Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Eileen Klehr

How RCP’s ’Theory of Equality’ Serves Soviet Social-Imperialism

A reply to ’Revolution’ on the international situation


First Published: Class Struggle, No. 8, Fall 1977.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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The leadership of the so-called Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP) in recent months has published several articles and has taken public stands on international questions which, more than ever before, reveal this group’s departure from the theory and practice of Marxism-Leninism.

Its stand on the present international situation reflects the fact that the RCP is becoming part of a trend that is explicitly anti-Marxist. As such, it serves as a prop for modern revisionism and Soviet social-imperialism within the working class movement.

In the face of increased superpower contention and especially the more aggressive and dangerous stance of the Soviet Union, the RCP continues to promote its theory of “equilibrium,” a theory that claims “equality” exists between the two superpowers. This line particularly hides the growing threat of Soviet social-imperialism and merges with the revisionist theory of “detente.”


The RCP’s recent articles have distorted and attacked the revolutionary theory of the three worlds developed by Chairman Mao. In the place of this scientific analysis, they promote a neo-Trotskyite line that liquidates the international struggle of the oppressed nations of the third world against imperialism and negates the significance of contradictions among the imperialist powers, especially between the superpowers and the lesser imperialist countries of the second world.

In a recent Revolution article entitled, “The Two Superpowers: Equal Enemies of the World’s People,” the RCP reiterates its undialectical view that the two hegemonistic powers, the U.S. and the USSR, are “to the same degree and the same extent the main enemies of the world’s peoples.”[1] Denying the law of uneven development under imperialism, the article insists that “the two superpowers are equally the enemies of the international proletariat and the people of the world.”[2] (Emphasis in original) It adds that “grasping this is essential for making sense of the situation in the world today, and for developing revolutionary strategy and tactics in different countries.”[3]

In this article, the RCP concedes that each superpower has “certain different characteristics” which include the facts that the Soviet Union is a “newcomer at the imperialist feast,” and has a “more centralized state apparatus,” and a “socialist cover and a better organized fifth column in its rival’s camp.”[4]

But what does RCP make of this? Going in for metaphysics instead of dialectics, RCP takes these particular features of the Soviet Union, puts them on a balancing scale with other, different particular features of the U.S. and, lo and behold, finds that the scale points to zero. Thus there is “equality” between the two superpowers–not even rough equality, but equality “to the same degree and the same extent.”

Why is this metaphysics? Workers in an auto plant, for instance, know that even two cars of the same make and model just coming off the assembly line one after the other are never “equal to the same degree and the same extent.” In fact, unless one freezes time and space, matter and motion, no two things in the universe are “equal to the same degree and the same extent.” Since this is true even of relatively simple phenomena, it is even clearer in relation to such complex entities as the two contending imperialist superpowers.


But one feature of dialectics is that the world and everything in it is constantly changing. Some things rise while others decline through the unity and struggle of opposites. One must ask the RCP: When was this “same extent and same degree” of “equality” achieved? This year? Last year? Five years ago? And how long will this strange state of affairs last? Five years? Ten?

The RCP article suggests an answer. In relation to world war it states: “Even the outbreak of such a war would not change the fact that the superpowers are in the same degree enemies of the people of the world, but would in fact confirm it.”[5] (Emphasis in original) This indicates that the RCP believes that as long as the two superpowers exist, they will always be “equal to the same extent and same degree,” no matter what happens in the meantime.

RCP’s article takes issue with the Marxist-Leninist line of the Communist Party (M-L) for referring to RCP’s estimation of the superpowers as an opportunist “theory of equilibrium.” By putting quotes around this term, protested the RCP, the CP(M-L) implied that the RCP had used it.

Actually, the reason the CP(M-L) put quotes around “equilibrium” is because the Party doesn’t believe that this state of affairs exists, just as with the term “detente.”

But the fact remains that the RCP has a “theory of equilibrium” even if its does not use the term. Its article fails to explain the difference between “equilibrium” and “equal to the same degree and same extent.” The explanation is still awaited.

Why is the RCP so persistent in its claim that the Soviet Union is not “a greater enemy on a world scale”? Saying that the Soviet social-imperialists are more dangerous certainly does not go against the Marxist-Leninist view that both superpowers are the main enemies of the world’s peoples. Nor does it divert the U.S. workers from their primary task of overthrowing their “own” ruling class, the U.S. bourgeoisie. Rather it is an assessment of forces in the world, based on the objective fact that both enemies are by far the world’s greatest international exploiters and oppressors and, moreover, the only imperialist powers at this time capable of waging a global war for the redivision of the world.

But Marxist-Leninists, if they are actually to play a leading role, must go a step further. They must answer the questions: Of the two main enemies, which is more dangerous? Of the two, which is the main source of war today?


