Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Communist Unity Organization

Sooner or Later

Questions & Answers on War, Peace & the United Front


As we enter the decade of the 1980s, events of historic significance are taking place. Headlines in the daily papers focus on the international scene. Datelines come from every part of the globe – the Middle East, South Asia, Southeast Asia, Latin and Central America and southern Africa. Behind many events lies a force which casts a shadow on the future of the ’80s – one which threatens to shatter world peace with the third world war of this century.

We are not only entering a new decade: we are living today in a new period, one characterized by the decline of the United States and the rise of the Soviet Union as the most aggressive power in the world. At the same time, Third World countries are achieving greater independence from post-World War II imperialist and colonial powers. They are beginning to act together economically and politically and their voice is increasing in volume in international forums. Yet, just as the Third World is beginning to make gains, they are threatened by a new imperialism – social imperialism – which is all the more dangerous to their development for its cover as a friend to liberation movements. And Soviet hegemonism does not stop in the Third World. The presence of 3.2 million Soviet troops in the Warsaw Pact countries and Soviet forces on the Kurile Islands throws a pall over the futures of Europe and Japan as well.

It is in the interest of the people of the world to seek ways to postpone impending war so as to preserve peace and maintain their independence. Only by forming a united front on a world-wide scale can the Soviet Union be halted in its drive for world domination and World War III be postponed.

A New Period–On The International Situation

The United States emerged from World War II as the major political, economic and military force in the world. By 1975, it had fallen from its perch atop the globe. While many of the main contenders for world power had lost their empires during the second world war, the United States profited from it. The U.S. dollar became the currency standard for the international monetary system. Through multinational corporate investments, trade restrictions, foreign aid, massive U.S. military forces, an extensive network of covert operations, control of world monetary organs and the United Nations, the United States dominated and controlled a significant portion of the world.

But even so, the decline of the United States was foreshadowed soon after World War II with the “loss” of China, the Korean War and the Cuban revolution. The erosion of U.S. power intensified with the emergence of independent nations in Africa and Asia in the 1950s and ’60s and the growing independence of the European economic and political community. At home, it faced the beginning of recurring economic crises and domestic turmoil. Finally, the United States, the seemingly invincible superpower, was defeated in its massive war effort in Indochina and was exposed as a paper tiger in the eyes of the world.

As a result, the United States has been forced to maintain a defensive posture in the world. Former strongmen of the United States have fallen in Iran and Nicaragua. The “Cuban Missile Crisis” of 1979 has come and gone with Soviet troops still practicing field maneuvers in Cuba. The U.S. remains powerless in the face of the hostage crisis in Iran and the invasion of Afghanistan. While it remains a superpower, it is a superpower seeking to maintain the status quo.

The Soviet Union, on the other hand, has passed onto the strategic offensive. Its actions throughout the world since 1975, either through direct action or through its use of Cuban and Vietnamese troops have been increasingly aggressive. A pattern is beginning to emerge. We need only recall the Soviets’ hand in Angola in 1975, Zaire in 1976, Ethiopia in 1977, Eritrea in 1978, Kampuchea, Laos and South Yemen in 1979 and Afghanistan in 1980 to see the picture of Soviet activity.

The roots of this offensive can be traced to the development of modern revisionism and the dismantling of the Russian socialist economy in the 1950s and 1960s. Socialism has been replaced by social imperialism.[1]

Not only is the Soviet Union on a strategic offensive, but it is more dangerous than the United States in its efforts to achieve global domination. As Susan Warren puts it:

The Soviet Union is seen as the Ivan-come-lately on the imperial scene. Also riddled with internal and external problems and short of foreign exchange to pay for the grain, equipment and technology it buys from the West, it desperately needs a redivision of the world’s resources and markets. As a latecomer it is hungrier, more aggressive, and more willing to take risks which could trigger events that might escalate into a big war.... Lacking the enormous financial reserves, productive capacity of the U.S., it relies heavily on sheer military clout. It is, in short, on the offensive. Its internal economy and political life are more highly centralized and monopolized than even those of the U.S. It can place its whole economy on a war footing with greater speed and less disruption than its rival. Moreover, while U.S. imperialism is well known to the [world’s] people for what it is... Moscow continues to drape itself in the mantle of its socialist past and is able to deceive people by using socialist rhetoric to cover its expansionist acts.[2]

