Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Marxist-Leninist Collective

The Theory of Three Worlds and the Middle East Situation Today


First Published: Workers’ Press, February-March 1978.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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Ever since Anwar Sadat’s surprise visit to Israel, the eyes of the world have been shifting from Cairo to Washington to Tel Aviv and now to the capitals of western Europe. What is the significance of Sadat’s collaboration with Tel Aviv and Washington? Through persistent efforts over the past four years, U.S. imperialism has succeeded in securing enough support in the Middle East to launch a coordinated offensive against the Arab and Palestinian Peoples, thus discrediting any theory which preaches the “passive” and “defensive” character of the U.S. imperialist bourgeoisie. It has succeeded, in its contention with the Soviet Union, in gaining a superior position in the area by uniting various Arab regimes around U.S. monopoly capital.

Our three world theorists, who only yesterday praised Sadat as a hero of the “third world”, are finding it difficult to fit reality into their three worlds mold. Because they rely on the incorrect assumptions of the three worlds theory and excuse themselves from conducting an all-sided analysis of concrete conditions, they are incapable of understanding the relationship between the imperialists, particularly the two superpowers, and the Arab states. They cannot provide a communist understanding of imperialist tactics or a communist stand toward the Palestinian and Arab peoples’ struggle.


Sadat finds himself caught between his outright capitulation to U.S. imperialism, which has been a developing trend for the last six years, and pressure from various patriotic, nationalist elements in the Arab world, particularly among the Palestinian masses. The growing intensity of these opposite pressures forces him to proceed slowly along the capitulationist path, now striking a militant pose, now a more moderate one, but always trying to make a deal with Israel and U.S. imperialism and to shore up his unstable domestic regime. If selling out the interests of the Arab and Palestinian peoples is the price Sadat has to pay to resolve the contradiction with Israel and secure large-scale U.S. “aid” for Egypt’s internal economic chaos, he is more than willing to pay it. As this process develops, his opportunism becomes more and more clearly exposed.


The chief obstacles to the swift and smooth conclusion of imperialist peace between Egypt and Israel are the Palestinian liberation movement and those faithful to its cause. The Israeli Zionists’ attempts to wipe out this movement have failed, from the earliest clashes in 1920 through four major wars. Since the Balfour Declaration sixty years ago, in which British imperialism committed itself to the cause of Zionist penetration of Palestine, the Palestinian people, rallying around them the patriotic Arab masses, have steadfastly fought all imperialist and Zionist domination and robbery. Zionism, which is by nature reactionary, cannot be subdued or defeated by Arab reaction or by conciliation to Israel’s imperialist master, but only by the revolutionary struggle of the peoples of Palestine under the leadership of the working class.

Sadat, along with the U.S., Israel, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Syria, has carefully prepared the current attack on the Palestinian resistance movement, an attack which they hope will crush it forever. Simultaneously, the forces of U.S. imperialism are consolidating their superior position relative to other imperialist powers, particularly the Soviet Union. Political coordination between various forces opens the door to more integrated military and economic coordination.

At this crucial time, communists must have a clear understanding of the motion of the various forces. It is not enough to oppose one imperialism or the other, to pay lip service to the cause of the Palestinian people while passively watching as they are sold out, nor to maintain faith in Sadat as a leader of the “third world”. No. First, we must expose in detail the machinations of the imperialist powers, especially U.S. imperialism and the Soviet Union. Second, we must expose and oppose the reactionary, capitulationist policies of those Arab and Palestinian leaders who would conciliate with imperialism. But most important, we must correctly identify our friends and enemies in the Middle East. Which forces have common interests with the world proletariat, the national liberation movements, the socialist countries, and the Marxist-Leninist parties? Which forces fight for imperialism, Zionism, and reaction? How do we make our analysis?

Proceeding from Stalin’s criteria for support of movements of oppressed nations and countries, communists support any national movement which truly “weakens, disintegrates and undermines imperialism.”

Lenin was right in saying that the national movement of the oppressed countries should be appraised not from the point of view of formal democracy, but from the point of view of the actual results, as shown by the general balance sheet of the struggle against imperialist, that is to say ’not in isolation, but on a world scale’.[1]

Thus, to the extent that any particular movement contributes to the overall struggle against imperialism, it should be supported. In analyzing a given movement, we must grasp tightly the teaching of Mao Tse Tung concerning the new democratic revolution, particularly the vacillation and inevitable conciliation of the national bourgeoisie to imperialism in the absence of proletarian leadership of the national liberation movement. To be accurate, communists should examine each case in some detail.