Marxism-Leninism holds that the enemy must be despised strategically, but taken seriously tactically. That is why it won’t do just to denounce “all imperialism” or label both superpowers “equal” enemies. The concept of “despising the enemy strategically” is turned into mere adventurist bravado if it is linked with the erroneous idea that the world’s peoples should “equally” take on both or all enemies at once. To fight a victorious struggle, they must direct the main blow first at one or another. Chairman Mao spelled this out clearly in 1957:

We have developed a concept over a long period for the struggle against the enemy, namely, strategically we should despise all our enemies, but tactically we should take them all seriously. In other words, with regard to the whole we must despise the enemy, but with regard to each specific problem we must take him seriously. If we do not despise him with regard to the whole, we shall commit opportunist errors. Marx and Engels were but two individuals, and yet in those early days they already declared that capitalism would be overthrown throughout the world. But with regard to specific problems and specific enemies, if we do not take them seriously, we shall commit adventurist errors. In war, battles can only be fought one by one and the enemy forces can only be destroyed one part at a time. Factories can only be built one by one. Peasants can only plough the land plot by plot. The same is even true of eating a meal. Strategically, we take the eating of a meal lightly, we are sure we can manage it. But when it comes to the actual eating, it must be done mouthful by mouthful, you cannot swallow an entire banquet at one gulp. This is called the piecemeal solution and is known in military terms as destroying the enemy forces one by one.[6]

Chairman Mao summed up these principles with the policy guideline, “make use of contradictions, win over the many, oppose the few and crush our enemies one by one,” and stated that it stood in “direct contrast” to the policy of “hanging on to one imperialist bloc or another.”[7]

Answering the questions of which superpower is more dangerous and which is the main source of world war, then, requires the concrete analysis of concrete conditions. It is absolutely vital. Wishful thinking or metaphysical phrasemongering simply will not do.

But this is where the RCP falls flat on its face. Its theory of “equality” or “equilibrium” is based on the one-sided view that superficially observes the process of levelling occurring between the two superpowers and therefore concludes that they will achieve “parity” and sustain this relationship for a protracted period of time. In its article, the RCP writes that “the unevenness of development between the U.S. and the USSR has led to a situation where these two superpowers now are equally the enemies of the world’s people.”[8] In other words, RCP acknowledges that the two superpowers have been “subject to the law of uneven development” in the past, but adds that they now have achieved “equality.”


From a Marxist-Leninist viewpoint, however, it is precisely the process of levelling (i.e., the fact that the Soviet Union is an imperialist power still lagging behind but approaching the level of economic development of U.S. imperialism) that intensifies the uneven development among the superpowers and, as a result, heightens their contention. Lenin described this process as a basic feature of imperialism when he argued against Kautsky’s theory of “ultra-imperialism.” Kautsky’s theory held that the imperialist powers could achieve a stage of “peaceful cooperation” in which they could “jointly and peacefully” exploit the world’s people. Lenin said:

... any other basis under capitalism for the division of spheres of influence, of interests, of colonies, etc., than a calculation of the strength of the participants in the division, their general economic, financial, military strength, etc., is inconceivable. And the strength of these participants in the division does not change to an equal degree, for the even development of different undertakings, trusts, branches of industry, or countries is impossible under capitalism.[9](Emphasis in original)

As Stalin also put it: “... levelling is the background and the basis which makes the increasing unevenness of development under imperialism possible.”[10]

The RCP’s theory of “equilibrium,” like Kautsky’s “ultra-imperialism” and the present day modern revisionist theory of “detente,” attempts to prettify a fundamental feature of imperialism. This feature is the intense rivalry that exists between imperialist powers, a rivalry demanding that, as the late-coming imperialists approach the level of development of their rivals, they heighten their attempts to “weaken the adversary and undermine his hegemony.”[11] Stalin describes this process in this way: “It is precisely because the lagging countries accelerate their development and tend to become level with the foremost countries that the struggle between countries to outstrip one another becomes more acute.”[12]

According to the fundamental laws of imperialism, there can be no “equilibrium” between the rival imperialist powers, except in the most transitory and superficial sense. The fact that the Soviet social-imperialists are rapidly “catching up” to their U.S. rivals economically only accelerates their uneven development and intensifies their contention.

Not only does the RCP’s “equilibrium” theory contradict the fundamental laws of imperialism, but it follows as well that their theory is not in accordance with a concrete analysis of the position and strength of the two superpowers in the conditions of today’s world.

Soviet social-imperialism is challenging U.S. imperialism, which formerly was the “top dog” among imperialist powers. The U.S. is an imperialist power that is overextended around the world, a superpower on the decline. While its plunder and superexploitation help it remain stronger economically, this also has a heavy price. The U.S. must spend billions of dollars in support of the south Korean, Israeli and Taiwan puppet regimes, to name a few. They must maintain military bases and installations worldwide. Every U.S. budget has an approximate $20 billion deficit.

More significantly, U.S. imperialism has suffered important defeats at the hands of the national liberation movements. Most outstanding was its defeat in Indochina, after carrying out a vicious war of aggression there for over ten years. As a result of the people’s resistance, U.S. imperialism has lost markets, as well as suffered important political defeats. U.S. imperialism today stands greatly exposed in the eyes of the countries and peoples of the world.


Soviet social-imperialism, on the other hand, is relatively a rising power. In recent years it has taken advantage of its “socialist” cover and its guise as “natural ally” of the developing countries to advance its interests around the world. Domestically, the new czars maintain a fascist dictatorship and reign over the Soviet people with the iron heel of fascist repression.

Internationally, the Soviet revisionists have combined open armed occupation, such as in Czechoslovakia, the use of mercenary troops from Cuba in Africa–all under the benevolent guise of “fraternal aid”–with attempts at coup d’etat and internal subversion and interference in other countries.

