Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

V. G. Wilxcox

New Zealand Party’s Firm Stand


Today all Parties say they agree with the formulations of the 1957 Declaration and the 1960 Moscow Statement in regard to the tactical position of the struggle for world peace, that is, as far as our Party activities are concerned. All agree that world war can be avoided even while imperialism remains, if effective struggle, drawing in the widest section of the masses, is developed on a world scale. Differences do, however, begin to arise when we consider the methods to be used and what is involved in the struggle for peace.

We consider that these differences start from a failure by some to realise that first and foremost, as far as Marxists are concerned, the struggle for peace is a struggle against imperialism – the system that within itself contains the causes of modern war. Various methods will be used in the developing of the peace struggle, many millions will be drawn in who will not realise this point at the time, but fundamentally their actions are directed not only for peace but against imperialism.

If we look at it in this way, we cease to see the peace struggle limited to certain aspects, no matter how important they may be. We see it as an all-round struggle which includes the policy of peaceful co-existence as the basic feature of the state policy of socialist countries in relations with capitalist states; and which includes the drawing of the masses in the imperialist world into organised struggle for peace, both through their trade union and political organisations and through new forms, the various types of peace movements which have naturally spread to the colonial and newly liberated areas.

But should it stop there? Some seem to think so. We are doubtful whether reliance on the masses is even regarded as the vital base of struggle, and the drawing in of them on the widest possible base the objective for effective struggle. Too often the movement seems to rely on the drawing in of, and leadership by, capitalist liberals, and organisation is based on them. They have a role to play, of course, but it is a minor, not a major one – in the same way that agreements between imperialist and socialist governments on various issues affecting peace are valuable, but are secondary to the growth of peace consciousness among the masses developed into organisational action.

From reports of the Stockholm Peace Congress and, to a degree, of the following one at Moscow, we got the impression that the above weaknesses in approach were very apparent. From our point of view, worse still was the fact that the importance of the national liberation struggle against imperialism, as a vital component part of the struggle for world peace, was either neglected or opposed. Yet we say it is a vital part of the struggle for world peace.

In our opinion confusion on this arises, as we stated before, from failure to realise that, in essence, the struggle for peace is a struggle on all fronts against world imperialism, that in our new era the nature of imperialism has not changed and that, while imperialism exists, there is a danger of imperialist war.

There are no genuine peace-loving imperialists. From a Marxist approach, such a thing is a contradiction in terms. Have not, we ask, imperialist leaders sometimes wrongly been put in such a category? For example, Eisenhower was called by N. S. Khrushchov a “man of peace”. Since then similar things have been said about Kennedy, and soon, no doubt, will be applied to Johnson.

At this point we must say that we think that certain of the differences in our world movement today, on this and other important aspects, arise from concepts advanced first at the 20th Congress, C.P.S.U., and since developed by many in such a way that we are forced to ask whether the emphasis has not got a little unbalanced as we look at our new era. Is the “new” always really new, or is it revisionism in a new form? Are the allegations of dogmatism made about the point of view we are advancing correct? Or are they but a cloak to hide a real and serious retreat from revolutionary Marxism?

This leads us to ask just what do we mean by peaceful co-existence, because it is in danger of becoming all things to all men, according to what they wish it to be. We ask is it not incorrect to think that a policy of peaceful coexistence, when and where possible between states of different social systems, in itself means secure world peace? We will quote one or two Soviet statements to show what is worrying us.

Peace and peaceful co-existence are not quite the same thing. Peaceful co-existence does not merely imply absence of war; it is not a temporary, unstable armistice between two wars but the co-existence of two opposed social systems, based on mutual renunciation of war as a means of settling disputes between states. – N. S. Khrushchov, report to the 22nd Congress, C.P.S.U.

There is now a prospect of achieving peaceful coexistence for the entire period necessary for the solution of the social and political problems now dividing the world. – N. S. Khrushchov, report to the 22nd Congress, C.P.S.U.

. . . the C.P.S.U. and other Marxist-Leninist parties base their general line of foreign policy on peaceful co-existence as the practical expression of the slogan proclaimed in the 1957 Declaration of the Communist and Workers’ Parties; action for peace is the primary task of the Communists in all countries. – B. N. Ponomaryov, “Some Problems of the Revolutionary Movement” – article in the World Marxist Review symposium, 1962.

Peaceful co-existence does not mean simply the absence of war or some temporary and precarious truce. It is, above all, mutual rejection of the use of armed force as a means of settling disputes between states. – M. Thorez, article in the World Marxist Review symposium in 1962, entitled: “Epoch of Great Revolutionary Change”.

(The latter is included to show how varied are the ideas of peaceful co-existence.)

These are not exceptional quotations. Many more could be cited to show that there is no clarity as to whether we already have the kind of peaceful co-existence talked about or are in the process of getting it; whether it means peace of a lasting nature or not, and so on.

