Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

East London Marxist-Leninist Association

Oppose Superpower War with Revolution

First Published: Red Flag, No. 3, 1977
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Sam Richards and Paul Saba
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The imperialist system has launched countless wars of aggression and brought about two world wars. Today, U.S. imperialism and Soviet social-imperialism are fighting for supremacy and dragging the world into a third world war. Mao Tsetung has said that either revolution will prevent war, or war will give rise to revolution. Will socialist revolution, particularly in the US or USSR, prevent the outbreak of war, or will war itself bring the revolutionary crisis to a head? The international communist movement, while leading the struggle for peace, is getting prepared for either eventuality, especially that there will be war. The Marxist-Leninist movement here, while striving to ’build the revolutionary party, should also get prepared.

At present, all the fundamental contradictions in the world are sharpening; the factors for both war and revolution are increasing. These contradictions are: the contradiction between the working class and the capitalist class in all countries; between the oppressed nations and imperialism, especially the superpowers; among the imperialists themselves; and between the socialist countries and imperialism. Chairman Mao summed up how all these contradictions are at work into today’s situation and advanced his ’three worlds’ concept.

The US and the USSR make up the ’first world’. The two superpowers have become the main oppressors and exploiters of the world’s peoples and the main obstacles to the socialist and national liberation revolutions. The US is on the decline and social-imperialism is on the rise, but this does not alter the fact that, taken together, the two super-powers are the world’s peoples’ main enemy. Superpower rivalry for world domination is bound to break out in war sooner or later.

The ’second world’ is composed of advanced capitalist states. Most, like Britain and the other west European states and Japan, are major imperialist powers in their own right. But they are not on a par with the superpowers and are increasingly coming into contradiction with them. Others, like the east European states and Canada, are almost completely dominated by one or the other superpower. The second world countries oppress and exploit the third world but are themselves subjected to superpower control and threat.

The ’third world’ is made up of the developing countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America, (developing because they have been underdeveloped by imperialism). They are the most heavily exploited and oppressed by colonialism, neo-colonialism and imperialism, headed by the superpowers. All the major contradictions in the world are focussed in the third world in their most acute form. The national liberation movements and the peoples and countries of the third world constitute the main force in the struggle against imperialism, especially the superpowers. Even some of the most reactionary stooges of imperialism are being forced to stand up to the superpowers and demand concessions. Many nominally independent and newly independent countries are increasingly uniting to achieve an anti-imperialist economic order that severely undermines the whole imperialist system. Socialist China is also part of the third world.

The three worlds concept provides the international working class and all oppressed people with a correct general line and general strategy on which the revolutionaries of every country must base their particular revolutionary strategy. It is a fact that the third world is uniting into a broad united front against imperialism and that all inter-imperialist contradictions, especially between the second world ’countries and both superpowers, can be utilised.

It is for the working class of all countries to exploit the contradiction between its own ruling class and the superpowers. The socialist countries, the international working class and the national liberation movements are the leading and decisive force in the world united front.


The principal contradiction in British society is between the working class and the capitalist ruling class. Only the socialist revolution and the dictatorship of the proletariat can remove this contradiction. Socialist revolution is the strategic task confronting the working class of Britain. Our thinking and actions on all questions, including the question of war, must be geared to this fact.

The acute crisis which is giving rise to war is at the same time intensifying the class struggle at home. The ruling class is attacking the living standards and democratic rights of the people and preparing to impose some kind of fascism. The revolutionary struggle against the menace of fascism and for social ism is at the same time a struggle against the danger of a third world war. Obviously we support all genuine national liberation wars and civil war waged by the working class for power. These are just wars, but we oppose all wars of aggression waged by imperialism.

The Marxist-Leninist movement here will overcome its isolation from the masses and build the revolutionary party precisely by beginning to formulate and unite around a correct strategy for the British working class. We must educate the broad masses in preparation for war and revolution. The more effective such education is, the less confused the people will be in time of war. The masses must be mobilised so that in their struggle to prevent war, the working class grows stronger and in the struggle during the war, the working class emerges victorious.

There are two types of world war that can come about one just and the other unjust and our attitude to each would be entirely different.


By linking the class struggle here with the international class struggle, the British working class make their contribution to the world united front against imperialism. Any such solidarity must mean support and defence of China.

Today China is the biggest thorn in the flesh of both superpowers and is their main obstacle in their aspirations for world domination. The liberation of China has meant an enormous area of resources and people is no longer available for exploitation by imperialism. Imperialism would dearly love to turn back the wheel of history, but today, although China is a very attractive piece of meat, it is very tough. Its 800 million people are all armed with politics and guns. Massive defences have been built throughout the country and China has her own nuclear arms in case of any attack from the superpowers. The superpowers would rather consolidate their grip on Europe before tackling China. Concretely, Soviet social-imperialism poses the main threat to China. It borders with her. It has amassed thousands of troops along the border and in recent times has provoked many incidents as well as increasingly and aggressively securing bases in surrounding areas, India, BanglaDesh etc. which could be readily used as base areas for any attack on China. If either of the superpowers launch an attack on China, the international working class and world’s people would then unite in an anti-imperialist war just as the people of the world so successfully united around the then socialist Soviet Union in the great anti-fascist war.