The relative position of the two superpowers and the history of their development places Soviet social-imperialism on the strategic offensive and U.S. imperialism in a strategically defensive position. Even the RCP’s article admits that the Soviet Union “has to take the offensive to seize a larger sphere of influence.”[13] But what are the factors behind this feature of Soviet social-imperialism?

This superpower only emerged on the world scene roughly 20 years ago with the restoration of capitalism in the once-socialist Soviet Union at the hands of the Krushchev revisionists. Once capitalist restoration was accomplished, the characteristics of the Soviet economy mirrored the basic characteristics of all monopoly capitalist countries. These basic features are described by Stalin:

The main features and requirements of the basic economic law of modern capitalism might be formulated roughly in this way: the securing of the maximum capitalist profit through the exploitation, ruin and impoverishment of the majority of the population of the given country, through the enslavement and systematic robbery of the peoples of other countries, especially backward countries, and, lastly, through wars and militarization of the national economy, which are utilized for the obtaining of the highest profits.[14]

And further:

It is precisely the necessity of securing the maximum profits that drives monopoly capitalism to such risky undertakings as the enslavement and systematic plunder of colonies and other backward countries, the conversion of a number of independent countries into dependent countries, the organization of new wars–which to the magnates of modern capitalism is the ’business’ best adapted to the extraction of the maximum profit–and, lastly, attempts to win world economic supremacy.[15]


The Soviet bourgeoisie is motivated by the same drive for maximum profit as is its counterpart in the U.S. However, having developed as an imperialist power only relatively recently, it is unable to fulfill this drive without stepping on the toes of the U.S. imperialists, who have single-handedly dominated the markets and natural resources throughout large parts of the world since World War II. The Soviet Union can make no advances in its bid for world hegemony without infringing on U.S. interests. And even though U.S. imperialism has suffered significant defeats at the hands of the third world peoples, it will never change its reactionary nature nor peacefully give up its world interests.

The inevitable result of this situation is increased contention and, ultimately, the outbreak of a new world war. It is the USSR’s role as the challenger in this contest that makes it especially a source of war.

The USSR’s more dangerous character is also reflected in any all-sided assessment of the relative military strength of the superpowers. Military strength is one area the RCP fails to mention in its most recent “balance sheet.” In fact, the RCP mocks those who warn about the actual dangers of the growing superpower arms race for “counting the missiles to see who is more dangerous.”

Understanding the military positions of the two superpowers, however, is another factor which disproves the RCP’s “equality” theories and explodes the myth of “detente.”

For at least the last ten years, the Soviet social-imperialists have been massively preparing for a military confrontation with the U.S. imperialists. Western press reports reveal that in recent years the annual growth rate of Soviet arms production has reached 16%. Their arms production is growing 2.3 times faster than their total industrial output value.[16] The total troop strength of the Soviet Union is estimated at 4.4 million, a figure that does not even include the Soviet civil staff, policemen or internal security agents. This is in contrast to the present troop strength of the U.S. which is approximately 2.7 million, a figure which does include its civil staff.[17]

With regard to military expenditures, U.S. and Soviet figures are both very close–approximately $120 billion yearly. However, much of the U.S. military budget must go for veterans’ benefits and salaries of the GI’s, which for a Private 1st Class starts with a base pay of $433 per month.[18]

The Soviet Union, with its compulsory military service that pays the average Soviet soldier around six rubles monthly, is thus able to allot a greater percentage of their military budget to new arms and equipment.


The Soviet Union has taken many measures to put their economy on a war footing. In the 10th 5-year plan adopted at the 25th Congress of the CPSU last year, greater emphasis than ever before was placed on heavy industrial development, which is closely linked with the production of weapons and munitions. Goals were set that include, by 1980, increasing the output of the means of production from 38% to 42%. In contrast to these figures, the increase of consumer goods was only expected to increase from 30% to 32% and in light industry and the food industry in particular only from 26% to 28%. These figures reveal the emphasis that the social-imperialists are placing on military production.[19]

Soviet superiority in military production has long been admitted in many Western press reports, such as the following printed in the New York Times:

Soviet superiority in conventional weapons is reflected by the fact that in tanks, armored personnel carriers, artillery and tactical aircraft, the Russians have been outproducing the Americans since 1965. The current American advantage in helicopters will be ended by 1977.[20]

As pointed out earlier, the Soviet Union does not match the U.S. in economic strength. Its national income is approximately 40% less. Nor can it surpass the U.S. without entering into military conflict for sources of cheap labor and raw materials, areas of investment, etc. The social-imperialists are thus forced to develop their country’s national economy in favor of arms expansion and war preparations. They have militarized the national economy and brought about a top-heavy development of war industry and related heavy industrial sectors.

At present, then, while the Soviet Union falls behind the U.S. in economic strength, it is catching up and even surpassing the U.S. in most areas of military strength. This is a very important factor making the Brezhnev clique even more hungry and aggressive. The only way to support the malignant growth of their war machine is for the social-imperialists to aggressively seek the highest profits in an immediate sense.