Only on the basis of such an analysis can the communist and other advanced forces formulate correct political line, explain the unfolding of complex contradictions as they develop, and increasingly win the confidence of the proletariat and the people. But there are some people who don’t dig very deep, who ignore the existence of classes, who mistake the exchange of imperialist masters for opposition to imperialism or who misevaluate the relative strength of various imperialist powers. Such people, using the anti-Leninist theory of three worlds, make grave mistakes and do a disservice to the world proletariat. In the Middle East, they distort the fundamental alignment of class forces by spreading the illusion that comprador-bourgeois regimes will lead the struggle against their imperialist masters. They objectively serve as social-chauvinist apologists for U.S. imperialism by insisting that the U.S.S.R. is the main danger. But most important, by confusing enemies with friends, they pave the way for the sell-out of the interests of the Palestinian people to go unopposed by large sections of the proletariat and progressive peoples around the world who are under their influence. The effects of this opportunist theory must be fully exposed.


Egypt’s expulsion of Soviet advisors in 1972, the closing of naval ports to the Soviet fleet, the annulment of the Soviet-Egypt Friendship Treaty, and the unilateral rescheduling of debt payments to the Soviet Union attest to Sadat’s efforts to break away from Soviet social-imperialism. But can we praise this as an “anti-hegemonic”, “anti-imperialist” trend that “strengthens the fight against the superpowers” as the Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist) [C.P.(M-L)], Workers Viewpoint Organization (WVO) and others have done? This is trying to force reality into the mold of the three worlds theory rather than conducting concrete analysis of concrete conditions and trends. For during these same five years that Sadat has supposedly “furthered the unity against the Zionists and the superpowers who back them” he has called for “Al-Infitah” (opening) toward Western monopoly capitalists particularly from the U.S. He has relied on U.S. finance capital from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to plan financing for Egyptian development projects and to relieve Egypt’s $4.5 billion balance of payments deficit.[2] He has brutally suppressed the patriotic and communist forces opposing his regime, answering last January’s food riots over commodity shortages and price hikes with violence comparable to the savagery of the Shah of Iran.[3] Only loans of $250 million from Chase Manhattan Bank,[4] and $190 million in emergency aid from U.S. Congress[5] could give Sadat any relief at home. And he has requested from the U.S. military and economic aid amounting to $1 billion for the coming year.[6]

Did he “fight against the superpowers” in signing the Sinai pact in 1975 or in accepting U.N. resolution 242? Both of these reduce the Palestinian question to one of “refugees” and recognize Israel’s right to exist upon the lands of the peoples of Palestine and the bones of Palestinian martyrs. Did he exhibit a “dual character” in being the first to propose to U.S. Secretary Vance that Palestinian participation at Geneva should be bound hand and foot to the reactionary imperialist agent, King Hussein of Jordan? And can he continue to fool so many in the U.S. communist and workers movements into thinking his is a “vacillating-nationalist” regime? The three worlds theory says “Yes” to all of these – but Marxism-Leninism says “No!”

Can we say that “Sadat’s actions represent a step against superpower hegemonism” as the C.P.(M-L) claims? The CP. (M-L)-quotes Christian Science Monitor and the New York Times to convince us of the “opposition to Sadat’s move by U.S. imperialism.” (The Call, Dec. 12, 1977). “Wishin’ and hopin’” that Sadat is not fully consolidated by U.S. imperialism, the CP. (M-L) seizes on the official U.S. “neutrality” to Sadat’s actions to prove their point. Placing their faith in Sadat’s promises not to conclude a separate peace, they criticize his “’de facto’[!] recognition of Israel.’” The significance of such distorted analysis is that in effect Sadat has already concluded a separate peace, and that his “de facto” recognition of Israel came at least two years earlier when he signed the Sinai disengagement pact with Israel, and accepted U.N. resolution 242. The CP.(M-L) insists on “criticizing” Sadat rather than exposing him outright as an imperialist appendage. They want so badly to held on to this alleged vacillating nationalist[7] in order to be consistent with their “three worlds theory” which fails to distinguish between the class forces. Succumbing to and trusting imperialist propaganda about this “independent” and “non-aligned” Egyptian leader, the CP.(M-L) says,

...the fact that [Sadat’s actions] are taken in opposition to the aims of the Palestinian struggle at this time [!] makes it impossible for him to bring peace [!] or to push forward the struggle against imperialism and its chief tool in the Middle East, Israeli Zionism. (Our emphasis, Ibid)

So, for the CP. (M-L), it is “impossible” for Sadat “to bring peace or push forward the struggle against imperialism,” not because Sadat is tied to U.S. capital and the Western imperialist camp, not because his comprador class nature makes him a willing puppet of the United States, but because he is opposing the aims of the Palestinian struggle “at this time”! The CP. (M-L) is oblivious to objective reality in Palestine, as their faithful attempt to cover up for Sadat’s collaboration to U.S. imperialism shows.

