First Published: as a special supplement to Red Front, Vol. 2, No. 1, March/April 1968
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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We meet today to discuss and reach decisions upon a question of historic significance for our Marxist-Leninist Organisation, as for Marxist-Leninist Parties and Organisations in every quarter of the globe: the question of the significance of the revolutionary struggle now being waged in the People’s Republic of China for the future course of the world proletarian-socialist revolution and, in particular, for the development of vanguard Marxist-Leninist Parties and of united front movements under proletarian leadership in the advanced capitalist countries such as Britain.
When we adopted the Report on the situation in the People’s Republic of China a few weeks ago, we did so with a deep sense of the tremendous responsibility we have taken upon our shoulders – a responsibility which we felt not only to our own members and towards the militants of the British working class, but also towards the millions of heroic national-liberation fighters in Africa, Asia and Latin America who are at present in the front line of the world anti-imperialist struggle. That Report was adopted unanimously, and this alone furnishes ample evidence of the maturity and growing unity on a principled basis of our Central Committee.
However, since then and prior to its publication, Aggregate Meetings of all M.L.O.B. members have been convened to hear and discuss the Report of our Central Committee. It is with genuine pride in our developing cadres and activists, with real emotion for all our Comrades struggling to raise their mastery of Marxist-Leninist theory and practice, that I report to you that – despite provocative appeals to our members from such disruptive neo-trotskyite or left-sectarian groups as the C.D.R.C.U. to repudiate the Report and expel the Central Committee – the unity of the Marxist-Leninist Organisation of Britain has remained unshaken and is today more solid than before.
We are living in the epoch of imperialism, the epoch of imperialist wars of aggression and developing proletarian revolutions. As Lenin and Stalin have shown, imperialism is the final stage in the history of world capitalism, the epoch when the general crisis of capitalism is rapidly creating the objective conditions for the development of the proletarian-socialist revolution on a world-wide front.
In the colonial-type countries, it is necessary to achieve the national-democratic revolution before it is possible to go forward to the socialist revolution.
In the epoch of imperialism, the proletariats of the colonial-type countries begin to play increasingly a leading role in the national-democratic revolutions in these countries. As Stalin expressed it:
“the October Revolution has ushered in a new era, the era of colonial revolutions which are being conducted in the oppressed countries of the world in alliance with the proletariat and under the leadership of the proletariat.
“The era of revolutions for emancipation in the colonies and dependent countries, the era of the awakening of the proletariat in these countries, the era of its hegemony in the revolution, has begun.” (J. V. Stalin: “International Character of the October Revolution”, in: “Problems of Leninism”; Moscow; 1953; p.240-241).
This emergence of the proletariat of a colonial-type country to play increasingly a leading role in the national-democratic revolution reflects its growth and development as a class, as a result of the intensified process of proletarianisation of the rural peasantry and the urban petty-bourgeoisie in such countries, and the development of the proletarian class consciousness which its objective class position creates.
National-democratic revolutions in the present epoch may thus be of two types:
a) national-democratic revolutions in which the leading role is taken by the proletariat; and
b) national-democratic revolutions in which the leading role is taken by the national-bourgeoisie.
Whether a national-democratic revolution in a particular colonial-type country takes the form of the first or second of these types depends upon:
1) the degree of development of the proletariat as a class;
2) its political consciousness and level of organisation; and
3) the extent to which it is lead by a Marxist-Leninist vanguard party.
All national-democratic revolutions form a stage on the road towards socialist revolution, but it is a stage characterised by social aims and a class content which are qualitatively different from those of the socialist revolution.
Where the leading role in a national-democratic revolution is taken by the national bourgeoisie, it results in a state in which the national bourgeoisie plays the dominant role, a state the aim of which is to maintain and develop national capitalism in the liberated country. A national-democratic revolution in which the national bourgeoisie plays the leading role cannot, therefore, be properly regarded as a component of the world proletarian-socialist revolution.
This does not mean that Marxist-Leninists adopt a negative attitude towards national-democratic revolutions in countries where the proletariat is not yet sufficiently developed to play the leading role. Still less does it mean that they should attempt to take steps to postpone the national-democratic revolution in such a country until the conditions for proletarian leadership mature.
Such attitudes and policies would be tantamount to the betrayal of the revolutionary interests of the oppressed peoples of the colonial-type countries, including the interests of the developing proletariat itself. All national-democratic revolutions weaken the main enemy of the international proletariat, world imperialism, and so assist the development of the world proletarian-socialist revolution.
Similarly, to propound the doctrine of the immediate transition to socialist revolution in colonial-type countries where the conditions for proletarian revolution have not matured would constitute a “leftist” error of the first magnitude, an attitude characterised in general by a subjective desire to skip objectively necessary stages in the development of the struggle.
Where a national-democratic revolution is led by the newly emerging and developing proletariat, it is linked to its sequel, the socialist revolution, by the fact that the vanguard force in both is the proletariat. In such a case the national-democratic revolution acquires a content which is orientated not merely towards the achievement of national independence and formal democracy but – primarily and as its central task – towards the preparation without interruption of its sequel, the socialist revolution.
Where a national-democratic revolution is led by the proletariat but results not in uninterrupted transition to socialist revolution, but in the founding of a new-democratic republic based on the joint dictatorship of several classes including the national bourgeoisie, such a state is inherently unstable. Sooner or later fierce class struggle inevitably develops between the proletariat (in alliance with the poor peasantry) and the national bourgeoisie, to decide which of these fundamentally antagonistic classes shall control state power, shall exercise its undivided class dictatorship. This, as we have seen, is the character of the revolutionary struggle now taking place in the People’s Republic of China.
A national-democratic revolution led by the proletariat may thus have the socialist revolution as its sequel either by a process of the uninterrupted transition of the one into the other, or after a period of new-democratic joint dictatorship. But whichever may be the course of development in a particular country, only when the tasks of the socialist revolution are embarked upon can the revolution properly be described as a component part of the world proletarian-socialist revolution.
To sum up, only when a national-democratic revolution is led by the proletariat and is carried over uninterruptedly into socialist revolution can it properly be described as a component part of the world proletarian-socialist revolution.