We ask why is there this lack of clarity? The 1960 Moscow Statement was clear. We quote: –

The policy of peaceful co-existence is a policy of mobilising the masses and launching vigorous action against the enemies of peace. Peaceful co-existence of states does not imply renunciation of the class struggle as the revisionists claim. The co-existence of states with different social systems is a form of class struggle between Socialism and Capitalism.

In conditions of peaceful co-existence, favourable opportunities are provided for the development of the class struggle in the capitalist countries and the national liberation movement of the peoples of the colonial and dependent countries. In their turn, the successes of the revolutionary class and national liberation struggles promote peaceful co-existence.

Is not the core of the matter the fact that peaceful coexistence creates the conditions favourable for the masses to act as a force for peace in the imperialist world, to develop class struggle and to extend the national liberation movement?

Did Lenin ever think in terms of “mutual”? In our opinion Lenin’s concept was that Communists must work for peaceful co-existence between countries with different social systems and oppose imperialist aggressive policies which lead to war. But did he ever ignore the fact that the various contradictions between the socialist and imperialist nations still continue, as well as the contradictions existing between the various monopoly groupings in each imperialist country? As we see it, Lenin took the view that these contradictions could not be ignored and that Communists must actively use them in the furthering everywhere, and at all times, of the revolutionary struggle. In spite of the growth of the socialist world, those contradictions which Lenin recognised still exist and operate. As for that real objective of peaceful coexistence which we have quoted from the 1960 Statement – is it not sometimes given a very secondary position? Are there not illusions that agreement with imperialist Governments is the vital factor in the fight for world peace, for social progress and not the masses everywhere organised into action? We think that there are such illusions.

Our opinion is that the concept of peaceful co-existence must never in practice become a policy for holding back the revolutionary forces in the colonial and capitalist world, in case these forces would disturb the “calm” period desired in relations with imperialism. For, at that point, people start on the road of capitulation and the use of revisionist arguments to explain their changed attitude.

We fully agree with the point made in the resolution of the C.C., C.P.S.U. meeting on June 22, 1962, which reads:–

The imperialist camp opposes the peace policy of the Soviet Union and the other socialist states by an ever more feverish arms drive, by a policy of deceiving the peoples, a policy of aggression and international provocation.

This is indeed true. The base of imperialist policy is still strength in arms; the nuclear weapon is still with us; provocative actions and war exist in South Vietnam, to a degree in Laos, in Korea and other places. These facts have to be faced by Marxist-Leninists when we talk of a world without arms, a world without war. The fact is that such a world will be a world in which imperialism, with its power to act as it is doing at present, no longer exists.

Perhaps a quote once again from the 1960 Moscow Statement will help to get matters into perspective: –

The U.S.S.R. will become the leading industrial power in the world. China will become a mighty industrial state. The socialist system will be turning out more than half the world industrial product. The peace zone will expand. The working-class movement in the capitalist countries and the national liberation movement in the colonies will achieve new victories. The disintegration of the colonial system will become completed, the superiority of the forces of Socialism and peace will be absolute.

Even before full victory of Socialism on earth, with Capitalism still existing in some part of the world, a real possibility will arise to exclude world war from the life of society.

In practice are not the policies of some Communist Parties today, including that of the C.P.S.U., based on a concept that the above has already been achieved – though the imperialists certainly do not recognise it? The need, as we see it, is to keep our feet firmly on the ground as far as a correct policy of peaceful co-existence is concerned.

Peaceful co-existence is the basis of state policy of the socialist countries in relation with capitalist states. No other is possible, we agree. But let us keep Lenin’s writings still firmly in mind. Let us remember that the socialist system does not yet turn out over half of the world industrial product, the colonial system has not finally disintegrated, while neo-colonialism grows daily.

If we do not, a policy based on an illusory position will lead to adventurist actions and to inevitable retreat, as far as our movement on a world scale is concerned and as far as the policy in practice of socialist governments is concerned.

Here we feel we must raise some matters in relation to the policy of the Soviet Government which have greatly worried the New Zealand Party of late. A while ago we heard a lot about the “spirit of Camp David”, although in fact there can be no unity of spirit between imperialist leaders and socialist leaders. We are not saying that top level discussions are not at times desirable but, at that time, the way it was presented could create illusions among the masses that “leaders” and not the people can get results and achieve a lasting peace. This sort of thing undermines the fighting will of many working people, especially in countries such as New Zealand where they have always been encouraged by Labour politicians to leave it to the leadership.

Again, not so long ago we believed and encouraged the widespread belief that Soviet policy meant that they would never be the first to start re-testing the bomb. Suddenly, out of the blue, they announced that they were starting another series of tests. We understood the reasons at that time and agreed with them but the average worker in New Zealand did not. Great harm was done to the peace movement by the lack of preparatory explanation by the Soviet Government as to the reasons forcing such action. The majority of the workers ended by saying of the Soviet Union and the U.S.A. – “A plague on both your houses.” This is a fact.