Opposing the Social-Democratic parties of the Second International and their efforts to unite with the imperialist plans of their “own” bourgeoisie in WWI, Lenin said, Opportunism and social chauvinism have the same political content, namely class collaboration, repudiation of the dictatorship of the proletariat, repudiation of revolutionary action, unconditional acceptance of bourgeois legality, confidence in the bourgeoisie and lack of confidence in the proletariat.[8] Covering up for Sadat’s shift to the camp of U.S. imperialism and praising his alleged “struggle against the two superpowers”, the CP. (M-L) hides Sadat’s comprador nature. Such labels as “independent”, “third world” and “non-aligned” are welcomed by Sadat and U.S. imperialism. Sadat is eager to achieve the kind of “national independence” and “state sovereignty” which ensures U.S. imperialist domination and protection under conditions of imperialist peace. To put forward the notion that such imperialist puppets as Sadat are “third world” leaders struggling against superpower hegemonism is truly to defend the bourgeoisie better than the bourgeoisie itself!


The adherents of the theory of three worlds raise “Arab Unity” as the key to the imperialist attacks, shout about the “isolation of Egypt from the Arab World” and place all their support in the various Arab regimes. The C.P.(M-L), WVO, Workers’ Congress (WC) and others dutifully apply this theory, which, translated into the conditions of the Middle Fast, requires support for the so-called Arab bloc.

For WVO, “The Soviet Union is waiting for the Sadat initiatives to fall through, whereupon it stands to gain as Egypt and the U.S. imperialists are totally isolated from the Arab world.” (Workers’ Viewpoint, Dec. 1977)

They reprint in their December 1977 issue a graphic from the New York Times of Sadat and Begin in a boat fishing for supporters, under the caption “Alone Together”. WVO agrees with the bourgeois press’ analysis of the situation. It sees Sadat “isolated” from the Arab world. Workers Congress joins in:

The isolation of Egypt in the Arab community has been furthered by Sadat’s call for a pre-Geneva press conference in Cairo to which Israel was invited with no preconditions for negotiations. It appears that apart from Egypt there will be a complete Arab boycott after meeting. (The Communist, Dec. 5, 1977)

This is an incorrect assessment of the facts, for as soon as the throe world forces praise the “complete Arab boycott” of Sadat’s initiative, a few Palestinians from the West Bank and the Gaza strip journey to Cairo to take part in the imperialist plan. And tomorrow Hussein of Jordan and the Saudi sheiks will join Sadat wholeheartedly, after proper bargaining.

How can these forces possibly see Sadat’s sellout as a “deviation” from “Arab unity’? Can they possibly separate this act from the trend among some Arab states to side with one imperialism or another? Can they “forget” so easily the services of King Hussein of Jordan in attacking the Palestinian liberation movement in 1970, or his open collaboration with Sadat in calling for “an official and declared” relation between the new Palestinian entity and the Kingdom of Jordan? Are these forces blind to the CIA operations base in Jordan and CIA payments to Hussein? Are they unaware of the fact that Hussein sent 20,000 Jordanian troops to Damascus to cover President Assad’s domestic flank during the Syrian occupation of southern Lebanon in 1976?[9] How are these forces able to excuse the trickery of Hussein when he tries to split the P.L.O. by honoring such Palestinian officials as Sheikh Jaabari, the mayor of Hebron, as an alternative to the P.L.O. in negotiations over the future of the West Bank?”[10] Is Sadat really alone in the Arab world with such “opponents” as Hussein, or Fahd of Saudi Arabia? This is the same kind of “isolation” which President Assad of Syria faced when Egypt condemned his occupation of southern Lebanon to crush the armed progressive movement of the Palestinians and Lebanese anti-imperialist forces with nothing stronger than weak words. This is the same kind of “isolation” that hides the continued Saudi aid in support of the Syrian occupation, and Egypt’s present “peace” initiative. Sadat is not alone in recognizing U.N. resolutions 242 and 338, which reduce the Palestinian question to one of refugees or in pushing for a Geneva conference based on these resolutions. Clearly Sadat is not alone or isolated, no matter how persistent the joint efforts of the bourgeoisie and the theory of three worlds are in proclaiming it. With such analysis of Sadat’s “isolation” these forces cover up for Arab capitulation and keep the U.S. proletariat from a scientific understanding of imperialist strategy and tactics.

