Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Revolutionary Workers’ Headquarters

Red Papers 8: China Advances on the Socialist Road: The Gang of Four, Revolution in the US, and the Split in the Revolutionary Communist Party

Uphold the 11th Party Constitution

Another glaring example of the poisonous effects of substituting Gang of Four-style idealism, metaphysics and apriorism for Marxism-Leninism, Mao Tsetung Thought appears in Avakian’s analysis of the Party Constitution that was adopted at the 11th Party Congress in August of 1977.

There are a number of changes between the 11th Constitution and the one adopted by the 10th Congress some 4 years earlier. On the basis of these changes, with nary a word about the conditions of the class struggle that gave rise to them, the current CC has declared that the new Constitution is “fascist.”

The Constitution from the 11th Party Congress came out of the struggle against the Gang and was developed under the current leadership. That is their only point of reference, and that is what they don’t like about it. Calling it a “fascist” and dictatorial Constitution is nothing but a vain effort to add weight to their case. Their method shows how far into rank emotionalism they are willing to sink in this effort. This claim differs not an iota from that of the media mouthpieces of the ruling class and of whiny petty bourgeois liberals who always equate the dictatorship of the proletariat with fascism, open terroristic bourgeois dictatorship.

The goals and method of the CC’s paper prevent it from dealing in a materialist manner with the current Constitution, including the changes. First they offer a long section on “overthrow” vs. “eliminate.” The Constitution adopted at the 10th Party Congress says that the basic program is “the complete overthrow of the bourgeoisie and all other exploiting classes, the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat over the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie, and the triumph of socialism over capitalism.” The new Constitution says that the basic program “for the entire period of socialism is to persist in continuing the revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat, eliminate the bourgeoisie and all other exploiting classes step by step and bring about the triumph of socialism over capitalism.”

We are offered as an argument that “overthrow” means “bottom up” struggle and “eliminate step by step” means “top down” struggle. This is nonsense. The appeal to the RCP members to sign up for “top down” or “bottom up” is nothing more than an anti-communist appeal. Is the dictatorship of the proletariat “top down?” Is the leading role of a Communist Party “top down?” This kind of argument has been offered before, by petty bourgeois revolutionaries in the 60’s as a reason not to move towards Marxism-Leninism and the working class. The Cultural Revolution with its mass character and rebellion against reactionary authority made Marxism acceptable to large numbers of petty bourgeois revolutionaries. But some of these same forces summed up the Cultural Revolution without regard to condition, time and place, and now elements of this type within the RCP, as well as in China, have raised the forms and methods of the Cultural Revolution as an idealist “best” method of carrying on the class struggle in any and all circumstances. They have, in a word, gotten stuck. The essence of this argument is to deny the character of democratic centralism and of the chain of knowledge it makes possible. Here is one more metaphysical separation– “top down” versus “bottom up.” The dictatorship of the proletariat is exercised both from the “top down” through the proletariat’s state apparatus under the leadership of its Party and from the “bottom up” through the increasing participation in and control over every sphere of life by the laboring masses. (Not to deny the existence of such a thing as “top down and dictatorial” methods. We have only to look at the way the current CC is trying to conduct the struggle over China to see such methods at work.)

In fact, the formulation in the new Constitution is a more scientific one. The overthrow of the bourgeoisie, as the Gang preached and practiced it, was an endless process (guaranteed to put and keep them in office)–overthrow one batch and even more would jump out to take their place. The “step by step elimination of the bourgeoisie” points not only to socialism as a transitional period where the task is to eliminate classes and class society, but indicates that it is a process of continuing the revolution through stages. This is why the Constitution of the RCP, adopted in 1975, says:

The basic program of the Revolutionary Communist Party is the complete overthrow of the bourgeoisie, the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat in place of the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie and the triumph of socialism over capitalism. The ultimate aim of the Party is the realization of communism.

In order to accomplish this historical mission the working class, led by its Party must establish under its leadership the broadest united front, uniting all who can be united against the main enemy, and must carry the struggle through to the complete elimination of the bourgeoisie and all exploiting classes. (Programme and Constitution, p. 167)

Avakian’s attack on the Constitution of the Chinese Communist Party thus puts him squarely in opposition to the Constitution of the RCP!

