Mike Faulkner

People’s War and the World Revolution

First Published: The Marxist, No. 7, Summer 1968
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Sam Richards and Paul Saba
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THE TREMENDOUS OFFENSIVE launched at the end of January by the PLAF and people of South Vietnam against all the positions of US imperialism and the Thieu-Ky clique marks the beginning of the end for the US in Vietnam. There can no longer be any doubt that they will suffer the same fate as did the Japanese and French before them, But the impending defeat of the US is of far greater significance for the world than any other defeat suffered by imperialism for a very long time. It is no exaggeration to say that the victories of spring 1968 have already administered a blow to the forces of world imperialism from which they will never recover. The final phase of Vietnam’s revolutionary war of liberation which we are now witnessing is the beginning of a new chapter in the world revolutionary process.

As ever greater manpower and military equipment are poured into Vietnam, the contradictions within the US itself are becoming exacerbated. The shiny facade of American society is cracking apart. In the grips of the most acute financial crisis since 1931, the US ruling class is concurrently challenged by an Afro-American rebellion of unprecedented scope and violence. The military defeat, the money crisis and the Afro-American revolt are integrally related parts of the all-embracing crisis of a moribund system. The desperate appeals for calm on the home front addressed to twenty million oppressed black Americans; the often proclaimed desire for Vietnam ’peace negotiations’ and the sanctimonious clap-trap about ’peaceful co-existence’ are all part of the US rulers’ vain attempt to divert the course of history. Behind Johnson’s crocodile tears and the colossal public relations job being done for US imperialism throughout the capitalist world, lie the realities of brute force, racial oppression and massive world-wide economic exploitation.

If there is one outstanding lesson to be learned from the confrontation in Vietnam it is that people’s war is invincible. There should be no doubt that the Vietnamese road to liberation is the road which must be taken by all colonial and semi-colonial peoples suffering imperialist exploitation. There certainly will be many more Vietnams so it is important to understand just what type of war the Vietnamese people have been waging for more than two decades, and how they have been able to immobilise and cripple the manpower and military might of the most powerful imperialist nation on earth.

Amongst socialists in the advanced capitalist world there is now a growing understanding that capitalism and imperialism will be defeated only through armed violence. The violence upon which capitalism rests does not permit any pacific transition to socialism. But what is not yet sufficiently understood (although it is being learned in those countries where the armed struggle is either imminent or in progress) is that armed struggle itself does not make victory inevitable. Victory will only be attained if the struggle for national liberation takes the form of a people’s war. Neither the term ’armed struggle’ nor ’guerrilla warfare’ accurately defines ’people’s war.’

The Vietnamese are waging a people’s war. General Giap, Commander-in-Chief of the People’s Army of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam has said: ’Our weapon is the invincible people’s war and we have gained great experience in conducting it. If it can be said that in present day military affairs there is a greater invention than atomic weapons, ie people’s war, then the Vietnamese people have effectively contributed to the perfecting of this new arm and are keeping it firmly in their hands. It has developed in Vietnam’s historical, political and social conditions and obtained a very high degree with an original and extremely substantial content.

’...It is a revolutionary war waged by a whole people on all planes, a revolutionary war fought by a small nation in a narrow and thinly populated country, having an under-developed economy, relying on the strength of an entire people united in struggle. With it the people will finally defeat an enemy many times stronger...Moreover, the out-standing characteristic of the people’s war in our country at the present stage is that, in its very process, armed struggle and political struggle are very closely co-ordinated, supporting and stimulating each other. Therefore the slogan “mobilise the entire people, arm the entire people and fight on all fronts” has become a living and heroic reality.’ (My emphasis.)[1]

The above quotation lays bare the essential elements that combine to produce the extraordinary power and quality of the Vietnamese people’s struggle. To assimilate its full meaning, that struggle must be studied as a component part of a continuing world revolutionary process.

