Vol. 2 #8
VOICE OF THE MARXIST-LENINIST PARTY, USA 50¢
October 15, 1986
[Front page: The Spanish Civil War and problems in the present-day movement in Spain; On the line of the CP of Spain/ML]
ALSO IN THIS ISSUE
|The Communist Party of the Philippines and the Aquino Regime.............................................................................||2|
|The New Zealand's Labor Government's Two-FacedStand Before the Anti-Nuclear Movement.......................||8|
|From a New Zealand Government Journal......................||10|
|Correction to the Address for "Arm the Spirit" and P.U.R.E.............................................................................||23|
The Spanish Civil War and problems in the present-day movement in Spain
On the line of the CP of Spain/ML
THE COMMUNIST PARTY OF THE PHILIPPINES AND THE AQUINO REGIME
NEW ZEALAND LABOR GOVERNMENTS TWO-FACED STAND BEFORE THE ANTI-NUCLEAR MOVEMENT
In the Oct. 1 issue of the Workers' Advocate we began a study of the Spanish Civil War of 1936-39.
This war was marked by great heroism and sacrifice by the communist activists and revolutionary toilers. And it was precisely the central role played by the Communist Party that allowed the struggle against fascism to reach such intensity. Unfortunately, however, the orientation which guided the Communist Party of Spain was grievously wrong, and this had bad consequences. The war was marked by a tremendous revolutionary upheaval, but the Party sought to cool down the class struggle and subordinate the revolution to the bounds of bourgeois republicanism.
The wrong policies of the CP of Spain were not just isolated, small errors but represented a turning away from Leninism. They were based on the rightist views of the 7th Congress of the Communist International of 1935, and they serve as yet another example of the bankruptcy of the new line.
The problems in strategy and tactics seen in the way the Spanish Civil War was fought, and the wrong line adopted by the 7th Congress of the CI, are not just issues for historical study. Rather, they continue to exert a negative influence on present-day revolutionary movements.
For one thing, a sentimental approach to the Spanish Civil War is still being used by the pro-Soviet revisionist forces to glorify the wrong ideas of the Seventh Congress and its denial of revolutionary Leninism. As well, the influence of the Spanish Civil War traditions has worked to prevent various forces that came up in the fight against revisionism from adopting thoroughly Marxist-Leninist views. This has gone to the extent that today, among the parties which stood up in the past against Soviet and Chinese revisionism, one finds parties taking disgraceful, right-opportunist positions; positions which they often defend invoking the heritage of Dimitrov and the 7th Congress of the CI.
Such is the case, for example, with the CP of Brazil, whose tailism towards the liberal bourgeoisie has led it to support the present bourgeois government of Brazil, led by Sarney, and even to enshrine loyalty to bourgeois democracy in its new party constitution.
One would think that in Spain, where the forces who broke with revisionism have been faced directly with the legacies of the Spanish Civil War, they would take up the task of overcoming the wrong views that harmed the courageous and costly struggle of the 1930's. After all, the revisionist and social-democratic forces in Spain ardently defend those legacies. But unfortunately we find that the leadership of the anti-revisionist Communist Party of Spain (Marxist-Leninist) is attempting to duplicate those wrong policies.
In the accompanying article, we discuss the line of the CP of Spain (ML) in the spirit of internationalist concern for the struggle of the Spanish comrades and to draw lessons from its experience for the world movement. <>
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This article examines some of the basic questions facing the communist movement in Spain today. It is being written because we have some grave concerns about the strategy and tactics of the Communist Party of Spain (Marxist-Leninist).
Furthermore, the CPS(ML) is a party that has in the past declared its opposition to various of the rightist influences on the international Marxist-Leninist movement. In 1982 it set out its ideas concerning the international Marxist-Leninist movement and promised to uphold the "Leninist tradition of polemic". It pledged to take up the question "why did modern revisionism arise?" (See "On Some Questions of the International Movement" by comrade Paul Marco, Oct. 3, 1982) And a few years ago it hinted publicly that it disagreed with some of the rightist stands of the Party of Labor of Albania, such as support of Khomeini's hangman regime in Iran.
These stands, and the prestige of the struggle it waged in the years of the Franco dictatorship, have resulted in the ideas and activities of the CPS(ML) being discussed and influential among a number of parties. This means that an assessment of its views is not just important for the activities of the Spanish communists, but as part of the process of determining the correct general line for the world movement.
But the leadership of the CPS(ML) has been unable to carry through with the fight against the rightist and petty-bourgeois nationalist pressures on the world Marxist-Leninist movement. Even when comrade Marco promised to uphold a Leninist polemic against opportunism, he specified that this would be an "internal" struggle. The CPS(ML) leadership in fact has been one of the champions of the demand that all other parties stay silent and keep their opposition to the rightist and petty-bourgeois nationalist views "internal". It has sought to punish our party for our public discussion of the controversial issues in the world movement, to obstruct our contact with other parties, and to exclude us from international forums including the journal Theory and Practice.
The plan of an "internal" or silent struggle against opportunism has proved to be extremely harmful. (See our article "Silent Stagnation or Rank-and-File Discussion" in the Oct. 1, 1986 issue of the Workers' Advocate.) Following this plan, the leadership of the CPS(ML) only made hints against the rightist stands, and it has ended up taking up many of the rightist positions itself. There is a striking resemblance between various of the views of the leadership of the CPS(ML) and the petty-bourgeois democratic and nationalist concepts of those parties which are flaunting rightist stands.
Indeed, particularly during the last two years or so, the work of the CPS(ML) has turned dramatically to the right. It has abandoned much of its independent communist work. It has instead begun to dream about the glories of work hand-in-hand with various of the reformist and revisionist circles. It has even begun praising "left" social-democratic personalities.
The CPS(ML) has also not carried through with its pledge to unearth the origin of revisionism. Instead it has taken up the anti-Leninist ideas of the Seventh Congress of the CI, and it has implemented these ideas in its practical work.
True, unlike some parties in other countries, the CP of Spain (ML) is fairly silent about Dimitrov and the 7th Congress of the CI. Instead, during the last year, the pages of Vanguardia Obrera, the central organ of the Central Committee of the CPS(ML), has been filled with material glorifying the traditions of the Spanish Civil War period, traditions that are based on the ideas of the Seventh Congress of the CI. Vanguardia Obrera sets forward as historical models the People's Front government of 1936, the role of the old CP during the Civil War, and even the bourgeois republic of 1931. While Vanguardia Obrera is willing to concede that there were mistakes and vacillations in the work of the CP during the Civil War, it fully defends the general orientation of the CP (and the CI) during the Civil War as revolutionary.
The turn to the right by the leadership of the CPS(ML) is partially the result of its failure to deal with various long-standing weaknesses in the line of the CPS(ML). It has had a long-standing tendency to present the struggle in Spain in petty-bourgeois democratic and nationalist colors. This lies behind its fundamental slogan of a "republican" stage of the revolution in Spain. And it lies behind its orienting of the anti-NATO and anti-Western imperialist struggle for the goal of Spanish "national independence" instead of against the local Spanish bourgeoisie.
In this article, we explore some of the basic views of the CP of Spain (ML). We do this in the spirit of communist collaboration and proletarian internationalism, and we hope this assists the progress of the Spanish Marxist-Leninists.
A Liquidationist Turn Towards Reconciliation with Reformism
In the last two years or so, the day-to-day tactics of the CPS(ML) have dramatically deteriorated. Today the leadership of the CPS(ML) has trouble maintaining a stand independent of the reformist parties and circles. Instead of concentrating on building up revolutionary organization and struggle among the working class and people, it hopes that alliances with the leaders of the reformist trends will solve the difficulties of work in the present period. It is looking towards such reformist forces as the Eurorevisiontists, the pro-Soviet revisionists, and the "left" section of social-democracy. In brief, it has taken a turn towards liquidationism.
An examination of Vanguardia Obrera in the last year shows little work in developing the independent revolutionary stand of Marxism-Leninism. Instead there is one campaign after another in which the agitation of the CPS(ML) merges with that of the reformist circles. In the campaigns where it works side-by-side with the reformists, the CPS(ML) does not appear to have an independent stand.
The CPS(ML)'s press does not deal with how to break the rank-and-file workers and activists away from the influence of the revisionists and "left" social-democrats. Instead it glories in the lists of names of opportunist leaders who signed various liberal and opportunist declarations. The CPS (ML) signs these declarations without criticism and simply promotes them in its press.
Let us examine several of these recent campaigns.
The Referendum on Spain's Admission to NATO
A prominent example of CPS(ML)'s recent work was the campaign against Spain's entry into NATO.
NATO has been an ongoing issue in Spain. But earlier this year it came to the fore with the referendum organized by the social-democratic government to ease Spain into NATO. The government added to the referendum some demagogic promises, but large numbers of Spanish workers and youth were outraged and voted NO anyway. (As well, part of the right-wing nationalists also stood against Spain's entry into NATO, out of fear that domestic Spanish reaction would be diluted by entry into closer association with Western Europe.) The social-democratic Spanish government was able to squeak through and win the referendum.
The CPS (ML) opposed, as all progressive people must do, the entry of Spain into NATO. But its agitation failed to bring out the Leninist stand on the struggle against war preparations. It basically failed to use the campaign against NATO to mobilize the proletariat against the Spanish bourgeoisie. It failed to stress that only the revolutionary organization of the masses was an iron bulwark against war preparations since, whether Spain was in NATO or not, it would remain tied to the imperialist blocs as long as it was capitalist. Instead it used the agitation against NATO in order to seek unity with the various reformist forces that claim to be against Spain being in NATO, but which are in thrall to the Spanish bourgeoisie.
The CPS(ML) leadership noted that a broad spectrum of left forces had united for voting NO in the referendum. The CPS(ML) did not set before itself the task of clarifying the stand of the various groups to the Spanish proletariat, showing them the difference between reformism and revolution, between petty-bourgeois democratic illusions and a socialist stand, etc. Instead it simply used the occasion to try to get closer to the reformist circles, from the pro-Soviet groups to "left" social-democracy.
In previous campaigns, the CPS(ML) had kept aloof from the pro-Soviet revisionists. True, there was profound weakness in the stand the CPS(ML) raised against the pro-Soviet revisionists. With regard to the anti-war struggle; it did not deal with their reformism and pacifism. It instead basically held that the issue was simply to oppose both superpowers, and so one could work only with forces who raised slogans (or at least criticism) against both superpowers. This was an artificial distinction in that it is necessary to win rank-and-file workers away from both the pro-Soviet opportunists and the pro-Western opportunists (many of whom are willing to criticize both superpowers in words), and the tactics to be used for both tasks are basically similar. But, in any case, the CPS(ML) at least regarded itself as in an irreconcilable struggle against the pro-Soviet revisionists.
But this time the CPS(ML) wanted to draw in the pro-Soviet revisionists as well. It is true that the CPS(ML) worked closer with the Eurorevisionists and "left" social-democrats who were willing to criticize both superpowers. The important thing, however, is that Vanguardia Obrera created the impression that there were all these progressive groups united for the glorious common struggle, rather than using the campaign to step up its work against the opportunists.
