Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Workers Viewpoint Organization

ATM: Social Democrats from the National Movement

Competes with OL to be the Vanguard of the Petty Bourgeoisie

I. International Situation

The proletarian struggle in the U.S. is part of the worldwide peoples’ battle against the superpowers and all reaction, for new democracy and socialism. It is a fundamental principle of proletarian internationalism that the communist strategy and tactics in each country must follow from and be subordinate to the larger international situation. A correct line on the international situation will help us make the greatest contribution to the overthrow of world imperialism while an incorrect line will direct our struggle away from the international class struggle, in its interwoven powerful form of movements for “countries want independence, nations want liberation and peoples want revolution”, opposing and hindering the overall battle. From beginning to end ATM stands on a fundamentally incorrect conception of the nature of imperialism, the sinister and most dangerous character of Soviet social-imperialism, the class content of the worldwide peoples’ struggles, the motion of basic contradictions and dialectics between world war and revolution in the world today. This has already led them to centrism and social democracy, and will inevitably take them down the road of revisionism.

Essence of Imperialism


...the political essence of imperialism is the oppression of nations by oppressor nations. (Revolutionary Cause, Vol. 1, No. 2, 1/76, p. l)

Against this, Lenin always held that “...the specific political features of imperialism are reaction all along the line and increased national oppression...” and “politically, imperialism is, in general, a striving towards violence and reaction.” (Imperialism, The Highest Stage Of Capitalism, Peking edition, pgs. 133, 108).

What is the difference? “Reaction all along the line” and “a striving towards violence and reaction” include imperialism’s oppression of nations. They also include imperialism’s aggression and subversion against socialist countries, reactionary inter-imperialist conflicts and wars, and the monopoly capitalists’ oppression of the proletariat. Aren’t all these also part of the “political essence of imperialism”? The ATM leaves out all the reactionary features of imperialism but its oppression of nations.

This is the opportunist theoretical basis for the ATM’s entire centrist and petty bourgeois nationalist line on the international situation.

The ATM essentially denies that there are not one but four fundamental contradictions in the world. They are:

the contradiction between the socialist camp and the imperialist camp;
the contradiction between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie in capitalist countries;
the contradiction between the oppressed nations and imperialism; and
the contradiction among imperialist countries and among monopoly capitalist groups. (A Proposal Concerning The General Line Of The International Communist Movement, Peking edition, p.6)

When talking about the “political essence of imperialism”, what reason can there be for singling out only one of these contradictions and forgetting all the rest? Imperialism represents reaction in all of them, or “reaction all along the line”. For genuine Marxist, this is the only way to look at it. Couldn’t this slip on the “essence” of imperialism be the fertile basis for opportunism?


The ATM’s view that the “political essence of imperialism” is the oppression of nations surfaces everywhere, and first of all in their view that the Third World is “the main force of world revolution today.” They ask how the world’s peoples have stood up to the two superpowers, and answer:

First of all by the armed resistance of the Third World liberation struggles ... It is mostly this armed struggle which makes the Third World the main force of world revolution today. (RC, May 1976, p. 10)

We want to ask: which world revolution is the ATM talking about? In this era of imperialism, world revolution is rich and full of vigor. It is composed of proletarian struggle in socialist countries to consolidate the dictatorship of the proletariat in one or a few countries, the proletariat in advanced capitalist countries, the struggle against imperialism by oppressed nations, the struggle of the people of the oppressed nations for New Democracy and then socialism, and all struggles against hegemonism, and struggles against all reactionaries in the Third World (e.g. the Shah of Iran), etc. This is the broad and rich content of world revolution today. The main force is the international proletariat.

The main forces of the revolution: the dictatorship of the proletariat in one country, the revolutionary movement of the proletariat in all countries. (Stalin, The Foundations of Leninism, 1924, FLP, p. 85)

The Third World is a “great motive force in advancing world history” and it is “the main force in the struggle against colonialism and imperialism, particularly the two superpowers,”(Peking Review, #44, Nov. 1, 1974, p. 6) but it is not “the main force of world revolution today,” as the ATM claims. What is the difference?

The liberations struggles of the colonies and oppressed nations of the Third World, which the ATM lays special stress on, are a direct reserve of the international proletariat:

Main reserves: the semi-proletarian and small-peasant masses in the developed countries, the liberation movement in the colonies and dependent countries. (Stalin, The Foundations of Leninism)

The oppressed nations go through two-stage revolutions, first for independence and liberation, and then, when they are under the proletariat’s leadership, on to the second stage of socialist revolution. These independence and liberation struggles are not socialist. But because they are a tremendous force weakening imperialism and are a part of the world proletarian revolution, they are what Chairman Mao called the New Democratic Revolution.

That’s why the CPC correctly holds that the Third World is “the main force in the struggle against colonialism and imperialism, particularly the two super-powers,” that is, the main force opposing and weakening imperialism and the superpowers, but has never said it is “the main force of world revolution.”

The ATM’s viewpoint surfaces even more when they say that “it is mostly this armed struggle” (of the national liberation movements) “which makes the Third World the main force...” Wrong again, the Third World itself is not homogeneous, but is composed of two fundamentally different types of countries. It includes both the oppressed nations under the rule of imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism, and socialist countries under the proletarian dictatorship. The Third World is the alliance and further convergence of the two great currents of national liberation and socialism, under the leadership of the genuine socialist countries and their Communist Parties, particularly the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the CPC. It is the socialist countries, particularly the PRC, that have led and rallied the oppressed nations on every front, from the United Nations and the conferences on natural resources to the battlefields of the armed struggles. No genuine Marxist could ever deny the leading role of the socialist countries in their relation to the oppressed nations, but the ATM has not even included them as part of the Third World.

