First Published: Revolution, Vol. 1, No. 2, November 15, 1975.
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.
The international situation today is marked by rapid change and great turmoil. The Soviet Union engineers a “security conference” in Europe but imperialist rivalry, and in particular superpower contention, continues to sharpen in Europe as well as other parts of the world. Kissinger maneuvers an “agreement” between Egypt and Israel in the Middle East, which pushes things toward war, not peace, in that area.
Kissinger goes to China and the Chinese make clear that they will not be a pawn in the farce of “detente” acted out by the two superpowers to cover their growing contention for world domination and their intensifying-war preparations; the Chinese warn Kissinger that the detente game will not work and point out that overall the Soviets are gaining most from it. James Schlesinger is axed as U.S. Defense Secretary, after clashing with Kissinger over “detente” and pushing for a “hard line,” “get tough,” policy against the Soviets.
These, and other events, reflect the increasingly complex world situation. It is crucial for the working class to grasp the essence of this situation, to create clarity out of the confusion and to turn the turmoil to its greatest advantage in order to advance its struggle worldwide toward the goal of revolution and socialism. This is especially crucial for the working class and its Party in this country, which is one of the two imperialist superpowers.
As the Party’s Programme states, “The central task of the Revolutionary Communist Party today, as the Party of the U.S. working class, is to build the struggle, class consciousness and revolutionary unity of the working class and develop its leadership of a broad united front against the U.S. imperialists, in the context of the world-wide united front against imperialism aimed at the rulers of the two superpowers. As this is developed, together with the development of a revolutionary situation, the question of mobilizing the masses for the armed insurrection will then come to the fore as the immediate question.”
We have put the part above in italics here to emphasize the fact that the struggle of the working class and the uniting of all who can be united under the leadership of the working class can only be built and advanced toward the goal of proletarian revolution in this country by developing this, in an overall way, in unity with the worldwide struggle against the two main enemies of the workers and oppressed peoples of the world, the two imperialist superpowers.
This, of course, does not mean that the situation in every country is exactly the same or that the struggle of the working class and the tasks of its Party are identical everywhere. In fact, revolution can only be made country by country, and in order to lead the working class in making revolution, the Party of the working class in each country must constantly analyze the specific conditions there and apply the basic principles of Marxism-Leninism to develop the struggle in those concrete conditions.
But, at the same time, especially in this era of imperialism, the struggles in all countries are closely inter-related. The Party of the working class in every country in developing and implementing the strategy for revolution in that country must base itself on a correct understanding of the development of the international situation and the worldwide struggle against imperialism.
The sharpening rivalry among the imperialists, and the ever fiercer contention between the two superpowers in particular, dramatically drives home this point. The growing danger of world war, arising from this imperialist contention, especially of the two superpowers, makes it all the more decisive for the working class and its Party to base itself on a correct understanding of the forces involved in the international struggle. Such an understanding must, and can only be, rooted in the Marxist method, taking class analysis as the key and fundamental tool, and with this tool digging beneath the appearance to the essence of things.
Certainly one of the main developments in the present period and one of the major factors in the international arena today, is the restoration of capitalism in the Soviet Union, beginning with the rise to power of the revisionists there, headed first by Khrushchev, the transformation of the Soviet Union, the worId’s first socialist state, into a social-imperialist country (socialist in words, imperialist in deeds and in fact) and the emergence of the Soviet Union on the world scene as a superpower, contending with the other superpower, U.S. imperialism, for world domination.
This unquestionably has been a setback for the working class, but it is just as unquestionably a fact. It must be faced up to and reckoned with, in order for the working class, internationally, to both understand the causes of this reversal and apply these lessons to its struggle, and to strip the mask from the Soviet rulers and deal with the Soviet state today as the great enemy of the workers and oppressed peoples of the world that it is.
(A concrete and detailed analysis of how Khrushchev and, after him, Brezhnev & Co. carried out this capitalist restoration has been made in a book, “How Capitalism Has Been Restored in the Soviet Union and What This Means for the World Struggle,” first published by the Revolutionary Union in 1974 and adopted by the Revolutionary Communist Party in 1975.)
In the past, when it was a socialist country, the Soviet Union was a bright beacon and source of great support for the workers and oppressed people throughout the world in their struggle to liberate themselves from the chains of imperialism and all exploitation and oppression; it was then the internationalist duty of the workers of all countries to defend the Soviet Union from imperialist encirclement, subversion and aggression. Today, as an imperialist superpower, the Soviet Union is one of the two greatest exploiters and oppressors of the workers and oppressed peoples of the world; and it is the internationalist duty of the workers of all countries to build and strengthen the fight against Soviet social-imperialism as a key part of the overall battle against imperialism, and to aid the Soviet working people in struggling against and eventually overthrowing their new capitalist rulers.