And indeed, the agitation of the CPS(ML) on "national independence", "neutrality", and "peace between the peoples" was within the framework of the agitation of the revisionists and "left" social-democrats. Later in this article we will go more into the mistaken nature of these stands. For now, we simply note that there is little distinction between the reformist slogan of "peace" and CPS(ML)'s slogan of "peace between the peoples", or between the reformist slogan of "neutrality" and CPS(ML)'s slogan of "active neutrality"." The CPS(ML)'s agitation did not have a cutting edge against the reformists, only, against the open supporters of NATO. None of the basic slogans -- whether from the reformists or the CPS (ML) -- showed that a struggle for peace that is not part of the struggle against the Spanish bourgeoisie is a fraud.
Giving a Liberal Bourgeois Line on the Struggle Against Apartheid
The same thing occurred In the struggle against apartheid. The CPS (ML) leadership tailored its agitation to the level of support for the UN Declaration of Human Rights and other reformist shibboleths.
In September 1985, a demonstration was organized in Madrid against apartheid in South Africa. A coalition of political organizations and trade unions was put together. This included the Euro-revisionist CPS and its trade union center, the social-democratic youth organization, and the social-democratic trade union center.
The CPS(ML) also joined this coalition. It is possible that this was a correct thing to do. It is hard to tell from a distance how to handle a particular coalition for a particular demonstration. But whether the CPS(ML) joined the coalition or not, it should have carried out work for a revolutionary rather than liberal stand on the issue of apartheid. So what was the content of the CPS(ML)!s agitation on this occasion?
Vanguardia Obrera simply reprinted the call of the coalition on its front page. The CPS(ML) didn't have its own independent call for participation in the demonstration, and it certainly didn't criticize the reformist document. It simply promoted the miserable, liberal bourgeois call of the reformist coalition. (See Vanguardia Obrera, No. 516, Sept. 26 - Oct. 2, 1985.)
After all, what did this reformist call say? It was no fiery document. Instead it was dripping with the typical liberal rhetoric of the Western European bourgeoisie on the apartheid issue. And it was full of the UN spirit. Why, the most important thing is to uphold the UN Declaration of Human Rights. There was not a word in support of the revolutionary overthrow of white minority rule. Instead it was basically an appeal to the "democratic" imperialist governments to act.
The coalition document declared "we demand of all democratic governments and, in particular, the Spanish, the adoption of measures to isolate the bloody South African regime and support the democratic organizations which fight for liberty." There was no call to build up a mass solidarity movement in Spain. There was no call for revolution in South Africa. There was no exposure of the sham nature of the "sanctions" of the Western imperialist governments. So the appeal was essentially an attempt to mobilize the working people behind the program of the West European liberal bourgeoisie.
One has to bear in mind that at present the Western bourgeoisie is making a big fuss about its alleged humanitarian opposition to apartheid, while in fact this same bourgeoisie is only concerned to prevent revolution in South1 Africa. In the U.S., for example, the bourgeoisie, whether liberal or conservative, makes no secret of its goal. Whether Democratic or Republican, for or against additional sanctions, the politicians argue on what's the best way to avoid revolution and avoid "the radicalization of the black masses" (as a prominent liberal Democrat put it). So today the bourgeoisie props up white minority rule in South Africa in the name of allegedly opposing it. One can see that the call of the Spanish reformist coalition was designed to fit right in with this bourgeois deception of the people.
Well, the next issue of Vanguardia Obrera covered the anti-apartheid demonstration. It did not correct any of the errors of the previous issue. It was an example of how not to do united front work with the reformists and revisionists.
Furthermore, Vanguardia Obrera promoted and glorified the African National Congress of South Africa. It didn't say a word about the reformist nature of the ANC leadership. We do not have the space here to analyze the essentially reformist strategy and tactics of the ANC (but see "Does the ANC Stand for Revolution" in the Sept. 1, 1985 issue of the Workers' Advocate). Here it suffices to point out that if a Marxist-Leninist party cannot see the reformism of the ANC leadership, then it certainly has a great deal of difficulty drawing a line with revisionism. The ANC's reformism is completely in line with pro-Soviet revisionism (which the ANC is aligned with).
(Of course one should not simply curse the ANC as pro-Soviet and disregard the fact that the ANC is being brutally persecuted in South Africa and that large numbers of South African workers and youth believe that the ANC is revolutionary. But at the same time it is necessary to take a revolutionary stand as opposed to the ANC's reformist stand; failure to do so is treachery to the South African masses. If one instead simply identifies oneself with the ANC, then what type of struggle is one waging in the real world against pro-Soviet revisionism?)
How Should One Carry out Homage to the Victims of Franco?
Another example occurred earlier this year when the CPS(ML) launched a campaign of homage to the victims of Francoism.
This is an important issue. It can and should be used to inspire revolutionary feeling in the Spanish workers. The crimes of the Spanish bourgeoisie must not be forgotten. The example of the heroic activists who fell under the fascist boot can and should be used to inspire people to revolutionary deeds today. The history of the sharp division between revolutionary and reformist stands in the struggle against Franco should be used to show the absolute necessity to continue the struggle against reformism.
But how did the CPS(ML) carry out this campaign?
We don't know all the CPS(ML)'s activities, but we do know how its central press handled the issue. Issue after issue of Vanguardia Obrera took page after page to simply list people who had endorsed a petition calling for homage to the victims of Francoism. Vanguardia Obrera took particular pleasure in listing the various bigshots who endorsed the petition. This included social-democratic and revisionist leaders and petty-bourgeois personalities.
Now is it really necessary in Spain to convince people that honoring the memory of the martyrs is a good thing? Clearly the long lists of names had another purpose. They were intended to show that the Marxist-Leninists and the reformists were really united on this issue. The left could really be united on various issues -- from liberal agitation on apartheid and liberal agitation against NATO to criticizing Franco (now that he was dead). Who cared what stand these worthies took when Franco was alive? Who cared for the distinction between revolutionary struggle against Franco as FRAP and CPS(ML) had carried out and passive resignation or even collaboration? Why, now everyone could unite to shed a sentimental tear and forget the divisions of the past!
Thus Vanguardia Obrera used the issue to promote unity with the reformists. It tried to wipe out the memory of the division between revolutionary struggle and reformism. Instead it promoted all those good figures from the reformist and liberal ranks who were paying homage to the past.
Eulogies for Social-Democratic Chieftains
And Vanguardia Obrera has not waited for special campaigns in order to promote unity with the reformists. It has taken to promoting the wonderful history and extraordinary merit of this or that social-democratic leader.
Of course Vanguardia Obrera does not fail to say that it has some ideological differences with these figures. But it doesn't spend any time explaining what these differences are. Instead it creates the impression that the social-democratic leaders are good on the present-day burning issues, whatever the minor role that the difference between Marxism-Leninism and social-democracy may have in general.
Eulogizing the Social-Democratic Mayor of Madrid
For example, Vanguardia Obrera ran a front-page eulogy to Enrique Tiemo Galvan, the Mayor of Madrid, when he died. It praised extravagantly this luminary of the "left" wing of the ruling social-democratic party.
But who was Senor Galvan? Was he a rank-and-file social-democrat who had been exiled to some minor position in the boondocks for revolutionary deeds that had disturbed the social-democratic leadership?
Not at all. He was a major figure in good-standing of the social-democratic party. He was mayor of Madrid, the largest city of Spain and its capital. He was a trusted leader of social-democracy, which is presently ruling Spain as representative of the bourgeoisie.
By praising Senor Galvan, Vanguardia Obrera was telling the activists and sympathizers of the CPS (ML) the attitude to be taken to the "left" phrasemongering wing of social-democracy. Instead of trying to break the masses away from the social-democratic leaders, it was promoting merger with the reformist and social-democratic circles. It was narrowing the areas of disagreement with the ruling social-democrats so far that it can now find much in common with even major leaders of the social-democratic party.
Praising Olaf Palme, Late Leader of the Swedish Bourgeoisie
Earlier this year Olaf Palme, the social-democratic Prime Minister of Sweden, was assassinated. Vanguardia Obrera couldn't restrain its sweet words of eulogy. It praised Palme as being a man who defended his country's neutrality, as an anti-fascist, as a man who stood up to the U.S. and to the aggressive U.S. plan for Europe, etc. (Vanguardia Obrera, No. 537, March 6-12, 1986)
But who was Olaf Palme? He was the elected leader of the Swedish bourgeoisie. And Sweden is a highly developed industrialized country, a country where the bourgeoisie wages class war on the working class, a country which exploits immigrant labor, a country which is a major war producer, a country which is tied into Western imperialism by a million threads.
Praising Olaf Palme reminds one of the views of the Maoist "three worlders". There was a time when the "three worlders" talked of opposition to the two superpowers. They praised various "second world" European powers and "third world" tyrants for allegedly standing up to the superpowers. Who cared if these regimes were oppressing their own workers -- they were opposed to the superpowers! Who cared if they were' composed of imperialists or exploiters or counterrevolutionaries -- they opposed the superpowers!
Of course, it turned out that these heroes of the "second world" and the "third world" weren't opposed to the superpowers at all. Instead they were the bulwark of the world imperialist system against the revolutionary and class struggles in their own countries.
And the same thing is true of Olaf Palme. Oh yes, during the Viet Nam War, Palme had criticized U.S. aggression. Yet he never condemned U.S. imperialism, and simply opposed particular policies. A number of Western imperialist leaders also opposed the U.S. war in Viet Nam as a losing venture for the aggressors, not just social-democrats like Palme of Sweden or Michael Foote of Britain but reactionaries like Gen. Charles de Gaulle of France as well. But this didn't mean splitting with Western imperialism. And indeed, in the later years of his life, Olaf Palme was restored to the good graces of the U.S. government.
Praising Palme means reconciling oneself to the liberal bourgeoisie (or at least displaying bankruptcy in the face of the liberal bourgeoisie). And it means reconciling oneself to social-democracy. Palme was a prominent world leader of social-democracy. True, he was not a leader of the avowedly militarist section of social-democracy, but of a more phrasemongering section. So Vanguardia Obrera's praise for Palme is an international analogy to its policy of promoting unity with "left" social-democracy in Spain. But the task of the Marxist-Leninists is not to praise popular social-democratic leaders such as Palme, but to show the working class the dead end nature of the path they advocate.
The Fiasco in the Elections
The joint campaigns with the reformists and the praise for social-democratic figures prepared the way for grander things. The CPS(ML) leadership looked with enthusiasm towards the parliamentary elections which were held a few months ago. It dreamed in the press of duplicating the 1936 election victory of the Popular Front. There was no big upsurge in Spain to justify hopes of a big breakthrough. But all one allegedly had to do to achieve big things was reconcile with the reformists. So a campaign was launched for the unity of all forces to the left of the the ruling Social-Democratic party, indeed, to the left of the ruling faction in the Social-Democratic party (i.e. including "left" social-democratic politicians).