Besides the armed liberation struggles, the ATM names:

the development for economic and political unity by the Third World against imperialism.
The Second World has also moved to strengthen its position against the two superpowers.

They go into detail on the struggle of the national bourgeoisies of the Third World to prohibit nuclear weapons and form the Caribbean Common Market, as well as the Second World imperialists’ efforts to protect the values of their currencies and step up defense measures against the two superpowers, and several other points. These are all important steps that strengthen the world revolution and weaken the two superpowers, and all communists support them. But in all this talk about the Third World, the ATM ignores the leading role, and even the existence, of the PRC and other socialist countries!

Carrying out their view of the “political essence of imperialism,” the ATM liquidates the proletarian class content of the world revolution in this era and liquidates the socialist countries’ leading role in the Third World!


Under a heading, “The masses make history!”, the ATM lists the forces they see opposing the two superpowers:

1) The national and class struggles within each superpower, as well as the struggle of the intellectuals for freedom and the masses of women for democracy.
2) The armed national liberation struggles in the Third World.
3) The growing political and economic unity of the Third World, as well as the continuing atmosphere of dialogue between the Third World and Second World countries.
4) The growing economic, political, and military unity of Europe.
5) The growth and development of the socialist countries led by China and Albania....
6) The growing contradiction within COMECON – particularly with the Soviet Union.
7) The USSR is seeing its ’sister’ revisionist parties in Western Europe break loose from its orbit....
8) The growth and development of Marxist-Leninist parties....
9) In the United States, Marxist-Leninist organizations are struggling to unite all revolutionary Marxist and advanced workers into one vanguard party.
10) In the Soviet Union, revolutionary Marxist underground organizations have developed....
All of these things taken together form a worldwide united front against the two superpowers, and show why revolution is the main world trend. (ibid.)

We will deal later on with their final conclusion that revolution is the main trend as a disguise to belittling the danger of Soviet social-imperialism and world war. The thing right now is the incredible muddle that runs through their entire analysis.

This is, supposed to be a comprehensive list of all the forces in the world opposing the two superpowers, and yet nowhere does ATM ever mention the world proletariat! Another slip due to their “essence of imperialism”! The closest they ever come to talking about the working class is when they note “the national and class struggles within each superpower”, which does not bring out the leading role of the U.S. and Soviet working classes in relation to the national movements, which explicitly leaves out the working classes of the Second and Third Worlds, from Europe, Japan and Canada to Asia, Africa and Latin America!

Besides that, what is “the struggle of the intellectuals for freedom and the masses of women for democracy”? We know of the struggle of revolutionary intellectuals and working women for democratic rights and socialism, but this is a long shot from the purely revisionist demand for “freedom” and “democracy” in the abstract. This is the Social Democracy of ATM jumping out!

Secondly, the ATM mixes indirect reserves (contradictions among the enemy) such as the breakaway of various revisionist “Communist” Parties from their Soviet masters, into their analysis of the revolutionary forces opposing the two superpowers, as if those revisionist “C”Ps that break away are among the revolutionary forces. Finally, they note other indirect reserves as “the growing economic, political and military unity of Europe,” meaning the unity of the European imperialist ruling classes against the two superpowers. This is something all communists support, for it objectively weakens the superpowers and world imperialism and lessens the danger of world war. But here again, the ATM forgot to even mention the struggle of the proletariat and oppressed masses in Europe! Aren’t they part of the “worldwide united front against the two superpowers”?

The ATM does not talk about class forces. They have no understanding of the four fundamental contradictions in the world. Their “analysis” is an eclectic mix of various concepts, so that their united front takes in everything from genuine forces such as the socialist countries, Marxist-Leninist Communist Parties, and national liberation struggles, to indirect reserves like the breakup of the revisionist “C”Ps, as well as revisionist slogans like “intellectuals for freedom,” while completely, consistently omitting the international working class.

Three Worlds


In using Chairman Mao’s strategic concept of the three worlds without speaking of the four fundamental contradictions in the world today, the ATM again sneaks in their view that the “political essence of imperialism is the oppression of nations.” They do not understand the strategic thinking of the concept that the three worlds are the objective alignment of the four fundamental contradictions, a concept which promotes struggle to weaken the two superpowers – the main enemy of the people of the world.

The four fundamental contradictions align and periodically realign themselves in concrete interconnected forms, and this is what shapes and reshapes the world situation. At any one time, only one of them is the principal contradiction in the world which influences and determines the existence and development of all the rest.

Intermediate Zone


In the years following World War II, the socialist camp and unprecedented upsurge of the oppressed nations of Asia, Africa, and Latin America were the great gains of the world’s people. The oppressed nations were rising as they never had before, while the growth of the socialist camp of 13 countries headed by the Soviet Union tipped the balance of world forces for the first time in favor of the people of the world against imperialism.

On the other side, the U.S. imperialists extended their criminal rule and domination over all the other imperialists of Western Europe and Japan, as well as their colonies and spheres of influence. The U.S. took the place of the German, Italian, and Japanese fascists as the Number One enemy of the people of the world.

From the late ’40’s to the early ’60’s, the U.S. imperialists carried on their “cold war” propaganda and preparations for a war against the Soviet Union and the whole socialist camp. The imperialist and socialist camps headed by the U.S. and Soviet Union faced each other, with a vast intermediate zone of oppressed nations and lesser capitalist countries lying in between.

