Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Eileen Klehr

Whitewashing Enemies and Slandering Friends

An exposure of the RCP’s revisionist line on the international situation

First Published: Class Struggle, No. 7, Spring 1977.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
Copyright: This work is in the Public Domain under the Creative Commons Common Deed. You can freely copy, distribute and display this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit the Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line as your source, include the url to this work, and note any of the transcribers, editors & proofreaders above.

The rising factors of both war and revolution in the world today have inevitably sharpened the struggle between Marxism-Leninism and revisionism on the international situation.

In the U.S. communist movement, the so-called Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP) has emerged as a new apologist for the two superpowers, especially the Soviet social-imperialists. Following in the footsteps of the centrists, headed by the Guardian newspaper, the RCP is promoting a revisionist line in the guise of Marxism, especially with its “theory of equilibrium” between the two superpowers, a theory that merges with the revisionist line of detente and its thinly veiled attacks on Chairman Mao’s revolutionary concept of the three worlds.

Furthermore, the RCP has adopted the standpoint of Trotskyism by analyzing the world struggle against imperialism as a struggle between “two camps”–the international proletariat and the international bourgeoisie. With this position, they deny the changes in the world that occurred with the rise of imperialism, and especially in the present period, the development of the national liberation movements in the colonial and semi-colonial countries.

Finally, the RCP fails to correctly assess the contradictions among the imperialists, portraying the imperialists today as statically organized into “blocs” rather than in a developing condition of disunity and disarray, especially manifested in the contradiction between the superpowers and the smaller imperialist countries of the second world.


In August 1973, Premier Chou En-lai, in his speech to the Tenth Party Congress of the Chinese Communist Party characterized the world in the following way:

The present international situation is one characterized by great disorder on the earth! The wind sweeping through the tower heralds a rising storm in the mountains! This aptly depicts how the basic world contradictions as analyzed by Lenin show themselves today. Relaxation is a temporary and superficial phenomenon, and great disorder will continue.[1]

Premier Chou also stated the stand of the proletariat towards the “great disorder” in the world:

Such great disorder is a good thing for the people, not a bad thing. It throws the enemies into confusion and causes division among them, while it arouses and tempers the people, thus helping the international situation develop further in the direction favorable to the people and unfavorable to imperialism, modern revisionism and all reaction.[2]

In this brief summation, Premier Chou applied the main features of the era of imperialism, outlined by Lenin, to the present international situation. In opposition to the revisionists’ characterization of the world as dominated by “peace, detente and tranquility,” Chou’s speech reaffirmed Lenin’s view that “an essential feature of imperialism is the rivalry between several Great Powers in the striving for hegemony,”[3] and that “imperialism must often give rise to national wars.”[4]

As long as imperialism exists, “great upheaval,” including inter-imperialist wars and wars of liberation from imperialism will exist in the world. In the present world situation, it is mainly the two superpowers, the U.S. and Soviet Union who are contending for world hegemony. These two superpowers together constitute the main enemy of the world’s people.

While there are many more imperialist countries in the world, it is the two superpowers who are the main oppressors and exploiters of the world’s people. Today they are the only imperialist powers who are capable of launching a new world war. The contention between the two superpowers is the source of a new world war, for which both of the superpowers are rapidly preparing.

To advance the struggle against imperialism and for socialism, the people of the world must oppose both superpowers, and can never rely on one of these imperialists to oppose the other.

At the same time, it is necessary to make a thorough analysis of the position of the two superpowers in today’s world and determine how they stand in relation to each other in their struggle for world domination. In his work explaining the Marxist world outlook of dialectical materialism, Chairman Mao stressed the importance of making a concrete analysis of all important contradictions:

When we speak of understanding each aspect of a contradiction, we mean understanding what specific position each aspect occupies, what concrete forms it assumes in its interdependence and in its contradiction with its opposite, and what concrete methods are employed in the struggle with its opposite when the two are both interdependent and in contradiction, and also after the interdependence breaks down.”[5] Are the two superpowers exactly the same and do they represent an equal danger to the world’s people? The metaphysicians of the RCP have come to the conclusion that in today’s world, the two superpowers are in a state of “equilibrium.” Like the mechanical materialists that Chairman Mao criticized in “On Contradiction” they:

...hold that all the different kinds of things in the universe and all their characteristics have been the same ever since they first came into being. All subsequent changes have simply been increases or decreases in quantity.[6]

The RCP’s theory of “equilibrium” between the superpowers is not the product of an all-round analysis of the U.S. and Soviet Union. This is a task that the RCP has avoided. Instead, the theory of ”equilibrium” is the conclusion that must be drawn from their articles describing the two superpowers. For example, in the April 1977 Revolution article entitled “The Real Dynamics of the Arms Race,” the RCP writers characterize the arms strength of the two superpowers as having reached a “rough parity.”[7] They go on to describe the military strength between the U.S. and USSR as “an overall equality of power.”

Further in the article, they strike a “balance” between “more centralization and a stronger centralized state apparatus” in the Soviet Union and a “more developed all-round economy in the U.S.”


The only conclusion is that the two superpowers stand equal in the world today, exactly equal in most respects and perfectly counterbalanced in their strengths and weaknesses.

