Guardian’s ship during 1975 and stopped wavering, in lieu of (by remaining aboard) assisting the Guardian editors to waver more artfully and deceptively. And it is in keeping with this Leninist spirit that the October League, among other organizations, has devoted its efforts to uniting all who can be united in building a new communist party, publishing a high-quality Marxist-Leninist weekly, raising the theoretical level of the whole movement, broadening and deepening the people’s fight-back, building an organization of communist youth, and taking other actions that point the way forward to victory over imperialism, over capitalism, over the superpowers.

All these steps demonstrate concretely and in a living way that you can fight U.S. imperialism without becoming a helpmate or tool of the other superpower.

There is only one way of helping the waverers, and that is to break with the Guardian’s “centrism” and join the ranks of the Marxists-Leninists who are working actively for the formation of a new communist party.


In his article of Dec. 3, the Guardian’s Jack A. Smith pats his newspaper on the back for coming under fire from both the right and the left by which he means the CPUSA and the October League. As it turns out, Smith spoke too soon. But of this more in a moment.

Why does (or did) the revisionist party in recent weeks attack the Guardian? Because the revisionists’ experienced noses have scented another potential prey of the species and condition they have become so “expert” at bagging in recent years.

The U.S. revisionist party, in its recruiting “tastes,” resembles a vulture that visits the anti-imperialist arena, claiming for itself all that is decomposing and decaying on the battlefield. Ex-philosophers who have died spiritually due to separation from their people, trapped adventurists who have died of fear, ex-anti-imperialists who have made a private peace with the other superpower, burnt-out opportunist “geniuses,” exposed labor bureaucrats looking for a “left” cover – all this and similar political debris the revisionist party makes its prey.

Its interest awakened by the Guardian’s politically spineless, lifeless and bankrupt performance in regard to the Havana conference, the revisionist leadership has evidently made a survey of the Guardian’s present condition, and found it “promising” from its point of view.

The paper has isolated itself step by step from the major political trends and organizations that have arisen within the Marxist-Leninist movement. Its efforts to lead its more active readers into a “new” organization of its own have flopped.

The paper has recently opened its line to homosexuality, a certain sign of political decadence. The editors’ course will lead the paper inevitably to break with the People’s Republic of China. As a result of all this, the paper’s credibility as a Marxist-Leninist, anti-imperialist voice is badly eroded, and its future direction is (or was) a big question mark.

These and other signs of the Guardian’s political decay make it a highly attractive candidate for an approach by the revisionist party. The revisionists’ “polemics” against the paper (such as they were) consisted of a probing tap or two to find out how deeply beneath the skin the decay extended. The real intent of these revisionist initiatives, as is made plain in the concluding lines, is to propose terms and conditions for a de facto merger or unity agreement.

The revisionist Grace Mora, for example, concludes her article with an attack on “all forms of chauvinism, racism, anti-Sovietism and other forms of splitting tactics,” adding the clincher that, “Those who are ready to shed such ideologies should be welcome.” Is the proposition clear? Three weeks later the revisionist Mike Zagarell follows up, asserting that the “theory of two superpowers” is untrue, and concluding significantly: “If the Guardian wants to rejoin the anti-imperialist movement, it would do well to examine that fact.” (Daily World, Nov. 28, 1975)

This is not polemics. It is old-fashioned bargaining over the terms of a business deal. Give up those couple of phrases about the USSR–the revisionists are saying–and we shall find some way to be of help to you as you are being to us.

Those are the conditions, that is the price, to begin to qualify for Soviet social-imperialist “assistance.”

Shame on the Guardian editors for not unmasking these revisionist approaches!


“This newspaper,” writes Smith about the Guardian, affecting an injured tone, “has considerable unity with the OL and none with the CP. Yet we are attacked as stridently, if not more so, by The Call than by the Daily World.”

The first sentence is patent untruth. The second one is true, but not at all surprising.

It is a patent untruth that the Guardian has “no political unity with the CP” but “considerable unity with the OL.” On at least two cutting-edge questions of 1975–International Women’s Day and the Havana conference–the Guardian united squarely with the revisionists against the OL. Those are facts of record. And is it necessary to rehearse once more with whom the Guardian unites, and against whom it polemicizes, on such issues as the USSR, Portugal, the Middle East, the Afro-American question, party-building, etc.?