Among the arguments advanced was the fact that the French were testing. Our Party supported that argument, but now, following the Partial Test Ban Treaty what are we expected to say about the forthcoming French tests in the South Pacific with weapons even more developed than in the previous period? These tests are very important indeed to the New Zealand people. They are right in our backyard. Yet, in reality, the most important thing that they demonstrate is the complete ineffectiveness of the Partial Test Ban Treaty to protect us not only from the continued threat of nuclear war but even from atmospheric testing. Are we expected to say that French imperialism is the chief enemy of the peoples of New Zealand and the world and to gloss over the fact that the major threat of atomic annihilation comes from U.S. imperialism? Where are we getting to?

In Cuba, after denials that missile sites were being established, it suddenly appeared that they had been and were necessary. Were we expected to explain that away? After the C.P.S.U. had challenged the concept that “imperialism was a paper tiger”, we find that in the very place where imperialism was tactically at its strongest, sites had been established. Naturally these had to be withdrawn to avoid war and this was then claimed as a great peace victory.

We, however, can’t help asking: Why put them there in the first place – particularly as we are now told that the Soviet Union can hit right home at the U.S. from its own borders anyway?

In passing, may we say that in regard to the position of imperialism today, we agree that it is “moribund and decaying Capitalism” and a “colossus with feet of clay”. In other words, from a strategical angle it is weak, though tactically at certain points, as in the case of Cuba and the missiles, it can be very strong. So tactically imperialism must be dealt with according to the circumstances and conditions of the immediate point of struggle. Why tackle the strong point when a retreat was inevitable?

Now in regard to the German question and Berlin. How many times has the Soviet Government set the date for the signing of a treaty with East Germany – then nothing happens. Sometimes it appears important to sign, at other times unimportant. This is serious because now the average man in the street, in our part of the world anyway, does not believe that on some important issues the Soviet Government today means what it says. Confidence has been lost. It was not so in the past when, whatever one’s political opinions, one knew that what the Soviet Union said it meant and would do. In the capitalist world only the faithful still believe this now, and inevitably the trend is for the number of the faithful to get smaller.

The most recent example of this sudden change of policy without any fundamental change in the world situation is that of the Partial Test Ban Treaty.

The fact is that the treaty, now stated to be such a great victory for peace and to be ushering in the start of the era of a world without weapons or war, is almost identical with the one proposed by the U.S. and British some time before and then correctly rejected by the Soviet Union as a fraud to hide the real imperialist designs for using nuclear weapons in war.

We publicised this earlier Soviet rejection. Now what are we supposed to say? Join the great chorus shouting that it’s a great blow for peace and contradicting what both they and we said before?

Here are a few quotes on what the Soviet leadership said before about imperialist suggestions regarding partial test bans. N. S. Khrushchov, in a report at the fourth session of the Supreme Soviet on January 14, 1960, said:

We wish to re-emphasise that the Soviet Union holds firmly to the view that all types of nuclear weapon tests in the air, on the ground, underground and under the water must be discontinued. If a decision were adopted to ban tests only in the atmosphere, this would shatter the people’s hopes of a complete discontinuance of tests.

On September 5, 1960, in an interview with the New York Times commentator, Sulzberger, N. S. Khrushchov said:

What use would there be in cessation of tests if the arms race continued and war industry went working full blast creating nuclear weapons in ever growing numbers?

I would say this would be in some way tantamount to lulling public opinion, lulling man’s vigilance. People would think something has been done to prevent war while in effect nothing was being done and, on the contrary, the military machine would go on working full blast.

Besides, the Kennedy-Macmillan proposal says nothing on the cessation of underground test explosions and on the so-called explosions for peaceful purposes. . . .

Thus the proposals put forward by President Kennedy and Prime Minister Macmillan are not aimed at assuring security for nations but to pursue propaganda purposes, to shift responsibility on to others while they themselves quietly continue their old policy of stockpiling thermo-nuclear weapons and preparing against the socialist countries. We cannot agree to that. We must soberly assess the situation and take care of our own security.

We ask: In what way has the situation changed? Except possibly that the U.S. imperialists now think they have enough nuclear weapons stockpiled which do not deteriorate with time!

How does all this process of advance and retreat, of sudden change arise? If we are Marxists, we must look for the ideological cause. And, when we do that, we cannot but reach the conclusion that a firm, Marxist line in relation to policy, stable in principle but flexible in tactics, is not being pursued. In fact, things have become so flexible altogether, that our Party has got to ask itself whether it knows where all this is leading. We ask: Has this not got a very clear connection with the infiltration of revisionism into the general outlook and ideology? We think it has. Certainly all this is creating unnecessary confusion in the ranks of the world working-class movement and among all progressives.