Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Workers’ Institute of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought

Seven Important Lessons

Issued: 1977
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Sam Richards and Paul Saba
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This is Section D of the internal document “On Some Aspects of the History of the Workers’ Institute of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought” (January 11, 1977).

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Seven important lessons can be listed when we examine our historical experience[1]. It is by guiding ourselves with these lessons that we have reorganised our work in a qualitatively new way and built the Workers’ Institute since 1974. Let us reiterate each one of them:

First. Put daring in command of everything.

Only by upholding the revolutionary traditions of our martyrs in a living way can we defeat revisionism and counter the attacks of the British fascist state and the ideological-cultural system that the fascist bourgeoisie of Britain, the oldest and most moribund in the world, has built to restrain the revolutionary fervour of the masses. Dare to think, dare to speak, dare to act. “It is Right to Rebel against Reactionaries”. Only thus can you be genuine soldiers of beloved Chairman Mao and undertake revolutionary work which has never been done before. Only thus will you be willing pioneers for the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in the imperialist heartlands, defeat the four olds (ideas, culture, customs and habits) continuously and make revolution all one’s life. As Chairman Mao has taught us: “Even great storms are not to be feared. It is amid great storms that human society progresses.”

Second. Boldly arouse the masses and unfold mass movements in every aspect of our work.

People and the people alone are the motive force in the making of world history. In the past period we have had many occasions to see in practice this great truth taught by Chairman Mao. We have learnt that only by having deep faith in the masses, by trusting them, respecting and releasing their initiative and developing methods to harness their revolutionary capacities and relying on them, can any real advance be made by proletarian revolutionaries. Proletarian revolution is the revolution of the majority. It is not the undertaking of one or two “heroes” detached from the real heroes, the masses. In the course of making their history they also make their genuine heroes.

Third. Put emphasis on self-reliance and positive subjective efforts.

It is important to grasp that the masses must learn through their own practice and their own self-reliant efforts to liberate themselves. The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution is an earth-shaking revolution precisely because it is the greatest exercise in proletarian democracy where the masses liberate themselves in the course of their own struggles guided by the Party. We have found in our experience that whosoever did not grasp the role of the masses were discarded by them or was in a constant state of nausea regarding the prospects of revolutionary victory. We have also found that positive subjective efforts on the basis of individual and collective self-reliance can create miracles.

Fourth. The correct line is our Party’s basic line; continuously carry out education within our ranks to deepen our grasp of it.

We have found that “the correctness or incorrectness of the ideological and political line decides everything”. We have found through our own practice that Chairman Mao’s proletarian revolutionary line is the correct line because it embodies the historic mission of the proletariat to liberate the whole of mankind. Whosoever tampers with this line will come to no good end. Mao Zedong Thought is the highest development of Marxism-Leninism. Through numerous battles of annihilation at the ideological and political fronts against bourgeois reactionary lines of various kinds we have found that only by reading and studying conscientiously can we have a good grasp of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought, see the profound historic significance of Chairman Mao’s theory of continued revolution and the accuracy of the characterisation of our Party’ as “great, glorious and correct”. Chairman Mao has pointed out: “According to the Leninist view-point, the final victory of a socialist country not only requires the efforts of the proletariat and the broad masses of the people at home, but also involves the victory of the world revolution and the abolition of the system of exploitation of man by man over the whole globe, upon which all mankind will be emancipated.” He has also pointed out that “if there is to be a revolution, there must be a revolutionary party”. If there is to be a world revolution then surely there must be the leadership provided by a World Revolutionary Party. Such is our Party, the great, glorious and correct Communist Party of China. It is a Party founded and nurtured by beloved Chairman Mao himself and tempered in the most protracted, fierce, arduous and complex people’s revolutionary war in the history of the world proletarian revolution.

Our Party’s basic line[2] which Chairman Mao comprehensively formulated in 1962 and was tested yet again in the gigantic practice of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution since 1966 is the correct line for the entire historical period of socialism and must of necessity be grasped by every communist revolutionary in the world, whatever happens to be his or her nationality. The essence of this line is that “class struggle is the key link and everything else hinges on it.” It is precisely because many so-called Marxist-Leninists in Britain and other parts of the world do not take class struggle, and that too international class struggle, as the key link that they do not accept in practice, whatever they say in words, the revolutionary authority and leadership of our Party over world revolution, of which, revolution in their country can only be a part. Whatever “Party building” they undertake therefore cannot but suffer from varying degrees of revisionism, in particular petty-bourgeois nationalist and pacifist distortions and thus serve the headquarters of international fascist bourgeoisie. The proletariat, like the bourgeoisie is an international class. Our headquarters is the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China. The consolidation of the dictatorship of the proletariat in China can only lead to the destruction of its opposite the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie. Since the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie is today constituted as an international dictatorship of the fascist bourgeoisie with its headquarters in Washington, destruction of it cannot but lead to the establishment of the International Dictatorship of the Proletariat with its central headquarters in Beijing. The deeper is our grasp of our Party’s basic line the more profound will be our clarity in handling the contradictions among the people and between the people and their enemies. Constant education in our Party’s basic line within our ranks is therefore a necessity.