In the theory and practice of Marxist-Leninist Parties or of individual Marxist-Leninists, however, it is possible to interpret the relations between these two linked components of the revolutionary process in colonial-type countries – that is, between the national-democratic and the socialist revolutions –in a non-dialectical way. It is possible either
a) to exaggerate one-sidedly the qualitative distinctness of the two revolutions to the point where a ”Chinese Wall” is erected between them; or
b) to exaggerate one-sidedly the connections which Marxist-Leninists seek to forge between the two revolutions to the point where they become confused one with the other, so that the national-democratic revolution is referred to as a “socialist revolution”, forming a demagogic cloak under cover of which socialist revolution can be resisted.
The first one-sided exaggeration constitutes a rightist deviation, the second a “leftist” deviation. As the Report on the Situation in the People’s Republic of China makes clear, the Mao Tse-tung revisionist faction has since 1966 pursued the second, “leftist” deviation in its theory and propaganda in order to conceal its pursuance of the first, rightist, deviation in practice.
A number of factors have been operating with increasing intensity during the previous phases of the general crisis of capitalism to concentrate the main focal points of struggle, in its present third phase, in the colonial, semi-colonial and neo-colonial areas of the imperialist world system. All these factors may be summed up in their essence in fundamental characteristics of capitalism which reached their fullest expression with the development of imperialism; the expansion of capital and capitalist relations into the outermost limit of the capitalist world market and investment system; the scramble for new spheres for the investment of accumulated capital in order to promote further accumulation; the channelling of investment into those sectors of the capitalist world system where the level of development of the forces of production is lowest and the rate of profit highest.
There are two main aspects of the overall situation in the colonic type countries which account for the concentration of revolutionary struggle in those areas in the present, and previous, phases:
a) the fact that exploitation of the proletariat is heaviest there
b) the fact that the need to achieve the national-democratic tasks engenders the maximum unity there of all classes oppressed by imperialism and enables the overwhelming majority of the population to be mobilised in revolutionary struggle.
The main force of a national-democratic revolution in a colonial-type country, at the existing stage of social development, can only be the quantitatively most numerous class, the peasantry. The fundament question of every national-democratic revolution – which class is to play the leading role in the revolution, the emerging and developing proletariat or the equally emerging and developing bourgeoisie? – this depends on which of these classes can win the allegiance of the peasantry. Prior to the achievement of the national-democratic tasks when the national bourgeoisie can still play a progressive role, the struggle between proletariat and bourgeoisie takes primarily the form of an ideological and peaceful struggle for leadership of the revolution, for the allegiance of the peasantry. But once these national-democratic tasks have been achieved, the class struggle between proletariat and bourgeoisie must sooner or later take on a violent form, for the central task of the proletariat becomes that of the forcible suppression of the bourgeoisie by the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat in alliance with the poor peasantry.
But the proletariat can only achieve the leadership of the national democratic revolution and its transition to the socialist revolution if it is led by a Marxist-Leninist vanguard party. Such parties must eventually be developed by the proletariats of all colonial-type countries. The attempts of the Mao Tse-tung counter-revolutionary faction to disrupt these parties and pervert them along nationalist and racialist lines constitutes a gross betrayal of the interests of the working people, not only in the countries of the colonial periphery themselves, but throughout the world.
The essential condition for the large-scale victory of the socialist revolution in the advanced capitalist countries and of the national-democratic revolution in the colonial-type countries is the establishment of political and organisational unity between the working class of the advanced capitalist countries and the oppressed peoples of the colonial-type countries:
“The interests of the proletarian movement in the developed countries and of the national liberation movement in the colonies call for the amalgamation of these two forms of the revolutionary movement into a common front against the common enemy, against imperialism. The victory of the working class in the developed countries and the liberation of the oppressed peoples from the yoke of imperialism are impossible without the formation and the consolidation of a common revolutionary front.” (J. V. Stalin: “The Foundations of Leninism”, in: “Problems of Leninism”; Moscow; 1953; p.76).
In this connection, Stalin refers in particular to
“.... the necessity of fighting against the national isolationism, narrowness and aloofness of the Socialists in the oppressed countries, who do not want to rise above their national steeple and who do not understand the connection between the liberation movement in their own countries and the proletarian movement in the ruling countries.” (J. V. Stalin: ibid.; p.78-9).
These spontaneous tendencies in the colonial-type countries – “national isolationism, narrowness and aloofness”, the failure to “understand the connection between the liberation movement in their own countries and the proletarian movement in the ruling countries” – are being encouraged in every possible way by the counter-revolutionary faction in China headed by Mao Tse-tung, in order to disrupt the building of this essential political and organisational unity between the working classes of the developed capitalist countries and the oppressed peoples of the colonial-type countries.
The forging of unity between the proletariat and peasantry in the colonial-type countries, and of unity between the proletariats of the developed capitalist countries and the oppressed peoples of the colonial-type countries, represents the building of a world anti-imperialist united front.
One of the main obstacles to the building of this world anti-imperialist united front is the penetration of its forces, especially in the colonial-type countries, by the disruptive “left” revisionism of the counter-revolutionary faction in China headed by Mao Tse-tung. The exposure of this ideology, its routing from the international Communist movement, is thus a cardinal task for Marxist-Leninists everywhere.
The fact that it is in the colonial-type countries where the main focal point of anti-imperialist struggle is at present concentrated has necessitated my devoting a large part of this Report to an analysis of the character and perspectives of the national liberation struggles, as well as to the role which the counter-revolutionary faction in China headed by Mao Tse-tung aims to play in relation to them.
Now, however, we must turn to a consideration of the perspectives of advance of the world proletarian-socialist revolution.
For the purpose of our analysis it is convenient to divide the world into four main sectors. These are:
a) the advanced capitalist/imperialist countries;
b) the neo-capitalist (formerly socialist) countries;
c) the colonial, semi-colonial and neo-colonial countries, and the countries newly emerged from colonial-type status; and
d) the socialist countries.
The essential features of the new world situation can only be understood on the basis of a Marxist-Leninist analysis of the class interests and perspectives of the dominant classes controlling each of the main imperialist or neo-capitalist world power groups which are emerging.
These four main imperialist or neo-capitalist world power groups are:
1) United States imperialism;
2) the emerging west European imperialist alliance; (these are imperialist in character);
3) the Soviet neo-capitalist sphere, which includes the neo-capitalist countries of eastern Europe and has market and investment interests extending into certain newly emerged African and Asian countries;
4) the Chinese neo-capitalist sphere, into which it is hoped to incorporate the nations newly emerging from imperialist domination in Asia, Africa and Latin America.