The nature of the “Arab unity” so dramatically called for by the adherents of the three worlds theory is precisely unity around the destruction of the Palestinian resistance movement and its confinement to an apartheid-like bantustan on the West Bank. Are we to be so easily fooled by the “official neutrality” toward Sadat’s trip to Jerusalem of CIA agent Hussein or the ARAMCO-created regime in Saudi Arabia? WVO even has the gall to report “strong opposition to Sadat’s treachery from the Arab countries, so far including Saudi Arabia”!! (Workers’ Viewpoint, Nov., 1977) They condemn Sadat’s visit because it “concretely weakens the precious unity among the Arab countries and its peoples”, committing two grave errors. First, they fail to define the unity between which Arab countries and for what purpose, for Sadat has fully joined Hussein of Jordan and Fahd of Saudi Arabia in “Arab Solidarity” of the U.S. imperialist kind. Second, WVO tries to hide the gap between the Arab regimes ruling the countries, and the toiling masses who struggle against them. This point is echoed by the Workers Congress.

Is this a concrete example of supporting the peoples’ national liberation movements, or is it deception and class collaboration? Both political errors derive from the incorrect assumption that has created a static bloc of “non-aligned” Arab countries as part of the main force against the two superpowers, rather than starting from investigation of the concrete conditions.

We must analyze each particular movement to see whether it strengthens or weakens imperialism. We must place the proletariat and the revolution it leads at the center of our strategy and tactics both nationally and internationally. While other classes can stand opposed to imperialism and can be the allies of the proletariat, it is only the proletariat which can successfully lead the new democratic revolution. In situations where there is no strong proletarian leadership of the national liberation movement, while we should give support to specific actions, we must not give the illusion that these regimes hold in their hands the final solution. Yet this is precisely what is being done in calling for “Arab unity” without specifying the two different types: unity tied to U.S. imperialism, Soviet social-imperialism, or to any of the lesser imperialist powers, none of which can oppose imperialism as a system, and the genuine, revolutionary unity between the Arab and Palestinian peoples that steadily fights against all imperialism. Marxist-Leninists support the second kind of Arab unity and oppose any theory which urges support for the first kind.


Those who insist that the Soviet Union is the “main danger” in the world face a crisis concerning Palestine. They have failed to analyze the maneuvers of U.S. imperialism in Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia or Iran, and uncritically praise certain moves by these regimes as “anti-imperialist”.

In focusing most of the attention on the Soviet social-imperialists internationally, these forces cover up for U.S. imperialist exploitation and contention for hegemony. It fully accords with dialectics to identify the two superpowers as

in the same degree and to the same extent, the main enemy of socialism, and the freedom and independence of nations, the greatest force defending oppressive and exploiting systems and the direct threat that mankind will be hurled into a third world war.[11]

When Lenin faced the opportunists of the Second International with their “who started it” theories and “defense of the fatherland” slogans around the time of WWI, he always made it very clear that imperialism was the cause of war, that is, the rivalry and contention between imperialist powers for markets, raw materials, and sources for capital export inevitably lead to war. What Lenin repeatedly emphasized was that which group of belligerent imperialist powers starts the war is a secondary question; that these who spend their time debating it fall into defending the non-aggressor imperialist, states. What Lenin placed as the primary consideration was the reactionary class character of the war being prepared by both imperialist blocs.

The three world theory has led to the worst kind of collaboration with U.S. imperialism and regimes dependent on it. It has led to social-chauvinist support of NATO and arms to the Shah of Iran because they oppose the Soviet Union. And now it is leading to concealing Sadat’s capitulation to U.S. imperialism, and to placing regimes such as his at the head of the “fight against the two superpowers”. This profound theory will lead forces which follow it religiously in to support for U.S. imperialism against the Soviet Union. This is one-sidedness in its most blatant form, all behind the mask that the U.S. is “exposed and retreating”. The U.S. is not “passive”, or “strategically on the defensive”. It is an aggressive, expansionist, and hegemonic imperialist power.

In the words of Enver Hoxha,

Notwithstanding its clearly pro-Israeli stance, U.S. imperialism not only succeeded in keeping the course of “friendship” with Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf Emirates in its favor, but it also managed to undermine the Soviet position in the area. Egypt’s denunciation of the Egyptian-Soviet Treaty as well as the expulsion of the aggressive Soviet naval fleet from its ports, is a defeat and not a victory for Soviet social-imperialism.