Fifth. The key lies in the Party Committee.

In class society, the masses in the course of making history also bring forth their representatives, their leaders, i.e. the most advanced section of the masses. Today, only by constituting themselves as a Party Committee which is united in thinking, policy, plan, command, action with our Party Central Committee and its Chairman, restricting bourgeois right and accumulating sufficient revolutionary strength in doing so can revolutionary work be carried out in a sustained way by the advanced section. Only thus can the leading body be a genuine local battle headquarters for the proletarian revolutionary line of beloved Chairman Mao.

In the imperialist heartlands the principal internal contradiction is between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie. We are thus making socialist revolution. With the victory of world people’s revolution, the principal “contradiction in the world will be between the international proletariat and the bourgeoisie. World socialist revolution will carry on under the International Dictatorship of the Proletariat. Chairman Mao has warned us that while making the socialist revolution we must always remember that the bourgeoisie is right within the Communist Party and that we should be vigilant against Party persons in power taking the capitalist road. To combat and prevent revisionism continuous revolutionisation of the Party Committee must be carried out; earnest and persistent efforts must be made to grasp its living study and application of Mao Zedong Thought. Here, the eagerness of the leading comrades in participating actively in collective productive labour is crucial. It is our experience that to be effective in leading all aspects of the work of the organisation, the Party Committee must have a good core of professional revolutionaries, full-time workers, who whole-heartedly build the Party and resolutely adhere to the road of plain living and hard struggle. Only in this way can we break in practice from the revisionist style of “part-time revolutionaries” who follow the path of pleasure-seeking, ease and comfort.

We have found that marching in step with our Party Central Committee by obeying orders of our Chairman, running the Committee system well by practising democratic centralism in a living way and combining collective leadership with individual responsibility are necessary parts of Party building. Too many egomaniacs are running wild in the imperialist heartlands, busily involved in “Party building”. Some have already set up “parties” each with its own “Central Committee” which gives full play to bourgeois right within the International Communist Movement. In words, the leadership of our Party may even be acknowledged. In practice, however, the “theory of many centres”, under the plea of “particularity” and “concrete conditions”, is adhered to, that is, the theory of no centre for the international proletariat. This is something which the international dictatorship of the fascist bourgeoisie welcomes and encourages. Compare the frenzy of the fascist bourgeoisie and the attacks of the US-led British fascist state against the Party Committee of the Institute with the “grand” scope given to scum like Reg Birch, Hardial Bains, Carol Reakes and Alan Evans and the point can be easily grasped.

Chairman Mao says “within the ambit of a county, the county Party committee exercises the main role of leadership”. This local Party Committee marches in step with the Party Central Committee. Only by looking at China and looking at the world, dialectically, can one see the way forward in Party building in Britain, as in other parts of the imperialist heartlands. We participate in Party building by strengthening first and foremost our Party Committee to lead every aspect of our revolutionary work.

Sixth. Build stable revolutionary base areas in the working-class communities.

Chairman Mao has taught us to build the Party in the course of struggle and in the midst of the masses. Our experience has shown us that although wide-scale campaigns were waged by our organisation in and around London, when it came to consolidating our work we could not do so effectively because we had no stable area we could count on. Living units which we struggled hard to build to strengthen our organisations were subverted. Since they were not intimately related to the community they were located in they were subject to easy subversion by the bourgeoisie and its agents. Students, and in particular overseas students, were too much of a “floating” population for us to build any durable and self-sustaining units in any college or hospital. In factories or at other workplaces, fascist rules and regulations were sufficient to prevent or disrupt any meaningful mobilisation of the masses with revolutionary politics.

Our experience has also shown that working-class communities are the weakest link for the fascist bourgeoisie in the chain of colleges, factories and communities in the imperialist heartlands. Furthermore, through repeated investigation and study we found this to be true in the past in the role of the working-class communities in the great Chartist Movement, the Paris Commune, the work of Comrade Eleanor Marx in the East End of London, or, in the struggles of the Irish people and the miners, in the present. Chairman Mao’s policy of encouraging intellectuals to integrate with the workers, learning from them and raising the intellectual level of the workers, we found, can best be applied in poor working-class communities such as Brixton. Neither the college nor the factory is suitable for this purpose. Whereas we found that sustained work in politically mobilising people in a working-class community, building a revolutionary stable base area, helped our cadres combat and prevent revisionism and retain their revolutionary integrity and vigour. Our cadres were able to participate in ’open-door’ education and get some good training in going deep among the masses, doing detailed mass work and social investigation, taking the problems of the masses as their own – sharing weal and woe with them. Building close links with the masses enable us also to locate bad elements and counter-revolutionaries. The masses become “the eyes and ears” of the Party and with their participation we can ferret out and defeat the fascist bourgeoisie’s agents at the grass-roots level. In addition to all these, work in building a base area also has a profound effect in workplaces and colleges where our contacts in the base area are in.

