The proletariat and its party must have confidence in the strength of the masses and, above all, must unite with the peasants and establish a solid worker-peasant alliance. It is of primary importance for advanced members of the proletariat to work in the rural areas, help the peasants to get organised and raise their class consciousness and their national self-respect and self-confidence ...
In order to consolidate and expand this united front it is necessary that the proletarian party should maintain its ideological, political and organisational independence and insist on the leadership of the revolution. (Chinese Letter of 14th June 1963, pp. 15, 16)
The question of the leadership of the national liberation movement has been thrown into relief by the events of recent years, particularly by the successful overthrow of imperialism in Algeria and Cuba, and by the failure of the movement to maintain its position in Iraq.
To Dutt’s suggestion that the Chinese policy in the national liberation struggle “is a complete contradiction of a Marxist-Leninist approach” (p.14), we need only ask him to read again the passage from the Letter to the Central Committee of the C.P.S.U. quoted at the head of this section.
Replying one month later to this Letter, the Central Committee of the C.P.S.U. could state in cold print:
The Chinese comrades want to ’correct’ Lenin and prove that the hegemony in the world struggle against imperialism should go not to the working class, but to the petty bourgeoisie, even to ’certain patriotically-minded kings, princes and aristocrats’.”
The insertion of the words “in the world struggle” in the comment of the leaders of the C.P.S.U. on the Chinese text is clear proof of their intention deliberately to distort.
Such comments from those who upheld as a “man of peace” the President of the country described by the 81 Parties as “the mainstay of colonialism today”; who maintain that resolutions in the United Nations can become a substitute for the revolutionary struggles of the colonial peoples and who seek to hold back the revolutionary activities of the oppressed peoples as being “premature” is cool indeed.
Not only do the Chinese recommend that wherever possible the leadership of the liberation movements should be exercised by the party of the proletariat, they also warn that:
If the proletariat becomes the tail of the landlords and bourgeoisie in the revolution, no real or thorough victory in the national democratic revolution is possible, and even if victory of a kind is gained, it will be impossible to consolidate it. (Chinese Letter of 14th June 1963, pp. 17, 18)
This, Mr. Dutt, does not sound like a policy of handing over the primary role in the struggle to the bourgeoisie as you suggest in your report.
For the Chinese know, as every true Marxist should know, that salutary lessons are to be learned from the experiences of the liberation movements in recent years where leadership from the Marxist Party has not been forthcoming.
As an example, the events leading up to the overthrow of Batista and the U.S. imperialists in Cuba, are significant. It was Fidel Castro, at that time not a Marxist, who roused the masses in Cuba, gave them confidence in their own strength and led them to throw out their oppressors. The Cuban Communist Party attacked Castro in this period as an “adventurer”, and Tito continues so to describe him. No doubt Dutt and Krushchev would have advised the Cubans to bide their time, to avoid a movement under the leadership of a “bourgeois”.
If the proletarian party does not give leadership to the people when revolutionary struggles are developing, others will, as history has shown.
In Algeria the struggle for liberation from colonial power began immediately after the Second World War. The attacks on the liberation movement started at a time when the French Government included two Communist members.
The French Communist Party then and subsequently kept a heavy hand on the Algerian Communist Party, just as the British Party exerts its paternalistic influence on the parties of the colonial countries. The leadership of the Algerian Party was for a number of years mostly European.
In the period of struggle after the war, and in line with the policy of the French Party, most of the resistance was organised without the participation of the Algerian Communist Party. In fact, in 1954, the Algerian Party, under the domination of the French Party, came out against armed struggle and imposed a ban on joining the F.L.N. Faced with this line of “peaceful transition” thousands of militant Algerians left the Communist Party. The leadership of the movement was taken over by the Muslim bourgeoisie. In other words the leadership was deliberately surrendered by the Algerian Communist Party.
Throughout this period the French Communist Party followed an equivocal line on the Algerian question. On one occasion (in September 1959) when the French Communist Party had exposed de Gaulle’s statement on “self-determination” for Algeria as a “purely demagogic manoeuvre”, they turned in their tracks a few weeks later, after Krushchev’s pronouncement that de Gaulle’s statement was of “great significance”.
The Political Bureau’s earlier statement, said Thorez, had been “hasty, precipitate,” the result of a “false appreciation”.
Thus, as in Cuba, the party under the influence of the advocates of “peaceful transition” and “peaceful co-existence” abdicated the leadership:
If Communists isolate themselves from the revolutionary demands of the masses, they are bound to lose the confidence of the masses and will be tossed to the rear of the revolutionary current. (Chinese Letter of 14th June 1963)
In Cuba and Algeria, despite the absence of leadership by the Communist Party, the revolutionary struggle against imperialism was carried by others to a successful conclusion. In Iraq, however, the policy of revisionism and “peaceful transition” ended in disaster both tor the Party’ and for the Iraqi people.
In 1958 and early 1959 the revolution reached high tide in Iraq. The Communist Party of Iraq, which for thirty years had led the workers’ struggle, had gained powerful influence throughout the country. Seventy to eighty per cent of the working class were organised by the Party. For years the Party had worked among the peasants and within a few weeks of the July 1958 revolution, 2,000 peasants’ associations held democratic elections and in places began to work the land co-operatively. The Party had also won strong support among students. The Communist Party of Iraq, remarked the Economist in 1958, is “the largest and best organised party in the Middle East.”
Led by the Communist Party, the Iraqi masses in the spring of 1959 won a decisive victory. Committees of the people took over in many towns. Democratic and left-wing officers occupied many key positions in the Army whilst the rest of the Army command was in disarray. In almost every town an armed popular militia was established. The old ruling class was in retreat.
But under the influence of outsiders who advocated the doctrine of “National Democracy” – the road of peaceful transition and the non-revolutionary approach – the Communist Party of Iraq was induced to abandon two cardinal principles of revolutionary struggle – one, never to rely on the national bourgeoisie and, two, never to give up arms.
The Iraq Communist Party made a deal with Kassem, relinquished their arms and lost the leadership of the movement to the national bourgeoisie who proceeded step by step to imprison torture and murder hundreds of Party workers.
We know only too well the rest of the story. How Kassem was in turn overthrown and how, in 1963, Party members and other democrats were slaughtered in their thousands.
When Dutt tries to smear the Chinese with his accusations of placing the leadership of the world revolution in the hands of the national bourgeoisie, let him recall the events in Iraq in 1959 and ask himself which Party advised the Iraq comrades to retain their arms and the leadership of the revolution, and which Party advocated the road of collaboration and a policy of peaceful change.
It is fitting to end this section with the words of Fidel Castro, speaking at the Congress of Women of All America on 15th January 1963:
There are people who are experts with figures, but what they must be is experts in conducting the peoples towards revolutions. And here is the art of revolutionaries, the art that must be learned and developed: how to lead the masses to struggle. For it is the masses that make history, but for them to make history, it is necessary to lead the masses to struggle.