Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Jerry Tung

The Socialist Road

Character of Revolution in the U.S. and Problems of Socialism in the Soviet Union and China

5. Socialist Countries’ Foreign Policies: Concentrated Expression Of Domestic Economies?

Lenin said, “Politics is a concentrated expression of economics.”[1] This statement expresses a general relation between material basis and ideology. It applies accurately only in the long run, not deterministically in every case. The fact that the Soviet Union and China are socialist by no means precludes their having particular reactionary policies and lines.

The Soviet Union has many incorrect and even social-imperialist lines and a chauvinist line towards a lot of countries. In particular, their invasion of Afghanistan and opportunist practice in Angola (supporting one liberation group against another) have held back the revolutionary process rather than strengthened the internal basis for revolution in those countries. The Soviet Union is promoting Vietnamese -militarism and chauvinism based on a militarist economy – a reactionary line which is prolonging the suffering of both the Vietnamese and Kampuchean peoples.

China’s foreign policy is essentially a reaction to the Soviet threat to them. The Chinese foreign policy has many bourgeois-nationalistic elements which are dangerous for China and do great harm to the revolutionary cause around the world.

If foreign policy, as a particular aspect of politics, is a concentrated expression of domestic economy, does it mean that something has gone awfully wrong in the Soviet or Chinese economic base? This has been the trend of thought of the majority of Marxist-Leninists internationally. Interestingly enough, this argument is based on mechanical materialism. It presupposes a mechanical, automatic one-to-one relation between the economic base and foreign policy. It negates the relative independence of ideology. It denies that when spontaneous economic forces have ceased to drive the policies, the role of human leadership and consciousness – good or bad – obtains an unprecedented degree of freedom.

It is interesting because it was the CPC which propagated this very argument and also was the champion of dialectical materialism on these questions. In the 50’s and 60’s the CPC exposed and criticized the poverty of revisionism and the vague brand of materialism which was its basis – Khrushchev’s notorious “goulash communism.”

In the past, we along with many others referred to Lenin’s formulation (quoted above) to explain away the fountainhead of the reactionary aspect of Soviet foreign policy as capitalism. Since those foreign policies were the only aspects we could see (and most of us did not understand the internal economy of the Soviet Union) an opportunist explanation of many incorrect practices of the Soviet Party prevailed. We should go back to Lenin’s Imperialism, The Highest Stage of Capitalism. When he said that foreign policy is a concentrated expression of domestic economy, he was referring specifically to a country’s foreign policy that is a necessary outgrowth of its export of capital.

After the merging of industrial and bank capital, the new feature of capitalism in the highest stage is the export of capital. This is independent of the will of any president or any leader. So an aggressive foreign policy, the cause of colonial plunder, inter-imperialist war and world war, is inevitable.

But both the Soviet Union and China, like third world countries, have not a capital surplus, but rather a shortage. So their incorrect foreign policies cannot be explained in terms of capital export, just as we can’t explain a Tanzanian invasion of Uganda, and a Vietnamese invasion of Kampuchea, in those terms. If anything, the foreign policy of socialist countries will necessarily tend to be internationalist, working towards world peace. If they are genuinely socialist, their economic base will force them to correct themselves over a period of time, away from their present deviations to a genuine internationalist foreign policy.

It is true that the principle “foreign policy is a concentrated expression of economics” applies also to socialist countries. But there is a crucial difference between the operation of a socialist foreign policy and an imperialist one. Under imperialism, regardless of the will of human beings, those countries are driven by economic necessity to export capital, carve up and divide the world and unleash wars of aggression. In a very real sense, imperialists are slaves to spontaneous economic forces beyond their control. While they may accelerate or retard certain features of their foreign policy – such as carrying out wars of aggression – inevitably and usually very quickly the powerful forces of capitalism drive them to carry out its “will.” In a historical sense, they have no options.

Socialism unleashes human beings from the shackles of capitalism. For the first time, humankind has the ability to consciously direct its activities, rather than bow to the spontaneity of economic forces. This also applies to the realm of foreign policy of a socialist state. For the first time, the question of line and consciousness comes to the fore in the direction and implementation of international relations. In this sense, humankind has to directly confront the question of what course of action to take, facing many more options in reality than the imperialists can even dream of.

However, this higher realm of freedom, freedom from the realm of capital-driven necessity, does not mean that people, and particularly leaders, will automatically have the consciousness to take the correct course of action. The freedom and responsibility for humans to shape a socialist country’s foreign policy also must mean the possibility to do it incorrectly, to make mistakes, to stumble and fall: to try, fail, try, fail, and try again until final victory. This reflects the limitations of humans, of leaders responsible for policy decisions, in contrast to the spontaneous economic necessity of capitalism. And because the development of the socialist economy is actually a qualitative leap in freedom, unleashing of the subjective factor from the bonds of capitalist necessity, socialist foreign policy becomes more and more dependent on the consciousness of individual leaders and the political system that supervises them. It depends on the subjective factor expressed in the correctness of ideological and political line.