What this shows is that the RCP’s metaphysical blinders prevent it from grasping the significance of the fact that U.S. imperialism is in decline while Soviet social-imperialism is on the rise. RCP can parrot the general truth about the decline of imperialism overall in relation to proletarian revolution, but as for a particular, concrete political analysis of the relation between the U.S. and the USSR, of the factors underlying their contention, the RCP falls flat on its face. Like the Trotskyites in the 1920s, the RCP fails to tie the question of the inevitability of imperialist war to the uneven development among the imperialist powers. As Stalin, criticizing the Trotskyites for holding a line similar to RCP’s, put the matter at that time:

What are the basic elements of the law of uneven development under imperialism?

Firstly, the fact that the world is already divided up among imperialist groups, that there are no more ’vacant,’ unoccupied territories in the world, and that in order to occupy new markets and sources of raw materials, in order to expand, it is necessary to seize territory from others by force.

Secondly, the fact that the unprecedented development of technology and the increasing levelling of development of the capitalist countries have made possible and facilitated the spasmodic outstripping of some countries by others, the ousting of more powerful countries by less powerful but rapidly developing countries.

Thirdly, the fact that the old distribution of spheres of influence among the various imperialist groups is forever coming into conflict with the new correlation of forces in the world market, and that, in order to establish ’equilibrium’ between the old distribution of spheres of influence and the new correlation of forces, periodic redivisions of the world by means of imperialist wars are necessary.[8]


Thus Stalin showed that any “equilibrium” among the imperialists was entirely transitory and temporary. But what about those who might argue in the following way: “It is true that there is a process of development. Twenty years ago the U.S. clearly had the upper hand in relation to the USSR, economically, politically and militarily. But since then, the USSR has caught up in some areas, lagged behind in other areas and in still other areas, even surpassed the U.S. Now, how can this be summed up? Isn’t it more accurate to say that the situation has moved from one of inequality to one of rough parity? Isn’t this more in accord with the facts than all this talk of ’uneven development,’ of the USSR now being more dangerous than the U.S?”

This was exactly a key component of the line promoted by the Trotskyite “opposition” in the Bolshevik party. Stalin answered as follows:

Can it be said that the diminishing difference in the levels of development of the capitalist countries and the increased levelling of these countries weaken the action of the law of uneven development under imperialism? No, it cannot. Does the difference in the levels of development increase or diminish? It undoubtedly diminishes. Does the degree of levelling grow or decline? It certainly grows. Is there not a contradiction between the growth of levelling and increasing uneven-ness of development under imperialism? No, there is not. On the contrary, levelling is the background and the basis which makes the increasing unevenness of development under imperialism possible.

Only people who, like our oppositionists, do not understand the economic essence of imperialism can counterpose levelling to the law of uneven development under imperialism. It is precisely because the lagging countries accelerate their development and tend to become level with the foremost countries that the struggle between countries to outstrip one another becomes more acute; it is precisely this that creates the possibility for some countries to outstrip others and oust them from the markets, thereby creating the preconditions for military conflicts, for the weakening of the capitalist world front and for the breaching of this front by the proletarians of different capitalist countries. He who does not understand this simple matter, understands nothing about the economic essence of monopoly capitalism.[9]

This deviation exposed by Stalin is precisely the one pushed by the RCP and Guardian centrists. They can only see the quantitative “facts” of the “levelling” of the two superpowers; they only describe an approaching “rough parity” and “equilibrium.” They refuse to look deeper, to grasp the interconnections and view the situation dialectic-ally.

But in the actual situation in today’s world, the question must be posed: Who benefits Trom this deviation? Who does the “theory of equilibrium” serve?

The RCP’s “theory of equilibrium” merges with the revisionist and social-imperialist lies of “detente,” a theory they are using as a smokescreen to cover up the intensifying war preparations and expansionism of the Soviet Union. As a recent China Features editorial points out:

While the Soviet Union is feverishly speeding its military buildup, making war preparations and expanding its tentacles everywhere, the Soviet propaganda machine is trumpeting that the Kremlin is working to ’build a solid mansion of peace’ and that, with the ’contributions’ it has made, ’the tragedy of war,’ which people fear and which has brought untold sufferings to the world, will be a ’thing of the past’ and there is a ’guarantee for checking a nuclear war and preventing this planet from destruction.’[10]


The editorial continues:

Both superpowers seek military supremacy over the other under the pretense of establishing a ’balance.’ In this respect, the Soviet Union has gone even much further.[11]

Under the present conditions of superpower contention, the editorial stresses that “The so-called ’balance’ can only be a false impression, temporal and superficial.”[12]

The RCP, like the Brezhnev and Gus Hall revisionists, promote the same view of “balance” or “rough parity.” And like the social-imperialists, the RCP’s line mainly covers up the more dangerous and aggressive character of the Soviet social-imperialists.

The Soviet Union is the most dangerous superpower precisely because it is a superpower on the rise, much like Germany was in the 1930s. As with Britain earlier, the U.S. still maintains the most colonies and in certain areas is stronger economically. But the Soviet Union is the most aggressive and expansionist, precisely because it is a newcomer to the imperialist feast.