Already in 1946, Chairman Mao demonstrated that the immediate target of U.S. imperialist aggression was the countries and peoples in the intermediate zone between the two camps, particularly the oppressed nations and peoples of Asia, Africa, and Latin America, for without first subduing these countries, a war against the Soviet Union was out of the question for the U.S. Facing the fiercest oppression, the oppressed nations returned the fiercest resistance. Following World War II, the battle of these countries against imperialism became the focus of world contradictions, the principal contradiction in the world. From Korea and Algeria to the Dominican Republic, Palestine and Vietnam, these great revolutionary movements changed the face of the earth. It was in summing up this period that the CPC wrote:

The various types of contradictions in the contemporary world are concentrated in the vast areas of Asia, Africa, and Latin America; these are the most vulnerable areas under imperialist rule and the storm centers of world revolution dealing direct blows at imperialism.
The national democratic revolutionary movement in these areas and the international socialist revolutionary movement are the two great historical currents of our time.
The national democratic revolution in these areas is an important component of the contemporary proletarian world revolution.
The anti-imperialist revolutionary struggles of the people in Asia, Africa, and Latin America are pounding and undermining the foundations of the rule of imperialism and colonialism, old and new, and are now a mighty force in defence of world peace.
In a sense, therefore, the whole cause of the international proletarian revolution hinges on the outcome of the revolutionary struggles of the people of these areas, who constitute the overwhelming majority of the world’s population.
Therefore, the anti-imperialist revolutionary struggle of the people in Asia, Africa and Latin America is definitely not merely a matter of regional significance, but one of overall importance for the whole cause of proletarian world revolution.” (The General Line, p. 13)

In the face of these unprecedented victories of the oppressed nations and the socialist camp, the “American Century” that the U.S. imperialists had dreamt of was already closing by the early ’60’s. The imperialist camp was seriously divided as the U.S. imperialists faced stiffer and stiffer contention from its junior partners in Western Europe and Japan.

However, in the late ’50’s and early ’60’s, a capitalist restoration occurred in the Soviet Union. The first socialist country degenerated into a social-imperialist country, a superpower. The degeneration of this bastion of world socialism took most of the countries of the socialist camp down with it, turning most of the camp into a Soviet Social Imperialist bloc.

This change caused a great realignment throughout the world, the biggest realignment since the end of World War II, which has given rise to the three worlds of the present situation. Having become a social-imperialist superpower, the Soviet Union began contending and colluding for world hegemony since the early ’60’s, and has been doing so ever since. The two superpowers constitute the First World. The socialist countries headed by China and Albania have aligned closer than ever with the oppressed nations of Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Between the First and Third Worlds are the developed countries of the Second World, which include Europe, Japan, and Canada.

The emergence of Soviet Social-Imperialism and the entire realignment of the world’s contradictions force us to reassess the whole international situation, particularly the problems of the principal contradiction and the main trend in the world today. Failure to grasp these changes correctly will certainly lead to centrism and revisionism.

Today, we hear a hue and cry attacking Chairman Mao’s strategic thinking on the Three Worlds. Some of it coming from the “left” Trotskyite angle, some of it coming from the thoroughly right centrist, revisionist angle. At present, many centrist forces such as the Revolutionary “Communist” Party (R“C”P), Marxist-Leninist Organizing Committee (MLOC), and the League for Proletarian Revolution (LPR) attack Chairman Mao’s line, fronting with “left” arguments. The ATM’s attacks on the Three Worlds line come from the right, a vulgar “Third Worldism” line, though at this point it’s not the main form of attack in the U.S. communist movement against the Three Worlds line – it is also a centrist and a revisionist line. (All of them are united around distortions of Chairman Mao’s May 20th Statement, belittling the great danger of world war and the need therefore to prepare to turn world war into a civil war here.)


ATM has said:

...the main contradiction in the world today is the national question. It is the oppressed nations and peoples of the world in struggle against U.S. imperialism and Soviet Social-Imperialism which is moving forward the entire struggle against worldwide reaction.

...the principal contradiction in the world today. (Revolutionary Cause, Vol. 1, No. 2, Jan. 1976, P, 3)

The struggle of the oppressed nations against imperialism was clearly the principal contradiction in the world from the end of World War II through the early ’70’s, but we can no longer say this. The present situation is marked by “great disorder under heaven,” which means the sharpening of all the fundamental contradictions in the world (particularly two of them: the contradiction between imperialist powers, especially between the two superpowers, and the contradiction between the oppressed nations and imperialism.) The CPC no longer says which basic contradiction is the principal one, because of the great disorder and realignment at present.

Since the end of World War II, the oppressed nations have steadily expanded their battle, right up to the present moment. But unlike the ’60’s, in the last few years we have also seen the rapid rise of the contention between the two superpowers, which changes the international situation immensely.

In the 1960’s, the struggle of the Vietnamese, Cambodian, and Laotian people against the one main enemy, U.S. imperialism, was the front line of the struggle of all oppressed nations and peoples. Other battle fronts against this same main enemy were typical. The Puerto Rican people fought directly against U.S. colonial rule; the people of Mozambique, Guinea-Bissau, and Angola fought the Portuguese colonialists who were held up by the same U.S. imperialists, as did oppressed nations and peoples around the world.

But what do we see in the last few years?

October 1973: the Palestinian and other Arab people broke through the “no war – no peace” situation rigged up by the superpowers. They dealt death blows to the Israeli Zionists who were backed by both superpowers, and fought to the end against the superpowers’ plan for a “quick settlement” and the “mini-state”. The Arab people confirmed in battle that they must fight two enemies, the two superpowers, and that the Soviet Union is the more dangerous of the two.

July 1974: the two superpowers instigated a coup in Cyprus, each trying to increase its influence in the Mediterranean, in southern Europe, and the Middle East. The Soviet Union “fished in troubled waters,” first supporting one side and then quickly switching its support to the other, and later tried to get its forces into the U.N. military’ force sent to the area. This was an attempt to break up NATO, since both Greece and Turkey are in NATO; the Soviets planned to weaken and break up NATO through this conflict.