Only by understanding the particular dynamics of socialism in the realm of freedom and necessity can you understand the seemingly contradictory aspects that exist in any socialist country’s foreign policy, particularly those of the Soviet Union and China. But the point is that under socialism, mistakes can be corrected, while under imperialism there are – in the final analysis – not mistakes but the driving force of imperialist necessity.

For this reason, the appearance and form of imperialist foreign policy is a direct expression of its imperialist essence. A socialist foreign policy’s appearance, however, is mainly an expression of the abilities and limitations of its existing leaders, to whom socialism gives a much broader scope of freedom. This is why, at any point, the essence of socialism’s possibilities can only be glimpsed. In the long term, however, the mandate of socialism will prevail and the leaders and political system will develop to the point where its essence can shine out. And at that point the glorious banner of “Workers of All Countries, Unite” will be realized.

The Soviet Union is not a capitalist country and therefore does not export capital. That’s a fact. The Soviets themselves have to get loans from Japan, Western Europe and the United States. Eastern European countries have to do the same because they can’t get enough loans from the Soviet Union. If anything, the foreign policies of the Soviet Union and China go against their domestic economies rather than being an extension of them.

The success of their socialist economic base requires that socialism be achieved worldwide. Socialism can be achieved within one country but not completed. Reactionary aspects of Soviet foreign policy, such as the invasion of Afghanistan, have isolated it and discredited communism. This leads to ideological confusion and prevents the adoption of scientific socialism by advanced elements worldwide. Only this would hasten the overthrow of reactionary regimes in all countries and create the best conditions for the Soviet Union to move towards communism.

The Soviet Union is taking great responsibility for countering U.S. imperialism and western imperialism (as seen in 11-12% of its Gross National Product spent on armaments). However, its internal problems and the revisionist lines which lie behind them have lessened the prestige of socialism rather than enhanced it. Socialism can be victorious in one or a few countries, but communism cannot be victorious in one or a few countries. Communism has to be worldwide. Soviet foreign policies contradict its economic system from the standpoint of Soviet development, of building material and spiritual conditions for communism.

The only evidence of Soviet export of capital mentioned in Chinese pamphlets and in publications by those who hold the position that the Soviet Union has restored capitalism, is foreign aid. On this we wish to say first of all, that those aid packets are very small. Secondly, they are different in character from the World Bank, or International Monetary Fund “aid,” of which the main purpose is to “recycle” the dollar and keep down inflation in the western world. In the Soviet Union, there is virtually no inflation, and the money loaned out is at the expense of domestic construction. It is a gesture of proletarian internationalism. The money loaned out is not capital. The purpose is not to make profit or to shift their problems abroad. They are progressive steps. As a whole, the Soviet Union does aid national liberation struggles, e.g., Cuba and Mozambique. To the extent that its foreign policy keeps the United States away and strengthens local governments to be self-reliant, those efforts are self-sacrificing, progressive and revolutionary.

True, the Soviet Union does export commodities. And sometimes it has taken advantage of third world and Eastern European countries by dumping inferior armaments and products on them, instead of giving them its most advanced products for exchange. For example, there are many Soviet tanks sitting in warehouses because of steady military growth under the planned economy. When a new generation of tanks is produced, they sell the older tanks to India. They justify it by saying India does not need sophisticated tanks since it is only going against Pakistan and China. That’s a chauvinist line since India too can be invaded by the United States and will therefore need the latest equipment. It’s the chauvinist aspect of their foreign policy showing a lack of proletarian internationalism. Although they justify their chauvinist policies, they are fundamentally different from the United States, an arms merchant which reaps profits. The Soviet Union does not profit from it, nor do they depend on that trade. They’re only trying to cut down the cost of their own national defense and what they consider to be defense of the socialist world – a responsibility they’ve presumptuously taken upon themselves.

Even though countries benefit from Soviet aid, it’s chauvinist nevertheless when they are not encouraged to become self-sufficient. In fact, the Soviet Union encourages more dependency in order to have control or sway in various countries’ foreign policies. This delays and holds back the national liberation struggles. We criticize the Soviet Union for this. But in the final analysis, the question of self-reliance versus dependency still has to be decided by the revolutionaries in those countries. It’s a touchstone of the genuine character of the leaders in those particular countries.

Origin of “Export Revolution” Line

The outright reactionary policies of the Soviet Union towards countries such as Afghanistan, Eritrea, and Angola are very self-serving and short-sighted. They are based on a revisionist line stemming from the theory of “exporting revolution.” This line claims that revolution can be exported to other countries, thus creating conditions for socialism all over the world which will bring about communism that much earlier. That’s baloney. It backfires and delays the process. The most profound lessons can be found in the experiences of Eastern European countries.