This Soviet ruling class does not openly advertise its capitalist nature, but wraps itself in the history of the Soviet Union as the world’s first socialist state and operates under the signboard of socialism in order to carry out its imperialist interests. While U.S. imperialism and its tattered veil of “democracy” is more and more exposed throughout the world and is a main target of revolutionary struggle everywhere, Soviet social-imperialism, with its cover of “socialism,” is still able in many cases to portray its imperialist contention with the U.S. ruling class as “socialist” opposition to imperialism. It tries everywhere to turn to its advantage the revolutionary struggle and the striving of millions throughout the world for socialism.
Because, on the other hand, it is in fact imperialist, and not socialist, the Soviet ruling class exploits, oppresses and carries out aggression, within the Soviet Union and throughout the world, and this gives rise to widespread struggle against these new Tsars. But because their “socialist” cover is not yet thoroughly torn off, capitalist rivals to the Soviet rulers and enemies of genuine socialism are still able to spread confusion, often, in the short run, to misdirect struggle against Soviet social-imperialism–and the hatred of millions who have felt, or seen in action, the whips and tanks of the Soviet ruling class– into opposition to socialism, and to re-enforce the bourgeois lie that there is no real alternative to capitalist rule and its evils. All this emphasizes the tremendous importance of exposing the true character of Soviet social-imperialism, and building the struggle against it as part of the worldwide struggle against imperialism and for socialism as the final goal.
Without grasping, and exposing, the real nature of Soviet social-imperialism it is impossible to correctly analyze the world situation and more than that to develop the struggle of the working class and prepare its ranks for the battles that loom ahead, in the final analysis, it would be impossible to continue to advance the worldwide revolutionary struggle for socialism and ultimately communism.
As was pointed out in the book on the restoration of capitalism in the Soviet Union (referred to earlier), “An example of how a wrong view of the Soviet Union leads to a wrong appraisal of world events was shown in 1971, when during the Indian invasion of East Pakistan, some progressive people were hoodwinked into believing that the ’Bangla Desh Affair’ was actually a national liberation movement?”
In fact, the events in East Pakistan (Bangladesh) at that time were directed by the Soviet Union, which armed the reactionary Indian government and supported it in carving up Pakistan, and bringing part of it (East Pakistan or Bangladesh) under indirect, but real, Soviet domination. (Since that time there have been changes in the situation in Bangladesh, but none of that changes the nature of the Soviet Union or its actions at that time.)
Similarly, as the book on capitalist restoration in the Soviet Union stresses, “it is utterly impossible to understand the complex picture of the Middle East without understanding the role of the Soviet Union as an imperialist superpower.” And the same holds true for events in Europe, Africa and everywhere else in the world today.
During the same period that the Soviet Union has emerged on the world scene as an imperialist superpower, U.S. imperialism, which for a time after WW 2 sat alone atop the imperialist dungheap, has been battered on ail sides by resistance and revolutionary struggle and especially through the course of the long war in Indochina has suffered tremendous defeats and been greatly weakened.
This weakening of U.S. imperialism has also been a major factor in the world situation in the recent period, and has been seized on by the Soviet social-imperialists in their drive to replace U.S. imperialism as number one imperialist world power.
During the Indochina war, with the military forces of U.S. imperialism tied down there and being battered by the heroic struggle of the Indochinese peoples, the Soviet Union took advantage of the situation to push out in other parts of the world–the Middle East, the South Asian subcontinent (India-Pakistan area), and other areas. The Soviets even carried out significant penetration, economically and politically, into Western Europe, since WW 2 a stronghold of U.S. imperialism.
Wherever the U.S. imperialists have had to pull back or pull out their forces, the Soviet social-imperialists have tried to move in. With the withdrawal of U.S. armed forces from Indochina, and their weakening in that part of Asia generally–the inevitable result of U.S. imperialism’s defeat–the Soviets have tried to establish their domination. To achieve this they have cooked up a so-called “Asian Collective Security” system, with the aim of drawing the countries in that area into their orbit and under their domination. And, although this has met with opposition, the Soviets certainly have not abandoned this attempt, or other means to replace U.S. imperialism as lord and master there.