Now it is the Americans who have the upper hand in dictating their schemes in this region.[12]

Yet our three world forces (epitomized here by WVO and Workers Congress) insist in the face of U.S. superiority in the Middle East, that Sadat’s actions,

represent an overall gain for the two superpowers. Sadat’s sellout is a temporary setback for Arab solidarity, it concretely strengthens Israel and it gives room for the two superpowers to maneuver and splinter the unity of the Arab and Palestinian people. (Workers’ Viewpoint, Dec, 1977)

Workers Congress states that Sadat’s trip has “served to reinforce the negotiating position of the Zionists, undercut the just demands of the Palestinian and Arab peoples, weakened Arab unity and created further room for superpower maneuvering.” (The Communist, Dec. 5, 1977). And later WVO takes the incredible position that, in the face of these events, that “The U.S. position may weaken, relative to the Soviet social imperialists.” They refuse to connect Sadat with the U.S. because he is supposedly a “vacillating nationalist” and because U.S. imperialism is “less dangerous” and – heavens! – couldn’t possibly have coordinated such an aggressive and offensive attack on the peoples of Palestine! After all, the U.S. is exposed, it is a battered wolf! What we really need to do is expose the Soviet Union! It’s more dangerous!

When U.S. imperialism is lining up its forces and consolidating them in the course of struggle, does this give both superpowers equal room to maneuver, as the three world theorists imply? How does it weaken the U.S.? How can Sadat’s enlistment in the U.S. imperialist bloc be a victory for the two superpowers? Because they fail to conduct a concrete analysis of Sadat’s shift to U.S. imperialism and proceed from the notion that the U.S. is “passive”, “strategically on the defensives whereas the Soviet Union is the ’main danger’”, the three world theorists cannot understand that Sadat’s trip to Israel is a clear victory for U.S. imperialism.

True, any period of sharp turns in history provides conditions for maneuvering by all class forces. True, both superpowers will try to use new conditions in the Middle East to their own advantage. But to state these generalities without concretely identifying the clear dominance of U.S. imperialism over Soviet social-imperialism in the Mid-East covers up for U.S. imperialist expansion.

Just as it is incorrect to characterize the U.S. as “defensive” and “passive”, it is equally incorrect to assume that the Soviet social imperialists will accept U.S. domination in the Middle East. The Albanians have clearly pointed out,

Of course, Soviet social-imperialism is not sitting idly by with folded arms, either. It is striving to make good its loss in Egypt, by clinging to the positions it still has in some Arab country, or by seeking to secure some new base, by attaching itself to new ’friends’[13]

The roots of the conflict in the Middle East are to be found not only in the Arab-Israeli conflict, caused by the Israeli aggressors, but first of all in the hegemonic policy pursued by the two imperialist superpowers, the United States of America and the Soviet Union, which in pursuit of their expansionist policy are keeping the situation on the boil in this region.[14]

The Soviet Union’s opposition to the current developments is not based on concern for the just cause of the Palestinian and Arab peoples, but on its contention with the U.S. imperialists for hegemony. Continuing to support the Israeli settler state, the Soviet Union is also attempting to woo various Arab forces like Syria and Libya with militant words and military aid. Suffering a setback in the Middle East, the Soviet revisionists have intensified their activity in the horn of Africa. They are trying to consolidate their position in Ethiopia by using Cuban troops to try to prevent the birth of a Peoples’ Eritrea. The- current conditions in the Middle East have made the horn of Africa a very strategic area in the Soviet Union’s global war preparation.


Both superpowers use the tactics of “no war, no peace” to insure that no just peoples’ war will succeed, and that no genuine peace will be established. It means war or peace under imperialist control, on imperialist terms, at imperialist instigation. It is designed to facilitate superpower penetration into the Middle East by forcing formerly petty and national bourgeois regimes to accept more and mere imperialist capital. As a result, the national bourgeoisie is weakened and the compradors are strengthened. The two superpowers create situations of economic, political and/or military crisis through the footholds they have gained. It is precisely non-alignment that they seek to destroy in order to subject the peoples to super-exploitation under their hegemony.

Taking advantage of Britain’s weakness at the close of World War II as well as the contradictions between Britain, the Zionists and the Palestinian masses, the U.S. moved into the Middle East as the main supporter of Zionist colonialism and the Israeli settler state. While such terrorists organizations as the Irgun, Hagannah, and the Stern Gang cleared the land and the Zionists represented Palestine to European Jewish refugees as “a land without people for a people without land”, the U.S. supported Zionist-controlled immigration to set up a U.S. outpost in the area. With four wars in the past thirty years, the U.S. has strengthened and consolidated its old forces and won over new ones. The twenty-year association between the CIA and King Hussein of Jordan, the close relationship between the Saudi regime and U.S. oil and armament interests, and the eagerness of the Saudis to finance a Palestinian mini-state or bail out any Arab regime friendly to the U.S., attest to American successes in the region.