In spite of the RCP’s claims that there is “rough parity” between the superpowers, militarily the USSR has not only achieved “parity” but has exceeded the U.S. in this field.

The same China Features editorial quoted above makes the observation:

Before 1963, Soviet stocks of inter-continental ballistic missiles and submarine-launched ballistic missiles respectively were less than one-quarter and one-half of the United States. By 1975, twelve years later, Moscow had increased its stock of these missiles by more than sixteen and seventeen times. Furthermore, according to U.S. Pentagon-compiled materials, the Soviet Union produces on an annual average nine times as many artillery pieces, about six times as many warships and tanks, twice as many attack submarines and helicopters as the United States, and has twice as many troops on active service as the United States.[13]

What is more, political factors must be taken into account as well. The new tsars have established their rule by open fascist terror in their homeland, contributing to their ability to “shore up the home front” in order to wage war abroad. As far back as 1964, Chairman Mao described the Soviet Union under the rule of the new Soviet bourgeoisie as a “dictatorship of the bourgeoisie, the dictatorship of the big bourgeoisie, the dictatorship of the German fascist type, the dictatorship of the Hitler type.”[14]


Comparing the Soviet Union with fascist Germany not only pointed to the commonality of brutal fascist repression against the Soviet people and the German masses under Hitler’s rule, but also pointed out that like Germany in the 1930s, the present-day Soviet Union is expansionist. It covets Western Europe as the stepping-stone to world hegemony.

Of crucial importance is the fact that the Soviet Union is more dangerous because it carries out its aggression and hegemonism under the signboard of “socialism” and “natural ally of the third world.” While Soviet social-imperialism is being increasingly exposed around the world, it is still able to fool some people with its “socialist” cover. It is the headquarters of modern revisionism, maintaining a whole chain of “fifth column” parties throughout the world.

It is for these reasons that genuine Marxist-Leninists, in the course of opposing both superpowers, have targeted Soviet social-imperialism as the most dangerous of the two and have aimed their main blow internationally against the Soviet social-imperialists. What this has meant in the U.S. is consistent propaganda and agitation exposing the aggressive imperialist character of the Soviet Union, and tearing off the Soviet revisionists’ “socialist” mask for its actions in Angola, India and Zaire. Marxist-Leninists must also take the lead in mobilizing the masses to oppose Soviet aggression.

The fact that the RCP has raised their theory of “equilibrium” to cover up the dangerous role of the Soviet Union in the present world situation is revealed in the quote by RCP Chairman Bob Avakian at the RCP’s July 4 demonstration in 1976:

You have to be pretty out of it not to be aware that today American workers are much more likely to understand that the New Tsars are pushing towards war than our own capitalists are–our rulers are doing plenty of ’education’ on this point.[15]


In sum, this quote most clearly represents the treachery of RCP’s line of “equilibrium” between U.S. and Soviet social-imperialism. It is a line that amounts to no exposure of Soviet revisionism, a line that ultimately leads to the abandonment of the anti-imperialist struggle against the Soviet Union completely. In addition, it surrenders to U.S. imperialism. For Avakian, the demagogy of the bourgeoisie on the question of the Soviet Union–in either its pro-detente or anti-detente forms–is a good enough “education” for U.S. workers.

The RCP, in fact, launches a major attack on the October League for its stand against appeasement of social-imperialism and its view opposing those in the U.S. who appease or conciliate to Soviet social-imperialism and who thereby bring on the war that much sooner. Charging the OL with embracing the “gangster logic of imperialism,” the RCP opportunistically equates OL’s opposition to appeasement of the Soviet Union with ”calling for increased U.S. armaments and national unity behind a strong anti-Soviet government as a way to ’postpone war.’ ”[16]

But where is the real “gangster logic”? The line of appeasement is the imperialist line upheld by the dominant U.S. ruling circles. It is a policy that the U.S. imperialists have chosen as the best way to contend with the Soviet social-imperialists. It is a policy of making ever-greater concessions to them in the hopes that this will temporarily divert their aggression, thus enabling the U.S. to strengthen its own political and military position.

The imperialist policy of appeasement has a long and treacherous history in world events. Such a policy was implemented in the 1930s by the British and French imperialists prior to the outbreak of World War II. The British and French imperialists tried to bring about a temporary peace in Western Europe by turning the aggression of Nazi Germany eastward toward the Soviet Union. Britain and France, in September 1938, signed the “Munich Agreement” with Hitler and Mussolini, which turned over Czechoslovakia to the Axis powers under the guise of promoting “peace in our times.”

Of course, this policy did nothing but give added strength to the Axis powers, thus hastening the outbreak of world war. In 1940, Hitler began his all-out offensive in Europe and seized great parts of Western Europe.

What is the lesson of appeasement and the “Munich policy?” A Hsinhua editorial draws the following conclusions:

This historical lesson showed that the peace and security of Europe could not be brought about by making concessions to satisfy the insatiable desires of aggressors at the expense of other countries. On the contrary, this could only expose the weakness of the West European countries and thereby encourage Hitler to accelerate launching a war of aggression.[17]

It is the RCP who has adopted the “gangster logic of imperialism” by covering up the appeasement policies of the U.S. ruling class and ridiculing communist opposition to appeasement as “fretting about U.S. imperialism’s inability to stand up to the Soviet Union.” Consistent with their conciliation to the social-imperialist lies about “detente,” the RCP also conciliates with the U.S. imperialist lies of “achieving world peace” through the process of making concessions to the Soviet Union.