The present third phase of the general crisis of capitalism is moving with accelerated tempo towards its final outcome in the unfolding of revolutionary struggle in all four of the main divisions of the world. This coming fourth phase will be realised when the revolutionary struggles in each of the four main divisions of the world have been fully integrated to form a truly world-wide organised anti-imperialist united front, and when the Marxist-Leninist vanguards of these revolutionary struggles have been fully integrated.
The present world situation can therefore be summed up as a world pre-revolutionary situation. The key to the transformation of this pre-revolutionary world situation into a revolutionary one lies in the full development of proletarian internationalism, and in the concretisation of this proletarian internationalism in the construction of international organs of proletarian struggle and leadership.
As in all pre-revolutionary situations, the struggle between the two fundamentally opposed and irreconcilable classes, the imperialists of the world and the proletarians of the world, is a struggle to win the allegiance of the intermediate classes and strata with the aim of winning for their respective class forces in the world arena the preponderance of strength needed to gain victory in the final revolutionary clashes.
As far as the imperialist countries are concerned, the basic political methods utilised by the Imperialists to damp down the class consciousness and capacity for leadership in struggle of the proletariat and to prevent the achievement of working class unity which could win the allegiance of all sections of the population, including the dwindling intermediate classes and strata, to the revolutionary cause of the proletariat, appeared in their essential outlines many decades ago, when the social-democratic parties came into existence, as a result of the treachery of the revisionist leaders of the Second International, to meet the needs of the new-born imperialism. Soviet modern revisionism is an extension and refinement of this old-style revisionism and finds its application to the service of world imperialism mainly in the developed capitalist countries and the formerly socialist, now neo-capitalist, countries of Eastern Europe. However much the imperialists of the world and the new bourgeoisies of the neo-capitalist countries may be in contradiction with one another on secondary issues, they are in unity in the common central reactionary task of seeking to oppose the proletariat and its class allies, of seeking to oppose their revolutionary struggles, of seeking to disarm their vanguards – the Communist Parties – through the ideological influence of revisionism.
The economic basis for opportunism in the working class movements of the imperialist countries lies in the super-profits obtained by the imperialists from their heavy exploitation of the peoples of the colonial type countries. These super-profits not only enable a small section of the working class to be bribed into the service of imperialism, they provide the economic basis for the expansion of capital investment that permits, despite intensified exploitation of the working class of the imperialist country, a certain increase in the absolute standard of living of the working class.
But it is this expansion of imperialism into the farthest limits of its peripheral areas, and the consequent heavy and increasingly widespread exploitation and brutal oppression of the peoples of those areas, which gives rise, in the third phase of the general crisis of capitalism, to great revolutions for liberation from imperialist rule and for the destruction of the feudal classes which are the ally of imperialism. As we have seen, the objective conditions are created in one after another of these colonial-type countries for the proletariat – which is called into being by the distorted forms of capitalist economy created under conditions of imperialist domination and which is forced to bear the brunt of super-exploitation – to play the leading role in these national-democratic revolutions.
A cardinal strategic aim of the imperialists and their revisionist allies in this third phase of the general crisis of capitalism must, therefore, be:
either a) to crush the national liberation movements by armed force where possible, by means of reactionary colonial wars of aggression;
or b) where the crushing of national liberation by armed force is not possible, to split the working class of the colonial-type country from the main force of the national liberation movement, the historically rooted and well-established peasantry; to split the working class of the colonial-type country from its objective ally, the proletariats of the imperialist countries; and to deprive both of Marxist-Leninist leadership.
Whereas this second line of defence may not be able to prevent the victory of the national-democratic revolution itself, it will ensure (if successfully applied), that the national-democratic revolution is not carried over into the socialist revolution.
But the open rightist revisionism of the Soviet revisionists, with its repudiation of armed struggle, is not capable of serving as the ideological weapon for this second line of defence, in countries where armed struggle is so clearly the only possible road to liberation. A need therefore arises for a new form of revisionism, wearing a “left” mask and giving support to the principle of armed struggle. These reactionary requirements of world imperialism have been met by the “left” revisionism of the counter-revolutionary faction in China headed by Mao Tse-tung. Viewed from this aspect, the “great proletarian cultural revolution”, directed against the development of socialist revolution in China, aims at transforming the People’s Republic of China into a base of “left” revisionism directed primarily at the countries emerging from imperialist domination.
Thus there have arisen two revisionist world centres: the Soviet right revisionist centre and the Chinese “left” revisionist centre. These two revisionist world centres fulfill complementary roles.
We must, however, take into account in our analysis the possibility of a period of bourgeois dictatorship in China –a perspective fraught with additional dangers to the future course of the world proletarian-socialist revolution and introducing new temporary complications into the task of unifying the vanguard leadership of this revolution, the developing Marxist-Leninist Parties and Organisations throughout the world, around a scientifically correct world programme.
There exist contradictions of an inter-capitalist character between the counter-revolutionary faction in China headed by Mao Tse-tung, which represents the interests of the Chinese capitalist Class, and the Soviet state and Party leadership, which represents the interests of the bureaucrat-comprador state capitalists in the U.S.S.R. There exist also contradictions of an anti-imperialist character between the counter-revolutionary faction in China headed by Mao Tse-tung, which represents the interests of the Chinese capitalist class, and world imperialism, headed by U.S. imperialism. These contradictions must not, however, blind us to the essentially complementary role which the “left” revisionism of the counterrevolutionary faction in China headed by Mao Tse-tung fulfils in relation to the rightist revisionism of the Soviet revisionists.
The role of the Soviet right revisionist world centre has been and is:
1) to undermine and destroy those Communist Parties which existed on a Marxist-Leninist (or formally Marxist-Leninist) basis at the time when the Great Debate began – in short, to destroy the existing international Communist movement;
2) to supplement the ideological and political influence of social-democracy in the working class movements of the developed capitalist countries;
3) to restore capitalism in the formerly socialist countries;
4) to maintain and develop, by means of financial and military aid, the capitalist or state-capitalist societies in those countries newly emerged from imperialist domination where the national-democratic revolutions were led by the national bourgeoisie (e.g. India, Egypt).
