First Published: Bolshevik, No. 1, May 1976.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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Almost a year ago, a “new formulation” on the international situation appeared in the communist movement. This “new formulation” was developed and spread by WVO and stated that “the international situation was characterized by two contending trends”, war and revolution. The theoretical justifications for this “new formula” were that the “Chinese Communist Party no longer puts forth revolution as the main trend,” and that “the Communist Party of China puts forth the line that both the factors for war? and revolution are rising.” Their view of the effect of this changed situation on our strategy and tactics was not clearly laid out, although in practice, it soon became clear.
Comrades from the Puerto Rican Revolutionary Workers Organization and the August Twenty-Ninth Movement struggled with this incorrect line, putting forth that revolution is the main trend, and that to put forth “two contending trends” represented a pessimistic view and defensive position.
Our organization adopted this incorrect line of “two contending trends”. This particular error was part of the general error that we have made in regard to WVO. We conciliated with opportunism by failing to divide one into two and staunchly struggle against those aspects of a line we saw as incorrect. A secondary aspect of the incorrect line raised by WVO was correct, that both the factors for war and revolution are rising. We were not clear on the meaning of “two contending trends”, that is, on its tactical implications, but instead of struggling for the position that we did hold to in our Principles of Unity, of revolution as the main trend, we displayed a philistine attitude toward struggle and conciliated with the line of “two contending trends”. In the heightening two-line struggle with the Menshevik line on Party Building, we have come to a clearer understanding of the theoretical incorrectness of this line, and the disastrous effects it has on the correct tactics of proletarian revolution at this time. We have also developed a clearer understanding of how this line is part and parcel of their new contributions to revisionism.
We now repudiate the line of “two contending trends”. Our error was rooted in our bowing to spontaneity, our seeking external solutions, like the fully developed line of WV, for our internal against opportunism, and developing our tactics for building unity within the revolutionary wing as a process, spontaneously, and not in a planned way. Our social basis and rationalist tendencies made us particularly susceptible for these “new formulations” – these “breakthroughs” – these more fully developed ideas. These deviations led to our belittling dialectics, to our not dividing one into two.
As apart of our rectification, we see the necessity to heighten our struggle to grasp more tightly the key link of political line and contribute to the struggle against this incorrect line peddled by the opportunist WVO, which we helped to spread, but now hope to work in concert with other genuine forces to lay this erroneous line to rest.
As part of this rectification, we are publishing the following thesis. Although this thesis contains a large number of quotes, we trust that comrades will struggle to study this, since we think that it lays the clear theoretical basis for the correct Marxist-Leninist line of “Revolution is the Main Trend!”
I. The line put forward by WVO of “two contending trends” and “war and revolution” is incorrect. During the entire period of imperialism the main trend in the world is revolution. Revolution is inevitable. It is described by the Chinese as an “irreversible historical trend”. This paper will lay out several quotes from the classics and contemporary documents that reflect the correct understanding of war and revolution in the period of imperialism. It will also discuss why the Chinese line has taken the particular forms that it has in the struggle against the revisionist line of the “CP”SU, and what the consequences of the opportunist line “two contending trends” are in the movement today.
II. “Imperialism carries the contradictions of capitalism to their last bounds, to the extreme limit, beyond which revolution begins.
The first contradiction is the contradiction between labour and capital. Imperialism is the omnipotence of the monopolist trusts and syndicates, of the banks and the financial oligarchy, in the industrial countries. In the fight against this omnipotence, the customary methods of the working class – trade unions and co-operatives, parliamentary parties and the parliamentary struggle - have proved to be totally inadequate. Either place yourself at the mercy of capital, eke out a wretched existence as of old and sink lower and lower, or adopt a new weapon – this is the alternative imperialism puts before the vast masses of the proletariat. Imperialism brings the working class to revolution.