Ah, what wonders can be accomplished by liquidationist daydreaming! One doesn't need a wave of struggle in the working class. One doesn't need to consider the actual political state of mind of the working masses. All one needs is to dream of broad alliances and add up the numbers in one's head. (Let's see: the pro-Soviet voters plus the Euro-revisionist voters plus the CPS(ML) voters plus etc. etc. How much does that add up to? The advocates of liquidator arithmetic are mesmerized by the results.) And then anything is possible.
Such minor things as criticism of reformism couldn't be allowed to interfere with these grandiose plans. And during this wave of unity-mongering for the elections, the CPS(ML) toned down even what criticism of reformism it usually carried. It implied that the political forces to the left of the right-wing of the Social-Democratic party had become real fighters in the day-to-day struggle of the working people of Spain.
But, as it turned out, the all-encompassing "united left" front for the elections did not come into being. One problem was the CPS(ML) leadership, so ready to drop every other disagreement, insisted on endorsement of the republican slogan. Furthermore, the "left" social-democrats didn't leave their party; the exhortations of the CPS(ML) for "honest socialists" (the Spanish social-democrats call themselves socialists) to rally to a renewed republican front found no takers. And the revisionists wouldn't endorse the CPS(ML) plan either, they have their own arithmetic and formed their own "united left" ticket.
Thus the CPS(ML) was left merely to unite with some small circles and individuals, especially relics of the Republican forces from Civil War; days. Instead of the vast "united left" they had dreamed of, they only put together a tiny "Popular Republican Unity" which did not have much appeal among the working masses of Spain.
Such was the sorry fate of the attempt of the CPS(ML) to achieve great things by merging with the reformist groupings.
What Happened to the CPS(ML) Slogan "No Unity with the Opportunist Chieftains"?
The CPS(ML) leadership's new-found enthusiasm for coalitions with the reformist leaders leads one to a natural question: what happened to its old slogan of "No Unity with the Opportunist Chieftains?" This slogan was supposed to be the answer to the question of how to do united front work. It was supposed to be the hallmark of a revolutionary stand.
But today the CPS(ML) leadership is silent on this slogan. Instead, without explanation, they have taken to the search for unity with as many of the opportunist chieftains as possible, as long as they are to the left of the right-wing of the social- democrats.
The CPS(ML)'s old slogan came up as part of a polemic between the CPS(ML) and the Communist Party of Germany (formerly called the CP of Germany (ML) as it emerged in the struggle against pro-Soviet revisionism) over work in the anti-war movement in Europe. Because of the CPS(ML)'s opposition to open discussion of the controversies in the world communist movement, the CPS(ML) did not speak openly to this disagreement. But the CP of Germany wrote openly on the question, and the CPS(ML) itself published a few very short articles that attacked the stand of the CP of Germany without saying so.
We have given our view on this polemic in our article "Some burning questions in the struggle against imperialism: On the West European movement against U.S/NATO war preparations" which appeared in the Workers' Advocate of June 5, 1982. We did not state which two parties in Western Europe we were discussing, but in fact we discussed in detail the stands of both the German and the Spanish leaderships. And we disagreed with both.
The leadership of the CPG was giving a right-wing liquidationist stand that tended to merger with reformism. It was particularly excited about the "left" wing of German social-democracy. And it took up slogans that were within the bounds of social-democracy.
But the polemic between the CPS(ML) and the CPG was carried out in a fashion that obscured this issue. They both posed the question abstractly and centered the debate on whether it is ever permissible to enter into agreements with social-democratic and revisionist parties (presumably the argument was over such things as coalitions for demonstrations). Meanwhile they both obscured the question of the political content of the work at the demonstrations and elsewhere; they sidestepped such questions as the attitude towards one's own bourgeoisie (and not just the bourgeoisie of the superpowers), the analysis of the nature of "left" social-democracy, etc.
Instead the CP of Germany refuted the view that all agreements with reformist leaders were wrong in principle -- and then went on to argue in a liquidationist spirit about the great wonders that could be accomplished today with these agreements.
And the leadership of the CPS(ML) argued that all such agreements from above were wrong in principle, independent of their content. Furthermore, the CPS(ML) leadership argued in a way that tended to attack the mass movements themselves rather than just the erroneous way the CPG leadership was dealing with them. The CPS(ML)'s theorizing tended to abstentionism from impure mass struggles, and it itself recognized that its slogan against all agreements from above on principle was a violation of the "letter" of Marxism-Leninism.
At that time we vigorously condemned the liquidationist trend of thought manifested by the CPG. And since then the CPG has split into several parts and gone further down the road of merger with reformism. And it has taken up social-democratic views of what socialism is.
From a Tendency towards Abstentionism to a Tendency towards Rightist Liquidationism
At the same time, we pointed out that the CPS(ML)'s stand, if taken consistently and developed to its logical conclusion, was liquidationism, although from a somewhat different direction. We stated that
"In fact, the two opposing theoretical stands in the polemic [that of the CPS(ML) and the CPG], if they were implemented in practice and followed consistently, would both lead in the direction of a liquidationist policy, although from somewhat different directions."
We also pointed out that, behind the slogan of "No Unity with the Opportunist Chieftains", it was actually hard to see what politics the CPS(ML) was itself pursuing in the movement. While it denounced agreements with the opportunist chieftains, it
"seem(ed) to redefine the concept of 'unity at the base' to include everything underneath the top opportunist chieftains, apparently right up to the provincial level of the opportunist apparatus.... The agreements that this Party [the CPS(ML)] makes with the 'local or intermediate' levels of the revisionist, trotskyite or social-democratic organizations may be perfectly acceptable, but one has no way to judge without knowing what political criteria govern these agreements. Thus, it turns out that the talk of opposing agreements 'from above' appears to obscure the actual policy of this Party toward the opportunists,..." (The Workers' Advocate, June 5, 1982, p. 37)
Thus while the CPS(ML) leadership's theorizing tended to abstentionism in theory, the main political content of the work of the CPS(ML) was not necessarily leftist. As we pointed out, the CPS(ML) leadership had a hard time dealing with the rightist political content of the work of the CPG.
Today the CPS (ML) leadership has, in practice, abandoned the slogan of "No Unity with, the Opportunist Chieftains". Moreover they have, in practice, replaced it with its opposite: "Find as Many Occasions for Unity with the Opportunist Chieftains as Fast as One Can". But, in that case, how does the present stand of the CPS(ML) leadership differ from the 1981-2 stand of the CPG on work in the anti-war movement? Hasn't the CPS(ML) leadership collapsed into the right liquidationist way of thinking that they professed to oppose in 1982? Indeed, the CPS(ML) today finds a great deal of merit in the "left" wing of social-democracy in Spain and elsewhere, just as the CPG was in love with the "left" wing of the German social-democratic leadership.
And so our view of liquidationist trend in the CPS(ML)'s side of the polemic has been verified by experience. The slogan of the CPS(ML) of "No Unity with the Opportunist Chieftains", which seems so radical at first sight, proved to be empty. It didn't answer any of the questions of how to actually work in the mass movements in a way that undermines opportunism. It was theoretically wrong in denying, on principle, any agreements from above no matter what the terms and conditions of the agreements. It hid the similarity of the CPS(ML)'s stand to that of certain of the rightist stands of the CPG with respect to the political content of their agitation. The only positive aspect of this slogan was that it reflected that the CPS (ML) leadership still wanted a struggle against opportunism, of some sort at least. But the slogan proved a weak obstacle to the spread of rightist views, and the CPS(ML) leadership has since abandoned it in practice.
All the CPS(ML) leadership's talk about "No Unity with the Opportunist Chieftains" obscured its political weaknesses. But unless a communist party has its own independent work among the masses, and unless this work has a proper political content, the party cannot deal properly with mass movements which are for the time being under the domination of reformism. It is left with the alternatives of abstentionism or of merging with reformism, both of which lead by one road or another to liquidationism.
Long-Term Problems with the Line of the CPS(ML)
Up to here, we have laid stress on the current turn towards right-wing liquidationism in the line of the CPS(ML) leadership. But now we wish to go into certain issues which, while particularly acute at the present time, have long been problems for the CPS(ML).
For one thing, the CPS(ML) has long had difficulty with putting forward the social content of the struggle in Spain. It has understood the need to fight against tyranny, such as that of Franco, but it has had trouble understanding the relation of the socialist revolution to Spain. It has been prey to the illusions of petty-bourgeois democracy and petty-bourgeois nationalism.
The Republican Strategy: Replacing the Struggle for the Socialist Revolution with the Dream of a Democratic Revolution
If there is one thing that the CPS(ML) is known for, it is the republican orientation for the struggle of the Spanish working class. The CPS(ML)'s fundamental slogans are "Tomorrow Spain will be Republican" and "The Future is the Republic".
The republican slogan is not just one of many equal slogans. The CPS(ML) does not flank this slogan with others proclaiming "Tomorrow Spain will have a socialist revolution", "Tomorrow the working class will be the ruling class", etc. No, the republican slogan is the slogan. At rallies and demonstrations, the CPS(ML) flies the tricolor flag of the republic of the 1930s. And in its proposals for unity, it seeks to rally the Spanish workers and the various political forces around the fight for the republic as the central issue. For example, in the recent election campaign, it tried to build a "Popular Republican Unity".
Over the years, the CPS(ML) has vacillated over the precise formulation for its republican slogan. Sometimes it has described it as merely a tactic, while at other times it declared its strategic nature. Sometimes it has referred to it as "essentially" the dictatorship of the proletariat. But at the Fourth Congress in 1984 it described it as a "joint dictatorship" of the proletariat with other "popular classes and strata", thus presumably describing it as some sort of revolutionary democratic dictatorship. But, in fact, whatever the particular formulation, it seems that the CPS(ML) has made the fight for the republic into a stage of the Spanish revolution.
Socialist Revolution Is the Path Forward for Spain
But the idea of upholding a democratic, republican stage of revolution in Spain flies in the face of reality. It negates decades and decades of capitalist development in Spain. Present-day Spain is far removed from what it was at the turn of the century, when it was an overwhelmingly agrarian and backward country with few signs of modem capitalist development. An industrial boom during and after the First World War launched the first big wave of capitalist growth, with a second, even stronger wave beginning in the mid-1950's and intensifying in the 1960's.
Contemporary Spain is not a wealthy country, but it is a developed capitalist country. Its economy is dominated by a fairly large industrial sector, while the countryside is marked mainly by mechanized capitalist farming. The expansion of capitalism in the countryside from the 1950's on saw the collapse of the old agrarian structure. As millions of toilers migrated out of the countryside, there was an explosive expansion of the ranks of the urban proletariat. There were also changes at the top of Spanish society, as the bourgeoisie grew and new groupings came into being.
These social changes created the conditions for major political changes as well. With the death of Franco in 1975, the monarchy was restored to replace him, but it was now a bourgeois monarchy. And King Juan Carlos and the bourgeoisie then inaugurated a parliamentary regime under a constitutional monarchy. Faced with the upsurge of the masses, the bourgeoisie undoubtedly went further on the road of liberalization than it originally intended. But despite the existence of ultra-right forces who still yearn for the days of the tyrant Franco, the mainstream of the Spanish bourgeoisie has settled on a bourgeois-democratic regime under a limited, constitutional monarchy.