For too long Marxist thinking in the west has hobbled along behind events. Caught up on the postulates of the ’Cold War’, the revisionists have regarded the socialist/imperialist conflict primarily as the confrontation of nuclear-armed states. The post world war two upsurge of the peoples through-out Asia, Africa and Latin America has been accorded a place of secondary importance within this schema. It should have been seen as the dynamic motor-force of world wide anti-imperialist struggle. The abandonment of a global revolutionary perspective and the substitution of a spurious ’peaceful-co-existence’ formula has been one of the most dangerous revisions of essential Marxism-Leninism. If revisionism is to be completely rejected and Marxism again to become a living science in the west, the revolutionary world outlook which lies at the heart of the thinking of Marx, Lenin and Mao Tse-tung must be restored to its rightful place.

Vietnam should be seen not merely as a matter of regional significance, but as the most acute expression of the major contradiction in the contemporary world.

Cities and Countryside

The nature of people’s war in the colonial and neo-colonial world can be understood properly when it is seen as a form of struggle arising from the social, political and economic conditions imposed by imperialism upon the peoples of the vast exploited areas under its domination. The Communist Party of China analysed the main contradictions in the contemporary world in an important document in 1963, a key section of which reads: ’The various types of contradiction in the contemporary world are concentrated in the vast areas of Asia, Africa and Latin America; these are the most vulnerable areas under imperialist rule and the storm centres of world revolution dealing direct blows at imperialism...In a sense, therefore, the whole cause of the international proletarian revolution hinges on the outcome of the struggles of the peoples of these areas, who constitute the over-whelming majority of the world’s population.’[2]

From China’s rich experience in revolutionary struggle and from a careful analysis of the international situation, it has been possible to develop a generalised theory of world revolution in the present era. Mao’s numerous writings on the Civil War and the Anti-Japanese War contain a theory of people’s war, two salient features of which are: (a) the need to develop revolutionary base areas in the rural districts, and (b) the need to wage protracted war of a guerrilla type, mobilising the whole people and with the eventual aim of encircling the cities from the countryside. Lin Piao has taken these two elements from Mao’s strategy and applied them to the existing world scene. He reaches the following conclusions: ’Taking the entire globe, if North America and Western Europe can be called the “cities of the world”, then Asia, Africa and Latin America constitute “the rural areas of the world”.

Since world war two the proletarian revolutionary movement has for various reasons been temporarily held back in the North American and West European capitalist countries, while the people’s revolutionary movement in Asia, Africa and Latin America has been growing vigorously. In a sense, the contemporary world revolution also presents a picture of the encirclement of cities by the rural areas.’[3]

National Democratic Revolution

In the theoretical formulations of the Chinese and Vietnamese comrades we find a clear strategic line on world revolution which may be summarised as follows: In the contemporary world the principal contradiction is that between imperialism headed by US imperialism on one hand, and the peoples of Asia, Africa and Latin America on the other. These latter include the most severely exploited of all the world’s peoples and constitute the large majority of mankind. The October Revolution in Russia was a proletarian socialist revolution in an imperialist country which started in the cities and spread to the countryside. Its victory established a link between the proletarian revolution in the west and the revolutionary movements of the east. The anti-imperialist revolution in the three continents which is national democratic in character, is no longer part of the bourgeois world revolution, but part of the proletarian world revolution. It is therefore a new democratic revolution which mobilises all progressive forces and classes against imperialism, feudalism and comprador capitalism. Its base is in the country-side amongst the peasantry, but to be successful in completely overthrowing the old order, it must have proletarian leadership. On the basis of the worker/peasant alliance this ’new democratic’ revolution proceeds to power and initially establishes ’new democracy’ from which it moves to the construction of socialism. From its inception the victorious revolution is effectively a proletarian dictatorship, because, although united with other classes to achieve a radical transformation of society, for the whole of its period of gestation the revolution is under proletarian leadership. The struggle for power will usually be protracted and it must take the form of a people’s war.

The general principles of Mao’s theory of new democratic revolution are relevant throughout the three continents. But here two points should be borne in mind. As Mao himself stresses, the universal truth of Marxism-Leninism must be integrated with the real conditions prevailing in each country, and although the nature of their development has produced basically similar features in all countries of the colonial and semi-colonial world, there are nevertheless important variations which must have a bearing on the form the struggle will take. Secondly, it cannot be too strongly emphasised that although the national democratic revolution is impossible except through people’s war, it does not follow that all successful people’s wars inevitably lead to the establishment of the type of ’new democratic’ state which was established in China. There is no magic equation between the two. The assumption that any struggle which is not led by a Marxist-Leninist party can never take the form of a people’s war indicates an incomplete understanding of people’s war. Lin Piao, in the article already quoted, gives examples of liberation struggles not all of which were led by Marxist-Leninists and the outcomes of which have differed considerably: ’The peoples of China, Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Cuba, Indonesia, Algeria and other countries have waged people’s wars against the imperialists and their lackeys and won great victories.’[4]