1975: In January, the three liberation organizations (the MPLA, FNLA, and UNITA) negotiated Angola’s formal independence from Portugal’s colonial rule and jointly formed a transitional government. The two superpowers started stepping up their contention immediately. The Soviet Union stirred up a civil war by July and shipped in thousands of Cuban mercenary troops between September and October, while the U.S.-backed South African racist troops invaded Angola in October.

The hotspots of the Third World have shifted from Indochina, Puerto Rico and Guinea-Bissau, where U.S. imperialism was clearly the main enemy in the ’60’s, to Palestine, Angola, and Azania, where the Soviet Union is the more dangerous of the two superpowers. Today, there are situations like Vietnam, Korea, Thailand, Angola, Palestine, and Azania, where the people must guard against “letting the tiger in through the back door while repulsing the wolf at the front gate.”

This shift of the Third World hot-spots reflects the larger change in the international situation. Today, the two superpowers are battling madly from one end of the globe to’ the other. The strategic area of their contention is in Europe. On the world scale today, the two superpowers are the main enemies of the world’s peoples, and the Soviet Union is the more dangerous enemy, and the main source of world war.


The situation in the 1960’s, when the oppressed nations’ struggle against imperialism was undeniably the principal contradiction in the world, determined that the danger of world war still existed but was small, and revolution was the main trend. That is what Chairman Mao summed up in his famous statement in 1970:

A new upsurge in the struggle against U.S. imperialism is now emerging throughout the world. Ever since World War II, U.S. imperialism and its followers have been continuously launching wars of aggression and the people in various countries have been continuously waging revolutionary wars to defeat the aggressors. The danger of a new world war still exists, and the people of all countries must get prepares. But revolution is the main trend in the world today. (Mao, “People of the World, Unite and Defeat the U.S. Aggressors and All Their Running Dogs:” May 20, 1970)

Today’s situation, where all the fundamental contradictions in the world are sharpening, particularly those between the two superpowers and between the oppressed nations and the superpowers, creates a situation where the factors for both war and revolution are on the rise. Either war will give rise to revolution or revolution will prevent the war. These are the two possible paths to revolution. The more likely situation is that world war will give rise to revolution, though we cannot predict the exact course history will take.

The ATM, of course, ignoring all facts and the rapid change in the world situation in the last few years, continues to keep their heads buried in the 1960’s. They summed up 1975:

The trend of the international situation in 1975 confirmed that Revolution indeed is the main trend in the world today. (Revolutionary Cause, Vol. 1, No. 2, Jan. 1976)

In taking this position, the ATM is actually saying, in the context of struggle around the dialectics between world war and revolution, that revolution will prevent world war.


The catch here that the ATM demagogues use is the word “revolution”, used in the most general, vague sense:

Revolution is the main trend in the world today and will continue to be so long as we are in the era of imperialism and proletarian revolution... people are moving history forward toward revolution and... revolution is indeed the main trend in the world, in spite-of the imperialists’ attempts to reverse this irresistable historical trend. (Revolutionary Cause, Vol. 1. No. 8, p. 4)

It is clear as daylight that the ATM is playing on the difference between the general motion of history under imperialism and throughout all historical periods and a concrete analysis of a concrete situation, the concrete dialectics at any given moment.

In discussing which of the two paths towards revolution is most likely and which will give a correct view as to how best to prepare for the immediate period ahead, ATM’s sophistry is borrowed from MLOC and PRRWO (the “old” PRRWO, if ATM prefers).

For that matter, if the ATM wants to equate the statement that “revolution is the main trend today” with the historical truth that “the people are moving history forward toward revolution” throughout the whole era of imperialism, why stop there? Haven’t the people been “moving history forward toward revolution” throughout all of history, from primitive communalism to slavery from slavery to feudalism and from, feudalism to capitalism?

Misused in this way, by butchering up Chairman Mao’s May 20th statement, particularly the part on the essence of inter-imperialist rivalry, then the slogan “revolution is the main trend today” reduces itself to fundamental historical materialist laws, that “the masses are the makers of history” and history develops towards progress, which are laws that are universally valid at all times.

In 1975-6, the CPC has advanced another concrete analysis of the two trends of war and revolution, saying that “The factors for both revolution and war are increasing.” (Documents of the First Session of the Fourth National People’s Congress of the People’s Republic of China, Jan. 1976, p. 59).

Everybody knows of this slogan of the CPC’s. Everybody knows that the CPC has not referred to Chairman Mao’s May 1970 statement since late 1974 and early 1975. And so don’t those who quote these statements actually have real disagreements with the line of the CPC on the international situation or have real ulterior motives?

ATM not only evades the concrete questions, but actually is underhandedly pushing a centrist line on the role of the Soviet Social-imperialists. Why? Because ATM does not understand the restoration of capitalism in the Soviet Union and does not believe that the Soviet Union is the most dangerous source of world war. In fact, they don’t even believe in Marxism-Leninism-Mao-Tse-Tung Thought, thinking MLMTTT is only applicable to Chinese conditions, for the Chinese revolution. In negating the contribution of Chairman Mao on the historical experience of the dictatorship of the proletariat, through his summing up of the restoration of capitalism in the Soviet Union and class struggle in China, it’s no wonder ATM cannot understand Soviet Social-Imperialism and thus the danger of world war today. It is no wonder they have an opportunist line on the international situation.