In the present world situation, this line takes on an even greater amount of treachery. The two superpowers are rapidly gearing up for a new world war, politically, economically and militarily. What is the main source of this war?

The Soviet revisionists, representing a rising imperialist power on the world scene, are hungry for greater markets, sources of raw materials and “spheres of influence.” They, like all imperialists, are wracked with internal contradictions.

The Soviet social-imperialists, in order to preserve their profits and their existence, must challenge their main imperialist rival, the U.S. It is the USSR, the rising “upstart,” that is the main source of war in the world today.

The RCP, in defending their pro-social-imperialist theories, goes to great lengths to portray the October League and other genuine Marxist-Leninists as “conciliators to U.S. imperialism.” The OL’s work of pointing out the more dangerous character of social-imperialism worldwide, says the RCP “means urging our own imperialists to be more vigorous in carrying out their own imperialist aims and intentions and their own imperialist drives, to be more vigorous in their plunder and in their contention for domination, exploitation and oppression.“[18]

Distorting the OL’s line is the way in which the RCP is trying to cover up its own prettification of the superpower with the “socialist” cover. The October League’s stand, however, has been made clear in many published articles, including the pamphlet “The Two Superpowers: Main Enemies of the People of the World.” Here OL Chairman Michael Klonsky answers the phony charges of the revisionists and centrists who accuse the OL of “class collaboration” and calling for a “united front” with U.S. imperialism. Klonsky states:

...The centrists are trying to rescue the revisionists from their sinking ship. They are repeating all the lies which have been fabricated in Moscow of a ’Maoist alliance with U.S. imperialism.’[19]

Pointing out who such charges benefit, Klonsky says:

The opportunist charge of’class collaboration’ is aimed at discrediting any and all opposition to aggression of the Soviet Union.

The defeats of U.S. imperialism have not at all changed its completely reactionary nature. As the U.S. ruling class gears up for the inevitable war with the Soviet Union, we must intensify the struggle against them and their war preparations.[20]

Further, a major article printed in The Call (2/21/77) on the superpower arms race, sums up the OL’s line on the fight against war preparations in this way:

The struggle against the superpower war preparations is a major task of the U.S. working class. It requires opposition to the present frantic arms buildup of both superpowers, not just the U.S., as the Guardian and CP revisionists advocate. This struggle must be based on a realistic assessment of the Soviet Union. While both superpowers together constitute the main enemy of the world’s people, it is the USSR that is the superpower on the rise, the newcomer to the imperialist feast and the one most geared up for war.[21]

Where is the “class collaboration” that requires the RCP to echo the revisionist and centrist slanders against the OL? In fact, if the RCP were really interested in criticizing collaboration with the U.S. imperialists, it would have to begin by examining its own line.


In the course of their arguments justifying their “theory of equilibrium,” the RCP reveals itself to be not only a conciliator of Soviet revisionism, but a prettifier of the other superpower as well. An example appears in the Revolution article, “The Real Dynamics of the Arms Race.”[22] Describing U.S. imperialism in the world, the RCP makes the observation that the “developed contacts” and “heftier economic clout” of U.S. imperialism makes it able to “use more ’peaceful’ methods in expanding its tentacles of exploitation.” Here the RCP parrots the father of all conciliators to imperialism, Karl Kautsky, who also advanced the theory that “The urge of capital to expand...can best be promoted, not by the violent methods of imperialism, but by peaceful democracy.”[23] Kautsky advanced the theory that imperialism, based on its economic strength, could best promote its trade interests through “peaceful” and “democratic” methods rather than military occupation, annexation and war. This theory caused Lenin to comment:

Kautsky broke with Marxism by advocating in the epoch of finance capital a ’reactionary ideal,’ ’peaceful democracy,’ ’the mere operation of economic factors,’ for objectively this ideal drags us back from monopoly to non-monopolist capitalism and is a reformist swindle.[24]

The RCP is trying to run the same “reformist swindle” on the U.S. workers. They chastise the OL for “prettifying” U.S. imperialism in the world because the OL correctly exposes the more dangerous character of the Soviet Union. At the same time, as if the blood of the Indochinese people already belonged to the distant past, the RCP portrays the U.S. imperialists as “more peaceful” in carrying out their exploitation and oppression!


The RCP’s line of conciliation to the superpowers, especially Soviet social-imperialism, leads them to oppose the struggle of the third world countries and peoples, which constitute the main force opposing imperialism. This isolates the struggle of the U.S. workers for revolution from the worldwide struggle against imperialism.