The second contradiction is the contradiction among the various financial groups and imperialist powers in their struggle for sources of raw materials, for foreign territory. Imperialism is the export of capital to the sources of raw materials, the frenzied struggle for monopolist possession of these sources, the struggle for a re-division of the already divided world, a struggle waged with particular fury by new financial groups and powers, seeking a place in the sun against the old groups and powers, which cling tenaciously to what they have seized. This frenzied struggle among the various groups of capitalists is notable in that it includes as an inevitable element imperialist wars, wars for the annexation of foreign territories. This circumstance, in its turn, is notable in that it leads to the mutual weakening of the imperialists, to the weakening of the position of capitalism in general, to the acceleration of the advent of the proletarian revolution and to the practical necessity of this revolution.
The third contradiction is the contradiction between the handful of ruling, “civilized” nations and the hundreds of millions of the colonial and dependent peoples of the world. Imperialism is the most barefaced exploitation and the most inhuman oppression of hundreds of millions of people inhabiting vast colonies and dependent countries. The purpose of this exploitation and of this oppression is to squeeze out super-profits. But in exploiting these countries imperialism is compelled to build there railways, factories and mills, industrial and commercial centers. The appearance of a class of proletarians, the emergence of a native inteligentsia, the awakening of national consciousness, the growth of the liberation movement – such are the inevitable results of this “policy”. The growth of the revolutionary movement in all colonies and dependent countries without exception clearly testifies to this fact. This circumstance is of importance for the proletariat in as much as it saps radically the position of capitalism by converting the colonies and dependent countries from reserves of imperialism into reserves of the proletarian revolution.
Imperialism was instrumental not only in making the revolution a practical inevitability, but also in creating favorable conditions for a direct assault on the citadels of capitalism. Stalin, Foundations of Leninism, p. 4-6, (our emphasis)
III. Stalin then goes on to outline the results of imperialism:
1. intensification of the revolutionary crisis within the capitalist countries and the growth of the elements of an explosion on the internal, proletarian front in the capitalist countries;
2. intensification of the revolutionary crisis in the colonial and dependent countries and the growth of elements of revolt against imperialism on the external, colonial front–now the Third World;
3. intensification of the struggle on the inter-capitalist front which weakens imperialism and facilitates the union of the colonial and proletarian front against imperialism;
4. and, concludes that under imperialism wars cannot be averted and that a coalition between the proletarian revolution in the capitalist countries and the colonial revolution in the III world in a united world united front of revolution against the world front of imperialism is inevitable.
On the basis of this “Imperialism is the eve of socialist revolution. It should be noted that each and every contradiction that intensifies under imperialism hastens the coming of revolution, even the possibility of world war. We should now look at how the contemporary international communist movement has handled this question.
IV. “The revolutionary farces of the people of the world have surpassed the reactionary forces of - imperialism.. The advance of the revolutionary movement of the people of the world is the main current in the present situation. The people’s revolutionary struggles in all countries will certainly triumph, while imperialism, reaction and modern revisionism will step by step descend to their doom. This is the inevitable trend of world history which no decadent reactionary force can change.
Along with the growth and deepening of the revolutionary movement, there is an adverse counter-revolutionary current. The course of international development is unavoidable filled with contradictions and conflicts; there are bound to be zig-zags and reversals. In all countries the people’s revolutionary struggles necessarily advance in the form of waves. (Refutation of the New Leaders of the Soviet Union on “United Action”, Peking, 1965, emphasis)
At present, the danger of a new world war still exists, but revolution is the main trend in the world today. Although there are twists and turns and reverses in the people’s struggles, adverse currents against the people and against progress, in the final analysis, cannot hold back the main current of the continuous development of human society. The world will surely move toward progress and light, and definitely towards reaction and darkness. (Chiao Kuan-hua Speech, 26 Session UN, 1971)
The events that have taken place since the 29th session of the general assembly of the United Nations organization prove that time is working in favor of the cause of the peoples and revolution that the revolutionary and national liberation struggles have risen to a new and higher stage. (Nesti Nase Speech, 30th Session, UN, Albania Today, 1975 – our emphasis)
The congress pointed out that the present international situation, which is characterized by great disorder under heaven, continues to develop in a direction favorable to the people. All the basic contradictions of the world are sharpening. The contention for world hegemony between the two superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union is becoming more and more intense. The factors for both revolution and war are increasing. (Press Communique of the First Session of the fourth National People’s Congress of the People’s Republic of China, 1975 – our emphasis)