With the restoration of capitalism in the Soviet Union, the Soviet economy was also transformed into state monopoly, a form of monopoly capitalism with a very high degree of concentration. The clique of bureaucrats, headed by Brezhnev, who control Soviet state power, are comprised of and represent the class of state monopolists who control the Soviet economy. These capitalists not only heavily exploit the Soviet people. In their drive for profits over and above those squeezed out of the Soviet workers, they must also export their capital abroad in order to obtain the “advantages” reflected in maximum profits and superprofits. As Lenin pointed out:

... finance capital finds most ’convenient,’ and is able to extract the greatest profit from such a subjection as involves the loss of political independence of the subjected countries and peoples.[21]

It is exactly this “convenient” road that the Soviet social-imperialists have and are continuing to pursue.


Furthermore, the USSR is locked in a severe agricultural crisis–and the division between the Soviet town and countryside is getting wider. It is impossible for the Soviet rulers, however, to develop farming and build up the countryside despite the agricultural sector’s relatively high technological level. Instead they must one-sidedly concentrate capital in war industry and export it to areas of maximum return of profit. They have even been forced to rely on foreign loans to beef-up their capital investment in many sectors of the domestic economy.

The crisis and anarchy in the Soviet economy is a clear indication of its capitalist nature and dispells the myth that it is a “socialist country.” In fact, the Soviet Union has become one of the two biggest exploiters internationally.

Among the Eastern European countries under Soviet domination, it has set up the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance, an organization through which the Soviet revisionists have accomplished the “economic integration” of the Soviet and Eastern European economies. Through these means, the social-imperialists have established iron control over the major economic departments of the CMEA countries, including industry, agriculture, finance, planning and trade. The raw materials, products, capital and labor power of these countries are no longer their own, but have become the property of the Soviet social-imperialists and correspondingly a source of great profit for Brezhnev and Co.

Towards the third world countries, the Soviet Union exercises a policy of “buying cheap and selling dear.” The Soviet capitalists export capital to the third world through the means of the state apparatus. They invest capital in the developing countries under the guise of “fraternal aid” and then extract the highest possible profits from the third world peoples and governments. Every agreement between the Soviet Union and the developing countries has “strings attached” so as to ensure the Soviet revisionists the highest profits in the most “convenient” arrangement.

For any imperialist country, the possession of colonies is the most effective guarantee for a ready source of raw materials, for the protection and expansion of their financial interests, and for the insurance of maximum profits. Since the Soviet Union presently lags behind its superpower rival and cannot compete as effectively in international markets, it is even more hungry in its thirst for colonies and more ruthless in its policy towards less-developed countries. In this way it parallels the situation of Hitler fascism in Germany just prior to the outbreak of World War II.

To sum up: From an analysis of the economic position of the Soviet Union in relationship to the U.S. to an assessment of their present respective military forces, only one conclusion can be drawn. Soviet social-imperialism is on the offensive, the more dangerous superpower and the main source of a new world war. The present division of the world no longer corresponds to the actual relations of forces and strength. Compelled to fight for a redivision, the imperialists will never lay down their butcher knives. War is inevitable and all theories of superpower “detente,” “equilibrium” and “equality” are a sham.

What are the implications of this for the strategy and tactics of the revolution? Does it mean the workers should forget about class struggle, stop opposing U.S. imperialism and liquidate every other question in the name of fighting the Soviet Union? Certainly not. In fact it means just the opposite. In order for the U.S. workers effectively to achieve their strategic goal of overthrowing the U.S. bourgeoisie, they must also unite their struggle with the worldwide movement against both superpowers, including the struggle against Soviet social-imperialism.

What the RCP refuses to grasp correctly on this question is that class struggle is waged internationally as well as within each country. Moreover, the class struggle in each country is conditioned by the international struggle and is a component part of it. If the workers in each country are to be genuine internationalists rather than nationalists, they must coordinate their international policies based on an assessment of world forces and strike in a single, unified way. Only in this way can the revolution in each country proceed in the most favorable circumstances, employing the full force of its allies around the world. It is precisely RCP’s wrong assessment of the international situation that would isolate the U.S. workers and hold back the class struggle at home.


Who benefits from RCP’s “theory of equilibrium”? This question was raised in the last issue of Class Struggle and, despite RCP’s latest writings, the answer given there is just as pertinent today. The RCP line covers up for the Soviet social-imperialists especially and conciliates to modern revisionism. It comes out clearly in the strategy and tactics that RCP puts forward in its article. Here the RCP calls for the people’s forces in the various countries of the world to concentrate against “one or the other” superpower based on their country’s “particularities” and to “place particular emphasis on opposing that superpower which the (domestic) ruling class is aligned with.”[22]

What is being distorted here? Once again, the RCP negates the fact that, since the development of imperialism, the revolutionary struggle in each country has become a component part of a worldwide united front against imperialism. Instead of determining the enemies of the world’s people from this perspective, the RCP advises that the people of each country assess the world’s two biggest exploiters and oppressors mainly on the basis of how their own country is affected. RCP can talk about “taking into account the overall world situation” all it wants, but this amounts to putting narrow nationalist blinders on the workers. In essence, its strategy is simply that the workers in each country overthrow their “own” capitalists. This sounds very clear and easy. But because it negates the role of imperialism as a world system, it is a strategy that leads only to defeat.

What happens when RCP’s views are applied to an actual situation in the world? It becomes obvious that its call for “paying attention to particularities” is, in reality, only another attempt to protect and cover for the Soviet social-imperialists and split the worldwide united front.