In the February 1977 issue of Revolution, the RCP presents a defense of their position of “aiming the main blow at U.S. imperialism,” stating “...since revolution is made country by country, in the U.S. our main blow should be struck at our own imperialists.”[25]

Apart from its utter confusion of the concepts “target of the main blow” and “main enemy” within the U.S., the RCP here has abandoned one of the fundamental features of imperialism, summed up by Stalin in Foundations of Leninism:

Formerly it was the accepted thing to speak of the proletarian revolution in one or another developed country as of a separate and self-sufficient entity opposing a separate national front of capital as its antipode. Now, this point of view is no longer adequate. Now we must speak of the world proletarian revolution; for the separate national fronts of capital have become links in a single chain called the world front of imperialism, which must be opposed by a common front of the revolutionary movement in all countries.[26]

With the development of imperialism as a world system of capital, the scope of the proletarian revolution in each country was broadened to include its role as part of an international movement as well. For the U.S. working class and its allies, the struggle to overthrow U.S. imperialism must be carried out in the context of the worldwide struggle against imperialism. The U.S. proletariat must ally itself with the revolutionary struggles of the peoples of every country against both superpowers to accomplish successfully its aims of revolution and socialism.

One might ask the RCP: Should U.S. workers have fought in Spain in the 1930s? Should they have organized support actions for Ethiopia and China? After all, the main enemy of workers in the U.S. was the U.S. bourgeoisie while aggression in these areas was instigated mainly by its chief rivals, the imperialists of Germany, Italy and Japan. Was this “class collaboration” or genuine internationalism?

In today’s world, however, what is the role of the third world countries in the struggle against imperialism? The RCP answers these questions in an article published in Revolution, November 15, 1975:

Each superpower pushes the line that there is no choice for people and countries in the world except to side with one superpower against the other. And with regard to bourgeois forces and governments, while they may to a certain extent resist superpower domination, in the final analysis, out of greed or fear, they will tend to line up with one superpower or the other.[27]

In this way, the RCP “writes off the struggles of the third world countries as struggles that will “line up” with the interests of one or another superpower.

This view stands in marked contrast to the stand of Marxist-Leninists clearly expressed in the most contemporary period by Chou En-lai:

The awakening and growth of the Third World is a major event in contemporary international relations. The Third World has strengthened its unity in the struggle against hegemonism and power politics of the superpowers and is playing an ever more significant role in international affairs.[28]

And further:

The just struggles of the Third World as well as of the people of Europe, North America and Oceania support and encourage each other. Countries want independence, nations want liberation, and the people want revolution–this has become an irreversible historical trend.[29]


Who are the third world countries and peoples and why are they playing such an important role in the world? Why are they the main force opposing imperialism?

The third world constitutes a vast geographic region and contains the majority of the world’s population and natural resources. While each third world country has its own particularities, all third world countries share a common history of national oppression stemming from the political and economic domination of world imperialism. While many third world countries have won great victories in fighting for independence, most of them must still wage the struggle to liberate their peoples from imperialist domination.

The Marxist-Leninist understanding of the role of the third world expressed in Chou En-Lai’s speech is an expression and development of Lenin’s teachings on the national question in the era of imperialism. In his work, Foundations of Leninism, Stalin summarized Lenin’s understanding of the place of the national question in the worldwide revolution:

Leninism has proved, and the imperialist war and the revolution in Russia have confirmed, that the national question can be solved only in connection with and on the basis of the proletarian revolution, and that the road to victory of the revolution in the West lies through the revolutionary alliance with the liberation movement of the colonies and dependent countries against imperialism. The national question is a part of the general question of the proletarian revolution, a part of the question of the dictatorship of the proletariat.[30]

Leninism not only pointed the way to the revolutionary alliance of the proletarian and national movements on a world scale, but also explained:

The revolutionary character of a national movement under the conditions of imperialist oppression does not necessarily presuppose the existence of proletarian elements in the movement, the existence of a revolutionary or a republican program of the movement, the existence of a democratic basis of the movement.[31]


Stalin goes on to point out how the movements for national independence from imperialism are “objectively a revolutionary struggle.” Each movement should be judged, he argues, not by the class character of its leadership, but rather if “it weakens, disintegrates and undermines imperialism.”

Still the RCP might argue that all this is beside the point. It is accurate, they might claim, of the peoples of the third world. But, as the RCP puts it, “with regard to the bourgeois forces and governments,” they “may to a certain extent resist,” but in the end “they will tend to line up with one superpower or the other.”

What is going on here? In fact this is just RCP’s fancy footwork, its way of paying lip service to Marxism-Leninism in order to promote Trotskyism. What is actually asserted is that the bourgeoisie in the semi-colonial and semi-feudal countries is basically in the imperialist camp, whatever limited opposition it may or may not offer to the imperialist powers.

Is this the stand of Marxism-Leninism? No, it is not. Stalin pointed out that in the imperialist era “the national bourgeoisie [in the colonies – ed] has split into a revolutionary and an anti-revolutionary wing... Parallel with the revolutionary elements of the national movement, compromising and reactionary elements which prefer a deal with imperialism to the liberation of their countries are emerging from the bourgeoisie.[32]

Stalin added that the task of the proletariat in these countries was to unite independently in a communist party, to link up with the revolutionary elements of the bourgeoisie, and to break up the alliance between the compromising elements and the imperialists. All this was aimed at winning the leading role of the proletariat so as to carry the revolution through to the end.