Clearly then it is possible in some cases for people’s wars of national liberation to be waged under the political leadership of the national bourgeoisie -as was the case in Algeria and Indonesia. Unless the leadership is wrested from them by the proletariat before or following the liberation, then the revolution will be halted at the national democratic stage, for the national bourgeoisie has no interest in building socialism. So the question of class leadership does not determine whether or not the masses can be mobilised to fight a people’s war, but it does determine to a large extent the depth of mobilisation, and, of course, the character of the state power following liberation.

Mao on People’s War

We may conclude that people’s war is always revolutionary war. It may be either a war of liberation against a domestic ruling class or a war of national liberation against the oppression of a foreign power and its native compradors. A people’s war of national liberation will usually but not always involve a struggle against the occupation forces of a foreign imperialism. Whether it is a revolutionary war against domestic oppressors or a revolutionary war of national liberation, the people’s war will draw within its orbit all classes suffering from the oppression. It is a war of unequal forces, which because of its social character is fought according to principles different from conventional modern wars.’...the revolutionary war is a war of the masses; it can be waged only by mobilising the masses and relying upon them.’[5] The support of the masses and their involvement in the struggle is a key factor in people’s war. Without it victory is impossible. In purely military terms there will never be equality between the combatants. The oppressing class or nation usually has at its disposal large mercenary armies, transport vehicles, fighter planes and bombers, and often nuclear weapons. Initially the masses are unarmed, unorganised and poor. At the outset, if the outcome depended upon weapons and technological superiority the people would not stand a chance. But it does not. Although no war can be fought without weapons, the guarantee of final victory to the masses in such an apparently unequal contest lies within the social causes which give rise to their struggle. The plight of the masses makes possible their mobilisation to fight for an end to those intolerable conditions and the ensuing struggle is inspired by their determination to achieve that end. The masses become more fully mobilised as the struggle develops and gain increasing confidence in their ability to win as they come to recognise that the enemy is far from invincible. The social base of the people’s army is as extensive as the people themselves.

In his writing on China’s revolutionary war Mao describes the strategy of the Red Army as ’to pit one against ten’ and the tactic as ’to pit ten against one’. The strategic principle applies to the overall ratio between the people’s forces and the enemy; the tactical principle to the particular offensive or counter-offensive. This can be regarded as fundamental to all people’s wars.

In a people’s war, the masses are challenging the armed force of the state with the object of destroying it. Success will depend upon a number of factors, not the least of which is organisation. People’s armies are not recruited overnight; they are built in struggle. The embryo of the people’s army is the guerrilla force and the first phase of a people’s war takes the form of guerrilla warfare. Although much of the guerrilla character is preserved throughout the duration of a people’s war, guerrilla warfare itself is not the whole of people’s war. There is no intrinsic merit in preserving the people’s forces at the guerrilla level and the guerrilla units must always aim to expand their forces through amalgamation and to improve their combative quality.

Political and Military Strategy

Here it must be emphasised that any attempt to lay down a complete set of rules for the conduct of all people’s wars is impossible. As has been stated, variations in local conditions, geographical and otherwise, render any such attempt fruitless. A more realistic undertaking will be an attempt to see whether, in order successfully to lead a people’s war through to complete victory – i.e., the establishment of a new democratic type of state – there are any general principles, universally valid for all such wars. Looked at from this standpoint there are two aspects which deserve particular attention. They are

(1) The question of political/class leadership, and
(2) The role of revolutionary base areas.