The basic axis of the class struggle in Spain is between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie. It is the urban and rural proletariat who form the core of the exploited majority, while it is the capitalist bourgeoisie which holds the reins of power. The goal of the class struggle can be nothing other than the socialist revolution.
It is certainly true that because of the way the tyranny was changed -- not through revolution but with gradual changes from above -- many reactionary institutions from the old regime were carried over. However this does not mean that the tyranny still exists, but that a number of reactionary institutions from the past have been incorporated into the present regime. Bourgeois democracy is always more or less restricted, false, and hypocritical, freedom for the wealthy and a dictatorship of the rich over the exploited.
The fight against the remnants of the old regime is not the focus of the class struggle in present-day Spain; rather it has become part of the class struggle against the bourgeois-democratic constitutional order. It is working class rule and socialism, not the mythical utopia of a refined bourgeois-democratic order, that must be upheld as the perspective for the proletarian movement by the Marxist-Leninists.
The CPS(ML) Has Been Unable to Deal with the Change from the Tyranny to a Constitutional Monarchy
In presenting its republican slogan, the CPS(ML) has had a tendency to hold that the struggle against Franco-ism simply continues in slightly different form against the present-day monarchy. It has not seen the new tasks that follow in a period of struggle against a bourgeois-democratic constitutional order. Instead it has often presented the present regime as "monarcho-fascism" or "Francoism without Franco". But while the Spanish bourgeoisie had been the support for fascism, and may turn to fascism again, it is presently utilizing a different form of exercising its class dictatorship against the working masses.
The CPS(ML) was originally founded in the early 1960s in the midst of the struggle against Franco fascism. It emerged in the struggle against the corrupt revisionism of the old Spanish CP, that had even toned down to a minimum its opposition to the Franco dictatorship. The activists of the CPS(ML) and of FRAP (the Revolutionary Anti-Fascist, Patriotic Front, a militant organization which the CPS(ML) led), showed courage and determination in the struggle against Franco. They fought under conditions of harsh repression, and they gave up a number of martyrs in the struggle.
Even at that time, during the anti-fascist struggle, the struggle against Francoism was objectively bound up with the struggle for socialist revolution; Spain was a thoroughly bourgeois country by the 1960s. The line of the CPS (ML) on this question does not seem to have been correct. Nevertheless, in the fight against Franco's tyranny, its militant stand in defense of democratic slogans gave the CPS(ML) a definite standing among the masses and distinguished it from various reformist forces, especially in the situation where the CPS(ML) was one of the few political forces to actively fight Franco and then not to reconcile with the monarchy or with the plan of gradual democratization from above.
As the Franco dictatorship was replaced with a constitutional regime, and as the open political activity of the Spanish masses revived, the republican formula was a real hindrance to understanding the new tasks of the class struggle. It is of course forbidden for communists to accommodate themselves to monarchy, even if limited and constitutional. And the communists must continually expose the reactionary institutions of the bourgeoisie hidden behind the smiling face of bourgeois liberalization. But the democratic tasks were a part of the overall socialist struggle, not the determining feature of the class struggle.
The CPS (ML) leadership denied the bourgeois- democratic nature of the regime on the grounds that it wasn't a perfect, truly democratic constitutional order. But the real world bourgeois constitutionalism never fits the ideal standards glorified by petty-bourgeois democratic illusions.
It is precisely in this situation that the CPS(ML) has brought its republican banner into the forefront, more vociferously than ever before. For a number of years earlier, the slogan for the republic had receded somewhat into the background. But the CPS(ML)'s 4th Congress in 1984 demanded that the struggle for the republic be placed "at the center of our present tactics and policy."
This is an absurdity. No matter now many tricolor banners the CPS(ML) puts up, no matter how much it talks about "monarcho-fascism", it cannot recreate the political situation during the old days of struggle against fascist tyranny. Only a new tyranny could create the basis for that.
The Substitution of Republicanism for Independent Communist Work
The taking of republicanism as the central policy of the CPS(ML) doesn't simply affect future perspectives. It affects its current policy, particularly as the CPS(ML) often puts forward republicanism as its distinguishing political characteristic.
Thus republicanism becomes one of the chief themes of the CPS (ML)'s independent work, so to speak. But the CPS(ML) regards republicanism as a platform which can unite the working class with unspecified other "popular classes and strata". In fact, republicanism becomes an ideological foundation for the policy of putting forward petty-bourgeois democratic and nationalist tasks rather than proletarian revolutionary ones.
It also helps push the CPS (ML) onto the sidelines. When the CPS (ML) distinguishes itself at demonstrations and elsewhere as the only party with the tricolor, when it tends to replace the red flag at demonstrations with the tricolor, this helps blind the party to the actual mainsprings of the present class struggle in Spain.
National Independence for Spain?
Besides the republic, another fundamental slogan of the CP of Spain (ML) is "National Independence for Spain!"
The CPS (ML) raises this slogan in the struggle against the Spanish government's military pact with U.S. imperialism, against the existence of a large number of U.S. bases in Spain, and against the country's entry into NATO. Historically the CPS(ML) also connected this to agitation against U.S. support for the Franco dictatorship.
The Spanish workers do indeed face a serious fight against U.S. imperialism. And when the Spanish workers rise in revolt, the presence of U.S. military forces in Spain would aid U.S. intervention on the side of counterrevolution.
But the CPS(ML)'s slogan of national independence is fundamentally flawed. It is the rule of the Spanish bourgeoisie which ties Spain to imperialism.
The struggle against Spain's ties to Western imperialism is a sham unless it is directly linked to the struggle against the Spanish bourgeoisie. Nor are NATO and the American bases the only ties of Spain to world imperialism. As long as the Spanish bourgeoisie rules, Spain will be tied by a thousand threads to World imperialism. This doesn't mean that the mass movement against NATO and the U.S. bases is a mistake; on the contrary, in Spain and elsewhere this is an important movement which can and should make a valuable contribution to the overall struggle, a movement which our Party has always welcomed with the utmost enthusiasm. But it does affect the orientation that communists should put forward in this struggle.
In practice, to a considerable extent, the CPS(ML) replaces such fundamental lessons of Leninism on the anti-war struggle as that "the main enemy is at home" with the propagation of petty-bourgeois nationalist agitation.
Of course, the problem is not every use of the terms such as "national independence". The communists can and should point out how the bourgeoisie ties to imperialism restrict its action. The problem is when the conclusion is drawn that the struggle is not directed at the domination of the local bourgeoisie, but instead is some sort of struggle for independence. The problem is when such terms are made into the guiding slogan of struggle.
For example, in the months prior to the October Socialist Revolution of 1917 in Russia, Lenin pointed out how the bourgeois provisional government was "bound by Anglo-French capital." ("Letters from Afar," Collected Works, Vol. 23, p. 335) But he did not conclude that the Russian working class should fight a revolution for national aims. Instead he used this fact to demonstrate that no bourgeois government could secure a democratic peace and that the working class must rise up in socialist revolution.
If Spain were waging a national liberation struggle, then, of course, the situation would be different as regards slogans. But to say or imply that Spain is some sort of a colony is absurd.
Spain has had political independence for centuries, and it even used to rule over a vast colonial empire of its own. (More recently, it ruled over part of North Africa, fighting a vicious war in Morocco in the 1920's. And Spanish chauvinism towards Morocco was one of the reasons for the defeat of the Republic and the anti-fascist forces in the Spanish Civil War.)
Of course, when we speak of the political independence of capitalist countries, we mean it as it exists in the real world -- and not as it is glorified by petty-bourgeois nationalist illusions. In the imperialist system of blocs and alliances, smaller capitalist powers are often subordinated to other bigger powers, as Spain presently is to the U.S. and earlier was to other countries. But this does not necessarily mean that a smaller power like Spain becomes a puppet state. It does not wipe out the fact that within the imperialist alliances, the weaker power maintains its own ruling class, its own interests and ambitions, and its predatory aims. What it means is that the capitalists of Spain and the U.S. have an alliance against both the toilers of Spain and those of the rest of the world.
The Spanish working class must indeed wage a fight against NATO and U.S. imperialism, but this is not a fight, for some ethereal, other-worldly conception of independence. Rather it lies in the social revolution which overthrows the bourgeoisie and takes Spain out of the imperialist system altogether.
The Slogan of "Neutrality" Blunts the Anti-War Struggle
In practical terms, the CPS(ML)'s agitation in the anti-war struggle for "national independence" mainly reduces itself to a fight for Spanish neutrality. The CPS(ML) openly embraces the slogan of neutrality, although it sometimes throws in a few extra adjectives to make the slogan appear more militant (such as "active, combative, and sincere neutrality"). .
Naturally all progressive people should be opposed to both superpower war blocs. But the slogan of neutrality is not the same thing.
These days the neutrality slogan is widely fashionable in Western Europe. It is put forward by a number of reformist and social-democratic forces in Europe, from Spain and Portugal to Germany and Britain. It is sometimes presented to the masses as a slogan of struggle against the war blocs. But it means that the West European bourgeoisie and imperialists can be cured of their militarism without a socialist revolution. All that is supposedly necessary is for the country to be neutral, i.e. for the present bourgeois regimes to stand up to the bullying of the superpowers and fight in their own national interests.
In practice, "neutrality" is an elastic slogan in Western Europe. For some, it is the idea that, by leaving the formal military blocs, a country can stay out of the imperialist superpower quarrels and escape the world war. Others use it to simply mean that the European imperialists should get a better deal within NATO. And still others use it to prettify various steps by the European imperialists to maneuver between the imperialist superpowers.
By using the slogan "neutrality", the CPS(ML) tends to merge the content of its agitation with that of the reformists. Nor does it help to talk of "active neutrality". Only by stressing the need for revolutionary struggle against one's own bourgeoisie could the CPS(ML) oppose the reformists. But the demand for an "active, combative, and sincere neutrality" and defense of "national independence" are in line with the ordinary use of the neutrality slogan. The problem with the European bourgeoisie and the present regimes isn't a lack of activity or insufficient nationalism.
Furthermore, in the biggest capitalist countries of Western Europe, it is highly unlikely that such "neutrality" will be permitted, by either the bourgeoisie of those countries or the superpowers. In these countries the slogan of "neutrality" often is simply pleasant-sounding cover for the imperialism of the local bourgeoisie.
However, some smaller or peripheral countries may achieve neutrality in some wars or stay out of formal military blocs. This does not mean that such countries aren't tied to world imperialism in many ways. It doesn't mean that these countries take a progressive stand; and often such bourgeois, regimes enrich themselves by collaborating with both sides. And their neutrality can be thrown aside as soon as the bourgeoisie finds it in its class interests to join the war.
Spain itself was neutral in World War I (under the reactionary monarchy) and again during Franco's fascist regime in World War II. During World War II, under cover of its neutrality the Franco tyranny gave support to the fascist Axis while also allowing certain privileges for the U.S. and Britain. Clearly Spanish neutrality did not put Spain on the side of the people's forces in World War II. (And even today, it isn't just a section of the reformists but also part of the Spanish right-wing nationalists who advocate staying out of NATO.) And in both world wars, "neutrality" allowed the Spanish bourgeoisie to profit from deals with both sides.