But even more crucial for Soviet imperialist aims, and for the contention between the two superpowers, is Europe. As the Programme of the RCP points out, “Europe is the focal point of their contention, because it is in Europe that vast economic, political and military power is based, which the superpowers must seek to control.” And at the present time it is Western Europe in particular–where the Soviets have been making gains, but U.S. imperialism still holds the upper hand–that is the most vital spot in this superpower contention.
In Western Europe, as in other parts of the world, the Soviets try to use the revisionist “communist parties” as their arm and agent within those countries. Portugal is a clear example of this tactic. And it is clear that the Soviets have summed up from the events in Chile, where the revisionist CP tried to play a similar role, that it is necessary to have “armed revisionism” in order to carry out Soviet aims of “capturing the fortress from within.” This is indicated by the efforts of the Portuguese CP to build a base of control in the bourgeois army.
This role of revisionist parties obedient to the Soviet social-imperialists is a special weapon in their arsenal, and is also part and parcel of their general attempt to use their “socialist” cover to infiltrate, subvert and misdirect the struggle of the working class and movements against colonialism and imperialism to further their own imperialist aims and interests. The revolutionary upsurge of the masses of Portuguese people in the last two years has been seized on by the social-imperialists as a testing ground for this tactic of using revisionist parties as “Trojan horses,” as well as an attempt to gain an important foothold for contention with U.S. imperialism in Western Europe.
At the same time, the Soviets work “from the top” to penetrate Western Europe and gain further footholds there. That is, using their oil and other economic leverage–including the growing openings for investment in the Soviet Union itself–the Soviet ruling class is stepping up its efforts to pry Western European capitalists away from the U.S. and draw these countries into the Soviet sphere.
Overall, not only in Europe, but throughout the world, the Soviet social-imperialists are on the offensive. They are driven by the same laws as the U.S. imperialists but have a weaker position economically and a smaller sphere of influence, because the present division of these spheres of influence among the imperialists–and specifically among the two superpowers–still to a large degree reflects an earlier time in the post-WW 2 period when U.S. imperialism was in a much more powerful position. The Soviet social-imperialists need to change this division and are desperately pushing out everywhere, trying to take advantage of the decline of U.S. imperialism to grab up new areas.
For their part, the U.S. imperialists just as desperately need to “defend” their sphere of influence, maintain the present division–and in the final analysis enlarge their share of the spoils from international robbery–and beat back Soviet attempts to cut into it. All this is why the contention between the two superpowers is intensifying, despite their fanfare of “detente.” And it is this sharpening contention that is pushing things toward a third world war, since, ultimately it is only through war that the struggle for domination can be resolved–and then only temporarily–among these imperialist gangsters.
War is the continuation of politics by other means, and politics, in turn, is the extension and expression of economics, that is, of class relations. Imperialist war is the extension of imperialist economics and politics, of exploitation and the struggle for domination, for carving up the world into spheres of influence-sources of investment, raw materials, markets, workers who can be forced to work for lower wages, and– the aim of it all–the accumulation of more and more profit, wrung out of the working people.
In the present situation the fact that the Soviet Union is overall on the offensive makes it more likely that a war in Europe, or on its flanks–especially the Middle East, or the Mediterranean area–will break out with Soviet military action. This may well come not as a simple invasion, but in the form of “support” for “socialist revolution”–revisionist parties loyal to the Soviet social-imperialists leading or taking part in coup attempts. On the other hand, however, the U.S. imperialists cannot afford continual economic and political setbacks, especially at the hands of the new Tsars, and may be forced to take the first step in extending political contention to war.
In the recent period, especially since the end or the war in Indochina, the U.S. imperialists have made some headway in their contention with the Soviets. An obvious example is Kissinger’s diplomatic coup–the recent Egypt-Israeli agreement–which strengthens the hand of U.S. imperialism in the Middle East and lays a stronger basis for direct U.S. military action-through the placing of several hundred American “technical experts” as “watchdogs.”
Another clear example of recent gains by U.S. imperialism is Portugal. Through its allies in West Europe and the Socialist Party in Portugal itself, U.S. imperialism has been able to deliver significant setbacks to the Soviet arm in Portugal–the revisionist CP–and, for the time being at least, in the midst of a very unstable situation, not only prevent a coup by the revisionists and their allies but reverse the momentum they had built up and put them on the defensive.