The role of the Chinese “left” revisionist world centre is:
1) to hold back by all possible means (the promotion of “friendship societies”, “discussion circles”, spurious “Marxist-Leninist” organisations with opportunist leaderships, etc.) the establishment of new parties of the working class to replace the old Communist Parties rendered useless by revisionism;
2) to split the working class in the colonial-type countries from the main force of the national liberation movement, the historically rooted and well-established peasantry, and to split the working class of the colonial-type country from its objective ally, the proletariat of the imperialist countries.
It is for this reason that the counter-revolutionary faction in China headed by Mao Tse-tung is abusing the tremendous prestige of the Communist Party of China – the leadership of which it has temporarily usurped by the method of coup d’ etat – to unleash a barrage of nationalist and racialist propaganda, directed in particular at the peasantry and urban petty-bourgeoisies of the colonial-type countries.
Of all the developed capitalist countries, it is in the United States America that the proletarian forces are making the greatest contribution at the present time to the developing anti-imperialist front of struggle. Here they have begun to throw off reformist and right-revisionist ideology and to move from peaceful, legal methods of struggle, to violent, revolutionary forms.
As a result it is in the United States itself, in the very citadel of world imperialism, that the future world-wide unity of the proletariat in the developed capitalist countries with proletariats and working peasantry in the colonial-type countries is being forged through struggle against the common imperialist enemy.
It or this reason that the counter-revolutionary faction in China headed by Mao Tse-tung is concentrating its nationalist and racialist propaganda on the negro section of the United States proletariat, using for these deceptive purposes such international adventurers as R. Williams, who is issuing – with the full support and approval of the counter-revolutionary authorities in Peking – the racialist and “left” adventurist tract “The Crusader”, which is fulfilling the role of agent provocateur in relation to the negro national liberation movement and the negro workers of the United States – seeking to split the negro people from their objective ally, the white proletariat, and to divert their offensive away from their common enemy – U.S. imperialism –towards “the whites”.
The “theories” of Fidel Castro play a similar role – as was demonstrate in the first issue of “Red Front” –in relation to the countries of Latin America. “Fidelism” repudiates the necessity of leadership of national-democratic revolutions, at least in Latin America, by Marxist-Leninist vanguard parties, so that the leadership of revolutions in which “Fidelism” is the dominant ideology falls into the hands of petty-bourgeois adventurers of the type of Castro. Since it is impossible for a national democratic revolution that is not led by the proletariat under the leadership of a Marxist-Leninist vanguard party to be carried over uninterruptedly into a proletarian-socialist revolution, the effect of “Fidelism” is to hold the revolutionary process at the stage of the national-democratic revolution.
The anti-Marxist-Leninist thesis of the national bourgeoisie “approving supporting and working for” the cause of socialist construction provides a different tactical basis for the same strategic aim of preventing the transition to the socialist revolution and, as the Report demonstrates, its main architect is Mao Tse-tung.
The Report draws attention to the fact that “the thought of Mao Tse-tung” puts forward the view that, following the victory of the Chinese national-democratic revolution, the working class and the Capitalist class have a common interest in the building of socialism, which can thus be constructed gradually and peacefully within a liberal social framework.
This, of course, is nothing but the old, false doctrines of reformist class collaboration and Fabian gradualism adapted to the conditions which may follow the victory of the national-democratic revolution in a colonial-type country – a national-democratic revolution in which the leading role is played by the working class under the leadership of a party which has substituted for the Marxist-Leninist thesis of uninterrupted transition to the socialist revolution the revisionist thesis of an indefinite period of capitalist development following the national-democratic revolution.
Like old-style reformism, the new-style reformism embodied in the “thought of Mao Tse-tung” serves the interests of the capitalist class – in the latter case the interests of the capitalist class of a colonial-type country emerging from domination by imperialism. Its acceptance and application provides a breathing-space for the capitalist class, a period in which the working people consent to share power with the capitalist class in an unstable “new-democracy”, a period during which the capitalist class may mobilise its forces to strike at the proletariat, its party and the new-democratic state in order to replace the latter by the undivided dictatorship of their own class.
Fabian reformism, whether of the old style or the new, reflects the ideology of the petty-bourgeoisie. It is not accidental that the new-style Fabian reformism embodied in the “thought of Mao Tse-tung” should have had its birth in a colonial-type country such as China, where the petty-bourgeoisie was the numerically preponderant class, not only in society as a whole, but also within the “party of the working class”, the Communist Party:
“Semi-colonial and semi-feudal China is a country with an enormous petty-bourgeoisie. Not only is our Party surrounded by this vast stratum; within the Party too, people of petty-bourgeois origin make up most of the membership, the reason being that large numbers of petty-bourgeois revolutionary democrats have turned to the proletariat for a way out of their predicament. .... It is therefore not surprising but inevitable that petty-bourgeois ideology should frequently be reflected inside our Party in every shape and form.” (Resolution on Certain Questions in the History of Our Party, adopted on April 20th, 1945 by the Enlarged 7th Plenary Session of the 6th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China; in: Mao Tse-tung: “Selected Works”, Vol.3; Peking; 1965; p.213-4).
This new-style reformism is directed from Peking particularly towards the proletariats of colonial-type countries. Its purpose is to try to hinder the development of revolutionary proletarian ideology by fostering and encouraging the influence of indigenous petty-bourgeois ideological trends and by providing the latter with a “theoretical” basis couched in “revolutionary” phraseology.
The recent experience of the world proletarian-socialist revolution offers two examples of the consequences which must inevitably follow from failure to carry through the national-democratic revolution to the stage of socialist revolution, from the basic error of regarding the national bourgeoisie as an ally in the construction of socialism. The first example is that of the counter-revolution in Indonesia; the second that of the counter-revolution in China itself.
When we consider the development of the bourgeois-democratic revolution in Europe, we find that the petty-bourgeoisie played a generally analogous role to the one it later came to play in the colonial national-democratic revolutions of the epoch of imperialism. The period of the bourgeois democratic revolution in Europe extended, roughly speaking, from 1642 to 1849. It began with the English Revolution of 1642 and ended with the multi-national wave of revolutions embracing the countries of France, Germany, Italy, Austria, Hungary and Spain, which marked the years 1848-9 and by which time capitalism was already firmly entrenched.