In view of such a possibility, we should be creating public opinion and pressing our bourgeoisie to make a peace pact with China. This means in the event of any attack, Britain would ally with China. With the deepening contradictions between the countries of the second world and the superpowers and social-imperialism in particular, and the obvious strength of China, such an alliance is possible. In such a situation, the British working class would concede a tactical alliance with its bourgeoisie. Obviously the bourgeoisie would be incapable of taking a consistent lead and we would have to keep the initiative in our hands.

What should our stand be in relation to an inter-imperialist war; a war waged on behalf of the superpowers for the redivision of the world, in which British imperialism and the other NATO countries would almost certainly be involved?

In the event of such a war, it will be the duty of the Marxist-Leninist party to lead the British working class in turning the unjust imperialist war into a civil war, into socialist revolution. An imperialist world war would not change the class contradictions in Britain; it would intensify them. The British working class has nothing to gain by supporting one superpower against the other. Even if the Marxist-Leninist party was still quite weak, there would be no justification for betraying the working class and capitulating to imperialism. Lenin made it very clear at the time of the betrayal of most of the Second International parties during the first world war, that whatever the weakness of the respective parties, they were duty bound to actively work for the defeat of their own bourgeoisies by turning imperialist war into civil war. How much more true this is today, sixty years later, when the forces of national liberation and socialism are vastly superior to those of imperialism and reaction.

In the event of social-imperialism invading Britain or any other imperialist country, the war is still an inter-imperialist war. If the imperialist rulers of any European country call for the working class to rally in defence of the ’free world’, it would not be in the interests of the working class to defend one imperialism against another. If Britain were occupied, this would presuppose that the British bourgeoisie and its state were already defeated (or had capitulated). Social-imperialism would then constitute the direct enemy of the British working class. The working class would take the lead in a war of national liberation and for socialism. The only real defence against attack and the only genuine liberation war is the armed people under working class leadership. In the long term, the working class and revolutionary party must have a people’s army. Such a war would accelerate the building of such an army.


We must be clear as to where the danger of such a world war comes from. It comes directly from the contention between the superpowers. Together they constitute the main danger of war and are the main enemy. If we make a distorted analysis and see the danger of war only arising from Soviet social-imperialism, our policies will accordingly be wrong. To talk only of the possibility of an invasion of Britain by social-imperialism while ignoring that this country has been’ invaded’ and ’occupied’ by US imperialism for the last thirty years means in practice calling for a united front with US imperialism against social-imperialism.

Owing to the relative weakness of the ’Communist’ Party of Great Britain, as compared to other revisionist parties, the Soviet Union have little direct influence in Britain. Though sections of the bourgeois administration, the Labour ’Left’, are attracted by the technical efficiency of Soviet state monopoly capitalism. They are among the fervent opponents of the EEC and are the potential appeasers of social imperialism.

Social-imperialism is particularly dangerous because it still poses, as the socialist friend of the third world which the US cannot. We must thoroughly oppose the USSR’s intensification of war preparation. Helsinki was meant to lull Europe into a false sense of security, but recent aggressive events have thoroughly exposed the USSR’s lies of detente and ’peaceful coexistence’. The policy of the Soviet revisionists is based on the power of capital and the force of arms. The struggle that they are waging today to occupy strategic positions in the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Latin America are typically imperialist. It has recently sent a special task force to patrol the North Sea and has added a southern Europe command to the Warsaw Pact forces, while increasing its presence in the Mediterranean. It certainly has its eye on Europe and is daily interfering and meddling in the affairs of Europe.

There is no way that we can fight British imperialism without coming up against US imperialism.

The US is aggressively entrenched militarily, politically and financially. Since the end of World War Two the number of American bases has greatly increased and the temporary military support has become permanent. By means of massive loans and the Marshall Plan, the British economy was slowly taken over by the U.S. with sterling regularly being devalued in favour of the dollar. Numerous trade restrictions imposed by U.S. has meant that in 1951 the list of prohibited exports extended to over 100,000 items! By 1968 the U. S. was by far the largest single foreign investor in Britain, equalling 2/3 of the total figure. In 1970/71, American subsidiaries in British manufacturing industry employed nearly 730,000 workers, or about 8% of the total and sold goods worth nearly 6,000 million, around 13% of total UK output. American companies are concentrated in the more capital intensive and profitable industries. In 1970 their share of manufactured exports accounted for about 1/5 of British exports. In, many industries, cars, computers, cameras, oil refinery equipment and many more, the U.S. companies produce between 50-80% of total production, with virtual monopolies in certain key industries. U.S. has almost complete monopoly over the culture, pushing the most degenerate forms of capitalist ideology and anti-communist propaganda. Britain is subservient to the U.S. militarily. Not only is Britain part of NATO, but the U.S. has numerous military bases, missile sites and troops on British soil.