The Soviet Union is also dangerous in another respect – that it seeks to spread its brand of fascism to all parts of the world. By imposing “revolution” by direct invasion or by imposing its will through economic strangulation and the “international division of labor,” it eliminates all vestiges of national self-determination and democracy.

Soviet activity has been the most visible in Third World countries. But this is only part of a broader strategy aimed at taking Europe in order to achieve its ultimate aim of world domination. Its military presence in the Persian Gulf and in Southeast Asia figures in a scheme to deprive Europe and Japan of vital and strategic resources.

In the last thirty years, we have seen the development of the U.S. and the Soviet Union into superpowers and a shift in their relationship in the latter half of the 1970s. Many changes have also occurred in the Third World. A vast majority of the nations in Asia and Africa have won national independence from colonial rule. More and more countries of the Third World are joining together in new regional associations such as the ANDEAN Pact, ASEAN, OAU, unlike formerly U.S.-dominated military alliances, to protect their sovereignty and to develop their economies. The non-aligned movement is growing and its members are changing the character of international organizations such as the United Nations. OPEC actions are having a tremendous impact on the world – in its oil pricing and its fund to aid developing countries. Associations such as the OAS and the Arab Summit have spoken out for the removal of Somoza and in opposition to the Israeli occupation of Jerusalem, respectively. ASEAN has condemned the invasion of Kampuchea while the Islamic conference is uniting to oppose the invasion of Afghanistan. Countries of the Third World are working together to develop a new international economic order. China has begun to modernize its economy and has normalized relations with the U.S. None of these developments is taking place smoothly without setbacks, but they are taking place.

Nevertheless, the progress of the Third World does not alter the fact that the factors for war are growing and have been growing rapidly over the last live years. That is why we say that the new period is a pre-war period. It is not a period of “detente” or Cold War II, rather it is a period in which a world war might occur sooner rather than later in the absence of a conscious international effort to halt the Soviet Union and to postpone war.

New Tasks–United Front Against Hegemonism

The current international situation is very similar to the 1930s – a time when the Western countries attempted to appease Nazi Germany. Then, as now, appeasement meant giving in to aggression in the hope or expectation that this would deter further aggression. Present day appeasement takes several forms, the most significant being territorial appeasement – the Soviet Union has been allowed to take Ethiopia, South Yemen, Afghanistan. It has also been helped to build its military force and prepare for war by trade policies, credits, loans and direct investment. And it has played on the appeasement sentiment. Its reliance on peace treaties and SALT talks have created an illusion of “detente” similar to Hitler’s “outstretched hand.”

The lessons of Munich must be applied to the current situation. When a similar scenario developed in the 1930s, the Soviet Union, which was then a progressive and peace-loving country, called for governments to participate in measures of collective security. They called for the peoples of the world to oppose their governments’ appeasement policies. The strategy to oppose appeasement and stop the Soviet Union today is a united front of Second and Third World countries, joined by the United States and united against hegemonism.

The purpose of a united front against hegemonism is to postpone war. It is not simply a military alliance, but rather the joint effort of many countries to oppose Soviet expansionism. Its aim is to postpone the outbreak of war until the world understands that the Soviet Union is not a progressive, socialist or communist country and until the strength of those forces participating in this front has been consolidated to guarantee that the Soviet Union will not be victorious, or that there will be no war.