The historical high-water mark of the bourgeois-democratic revolutions of Europe had come some 50 years earlier with the great French Revolution of 1789. At this time, the young French bourgeoisie was struggling to overcome its subservience to the feudal aristocracy, its fettered position as a “third estate” within the dying feudal system, and to win state power. It had developed a systematised materialist world view, expressed in the mechanical-materialist philosophy of such men as Diderot and other thinkers of the Enlightenment. At this time, the proletariat in even the most advanced European countries was only at an embryonic stage in its formation as a class, and was incapable of playing an independent or class conscious role in the bourgeois-democratic revolution. In the great French Revolution, the embryonic movement of the proletariat of Paris, the Jacobins, who wished to carry the revolution forward to the elimination of all forms of private property, were easily defeated and exterminated. Their movement was historically pre-dated. The objective conditions for the socialist revolution had not yet matured.
By 1848-9, however, the whole structure of western European society and its class composition had radically changed. The foundations of capitalism were now firmly laid, industry was developing fast, and industrial wage-labour was already becoming the predominant form of production relations and mode of exploitation. Above all, the proletariat had become the most intensely exploited class, had developed conscious awareness of its need to struggle against the bourgeoisie in its class interest and had built rudimentary organs (trade unions, etc.) for waging this struggle. Most important of all, the scientific world view of the proletariat had already been born through the work of Marx and Engels. At the same time, a complementary process had begun to operate within the bourgeoisie: the process of class polarisation had begun to divide the bourgeois class into an industrial bourgeoisie which, under the impetus of competition, was moving towards ever larger combinations and more powerful groupings of capital on the road towards the joint stock company and, ultimately, monopoly; and an increasingly impoverished and subservient petty-bourgeoisie, the social reservoir feeding the proletariat with ever new members.
Reflecting this change in the class structure of society, the ideology of the bourgeoisie likewise underwent a profound change. With its transformation from a historically revolutionary to a historically reactionary class, the progressive materialist ideology of the Enlightenment gave place to reactionary idealism and mysticism, to the mystique of the “nation state” and “the dignity of labour”. For now the prime need was to hold in check the independent revolutionary class aspirations of the proletariat, and to harness its energies to the task of completing the bourgeois-democratic revolution whilst simultaneously preventing them from leading to the fulfilment of the revolutionary aim of socialism and the dictatorship of the proletariat. In all the developing capitalist nations of Europe to which the bourgeois-democratic revolutions spread in 1848-9, therefore, the leading role was played by bourgeois or petty-bourgeois leaders motivated either by reformist or idealist Utopian notions aimed at ameliorating the lot of the proletariat whilst the system of capitalist exploitation remained intact; or else by the motive of nationalism, the aim of establishing and consolidating, if necessary by armed force, the essential framework of capitalism, the nation state – men like Garibaldi, Kossuth and others.
In those countries, particularly France and Germany, therefore, where the class conscious proletariat was already a force to be reckoned with a left wing of the petty-bourgeoisie developed, directly concerned with the task of penetrating the young and immature proletariat and inculcating its idealist ideology and practices within the infant proletarian movement. The main representatives of this petty-bourgeois wing were, in France, Proudhon and Louis Blanc; in Germany, August Roeckel and Michael Bakunin. These were the first revisionists of history, for their struggle was aimed first and foremost against the revolutionary work of Marx and Engels. From them was born a petty-bourgeois political tendency which later was to acquire an important significance within the working class movements of some European countries: anarchism and anarcho-syndicalism.
In the epoch of imperialism, when new proletarian classes are developed in the colonial lands, a similar process of development forms the apprenticeship of the young proletariat – but with this difference: under the conditions of infinitely more intense contradiction and struggle that accompany the imperialist expansion of capitalism and its attendant permanent crisis, the process of maturing of the proletariat is tremendously accelerated, and a historical development which, in 18th and 19th century Europe, required a century or more for its completion, is telescoped into three or four decades.
Every young and immature proletariat develops and strengthens its own revolutionary world view, its scientific ideology, dialectical materialism, in the course of a fierce struggle against the idealist ideological and political systems put forward by the petty-bourgeois representatives of the bourgeoisie which, so long as capitalist society exist whether it is developing or dying, express in open or disguised form the world view of capitalism, of imperialism, of wage slavery.
The leftist slogans of the counter-revolutionary faction in China headed by Mao Tse-tung are the direct descendents of the anarcho-syndicalist visions of Saint-Simon, Bakunin or Kropotkin, whilst the new Fabian policies of reforming the capitalist class and “remoulding” it to “accept” socialism are the direct descendents of the Utopian schemes of Proudhon. In relation to the developing national liberation movements of the colonial-type lands, the aim of the Mao Tse-tung faction is to disseminate a new style of anarcho-syndicalism, which preaches the spontaneous self-organisation of the proletariat:
“This is the difference, which must be made clear, the difference between the democratic-centralism of the proletariat, which is really centralised, really united leadership, and the Party machine which is built by the Liu Shao-chis and the Teng Hsaio-pings. This is what the masses are smashing in China. And this is what will be smashed wherever it exists all over the world.” (S. Rittenberg: “Lui Shao-chi and his Evil Book”; Speech to the Bethune-Yenan Revolutionary Rebel Regiment; Peking; April 1967)
Here the anti-communist mercenary Rittenberg openly reveals what the Mao Tse-tung faction, his masters, itself dare not reveal and is compelled to disguise under a deluge of leftist slogans: the worldwide counter-revolutionary aim of smashing the emerging and developing Marxist-Leninist parties in all lands. This forms the essential international counterpart to the unleashing of a demagogically disguised counter-revolution in China, the necessary preparation for which was the attempt to smash the Communist Party of China itself.
“Leftist” phraseology and the rabble-rousing slogans of anarchism are always and everywhere the essential disguise of rightism of policies designed to assist and strengthen the class position and forces of the capitalist class in the face of the growing or potential offensive of the proletariat. As such, it inevitably becomes the tool, not merely of reaction, but of reaction’s most virulent leading detachment, the forces of counter-revolution. Just as the counterpart in practice of the utopian theories of Proudhon were the state sweatshops for the unemployed workers of Paris established by Louis Blanc, similarly Mao Tse-tung’s leftist battle-cries directed at the emerging and developing but as yet immature, proletarian classes and their potential petty-bourgeois allies in the colonial lands have their essential counterpart in the so-called “Three-way Revolutionary Committees”, in which the long-discredited utopia ’for the union of capital and labour’, this new-democratic variant of guild socialism, is dragged from the oblivion to which Marx condemned it in order to make it serve the counter-revolutionary purposes of attempting to prop up state-capitalism and stave off the inevitable organisation and Mobilisation of the proletariat for socialist revolution. In the light of this, the following characterisation of guild socialism is now seen to be particularly appropriate:
“Guild socialism attempts eclectically to unite ’revolutionary’ syndicalism and bourgeois-liberal fabianism, anarchist decentralisation (national industrial guilds) and the centralisation of state- capitalism...