During the anti-fascist war, the Soviet Red Army sacrificed a great deal to liberate many Eastern European countries, with the exception of Yugoslavia and Albania. State power was pretty much handed over to the local communists and resistance forces on a silver platter. The internal basis for these parties was weak. They did not go through trial and error, learning to apply Marxism-Leninism to their own conditions. As a result, after state power was handed to these parties, Soviet leaders, including Stalin, had a certain attitude towards them. Later on, this attitude was more systematically consolidated into a programmatic, revisionist policy called the theory of limited sovereignty – the “Brezhnev Doctrine.”

These policies have not helped the development of the internal basis – leadership, the subjective factor – for socialism in different countries. If anything, they have complicated and postponed it. Dependency has increased and Soviet leaders seem to like the dependent relationship because of chauvinism, because of their short-sighted view of how communism and worldwide revolution will develop, and because it justifies a set of expedient practices and doctrinaire habits. This same line led to the invasions of Afghanistan and Czechoslovakia, and to the continued need to station troops on Eastern European soil. And of course, today they’re still paying for that outlook.

In Poland, the Party has not developed a self-cleansing process, so workers have to take it up themselves. Fortunately, the workers are organizing and taking care of themselves by overthrowing the existing Party leadership. If the Soviet Union were to repeat what they did in Czechoslovakia and Hungary, they would only further discredit and hold back the cause of socialism worldwide. Those invasions were helpless steps to compensate for past errors. But they only compound the problem. So far, the Soviet Union has chosen not to send troops into Poland for practical reasons. The Polish army is much more nationalistic and is also stronger than the Czech army. Also the Soviet Union is tied down in Afghanistan. But their restraint could also be a healthy sign. It could mean they are learning from historical experiences, after having been backed up against the wall. Subjectively, however, they are still holding on to a revisionist line of “limited sovereignty.” As long as they do not repudiate it programmatically, they are bound to repeat the same mistakes.

Soviet revisionists claim that the way to defend socialism in the Soviet Union is to extend its border beyond the existing one. They said they have learned enough lessons from the earlier period of Nazi invasion. That’s why now they want to draw a boundary far beyond the Russian border. The concern is genuine, but in practice has turned into its opposite. It has become a chauvinist line that confuses countries fighting against imperialism worldwide and holds them back from trusting socialism.

The CPSU gave the same argument for invading Afghanistan. They said the former regime was CIA-backed, so they have to stop the imperialists way before they reach the Soviet border. This is contrary to reality. In doing so, they are tampering with the sense of justice of the local people for national sovereignty. This resulted in a most unfortunate situation where the mightiest socialist country in the world today is trapped in fighting the forces which have historically been stepped on by imperialism and have been struggling for centuries for genuine national independence. It led to a self-imposed isolation reflected in a recent U.N. vote, where over a hundred countries voted against the Soviet Union.

The concern to defend the sole socialist country from 1917 to the 1940’s has turned into its opposite, into a reactionary policy which comes into direct conflict with forces of national liberation struggles – the direct reserves of the international working class. The Soviet Union’s chauvinist line is particularly harmful at a time when U.S. imperialism is retreating. In this period U.S. imperialism is trying to consolidate its position before unleashing new, overt wars of aggression. In this period, the United States’ continued acts of aggression are committed mainly through subversion (such as in Chile and El Salvador) and not through outright occupations by the U.S. army. Under such circumstances, the open presence of Soviet armed forces abroad stands out like a sore thumb.

Those are still partial policies of the Soviet Union, though they could continue and expand. Soviet policy as a whole includes many proletarian internationalist examples such as aid to Cuba and Mozambique. This does help those countries. There are both internal and external factors for these correct policies to be consolidated. There is every sign that in Angola, for example, the government under the MPLA leadership has steered towards an independent position (after the Soviet Union and the United States opportunistically pitted one liberation group against another like they were gambling on horses). They work with the United States (e.g., Gulf Oil) trying to get their economy on its own footing. And in Zimbabwe, ZANU has a correct line of trying to use U.S. aid to get its economy going to safeguard its political power.

Material Basis for Chauvinism

What is the material basis for chauvinism, then? Can you explain away the reactionary aspects of Soviet foreign policy by chauvinism alone? Chauvinism as an ideology is highly complex. It is not simply an idea. It is conditioned by history and forged by necessity. For example, during the anti-fascist war, Stalin had to rally the Soviet people around mother Russia – “National Salvation for the Fatherland!” If the slogan had been for world revolution, for socialism, it would not have had the broad, thoroughgoing, mobilizing effect necessary for the defeat of the Nazis, given the level of socialist education of the Russian masses as a whole at that time. Appealing to revolutionary nationalism under those concrete conditions was applied proletarian internationalism because it was defeating the main threat at the time. Still, it inevitably fosters a degree of nationalism which can be abused, like Zionism from the persecution of the Jews and Han chauvinism from imperialist humiliation of the Chinese. The Soviet people’s sacrifices are carved deep in their history and mentality. And their pride in their victories and contributions to the people of the world have given Soviet leaders swelled heads to the point where they want to dictate to countries which have benefited, such as Yugoslavia. The Soviet Union would cut them off if they disagree with Soviet policies, like Khrushchev did to China by pulling out all Soviet advisors and blueprints in 1960. This is also China’s reaction to the Vietnamese recently.