The argument that the 11th Constitution denies the necessity for another Cultural Revolution is equally lame. Who would not agree that “China’s Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution was a political revolution carried out under socialism by the proletariat against the bourgeoisie and all other exploiting classes to consolidate the dictatorship of the proletariat and prevent the restoration of capitalism?” And who would not agree that “Political revolutions of this nature will be carried out many times in the future?” This is the line of Mao Tsetung. And it is the line of the current Chinese leadership headed by Hua Kuo-feng. The quotes are from the 11th Constitution, coming just 2 pages after the statement on the step by step elimination of the bourgeoisie and all other exploiting classes. Again, the current CC’s slanders evaporate in the light of facts.

The CC Gives It Another Shot

As elsewhere, Avakian is ready with a backup argument, but it doesn’t help–you can’t walk on two legs if they’re both broken. Passing from the “overthrow” vs. “eliminate” shell game, he says the real proof that the new Constitution is “fascist” is: “the fact that in the tasks of the primary organizations of the Party, the Constitution is specifically changed from the 10th Party Congress to take put ’...wage an active ideological struggle so as to keep Party life vigorous,’ which is replaced with the instruction to report the opinions and demands of the masses to higher Party organizations and to be concerned about the masses’ political, economic and cultural life. This is dialectically related to other changes in the Constitution, such as instituting ’commissions for inspecting discipline’ at various levels of the Party, re-instituting one-year probationary requirements for new members–something previously dropped from the Constitution as a result of the Cultural Revolution–and the direct tying of going against the tide to the 3 do’s and the 3 don’ts which really means that the last two are the basis for defining the first–that anyone who goes against the tide is splitting and conspiring and is therefore a revisionist.” (see page 100)

This is another eclectic mixture of fact and fancy, petty bourgeois hysteria over discipline with idealist abstracting of the Cultural Revolution, all to prevent a real analysis of the 11th Constitution and thereby hopefully win support for the Gang. The current CC will do anything before a concrete analysis of concrete conditions, because after one, they would have to abandon their position.

In his report on the revision of the Constitution, Yeh Chien-ying did not comment on the dropping of the point about waging ideological struggle “so as to keep Party life vigorous.” Although it is neither possible nor correct to second-guess the leadership of the CCP on points like this, a few things can be said. The fact of the situation in China was that ideological struggle in particular was distorted by the Gang, especially through their running of the major ideological campaigns like the criticism of Lin Piao and Confucius and the study of the dictatorship of the proletariat, and through their control of ideological education. Ideological struggle– and struggle to hammer out correct political line as well–are important in a Party not only to keep Party life vigorous, but to keep the Party and its members red, to determine the correct line and enable Party members to adhere to and implement it.

Can it be said that the Constitution adopted at the 11th Party Congress is a roadblock to the accomplishment of these tasks? Hardly! It lays, for example, an even greater stress than the previous one on points like inner-Party democracy and ideological re-moulding of members.

“Promote inner-Party democracy.” “The whole Party must prevent Party members, especially leading Party cadres, from exploiting their privileges, and wage a resolute struggle against bourgeois ideology and the bourgeois style of work.” “The correctness or incorrectness of the ideological and political line decides everything.” “The Party persists in combating revisionism, and dogmatism and empiricism.” The Party “must give full scope to inner-Party democracy and encourage the initiative and creativeness of all Party members and Party organizations at all levels, and combat bureaucracy, commandism and warlordism.” “It is absolutely impermissible for anyone to suppress criticism or retaliate. Those guilty of doing so should be investigated and punished.”

All of these formulations are either new in the current Constitution or are strengthened over those from the 10th Party Congress. These changes clearly stem primarily from the battle against the Gang and the need to rectify the damage they had done and the repressive and dictatorial style of work they had promoted. The fact that these words appear in the Constitution does not mean that they will automatically be put into practice, and there will surely be struggle at every level of the Party over how to implement these principles.

Further, the formulation that Avakian claims “replaces” ideological struggle, the one calling on Party members to report up the opinions and demands of the masses and “be concerned about their political, economic and cultural life” is derided as spying and finking on the masses. This is not the same thing as ideological struggle, but that does not, as Avakian believes, make it unimportant. It is absolutely indispensible to the practicing of the mass line, and for the chain of knowledge to function based on dialectical materialism rather than idealism. Only the idealist “genius” theory of the current CC prevents them from seeing this. The RCP has stressed this many times as a basic point of Marxism and a basic point for the functioning of the Party and the Party branches.

Is Discipline Bourgeois Dictatorship?