“Anarchism .... denies the necessity of powerful centralised and disciplined organisation of the proletariat, and thus leaves the latter powerless ... Its propaganda for individual terrorism turns the proletariat away from methods of organisation and class struggle.
“Just like anarchism, ’revolutionary’ syndicalism .... by its propaganda for a corporate decentralisation of the workers’ movement in general, and of the trade union movement in particular, by its negation of the necessity for the party of the proletariat, .... hinders ... the revolutionisation of the working masses,” (“Programme of the Communist International”, as adopted at the 6th World Congress, September 1st, 1928, Moscow, French Edition; Bureau d’Editions; Paris; 1936; p.67-9) (translated from the French).
For the analysis of the Chinese Revolution, the following passage is especially revealing:
“ .... Sun Yat-senism was in China the ideology of a petty-bourgeois and popular socialism. The notion of ’the people’ veiled and hid in the doctrine of the Three Principles (nationalism, democracy, socialism), the concept of social classes; socialism was no longer a specific mode of production, realised by a specific class, the proletariat, but became an indeterminate state of general well-being; .... That is why Sun Yat-senism, which played in the first phase of the Chinese revolution a very great positive role, became, as a result of the later class differentiation and of the advance of the Chinese revolution, an obstacle to that revolution. The protagonists of Sun Yat-senism, by exaggerating precisely those characteristics of this doctrine which had become objectively reactionary, made of it the official ideology of the Kuomintang, which had become openly counterrevolutionary. The ideological formation of the masses of the proletariat and working peasants of China must consequently be accompanied by an energetic struggle against the trap of the Kuomintang and to overcome the vestiges of Sun Yat-senism.” (ibid, p.69-70).
Did Mao Tse-tung’s leadership overcome this trap? Or is his whole programme for the so-called ”cultural revolution” rather the very embodiment and fullest realisation of it? Once again, ”the thought of Mao Tse-tung” itself provides us with the answer:
“What is new-democratic constitutional government? .... Someone once said, ’If there is food, let everyone share it.’ I think this can serve to illustrate New Democracy. Just as everyone should share what food there is, so there should be no monopoly of power by a single party, group or class. This idea was well expressed by Dr. Sun Yat-sen in the Manifesto of the First National Congress of the Kuomintang:
“’The so-called democratic system in modern states is usually monopolised by the bourgeoisie and has become simply an instrument for oppressing the common people. On the other hand, the Kuomintang’s Principle of Democracy means a democratic system shared by all the common people and not privately owned by the few.’
“Comrades, in studying constitutional government we shall read various books, but above all, we must study this manifesto, and this passage should be learned by heart. “Shared by all the common people and not privately owned by the few” – this is the substance of what we describe as new-democratic constitutional government ....
“.... And now we are holding this general meeting .... so that all of us can go into action to urge the speedy enforcement of constitutional government and the immediate application of Dr. Sun Yat-sen’s teachings”. (Mao Tse-tung: “New-Democratic Constitutional Government”; in: “Selected Works”, Vol.2; Peking; 1965; p.409-10).
As we see, Mao Tse-tung was a veritable student of the theory and practice of Sun Yat-senism, and this he remains to the present day. In the so-called “cultural revolution”, “the notion of ’the people’” (now referred to as “the masses”) forms the classless veil demagogically disguising a counter-revolution mounted under “leftist” demagogic slogans on behalf of a national-bourgeoisie which is seeking to assert its undivided class dictatorship, whilst the so-called “Three-way Revolutionary Committees” represent precisely the attempt “eclectically to unite ’revolutionary’ syndicalism and bourgeois-liberal fabianism, anarchist decentralisation and the centralisation of state capitalism” – a state capitalism which the Sun Yat-senism of Mao Tse-tung had guided from the beginning.
The changing world situation, as the general crisis of capitalism passes from one phase to another, is reflected in changing policies on the part of those founding fathers of disruption: the trotskyites.
During the first and second phases of the general crisis – up to the stage, that is, when national liberation struggle began to unfold on a massive scale in the colonial periphery of the imperialist world system – the trotskyites concentrated their line of disruption principally upon denials of the possibility of uninterrupted transition to the socialist revolution in the colonial-type countries and of the possibility of forging the worker-peasant alliances which form the cornerstone of the revolutions in those countries.
Now, in the third phase of the general crisis, when the national liberation movements in the colonial-type countries are preparing the conditions for socialist revolutions in the heartlands of imperialism, the policies of the trotskyites have likewise begun to change. They now give support to national liberation movements as movements of “the masses”, in such a way as to blur the distinctions between the classes involved and to gloss over the essential leading role of the proletariat. They preach the spontaneity of national-democratic revolutions, so as to gloss over the need for their conscious leadership by Marxist-Leninist vanguard parties. And row that the vital strategic need is for the closest ideological, political and organisational unity between the experienced proletariats of the imperialist countries and the emerging proletariats of the colonial-type countries, they encourage all kinds of nationalism and racialism in an effort to prevent this unity being constructed.
Clearly, contemporary trotskyite policies in relation to national liberation movements have many affinities with those of the “left” revisionists in both Havana and Peking.
The enthusiastic support of international trotskyism for “Fidelism” has long been noted. Listeners to Radio Peking will know that this radio station – under the control of the faction headed by Mao Tse-tung – has quoted with approval from “Red Flag”, the organ of the “Revolutionary Workers’ Party (Trotskyist)”, the British Section of the “Fourth International”.
And, on its side, the “Revolutionary Workers’ Party (Trotskyist)” congratulates the faction in China headed by Mao Tse-tung on having broken with “Stalinism” – that is, with Marxism-Leninism – and having embraced trotskyism. The trotskyites speak of the “cultural revolution” as “the political revolution in China” and describe its character in the demagogic phrases used by the counter-revolutionary faction headed by Mao Tse-tung as “a struggle against conservative tendencies”.
They therefore urge full and unconditional support for the “cultural revolution” and for the faction headed by Mao Tse-tung.