V. “The present international situation is still characterized by great disorder under heaven, a disorder which is growing greater and greater. The capitalist world is facing the most serious economic crisis since the war, and all the basic contradictions in the world are sharpening. On the one hand, the trend of revolution by the people of the world is actively developing; countries want independence, nations want liberation, and people want revolution – this has become an irresistible historical current. On the other hard, the contention for world hegemony between the two superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union is becoming more and more intense. Their contention has extended to every corner of the world, the focus of their contention being Europe. The two superpowers are the biggest international exploiters today and the main source of a new world war. Their fierce contention is bound to lead to world war some day....Detente and peace are being talked about everywhere in the world; it is precisely this that shows there is no detente, let alone lasting peace in the world. At present the factors for both revolution and war are increasing. Whether war gives rise to revolution or revolution prevents war, in either case the international situation will develop in a direction favorable to the people and the future of the world will be bright. (Chou En-lai, Report on the Work of the Government, 1975)
the current economic crisis in the western capitalist world is sharpening and developing the basic contradictions in the world, and this will have an important bearing on the development of the international situation in the days to come. Under the impact of the economic crisis, the Western countries are in a political and social upheaval. Hard hit by rising unemployment and ruthless exploitation by the monopoly capitalists, the people of these countries rose wave upon wave for a better life and against exploitation. The struggles of the third world countries against imperialist countries, particularly the superpowers is gaining momentum. The revolutionary situation is excellent. (Peking Review, number 6, 1976)
Revolution is the inevitable response of the world’s people to exploitation and oppression. It is an irreversible trend in history. The intensification of contradictions between the imperialists comes from the moribund nature of imperialism itself, which having expanded world-wide, crushed down billions of the world’s people–but not destroyed their will to resist–can only engage in death-bed struggles for continued existence until final victory of the world’s people through proletarian revolution destroys it completely. These contradictions between the imperialists do inevitably lead to imperialist wars, but the war cannot stop revolution. Instead war accelerates the coming of the revolutionary situation. Whether revolution prevents war or war brings on revolution, as did World War I and World War II, revolution in any case will occur.
In looking at main trends we must look to see if “the tide of the people’s revolution is the main trend, or whether the counter-revolutionary adverse current is dominant.” (Study Philosophy, page 36) To say that revolution is no longer the main trend m the world is to elevate the counter-revolutionary adverse current to the same or higher level than revolution. It is to equate world war with counter-revolution as though the development of motion toward war retards the motion toward revolution as opposed to intensifying and accelerating that motion.
The sharpening of all the basic contradictions brings about the revolutionary situation – that is, it brings about a crisis where the masses are no longer able to live in the old way and the State is no longer capable of ruling, a crisis where the masses are drawn into politics. This speeds the coming of revolution as the factors far war increase.
VI. The Chinese current stress on the fact that the factors for both revolution and war are growing must be seen concretely in the struggle against the sham illusion of “detente” pushed by the “CP”SU and parts of the U.S. bourgeoisie. “What characterizes the current world situation is decidedly not an irreversible process of detente but the approaching danger of a new world war.” (Chiao Kuan-hua, 30th Session UN Speech)
Brezhnev has alleged that ’detente has become the main trend,’ but the fact is just the opposite: the danger of a new world war is on the increase and Soviet Social Imperialism has become the most dangerous source of war. (Peking Review #12, 1976, page 12)
Earlier, when the Chinese put forth the line clearly that revolution is the main trend in the world, they did so in the context of struggle against the bankrupt revisionist line that did not distinguish just from unjust wars and whined about the danger that any small spark might set off a nuclear holocaust. The continuous and consistent position throughout both periods is that there is a danger of world war, but that the motion of history is forward toward revolution. And despite some zigzags and momentary setbacks such as the degeneration of the socialist camp and the restoration of capitalism in the Soviet Union, the future is bright–the revolutionary situation is excellent.
The Chinese have not put forth the line that revolution is no longer the main trend. They have struggled against the notion that detente is the main trend, and in doing so raise the growing danger of war. We must be careful not to confuse “detente” with revolution and thinking that to say detente is not the main trend is equivalent to saying that revolution is not the main trend. This is evidently the error that WVO makes – equating revolution with “detente”or lasting, bourgeois peace.