Lenin said that imperialism is the eve of socialist revolution. It is moribund, decaying, and parasitic capitalism, pregnant with socialist and national revolutions. The people inevitably rise up and make revolution, and nothing can reverse this irresistible historical trend. To equate these Leninist truths on the character of imperialism and the inevitability of revolution with the slogan “revolution is the main trend in the world today,” to belittle inter-imperialist rivalry which is an essential aspect of the teachings of Lenin, Stalin, and Mao Tse-Tung on imperialism, is pure sophistry! Chairman Mao was making a concrete analysis of the concrete situation in 1970, an analysis of the relative danger of war and the strength of revolution. He said in May 20, 1970:

The danger of war still exists... But revolution is the main trend in the world today.

Can we say only that, “The danger of war still exists today,” when it has clearly visibly grown? Definitely not.

Take the years 1912 and 1935, which were just before the outbreak of World Wars I and II. They both fell in the epoch of imperialism, the eve of socialist revolution. The world’s people were certainly moving history forward toward revolution. But could anyone say that in 1912 and 1935 the danger of war existed but was relatively small, and revolution was the main trend? We certainly aren’t comparing today’s situation to those of 1912 or 1935. But this certainly exposes the absurdity of ATM’s generalities and sophistry.

Either revolution is the main trend, and the danger of world war is relatively small, or the factors for both are rising, and the danger of war is increasing rapidly. Two different assessments of two different situations! You cannot have it both ways! But the ATM cuts both slogans in half and pastes the two incompatible halves together, using this eclecticism to hide their severing of the dialectics of war and revolution.

This is the very same sophistry and eclecticism as that of the RWL and PRRWO, who say that “revolution is the main trend” and “the factors for both war and revolution are on the rise.” It is exactly the same eclecticism as the MLOC’s and the RCL’s, who both say that “the factors for war and revolution are on the rise,” but then insist that there is a “profound” difference between “factors” and “trends”, and conclude that “revolution is the main trend.” And it is the same trick as the RWC’s (Revolutionary Workers Congress), who holds that there are two contending trends today, but that revolution is the main trend because any other position supposedly overestimates the strength of reaction and underestimates the strength of revolution!

This eclecticism is the most dangerous sophistry of all, designed to fool those who do not catch the substitution of universal historical truths for concrete analyses of specific situation those who do not grasp the dialectics of war and revolution or the immense difference between the world situation in 1970 and 1976. Lenin warned:

In falsifying Marxism in opportunist fashion, the substitution of eclecticism for dialectics is the easiest way of deceiving the masses. (Lenin, “The State and Revolution,” FLP)

ATM’s centrism


The Palestinian revolution has thoroughly exposed the ATM’s centrism, and their disbelief in the dangers of Soviet Social-Imperialism and World War. Palestine is a focal point of the two rapidly rising contradictions and the trends of revolution and world war.

The Palestinian liberation movement has been tempered in momentous struggles and wars, in resistance to the formation of Zionist Israel in 1948, in resistance to Israeli aggression in 1956 and the 1967 June war, and in the victorious October war in 1973. On the other side, the Middle East is a hotbed of superpower contention, where both superpowers have supported Israel, the U.S. supplying arms and the Soviet Union providing Zionist manpower and undermining the Arab national liberation struggle. Both superpowers proposed U.N. Resolution 242 in 1967 and the “mini-state” plan in 1973, which the Palestinian movement condemned because they guaranteed Israel’s existence while sabotaging Palestine’s real liberation by treating it as a “refugee problem” or by offering a fake “independent” state.

Yet the ATM has written an article on Palestine that never once mentions Soviet Social-Imperialism! They speak of Zionist Israel as “....an outpost for the same common enemy of the world’s peoples – the U.S. capitalist class.” (Revolutionary Cause, Vol. 1, No. 6, May 1976)

They raise the demand for the “recognition of the national rights of the Palestinian people” (ibid) a demand which only the revisionist “C”Ps have raised because the call for “national rights” does not demand the total destruction of the Israeli state. And naturally, they say nothing about the superpower “mini-state” plan. And yet this article was written in May, 1976, when the two superpowers had instigated the Syrian bourgeois invasion and civil war in Lebanon to crush the Palestinian revolution!

It’s no accident, then, that the ATM explicitly compares the situation in Palestine to that of Vietnam:

But this common enemy [U.S. imperialism] is meeting defeat in the Middle East just like it was defeated in Vietnam. (ibid)

Yes, the Palestinian people will certainly wipe out U.S. imperialism completely and thoroughly, as the Vietnamese did. And they will also wipe out Soviet Social-Imperialism just as resolutely, for the Soviet superpower today is a greater danger to their liberation. This is a task that the Vietnamese fighters did not face in the same form, and it is a task which you, ATM, have completely 1iquidated!

What is this but a most thorough whitewashing of the danger of Soviet Social-Imperialism, and superpower war preparations, in one of the current hotspots of the two contending trends? What is this but a thick shield for Soviet Social-Imperialism? This is nothing but out-and-out centrism on the international situation.


The ATM says that the view that there are two contending trends in the world today (where either war will give rise to revolution or revolution will prevent war) says that:

..the workers and oppressed peoples of the world are on the defensive and not in a position to take up the attack on imperialism and Soviet social imperialism. ..[This view] calls for retreat when the peoples of the world are advancing. The consequence of this pessimistic line is the call for the United Front Against Fascism. (Revolutionary Cause, Vol. 1, No. 8, P. 4)

Who’s really pessimistic? This gets to very heart of the problem, because it will reveal whether or not we have a genuine proletarian outlook towards imperialist war.

We say that the dialectics of war and revolution today are such that either war will give rise to revolution or revolution will prevent war. All communists stand for peace and are against imperialist war. We would infinitely prefer to carry out the U.S. proletarian revolution before another war; and to prevent another war, we will strain every nerve and muscle towards that end, for world war will mean inestimable suffering for workers and oppressed peoples around the world.