Western Europe is a good example. Although important changes have taken place there in recent years, the West European bourgeoisies have had long-standing ties and relations with the U.S. imperialists. The West European countries have been under the domination of U.S. finance capital, with the NATO alliance being the military reflection of this relationship. According to RCP’s formula, then, the correct policy would be not to give any “particular emphasis” to the massive Soviet army (twice the size of the U.S.) mounting on West Europe’s borders.

What are some other conditions under which this advice is given? The Soviet Union has intensified its political interference inside Western Europe, particularly through its “fifth column” revisionist parties. It has tried to take advantage of every contradiction in order to disunite these countries, trying to disband NATO while leaving the Warsaw Pact intact. It is obvious that the Soviet military build-up is aimed overwhelmingly against Europe. Exposures in the world press have revealed over and over again that European waters have become the playground for Soviet warships and military maneuvers.

It is in this context that the RCP seeks to deflect the main blow away from the Soviet Union. This can only serve the designs of Brezhnev to conquer all of Europe and open the doors of the European countries to Soviet penetration and invasion.

The CP(M-L) and other genuine Marxist-Leninists have called for the main blow internationally to be aimed at Soviet social-imperialism, the more dangerous of the two superpowers. This means giving special emphasis to consistent exposure of the USSR’s aggressive character and war schemes. While consistently opposing U.S. imperialism, it means concentrated efforts to tear the “socialist” mask off the Soviet revisionists and give proletarian internationalist support to the people’s struggles against Soviet hegemonism. In brief, it means uniting the many, opposing the few, and crushing our enemies one by one.


The RCP has labeled this stand “a disgraceful exercise in social-chauvinism and class collaboration.”[23] But in order to do so, it has had to set up a straw man to aim its arguments against. It claims the CP(M-L)’s line is not that the Soviet Union is the main cause of a new war, but “the cause of a future world war.”[24] (Emphasis added) It claims that the CP(M-L)’s line is not that there are two main enemies, with one being more dangerous, but that the Soviet Union “is the single main enemy of the world’s people.”[25] (Emphasis added)

Why does the RCP have to invent positions to argue against? Why the demagogy, so strikingly similar to the super-“left” phrasemongering promoted by the Trotskyites during the period of united front against war and fascism prior to World War II?

The problem is not that the CP(M-L)’s line is not clear. In the Program adopted at its Founding Congress, the following is put forward:

The U.S., along with the Soviet Union, stands today as one of the two imperialist superpowers who are the biggest international oppressors and exploiters. Together, they constitute the main enemy of the peoples, nations and countries of the world.[26]

The Program then states:

The Soviet Union is not only an imperialist superpower; it is also the center of modern revisionism, which is the main social prop of imperialism in the international working class movement. The Soviet Union, which carries out its aggression under the signboard of socialism, is the most dangerous of the two superpowers. Therefore, while we oppose both superpowers, as part of the worldwide movement against imperialism, we must direct our main blow internationally at Soviet social-imperialism.[27]

Next, the Program adds:

Within the U.S., the working class and its Party must build the broadest possible united front and unite all who can be united against its main enemy, the U.S. imperialist ruling class.[28]

In addition, the Program points out:

Within the workers’ movement [in the U.S.] we must direct the main blow against the revisionists and the trade union bureaucrats.[29]

Finally, on the question of war, the Program states that “the contention between the two superpowers is the source of a new world war.”[30] Looking at this more concretely in regard to the particular features of Soviet social-imperialism, it points out that the USSR “is the main source of a new world war.”[31]

Where is the “class collaboration” that points to only “a single main enemy”? It is only because the RCP is so eager to prettify the superpower with the “socialist” cover that they are forced to make up positions to argue against. In fact, it is a confession of weakness. It cannot take on a line which targets both superpowers correctly. Its arguments reveal, moreover, that it is the RCP that holds that the people of the world have only “a single” enemy–U.S. imperialism–while in fact conciliating to the other more dangerous and aggressive superpower. This merges with the line of the centrist Guardian newspaper and, in the final analysis, it ends up capitulating to the U.S. bourgeoisie as well.


The RCP has also launched an underhanded attack against the People’s Republic of China on this question. The Chinese Communist Party has made it clear in a number of major published documents that Soviet social-imperialism is the more dangerous of the two superpowers and the main source of war. RCP attributes China’s stand to the fact that the Soviet Union just happens to pose the “greatest threat” to China, due to “geographical proximity” and therefore it is “correct and necessary” for the Chinese government “to focus more of its attention on the greater menace–to China.”[32]

In this way, the RCP attempts to reduce the Marxist-Leninist analysis of the balance of forces in the world today to a question simply of China’s national interests. It portrays the interests of the Chinese people in opposition to the peoples of the world and charges that Chinese policy on international affairs is based mainly on national consideration. The RCP may sidestep, at this time, an out-and-out attack on China. But in spite of the phony “correct and necessary” phrase, its statement is no less of a slander than Brezhnev’s claim that Mao Tsetung Thought and China’s foreign policy are based on “nationalism.”

This goes hand in hand with RCP’s tacit support for the “gang of four” and their underhanded gossip claiming that China’s present leaders are “revisionists.” Their divergent views from those of socialist China are not new, but have existed for years, even while Mao Tsetung was alive. But the RCP always dismissed the significance of these differences by attributing China’s assessment of world forces to “socialist diplomacy.” With this trick, it would give sham support and real opposition to China’s Marxist-Leninist line.