The goal of a Marxist-Leninist party in the anti-war struggle cannot be simply to cross its fingers and hope that its country can once again avoid the world slaughter going on around it. Instead it must expose the truth about the connection between capitalism and war and use the anti-war struggle as part of the preparation for socialist revolution. It must study closely the slogans by which the European bourgeoisie justifies itself and expose their true meaning. But to embrace the neutrality slogan is to give up these tasks. It is to put the propagation of petty-bourgeois nationalist utopias in place of agitation for struggle against the bourgeoisie and revolution.
The Peace Slogan Versus Leninism
Another main slogan of the CPS(ML) in the antiwar movement is "peace among the peoples". This is a pacifist slogan. It promises the masses an escape from imperialist war without a struggle against the bourgeoisie, whether domestic or foreign. It suggests that all that is necessary is a direct fight for peace. And this is deception.
The CPS(ML) leadership itself knows that the peace slogan is not correct. Therefore it distinguishes the revisionist and reformist slogan of "peace" from its own slogan of "peace among the peoples". But this distinction is farcical. The error of the peace slogan is that it is silent about revolutionary mass struggle, and without revolutionary struggle against the bourgeoisie the call for peace is simply an impotent sigh. Does the slogan of "peace among the peoples" correct this problem? The error of the peace slogan is that it is silent about the need to fight one's own bourgeoisie. Is the slogan "peace among the peoples" any better in that regard? The error of the peace slogan is that it suggests that there can be peaceful and friendly relations among the world's people while the present capitalist regimes of hunger and militarism still exist. Is the slogan "peace among the peoples" any better on that account? Or is one to believe that the slogan "peace among the peoples" doesn't refer to peace among the regimes: why, the present regimes could allegedly be at each other's throats in a war while perfect peace and tranquility reigns "among the peoples"?
Leninism has analyzed the peace slogan and the tasks of the communists with respect to this slogan in great detail. In Lenin's article Socialism and War the section entitled "Pacifism and the Peace Slogan" states:
"The temper of the masses in favor of peace often expresses the beginning of protest, anger and a realization of the reactionary nature of the war. It is the duty of all Social-Democrats [this was written while the communists still called themselves social-democrats--ed.] to utilize that temper. They will take a most ardent part in any movement and in any demonstration motivated by that sentiment, but they will not deceive the people with admitting the idea that a peace without annexations, without oppression of nations, without plunder, and without the embryo of new wars among the present governments and ruling classes is possible in the absence of a revolutionary movement. Such deception of the people would merely mean playing into the hands of the secret diplomacy of the belligerent governments, and facilitating their counterrevolutionary plans. Whoever wants a lasting and democratic peace must stand for civil war against the governments and the bourgeoisie." (Collected Works, vol. 21, pp. 315-6)
Thus Lenin showed that communists must be sensitive to how the masses begin to take up political activity and not contemptuously turn up their noses at incorrect slogans. But the communists must not themselves endorse wrong slogans that are useful to the bourgeoisie.
Lenin also dwelt on this question in his slightly earlier article "The Question of Peace". He stressed that:
"Should this be taken to mean that socialists can remain indifferent to the peace demand that is coming from ever greater masses of the people? By no means. The slogans of the workers' class-conscious vanguard are one thing, while the spontaneous demands of the masses are something quite different. All efforts must be bent towards utilizing the masses' desire for peace. But how is it to be utilized? To recognize the peace slogan and repeat it would mean encouraging 'pompous airs of impotent (and frequently what is worse: hypocritical) phrase-mongers'; it would mean deceiving the people with the illusion that the existing governments, the present-day master classes, are capable--without being 'taught' a lesson (or father without being eliminated) by a series of revolutions--of granting a peace in any way satisfactory to democracy and the working class." (Collected Works, vol. 21, p. 292, emphasis and parenthetical, comments as in the original)
Lenin stressed the extreme harmfulness of the peace slogan to the workers' class consciousness. He immediately added:
"Nothing is more harmful than such deception. Nothing throws more dust in the eyes of the workers, nothing imbues them with a more deceptive idea about the absence of deep contradictions between capitalism and socialism, nothing embellishes capitalist slavery more than this deception does. No, we must make use of the desire for peace so as to explain to the masses that the benefits they expect from peace cannot be obtained without, a series of revolutions."
Today the peace slogan is as harmful as in Lenin's days. Anyone studying how the liberal bourgeoisie and the reformists divert the people from struggle would see how the peace slogan is today a standard part of imperialist artillery.
Back to the Revolutionary Teachings of Marxism-Leninism!
In concluding, we want to point out that we do not criticize the CP of Spain (ML) for not having had a fully developed Leninist stand from the day it was born. The important thing is to persevere in the revolutionary struggle, to take revolutionary Leninism and the cause of the proletariat seriously, and to step by step learn more in the struggle. The emergence of the CPS(ML) in the struggle against the revisionist CP of Spain, which was once revolutionary but which degenerated into a burned-out traitor to the working class, was an important development.
The problem is that the leadership of the CPS(ML) has gotten stuck in mistaken positions and is persisting in them and even regarding them as badges of honor. And it has failed to take advantage of various opportunities to overcome its weaknesses and adopt a Leninist policy. For example, in the late 1970's there was the world-wide struggle against the three worlds theory and Maoism. But the CPS(ML) only made a superficial criticism of Maoism. It appears to have eventually settled for looking back towards the traditions of the old CP during the Civil War days. This was a serious mistake on its part.
Today these mistaken orientations from the past are doing great damage to the work of the CPS(ML). And these are the same orientations that corroded the old CP of Spain and helped turn it into the revisionist abortion that it is today.
Nor is this problem restricted to Spain. Rightist stands, and their justification by reference to mistaken traditions of the past, show up elsewhere. They can be seen next door in Portugal where they took the life out of the Communist Party (Reconstructed). And they can also be seen in the rightist stands of the Party of Labor of Albania and the Communist Party of Brazil.
If we have gone in detail into various of the errors in the line of the CPS(ML), it is in the hope that this may be of use to the Spanish Marxist-Leninists. As well the example of Spain is of value for communists elsewhere. This is not just because the CPS(ML) is influential with a number of other parties. It is also because the CPS(ML) faces difficult tasks that resemble those of the communists of other countries. Communism is a world party. There are national differences and particular features in each party's struggle, features that the local communists must grasp firmly; but the general outlines of communist work, the basic principles that underlie it, are the principles of the class struggle, a struggle that goes on in all countries. <>
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For more than a decade the Communist Party of the Philippines has been at the center of the movement in the Philippines. Besides influencing the mass struggles of workers, peasants, and youth, the CPP has been the guiding force behind the vigorous guerrilla movement of the New People's Army.
As events have unfolded, our party has noted both successes of the CPP/NPA as well as discussed its ideological and political problems. And these are serious problems. These problems have damaged the strength of the revolutionary movement that it has built up in the Philippines and restricted its goals.
Earlier this year in February when Marcos fell, the CPP was surprisingly on the sidelines. The CPP appeared to be paralyzed during the crisis that brought Marcos down and saw the coming to power of the liberal Aquino regime.
This has provoked a good deal of discussion in the left, both in the Philippines and the U.S., about the role of the CPP in this year's events and its tactics towards the new situation. We have been observing problems in the current tactics of the CPP, and upon seeing recent documents of the CPP, our concerns have been confirmed.
The May 1986 issue of Ang Bayan, newspaper of the Central Committee of the CPP, carries an article "Party conducts assessment, says boycott policy was wrong". And it also has additional articles which spell out the CPP's current tactics.
The positions expressed in these articles represent a further step backward for the CPP, although they flow from its longstanding ideological problem of conciliation towards the liberal bourgeoisie. (For a fuller discussion of this, see the article "On the revolutionary movement in the Philippines: Conciliation with liberalism is a dangerous course" in the Workers' Advocate Supplement, September 25, 1985.)
Instead of looking critically at its past policy and moving towards a truly independent and revolutionary policy, the CPP reinforces its tailism towards the liberals. Thus, even while the CPP/NPA knows enough not to completely capitulate before the blandishments of the Aquino regime, its policy of "critical support" for the regime holds back the work that is necessary to lead the toilers forward. In fact, it weakens the ability of the CPP to resist the government's campaign to disrupt, disorient and crush the revolutionary movement altogether.
In this article we discuss these latest assessments by the CPP.
In its reassessment, the CPP leadership legitimately raises the question of why the party was on the sidelines in February. But its tactical conclusions are dead wrong.
A Brief Review of the Events Leading up to the February Crisis
At the end of last year, Marcos called an early presidential election in order to give his regime a democratic facelift. The liberal bourgeois opposition succeeded in putting together a unified ticket of Corazon Aquino and Salvador Laurel. Marcos used extensive fraud to steal the official vote count. But in the course of the elections and immediately afterwards, it became clear that, no matter what Marcos had intended, the Filipino bourgeoisie and U.S. imperialism had decided to ensure that the liberals would win out. This was finally assured at the end of February through a military revolt by top men of the Filipino military establishment. Marcos decided to surrender and leave, rather than fight it out.
During the election campaign, the CPP and its allies, through the Bayan coalition, first tried to come to an agreement to support the Aquino-Laurel campaign. They wanted the liberals to accept certain conditions. But these conditions were rejected. The CPP and Bayan then called for a boycott of the elections, although a number of Bayan leaders split and joined the Aquino-Laurel campaign.
Despite the boycott call, the left's criticism of the liberal campaign was very weak. It was tied up in knots. It was essentially limited to the idea that the elections were "snap elections" organized on conditions that would ensure a Marcos victory, and thus Marcos couldn't be gotten rid of this way. Despite pointing out the need for (revolutionary struggle, the CPP still managed to praise the liberal campaign for its "valuable anti-fascist contribution."
During the election campaign itself, the CPP was not particularly active. And after the elections, the CPP did not know how to deal with the crisis that emerged. It promised to help the liberals build for the demonstrations they threatened against Marcos' cheating. But the liberals didn't organize mass actions, because they didn't want the masses to be mobilized. When the military revolt erupted and the final crisis of the Marcos regime took place, the CPP was completely paralyzed.
Meanwhile Aquino replaced the Marcos tyranny with another counterrevolutionary, but liberal regime, (See "Six months of Aquino's rule/The new regime is not delivering what the-Filipino masses yearn for" in the Sept. 1 issue of the Workers' Advocate.) It is not a popular regime but a regime of the Filipino landlords and capitalists, differing from Marcos' regime only in being more of the common rule of all the big exploiters rather than the personal rule of a clique. It has relaxed certain of the outrageous police measures of the Marcos regime but it still suppresses revolutionary organization and wages war to suppress the insurgent masses. It is just as loyal as Marcos to U.S. imperialism, and on her recent visit to the U.S. Aquino was such a toady that she even praised U.S. military intervention around the world. (See "Aquino pledges allegiance to U.S. imperialism" in the Oct. 1 issue of the Workers' Advocate.) In short, the Aquino regime is no friend of the Filipino working people. It gives the masses the least concessions it can, while it boasts to imperialism that it will be better at suppressing revolution than Marcos.