But if the imperialists dare to launch another war, we are not afraid. In that case we will work to “turn the imperialist war into a civil war” to overthrow the U.S. ruling class and hasten the death of world imperialism, and we are fully confident that we will achieve this. In either case, without a doubt, the outcome will be revolutions around the world.

In the conditions of two contending trends, we must all the more fervently make immediate and universal preparations for the dictatorship of the proletariat, for the noble cause of communism. Immediate preparations, beginning not after we have formed the genuine communist party, not after we have won the masses, but beginning today. Universal preparations, not only on particular problems of the revolution, but in every sphere!

In all situations, then, we must “despise the enemy strategically, take him seriously tactically.” To “take the enemy seriously tactically” means to prepare now for world war and fascism, by pushing revolution ahead, by preparing now for civil war. Communists must always prepare actively for civil war, for the one and the same preparations we make today will create the strongest basis to overthrow the monopoly capitalists before they launch another war, or if we cannot do that, to turn their imperialist war into a civil war.

The problem is not the WVO’s “pessimism” in raising the danger of world war. We look the dangers straight in the face, dangers which actually exist and are rising rapidly and independently of our will, but also dangers which provide us with an opportunity for proletarian revolution. The imperialists unleash world war not because they are strong, but because they are weak; that is why it is also their crisis and our opportunity.

The real problem is the ATM’s petty-bourgeois opportunist, centrist, revisionist fear of looking the dangers in the face. Nor can they see an opportunity for the proletariat in a bad thing, to see how we can turn it around to serve the working class. So they consider it “pessimistic” to speak of two contending trends, either world war will give rise to revolution or revolution will prevent world war? What does that show but their own craven fear of the war danger? What is that but their own true-blood petty bourgeois pessimism?

The ATM is mortally afraid of looking straight at the danger of world war, and they are not at all confident that, if we cannot prevent another war, we can turn the bad thing into a good thing. For example, when they raise the prospect of war and the slogan “turn the imperialist war into civil war,” they conclude:

Comrades, our slogan does not mean we expect the masses to immediately rise up in arms if a war breaks out. We know that we still lack a Marxist-Leninist Party at all – let alone one with a history of work and widespread connections among the masses. Nevertheless, we cannot use this as an excuse, even in wartime, to fail to do systematic agitation among the masses – to tell them the TRUTH about the war and to lead the struggle against it. (Revolutionary Cause, Vol. 1, No. 6, May 1976, p. 11)

And that is all! Not one word on the dialectics of turning a bad thing into a good thing, not one word on the prospect that war will give rise to such revolutionary mass struggles that we may be able to accelerate the bourgeoisie’s overthrow! Not one word on the fact that if imperialist war arrives, it will only seal the imperialists’ doom! The experience of the Albanian communists fully proves that this can be done. They formed their party under the most difficult conditions, when the Italian fascists had occupied their country and they were waging armed struggle against them.

All the ATM can think of is: God save us from war, because we don’t have a party at all, let alone a big one with a history of work. And they go on, apparently thinking they are being resolute: Nevertheless (!), we cannot use this as an excuse (!!), even in wartime (!!!) not to fight the war! Their petty bourgeois pessimistic message is crystal clear: We will still have to oppose the war, even though things will be so miserable for us. Even the lack of a party won’t be a good enough excuse for us to back out altogether. The ATM has given up before the fight has started!

“You shoot first, Messrs. the bourgeoisie!” Engels wrote, straight-forwardly challenging the ruling classes of the whole world. You shoot first, and then we will return the fire! Where is there the faintest trace of this proletarian stand, this unshakeable daring and optimism, in the line of ATM?


Beginning from their view that “the political essence of imperialism is the domination and exploitation of nations and peoples,” we have seen the ATM spin an entire web of incorrect lines on the international situation. They speak of this feature of imperialism to deny the other three fundamental contradictions in the world; they call the Third World “the main force of the world revolution” without mentioning the world proletarian socialist struggle; they talk about the armed national liberation struggles without mentioning the socialist countries in the Third World; they use the Three Worlds concept apart from the fundamental world contradictions that underlie it; they unequivocally’ state that the oppressed nations’ struggle against imperialism is the principal contradiction in the world today, which downgrades the rising superpower contention; they claim that revolution is the main trend and the danger of war is rising, which similarly downgrades the danger of world war; and they expose their craven fear of world war and their petty bourgeois pessimistic stand.

We must take one last look at the incorrect theoretical basis for their centrist and petty bourgeois nationalist line, which is their view that the essence of imperialism is national oppression, that national oppression is the “most fundamental” feature of imperialism. When they tell us this, they undoubtedly have in mind this passage from Lenin:

That is why the focal point in the Social-Democratic (communist) programme must be that division of nations into oppressor and oppressed, which forms the essence of imperialism, and is deceitfully evaded by the social-chauvinists and Kautsky, (Lenin, “The Revolutionary Proletariat and the Right of Nations to Self-Determination,” 1915, LCW, Vol. 21, p. 409, emphasis in original)

Here Lenin was fighting the revisionists of his time, who counterposed the proletarian socialist revolution and the national liberation struggles, the socialist and democratic struggles. They denied the right of self-determination to the colonies and oppressed nations, but used the same slogan to justify their own defense of “their own” imperialist “fatherlands,” in World War I. Lenin was also fighting Kautsky, who held that imperialism and national oppression are simply policies of modern capitalism, policies that “reasonable” capitalists could “reform away.”

Against them, Lenin showed that the proletariat must uphold both the socialist and the democratic struggles, because imperialism is modern-day capitalism, and the division of nations into oppressor and oppressed is not some external, superficial feature of imperialism, but an integral part of it, the essence of imperialism. Lenin showed that the oppression of nations is the essence of imperialism, but he never said that national oppression is “more fundamental” than, say, the contradiction among the imperialists, imperialism’s aggression against socialist countries, or the monopoly capitalists’ oppression of the proletariat. But, as we have seen, this is exactly how the ATM took it.