Of course, the Guardian is “attacked as stridently, if not more so, by The Call than by the Daily World.” How could it be otherwise, in view of the Guardian’s objective track record over the past year? Why should the revisionist party “attack” you systematically and consistently (or “stridently”), dear “innocent” ones at the Guardian, since you have reached or are reaching unity with them on more and more basic questions? Why should The Call not attack you systematically, consistently, even “stridently” if you wish, in view of the fact that you are pumping more and more revisionist sludge into the anti-imperialist movement with each passing week?

Does the Guardian expect that it would draw less fire from Marxist-Leninists, and earn more “love,” the more it made itself a promoter for Soviet social-imperialism within the anti-imperialist movement?

Hardly had the ink dried on Jack A. Smith’s words in the Guardian (Dec. 3) than the revisionist party confirmed The Call’s view by patting the Guardian editors on the head approvingly for their stand on Angola.

“Maoist backing for U.S. imperialism in Africa is apparently even too much for the Guardian weekly, formerly one of Peking’s most faithful mouthpieces in the U.S.,” wrote the revisionist ideologue Mike Zagarell in the Daily World, Nov. 28. “In a front page editorial,” he continues, “the declining Maoist paper attempted to put a little breathing space between itself and the Chinese Maoist leadership on the issue of Angola.”

Instead of “attacking” the Guardian waverers, as Smith led his readers to believe, the revisionists are congratulating the Guardian editors for their “turnaround” (Zagarell’s phrase). And why should the revisionists not pat the Guardian on the head, since its position on Angola amounts to shedding the passivity its representative displayed in Havana, and instead rising up to welcome the Soviet social-imperialist intervention in West Africa?

In Havana the Guardian representative stopped a couple of phrases short of full endorsement for the Soviet social-imperialist position. In the case of Luanda, the Guardian ”went all the way.” That is the ”turnaround” the revisionist leaders are smiling about. Bravo comrade Silber! We knew you’d stand up when we needed it most! That is the message of the day from the revisionists and Soviet social-imperialists to the editors of the Guardian.


When Leonid Brezhnev, Marshall Grechko or Boris Ponomarev, or when Gus Hall, Angela Davis or Mike Zagarell appeal to a U.S. anti-imperialist audience for unity with Moscow hardly anyone pays them heed.

Any frank, direct and open drive to enlist the progressive-minded people into the ranks of Soviet social-imperialism’s neo-colonialist drive necessarily meets with disgust and anger. How dare you propose that the way to achieve revolution and liberation is to exchange the yoke of one superpower for that of the other! Off the stage, you rat! That is what anti-imperialists say to the open defenders and sympathizers of the other superpower, and will say more and more loudly as Soviet social-imperialism exposes itself.

The U.S. revisionist party-the chief “bulwark” of support for Soviet social-imperialism in the U.S.–can never gain leadership over the mass of the workers and other progressive people with its pro-Soviet social-imperialist position. The class-conscious workers, from observing historical events and weighing Soviet actions, are awakening to the fact that the USSR today is no longer the workers’ fatherland, and that defense of the Soviet state is no longer a duty of proletarians. Nothing that the U.S. revisionist party can do by its own efforts will ever restore its former mass influence so long as it remains the tin can tied to the social-imperialist juggernaut that it is.

This is why Marxist-Leninists have the same attitude toward the U.S. revisionist party as toward every other reactionary force: tactically it merits respect and must be treated with utmost seriousness; strategically it deserves nothing but contempt.

The only political line that has even an outside chance of winning for Soviet social-imperialism some remnants of the mass influence the Soviet Union had when it was a socialist country is precisely “centrism.” The other superpower – just like U.S. imperialism itself – cannot do without supporters who are believed beholden to neither superpower. It cannot break up the unity of the anti-imperialist ranks and recruit among these forces for its imperialist offensive, except through the agency of those to whom anti-imperialists look for leadership. This is the objective political role that “centrism” plays, regardless of whether it intends to do it or not, whether it receives a subsidy or works for free, whether organized or spontaneous.

This is why Marxist-Leninists cannot stand still when “centrism” tries to put its “comradely” arm around the shoulders of the young movement, and why Marxist-Leninists reject in principle the soft-soaping advances of “centrist” spokespeople who claim that there really aren’t any differences, why don’t we get together, etc. The aim of these approaches is to reconcile the new and rising forces of Marxism-Leninism in this country with the moribund revisionist and social-imperialist camp.


Just in this way and with this hypocritical purpose does the Guardian’s Jack A. Smith, in the article cited, conclude with a saccharine appeal to the October League to “cease fire” against the Guardian.