At the recent 11th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party, Chairman Hua Kuo-feng summed up Mao Tsetung’s revolutionary line in foreign affairs and especially the theory of the three worlds in the following way:

Chairman Mao’s thesis differentiating the three worlds gives a correct orientation to the present international struggle and clearly defines the main revolutionary forces, the chief enemies, and the middle forces that can be won over and united, enabling the international proletariat to unite with all the forces that can be united to form the broadest united front in class struggles against the chief enemies in the world arena. This strategic formulation conforms to the strategic requirements of the contemporary struggles of the international proletariat and the oppressed people and nations of the world and also of the struggle for the triumph of socialism and communism. It is the correct strategic and tactical formulation for the world proletariat in the present era and its class line in its international struggle.[33] (Emphasis added)

The Chinese comrades in fact stress that they are prepared “to make the greatest national sacrifices” for the sake of the world revolution. So why does RCP turn all this upside down, substituting nationalism for internationalism? It can only be because it is trying to disguise its own chauvinism under the guise of super-“revolutionary” rhetoric.


This is not the only example of this type of deceitful maneuver on the part of the RCP. When presenting its stand on the three worlds concept, for instance, it uses the same ploy–giving sham support for the Marxist-Leninist line while injecting its own Trotskyite views and distortions.

The RCP’s first comprehensive statement on the three worlds theory only appeared in the July 1977 issue of Revolution in an article entitled, “On the Three Worlds and the International Situation.” The RCP states: “This three worlds analysis gives, in our view, a correct appraisal of the general role that , or groupings of countries, are playing today on the world scale.”[34] (Emphasis in original) The RCP then goes onto reveal that it is only giving lip service to the theory of the three worlds, while actually opposing its essence. It says:

Of course, the need to take into account these broad outlines of world forces, centering on the role of countries–essential as it is–is not a substitute for Marxist-Leninist forces in each country carrying out further class analysis and basing themselves on analyzing the role of class forces within each country.[35] (Emphasis in original)

And further:

To fail to do this would be in fact to present the struggle of countries as the main force in the-international struggle. It would be in essence to deny that countries are divided into classes and that bourgeois forces rule the non-socialist countries.[36] (Emphasis in original)

And finally:

The three worlds analysis, as an important part of this general line [against the superpowers–ed.], basically in the realm of the role of states, also contributes to this same goal [proletarian revolution–ed.][37] (Emphasis added)

What is going on here? Why does the RCP keep underscoring the word “countries”? Once again, it is up to one of its metaphysical tricks. In simpler language, it goes something like this:

Over in this arena there is a sign marked “countries.” Over in the other arena, there is one marked “nations and peoples.” Now don’t pay much attention to the signs. What is really under the “countries” sign are states. Under the other one are classes.

Now it won’t do to go quite so far as the Trotskyites. The states in the “countries” arena might have a minor role to play. They might bother the superpowers for a while before they hook up with one or the other. That’s all this “three worlds” concept is about. It shouldn’t be opposed now, even though the concept sows confusion. The real fighting, after all, is done by the classes in the other arena. Just don’t get the two arenas mixed up in any kind of united front.

What is wrong with all of this? Most obvious is the fact that these abstract categories, “arenas” and “realms” for countries, nations, peoples, states and classes, all fly in the face of historical materialism.


In the real world, countries are comprised of nations and peoples. Many countries, such as India, are in fact comprised of several nations and peoples. That is why it is more scientifically correct to refer to India as a country, rather than as a single nation.

Some oppressed peoples, on the other hand, including various tribes and minority nationalities, have not yet reached the level of social development to be accurately termed nations. Thus the formation “oppressed nations and peoples” is used to include them as well.

Finally, all countries, nations and peoples are comprised of various classes. In the case of most countries and nations, the ruling classes have organized states, although some, such as the Palestinians, have not yet established one.

All this is the ABC of Marxism on the national question. And on how these ABCs apply to the third world, the Chinese Communist Party summed up an important point back in 1963:

In these areas, extremely broad sections of the population refuse to be slaves of imperialism. They include not only the workers, peasants, intellectuals and petty bourgeoisie, but also the patriotic national bourgeoisie and even certain kings, princes and aristocrats, who are patriotic.[38]

All these forces, including those represented in the third world governments, are to be mobilized, through a policy of unity and struggle, in a broad united front. That is why Chairman Hua, in his Political Report to the 11th Congress of the CPC, says clearly that the three worlds theory calls for “the broadest united front in class struggles against the chief enemies on the world arena.”[39]

But the RCP sings a different tune. It refers to the three worlds theory as applicable only to “countries.” It says that the three worlds theory is not a “substitute” for the “revolutionary struggles of the workers and oppressed nations,” nor is it a “substitute” for the “united front against imperialism.”[40]

To the RCP, then, what is the significance of the concept of a world divided into three? What is the significance of the movement of the third world and the anti-hegemonist trend within the second world?