All this is the ABC’s of Leninism. In regard to the “bourgeois forces and governments” of the third world countries today, this means there are both “revolutionary elements” and “compromising elements.” This is true of the third world in general and in regard to the situation within each country.

But while the RCP will not go so far as to say that these two elements even exist in any significant way, even this would not be enough. It is necessary, furthermore, to make an assessment: Which of these elements represents the main trend of development, which is rising? On the other hand, which element represents an adverse but parallel countercurrent, which is declining?


In short, how should the third world be summed up today? From the viewpoint of Marxism-Leninism, it is the main force opposing imperialism, colonialism and superpower hegemonism. From the viewpoint of the RCP, it is rampant with the imperialist puppets and a bastion of neocolonialism.

But what about class struggle! harp the Trotskyites. “You are liquidating class struggle!” But this is all a sham, even when echoed by the RCP. It is basically a reactionary call to skip over the first stage of national and democratic revolution in the third world, to wreck the anti-imperialist united front of all patriotic classes and strata, to deny to the proletariat its ability and duty to lead these forces and thus, finally, to sabotage the possibility of the revolution’s ever passing over to its second stage of socialist revolution. Chairman Mao addressed this question long ago in his famous essay, “The Question of Independence and Initiative Within the United Front”:

In a struggle that is national in character, the class struggle takes the form of national struggle, which demonstrates the identity between the two. On the one hand, for a given historical period the political and economic demands of the various classes must not be such as to disrupt cooperation; on the other hand, the demands of the national struggle (the need to resist Japan) should be the point of departure for all class struggle. Thus there is identity in the united front between unity and independence and between the national struggle and the class struggle.[33]

Instead of showing how class struggle takes the form of national struggle, the RCP belittles the national struggle. It underestimates the severity and significance of the defeats already suffered by the superpowers.

The U.S. which emerged out of World War II as the “top dog” of all the imperialist powers, has been weakened and forced into decline in great part due to the victories of the Indochinese people and the national liberation movements, including the PLO, PAC, ZANU and others.

Countries like Iran have played a prominent role in the third world producer’s associations, which have organized themselves specifically to protect natural resources and to oppose imperialist economic plunder. This has also levelled important blows at the superpowers.

To wage a war for the redivision of the globe, the superpowers are frantically attempting to shore up their control of vital natural resources as well as strategic places in the world necessary as “base areas” for launching their aggression. They are also frantically attempting to subvert, control and dominate the national liberation movements which pose a direct threat to their aggression and occupation. The fact that the third world countries and peoples are resisting the hegemonistic drives of the superpowers is a crucial factor delaying the outbreak of this reactionary war.

The overall role of the third world countries in the present international situation was summed up in this way in the 1976 New Year’s Editorial published in China’s Peking Review:

In the face of the various intrigues and conspiracies of the two superpowers, the Third World countries and people sharpened their vigilance, closed their ranks and persevered in their fight. The Third World as the main force in combating colonialism, imperialism and hegemonism has given full play to its might of united struggle within and outside the United Nations, as well as in international affairs. Gone for good are the days when the small and poor countries were ignored by imperialism and the two superpowers.[34]


Instead of promoting this growing trend of unity and resistance to imperialism among the third world countries, the RCP’s line turns to opposition and splittism. A recent example appeared in the April issue of Revolution in which the RCP chimed in on the superpowers’ attacks on Uganda and their attempts to sow divisions among the African countries. In the face of U.S. imperialist threats to invade Uganda as well as the Soviet Union’s aggression against Angola and Zaire, the RCP echoes the superpowers demagogic charges condemning Ugandan President Amin’s alleged “crimes against the people of Uganda.”[35]

Instead of promoting the third world’s main trend of unity and resistance to the superpowers, the RCP plays the Soviet social-imperialist’s trick of painting one third world government as “progressive” and another as “reactionary.” In order to justify superpower intervention, the RCP chimes in that “Amin...has little in common with the genuine nationalist forces and governments in Africa, such as neighboring Tanzania...”[36]

The RCP, like the Trotskyites, covers its line with the “left”-sounding phrases calling for the overthrow of the third world governments. Since it is advanced without regard for the actual conditions and relation of forces in the national and democratic revolution, this line ends up in service to imperialism and social-imperialism. The superpowers are also plotting to overthrow certain governments, replacing them with their own cliques. In this regard, the RCP has emphasized calling for the overthrow of those third world governments, such as Egypt, precisely when they have increased their resistance to Soviet hegemonism, while labelling other countries as “progressive,” precisely when their governments have temporarily wavered in favor of the Soviet Union.

It is in this way that the RCP’s stand on the third world is consistent with their cover-up of the role of Soviet social-imperialism in the world today and their conciliation to Soviet aggression and hegemonism.

The RCP’s line merges with Trotskyism–amounting to the position that no anti-imperialist struggle is worthy of support unless it is a purely proletarian movement with the immediate aim of the proletarian dictatorship. Here the RCP’s mechanical materialist philosophical stand that lies behind their “theory of equilibrium” reveals its idealist essence. Chairman Mao criticized idealists as those who “regard their fantasies as truth” and “strain to realize in the present an ideal which can only be realized in the future.”[37] In the same way, RCP has taken the stand that the immediate task of every country, regardless of its level of development, is the overthrow of capitalism and the establishment of socialism. This theory, which is a rehash of the Trotskyite theory of “permanent revolution,” is aimed at promoting secondary contradictions in the third world to the position of the principal contradiction. It lets the main enemies of the third world countries, the two superpowers, off the hook.