China’s revolutionary war and the Vietnamese struggle for national liberation have both been fully documented and analysed as have no other such wars in the contemporary epoch. Mao’s writings on military strategy in particular present us with the ”most complete Marxist-Leninist theoretical analysis. A study of ’Problems of China’s Revolutionary War,’ and ’Problems of Strategy in the Guerrilla War Against Japan,’ reveals the interrelatedness of political and military strategy. There is no military science that is not also political. The struggle in China appears inconceivable without the leadership of the Communist Party. Mao’s ceaseless, painstaking analysis of each phase of this struggle is a supreme example of what is meant by the ’mass line.’ Everything comes from the actual practice of the masses. Hence he never makes generalisations unrelated to the real situation. The strategy and tactics of the Anti- Japanese War were developed on the basis of an analysis of new contradictions both within China and in the international situation in the face of Japanese imperialist aggression. The primary contradiction was that between China and Japan, and Mao’s whole strategic line was adapted to meet a new situation. The revolutionary struggle became primarily one of national liberation and this necessitated forging a united front of anti-imperialist forces. The contradictions which had existed and those which had been primary in the previous period of the Civil War were not eliminated; they became secondary and assumed a different aspect.

China and Vietnam

It is in relation to the Anti-Japanese War that Mao develops his strategic conception of guerrilla warfare as a form supplementary to the regular warfare waged by the Eighth Route and New Fourth Armies. Consolidation of the united front, the mass mobilisation and the establishment of revolutionary base areas were the essential pre-requisites for the successful prosecution of the War of Resistance. The political leadership capable of embracing the whole of the Anti-Japanese War within the strategic perspective of China’s New Democratic Revolution, without defaulting on one or the other, was of an extraordinarily high quality. The Communist Party, guided by Mao Tse-tung, succeeded in mobilising and leading millions of people along this tortuous road to final victory. ’The line of our Party during the War of Resistance aimed not only at winning victory in the war, but also at laying the foundations for the nation-wide victory of the new democratic revolution.’[6]

In China the united front was built on the principle of unity through struggle. Its foundation-stone was the worker-peasant alliance, represented by the Communist Party. Within this alliance the working class was dominant. On the basis of the alliance with the masses of the peasantry, the working class was able to unite under its leadership the large majority of the people and to assume the leadership of the national democratic revolution.

Throughout China’s long revolutionary struggle politics have been firmly in command. Proletarian leadership was not a matter of numerical preponderance. It was expressed in the form of a steeled and tested party securely based in the proletariat and moulded by the political genius of Mao Tse-tung. Mao has successfully guided the Chinese people over many years of people’s war, through the new democratic revolution to the victory of socialism. He wrote in 1940 ’Except for the Communist Party, no political party, (bourgeois or petty bourgeois) is equal to the task of leading China’s two great revolutions, the democratic and the socialist revolutions, to complete fulfilment. From the very day of its birth, the Communist Party has taken this twofold task on its own shoulders and for eighteen years has fought strenuously for its accomplishment.’[7]

Commenting on the leadership of the Vietnamese people’s war, Vo Nguyen Giap expresses himself very similarly to Mao: ’Our Party has a correct revolutionary line. This line is the condensed expression of the creative combination of Marxist-Leninist general principles with the concrete practice of our revolution. This is the line of the people’s national democratic revolution progressing to socialism in a former colonial and semi-feudal country...Today our people in the South have the National Front for Liberation, a broad organisation possessed of a correct line and programme. ... ’[8]

Certainly, from the experience of China and Vietnam, it seems that a people’s war can only be carried to complete victory in the sense that Mao and Giap explain it, if it is waged under the leadership of a Marxist-Leninist party. The question is, can this be regarded as a universal law governing the development of all national democratic revolutions? Before considering this we shall look at the question of revolutionary base areas.

According to Mao one of the essential tasks for the popular forces in the Anti-Japanese War was the establishment of base areas. He called for the extension of guerrilla warfare throughout all Japanese occupied territory and described the base areas as ’strategic bases on which the guerrilla forces rely in performing their strategic tasks and achieving the object of preserving and expanding themselves and destroying and driving out the enemy.’ As there is no rear in guerrilla warfare behind enemy lines, the base areas are of strategic importance and in fact serve as a rear. In the Anti-Japanese War three types of base area were employed; in the mountains; in the plains; and in river estuaries or lake regions. Stressing the need to establish guerrilla bases, Mao warns against what he calls ’the roving rebel mentality: ’In the present age of advanced communication and technology, it would be...groundless to imagine that one can win victory by fighting in the manner of roving rebels. However, the roving rebel idea still exists amongst impoverished peasants and in the minds of guerrilla commanders it becomes the view that base areas are neither necessary nor important.’