A report of the “Fourth International” urges trotskyites to assist in the formation of “pro-Chinese” groups. The primary strategic aim behind this policy is declared to be that of using these groups to build a united front between the trotskyites and the counterrevolutionary faction in China headed by Mao Tse-tung, under the leadership of the latter.
It is difficult for any honest Comrade who has had any experience of the disruptive role of trotskyism to retain any illusions about the character of “Maoism” and “Fidelism” when the “Fourth International” describes “the workers’ states of China and Cuba” as “the centres of the world revolution.”
The world proletarian forces learn from their defeats as well as from their victories. The unleashing of counter-revolution in China by the treacherous revisionist faction headed by Mao Tse-tung has called forth its opposite: the forces of socialist revolution.
Similarly, on a world scale, the developing Marxist-Leninist Parties and Organisations will learn, as we have done, from their own experience of the role of the two world revisionist centres and will respond to the situation by building a new centre of proletarian-socialist revolution founded on the only correct basis: proletarian internationalism.
Proletarian internationalism is the key to victory in both anti-imperialist struggle and socialist revolution; we must now consider how this proletarian internationalism can be given concrete organisational form.
Marxism established long ago the truth that the proletariat – the dispossessed, exploited and oppressed class of the final and most antagonistic form of class society that the history of mankind has produced – possesses, in the last analysis, nothing but its capacity to organise for class struggle and socialist revolution. It is for this reason that the proletariat, armed with the invincible scientific theory of Marxism-Leninism as its guide, has developed vanguard parties, mass organisations and –in some countries, state organizations – of a more complex and highly integrated character than any in the previous history of class struggle. It is for this reason that the political and ideological representatives of the bourgeoisie ceaselessly pursue their attempts to disrupt, disperse and destroy these organs of struggle of the proletariat. At moments in history when objective conditions favour the growth and forward movement of the world proletarian-socialist revolution, the international bourgeoisie –headed today by the most ferocious state system of exploitation, oppression and aggression that capitalism has yet produced, United States imperialism – intensifies its counter-revolutionary activity on all fronts, and in particular its efforts to penetrate the ranks of the working class movements of all countries and their Marxist-Leninist vanguard parties.
The principle of democratic-centralism was developed in the course of a long period of class struggle to provide the essential organisational basis for the Marxist-Leninist parties of the working class, not only within each Marxist-Leninist Party but in the world Marxist-Leninist movement. It was in accordance with these organisational principles that the Third (Communist) International was organised under the leadership of Lenin, in order to provide the co-ordinated, democratically-centralised and disciplined framework necessary for the development of the world movement at a time when a great many parties were newly formed, and politically and organisationally weak.
Today, as a result of the betrayal of most of the parties of the former Third International to modern revisionism, new Marxist-Leninist Parties and Organisations are being formed in many lands. As were their predecessors in 1919, they are politically and organisationally weak, and they face international problems and tasks which are unprecedented in their scope and complexity. The development of the world movement in this situation makes imperative the creation, at the earliest possible moment, of a new Marxist-Leninist International.
The future Marxist-Leninist International should, therefore, be organised along the following democratically-centralised lines:
a) an International Executive Committee, together with all necessary propaganda and information organs, specialised bureaux, control commission, etc.;
b) Divisional Committees, organised on a similar basis to the International Executive Committee, for each of the four main world divisions;
c) National Sections, i.e., the Marxist-Leninist Parties in the various countries.
Similarly, the scope and complexity of the class struggles and national liberation struggles which comprise the developing world anti-imperialist united front will require – in the coming final and decisive phase of the epoch of the world proletarian-socialist revolution –an international organisational framework, in which the Marxist-Leninist International will fulfil the vanguard role, and in the different sections of which the Marxist-Leninist Parties will fulfil the vanguard role.
At the present time the sole surviving Marxist-Leninist Party possessing the prestige and stability enabling it to put forward a successful call for the founding of a Marxist-Leninist International is the Albanian Party of Labour. However, the essential pre-requisite for this is the recognition by the Albanian Party of the counter-revolutionary character of the Mao Tse-tung faction in People’s China, The Albanian Party is pursuing a brilliantly correct policy in regard to the construction of socialism in its own country; it has made an outstanding and magnificent contribution to the international struggle against modern revisionism; it has never made the slightest concession to the concealed class enemy within the international Communist movement once this enemy has been exposed. Unless the Albanian Party ceases to adhere to these principles –and there is not the slightest evidence to suggest that this could be so –they will inevitably bring it and the People’s Republic of Albania into contradiction with the “left revisionist faction headed by Mao Tse-tung, just as seven years ago they brought it and the People’s Republic of Albania into contradiction with the Soviet right-revisionists then headed by Khrushchov.
We may have every confidence, therefore, that the Albanian Party of Labour will, sooner or later, come to play a full and leading role in the struggle to defeat both right and “left” revisionism within the international Communist movement and in the establishment of fully organised world Marxist-Leninist unity.
However, until such time as the full unity of the emerging and established Marxist-Leninist Parties has been achieved, the Marxist-Leninist Parties and Organisations of the developed capitalist countries, epitomizing the centuries-long experience in class struggle of the proletariats of those countries, must seize the initiative and take steps to form the essential preliminary nucleus of the future Marxist-Leninist International. This could be brought about by the following procedure.
Firstly, the Marxist-Leninist Parties and Organisations of Western Europe should hold bilateral consultations in order to eliminate political differences and lay the theoretical groundwork for the elaboration of a co-ordinated Marxist-Leninist programme for the socialist revolution in western Europe.
Secondly, those Marxist-Leninist Parties and Organisations of western Europe between which broad unity on the essential political and programmatic questions of an all-European and world character is found to exist should establish an Information Bureau for western Europe. This should issue, at the earliest possible date, a theoretical journal administered jointly by the participating Marxist-Leninist Parties and Organisations.
Thirdly, the bilateral meetings should be followed by a Conference of the Marxist-Leninist Parties and Organisations of Western Europe at which a co-ordinated programme can be formally adopted.
* * *
In the course of their great struggle against Soviet modern revisionism, in which they stood at the head of Marxist-Leninists the world over, the Chinese Marxist-Leninists made a number of vitally important theoretical and programmatic contributions – of which the most significant was the ”Proposal Concerning the General Line of the International Communist Movement” – towards the elaboration of a complete and systematic Marxist-Leninist world programmatic line charting the way forward to the victory of the world proletariat in the coming final phase of the world proletarian-socialist revolution. However, they were prevented from completing their work by the over-riding need to combat the betrayal of the counter-revolutionary faction headed by Mao Tse-tung. Today, others must bring to a successful conclusion that great task, without historical precedent in its complexity and magnitude, and comprising as it does the main content and historic purpose of the great debate with modern revisionism.