Errors should be criticized, but to continually harp upon the Guardian being a supporter of revisionism or worse isn’t having much impact except to further divide the anti-revisionist forces where they don’t necessarily have to be divided. And as far as the real revisionists are concerned, it doesn’t have any impact at all. They know precisely who they have to contend with, even if the OL, at times, doesn’t. (Guardian, Dec. 3)

It’s ironic but hardly accidental that the Guardian makes this appeal precisely at the moment when its flag-waving, cheering and footstomping support for Soviet social-imperialism in Africa requires all anti-revisionists and anti-imperialists (which is to say the same thing) to take the firmest, clearest and sharpest stand against superpower interference, against revisionist hypocrisy, and in favor of struggling for the great fighting unity of the people of the world, and of the Third World especially.

Nor is it coincidental that the Guardian’s leadership should stand up and cheer for Soviet social-imperialism precisely on a question involving the self-determination of a Third World country. The pro-social-imperialist chauvinism it displays in its stance on Angola is only the flipside of its pro-U.S. imperialist chauvinism in failing to uphold the right of self-determination of the Afro-American people.

The people of the world, and the oppressed nationalities in particular, will never subscribe to the Guardian’s unspoken notion that they can never be truly and genuinely independent, but must always “play the game” of one or the other imperialist superpower.

Marxist-Leninists cannot “cease fire” with a political tendency that has itself ceased fire against the revisionists and Soviet social-imperialists. Marxist-Leninists can never make “peace” with a faction that is earning deserved praise from the revisionists for its “turnaround.” To quit struggling against “centrism” is tantamount to laying down arms against revisionism and Soviet social-imperialism. The only condition under which Marxist-Leninists will quit struggling against “centrism” is when “centrism” vanishes from the battlefield, leaving revisionism and social-imperialism’s ugly features exposed for all to see.


The “centrists” during the first world war likewise demanded a “truce” with the proletarian internationalists each time the “centrists” did some particularly shameful and obvious political favor for their respective imperialist patrons. Thus the opportunist B. Souvarine in 1916 addressed an open letter to the proletarian internationalist (Leninist) forces, requesting them to “moderate their personal criticism of Bernstein, Kautsky, Longuet etc.” – the leading “centrist” opportunists of the day. All Marxist-Leninists and anti-imperialists in the particular circumstances of our day can learn from the example of Lenin’s reply to this opportunist “cease fire” request:

“For my part,” Lenin wrote, “I must say that I cannot accept that. And I would point out to Souvarine, first of all, that my criticism of the ’centre’ is political, not personal. Nothing can restore the mass influence of the Sudekums, Plekhanovs etc. [open imperialist leaders and hirelings]; their authority has been so undermined that everywhere the police have to protect them. But by their propaganda of ’unity’ and ’fatherland defense,’ by their striving to bring about a compromise, by their efforts to draw a verbal veil over the deep-seated differences, the ’centrists’ are causing the greatest damage to the labor movement, because they are impeding the final breakdown of the social-chauvinists’ moral authority, and in that way are bolstering their influence on the masses and galvanizing the corpse of the opportunist Second International. For all these reasons I consider it my socialist duty to fight Kautsky and the other ’centre’ spokesmen. (“Open Letter to B. Souvarine,” Collected Works, Vol. 23, p. 202)

“Galvanizing the corpse” of revisionist influence (literally, applying an electric current to make it move as if it were alive) and “impeding the final breakdown of the social-chauvinists’ moral authority,”–these are, in truth, the “services” that centrism renders to revisionism and imperialism. For that reason it is the duty of all Marxist-Leninists to fight the “centrist” line.


All over the world the drums are beating for another war. The U.S. imperialists are drumming up chauvinism for their side, and the Soviet social-imperialists are drumming up chauvinism of their own.

In the face of the threatened war between the two superpowers, certain people show a complete lack of faith in the forces of revolution. Anti-imperialist unity is impossible! Marxism-Leninism is impossible! So they reason, and conclude: we must enlist with the one superpower or the other.

“Centrism” arises out of this pessimism and spinelessness. Insofar as it is the desperate maneuver of opportunists at the end of their rope, “centrism” is out-and-out capitulation and selling out to a superpower under the guise of “Marxism.” It is capable of any baseness and treachery. Insofar as “centrism” is not that, but merely the vainglory of would-be “geniuses” who are out of their depths, “centrism” is the strategy of “fighting” revisionism by sleepwalking into revisionist and social-imperialist traps where, despite remaining firmly seated, “centrism” exposes its features.