In 1963 (Proposal Concerning the General Line of the International Communist Movement) the Chinese struggled against
the view which denies that the development of the inherent contradictions in the contemporary capitalist world inevitably lead to a new situation in which the imperialist countries are locked in an intense struggle and asserts that the contradictions among the imperialist counties can be reconciled, or even eliminated by ’international agreements among the big monopolies.’” In struggling against this theoretical justification of “detente” they put forward in reference to the four fundamental contradictions, “these contradictions and the struggles to which they give rise i are interrelated and influence each other. Nobody can obliterate any of these fundamental contradictions or subjectively substitute one for all the rest. It is inevitable that these contradictions will give rise to popular revolutions which alone can resolve them.”
It was in this spirit that they put forth the correct line that revolution is the main trend. It stands in opposition to the “CP”SU’s revisionist line that reduced the fundamental contradiction in the world to the contradiction between the socialist camp and the imperialist camp, and said that this contradiction could be resolved through the “three peacefuls” – Peaceful coexistence, peaceful competition and peaceful transition to socialism. The total bankruptcy of this counter-revolutionary revisionist line has been shown repeatedly in those countries where it was attempted. Recently Chile followed the example of Italy in 1921, Germany in 1932-33 and Austria 1933-34 in learning the lessons of peaceful transition and has now moved as they did toward fascist dictatorship.
VII. The incorrect position taken by WVO is a revisionist position. It holds that revolution is not the main trend in the World and this time war and fascism is. inevitable. It does not uphold the inevitability of revolution. Instead it puts forth that the main task of revolutionaries is not preparing for revolution, but preparing for war and fascism. It is a defensive position. It leads to building unity with opportunists instead of ruthlessly exposing them –the anti-fascist united front as the main form of work. This is best summed up in their line of “united action with the revisionists,” a line that has them spontaneously doing coalition work with the “CP” attempting to win away their rank and file and base. This incorrect line on the international situation leads them to see tactical alliance with opportunist in order to do agitation and work aimed at the “broad masses,” that is for them the intermediate and backwards, as the main thing at this time, liquidating propaganda to the advanced as the main form of work. Because they do not carry “out independent propaganda as the main form, and work in the base of the industrial proletariat as our basic concentration, the tactical alliance of WV in essence become strategic agreements, devoid of principled struggle and full political exposure to the advanced. This line of alliances with opportunists that WV so carefully fosters, like the unity with the AFT leadership in the recent NY teachers strike, in order to “fight fascism” will inevitably become a line of social-chauvinism and class collaboration, aiding in the development of Bourgeois reaction. It leads to menshevism, social-democracy, class collaboration and betrayal of the revolution. It is the same line, in essence, as the line OL uses to justify their building unity with the liberal bourgeoisie–the danger of fascism. It was this same line that lead the “CP”USA to liquidate the party. Only by upholding the inevitability of revolution and understanding that the intensification of the fundamental contradictions hastens the arrival of a revolutionary situation do we correctly focus our work on preparing the proletariat for its historical role as grave digger for capital.
War may come in five years as WV says it will. Even if it does, our most important task is not building the mass movement and hiding the communists. The task of preservation of the revolutionary forces is only accomplished through developing our illegal apparatus – building nuclei and breaking with a social-democratic style of work. Our most important task then is not defensive, but offensive – preparing for the revolutionary situation that such a war will certainly bring about. It is through developing our political line – the basic program, strategy and tactics of the U.S. Bolshevik party–uniting Marxist-Leninists and conducting propaganda to the advanced to win them to communism based on that line that we are able to fuse the communist and worker’s movements and be prepared to answer war with revolution.
And the millions who are thinking about the causes of the recent war and of the approaching future war are more and more clearly realizing the grim and inexorable truth that it is impossible to escape imperialist war, and imperialist peace which inevitably engenders imperialist war, that it is impossible to escape that inferno, except by a Bolshevik struggle and a Bolshevik revolution. (Lenin, “Fourth Anniversary of the October Revolution”)