There are other causes for chauvinism. One is the border problem. The boundaries of many nations have been vague historically. The boundaries of many countries where capitalism was not highly developed (for example, between the Soviet Union and China, between Vietnam and Kampuchea) were still in the main feudal or primitive localities. The historical basis for national boundaries is the demarcation of markets for commodities. In the primitive, slave, and feudal localities, the economic activities have not reached the level for them to draw national boundaries. Also the border area population was sparse and thus there was no historical necessity for sharp, clear boundaries between the two countries. Although there were powerful feudal, military and bureaucratic centers like the Chinese emperors and Russian czars, they ruled a highly decentralized economic base. Treaties which vaguely defined the general areas would be broken during wars of aggression, and whole chunks of territory would be taken.

Under proletarian leadership, such treaties and areas of conquest should be repudiated. But because of chauvinism, nationalism, or sectarian ideological dispute, many of these countries come into conflict. This occurs on a broad scale, not only between the Soviet Union and China, Vietnam and Kampuchea, but also between India and Pakistan, Uganda and Tanzania, Ecuador and Peru, Iran and Iraq, and many other modern nations formed after World War II, whose economies are still tribal or primitive. Their boundaries are not that clear and imperialists (British, Spanish, etc.) purposely drew borders in such a way as to instigate conflict among different nationalities or tribes, in order to maintain economic control through neo-colonialism. These are the legacies of colonialism and imperialism, not just feudalism.

Socialist countries and third world countries fighting against imperialism must understand this, and on this basis work out agreements through negotiation and mutual compromise. There are historical conditions such as Khrushchev’s spitefulness towards the Chinese communists and Stalin’s view towards Yugoslavia. Some mistakes were corrected, but chauvinism prevailed. This led to the signing of the Sino-Soviet Treaty after 1949 which gave the Soviet Union the city of Port Arthur and northern China, and control by Soviet troops of the railroads that ran from the Soviet Union to Outer Mongolia, across northern China to Port Arthur. And in the 1950’s even though the Chinese sacrificed to help repel U.S. imperialists in Korea, and basically served as a buffer between the Soviet Union and the United States, they ended up having to pay all the debts for a job done in the interests of the international working class. And the Soviet Union claimed large tracts of land unjustly seized by the czar during the downfall of the Manchu Dynasty. Lenin repudiated these seizures and the unjust treaties, but Khrushchev wanted to hang on to them. These acts and his siding with Indian expansionism in the border disputes aggravated the Sino-Soviet split in the late 50’s.

In the case of Kampuchea/Vietnam, the Soviet Union backed Vietnam’s invading Kampuchea in order to isolate China. The Vietnamese leadership for their own sectarian and opportunist reasons have again returned Vietnam to a war-time economy, “war-time communism.”

These reactionary aspects of foreign and domestic policies, both of the Soviet Union and China, are not inevitable. They could be corrected if the correct leadership and line prevailed. The same applies to chauvinism within socialist countries. While socialist countries may have and often do have bad policies, they don’t have material interests to perpetuate these bad policies. So they are not inevitable. They are within the control of humans and can be corrected. In contrast, capitalism by necessity must perpetuate wars of aggression and chauvinism. Policies based on this necessity cannot be corrected or changed, but are inevitable.

The fire of socialism which we have to tame is spontaneous social organization which arose in the course of mankind’s struggle to conquer nature. But history, “the ghost of the past” as Marx put it, lingers on. People working to control their own lives for the first time are still affected by it and led onto incorrect tracks. But that should not discourage us. We should not conclude that capitalism has been restored because of inherited chauvinist policies of the Soviet Union and China. If we were to cast fundamental doubts on socialism because of that, it would be tantamount to repudiating materialism. It would be one short-sighted view combatting another. Materialists are fearless. In the long-term, these problems are good for socialism. For that is how socialism will be forged to pave ground for communism. Like a diamond, the more you hit it, the more it will shine. You just have to give it a little time, and keep on fighting.

Current World Situation

The Three Worlds Theory is based on the Soviet Union being a capitalist country. That’s not the case. But the two worlds theory, which sees only the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, isn’t true either. That theory liquidates the role of national liberation movements and the struggle of third world countries against imperialism. It ignores the ever-intensifying inter-imperialist contradictions, particularly between the United States and lesser capitalist countries of Europe and Japan. These are very significant factors today.

Socialist countries represent the long-term interests of the working class and must be supported in a mature way. A main component of the general line we follow is “Workers of the World, Unite!” To support oppressed nations and oppressed peoples all over the world, you must support socialist countries. In the main they play a progressive role even though they have negative aspects.

In terms of the capitalist part of the world (that is, the western capitalist countries of Europe, the United States, Japan, and others, and the non-socialist third world countries), we do see the configuration of three worlds. But that’s not the world situation because socialist countries are a long-term factor and basic nucleus, the fruit of the working class struggles.