Bowing to spontaneity is a disease in the revolutionary ranks in the imperialist heartlands. The spontaneous character of the mass movement can be combatted and the conscious political activity of the masses developed systematically by deepening the process of building stable revolutionary base areas where the masses are armed with Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought, the proletarian revolutionary line of Chairman Mao and our Party’s basic line. This is what is entirely new in the heartlands. It is a fruit of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution and has great strategic significance.

Seventh. Direct links should be constantly maintained between the leadership and the masses.

This is a method which has been universally applied in the Great proletarian Cultural Revolution. We have found in our experience that if direct links are not constantly maintained between the leading comrades and in particular the Party Committee Secretary and the masses within the organisation and outside the organisation then revisionist problems, particularly bureaucratic ones, will arise. By living among the masses, learning from them, consulting them on matters of major importance and listening to different views we can genuinely build the Party in the midst of the masses and it can be seen by them in practice as their Party. In this way the masses can be led on a scientific basis and the masses in turn exercise supervision over their leaders and effectively combat the revisionist manifestations of those in the leadership who tend to take the capitalist road. Our dark aspects can be exposed and from below. Only in this way can we really make self the target of revolution and the masses the target of revolutionary propaganda.

These seven important lessons have been learnt mainly from actual struggles throughout the period from 1964. We have been engaged in complex and violent national and international class struggles and acute and sharp line struggles in the course of daring to organise in Britain with the proletarian revolutionary line of Chairman Mao. Working in London has provided Comrade Bala with a rare opportunity to meet, discuss and work in varying ways with politically active people from every part of the world and with different sections of the “left” in Britain, in particular the “Marxist-Leninist left”. The British fascist state has attacked Comrade Bala and his work so many times, overtly and covertly. Part of its covert attacks have been through revisionists, trotskyites and other agents in the midst of the mass movement in Britain who carry out parallel activities and run parallel organisations. The more subtle attacks it has made on us is through those who wave Chairman Mao’s banner to cover up their evil designs. The fascist agents: Reg Birch, Hardial Bains, Carol Reakes and Alan Evans have been the most insidious in this respect.

It is in the course of countering the attacks of the fascist bourgeoisie and their agents within the revolutionary ranks -their repeated attempts to encircle and suppress us – that we have learnt the above lessons. We found that our strong points were in relate to proudly inheriting and defending the revolutionary traditions of our martyrs and in daring to be path breakers in the most difficult area in the world to uphold revolutionary principles, London, where the oldest and most cunning bourgeoisie in the world, the British fascist bourgeoisie, has set up the maximum number of fascist traps, mainly secret, to negate or neutralise revolutionary cadres and their work. The fascist educational system promotes the ideology of bourgeois right and the widening of the gap between theory and practice. The fascist mass media (press, radio, TV) is nothing but a lie machine. Metaphysics, one-sidedness is allowed to run wild idealism is rampant. Opportunism, callousness, unashamed adherence to self-interest and putting one’s body, mind and soul for sale, for money, are cultivated as “the done thing”. Amidst the vast ocean of revisionism in the imperialist heartlands even to remain faithful to one’s direct experience is difficult. Deception is the rule, most of the time self-deception. The icy waters of egoism and each one busily “minding one’s own business” are what one normally comes across. In the land which gave birth to the first proletarian mass movement in the world, the Great Chartist Movement, and where spontaneous mass movements are still the order of the day, we find bourgeois individualism and “giving pride of place to one’s own uninvestigated opinion” is widely encouraged. In fact, in “tiger mountain” one can say, each one is encouraged to be a “mountain”. Our leading cadre Comrade Bala steeled himself by working in this tough terrain and has gained some valuable experience in boldly arousing the masses, learning to release their initiative and developing the revolutionary mass movement in Britain by having deep faith in the masses and their capacity to create miracles under the leadership of communist revolutionaries. Through his untiring work he has helped the members of the Workers’ Institute to gain some good experience in applying the proletarian revolutionary line of Chairman Mao in building the student and intellectuals movement, the women’s movement, the solidarity movement, the national minority movement and now the workers’ movement.