The question of discipline, probation and the like can only be viewed through examining the class struggle, not by linking things metaphysically to a missing phrase.

The 10th Party Congress called for strengthening the Party. This was, a key task for moving socialist revolution and socialist construction forward, coming out of the Cultural Revolution and consolidating its gains. But what was the result? There was a crash admissions program under the Gang of Four’s influence, with 7 million new members entering, 20% of the Party, in less than 4 years. Fully half of the Party’s present membership have joined since the Cultural Revolution. The Gang pushed ahead with educating Party members, especially new ones, in metaphysics. “They” pushed a wrong understanding of historical materialism and the dictatorship of the proletariat, preached that going against the tide meant rebelling against the Party and its leaders and that only revisionists would “produce for the incorrect line.” All this was criticized and repudiated by the Central Committee of the CCP as early as 1974, but it continued to happen and had its effect nonetheless. The situation in China has changed over the years, and a materialist must analyze this and bring his or her thinking and actions into conformity with reality.

The probationary period was originally dropped at the 9th Party Congress in 1969. Liu Shao-chi had used it to try and tighten his control over the Party apparatus and promote the idea of Party membership as a career and a source of privilege to breed opportunism. Further it hindered the Party from absorbing the best of the millions of proletarian fighters who had come forward during the Cultural Revolution. At the present time, however, re-instituting probation enables the Party to strengthen its leading role and train a new generation of successors and to train them in Marxism, not revisionism.

The current CC expresses fear that rightists will use this probationary period to keep out proletarian fighters. But this is nothing more than fear of the actual class struggle that comes down in every sphere of life. Rightists and revisionists will try to use probation to their advantage, as they will every provision in the Constitution. And there will be struggle over it. How can this be an argument against taking necessary steps to enable the proletariat to strengthen its Party? This is nothing but a call for an idealist purity, for something that only the working class can use and that the bourgeois cannot. There is no such thing, and to look for one is to retreat from the class struggle, and in the final analysis, to wage it on the bourgeoisie’s behalf.

The argument over discipline is the same. “Commissions for inspecting discipline” precisely grew out of the recent class struggle, especially the struggle against the Gang and their constant eroding of the leading role of the Party and the Party leadership. They were set up to “strengthen Party members’ education in discipline, be responsible for checking up on the observance of discipline by Party members and Party cadres and struggle against all breaches of discipline.” The actual imposition of discipline remains in the units on all levels as do all the rights of Party members to disagree, reserve their opinions and appeal.

The Party in China had, as is generally acknowledged, been hit by factionalism, disruption and sabotage of Party unity, and forming of fighting groups and gangs on many levels. This requires attention to discipline. And this is an area of class struggle. The discipline commissions are necessary tools for the Party, and both classes, the proletariat and the bourgeoisie, will try to grab this tool and use it against the other. (A comparison with the struggle in the RCP is enlightening; The current CC tried to grab onto the rules of democratic centralism to use them against the cadres and the working class overall. And this is, in fact, an area of sharp class struggle.)

The current CC says that all of this is nothing but a document calling for “blind obedience and unquestioning compliance of orders.” We have all seen one recently, the “rectification bulletin” and can compare it with the 11th Constitution.

The 11th Constitution provides a real basis for the continuation of the class struggle in China on favorable terms for the proletariat. All of the changes, and the entire document are to be used by the proletariat to help strengthen the dictatorship of the proletariat, and advance the socialist revolution and socialist construction. And that is the basis on which communists should uphold it.

Raising the Constitution adopted at the 10th Party Congress in an idealist manner to oppose the new Constitution is nothing but opportunism. A Party Constitution is not handed down by some deity on stone tablets–it develops along with the class struggle and reflects the advances and lessons won and the needs of the period. The new Constitution comes out of the struggle against the Gang and their counterrevolutionary headquarters. For it to stay the same as the previous one would be for the Chinese leadership to lie to the Chinese people about the current situation. They did not do so.

The Chinese working class and masses will not stand idly by if anyone tries to use the provisions of the new Party Constitution as a cover or a weapon for restoring capitalism, as the Gang tried with the one passed at the 10th Party Congress. No more can genuine Marxist-Leninists in the U.S. permit Avakian and his CC to try and slander as “fascist” the current Constitution in order to support the Gang of Four. What smacks of fascism in all this is not the Constitution, but the “big lie” technique Avakian employs in his efforts to defame it.