Especially in a period of capitalist stabilization, the third world becomes the main force against imperialism. Because of the immediate confrontation between U.S. imperialism and these countries, we would still support the concept of an intermediate zone (intermediate between the U.S. imperialists and the socialist countries, a line formulated by Mao). As an integral picture of the world situation this formulation still applies. For the U.S. imperialists to survive, they must attack the third world countries first and the lesser capitalist countries. And today the United States is in a fundamentally weaker position than after World War II. As far as U.S. foreign relations are concerned, the immediate conflict is with third world countries.

We also support the right of third world countries to utilize the contradiction between U.S. imperialism and the European and Japanese imperialists. The non-aligned countries’ movement is basically a third world movement that is objectively in the interests of socialism because it weakens the imperialist countries. This is independent of conscious intentions. The economic systems of imperialist countries force them into aggression and expansion, so independent of their will, the third world’s alignment against imperialism is pro-socialist. It is aligned even though “non-aligned” is the nominal title of the movement. The same goes for the concept “third world.”

There is a fear of the Soviet Union because it has developed economically and especially militarily, and because of its insensitive and costly mistakes in foreign policy. Calling it a superpower does not imply that it is an imperialist country. The Soviet Union is a superpower in that its productive forces and military power, like the United States’, are way above all other countries. No other country comes close.

Because of some of its incorrect policies (such as Afghanistan) the Soviet Union has isolated itself in a big way and that’s why a lot of third world countries fear it. But if you examine the attitude and trend, more countries are friendly to the Soviet Union than to the United States and certainly given that the Soviet Union is a socialist country and has gone the furthest in consolidating workers’ rule, in the main it is a good thing that the Soviet Union is a superpower. When you are strong and make mistakes, you make them big. They have greater consequences, but we have no doubt about its future direction being progressive and supporting it.

Also, when the Soviet Union makes mistakes, it is so insensitive to the consequences that it rolls over the third world countries regardless of their views and wishes. Because of the bureaucratic nature of the Soviet party at this point, and the prevailing chauvinist line towards Afghanistan and China, we uphold the right of third world countries to utilize the contradiction between the Soviet Union and the United States to survive. For example, the Zimbabwean revolutionaries in ZANU have clearly and successfully wrested concessions from the United States because of the imperialists’ fear that the Soviet Union and Cuban troops will move in, even though ZANU is worried about the Soviet Union’s insensitive and sometimes bullying politics towards third world countries. Not only is it in the interest of ZANU to make use of this contradiction, but they have no other choice.

How to Deal with Chauvinism and Revisionism?

In our view, the only way to deal with the Soviet Union’s, China’s, or any other socialist country’s chauvinist policies is to support the Marxist-Leninists in all countries and not interfere in their affairs. They have to apply Marxism to their own concrete conditions. We should respect their striving to be self-sufficient and not dependent on any aid as the decisive factor for their victories. They must rely on the people in their own countries and their own understanding of Marxism and its application. This is also borne out by the history of our own Party. It is very much related to the view that revolution can only be developed from within, not from external factors. Revolution cannot be exported.

For third world and socialist countries, the main thing is to develop economic independence. They should at ail times promote trade for the mutual benefit of socialist countries. We uphold their right to trade with non-socialist and even imperialist countries. Economic independence is the necessary backbone of political independence and an integral part of the correct line on developing revolution from within. Developing their own strength is the best way for them to deal with chauvinist deviation of socialist countries and is necessary to check them.

The situation is even sharper for China because of its proximity to the Soviet Union and what Khrushchev and Brezhnev have done to China historically. We have to support communists within China who want to exploit the contradiction between the United States and the Soviet Union. For example, China has cut its spending on national defense to less than 10% of its national budget. That’s a very small amount for a country that spent 39% during the Korean War period. And they could cut the budget only by normalizing relations with the United States, which is a deterrent to the Soviet Union moving in. The United States has another motive, but it is a contradiction China can exploit and you have to uphold their right to do it. There are different forces in China – revisionists and Marxist-Leninists. The revisionists have illusions about the United States and they’ll have to learn through experiences like Reagan’s policy towards Taiwan. The revisionists also think that the United States will hold the Soviet Union back, while the Marxist-Leninists understand that the United States wants to lure the Soviet Union towards China. That’s strategic. Also, as Mao said in the General Line, we uphold the right of socialist countries to implement the policy of peaceful coexistence with imperialist countries, and we uphold their maneuvers to utilize the contradiction between imperialist countries as indirect reserves.

But those moves should never be taken as a general line to impose a set of policies on other countries. Regarding China’s exploiting the U.S.-Soviet contradiction, they should in no way impose that line on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) for example. The DPRK has to worry about both the Soviet Union, because of its track record of walking into other countries, and obviously about the U.S. and Japanese imperialists. But that doesn’t mean that they should be forced to “take their pick.” China in no way should impose their utilization of indirect reserves on other countries. The revisionists in China definitely have that line and it means a revisionist foreign policy. China has tried to do this with Jamaica when they supported Seaga because Manley fought against U.S. imperialism and at the same time had a relatively clear view towards China and the Soviet Union.