As regards the third world, which is composed of the countries and nations long oppressed by imperialism and feudalism, the RCP concedes that their movement contains a “trend” to resist superpower domination. But even this is qualified as “limited moves” against imperialism. And finally, the RCP sums up that this movement is no “substitute” for “revolutionary struggle” and “class analysis.”[41]

The RCP’s analysis of the third world struggle has nothing in common with the Marxist-Leninist understanding of the role of the third world and the national question in the era of imperialism. For instance, Stalin wrote: “.. .the road to victory of the revolution in the West lies through the revolutionary alliance with the liberation movement of the colonies and dependent countries against imperialism. The national question is a part of the general question of the proletarian revolution, a part of the question of the dictatorship of the proletariat.”[42]


Far from considering the movement of the oppressed nations and countries “limited,” Lenin described this movement, as far back as 1922, in the following way:

The basic reason for this tremendous acceleration of world development is that new hundreds of millions of people have been drawn into it. The old bourgeois and imperialist Europe, which was accustomed to look upon itself as the center of the universe, rotted and burst like a putrid ulcer in the first imperialist holocaust... The majority has now awakened and has begun a movement which even the ’mightiest’ powers cannot stem. They stand no chance. For the present ’victors’ in the first imperialist slaughter have not the strength to defeat small –tiny, I might say,–Ireland, nor can they emerge victorious from the confusion in currency and finance issues that reigns in their midst. Meanwhile, India and China are seething. They represent over 700 million people, and together with the neighboring Asian countries, that are in all ways similar to them, over half the world’s inhabitants. Inexorably and with mounting momentum they are approaching their 1905, with the essential and important difference that in 1905 the revolution in Russia could still proceed (at any rate at the beginning) in isolation, that is, without other countries being immediately drawn in. But the revolutions that are maturing in India and China are being drawn into–have already been drawn into–the revolutionary struggle, the revolutionary movement, the world revolution.[43]

Since Lenin’s time and especially since World War II, the movement in the oppressed nations and countries has surged forward even more. This movement takes place on many levels and in many different forms. It includes the armed struggle of the Indochinese and African liberation movements as well as the producers’ associations of the raw-material-producing countries. It has dealt blow after blow to imperialism, especially the two superpowers. Based on a concrete analysis of this movement and the role of the national question on a world scale in the present era, Chairman Mao developed his thesis to encompass the third world countries as the main ally of the international proletariat and as the main force opposing imperialism. Far from being a “limited” movement of “countries” that, in the RCP’s view, at most might be effective in passing resolutions at the United Nations, the movement of the third world is serving to shake imperialism to its very foundations.

The RCP’s warning against “presenting countries as the main force in the international struggle” because it supposedly ignores the fact that “bourgeois forces rule the non-socialist countries,” then, only amounts to so much Trotskyite rhetoric.[44] Its purpose is to cover up the relationship of identity and struggle between the national and class struggle in the third world. As Chairman Mao put it:

... for a given historical period the political and economic demands of the various classes must not be such as to disrupt cooperation; on the other hand, the demands of the national struggle (the need to resist Japan) should be the point of departure for all class struggle.[45]

It is the RCP, not the three worlds theory, that fails to make a concrete class analysis. The three worlds theory: 1) takes into account the uneven development of class forces and relations within and among countries and nations, 2) applies the role of the national question in the worldwide proletarian revolution, and 3) sums up the direct and indirect allies of the proletariat on a world scale.

The RCP can only talk abstractly about “classes and class struggle,” while utterly failing to make a concrete class analysis. It thus assumes the Trotskyite position of conciliators and defenders of imperialism and places itself in opposition to the revolutionary movement throughout the world.


But the RCP is not satisfied with isolating the proletariat from its direct allies in the third world. It must go on to negate the role of indirect allies in the struggle against the superpowers as well. In particular, the RCP continues to heap abuse on the policy of taking advantage of the contradictions between the superpowers and the lesser imperialist powers of the second world. The RCP continues to paint the second world countries, particularly those in Western Europe, as “basically in the camp of U.S. imperialism.”[46] It denies the breaking up of the old imperialist blocs and the trend that has developed in the second world countries to oppose superpower hegemonism.

The RCP completely negates the aspect of struggle for national independence that these countries are waging against the threat of superpower aggression and domination. It writes: “It would be dead wrong today in these countries to take the possibility of military occupation to mean that it is only through the fight for independence that the proletariat will be able to advance to socialism.”[47] (Emphasis in original) Here again, the RCP sets up a straw man in order to make its own views more palatable. It is not the Marxist-Leninist view that “only through the fight for independence” can the countries of the second world succeed in socialist revolution. The CP(M-L) Program states:

While the countries of the second world exploit and oppress their own working class and toiling masses, as well as the countries of the third world, they are also subjected to superpower exploitation, oppression, control and bullying. Therefore, we not only give wholehearted support and aid to the proletarians and oppressed masses within the second world in their struggle against their own bourgeoisie and for socialism; we also support the steps taken by these countries to unite among themselves and with the third world to resist superpower hegemonism.[48]

The RCP sets up its phony argument only to shield its own complete negation of the question of national independence in the second world. Its position amounts to welcoming the superpowers, especially Soviet social-imperialism, into Western Europe.


One must ask the RCP: Did communists stand by, during the course of the invasion of Spain or Albania or Yugoslavia or any of the other European countries prior to or during World War II and set empty rhetoric about “class struggle” in opposition to the question of national independence? Obviously not. In fact, the genuine communists at that time combined the struggle for socialism with the struggle to defeat the fascist invaders and expel them from their countries. They fought for the leadership of the working class in the national resistance and liberation wars. In the countries where these policies were correctly carried out, victories were won, including the establishment of several socialist states.

