Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

V. G. Wilxcox

New Zealand Party’s Firm Stand


Let us now look at some specific important aspects and what is said and done about them, both in theory and practice, by the leadership of the C.P.S.U. and of some other Communist Parties today. We will be as brief as possible.

On the question of leadership of the working masses to Socialism, we are seriously worried that the general world approach in our Marxist-Leninist movement today lays too much stress on peaceful possibilities in areas where no such possibilities exist, and not enough on other methods. If our view is correct, is it not a fact that in countries where possibilities exist today of advancing from national liberation struggle to the socialist revolution, there is a definite braking effect? Everywhere in the capitalist world this strikes at the revolutionary core of our Parties, and opens the way for the infiltration of social democratic ideology.

Again, we consider there has been too much emphasis and reliance put on the effect on the peoples’ minds made by the material advances of countries of the socialist world, and not enough given to the real core from which the advance will come – namely the activity of the masses in the capitalist, colonial and newly liberated areas.

As we see it, the base for advance remains the class struggle, the class battles in the non-socialist world. We agree that socialist victories, the successful accomplishment of the C.P.S.U. programme, etc., are important, and will have a favourable effect. But should they not be treated as a secondary matter?

We do not deny the possibilities of peaceful transition under certain conditions. But, excluding the over-riding influence of the heroic, victorious Red Army, materially present or near in the first few years after World War II, the first historical example of peaceful transition has yet to occur. Yet, we understand that some Marxist-Leninist Parties have actually reached, or are reaching, the conclusion that the only way to Socialism in their countries is via the peaceful road.

For this serious revisionist development we consider that the present leadership of the C.P.S.U. has been a contributing cause. Concepts arising from the 20th Congress C.P.S.U. have grown and expanded until the above situation has been reached. As far as we know, no serious criticism of this development has come from the C.P.S.U., while recently a frontal attack has been persistently made against any ideas that in most parts of the non-socialist world peaceful transition is but a pipe dream.

Certainly the idea that all of us in the non-socialist world ride comfortably to Socialism on the backs of the socialist world has been encouraged to the detriment of reliance on the masses – the basic Marxist approach.

To indicate how we consider such concepts developed we will quote just briefly from the Programme of the C.P.S.U. as endorsed at their 22nd Congress.

When the Soviet people will enjoy the blessings of Communism, new hundreds of millions of people on earth will say: We are for Communism. It is not through war with other countries, but by the example of the more perfect organisation of society, the creation of all the conditions for the happiness and well-being of man, that the ideas of Communism win the minds and hearts of the masses.

What does this mean if it does not mean that we can be inactive as long as we are patient, because the major factor is going to be socialist example where the class battle has already been won? Will this win the minds and hearts of the masses in the capitalist, the non-socialist world? Where is the class struggle arising from the nature of capitalist society?

In our opinion, this over-emphasis on one aspect can be very dangerous and can lead to wrong conclusions. But, at the same time, we emphasise that we do not discount the very great effect on the development of the world revolutionary movement of the revolution of 1917; the work of the construction of Socialism since and the sacrifices to proletarian internationalism that the C.P.S.U. leadership, members and the Soviet people have made throughout the years.

Comrade Ponomaryov, a leading Soviet theoretician, speaking at the anniversary meeting for Lenin’s 93rd birthday, April 22, 1963, said: –

Leninism combines a policy of peaceful co-existence with the activity to further revolutionise the world. In conditions of peace, the socialist community grows stronger and the advantages of Socialism and Communism are fully revealed. Far from weakening the world revolutionary process, the defence of peace, the assertion of the principle of peaceful co-existence in world politics, only tend to intensify it. It was precisely in conditions of peaceful co-existence that the Cuban revolution triumphed and that, after Europe and Asia, Socialism gained a foothold in the world’s third continent of America.

To a point, we agree. But was it not a fact that the Cuban revolution developed in the conditions of the Cold War and was won by the armed struggles of the Cuban people? (We understand, incidentally, that unfortunately this struggle was neither led by, nor for a long time supported by, the Popular Socialist Party of Cuba). And the emphasis in what we have just quoted is on the conditions of peaceful co-existence. The effective factor in action, armed struggle, is not mentioned. The class struggle is the basic factor in each country and is missing in this approach.

As our Party sees it, in each country, in its struggle to realise the goal of Socialism, the Party of the working-class invariably wishes to achieve the transition to Socialism peacefully. But it must, at all times, devote major attention to the arduous work of gathering revolutionary strength and must fully prepare itself for non-peaceful transition. Thus it would be able to hit back hard at the ruling classes if they refuse to accept the will of the people and resort to armed suppression of the revolution. Frankly, we think that to count on a peaceful transition having the complete and willing approval of the reactionary ruling classes, will inevitably dampen the revolutionary will of the people and bury the cause of the proletarian revolution. The illusionary view that the ruling classes may hand over power voluntarily is, in our view, a modern form of social democracy.