The same thing applies to the right to utilize contradictions and the right of peaceful coexistence with imperialist countries. It does not mean that you demand that workers and the masses in those countries and those subjugated by those countries follow suit.

Is World War III Inevitable?

The character of the economy of a socialist country determines that it does not need to export capital. Therefore war against another country is not inevitable. An imperialist country, due to its necessity to export capital and independent of its will, independent of its leaders, must implement a policy of aggression. Lenin’s correct policy of peaceful coexistence between imperialist and socialist countries is based on that material fact. Therefore socialist countries can be unequivocally for peace and against war, while imperialist countries have to repeatedly violate this line. For socialist countries to declare a policy of peaceful coexistence with imperialist countries helps to expose imperialism and win the vast majority of people around the world to the side of socialism, since socialist countries are the only ones who can consistently implement the policy of peace.

Soviet leaders have consistently made it clear that they will not be the first to enter into war with the United States. They have consistently pushed for “detente,” SALT and various treaties for peaceful coexistence. If anything, the Soviet leaders have gone overboard in their bilateral agreements with the United States on the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. They did not aid socialist countries such as China, and in fact withheld or sabotaged the aid to other socialist countries for armed forces or national defense. If anything, the Soviet leaders’ deviation has been one of too much trust and confidence in the reasonableness of U.S. imperialism and the fear of the unreasonableness and war-mongering of “Maoism” – their suspicions of fellow socialist countries.

We support “detente” and SALT now in light of the fact that the Soviet Union is a socialist country and does not have to pursue a war of aggression. Both the United States and the Soviet Union spend tremendous amounts on armaments, far more than other countries. It’s clear that this is holding back the Soviet people’s ability to fully unleash the superiority of socialism. It is preventing the Soviet Union from assisting Eastern European countries with many problems inherited from the Soviet Union’s incorrect line towards these countries. It cannot provide them with enough aid, so these countries increasingly go to the West for loans.

The United States is suffering an unprecedented economic crisis, so-called stagflation. Armaments spending is fueling the inflation, leading to the danger of hyperinflation – runaway inflation that threatens to lead to the collapse of U.S. imperialism and the rest of western imperialism. This is an immediate problem for the U.S. imperialists and they know it. They want a temporary respite and the ceiling on strategic arms will actually give them a breathing space. They’ll want to get into it even though we know that in the long run they will violate it. Another factor is that U.S. imperialism at this point has sufficient nuclear armaments to blackmail the smaller countries (although it has only parity with the Soviet Union so it can’t blackmail them).

The limitation of strategic arms does not threaten the U.S. military position around the world but will in fact help them pull the money and resources together to develop conventional armaments in areas where they have a lot of problems in relation to the Soviet Union and in their ability to fight a war like Vietnam or in the Middle East. The sum total of the arms budget and its fueling inflation is enough reason for the U.S. imperialists to curtail the nuclear arms race.

Overall, this arms limitations is in the interest of world peace, despite whatever maneuvers the United States will attempt – such as shifting one sector of the budget to another. Their need to hold down the armaments budget as a whole creates conditions for the third world countries to become relatively stronger. The Soviet Union, though hurting, has shown that it can grow militarily through its planned economy and the allocation of a steady budget for its armed forces. SALT will not in any way limit the socialist countries’ ability to defend themselves.

We do not hold the line of the CPUSA that money saved by SALT will go towards creating more jobs. We do not believe that it will mean industrialization of the United States in the productive sector. There is a tremendous deficit in the U.S. economy, close to a trillion dollars and the annual debt service is growing. Even Reagan’s most optimistic forecasts do not project a balanced budget until 1984. A ceiling on strategic arms would only cut down the rate of inflation. In no way would it help the problem of the stagnation of the U.S. economy due to Keynesian tricks. Nor would it solve the problem of unemployment which is even more acute. It can only lessen the rate of inflation and prevent it from becoming galloping runaway inflation such as in Israel, the period of the Weimar Republic in Germany and pre-liberation China.

One final note. In the event of a U.S.-Soviet war or a war between the United States and any socialist country, we will unequivocally defend socialism, including the Soviet Union.

Rapprochement of Socialist Countries–Workers of All Countries, Unite!

First the Soviet Union in 1917, and then 32 years later, the Communist Party of China and other communist parties with varied working class compositions and international experiences, seized power in economically backward societies – the weakest link of imperialism – based on creative applications of Marxism to vastly different situations. For the whole world, the October Revolution was not only the salvo that pointed out to the working class the alternative to the destitution and degradation of capitalism, but also a salvo that provided the alternative to the neo-colonial and colonial conditions of China.

The proletariat, as a class, is particularly raw. The vanguard parties, given a dedicated core of cadres, fear no sacrifices but are limited by their experiences.

