First Published: FORUM for Marxist-Leninist Inner-Party Struggle, No. 3, May 1964.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Sam Richards and Paul Saba
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The Capitalists are well aware of the revolutionary characteristics of the workers. Hence the capitalists do their utmost to corrupt-the workers and disunite them. This is done in several ways; for example, by creating an aristocratic section in the working class or by pushing middle class agents into the working class movement to disrupt it from within. Indeed in the more advanced capitalist countries, such as Britain, U.S.A., France, etc. the capitalists can afford to corrupt very large sections of the working class. The capitalists are able to buy off the best leaders of the working class, bringing them into the middle class, making them members of Parliament, integrating them in fact into the Establishment. Examples of this happening are too numerous to mention.
Marxists do not of course believe that every worker is automatically exempt from opportunist tendencies. Nor do Marxists believe that all middle class elements are traitors. There are many fine examples of comrades with a middle class background who have dedicated themselves to the cause of the working class to the very end of their lives. But these comrades were able to achieve this only by first ridding themselves of their middle class characteristics. By self-education and training they were able to find out their own petty bourgeois weaknesses and to eradicate them completely in order to replace them by working class habits. This indeed is a very long and difficult process, which the great majority of the middle class elements never even dream of going through. (This process of self-education is made especially difficult because of the counter forces of the capitalist class and its 3 weapons of corruption, threats and punishment). Instead the petty bourgeois insists that this self-education is just a myth and indeed the mere mention of it is regarded askance. The middle class elements maintain that any such demands made on them, the natural allies of the working class, would lead to the latter’s isolation. In situation where middle class elements have overwhelmed the working class party, this is equivalent to a threat that they might in fact have to desert the working class. They try to avoid anything destructive of their wavering, their live of leadership, their ultra left and right tendencies, but enjoy citing the names of middle class leaders in the working class movement, hinting that they too are just as good as say, Engels or Lenin. They refuse to admit that Engels and Lenin are rare examples of men who dedicated their entire life and work to the cause of the working class only through a tremendous struggle against capitalism and against middle class opportunism. They refuse to quote or to be reminded of the very many middle class opportunists, such as Plekhanov, Bernstein, Kautsky and Trotsky or in Britain Gaitskell, Wilson and others who entered and enter the working class movement to destroy, disrupt and mislead.
In conclusion, at this critical period when there is a great struggle going on between Marxism-Leninism on the one hand and petty bourgeois revisionism on the other, at a time when the working class parties are flooded with petty bourgeois ideas and elements, it is very important for the working class in the Communist parties to make sure that revisionism is defeated and to do this it is necessary first of all to study and understand the source and nature of petty bourgeois opportunism.