On the Possibilities for Intervening in a Revolutionary Way
The CPP leadership today criticizes the fact that it was on the sidelines, blames its passivity on the boycott policy, and suggests that a more active policy would have led to unnamed gains for the left.
While we agree that it is a proper thing to question why the CPP was passive, the CPP leadership has something quite different than us in mind about what could have been achieved and what the content of a more active policy would have been.
First, let's discuss the question of what could have been achieved by the revolutionary forces during this time when the liberal bourgeoisie was seizing a certain initiative.
It does not appear that the left had the strength to make a direct attempt to seize power or seriously influence the change in power at that time. But there were possibilities for intervening in a revolutionary way that would have put the revolutionary forces in a better position to deal with the outcome of February's crisis.
First, it was possible that, at a time when the entire Filipino army and government were focused on the struggle at the top, the left could have used this opportunity to strengthen its political and military positions.
It was possible that the mass forces that were under the direct influence of the left could have gone into action -- with their own slogans and demands. This would have, immediately confronted the new regime with an active population that demanded action on certain basic questions facing the toilers. And in case things had gone differently and a big clash had developed between Marcos and the opposition, this would have organized the masses to fight under left leadership.
There may also have been possibilities to expand the military positions of the guerrilla forces. But there is no evidence that the NPA was anything but passive.
There is also the question of influencing the masses who did take to the streets in support of Aquino and the military rebels. It is doubtful that the left could have made major inroads among these masses at that time, unless major clashes had developed with the Marcos forces. But an active presence of the left would have put it in better position among such forces in the future, when their illusions in the liberals were bound to dissipate.
In sum, we are not talking about the left making a direct challenge for power yet, but using the situation to ensure that the new regime would face a powerful mass force standing up for its own demands and would have to deal with it.
On the CPP's Complaint of Being on the Sidelines
But when the CPP leadership talks of the gains and losses of this period, it has in its mind a reformist intervention in this period's events.
The CPP leadership complains bitterly that its refusal to support Aquino in the elections and its paralysis during the February events isolated the party from the masses who were supporting Aquino. But we are dubious about whether isolation from the masses was as big a phenomenon as it is being made out to be.
For one thing, there is no evidence that the liberals succeeded in winning away any sizeable section of the workers and peasants from the influence of the left, particularly in the strongholds of the left. (And to the extent the liberals won anyone away, the CPP leadership itself must take a good share of the blame, because of its historic weakness of conciliating the liberals.)
Meanwhile, it is true that in the cities, particularly in Manila, the liberals did make inroads among a section of the masses, particularly among the petty bourgeoisie. But can revolutionaries see this as a permanent condition and allow themselves to be disoriented? Vacillation between the contending forces is a typical political characteristic of the left petty-bourgeoisie. And in political life, it happens quite often that a section of the masses -- particularly among those coming new into political activity -- go at first with the liberals. But in the months since Aquino came to power, there are widespread reports that there are a hell of a lot of people who waved the yellow banner (Aquino's emblem) yesterday but who are today disillusioned with the Aquino regime. They have heard a lot of promises but have seen nothing changed in their lives.
However, it doesn't appear that isolation from the ordinary masses is really what the CPP leadership is complaining about. In fact, there is a good deal of evidence that the CPP in fact is complaining that the boycott policy isolated them from the liberal politicians themselves. It believes now that a friendlier policy towards Aquino would have put them in a better position for deals from the new regime, perhaps even with seats in the government or on government commissions, etc.
This perspective is openly spelled out in Manila by some prominent elements historically associated with the CPP, such as Jose Maria Sison, Horacio "Boy" Morales, etc. They are advocating pronounced right-opportunist positions. And they have been begging for positions within the new government and complaining that the boycott position hurt those chances. A few of them have apparently been forgiven by the liberals, allowed a chance to redeem themselves, and given jobs in the new regime. While the CPP has reportedly publicly pointed out that Sison and some others do not speak for it, it has not criticized their servant-like attitude towards the new regime.
We will now take up discussion of what the CPP thinks would have been the proper tactics during the elections.
Revolutionary or Tailist Tactics in the Elections?
In its reassessment of the elections, the CPP leadership now says:
"The election and the major events it unleashed constituted the climax of the people's long-drawn struggle against the Marcos regime.... The snap election became the main channel of large-scale mobilization and deployment of the masses for the decisive battle to overthrow the dictatorship."
When the CPP speaks of the election and the change of regime being the "climax of the popular struggle", it is referring to the Aquino-Laurel election campaign. But this is simply wrong. Yes, it is the struggles of the toilers over years and years that undermined Marcos. But the liberal campaign was designed not as the climax of the mass struggle but as a way of stopping it. The elections themselves did not bring down the Marcos regime, and "the major events it unleashed", namely the military coup, was the climax of the military's and U.S. imperialism's discontent with Marcos. Or should one call a government determined to crush the popular movement and not to give in to the demands of the masses the "climax" of the popular struggle?
The new CPP assessment of the elections fails to distinguish between the toilers' opposition to Marcos and the liberal bourgeois opposition. But in the fight against Marcos, there have always been these two trends. The toilers have organized revolutionary struggle against Marcos, while the liberals advocated begging, pleading, attempting deals, and electoralism. What's more, the two trends have differed not merely over the question of how to get rid of Marcos but, above all, what to do after Marcos was out. The liberals wanted a stronger capitalist regime with a more democratic face that would be more effective in stopping the upsurge of the oppressed, while the masses wanted revolutionary changes and attacks on exploitation.
From its wrong approach to the elections, the CPP concludes that it was
"tactically necessary for the revolutionary forces to participate critically in the snap election...," and it condemns the boycott policy that was decided back then by the CPP leadership. In short, the CPP leadership now believes that it was necessary for the party to have provided some form of open support to the Aquino-Laurel ticket against Marcos.
The CPP leadership's basic criticism of the boycott policy is that since large numbers of people supported Aquino in the elections, the boycott stance isolated the party from them and prevented the party from making the most of the situation.
We have already dealt with this argument. But we will again stress that this is a thoroughly tailist stand. It is true that a large section of the anti-Marcos masses voted for Aquino in the elections. They did this not because they were convinced bourgeois liberals, but because they were taken in by her promises. The CPP did have to find methods of approach to this section, while maintaining the class independence of the toilers. But this does not translate into a politics of support for the liberals. Rather it means finding tactful ways to win these masses away from the influence of the liberals.
Our party supported the boycott policy because it dramatized that there were two approaches in the fight against Marcos, a revolutionary approach and a liberal one. But we had also observed that the CPP itself was contradictory in its boycott tactics. While it did call for a boycott and raised the revolutionary banner, it also praised the liberal Aquino candidacy. The praises for Aquino in fact compromised the attempts to maintain a revolutionary position. (See the article "A Comment on the Views of the CPP on the Election Fraud," in the Workers' Advocate Supplement, February 20, 1986.)
Perhaps some other way besides boycott could have been devised to deal with the elections in a revolutionary spirit. But the present debate over the boycott tactic is not from this angle. Indeed, as we have shown, even the boycott campaign was not conducted in a consistent revolutionary spirit (and this is not only true of this boycott campaign, but of previous ones as well). It was more of an afterthought, since coordination with the liberals fell through, than part of a consistent plan, pursued over years, to utilize elections as a subsidiary means to advance the revolution and undermine illusions in the liberals. And today the various plans for "critical support" of Aquino that are being suggested retroactively are not in the spirit of how to strengthen the revolutionary cutting edge of the party's agitation, but for obliterating the difference between the revolutionary struggle and liberalism. They do not involve telling the masses that the liberals are their class enemies who intend to be more effective in wiping out the toilers' revolutionary movement. Instead this "critical support" means telling the masses that the liberals are on their side, but just not firm enough. And that is not a revolutionary stand, but the stand of being mesmerized by liberal illusions.
The basic problem reflected here is that the CPP leadership blurs the distinction between the movement of the toilers and the liberal movement. It sees that one gravitates towards revolutionary struggle while the other is reformist. But it tends to see this difference as merely two different approaches in an otherwise common progressive undertaking. This leads the CPP into continuously finding good words for the liberals, appeals to them, searches for unity, and so on.
It is this conciliation towards liberalism that has done the greatest harm to the revolutionary movement. And the CPP has promoted these illusions for years.
A Failure to See the Liberals As a Serious Force
So at the moment when the liberals seized initiative, the CPP didn't know what to do. Why was the CPP so paralyzed during the February crisis? After all, there had been liberal activities in the past where the CPP had been present, even with its mistaken conciliationist approach. Why was it that the CPP was thoroughly paralyzed when the liberals were actually coming to power?
This has to do with the CPP leadership having a certain mechanical view of the Marcos regime as well as a failure to count the liberal bourgeoisie as a serious political force in its own right. This means that the CPP did not consider the liberals to be a serious force who could actually come to power. In essence this is a glorification of the liberals; signifying a belief that the liberals were not tied up enough with imperialism and the oligarchy to actually make a deal and be entrusted with power.
The CPP thus mainly criticized the liberals for their flimsiness, and in this context occasionally criticized them for their opposition to revolutionary struggle, for their conciliation of U.S. imperialism, even for their ties with clerical reaction. But it believed that the liberals were fundamentally on the side of the people but simply too weak. Such a view is not only theoretically wrong, but it blinded the CPP to what was happening right before its eyes. As the pro-liberal military coup approached, Ang Bayan itself noted that a major section of the bourgeoisie -- even those who had historically backed Marcos -- were disaffected. It noted that there was dissent in the Armed Forces. And it could also see that the U.S. government was maneuvering with elements of the opposition and inside the military. Such things were noted, but their significance was not apparently understood.
But the switch of U.S. imperialism and the Philippine military to backing the liberals faced the CPP with the prospect of them in power. The idea that the liberals could never take power not only caused paralysis in February and during the various events that led up to the change of regime, but it now shows up in problems in how the CPP deals with the new counterrevolutionary, but liberal, regime. It shows up in the lack of any serious criticism of liberals in power and in attempts to come to terms with the government.
A Conciliationist Stand Towards the Aquino regime
The CPP leadership has adopted a stand of "critical support" for the new regime. The party likes Aquino and the other liberals, but it recognizes that the government includes a reactionary wing centered around former Marcos men like Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile. The CPP knows that this militarist camp is not a minor fringe of the regime, but a strong part of it. Because of the power of this right wing, the CPP has refused to capitulate altogether before the new regime. And its armed wing, the NPA, has continued to resist the attacks by the military.
But the CPP glorifies the liberals in the government. It praises them to the skies. It believes that they want to "tackle the social roots of the people's struggle", that they "have begun to see the destructive effects of imperialist impositions", that they are taking "measures not to aggravate the people's poverty", etc. ("Contradictions within state are most intense at present," Ang Bayan, May 1986)
From this estimate of the liberal wing of the regime, the CPP's basic approach is to mobilize the masses as a buttress for the liberals against the pressures of the right. In short, the masses are given a place at the tail of the Aquino regime.