The leaders of the CPSU, beginning with Stalin, then Khrushchev and Brezhnev, have all, to different degrees, exaggerated the universal significance of the Russian experience.

They all suffered to varying degrees conservatism and orthodoxy based on their own life experiences. Though the CPSU’s leadership in the anti-fascist patriotic war saved the world from Nazi catastrophe, it has also forced an over-burdened people into its nationalistic shell. Comrade Stalin, though well-deserved to be the greatest leader of the working class for 30 years, got used to his crucial role in defending world peace and made chauvinist mistakes in belittling the role of other smaller and newer parties. His mistakes were partly conditioned by the existence of the long-obsolete Communist International which has performed its duty in assisting native Marxist-Leninists to form their own parties.

Comrade Stalin insisted on having his stamp of approval on situations in other countries. This included his mistaken position that the CPC should maintain the united front with the KMT after the defeat of Japanese imperialism.

Although Mao upheld Stalin’s contributions and fought against “de-Stalinization” and Khrushchev’s revisionism, he nevertheless had substantial differences with Stalin. Mao was particularly critical of Stalin’s mechanical method or what is called “Stalin’s metaphysics.” For all that, China had no other model of socialism except the Soviet Union. Even though the tailist approach was criticized by Mao, the Chinese communists fell into many of the same traps. This was the case on practically all questions, ranging from foreign policy to economic construction until the late 50’s. And as soon as the CPC asserted its own critical analysis, Khrushchev started to attack China.

The CPC has good reason to chart its own course. They learned from the negative example of the Hungarian situation and the mistakes which the Hungarian party made under the influence of the CPSU line. Mao responded first with some partial measures such as the “Hundred Flowers Blossom” democratization campaign. He had to cut that short after counterrevolutionary elements started to take advantage of genuine grievances. Within the party leadership, Mao had lost considerable prestige due to the mistakes made during the Great Leap Forward – a drive for self-sufficiency. Within the Central Committee, there was no uniform view on how to build up China’s economy and unleash grassroots democracy. The abrupt ending of the “Hundred Flowers” campaign was necessitated first and foremost by the differences in line coexisting (quietly until then) within the Central Committee. A major difference was over how to utilize the experts.

Liu Shaoqi was the organizational man on the “front line,” president of the state, while Mao took up the secondary line on the theoretical and strategic fronts. This division of labor between theory and practice also furthered the divergence of approach. In short, Mao criticized Liu of following the Soviet model hook, line and sinker, and for consistently holding back Mao’s innovative programs. Specifically, Mao wanted to end New Democracy and initiate People’s Communes, and was also fighting for less pedagogic, more practical educational methods.

As a result of the struggle against Liu’s Soviet approach, an entire generation of old party leaders was criticized, denounced and demoted one by one. Often, however, no comprehensive program of replacement and action was given. This was justified with Mao’s thesis that “without destruction there can be no construction,” and “as with all things reactionary, if you don’t hit it, it won’t fall.”

In the search for a comprehensive overhaul of the political situation and party leadership, Mao realized it was not enough to just demote leadership one by one, nor was it sufficient to identify the class basis of the old cadre core’s revisionism; namely, many of the leading cadres came from national bourgeois backgrounds. That’s when the “Bombard the Headquarters” stage of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution was launched.

Since the new political line was developed aspect-by-aspect and the old program was thrown out completely, an inevitable discontinuity of leadership occurred and reached crisis levels. The new cadre core represented by the Four was not experienced enough to administer the state. The death of Mao brought about a wholesale reversal of his program by the rightists. They were supported by the army, not so much out of agreement with the rightist policies, but mainly because of opposition to the “Four upstarts.” Their propensity to launch criticism campaigns despite Mao’s urgings to “unite to win still greater victories” and his “three directives” to carry on class struggle, establish political stability and carry out the four modernizations isolated them.

The directives “to study the dictatorship of the proletariat” were correct. But the continuation of criticisms of the novel “Water Margin,” of Confucianism and of the “right deviationist wind” were indications of the precarious nature of Mao’s transitional setup. This makes it clear that the problem did not arise at that juncture, but stemmed from the lack of consolidation earlier. The failure to establish a real new cadre core capable of finding independent bearings, and supported by the masses and the armed forces, was the root of the problem.

The reversal after Mao’s death in 1976, particularly in its economic and organizational policy, has made China’s internal structural difference with “capitalist” Russia superfluous. The fundamental difference before was in the economic theory criticized as the theory of “all-importance of productive forces.” What is the difference now? None. In terms of general direction on the relationship of economics to politics, there is no difference. I believe that in the final analysis, this is the driving force that will eventually lead advanced elements in both CPC and CPSU to converge again.

The only difference lies in their national interests in the context of the international setting. We can’t underestimate the tenacity of these differences and the depth of the historical wounds inflicted. However, it is still economic necessity that will drive them closer again, except on a more mature basis, this economic necessity is already painfully evident. Both the Soviet Union and China have problems of economic growth. China now confronts a deficit caused by an over-ambitious plan to modernize (a rightist approach modeled after western imperialist countries). This was motivated both by a need for national defense against the Soviet threat as well as a need to raise the subsistence standard of living of its people. The Soviet Union faces a decline in growth and the identical ideological problem of the need to raise people’s standard of living.