The theme of conciliation to the superpowers also runs through RCP’s analysis of the contradictions among the imperialists, in particular, the contradiction between the superpowers and the lesser imperialist countries of the second world.

The RCP, while re-stating what is obvious to all Marxist-Leninists, that the countries of the second world are imperialist, uses this to promote the view that there are no significant differences and contradictions among the imperialist powers. In the August 15, 1976 issue of Revolution, for instance, the RCP writers describe the countries of Western Europe in this way: “They do not oppose both superpowers but are basically in the camp of U.S. imperialism.”[38] In many other articles, they refer to the “bloc” of U.S. imperialism as including all of Western Europe as well as the “junior partners” of U.S. imperialism in the third world.

But the imperialists, far from being solidly or permanently organized into “blocs,” find that their alliances are wracked by internal contradictions and contradictions among each other. Lenin pointed out:

The capitalists divide the world, not out of any particular malice, but because the degree of concentration which has been reached forces them to adopt this method in order to obtain profits. And they divide it ’in proportion to capital,’ ’in proportion to strength,’ because there cannot be any other method of division under commodity production and capitalism.[30]

In the present world, the two superpowers are the only imperialists strong enough to wage a war for redivision of the world. The lesser imperialists, such as the European countries, who comprise the second world, are also an object of the superpower’s worldwide redivision, since they are viewed as “spheres of influence” as well as areas to exploit.

With the restoration of capitalism in the Soviet Union and the decline of U.S. imperialism, the situation in Europe has undergone a dramatic change. Many of the old alliances, including the alliances between the West European countries and the U.S., and the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact countries of Eastern Europe, are breaking up. Many West European countries are now facing a rising threat of control and interference from the Soviet Union. Rather than being “basically in the U.S. camp,” there is a definite tendency among the West European bourgeoisie to appease and capitulate to the Russians. The revisionists promote this by preaching the myth of “detente” to cover up the massive Soviet war preparations focused on Europe and to get the European countries and peoples to submit peacefully.


At the same time, with the powerful rise of the third world movements, a tendency has developed in the second world countries towards greater independence from both superpowers. This has taken the form of opposing superpower military presence in many of the second world countries and their surrounding areas, developing forms of political and economic unity among the European countries, and establishing independent economic relations with the third world on the basis of equality and mutual benefit.

China’s Hsinhua News Agency noted this development in a March 30 article summing up the growth of the European Economic Community over the last two decades. The report said, in part:

In the course of its economic integration, the community has strengthened its economic position as a counter-weight to the two superpowers, although the grip of the monopolists within the Western European countries has also been tightened. In 1975, the EEC had a total population of 258 million, outnumbering the Soviet Union and the United States, and the gross national product of the nine (member countries) totalling some 1,320,000 million U.S. dollars exceeded that of the Soviet Union and approached that of the United States. In 1974, the EEC already emerged as the biggest trading group in the world with its foreign trade valued at 540,000 million U.S. dollars, which is ten times that of the Soviet Union and 2.7 times that of the United States...

The establishment, expansion and development of the EEC is a tremendous obstacle to the quest of the two superpowers, especially the Soviet social-imperialists, for hegemony in Europe. The struggles for control and decontrol have been going on between the United States and the EEC countries. As to the Soviet social-imperialists, they have regarded the EEC as a thorn in their flesh. For a long time they have not only insisted on the non-recognition of the EEC and prevented East European countries from establishing relations with it, but also tried in a thousand and one ways to topple the community.[40]


Marxist-Leninists, of course, cannot advocate a line of relying on these contradictions among the imperialists. In Europe, the basic task of the workers and oppressed peoples is to overthrow their “own” imperialists and establish socialism. At the same time the proletariat must take these contradictions into account and take advantage of them. Especially today, in order to delay the outbreak of war and prepare the masses for it, it is important to support every step taken by these countries to resist superpower hegemonism–steps which serve to weaken imperialism overall and aid the revolutionary struggles of the people.

During the period of the Second World War and the anti-Japanese united front in China, Chairman Mao summed up how Marxist-Leninists understand inter-imperialist contradictions and utilize them to the advantage of the revolutionary struggle:

The Communist Party opposes all imperialism, but we make a distinction between Japanese imperialism which is now committing aggression against China and the imperialist powers which are not doing so now, between German and Italian imperialism which are allies of Japan and have recognized ’Manchukuo’ and British and U.S. imperialism which are opposed to Japan, and between the Britain and the United States of yesterday which followed a Munich policy in the Far East and undermined China’s resistance to Japan, and the Britain and the United States of today which have abandoned this policy and are now in favor of China’s resistance. Our tactics are guided by one and the same principle: to make use of contradictions, win over the many, oppose the few and crush our enemies one by one.[41]

By portraying the imperialists as solidly organized into “blocs,” the RCP negates the contradictions between the stronger and weaker imperialists and muddles and confuses main enemies with secondary enemies on a world scale. This denies the law of uneven development among the imperialists and by doing this, downplays the danger of the two superpowers as the main enemy of the world’s people. Once again, this can only serve to open the door to superpower aggression and hegemonism.