More recently, the Syrian regime has become quite friendly to the U.S., accepting $300 million in U.S. aid[15], doubling trade with the U.S. during the period of the Lebanese civil war.[16] Faced with the possibility of a progressive, anti-imperialist Lebanon on its border, Syria moved to crush the popular armed struggle of the Palestinian resistance movement and the Lebanese progressive forces. Its reward from U.S. imperialism was a welcome relief to an economy racked by 20-40% inflation, drained by the war and facing increasing discontent from the Syrian masses. All of this, coupled with Sadat’s capitulation to U.S. imperialism, has strengthened U.S. influence in Syria. With a secure hold over the Palestinian movement in Lebanon, Assad was counting on a strong bargaining position in a Mid East settlement. Now that Sadat has taken the initiative and drastically undermined Syria’s influence over a Mid East settlement, Assad’s regime is left more alone than ever. This, not anti-imperialism, has been the thrust of his criticisms of Sadat.

The increasing financial, political and military ties between Syria and the imperialists need more investigation. But without Egypt on its side, Syria presents no solid military threat to Israel in its efforts to regain the Golan Heights. And Assad can remain in power only through the steady flow of foreign capital into the veins of the Syrian economy.

Also, the current economic and political situations within each of the confrontation states in the Mid-East provide excellent conditions for imperialism to further penetrate and control their internal affairs. The Egyptian people’s uprising in January, 1977, 30% inflation in Israel, Egypt, and Syria, Palestinian uprisings in the West Bank, the continuing armed struggle in Lebanon, and the economic struggle of the Israeli working class all attest to the need for the U.S. to resolve the interstate conflicts and the Palestinian question quickly and decisively. To maintain superior position in the Middle East the U.S. must consolidate and prepare for new attacks upon the countries and regimes in and around the Middle East.

How should communists view U.S. imperialism in the Middle East? Mao Tse Tung concretely analyzed imperialist strategic objectives in “A Proposal Concerning the General Line of the International Communist Movement”, and On New Democracy.

The strategic objectives of U.S. imperialism have been to grab and dominate the intermediate zone lying between the U.S. and the socialist camp, put down the revolution of the oppressed peoples and nations, proceed to destroy the socialist countries and thus subject all the peoples and countries of the world; including its allies, to domination and enslavement by U.S. monopoly capital.[17]

These objectives hold for the U.S. imperialists and for the Soviet social-imperialists as well. In their contention for hegemony and war preparations they have focused on this intermediate zone and have succeeded, through tactics such as “no war, no peace”, in gaining control of various developing capitalist and dependent countries. They have used and will continue to use all means to undermine each others spheres of influence, bind the countries more tightly to themselves, and prevent, at all costs, new democratic or socialist revolutions.

What are our tasks in the face of this reality? Do we stand by and wish that these countries remain “non-aligned” when the objective trend is alignment with one superpower bloc or the other? Do we treat petty bourgeois and nationalist regimes as static and permanent, or do we concretely analyze their motion in the face of imperialism and the peoples’ struggles? Speaking directly about the position of the “petty Kemalist dictatorship of the bourgeoisie” in Turkey after World War I, Mao was very clear:

Moreover, even Kemalist Turkey had eventually [our emphasis] to throw herself into the arms of Anglo-American imperialism, becoming more and more a semi-colony and a part of the reactionary imperialist world. In the present international situation the “heroes” in the colonies and semi-colonies must either join the imperialist front and become part of the forces of world counterrevolution, or join the anti-imperialist front and become part of the forces of world revolution. They must do one thing or the other, for there is no third choice.[18]

This is in contradiction to the theory of three worlds, which implies that national capital can develop and remain forever independent of imperialism, and that such “heroes” as Sadat, or the Shah of Iran are leaders of an anti-imperialist front, when in fact they oppose Soviet social-imperialism only to conciliate with U.S. imperialism.

It is clear that Sadat and the Shah are not independent, but are comprador components of the U.S. imperialist front. Though they are being praised as leaders of the “main force against the two superpowers” and portrayed as part of the national liberation movements by the proponents of three worlds, Marxism-Leninism identifies them as integral parts of the main enemy within those countries: U.S. imperialism. We must also be clear on the incapacity of those same regimes to break away from their master, U.S. imperialism, and join an anti-imperialist front against it. Can a comprador break free of its imperialist class nature, shed its foreign capital base, and establish a bourgeois dictatorship to develop national capitalism? We refer comrades to Mao Tse Tung.