Unlike the united front against fascism in the 1930s, the Third World will play the leading role in the united front against hegemonism. Because developing countries (which constitute over three-fourths of the world’s population) have been ruled and robbed by foreign nations, and because these countries include China, the Third World is the best guarantor of national sovereignty. Some developing countries are already taking a stand against Soviet moves. The non-aligned movement has condemned the invasion of Kampuchea and nations of Asia, Africa and South America have also condemned the invasion of Afghanistan. The Islamic Conference is beginning to explore joint defensive action to counter further Soviet encroachment in the Persian Gulf. But even as the Afghan rebels make valiant efforts to rid their country of Soviet troops, their forces are no match for the Soviet Union armed with sophisticated weaponry and the lessons learned from the U.S. in Vietnam. Even the combined forces of the Islamic Conference do not pose a sufficient deterrent to Soviet aggression. In addition, many Third World countries and liberation movements do not yet see the true face of the Soviet Union or are so weak economically that they run the risk of Soviet domination.

In this light, the U.S. is a positive factor in the united front against hegemonism. The relative weakness and fragile unity of Third World countries and Europe and Japan compared to the military capabilities and centralization of Soviet forces means that American military strength is a decisive counter-weight to the Soviet Union. The U.S. also has an important economic role to play. This includes not only economic sanctions against the Soviet Union, but also strengthening the Third World through technological exchanges and through the development of trade and loan policies beneficial to Third World development.

Some steps have already been taken in this direction. The normalization of relations between the United States and China, with China playing the leading role, is a positive step, as are aid packages to Nicaragua, the U.S. vote in the U.N. on Israeli West Bank settlements, abandonment of the use of economic sanctions against Iran, and the boycott of the summer Olympics. However, there are still many roadblocks.

The pervasive appeasement trend which has developed in one sector of the United States ruling class stands as an obstacle to a positive U.S. role in world affairs. As the 1980 elections unfold, elements of this trend are becoming more visible. Though appeasement has fed and grown strong on the peace sentiments of the American people and though it often associates itself with progressive and anti-imperialist ideas, there is nothing peaceful, progressive or anti-imperialist in appeasement. One of the most important tasks for American communists within the united front is to oppose this trend.

At the same time, go-it-alone forces can also be destructive to the united front efforts. The U.S. cannot turn its back on the recognition of past failures of American foreign policy. Unilateral U.S. actions such as opposition to a Palestinian state only serve to weaken the Third World and thus to weaken the united front.

The questions of appeasement, the nature of America’s role in the united front and the effect of international affairs on internal American politics all bring to the forefront the necessity of developing a new perspective in the U.S. It is imperative that progressive thought reverse itself on questions like the “progressive” nature of the Soviet Union in the world today; that serious reconsideration be given to the defense budget, NATO, draft registration, civil defense and other issues; that the New International Economic Order be promoted. A new progressive platform including a truly democratic foreign policy must be developed if we are to effectively combat the threat to world peace which now confronts us.


[1] We have not encountered one single definitive work in English on the restoration of capitalism in the U.S.S.R. The following publications have been useful in understanding this phenomenon:
On Khrushchov’s Phoney Communism and Its Historical Lessons for the World (Comment on the Open Letter of the Central Committee of the C.P.S.U. IX), reprinted by Red Flag Publications, P.O. Box 40, Station “N”, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
Restoration of Capitalism in the U.S.S.R., Nicolaus, M., (Chicago: Liberator Press), 1975.
How Capitalism Has Been Restored in the Soviet Union and What This Means for the World Struggle, Red Papers 7 (Chicago: Revolutionary Union), 1974.
On Trotskyism, Mavrakis, K. (Boston: Routledge and Kegan Paul), 1976, pp. 98-113.
From Marx to Mao, Thomson, G., (London: China Policy Study Group), 1975, Chapter VII.
Soviet Social Imperialism in India, CPI-ML, reprinted by Indian People’s Association in North America (IPANA), P.O. Box 37, Westmount, Quebec H3Z 2X3, Canada, 1976.

[2] “China on Africa’s Fight for Independence”, New China (New York: U.S.-China People’s Friendship Association), Winter, 1978, p. 29.