This is a fatal error. Theoretically, it misses what the character of bourgeois liberalism is all about. The liberals are not weak allies of the toilers in an otherwise common struggle. They do not share the basic goals of the workers and peasants. They merely want a reformed capitalist order in the Philippines, not fundamental social change, and moreover they want reforms to strengthen the domination of the bourgeoisie over the insurgent masses.
And the reason they have made a bloc with Marcos' military is not merely because of circumstances, but because they never wanted a thorough uprooting of the Marcos dictatorship. They always sought a deal with the dictatorship. They always looked for help from U.S. imperialism. They opposed Marcos not because they were revolutionaries but because they thought Marcos' corruption, crudity and ineptness was hastening the revolutionary process.
The CPP is also wrong in its approach to the reformists and social-democrats who are functioning as "left" voices for the new regime. These politicians are not misguided radicals, but are doing a dirty, treacherous job selling the regime to the masses. They deserve castigation for their treachery, not praise.
The end result of the CPP's conciliationist stand towards the regime is that it leads to toning down the mass struggles of the workers and peasants. True, the CPP and its forces are still active in military battles and other struggles, but it appears that these are not being waged in the proper spirit. Indeed, it is hard for that to be so when the CPP is creating great expectations about what will come from the negotiations with the regime. This stand cuts the heart out of the mass struggle. In the final analysis, the conciliationist stand of the CPP leadership means restraining the masses.
Meanwhile, the maneuvers of the new regime have succeeded in winning certain forces away from the CPP and NPA. The cease-fire negotiations are precisely planned to further disintegrate the left. Whether the new regime succeeds is another question. But the tailism of the CPP towards the liberals and the Aquino regime is only helping the bourgeoisie in its offensive against the revolutionary movement.
Of course the situation in the Philippines is still in flux. While the liberals talk and promise (and threaten), the military flexes its muscles. Not only is the army continuing its rampage against the NPA, but the military officers and Defense Minister Enrile are more and more gearing up for a showdown.
While there is little immediate threat of a right-wing coup -- the present regime is still too useful for the oligarchy and U.S. imperialism -- there remains a very real threat that at some point the right will throw aside the liberals and reinstall a new tyranny.
The Roots of the Problem
The wrong stands of the CPP are showing that this party does not simply have problems in this or that tactical field, but there is something more fundamentally flawed in the thinking of the CPP. The truth of the matter is that, despite calling itself a communist party, the CPP does not in fact base itself on the revolutionary theory of Marxism-Leninism.
The CPP was indeed formed by revolutionary activists who wanted to repudiate Soviet revisionism and restore a revolutionary communist policy in the Philippines. But the CPP could not cast aside the influence of domestic national-reformist traditions, and it came under the influence of Maoism. While these ideological influences remain, the CPP has also begun to seek additional inspiration from other non-Marxist sources. Today it is looking towards the petty bourgeois Sandinista Front of Nicaragua.
The CPP's flawed tactics towards the liberal bourgeoisie are in fact based on fundamentally wrong strategic conceptions. The CPP claims to be fighting for an anti-imperialist, democratic revolution in the Philippines, but its conception of the democratic revolution is not the Marxist-Leninist one.
Marxism-Leninism guides the proletariat's class struggle towards socialism and the dictatorship of the proletariat. Only this can eliminate exploitation altogether and open the way towards the classless society of communism. Democratic transformations alone, no matter how ideal, cannot achieve this. And no matter what stage of revolution a society is faced with, Marxism-Leninism holds that socialist agitation, education and organization must be carried out among the working class and toilers.
But under certain social and economic conditions, which prevent the clearest and widest organization of the proletarian class struggle, the proletariat may first have to lead the other toilers in a democratic revolution. In the democratic revolution, the proletariat fights for the most decisive outcome. It fights for the most thorough blows against tyranny and reaction, for the destruction of semi-feudal forms of exploitation of the peasantry where they exist, for liberation from imperialist domination, etc. It fights not for the rule of the liberal bourgeois, but for a revolutionary democratic dictatorship of the toilers.
The proletariat fights for these gains not just in and of themselves but also because they clear the way for the development of the class struggle and for carrying out a socialist revolution. Marxism-Leninism holds that the class-conscious proletariat must strive to carry through the revolution uninterruptedly from the democratic to the socialist stage, the rule of the working class (the dictatorship of the proletariat). It is not necessary or desirable to have a protracted period of capitalist development.
Various other forces that take part in a democratic revolution can and do have other ideas. If the revolution is stopped half-way, if the proletariat is not sufficiently class-conscious, or if the force of the toilers is too weak or they are not rallied around the class-conscious proletariat, or if they are temporarily crushed by foreign intervention, etc, then the revolutionary process may be stopped and a painful period of capitalist exploitation may result under, say, a reformed capitalist regime. But in any case, Marxism-Leninism holds that the proletariat should use the conditions created by the democratic revolution in order to press forward the class struggle -- uninterruptedly to socialist revolution if possible, or through a protracted period of organization and struggle leading to the socialist revolution if necessary.
The CPP does not follow such a policy.
For one thing, it does no work whatsoever for socialism among the toilers or for the perspective of the uninterrupted passing over from the democratic revolution to socialism.
But what's more, in the name of the democratic revolution, the CPP is fighting for a utopia, which it describes as "national democracy". While it gives lip service to a distant goal of socialism, the CPP believes that this "national democracy" will in fact usher in a long period of development, ensuring progress for the toilers. To the CPP, "national democracy" is characterized by "national sovereignty", an "agrarian reform", and "nationalist industrialization"; in other words, a national capitalism which is pure and perfect.
A national capitalism of course is meaningless without a national bourgeoisie, and indeed, in the CPP's vision, the national bourgeoisie is considered to be a basic ally of the toilers. As a result, this alliance is a central element of the CPP's tactics.
And in order to appeal to the national bourgeoisie, the CPP agrees to tone down the class struggle of the proletariat. Yesterday, under Marcos, the CPP openly advised the workers to restrain their economic demands on the national capitalists. Today the CPP is even supporting the class collaborationist demand of "profit sharing" in the workers' movement. This is to be expected, since the political alliance with national capital must be reflected in the realm of economic demands as well.
In fact the "national democracy" of the CPP is a mirage. The Filipino national bourgeoisie is already in power. Even under Marcos the local bourgeoisie was in power, and now the liberal bourgeoisie has come to power. And it won't even take serious democratic and anti-imperialist steps. This bourgeoisie will not touch the landed estates and provide land to the peasants. It will not uproot reaction. And it will not free the country from imperialist tutelage.
This is not because the Filipino bourgeoisie is worse than the bourgeoisie of other oppressed countries. It is a general feature of the liberal bourgeoisie in all countries. (It is possible in certain situations, where the weight of tyranny or national oppression presses down on the whole society and overshadows the class struggle, especially when there is a low level of economic development, for the bourgeoisie to develop for awhile a national revolutionary wing. Even then the proletariat must remain on its guard. But in the Philippines the class conflicts are at the heart of the movement.)
The carrying through of the struggle for democracy and liberation rests not on the shoulders of the bourgeoisie, but upon the proletariat and poor peasantry. Instead of hoping to convince the bourgeoisie to side with the revolution, the revolutionaries in the Philippines must in fact rely on the. strength of the proletariat and toilers.
It is not the ideas of Mao, Sandino, or Filipino national-reformists like Claro Recto that can illuminate the revolutionary path; it is the revolutionary ideas of Marx and Lenin. <>
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[Late August 1986]
I have followed closely for a year now your research into the question of united front tactics. The San Francisco Branch has been most cooperative in communicating to me any pertinent proceedings and background material. Some animated discussion has been had, and I must praise the S.F. Branch overall.
Having just this moment completed your work on the 6th Congress period in the July 15 Supplement [this refers to the article "On the period preceding the reversal in the line of the Communist International at the Seventh World Congress of 1936/Between the Sixth and Seventh Congresses".-- ed.], I am impressed with a certain lasting feeling. It seems that for all the incisive work done in being rid of Dimitrov, I still much prefer the Party's earlier work on the earlier Congresses viz. united front tactics.
The work of being rid of Dimitrov and that perspective which codifies liquidationist quick fixes is a task that must be brought home to the world Marxist-Leninist movement and the revolutionary movement generally. Siding with the liberals is not, on that account, distinguishing [from] bourgeois trends. It goes without saying, therefore, that those Marxist-Leninist tendencies which promote such thinking must be challenged.
What I have in mind also, however, is our own situation and, once again, the question of united front tactics. To turn a phrase, Back to the Classics! I, for one, should like to see a second, new appraisal of, say, the 5th Congress on united front tactics. Fuck Dimitrov. We've more personal dilemmas.
Again, this is my own thinking.
[A reader from S.F. Bay Area] <>
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The following article was submitted by a supporter of the Marxist-Leninist Party who used to live in New Zealand.
The New Zealand government has built itself around the anti-nuclear issue. This came about through a two-faced drama of acting tough to impress the people while looking for a deal to remain a firm ally in the "Western Alliance". Much has happened since the Labor government first took on its "anti-nuclear" stance and refused the entry of nuclear warships to New Zealand ports.
On coming to power, the Labor government was forced to make a concession to the anti-nuclear movement. This was in the face of the growing political motion among New Zealand's working and progressive people. The government took an "anti-nuclear" stand in order to hold the development of the movement at bay. The U.S. and British governments lashed out with a rabid campaign of reprisals and threats, which has not let up. This campaign came about because of the encouragement and inspiration that the New Zealand mass movement would inevitably give to the mass movements in other countries, especially Australia and Japan. The Pentagon has drawn up its war plans: they expect, without vacillation, full subservience, and the reactionary West German government is their model ally for all others to follow.
The New Zealand government at every turn has made it known that they are willing to appease these expectations and has spared no effort to bring about military business as usual between the ANZUS powers [ANZUS -- reactionary military alliance between Australia, New Zealand, and the U.S.], but the threat of the remobilization of the movement has forced them to tread carefully and to fall short of complete capitulation to the dictate of the U.S. rulers. Now it has been made to seem that the alliance between New Zealand and the U.S. has been severed. But a closer look at the recent "Defense Review" of the Labor government shows that the U.S. war plans have been shielded and the interests of the "Western Alliance" and the New Zealand millionaires are being safeguarded, while the fruits of the New Zealand anti-nuclear movement's valiant struggle are being frittered away.
"Defense Review" and "Self-Reliance": the Other Face of ANZUS
The "Defense Review" and its [proposed policy of] "Self-Reliance" are the brainchild of the. Labor government think tanks. They have come up with a military program that, under the guise of standing up to the U.S. warmongers, is in essence completely in contradiction to the demands of the anti-nuclear movement and anti-militarism in general and in fact fulfills the desires that have been in the U.S. war plans for over 15 years. "Self-Reliance" is an incredibly deceptive cover for the further consolidation of the Southwest Pacific as the "sphere of influence" of the New Zealand ruling class, still in cahoots with Australian capital and still remaining firmly in the service of U.S. imperialism.