Based on our different world outlooks, we interpret facts in different ways. Based on their fundamentally petty bourgeois nationalist outlook, the ATM has taken Lenin’s statement to mean that the oppression of nations is the “most fundamental” feature of imperialism, the sole essence of imperialism. But Leninism will never serve petty bourgeois nationalism.


The ATM singles out the national question in their definition of imperialism, to distract the proletariat from the inter-imperialist contradiction and the rising danger of world war, and tries to pass this off as Leninism. However, it was not Lenin, but the revisionist Kautsky, who tried to pull off this same dirty subterfuge during World War I. Lenin quoted Kautsky’s definition of imperialism, and then criticized it:

’Imperialism is a product of highly developed industrial capitalism. It consists in the striving of every industrial capitalist nation to bring under its control or to annex larger and larger areas of agrarian (Kautsky’s emphasis) territory, irrespective of what nations inhabit those regions.’

This definition is utterly worthless because it one-sidedly, i.e. arbitrarily, singles out only the national question (although the latter is extremely important in itself as well as in its relation to imperialism) it arbitrarily and inaccurately connects this question only with industrial capital in the countries which annex other nations, and in an equally arbitrary and inaccurate manner pushes into the forefront the annexation of agrarian regions.

Imperialism is a striving for annexations – this is what the political part of Kautsky’s definition amounts to. It is correct, but very incomplete, for politically, imperialism is, in general, a striving towards violence and reaction... The characteristic feature of imperialism is precisely that it strives to annex not only agrarian territories, but even most highly industrialized regions ... because (1) the fact that the world is already divided up obliges those contemplating a redivision to reach out for every kind of territory, and (2) an essential feature of imperialism is the rivalry between several Great Powers in the striving for hegemony, i.e. for the conquest of territory, not so much directly for themselves as to weaken the adversary and undermine his hegemony. (Lenin, “Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism,” FLP, p. 108-9, emphasis in original)

During the first world imperialist war, when each imperialist was battling madly to eat the others’ colonies and the other imperialists, Kautsky singled out the national question and the imperialists’ annexation of agrarian territories in his definition of imperialism. He did that for the sole purpose of blurring the proletariat’s consciousness of the reactionary character of the inter-imperialist war, to send the working classes of the imperialist countries into battle against each other to die in the interests of “their own” bourgeoisies under the reactionary slogan, “Defend the Fatherland.”

Today, when the superpowers are preparing madly to redivide the oppressed nations, when the strategic area of their contention is industrialized Europe, and when the Soviet Union has come forward as the younger, leaner, hungrier superpower and the main source of world war, the ATM singles out the national question and the imperialists’aggression against the “agrarian territories” of the Third World.

The political results of the ATM’s opportunism are exactly the same as Kautsky’s. The ATM only focus the working class from the superpower contention in the Third World; they especially blind the working class to the superpower contention in Europe, and through all this they wholeheartedly defend Soviet Social-Imperialism. The ATM performs this invaluable service for the bourgeoisie, particularly the Soviet ruling class. The manifestations and ideological roots of the ATM’s and Kautsky’s opportunism differ somewhat in form, but the results are exactly the same.

The ghost of Kautsky has re-arisen in the pages of the Revolutionary Cause.


All opportunists and revisionists in the U.S. are preaching centrism and an open or veiled defense of Soviet Social-Imperialism. The stand of the revisionist “Communist” Party U.S.A. is obvious. The revisionist Guardian newspaper openly declares that the Soviet Union is not a capitalist country and openly defends this superpower as a friend of the Third World, from Vietnam to Palestine and Angola. The right opportunist Revolutionary Communist Party states that U.S. imperialism is still the main enemy of the people of the world and that the Soviet Union is the main enemy only to China. On the other hand, the “left” otzovist clique of PRRWO/RWL, as well as the ATM, Revolutionary Workers Congress (RWC), and even political flotsam like the MLOC carry on the very same centrism.

The fact that this centrism on the international situation and this veiled or open defense of Soviet Social-Imperialism has arisen in every opportunist corner of the U.S. communist movement shows that this is not an accident. Its historical roots are dug in the features of the world situation and the U.S. revolutionary movements of the 1960’s.

Through the 1960’s and the whole post-World War II period, the independence and liberation movements of the oppressed nations flowed in waves unprecedented in the world’s history, inspiring and supporting workers and oppressed people around the world. In the U.S., the revolutionary movements that swept the country, led by the national and student movements, brought forward thousands of advanced fighters who dared to deny the U.S. monopoly capitalists and fought for their overthrow, and who gave up blood and lives in support of the national liberation struggles abroad.

Both in theory and practice, these advanced fighters In the U.S. despised and fought the revisionist “C”PUSA and “C”PSU and their theories of “peaceful transition, ”peaceful co-existence”, and “peaceful competition.” These revisionists called for “peaceful co-existence” between oppressed and oppressor classes and nations, completely liquidating the line between oppressed and oppressor, to smother the revolutionary class and national struggles.

They opposed every revolutionary liberation war on the grounds that they might provoke the imperialists to start a nuclear war which would supposedly destroy mankind, and accused the CPC of “warmongering” for their international, support for these revolutionary wars. These revisionists even accused the CPC of “petty bourgeois nationalism” and of counterposing the oppressed nations’ struggles against the proletarian struggle in the capitalist countries, while they themselves counterposed the two to liquidate both, and first of all the national liberation movements. But following the lead of the CPC, the advanced elements in the U.S. fought and died for the Third World movements, drawing an indelible line between oppressed and oppressor nations and supporting the national liberation struggles like their own.