There does not seem to be any qualitatively new solution to the economic problems of either country. And they fear that a swing towards any other way will allow U.S. and western imperialists to penetrate them. Both countries have proven they do not want this to happen.

As long as the standard of living can be raised steadily in socialist countries, there is no significant problem in consolidating the people behind the party’s line and the red banner of high socialist morale. To that extent, there should be less fear of a democratizing movement, or even an opposition. In fact, it would keep socialism healthy and vigorous if such pressures and supervision existed. It would certainly help to prevent the formation of a privileged bureaucracy and would also help to maintain the essential link between the vanguard party and the masses. If the standard of living and socialist culture can be steadily raised, then imperialists certainly cannot take advantage of the internal struggles. In fact, under these conditions imperialist intervention would only be turned around and used to further consolidate the dictatorship of the proletariat.

The one critical factor which could unleash the superiority of socialism in China and the Soviet Union today would be a significant reduction in their defense burdens. This is the single largest underlying factor blocking the development of their productive forces as well as the qualitative increase in their internal democracy.

It seems then that changes in foreign policy are decisive factors in getting them out of their present rut, so we must have confidence in the historical laws of economic necessity. This means that eventually internal economic and political growth will lead to further democratization (or, to put it scientifically, will develop democratic centralism to a higher level). This necessity will prevail over an irrational foreign policy which is mainly derived from unfortunate historical incidents, and which can also be corrected. That’s the main thing Marxism teaches us on this question.

Of course, this will not develop in a simple straightforward fashion. U.S. imperialism, by its nature, will not lay down its butcher’s knife. The only way that the Soviet Union can significantly (and safely) reduce its defense budget is not to rely on SALT, but to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan and away from the Chinese borders. This would send an unmistakable signal that the Soviet Union is less uptight about China and its own national security.

Recently, China has significantly reduced its national defense budget to 17%, a two-fold reduction. Its confidence in doing so is not based on faith in the Soviet Union – that they won’t walk in. It is military counter-balance based on U.S. imperialist military presence in Japan, the Philippines and many island and peninsula nations in Southeast Asia. Such a policy based on China’s national interest to keep the Soviet Union off her back has already drawn heavy criticisms from and even splits with many native Southeast Asian Marxist-Leninist parties. For example, shutting down the Thai communist radio station in China as a condition to work in united front with the Thai government against the Soviet Union in the area. It is a stand that goes against proletarian internationalism. Unless China views herself as the bulwark of revolution in the world today (such as Lenin’s justification of the Brest-Litovsk Treaty), there is no justification for her position. And in her ideologically flabby state of mind now, China obviously does not fancy herself as anything but that.

We hope that China’s increasing international isolation will also push her to re-evaluate her policy. There are growing signs of such a move, particularly from the signing of an agreement on inland navigational waterways (Heilongjiang or Amur/Usuri Rivers). We hope this tendency will grow as Reagan’s diehard policy towards Taiwan helps burst the illusions of the Chinese revisionists.

The Soviet Union has different things to worry about. The degree to which they are over-extended worldwide is how they will show their helplessness in the face of an excellent situation in Poland. They are hopelessly tied down in Afghanistan. We hope and expect that a stronger Polish Party resulting from the current struggle will stabilize its leadership through the dictatorship of the proletariat. Then certainly they can fend off U.S. intervention more effectively. This will lessen the paranoid fear of the Soviet Union of being surrounded. Treating Polish boundaries as their own is no solution.

The problems of internal democracy in the East European countries are of historic magnitude. The pressure will not decrease but rather increase. This is intimately and positively linked with the problem of productivity.

All these factors point to the necessity of the Soviet Union changing its chauvinist policy towards China and other countries. The prejudices and force of habit of the present conservative leadership seem strong, but so are the pressures on them. It is possible that these self-centered policies will evaporate under the impact of internal and external events.

In any event, the only possible historical materialist way to reduce their military burden is to ally themselves together against U.S. imperialism. The only other critical factor would be a successful working class revolution in the United States. Then, whatever their antagonisms, they can reduce their military spending and create more favorable domestic conditions to consolidate socialism, and create the material and spiritual conditions for communism. Of course, this is the only thing that’s within the reach of the subjective factor of American communists which would change the current situation (perceived as a crisis of Marxism) in the socialist countries.

This is another affirmation, or perhaps a more profound implication of our general task – the overthrow of the criminal rule of the U.S. monopoly capitalist class. Understanding more clearly the proletarian internationalist significance of our revolution here reaffirms and strengthens our resolve – to prepare for the dictatorship of the proletariat in the United States.


[1] V.I. Lenin, “Once Again on the Trade Unions, the Present Situation and the Mistakes of Trotsky and Bukharin,” Against Trotskyism (Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1972), p.201.