On some of these aspects what does the 1960 81 Parties’ Statement say? We will quote briefly: –

The new balance of world forces offers the Communist and Workers’ Parties new opportunities of carrying out the historic task they face in the struggle for peace, national liberation, democracy and Socialism.

The Communists determine the prospects and tasks of revolution in keeping with the concrete historical and social conditions obtaining in their respective countries and with regard to the international situation. They are waging a selfless struggle, doing everything already in present conditions, without waiting until Socialism triumphs, to defend the interests of the working people, improve their living standards and extend the democratic rights and freedoms of the people.

Knowing that the brunt of the struggle for liberation of its people rests upon it, the working class and its revolutionary vanguard will, with increasing energy, press forward its offensive against the domination of oppressors and exploiters in every field of political, economic and ideological activity in each country.

In the process of this struggle, the masses are prepared and conditions arise for the decisive battles for the overthrow of Capitalism, for the victory of the socialist revolution.

In the 1960 Statement, things are put in their right perspective. The brunt of the struggle for Socialism must be borne by the working-class and the Communist Party in each country according to the conditions there. The influence of socialist achievement is presented in its true, auxiliary role. There is no revising of a basic Marxian concept that the masses, under the leadership of their own Marxist-Leninist Party, are decisive in the struggle against Capitalism, for peace, democracy and Socialism in each individual country.

It is true that M. A. Suslov, on behalf of the C.P.S.U., stated to our delegation in Moscow that his Party stood for all methods of transition according to local conditions. It is also true that this has been said many times by others. The fact remains, however, that the big argument in 1960 was over whether there should be more or less emphasis on peaceful transition methods than appeared in the 1957 Declaration. And that the point of view that wanted more was led by the leadership of the C.P.S.U., in particular N. S. Khrushchov. It is significant that the initial draft for the 1960 81 Parties’ meeting, prepared by the Central Committee of the C.P.S.U., dealt with only one method – peaceful. Others had to fight to change it to what eventually appeared. Knowing all this, one cannot help querying their attitude.

Again, we are worried at what we consider is a failure to see that, with changing conditions, the storm centres of the developing world socialist revolution have inevitably shifted. In 1917, it was Russia and Europe. Today are not Asia, Africa and South America to a degree the storm centre?

Here we will make a quote from a report of Lenin’s which has some aptness, although not directly applicable.

The Socialist revolution will not be only and mainly a struggle of the revolutionary proletarians in each country against their own bourgeoisie – no, it will be a struggle of all the colonies and countries oppressed by imperialism, of all dependent countries, against international imperialism.

And now it will be the lot of the Soviet Republic to group around itself all the awakened people of the East to wage a struggle jointly with them against international imperialism. – Lenin, “Report at the 2nd All Russian Congress of Communist Organisations of the Peoples of the East.”

The general concept being advanced in our world movement today that the capitalists will peacefully capitulate – not just make concessions as a tactical manoeuvre but hand over state power when faced with Parliamentary majorities or other peaceful organisational forms pledged to proceed to Socialism – is just not applicable to the revolutionary storm centres of the world today, even if it is applicable elsewhere – a point which we question. What results from this concept? It is either accepted and no effective struggle is developed because the conditions demand preparation for, and the carrying out of, armed struggle. Or else the comrades in those countries are in opposition to this interpretation of the 1957 Declaration and the 1960 Statement. The latter is actually happening in many countries.

Frankly, the question of transition methods to Socialism in the modern world seems to us sometimes to be decided more by what is considered to be the immediate state policy of socialist countries than on basic Marxist-Leninist ideology. Behind all of it there seems to be running the theme that they need peaceful relations with imperialism for a long time, so therefore “don’t irritate the brute”. Recommending preparing for and carrying out armed struggle in some important remaining imperialist strongholds would be very “irritating”. So we get a lot of prattle about “reasonable imperialists” being persuaded to accept peaceful capitulation, while the imperialists in fact continue the same hard line. (It would be hard to persuade people in South Vietnam that imperialism is becoming reasonable!)

Do such theorists always take into account that conditions still vary in different parts of the world and that the methods of advance to Socialism will therefore necessarily vary too? Armed struggle is just not on the present agenda in New Zealand, other forms of struggle must be used. But we must not think everybody else should use the same methods as we are currently adopting nor judge from only our own situation.