The "Self-Reliance" scheme that the Labor government has come up with will only add strength to any aggressive alliance (open or secret) with the U.S. The Labor government has made it clear that they are intent on carrying out the role of the ANZUS pact, even without ANZUS, but this has been hidden behind a smokescreen of "Self-Reliance". This kind of deception is the hallmark of liberal bourgeois rule around the world and the New Zealand Labor Party government is no exception.
This scheme is a definite refinement of the program to safeguard the economic interests of the New Zealand bourgeoisie and its allies. It is a program which has been carried out ever since New Zealand has been a power of itself, whether under British or U.S. domination, in the form of a number of "different" aggressive "pacts" such as ANZUS. It is the "regional viewpoint" of the Labor government and the local bourgeoisie. They have always regarded the Southwest Pacific as their own but, as the rule of capitalism determines, they are always keen to step up that domination and expand the boundaries of their "sphere of influence" ever wider. The "Defense Review", with its cynical hype of "self reliance", is a development that enriches this policy and program. This is the true nature of the New Zealand bourgeoisie and its Labor government. They have reached a new height in the crystallization of New Zealand imperialism.
To carry out the intentions of "Self-Reliance", what has taken place has been increased bureaucratic rule and militarization not only in the Pacific Island nations but also at home in New Zealand.
This buildup has come in a very systematic way and has covered all instruments of the state, from beefing up the police force to building up the military.
For the military it has led to the stockpiling of ammunition; the upgrading of equipment and weapons systems; the extending of the range of Navy frigates; the stepping up of military "training, technical and advisory programs" for no less than 11 Pacific nation's troops; and the stepping up of all reciprocal activities with the Australian military...
Of course along with all this is the annual series of joint exercises in which the local people, whether in the Cook Islands (throughout June this year) or in New Zealand (the 1983 Great Barrier Island exercises), are subjected to a dress rehearsal of imperialist war plans, complete with harassment and destruction of their land. Under the cover of taken village development, cyclone reconstruction and other "civil services", the military surges ahead building air, sea and land bases and other facilities to aid their own and the U.S. war preparations. These war plans are not only geared towards conflicts with their Soviet social-imperialist rivals and taking into considering the state of the inter-imperialist relations in this region, they are definite plans focusing on suppressing any political motion developing among the Pacific Island peoples that threatens their political and economic domination.
This refinement and buildup has come at a time when the U.S. government has had to concentrate its forces to deal with the most pressing inter-imperialist conflicts and revolutionary movements sweeping various regions, while other regions that are not so volatile, such as the Southwest Pacific, are being patrolled by loyal "friends".
This military tactic has been laid out in what is known as the Guam Doctrine. In essence this is a program of demands made by the U.S. government in 1969 at the height of the Vietnam War. A major feature is the command that its lesser power allies, such as New Zealand, take greater "responsibility" for militarizing their own strongholds. Bowing down to this is the true nature and intent of the "Defense Review". Glossing this over with liberal colors, the Labor government has set out to assist the U.S. generals in their wars of plunder. It is beefing up and mobilizing its own state apparatus to prepare for the time when it is needed for this service in New Zealand and the Southwest Pacific and to strengthen its hold of this whole region for its own interests.
The Role of the Liberal Leadership of the Anti-Nuclear Movement
The leadership of the anti-nuclear movement is turning a blind eye to this maneuvering. They continue to sow illusions about the integrity of the Labor government; they continue coming to a deal with them and continue to straitjacket the movement on this basis. They have been wooed by the government's policy of gestures, by the government posturing as "friends", and have been pushing this on the movement. They have "entrusted" the government to carry out the demands of the mass movement and have failed to keep the movement active and mobilized in demonstrations and other mass actions.
But it is well-known that the Labor government remains friendly with the U.S. ruling class and loyal to its war plans. This friendship and loyalty is no secret and, of course, undermines any "friendship" to the goals of the movement. For the leadership to kiss up to these gestures and to attempt to cover over the pro-U.S. character of [Prime Minister] Lange and his Party has led to the spreading of dangerous misconceptions about the true nature of the policies and program of the Labor government. A major consequence has been the near pacification of the movement that at one time was sweeping throughout the country, was developing deeper among the working and progressive people of New Zealand, and was inspiring the mass movements all around the world.
For the mass movement to be kept mobilized and to continue to move forward it must organize independently. Concretely this means it must organize demonstrations and other mass actions that are not bound by what is acceptable to the Labor government, not tied to the coattails of the Labor Party in any way, nor provide a platform for these false "friends", but that break with the influence of the pro-Labor Party politicians. The movement must act upon and expose every hypocritical treachery committed by the labor government for its wheeling and dealing with the U.S. and other imperialist powers.
It must not allow apologies or excuses to float freely from the leadership who are working day and night to smooth over these ugly creases as we saw in the shameful response of Green Peace to the deal struck between the French and New Zealand governments over the release of the two agents involved in blowing up the Rainbow Warrior.
To build an unyielding mass movement against New Zealand and U.S. militarization of the Southwest Pacific, it must strike firmly at the roots of militarism.
It must target directly, and work actively to throw out of the country, every feature of U.S. imperialism. The movement must oppose and demand an end to New Zealand's involvement in U.S. aggressions around the world, including the so-called Middle East "peace process". It must demand the withdrawal of the Rapid Deployment Force currently based in Singapore. These New Zealand militarist adventures must be stopped and all forces involved must be demobilized.
The movement must go all out to stop the militarization and oppose every aspect of political and economic domination of the Southwest Pacific by the New Zealand bourgeoisie or any other.
It must ruthlessly expose the profit-crazed exploitation by the New Zealand millionaires and expose the direct links between this and their efforts to be a loyal political and economic "friend" of big business in Australia, Britain, the U.S. and wherever else, under ANZUS or any other aggressive pact, open or secret.
To realize these aims requires the constant mobilization of the working, oppressed, and progressive people in an active, mass anti-militarist movement. To rely on such forces as the Labor Party and its "left wing", who in all events are loyal to the demands of the money-hungry exploiters at home and remain an obedient servant of U.S. imperialism, is to lead the movement into a trap.
Pressing forward with concrete and unyielding demands and striking blows at the heart of militarism (which in effect is the armed body guard of capitalism and the bourgeoisie), and on a program independent of the liberal capitalist politics of the Labor Party and their loyal followers, will ensure the fruits of protest and struggle. This is the necessary and valuable basis for work to draw in all sections of the working class, oppressed and progressive, for work that will serve to build a mighty mass movement and implant this political motion with revolutionary aims that will ensure that U.S. imperialism is thrown out, that the New Zealand bourgeoisie and their capitalist government, conservative or liberal, know no class peace and are thrown down in a socialist revolution. <>
FROM A NEW ZEALAND GOVERNMENT JOURNAL
The previous article on New Zealand was sent to us along with a copy of the New Zealand Review, which had been obtained at a New Zealand Consulate in the U.S. It is published for the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs although it bears the reservation that "opinions expressed in this magazine are not necessarily endorsed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs."
In the articles in this magazine, the Labor government takes credit for all the concessions that the anti-nuclear mass movement forced it to make. But it is the New Zealand workers and progressive people, not the government, which has fought against militarism and imperialism.
Then the articles turn around and prove that the government has nothing to do with the anti-imperialist sentiments of the masses. It argues at great length how New Zealand, i.e. the government, is and always has been a loyal military ally of Western imperialism. The government pleads to the U.S. militarists not to worry about the New Zealand ban on nuclear weapons, as the government is only reacting to the special regional peculiarities of the Southwest Pacific.
Below we give some excerpts from this magazine. We have added our own subheads.
From the article "Defence: Self Reliance and the Pacific":
The Anti-Nuclear Concession
"The policy of the present New Zealand Government is not to allow nuclear weapons to be brought into New Zealand, even temporarily, as in visiting ships. In practice, because of their policy of refusing to confirm or deny the presence of nuclear weapons aboard them, enforcement of this policy resulted in the cessation of visits to New Zealand ports by United States. All defence co-operation with New Zealand was then drastically curtailed by the United States in openly admitted retaliation."
But We're On the Side of "Western Interests"
"...This [retaliation] is in the interests of no one. It merely reduces the capabilities and efficiently of a nation which, however small, has arguably done more to safeguard Western interests in the South Pacific than any other."
We're in the War Bloc Too!
"Added to this is the repeated charge that New Zealand has 'turned its back on the Western Alliance.' That literally adds insult to injury... as an analysis of current New Zealand defence policy it is well wide off the mark. [It is followed by boasting over how many casualties New Zealand suffered in various wars.]
Please Pentagon, We're Valuable!
"...The New Zealand Battalion, currently located in Singapore, has been stationed in South East Asia for more than 30 years and before that RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force] units served in Malaya. New Zealand is the only Western nation that today stations land forces in South East Asia. That is hardly turning our back on the Western Alliance or 'walking-off -the job', as top United States officials have claimed."
"Self-Reliance" is the Policy the U.S. Wanted
"...In concentrating its defence efforts close to home in the South Pacific area, New Zealand would at last be heeding the call made back in 1969 when the Guam Doctrine spelt out United States' expectations that its allies would take greater responsibility for their own capability." [It proceeds to boast that New Zealand has increased its military budget 4% this year in the midst of economic cutbacks. This is followed by a lengthy list of New Zealand military activity with respect to various countries at the present.]
From the article Taking a Stand Against Nuclear Weapons":
Oh, How Militant We Are
"...Those policies range from encouragement for international efforts towards. nuclear disarmament, through the adoption at the regional level of a South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone, to the firm resolve, at national level, to keep New Zealand itself nuclear free."
"...But New Zealand's decision means, that nuclear weapons will not be used on New Zealand's behalf. New Zealand is determined they shall not be. It is a small step, perhaps, in world terms. But New Zealand has done what it can...and has done so proudly."
Then Again, It's All a Matter of Viewpoint
"To a large extent, the difference [between the U.S. and New Zealand government positions] is one of viewpoint. New Zealand has a regional viewpoint and the United States has a global one."
It's All a Matter of Special Circumstances
"The South Pacific, and in particular the South West Pacific, where New Zealand is situated, is remote from the world's trouble spots. The heavily armed and strategically sensitive area of the North Pacific -- Vietnam, the Philippines, Korea, Japan and. the Soviet Far East -- lie a long way from the area..."
But We're Ready to Go to War Anyway
"The New Zealand Government has recognized the need to contribute more to the security of the island states of the South Pacific region. New Zealand has mutual defence assistance programmes with a number of South Pacific countries such as Fiji and Tonga, and latterly Western Samoa and Papua New Guinea, and is expanding its pattern of exercising [i.e. war games] in tropical island environments."
We Wouldn't Think of "Opting Out" of Regional Aggression
Under the subhead "Not Opting Out" the article states: "In those wars, New Zealand paid more heavily in terms of lives lost, on a per capita basis, than any of the allies except the Soviet Union. ... New Zealand "will continue to play its part in the defence of democratic values as it has always done, although with more emphasis on our own part of the world in future. Let there be no mistake, New Zealand is, and will remain, a committed and responsible member of the Western community. New Zealanders are not, and never will be the kind of people who do not pull their weight." <>
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The address of "Arm the Spirit" is [Address.] <>
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