In the Anti-Japanese War three basic conditions had to be fulfilled before base areas could be established; 1. the building up of armed forces; 2. the armed forces and people should have dealt heavy blows at the enemy; 3. the masses should have become fully aroused against Japan. Mao also mentions another condition important to the establishment of guerrilla base areas - an extensive territory.[9]

Base areas were of strategic importance during the war of resistance. Their establishment was part of the mass mobilisation of the Chinese people against Japan. But can the conception of the base area be considered a general principle applicable to all people’s wars? In considering both this and the previous question concerning political/class leadership, it may be worthwhile looking briefly at the Cuban Revolution, which is sometimes regarded as an exceptional case.


’The great victory of the Cuban people’s revolution has set a brilliant example for the national-democratic movement of the people of all Latin American countries and has greatly inspired the struggle of all oppressed nations of the world for their liberation.’ (Mao Tse-tung.)[10]

’This is a unique revolution, which some people maintain contradicts one of the most orthodox premises of the revolutionary movement, expressed by Lenin: ”without a revolutionary theory there is no revolutionary movement.” It would be suitable to say that revolutionary theory, as the expression of a social truth, surpasses any declaration of it; that is to say, even if the theory is not known, the revolution can succeed if historical reality is interpreted correctly and if the forces involved are utilised correctly.’ (Ernesto Che Guevara.)[11]

Unfortunately, little in the way of real Marxist analysis has been made of the Cuban revolutionary war .The main published works of Che Guevara do not approach their subject in anything like the way Mao and Giap have done and can in no sense be regarded as a theoretical explication of that struggle. They make no claim to be more than reminiscences of campaigns. And, despite its pretensions and the claims of its admirers, Regis Debray’s ’Revolution in the Revolution’ presents neither an objective analysis of the Cuban revolutionary war, nor an acceptable theoretical basis for the Latin American liberation movement.[12]

Within the limits of this article’s subject it is not possible to deal extensively with Cuba, but some observations are called for.

As the unsuccessful Dominican revolution has already shown, it is extremely unlikely, perhaps impossible, that any other people in that hemisphere will be able to accomplish what the Cubans did without bringing down massive US intervention. But this does not alter the fact that the Cuban revolution was one of the most thorough-going social upheavals since the Chinese achieved their liberation. Despite the negative features, past and present, in Cuba it has made the first breach in the imperialist domination of the western hemisphere and is the first Latin-American country to take the socialist road.

While not adequately accounting for the ’uniqueness’ of the Cuban revolution, it seems that Guevara’s remarks, quoted above, have a point in relation to it. The Cuban revolutionaries relied upon the people in the countryside and mobilised them in support of the armed struggle. They waged a people’s war against the vastly superior military strength of the comprador Batista regime, winning over the majority of the people. They overthrew the old state and disbanded its armed forces. They carried through the national-democratic revolution and established a state based on an alliance of various classes. Sections of the national bourgeoisie were initially represented within the new state power. The new state began to carry through an agrarian reform. The expropriation of the latifundia, followed by whole scale confiscation of domestic and foreign owned largescale enterprises brought Cuba into sharp collision with US imperialism. As these events unfolded, representatives of the national bourgeoisie within the government began to attack the revolution. A struggle ensued which resulted in their expulsion from all positions of importance within the state. It was this two-pronged attack by domestic class enemies and the imperialists which moved the national-democratic revolution rapidly in the direction of socialism, consolidating its base amongst the workers and peasants.

The question relevant to our subject is: what was the character of the Cuban people’s war of liberation and what kind of leadership did it have?

The revolutionary war was comparatively short, lasting about two years. The number of men under arms in the Cuban Rebel Army was small – not more than a few hundred mid-way through 1958, only six months before the seizure of power. No real class analysis of the kind made by Mao in China had been undertaken in Cuba before the launching of the armed struggle. The establishment of base areas was not the sine qua non for launching successful offensive operations. In fact it was only in the summer of 1958 that the first base area was established in the Sierra Maestra. There was no Marxist-Leninist party in Cuba and the 26 July Movement had no clear ideology.[13]

Exceptional Case?