In the New Zealand working-class movement, our Communist Party should give active leadership in the struggle against monopoly, in defence of democratic rights and the various forms of day to day economic and political struggles, with the general objective of the proletarian revolution and the dictatorship of the proletariat. Our Party, as the party of the working-class, invariably wishes to achieve the transition to Socialism peacefully, but it must at all times guard against concepts that this is the only or even the likely road. It must devote major attention to the building of revolutionary consciousness and must fully prepare itself for non-peaceful transition.

In this way, as conditions develop and Socialism becomes an immediate issue for New Zealand, it will be ready to hit back hard at the ruling classes if they refuse to accept the will of the people and resort to armed suppression of the revolution.

We think that if a political party of the working-class gets into a position of pinning all its hopes on a peaceful transition having the complete and willing approval of the reactionary ruling classes, it will dampen the revolutionary ardour of the people and bury the cause of the proletarian revolution just as effectively as the Kautskys and Bernsteins, the revisionists of an earlier period, did in their time. We consider that all Communists should re-examine that period. For was it not those revisionist theoreticians who were the cause of the split in social democracy developing on a world scale, resulting in the formation of the Third International? We make this suggestion in all seriousness, faced as we are with a world split in our Marxist-Leninist movement. We hope we can learn from the past and avoid such a development.

But what did the representatives of the C.C., C.P.S.U. have to say about our way of looking at things. Here is a quote from their statement: –

We completely disagree with your thesis that the storm centre, as you call it, of the socialist revolution has shifted to South-East Asia and South America. This is not only a re-assessment of the documents of the Moscow Meetings but also a revision of the basic tenets of Marxism-Leninism. It is an expression of non-confidence in the strength and possibilities of the working-class, non-confidence in the hegemony of the world ’ working-class and its main creation, the world socialist system. If the storm centre has shifted to South-East Asia and Latin America, where then is the historical role of the working class? Where is the place and role of its creation, the world socialist system? I repeat that your thesis is a complete revision of the fundamentals of Marxism-Leninism.

To get through with this question I should like to remind you of what is said in the Statement of the 81 Parties. The central factors of our day are the international working-class and its chief creation, the world socialist system. They are an earnest of victory in the struggle for peace, democracy, national liberation, Socialism and human progress.

The sphere of struggle between the two opposing systems, the socialist and the capitalist, is the main battleground of the world revolutionary process. And the world socialist system is the greatest revolutionary force of our times. Why do you oppose this obvious fact? An understanding of this fact does not by any means belittle the significance of the revolutionary struggle of the peoples in those areas you have mentioned, but helps gain an understanding of the real conditions of that struggle and its prospects.

An incorrect appraisal of the distinguishing features of our epoch brings you right to a revisionism of the general line of the world Communist movement.

That’s a mouthful. We have made a radical “revision” of Marxism. Yet what did we say?

Again, comrades, we are worried at what we consider is a failure to see that with changing conditions the storm centres of the developing world socialist revolution have inevitably shifted. In 1917 it was Russia and Europe. Today are not Asia, South East Asia and South America, to a degree, the storm centre?”

And may we point out, too, that N. S. Khrushchov himself said the following:

The National Liberation Movement is striking ever more telling blows at imperialism, helping to strengthen peace and accelerate the social progress of mankind. At present Asia, Africa and Latin America are the most important centres of the revolutionary struggle against imperialism. – Speech made during the General Debates at the Fifteenth Session of the United Nations General Assembly, September 23, 1960.

We will have to leave Comrades! Suslov and Khrushchov to fight that out themselves. We stand firm on the proposition we advanced. It is to the weak links that one looks and the weak links in the imperialist chain today are where we indicated. We have not departed from the general line of our world movement and we are not negating the role of the working-class in the strongholds of imperialism.

We may add that this general confusion and contradiction can be found in many places in recent writings and speeches of Soviet Party leaders. We suggest that this is but natural if our view is correct – namely that they are no longer basing their approach firmly on Marxism-Leninism in theory and practice, but, while spouting revolutionary words on occasions, have in fact allowed certain dangerous revisionist ideas to penetrate.

Marxists have long discarded the old idea that Socialism must come first in highly industrialised imperialist countries. History has proved that the advance comes at the weakest point of imperialism. In 1917, many revisionists of those days opposed the Russian revolution on the grounds that it could not succeed because of the “backwardness of Czarist Russia”. By pretending to pin their hopes on the “strong points of Capitalism”, where the revolutionary forces were not strong enough to break through, they actually stood against revolution – against Socialism.

Our Soviet comrades should have a careful look at this aspect and not accuse others of departing from the general line.

The tremendous advance of the socialist world and its general influence in no way alters the fact that for further advance we should look for and give maximum aid to those fighting and organising in the weaker sectors of the capitalist world. And that we should and can do this without in any way weakening the struggle in the main industrial countries. The two go hand in hand.

Not to see this is revisionist.