However, our weak points were most clearly seen when it came to consolidating the gains from the revolutionary mass movement which we developed at various levels. Our problems centred on how to build a genuine party of the proletariat to lead the masses forward continuously. Party building is undertaken on the basis of its political line. For this to be correctly carried out we must be equipped, as Lenin pointed out with the most advanced theory. (See: What Is To Be Done?) Without a good grasp of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought and its basic theories we cannot arrive at the correct line, for theory is the basis of the line. Chairman Mao and our Party, since August 1970, repeatedly advised us to “read and study conscientiously and have a good grasp of Marxism.” Yet we were too absorbed in the mass movement that we neglected this vital aspect of Party building. Our study of theory was neglected ’as a result of our negative reaction to the trend created by the Khrushchovite revisionists such as Liu Shao-chi, Kassim Ahmad and the intellectual hacks of “CPGB” to encourage book-worship and self-cultivation and to negate the theory of proletarian revolution and the dictatorship of the proletariat[3]. The poisonous influence of the renegade Bains and other quacks like him who put one-sided emphasis on practice also acted as a corrosive. As a result we were confused theoretically. Our grasp of the Party’s basic line was indeed minimal, making it extremely difficult for us to handle correctly the two different types of contradictions, leading to subjective errors on our part. Necessary practice had to unfold first before we could grasp that the basis of our Party’s basic line is the theory of continuing the revolution under proletarian dictatorship in China through to the end. More importantly our tortuous experience in handling the criminals Hardial Bains and Carol Reakes taught us that the main target of the revolution are the Party persons in power taking the capitalist road, i.e. leading cadres who yield to the degenerate bourgeois style of life, of pleasure-seeking, ease and comfort, seeking fame and gain and peddling bourgeois reactionary lines. Our slowness in grasping this point gave the scoundrels ample time to create havoc within our various organisations, leading to a loss of about 90 per cent of our strength. This is a very painful lesson which we cannot afford to forget.

The fact that the main force within us were drawn from the student masses (with a high degree of vacillation) contributed significantly to our difficulties in consolidating our ranks. Try as we might we did not succeed in building till 1974 a leading group which could somewhat withstand the onslaughts of the fascist-bourgeois culture found in such profusion in London. Though we encouraged since 1968 our leading comrades and advanced contacts to participate in consolidating the organisational work through collective living units, the ideology of bourgeois right and the warped ideas, culture and style of life of the decadent fascist bourgeoisie proved to be serious stumbling blocks. Furthermore since these units were not closely integrated with the communities they were located in, paid agents of the bourgeoisie and subjective agents found it easier to corrode the units from within. Revisionist manifestations, mainly centring on the question of sex and relationships bedevilled us, making it difficult for communist relationships to flourish.

The fundamental programme of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in the ideological field is contained in the teaching of Chairman Mao: “Fight self, criticise revisionism”. We have found from our experience, in the past dozen years and more, in organising in the imperialist heartlands that saying is one thing, doing is another –sentiments are one thing, revolutionary contributions guided by science is another. We have seen so many people in the “left” in Britain mouthing revolutionary words but practising revisionism. To unite theory with practice one must take a sober view of self and fight the concrete manifestations of revisionism. For this, as in everything else, invincible Mao Zedong Thought, materialist dialectics, is most useful. The dialectical law of the unity of opposites is a universal law. It can certainly be applied on the question of self. Problems of self can only be handled if we develop a healthy spirit of self-criticism and be bold in criticising and repudiating in a living way our shortcomings. We must maintain, as our Party Central Committee has reminded us, a correct attitude about the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, the masses and oneself. It is our experience that the leading comrades, and in particular the Secretary of our Party Committee, must lead in consolidating gains and in rectifying our shortcomings. They must always lead in restricting bourgeois right, in integrating with the masses and in upholding the communist spirit of self-sacrifice. Only in this way can all the comrades of the Workers’ Institute actively participate in burying the old world and in building the new and become new communist men and women, the worthy soldiers of beloved Chairman Mao and the humble servants of the people of the world.


[1] These seven important lessons were first put forward comprehensively in Comrade Bala’s summing up speech on the first anniversary of the birth of the Workers’ Institute on December 20, 1975 at a meeting in Battersea, Wandsworth.

[2] Socialist society covers a considerably long historical period. In the historical period of socialism, there are still classes, class contradictions and class struggle, there is the struggle between the socialist road and the capitalist road, and there is the danger of capitalist restoration. We must recognise the protracted and complex nature of this struggle. We must heighten our vigilance. We must conduct socialist education. We must correctly understand and handle class contradictions and class struggle, distinguish the contradictions between ourselves and the enemy from those among the people and handle them correctly. Otherwise a socialist country like ours will turn into its opposite and degenerate, and a capitalist restoration will take place. From now on we must remind ourselves of this every year, every month, and everyday so that we can retain a rather sober understanding of this problem and have a Marxist-Leninist line.

[3] See: Betrayal of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat is at the heart of the book of “Self-Cultivation” (our Party’s publication).