What then, were the factors present in the Cuban situation to account for the successful completion of the national-democratic revolution and the subsequent establishment of a socialist state?

There were two particular factors which may perhaps be considered exceptional: a. The US imperialists had begun by 1958 to think about an alternative government to that of Batista, which, universally detested in Cuba, was becoming an embarrasment to the US. They completely misjudged the character of Fidel Castro’s movement, imagining that it would offer the basis for a new regime, less unpopular than Batista’s, but equally pro-imperialist. b. Che Guevara has pointed out that ’in most parts of Cuba the country people had been proletarianised by the operation of big capitalist, semi-mechanised forms of cultivation and had entered a stage of organisation that gave it a stronger class consciousness.’[14]

A large proportion of the rural population were not really peasants but agricultural wage labourers, swelling the ranks of the proletariat. The worker/peasant ratio in Cuba -the reverse of that existing in most colonial and semi-colonial countries was an important factor in the transition to socialism.

Although Batista’s forces were armed by the US there was no direct imperialist intervention in the Cuban revolutionary war. In a set of circumstances unusually favourable to the popular forces it was possible for a group of men with little clear political ideology, but sincerely dedicated to overthrowing a tyrannical regime, to stimulate and lead an armed struggle which eventually assumed the character of a people’s war of liberation. There can be little doubt that in practice they did interpret historical reality correctly and utilise the forces involved correctly. In fact, they acted much as a Marxist-Leninist party should have acted – had one existed in Cuba.

There can also be no doubt that had there been imperialist intervention before 1959 the struggle would have been much longer and far more bloody. Also, in such an event, a far more thorough mass mobilisation would have been necessary. This would have necessitated a political campaign amongst the people to deepen and consolidate their resistance, and it is doubtful if the 26 July Movement would have been capable of such a task. But there was no imperialist intervention.

The favourable conditions in which the revolutionary war was waged do not invalidate the extent of the victory or diminish the heroism of the Cuban people. They do go a long way to explain how it was possible for a people’s war to triumph in Cuba when it had barely passed out of the guerrilla warfare phase.

That the leadership of the Rebel Army learned a great deal from practice, from their integration with the masses, cannot be doubted. During the course of the struggle they began to remould themselves, and were able, after the seizure of power to steer the revolution on to a socialist course. That the general laws of people’s war had been absorbed by at least some of the Cuban leadership is clear from the following statement by Che Guevara:

’On the ideological base of the working class, whose great thinkers discovered the social laws that rule us, the campesino class in America will provide the great liberating army of the future, as it has already done in Cuba. This army, created in the countryside, where subjective conditions ripen for the seizure of power, proceeds to conquer the cities from the outside, uniting with the working class and enriching the content of its own ideology by those contacts. It can and should demolish the oppressor army, at first in skirmishes, combats, surprises, and finally in great battles, when it has grown from a small guerrilla band into a large people’s army of liberation...Imperialism has learned, fundamentally, the lesson of Cuba and it will not again be taken by surprise in any of our twenty republics, in any of the colonies that still exist, in any part of America. This means that great popular battles against powerful invasion armies await those who now try to violate the peace of the sepulchres, the Pax Romana. This is important, because if the Cuban War of Liberation with its two years of continual combat, anguish, and instability was difficult, the new battles that await the people in other parts of Latin America will be infinitely more difficult.’[15]

For these ’great battles’ it will be essential to have an integrated military and political leadership. Because it will be ’infinitely more difficult’ nothing short of a Marxist-Leninist party will be capable of providing that leadership and mobilising the masses in the manner necessary to achieve victory. Therefore, any attempt to elevate the largely pragmatic practice of the Cuban revolutionary war to a set of general principles, and to hold up the Cuban liberation struggle as a model to be exactly copied throughout Latin America, can be extremely dangerous.

We may conclude that although there were exceptional features in the Cuban situation which explain why it was possible to carry through the national-democratic revolution and lay the basis for socialism without the leadership of a Marxist-Leninist party, this in no way invalidates the principles established by Mao Tse-tung. The Cuban experience is unlikely to be exactly repeated anywhere else in Latin America, and it is up to Latin American revolutionaries, who know best the conditions prevailing on their continent, to apply these principles to their own conditions. In a number of Latin American countries the armed struggle has been in progress for some time. The coming years will see its intensification and the people must be prepared to meet and defeat the most ruthless repression on the part of the native oligarchies and their US masters.