Kissinger, and the forces within the ruling class who back him, apparently feel that they can best advance the interests of U:S. imperialism, and carry out contention with the Soviet Union most effectively, through such maneuvering, behind the smokescreen of “detente.” Other sections of the ruling class, represented by politicians like Henry Jackson and the now deposed former Secretary of Defense, James Schlesinger, take a “tough stand” toward the Soviets, calling for an openly aggressive posture and more blatant war preparations.
But the entire ruling class aims at carrying out contention with the Soviets for world domination, and the U.S. imperialists, as well as the Soviet social-imperialists, and imperialists generally, are bound by the laws of capitalism, which are pushing things toward war, regardless of diplomatic chess games, fanfare of “detente,” or talk of “preventing war by being strong militarily.”
Recent gains by U.S. imperialism do not change the fact that, overall, the Soviet social-imperialists are on the offensive in Europe and other parts of the world, while the U.S. imperialists are on the defensive. Nor does it wipe out certain real advantages the new Tsars have over the U.S. imperialists, especially in Europe–in particular the presence of large revisionist parties loyal to them in a number of European countries–and the presence of a large standing army of the Warsaw Pact in central Europe–considerably larger than the NATO troops under U.S. command in Europe–not including Soviet troops within the Soviet Union itself.
The superpower contention and the international situation as a whole means, as the Programme of the RCP states, that the “working class of all countries faces the task of building the broadest united front on a world scale aimed at the ruling classes of these two superpowers, while at the same time uniting all who can be united within each country to continue the battle for socialist revolution.” And the growing danger of world war, arising from the intensifying contention between the superpowers, further emphasizes the importance of this task.
Each superpower pushes the line that there is no choice for people and countries in the world except to side with the one superpower against the other. And with regard to bourgeois forces and governments, while they may to a certain extent resist superpower domination, in the final analysis, out of greed or fear, they will tend to line up with one superpower or the other.
But the stand of the working class is exactly the opposite. While the working class supports and encourages all genuine resistance to superpower domination, it fundamentally relies on its own struggle and the masses of people in the fight against imperialism. In this way the working class can break through the efforts of both superpowers to establish and extend their domination and can advance its struggle to establish its own rule.
In this context, the role of the socialist countries, and in particular the People’s Republic of China, is especially important. As a country where the working class has emancipated itself from imperialist rule, established its own rule, and made great strides in continuing socialist revolution and carrying out socialist construction, China is in a position to play an important role in world affairs.
As a socialist country it does this not in the manner of the imperialists, not through aggression and seeking domination, but through supporting the revolutionary struggles throughout the world and helping to unite all those forces that can be united on a world scale against the main enemies of the people of the world, the two imperialist superpowers. This is clearly shown in its firm support for the Indochinese peoples’ war of liberation against U.S. imperialism, for the reunification of Korea and the expulsion of U.S. troops there, for the struggle of the Palestinian and Arab peoples, and for all genuine struggles for independence, liberation and revolution.
As a country where the working class is in power, China is able to use its diplomacy and state to state relations to make use of contradictions among the imperialist and reactionary forces, and to build unity between peoples and countries in resisting superpower domination.
In the present situation, China, recognizing the fact that the Soviet Union is overall on the offensive, is giving special emphasis to making use of contradictions–even those between the U.S. and Soviet imperialists–to place obstacles in the path of Soviet expansion. This China does in order to delay the outbreak of war and to make the conditions more favorable for the masses of people and their revolutionary leadership to develop their struggles, strengthen their forces and get prepared to continue the struggle under the conditions of world war, should it break out from superpower contention.
The Chinese also do this in order to make it more difficult to launch an attack on China. And as a part of strengthening the forces of the working class and its allies worldwide, China is paying serious attention to preparing itself for defense against attack. Under the present conditions the greatest danger of such attack comes from the Soviet social-imperialists. Since the restoration of capitalism, with the rise to power of Khrushchev in the mid-50s, the Soviet revisionists have made provocations and at times direct aggression on Chinese territory. They have tried to use revisionist forces within China itself as an agent of their designs on China and have supported reactionary forces, such as the state of India, in attacking China.
With the growing contention between the two superpowers, their scramble for domination all over the world, the danger of attack on China–which stands as a great obstacle to imperialist aggression–mounts, especially the danger of attack from the Soviet Union. Defense of China from such an attack–from the Soviet social-imperialists or any other reactionary force–is an important question not just for the Chinese people, but for the whole international working class. For, as the Programme of the RCP emphasizes, “the socialist countries belong to the international working class” and “...it is the duty of the international working class to defend them.”