None of this is to deny that Britain is an imperialist country in its own right. In fact, the amount of British capital invested abroad is increasing. By 1973 the export of capital stood at 1,000m. Its total overseas assets stood at just under 66,000m in 1973. British imperialism is a major exploiter and oppressor of the world’s peoples.


Strategically, the focus of superpower contention is shifting to Europe. The U.S. is desperately increasing military expenditure to hold on to its sphere of influence, while the USSR is arming to expand. This has created great tensions in the economies of the superpowers and their allies. Under pressure of this all-round crisis, the west European bourgeoisies are increasingly standing up to resist the menace of Soviet social-imperialism and U. S. control. As Europe will in fact take the brunt of any attack by the USSR, the European powers are increasingly forced to stand up to both superpowers and be seen not to merely be an appendage to the U.S. To the extent that they fight for independence from both superpowers, Europe could play a very decisive role in the balance of power. An independent Europe would certainly delay the aggressive designs of the superpowers, thus giving the people of the world more time to prepare. That is why the European working class should give conditional support to the EEC. Of course, the EEC being a union of monopoly capitalists, are fighting for their own interests and so they cannot be relied upon. But it is also in the interests of the ’working class to exploit, wherever possible, such inter-imperialist contradictions. In the long term, however, only the struggle of the European working class will guarantee any real independence from the superpowers. By co-ordinating not only the exploitation of their own working classes but of the third world as well, the EEC aims to rescue imperial ism from crisis and upheavals. They are endeavouring to maintain the old privileges of the former colonial powers by competing as a bloc with the superpowers. Recent events in Greece, Turkey and Cyprus reflect just such a power struggle between Europe and the U.S. for control. Another example was when the British and French bourgeoisie went behind the backs of the U.S., breaking their oil embargo, and made independent deals with the Arab countries. But any concessions that the west European imperialists have made are due to victories of the national liberation movements and the growing strength of the third world.

Exploiting inter-imperialist contradictions can never mean that the European working class defends the exploitation of the third world by their own bourgeoisies in preference to that of the superpowers. Imperialism in any form is our enemy.

It is not true to talk about the EEC standing mid-way between both superpowers. Despite growing contradictions, it is still largely subservient to the U. S. through its ’special relationship’ with such countries as Britain, through the general entanglement of U.S. capital with the capital of each member country, the U. S. is able to use such organisations as the I.M.F. to bully the European countries and to try and dictate the policies of the EEC.

NATO is certainly not neutral! NATO was set up at the time of the ’cold war’ as military bloc against the then socialist Soviet Union. It is completely subservient to the U. S. and constitutes the military arm and organised base of the U.S. in its rivalry with Soviet social imperialism.


We should call for the total dismantling of NATO and Warsaw Pact, and expose superpower war preparations. At the same time demand Britain’s withdrawal from NATO and the removal of all US bases in Britain.

We should demand universal and complete nuclear disarmament and that meanwhile the bourgeoisie provide nuclear shelters for the whole population instead of just for themselves. At the same time we must combat nuclear blackmail and the mystique around nuclear weapons and show that it is the people and not weapons that decide the outcome of any war and all history.

We are against all talk about strengthening and ’democratising’ the British army. The army is the mainstay of the British imperialist state which oppresses the working class of Britain and the people of many countries. At a later stage, according to the situation, we could demand the arming of a peoples’ militia.

In the short term we should demand that the British ruling class free itself from subservience to the U.S. political and economically as well as militarily. In opposing the aggressive designs of the Soviet Union, the working class must guard against being used by the bourgeoisie as support for their anti-communist hysteria.

We must support the national liberation movements. While exposing British imperialist exploitation of the third world peoples, we should press it to make concessions. It is essential to popularise the achievements and significance of Socialist China and demand the government work for friendship and co-operation with China.

To the extent that the British and West European states are incapable of standing up to both superpowers we must denounce and expose them in order to build the independent movement of the working class in the struggle for peace and socialism.

Whatever type of world war may come about, the outcome must be socialism in Britain.

The losers in a new world war will not be the peoples of the world, but the superpowers and imperialism. We are living in the era of socialist revolution where there is no way out for imperialism. A 3rd world war will sound the death knell of the entire imperialist system. The contradictions raised by the 1st world war directly contributed to the birth of the first workers’ state, the Soviet Union, while the Peoples’ Republic of China, Vietnam, Korea and the democratic states of Eastern Europe emerged victorious socialist countries after the 2nd world war. Here in Britain whatever the nature of the war, our strategy will remain socialism and we should continue fighting until that is achieved.