From this account of the RCP’s views on the present world situation, it can be seen that, in spite of RCP’s lip-service to opposing both superpowers, the RCP, in fact, opposes neither. The RCP’s new-found unity with the centrist Guardian is based in their common line of conciliation especially to the superpower that covers its imperialist character with a “socialist” mask.

The RCP’s conciliation to social-imperialism has led them to take a stand in opposition to the concept of the three worlds, a Marxist-Leninist concept developed and applied to the present world conditions by Chairman Mao. While in some articles in its newspaper, as well as in its program, the RCP makes passing references to the “third world” and in one article in January 1977, they speak of what is “sometimes referred to as the Second World,” the RCP never squarely states its views on the concept of the three worlds.[42] What can be seen from an analysis of their stand on the concrete struggles in the world today–with regard to the first, second and third world–is that the RCP opposes this concept and the Marxist-Leninist principles that it is based on.

The RCP’s stand brings it into sharp contradiction with the line of Marxism-Leninism in general and of the Communist Party of China in particular. In recent months, the RCP leadership has come out with anti-China slanders, in particular, referring publicly to newly-elected Chairman Hua Kuo-feng as a “chimpanzee.” To this day the RCP has not published one word in its press criticizing the revisionist “gang of four” whose capitalist restoration attempts were smashed by the Chinese people under the leadership of Hua Kuo-feng and the Chinese Communist Party. This can only be because the RCP leadership wishes to lend its support to the “gang’s” line. As characterized by Hua Kuo-feng, this line if it had come to power, “would have directly capitulated to imperialism and social-imperialism, relying on the aggressor’s bayonet to prop up their puppet throne, and there would have been both internal strife and foreign aggression.” [43]

The RCP’s line of capitulation to imperialism and social-imperialism, therefore, unites with the reactionary “gang of four” and opposes the revolutionary Communist Party of China. The line of the RCP stands in contradiction to the revolutionary peoples and genuine Marxist-Leninists throughout the whole world.


[1] Chou En-lai, Report to the Tenth National Congress of the Communist Party of China, (Foreign Languages Press, 1973), pp. 21-2.

[2] Ibid., p. 22.

[3] Ibid., (Lenin, quoted by Chou), p. 23.

[4] Lenin, V., “The Military Program of the Proletarian Revolution,” taken from Lenin on Imperialism, the Eve of Proletarian Social Revolution (Foreign Languages Press), p. 43.

[5] Mao Tsetung, “On Contradiction,” Four Essays on Philosophy (Foreign Languages Press), p. 40.

[6] Ibid., p. 25.

[7] Revolution, “The Real Dynamics of the Arms Race,” April 1977, p. 13.

[8] Stalin, J., On the Opposition (Foreign Languages Press, 1974), p. 615.

[9] [missing in original – EROL]

[10] Chang Chin, China Features, p. 2-3.

[11] Ibid., p. 3.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Mao Tsetung, quoted in Peking Review, April 24, 1970, (talk of May 11, 1964).

[15] Revolution, August 1977.

[16] Revolution, “OL Bloodies Own Nose With Its Main Blow,” February 1977, p. 6.

[17] Peking Review, February 25, 1977

[18] Revolution, “Excerpts from Bob Avakian’s Speech at International Conference,” December 1976, p. 10.

[19] Klonsky, M., The Two Superpowers: Main Enemies of the People of the World (October League, 1976), p. 3.

[20] Ibid.

[21] The Call, “USSR Leading in Superpower War Race,” (Foreign Languages Press), p. 136.

[22] Ibid., Revolution, April 1977, p. 13.

[23] Lenin, V., Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism (Foreign Languages Press), p. 136.

[24] Ibid.

[25] Revolution, February 1977, p. 6.

[26] Stalin, J., Foundations of Leninism (Foreign Languages Press), p. 29.

[27] Revolution, “On the World Situation, War and Revolutionary Struggle,” November 1975, p. 10.

[28] Report to the Tenth Party Congress, p. 22.

[29] Ibid., p. 75.

[30] Foundations, p. 73.

[31] Ibid., p. 75.

[32] On the Opposition, p. 205.

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

[34] Peking Review, No. 1, 1976, p. 20.

[35] RRevolution, “Amin Used to Hit African Liberation,” April 1977, p. 8.

[36] Ibid.

[37] Mao Tsetung, “On Practice,” Four Essays on Philosophy.

[38] Revolution, “Imperialist War and the Interests of the Proletariat,” August 15, 1976, p. 15.

[39] Imperialism, the Eve of the Proletarian Social Revolution, p. 35. p. 35.

[40] Hsinhua News Agency, March 30, 1977.

[41] Mao Tsetung, “On Policy,” Selected Works, Vol. 2, p. 443.

[42] Revolution, January 1977.

[43] Hua Kuo-feng, Speech at the Second Conference on Learning from Tachai, Peking Review, Jan. 1, 1977.