For many of these advanced fighters in the U.S., this baptism in struggle against the U.S. monopoly capitalists and against revisionism was the first step towards Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tse-Tung Thought. In the late ’60’s and early ’70’s, these fighters went forward from the revolutionary nationalist and other eclectic theories to accept the leading role of the working class in the socialist revolution, and to begin accepting the stand, viewpoint, and method of the only consistently revolutionary theory, Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tse-Tung Thought.

Others claimed in words to accept this theory, and got over for a while, but never fundamentally changed their petty bourgeois world outlooks. They assimilated certain aspects and slogans of Marxism, but not the entire stand, method, and viewpoint of MLMTTT.

But who really assimilated the stand, viewpoint, and method of MLMTTT and who did not is not revealed all at once, but only step by step, as the objective class struggle and the two-line struggles advance and change form, and disclose one deviation after another. In regards to the international situation, one of the most important objective changes is the rise of Soviet Social-Imperialism and the danger of world war, which is reflected in the line struggle between “two contending trends” and “revolution is the main trend.”

The revisionist Guardian newspaper is the model of this petty bourgeois refuse that got washed in on the revolutionary wave of the ’60’s, on the struggles to support the Cuban and Vietnamese people and oppose U.S. imperialism. Even back then, when they claimed to oppose Soviet Social-Imperialism and support the CPC, they cranked out a whole system of vulgar petty bourgeois theories and tactics. They upheld the view that the “Third World is the vanguard of the world revolution,” as well as the counterrevolutionary liberal guilt-whipped “white skin privilege” theory which holds that white workers in the U.S are bribed and bought off by the ruling class and that only oppressed nationality workers are really revolutionary. This was the time when they raised the United Front Against Imperialism to a strategy for revolution, and even tried to turn “anti-imperialism” into a third ideology, independent of the proletariat and bourgeoisie, and supported anything that came along as fulfilling their vulgar idea of a “progressive,” “anti-imperialist,” “people’s” movement.

The Guardian started hoisting their separate flag of revisionism and centrism with varied differences with the line of the CPC on the international situation, continued by supporting the superpowers’ Palestinian “mini-state” plan in late 1973, went on to support the revisionist “Communist” Party of Portugal as a supposedly revolutionary party in 1974-5, and ended up openly supporting Soviet Social-Imperialism and the Cuban mercenary troops as “internationalist aid” in Angola in 1976, while upholding the MPLA and condemning the other Angolan liberation organizations.

Through this long slide, the Guardian proved themselves to be a bunch of counter-revolutionary revisionists, a circle of petty bourgeois democrats who picked up only one or two aspects of Marxism, totally vulgarized even them and ended up rejecting the Marxist outlook altogether. The brief period when they claimed to uphold Mao Tse-Tung Thought turned out to be only a short-lived interruption in their petty bourgeois careers as an “independent radical newsweekly,” truly independent from the proletariat.

Lenin analyzed this petty bourgeois democratic opposition to imperialism and exposed it as a reformist, “pious wish”:

Since the specific political features of imperialism are reaction all along the line and increased national oppression resulting from the oppression of the financial oligarchy and the elimination of free competition, a petty-bourgeois-democratic opposition to imperialism arose in the beginning of the twentieth century in nearly all imperialist countries.

In the United States, the imperialist war waged against Spain in 1898 stirred up the opposition of the ’anti-imperialists,’ the last of the Mohicans of bourgeois democracy, who declared this war to be ’criminal,’ regarded the annexation of foreign territories as a violation of the Constitution...But while all this criticism shrank from recognizing the inseverable bond between imperialism and the trusts, and, therefore, between imperialism and the foundations of capitalism, while it shrank from joining the forces engendered by large-scale capitalism and its development – it remained a ’pious wish’. (Lenin, “Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism,” FLP, p.-133-4)

But these “anti-imperialists,” these last ditch reformist defenders of bourgeois democracy who view imperialism as a violation of the Constitution and shrink from joining the forces of the proletariat, exist not only in the Guardian and Call staff, but also in the national movements, in the shape of petty bourgeois nationalism. And this petty bourgeois democracy in the national movements is the class trend that has generated the ATM, and similar deviations in other national movements.

In the 1960’s, the CPC fought the revisionist “C”PSU’s liquidation of the national liberation movements and the national question without falling into either Kautskyism or petty bourgeois nationalism. The charges of “peasant nationalism” hurled by the “C”PSU against the CPC were a bundle of slanders to cover their own counterrevolutionary opposition to the national movements. But among those in the U.S. national movements who fought the revisionists’ chauvinism and supported the CPC, there undoubtedly were and still are opportunists who only understand the “cruder” aspects of revisionism – the “three peacefuls” – blinded by their petty bourgeois stand of indignation and desire for revolution – not understanding the class content of revisionism, who fought the revisionists from a petty bourgeois nationalist basis and who still have not broken in the least with their petty bourgeois democratic ideology.

For the Guardian and the “white skin privilege” reformers, the ideological roots of the centrism on the international situation, their vulgar “Third World-ism” and their blindness to the danger of social-imperialism and world war, are their petty bourgeois fear of the war danger and their liberal guilt- whipped tailing after the national liberation movements. For trends coming out of the national movements like the ATM the ideological roots of their centrism is the same petty bourgeois fear of world war and their petty bourgeois nationalism. The ATM, the Guardian and “white skin priviligers” are all part of that single social-democratic current that ran in all the movements in the 1960’s.

From their view that the “essence of imperialism” is the oppression of nations, to their line that “revolution is the main trend in the world today,” and their morbid fear of looking at the danger of world war, the ATM adds up to one thing only. They are social-democrats from the national movements.