The fulfilment of the great theoretical and world programmatic tasks of the contemporary epoch, the epoch of the pre-revolutionary eve of the world proletarian-socialist revolution, were begun by the great J.V. Stalin during the later years of his life and were brilliantly developed and further concretised by the leading Marxist-Leninists of China. Today, it is becoming ever more abundantly clear that the leading responsibility in discharging to completion this world programmatic task –that, no less of mapping out in its broad outlines the basic strategy and tactics of the world proletariat in each of the four main world divisions for the achievement of the final victory of the world proletarian-socialist revolution – will devolve upon us Marxist-Leninists of western Europe. Our forces may as yet be numerically insignificant, but they represent the embryonic nuclei of the powerful Marxist-Leninist vanguard parties of the future which will surely be built. Their scientifically correct, and therefore invincible, strategy and tactics of combined and integrated mass united front struggle and armed revolutionary struggle for power by the advance guard of the proletariat, will be progressively concretised and perfected to meet the needs of the developing revolutionary situation – a revolutionary situation which is even now beginning to loom on the horizon of history as the inevitable concomitant of the rapidly maturing world crisis of imperialism. This responsibility we British Marxist-Leninists will discharge as our contribution to the great historic tasks of the future Marxist-Leninist International.
In bringing this Report to a close, I would be failing in my responsibility to our Central Committee and to our whole M.L.O.B. were I to omit a reference to the need for thorough self-criticism on the part of us all for our opportunist error in having blindly accepted the demagogic anti-Marxist-Leninist propaganda of the Mao Tse-tung faction.
Profound lessons of vital importance to the unity and steadfastness of the M.L.O.B., as to that of Marxist-Leninist vanguard Parties and Organisations everywhere can, and must in the future, be drawn from this, and I trust that this responsibility will be discharged fully in the near future in the pages of our Marxist-Leninist press. But, for the moment, it must suffice for me to express the sum total of all these lessons in just two fundamental ones: never must a serious Marxist-Leninist Party or Organisation accept the theoretical or programmatic statements of even the most exalted and revered of leaders without first subjecting them to an independent and thoroughgoing Marxist-Leninist analysis; and never must a serious Marxist-Leninist Party or Organisation relax even for a moment its vigilance towards the disguised agents of imperialism with which the class enemy will ceaselessly – and to an increasing extent as the world revolutionary situation matures – attempt to infiltrate the ranks of the emerging and developing, but as yet largely inexperienced and unsteeled Marxist-Leninist vanguard Parties and Organisations. The elaboration of developed ideological, political and organisational criteria and methods for implementing this vigilance, on the basis of the tried and tested Marxist-Leninist principle of thoroughgoing criticism and self-criticism, must be considered as an important task of all serious Marxist-Leninist Parties and Organisations, including our M.L.O.B.
In having made an irrefutable Marxist-Leninist analysis of the new “left” revisionism of the Mao Tse-tung faction and its agents here in Britain, we have drawn a clear line of demarcation in all spheres between the emerging and developing Marxist-Leninist vanguard and all those right opportunist, left-sectarian or neo-trotskyite groups which have for so long disrupted the unity of the Marxist-Leninists and the glorious, though many-sided and complex, task of building the Marxist-Leninist vanguard party of the working class.
The unity of the M.L.O.B., in its steadfast proletarian world outlook and ideology, in its scientifically based programmatic line and policy and in its firm democratic-centralist organisational structure, now stands stronger and more disciplined than ever before. Let us therefore now concentrate all our strength and resources upon the task of turning our small but growing cadre force outwards, towards the advanced sections of our working class movement with its glorious traditions of struggle which are now once again beginning to rise to new heights in preparation for the fierce class struggles which lie ahead.
The coming final phase of the world proletarian-socialist revolution will be fought to a victorious conclusion on the class battlefields of the developed imperialist heartlands of western Europe and North America, the historical starting point of the class conflict between proletariat and bourgeoisie which is the fundamental content and motive force of the age of capitalism. That final phase of the revolutionary supersession of capitalist imperialism is approaching at an unprecedented speed. Because we are Marxist-Leninists, an integral part of the great revolutionary vanguard of the world proletariat, and not liberal or revisionist philistines or trotskyite disrupters, we are not misled by capitalism’s superficial “prosperity”, its apparent resilience and strength. We know that it is fast accumulating, beneath its still viable surface mechanisms, such mighty and insoluble contradictions, such vast forces of pent-up revolutionary energy even now being stored up in the worlds’ powerhouses of class struggle, as will most surely destroy it when those potentially enormous but as yet largely untapped revolutionary energies come to be released and scientifically channelled towards the destruction of the state strongholds of imperialism and the conquest of the state power of the proletariat in the central imperialist heartlands.
Towards this mighty task the combined strength of the millions upon millions of revolutionary or potentially revolutionary proletarians, working people and progressive petty-bourgeois the world over will be necessary, including not least the proletariat and working people of imperialist Britain. We know that time is short. Let us therefore now apply ourselves to the task of building our M.L.O.B. into the powerful and broadly-based revolutionary vanguard party of the proletariat which will enable our British working class to play its full and honourable role in the revolutionary storms of the coming final phase of the world proletarian-socialist revolution, the apex of all previous class struggles and revolutionary movements!
SMASH THE COUNTER-REVOLUTIONARY ATTACKS ON THE COMMUNIST PARTY OF CHINA AND THE WORLD MARXIST-LENINIST MOVEMENT!
SMASH THE NATIONALIST AND RACIALIST WORLD OFFENSIVE OF THE AGENTS OF DYING IMPERIALISM!
LONG LIVE PROLETARIAN INTERNATIONALISM AND THE UNITY OF THE WORKING CLASSES AND WORKING PEOPLES OF THE WORLD!
LONG LIVE THE WORLD ANTI-IMPERIALIST UNITED FRONT!
A WORLD MARXIST-LENINIST INTERNATIONAL, VANGUARD OF THE WORLD PROLETARIAN-SOCIALIST REVOLUTION, WILL BE BUILT!
WORKERS OF ALL LANDS AND ALL OPPRESSED PEOPLES, UNITE!