The establishment in China of a capitalist society under bourgeois dictatorship will in the first place not be permitted by international capitalism, that is, imperialism. The whole history of modern China is indeed the history of imperialist aggression upon China, of imperialist opposition to China’s independence and to her development of capitalism. True this is a period of the desperate struggle of dying imperialism, for ’Imperialism is moribund capitalism.’ But just because it is dying, it depends all the more on colonies and semi-colonies for survival, and will never allow any colony or semi-colony to establish anything, like a capitalist society under bourgeois dictatorship. Just because Japanese imperialism cannot extricate itself from serious economic and political crises, just because it is dying, it must invade China and reduce her to a colony, thereby preventing her from establishing a bourgeois dictatorship and developing national capitalism.[19]

Thus, Mao’s words of 1946 have caught the adherents of the “three worlds” “wishin’ and hopin’” that Sadat, the Shah and others represent the national bourgeoisie, standing in contradiction to the superpowers, in particular the Soviet social-imperialists. In this process they objectively cover up for U.S. imperialism and demagogically rob the U.S. proletariat of a concrete understanding of who its enemies and its friends really are. A scientific analysis concludes that U.S. imperialism will never allow the comprador Shah or Sadat to break free of its domination and develop national capitalism. The extent of “struggle” between a puppet and its master is to strike a bargain for both to strengthen their joint exploitation and oppression of the peoples.

Mao differentiated, however, even between the different sections of the comprador bourgeoisie:

However, different sections of the comprador big bourgeoisie owe their allegiance to different imperialist powers, so that when the contradictions among the latter become very acute and the revolution is directed mainly against one particular imperialist power, it becomes possible for the sections of the comprador class which serve other imperialist groupings to join the current anti-imperialist front to a certain extent and for a certain period. But they will turn against the Chinese revolution the moment their masters do. [Our emphasis] [20]

This correct scientific formulation makes use of all possible, even temporary allies in the new democratic revolution, but strictly rules out including the Shah of Iran, Pinochet of Chile, or Sadat of Egypt within a united front against their master, U.S. imperialism. To say otherwise is to place a component part of imperialism within the struggle against that imperialism.


The adherents of the theory of three worlds form a united chorus in criticizing Sadat for disrupting the progress toward a Geneva conference. The CP.(M-L), WVO, WC and others are saddened by Sadat’s “unilateral” move, preferring instead that all the forces of “Arab unity” work together toward Geneva. Perhaps they have some notion that a Geneva conference based on U.N. resolutions 242 and 338, chaired by the superpowers, for the purpose of establishing a mini-state ruled jointly by Jordan and Israel is perfectly acceptable, as long as the P.L.O. is allowed into the negotiations. By placing total faith in mythical “Arab unity” and fighting for uncritical support of the P.L.O., the three world forces will commit themselves to fight for the imperialist mini-state scheme and the U.N. resolutions which reduce the Palestinian people to a band of refugees. The reactionary nature of the mini-state plan, which aims to imprison the Palestinian people on the West Bank and serve as an apartheid-like bantustan, has not changed simply because some Arab states and some capitulationist Palestinian forces now fight for it. It is an imperialist plan, to be constructed with imperialist capital. To unite with it is to urge the Palestinian masses to use Saudi capital, Jordanian architecture and American-Israeli design to build a cage for their own imprisonment. It is to drag through the mud the sixty years of struggle of the Palestinians, and to legitimize the 1948 U.N. partition plan which created the Zionists’ settler state.

The Palestinian people will not be sold so cheaply. They know struggle against such capitulation as a way of life. The theory of three worlds, which sacrifices their just demands for a dirt cage, deserves only condemnation from the world’s revolutionary forces. The just demand of the Arab peoples for the return of lands occupied by Israel in the 1967 war is inseparably linked with the long term demand of the Palestinian and Arab peoples for the liberation of the whole of Palestine and the establishment of a democratic, secular state. Efforts to bargain for the Sinai, the West Bank and the Golan Heights at the expense of the cause of the Palestinian people will surely fail.

At the Tripoli Conference of forces opposed to Sadat’s sell-out, at least nine member organizations of the P.L.O. signed a militant, anti-imperialist document rejecting all “imperialist, Zionist, reactionary solutions” to the Arab-Israeli conflict, rejecting U.N. resolutions 242 and 338 and any Geneva conference based on them. It affirmed “the rights of the Palestinian people to return and control our destiny in our country – among them, the establishment of a Palestinian state on any part of Palestinian lands that might be liberated during this stage, without peace or negotiations or recognition (of Israel).” It further condemned any forces which obstruct the establishment of a progressive Arab front. Although not an official P.L.O. document, it reflects the general, immediate interests of the Palestinian people, who refuse to yield under imperialist pressure. They will continue to fight for the liberation of the whole of Palestine!


We have exposed Sadat’s history of betrayal and his shift to the side of U.S. imperialism. The expulsion of the Soviet Union from Egypt was not a victory for the peoples of the Middle East, for it was orchestrated by the U.S. for its own expansion, and only substituted one imperialism for another. The current U.S. offensive seeks to consolidate its hegemony in the area in order to prepare for new attacks on the peoples of Africa, Southwest Asia and the Mediterranean.