Even the RCP is forced to admit: “Should this occur [i.e., the military occupation of Europe by a superpower–ed.],clearly the main target of the revolutionary struggle would shift from what it is today–the monopoly capitalists of the country–to the new imperialist ruling class holding power in each country.”[49] Again, one must ask RCP: Who will lead the national resistance to superpower occupation under these conditions? And what about now? Shouldn’t the working class be prepared to lead this fight? Shouldn’t the fight for national independence be combined with the struggle to overthrow all bourgeois rule and establish socialism? Why is the RCP so conspicuously silent when these issues are posed correctly, rather than as the ridiculous straw men it sets up? It is not because these have not been burning questions before the world communist movement in the past. In a Resolution of the Seventh Congress of the Comintern, for instance, it states:

If any weak state is attacked by one or more big imperialist powers which want to destroy its national independence and national unity or dismember it, as in the historical instance of the partition of Poland, a war conducted by the national bourgeoisie of such a country to repel this attack may assume the character of a war of liberation, in which the working class and the communists of that country cannot abstain from intervening. It is the task of the communists of such a country, while carrying on an irreconcilable struggle to safeguard the economic and political positions of the workers, toiling peasants and national minorities, to be, at the same time, in the front ranks of the fighters for national independence and to wage the war of liberation to a finish, without allowing ’their’ bourgeoisie to strike a bargain with the attacking powers at the expense of the interests of their country.[50]


The RCP would do well to compare its line today with that of the Trotskyites in the late 1930s. They, too, claimed to “defend” the socialist Soviet Union in spite of its “nationalist” errors. They, too, declared all imperialist powers “equal enemies” and opposed the concept of the main blow. They, too, falsely set “class struggle” in opposition to the national liberation struggles in the colonies. They, too, ranted and railed at the parties of the Communist International as “social-chauvinists” and “class collaborators.”

But as long as the RCP continues to pursue its revisionist and Trotskyite political line, it will continue to isolate itself from the genuine Marxist-Leninists worldwide and oppose the actual anti-imperialist and revolutionary struggles of the world’s peoples.


[1] “Two Superpowers: Equally Enemies of the World’s People,” Revolution, August 1977, p. 5.

[2] Ibid., p. 5.

[3] Ibid., p. 5.

[4] Ibid., p.

[5] Ibid., p. 14.

[6] Mao Tsetung, “All Reactionaries Are Paper Tigers,” Selected Works (Peking: Foreign Languages Press), Vol.5, pp. 517-18.

[7] Mao Tsetung, “On Policy,” Selected Works, Vol. 2, p. 444.

[8] Revolution, p. 5.

[9] V.I. Lenin, Imperialism (Peking: Foreign Languages Press), p. 144.

[10] J.V. Stalin, On The Opposition (Peking: Foreign Languages Press), pp. 613-614.

[11] V.I. Lenin, Imperialism, p. 109.

[12] J.V. Stalin, On The Opposition, p. 614.

[13] Revolution, August, 1977, p.5.

[14] J.V. Stalin, Economic Problems of Socialism in the USSR (Peking: Foreign Languages Press, 1972) p. 39.

[15] Ibid., p. 32.

[16] Peking Review #, 1977, p. 25.

[17] 1974 Statistical Abstract (U.S. Department of Commerce), p. 315.

[18] U.S. News & World Report, August 22, 1977, p. 29.

[19] Peking Review, #8, 1977, p. 25.

[20] Ibid., p. 25.

[21] V.I. Lenin, Imperialism, p. 97.

[22] Revolution, August, 1977, p. 5.

[23] Ibid., p. 14.

[24] Ibid., p. 5.

[25] Ibid., p. 5.

[26] Documents from Founding Congress of the Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist) (Chicago: CP (M-L)), pp. 98-99.

[27] Ibid., p. 104.

[28] Ibid., p. 88.

[29] Ibid., p. 115.

[30] Ibid., p. 99.

[31] Ibid., p. 103.

[32] Revolution, August, 1977. p. 5.

[33] Peking Review, #35, 1977, p. 41.

[34] “On the Three Worlds and the International Situation,” Revolution, July, 1977, p. 5.

[35] Ibid., p. 5.

[36] Ibid., p. 5.

[37] Ibid., p. 5.

[38] “A Proposal Concerning the General Line of the International Communist Movement” (Peking: Foreign Language Press), p. 15.

[39] Peking Review, #35, 1977, p. 41.

[40] Revolution, July, 1977, p. 5.

[41] Ibid., p. 5.

[42] J.V. Stalin, Foundations of Leninism, (Peking: Foreign Language Press), p. 73.

[43] Lenin, “On the 10th Anniversary of Pravda,” Collected Works, ’ Vol. 33, pp. 349-352.

[44] Revolution, July, 1977, p.5.

[45] Mao Tsetung, “The Question of Independence and Initiative Within the United Front,” Selected Works, Vol. 2, p. 215.

[46] Revolution, July, 1977, p. 19.

[47] Ibid., p. 19.

[48] CP(M-L) Congress Documents, pp. 101-102.

[49] Revolution, July, 1977, p. 19.

[50] “Resolutions: Seventh World Congress of the Communist International,” (New York City: Workers Library Publishers), p. 46.