What form this defense would take, and how it would relate to the struggle in different countries, could only be decided, of course, on the basis of analyzing the actual situation at that time, the balance of forces–fundamentally class forces–and a concrete determination of what would advance the overall revolutionary struggle under the concrete conditions. But in one form or another the working class in every country must support and defend as its own the countries where our class has won political power and is building socialism, and must link this with the fundamental task of advancing the struggle toward the goal of revolution and socialism in ail countries.
In the countries where the proletariat has not yet won political power the working class has different tasks than in the socialist countries and makes different contributions to the international struggle. Not having state power it cannot use state to state relations and other similar means to make use of contradictions among the imperialist and reactionary forces and unite the greatest number of forces against the two superpowers.
Nor, lacking state power, is it yet able to give the same kind of support to revolutionary struggles that a proletariat in power is able to give. The working class in countries where it has not yet seized power can and must support the revolutionary movement in every country and support the struggle against the two superpowers as the main enemies on a world scale. But it must combine this with carrying out what, overall, is its main task–the building of the revolutionary movement in its own country and the carrying forward of this fight, through whatever necessary stages, to the final goal of socialism under the rule of the working class.
By the same token, a working class which does not have state power, while it does not have the same ability as the socialist countries to use state to state relations, etc. to further the worldwide struggle, also does not have the necessity to make compromises with various imperialist and reactionary forces and governments, in the same way as the socialist states do in order to make use of contradictions, etc. As Mao Tsetung set down in 1946, at a time when the Soviet Union-then a socialist country–was making certain agreements with imperialist countries–’’Such compromise does not require the people in the countries of the capitalist world to follow suit and make compromises at home. The people in those countries will continue to wage different struggles in. accordance with their different conditions.” This principle still applies today.
In the capitalist countries the question for the working class is waging struggle against its own bourgeoisie and preparing to overthrow bourgeois rule and establish the rule of the working class. If this task is not undertaken by Marxist-Leninist forces, it does not mean that the class struggle will stop, but only that the class struggle and the striving of masses of workers for socialism will be abandoned in many cases to the misleadership of the revisionists, with their phony “socialist” banner, and be perverted into support for Soviet social-imperialism.
At the same time, the working class in these countries must, in order to advance its own movement and contribute to the international struggle, fight against superpower domination, support the worldwide struggle against these superpowers, and prepare to carry forward the fight in the conditions of world war, should it arise from superpower contention.
Here, in the U.S., which is one of the two imperialist superpowers, it is especially important for the working class to give every possible support and make every possible contribution to building the worldwide united front against imperialism aimed at the ruling classes of these two superpowers. And it is the special duty of the U.S. working class and its Party to expose and oppose the aggression, domination and war preparations of U.S. imperialism, our own ruling class.
The U.S. working class supports neither the Kissingers nor the Schlesingers nor any efforts of the U.S. imperialists to defend or extend their domination and exploitation. As the Programme of our Party states, “The main contribution of the U.S. proletariat to the worldwide revolution is to overthrow imperialism in the U.S.,” and “in finally overthrowing U.S. imperialism, the U.S. working class will strike a great blow for the liberation of people throughout the world.”
The Party’s Programme further states, in analyzing superpower contention and the danger of war arising from this, “Either the working class in the U.S. and the Soviet Union will prevent such a war by overthrowing these greatest oppressors, in conjunction with the worldwide struggle against them, or they will launch a world war before they can be overthrown. But even if they launch such a war with all the suffering it will bring to the people throughout the world, this will only hasten their own downfall and the end of imperialism...In launching a third world war, the imperialists, especially the rulers of the U.S. and the USSR, would further expose their barbarous nature, deepen the determination of the people of the world to bury them once and for all, and give rise to a revolutionary storm shaking the world as never before.”
But this will happen only through the work of the Party of the proletariat, building the struggle of the working class and leading it toward the goal of socialist revolution. In this country (as well as others), a revolutionary situation may not develop before the outbreak of world war, or right after the start of this war. But, in any case, the Party of the working class must continue to build the struggle of the working class toward the goal of revolution, in unity with the struggle of the workers and others fighting against imperialism throughout the world.
The more broadly the Party mobilizes the working class and the masses of people in struggle against imperialism, including its acts of aggression and war, and through the course of many battles raises their consciousness–exposing the imperialist system as the source of the evils and sufferings in society, including war, and bringing to the fore the outlook and interests of the working class in overthrowing imperialism–the more the struggle of the working class will be able to weaken the imperialists and advance toward the point where it can overthrow them and bring an end to the misery and destruction of capitalism, even if the superpowers do launch a third world war.