Counter-Revolutionary Revisionism

During the last twenty years it has been clearly demonstrated that the imperialists are unable to defeat any nation which takes up arms in a people’s war of liberation against them. Giap’s reference to the superiority of people’s war over atomic weapons is appropriate. In recent years the Vietnamese have amply proved this in practice. Nuclear blackmail has failed to terrorise the oppressed peoples into submission.

But as the use of naked force and the threatened use of nuclear weapons has not succeeded in holding back the struggle for liberation, the imperialists are relying increasingly on the Soviet revisionists to do this for them.

Modern revisionism is now a thoroughly treacherous and reactionary force in the world, objectively aligned with imperialism against the world revolution. It is still able to exercise considerable influence on the development of revolutionary movements because it continues to speak in the name of a cause it long ago betrayed. ’ Aid’ given by the revisionists to revolutionary struggles anywhere, is actually intended not as aid to those struggles, but as a means of gaining greater influence in order to dampen them and divert them from their course. If recipients of revisionist ’aid’ should fail to recognise this, then they run the risk of being drawn into a swamp of compromises that will ultimately benefit imperialism. The anti-imperialist struggle, if it is to be consistent, must also involve a struggle against revisionism. Although they try desperately to disguise the fact, the revisionist powers, each in its own way and at its own pace, are drawing closer and closer to imperialism, so that the destinies of the two are becoming linked. The destruction of imperialism on a world scale will also spell the doom of revisionism.

The coming battles throughout the colonial and neo-colonial world will engage the armed forces of us imperialism and its lackeys on the widest front they have ever had to face and their manpower and resources will be stretched to breaking point. No part of that struggle can exist in isolation. Each people, each nation that rises in resistance is part of the world-wide anti-imperialist armed front. The world proletarian revolution is a continuing and irresistible process. The peoples of Asia, Africa and Latin America are today in the vanguard of that struggle. They are the grave-diggers of world imperialism.


[1] General Vo Nguyen Giap. Once Again We Will Win. Foreign Languages Publishing House, Hanoi, 1966.

[2]A Proposal Concerning The General Line of the International Communist Movement. Foreign Languages Press, Peking, 1963.

[3] Lin Piao. Long Live The Victory of The People’s War. Foreign Languages Press, Peking, 1967.

[4] Ibid, 154.

[5]Mao Tse-tung. Selected Works, Vol I, p 147. Foreign Languages Press, Peking, 1964.

[6]Lin Piao. Long Live The Victory of The People’s War. Foreign Languages Press, Peking, 1967.

[7] Mao Tse-tung. The Chinese Revolution And The Chinese Communist Party.

[8]General Vo Ngyuen Giap. Once Again We Will Win. Foreign Languages Publishing House, Hanoi, 1966.

[9] In the 1965 edition of his Selected Works Mao somewhat amends his view concerning size of territory; His additional note reads in part: ’Since the end of world war two...in the new historical circumstances. ..the conditions under which the people of various countries conduct guerilla warfare today need not be quite the same as those which were necessary in the days of the guerrilla warfare waged by the Chinese people against Japan. In other words, guerrilla war can be victoriously waged in a country which is not large in territory, as for instance, in Cuba, Algeria, Laos and southern VietNam.’

[10]Message of Greeting to Cuba, 26 July 1961. From Cuba Si, Yanquis No. Foreign Languages Press, Peking, 1961.

[11] Notes for the Study of the Ideology of the Cuban Revolution. Verde Olivo, Havana, 1960.

[12] An important critical review of Debray’s book appeared in the Nov-Dec 1967 issue of ’Progressive Labor,’ journal of the US Progressive Labour Party.

[13] The revisionist Popular Socialist Party initially condemned Castro as an adventurer and refused to support the Sierra campaign. Only in the final stages did the PSP give any active support to the armed struggle.

[14] Che Guevara. Cuba; Exceptional Case or Vanguard in the Struggle Against Colonialism. Verde Olivo, Havana, 1961.

[15] Ibid.