The theory of three worlds objectively covers up for U.S. imperialism by singling out the Soviet Union as the “main danger”. It treats comprador regimes such as that of the Shah of Iran and Sadat of Egypt as independent of the United States. What the three world theorists obscure is the inability of a comprador-bourgeois regime to become national-bourgeois and develop national capitalism. Moreover they hide the fact that, as Mao said, the national bourgeoisie must inevitably capitulate to imperialism unless it is led in its patriotic fight by the sole truly revolutionary class, the proletariat. By placing their faith in the comprador or allegedly national bourgeoisies of the oppressed countries, the three world theorists hand over the leadership of the struggle against imperialism to a class which is either bound hand and foot to imperialism or, at best, is incapable of resolutely carrying through the fight against foreign domination. This is precisely the reason that the Party of Labor of Albania stresses the leading role of the proletariat in all countries. It is correct to support the petty bourgeoisie and the national bourgeoisie when they fight against imperialism. At the same time, it is essential to advocate proletarian leadership of the national movements where it does not yet exist in order that the movements succeed.

Sadat is not “isolated” in the Mid-East; his friends are merely waiting for the most convenient opportunity to enter into his “peace initiative”. The “Arab Unity” which is being praised by the three worlds theorists is unity with U.S. imperialism. The efforts of certain forces within the leadership of the P.L.O. to turn that mass fighting organization into a capitulationist party of compromise with imperialism must be condemned. Genuine anti-imperialist fighting unity among the Arab peoples must be fully supported. There is no room for complacency in the present situation. The Palestinian people deserve genuine support of the world’s revolutionary forces. The theorists of three worlds, have distorted the concrete conditions which exist in the Middle East today. Their guide idealism and is thus incapable of truly supporting the Palestinian peoples’ struggle against Zionism and imperialism. In fact, this reactionary theory, which sacrifices lofty demands of the Palestinian people and offers them a bantustan instead of their country, deserves all-round condemnation from the revolutionary peoples of the world.

* * *

Our organization is conducting further investigation of the Mid-East developments, particularly the influence of the Soviet Union on all forces in the Middle East, the positions of the revolutionary forces in the area, the joint statement of the states and organisations which met in Tripoli to condemn Sadat, the positions of the Syrian and Iraqi regimes, the joint U.S.-Soviet statement on the Middle East, etc. We owe the U.S. working class an all-sided account of the Mid-East events, and an exposure of the class collaboration of the three worlds theorists.

As the P.L.A. has summed up, a genuine solution to the Middle East conflict is not in sight, but this fact does not demoralize the Marxist-Leninists and revolutionaries, nor does it force them to jump into the arms of Sadat or Hussein for salvation. On the contrary, this bad thing will be turned into a good thing, as the “friends” of the Palestinian people expose their treachery. In the spirit of the struggle of the heroic Palestinian people, in the revolutionary tradition of the Arab masses, we say:



[1] Stalin, Foundations of Leninism, Foreign Language Press (FLP)-p. 76

[2] Middle East Research and Information Project (MERIP) Dec, 1976 #53-p. 23

[3] Ibid. #54-p. 19

[4] Ibid. #53-p. 23

[5] Congressional Quarterly, 2/12/77-p 258

[6] Washington Post, 4/6/77-p. 1

[7] This refers to the concept which Mao Tung elaborated concerning the dual character of the national bourgeoisie in oppressed countries. Speaking of the national bourgeoisie’s “proneness to compromise” Mao stated, “When confronted by a formidable enemy, it unites with the workers and peasants to oppose him; but when the workers and peasants are awakened, it turns to unite with the enemy to oppose them.” (On New Democracy, FL2-p. 16) However, the three world theorists throw this term around loosely, claiming that Sadat or the Shah represent the national bourgeoisie who can be united with, when in fact they represent the comprador bourgeoisie who do not vacillate in their service to imperialism.

[8] Lenin, Collected Works, V. 22-p. 112

[9] Arab Student Bulletin, V. 1 #6 12/76-p. 2

[10] MERIP #55, 2/77-p. 24

[11] Enver Hoxha, “Report to the 7th Congress of the Party of Labour of Albania”-p. 166

[12] Ibid, p. 184

[13] Ibid, p. 183

[14] Albania Today #4, 1977

[15] MERIP #51, p. 9

[16] US News and World Report, 4/18/77-p. 79

[17] CPC, “Proposal Concerning General Line of Int’l Communist Movement”, FLP-p. 11

[18] Mao Tse Tung, On New Democracy, FLP-p. 25

[19] Ibid, p. 23

[20] Mao Tse Tung, Selected Works, V. 2-p. 230