First Published: Worker’s Weekly, July 28, 1979.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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National chauvinism is the reactionary ideology of the British bourgeoisie. It is a reactionary ideology which the British bourgeoisie has used historically and uses today to attempt to justify and further its bloody colonial and neo-colonial robbery and aggression, its racist attacks, its exploitation and oppression of the British working class and people and its growing fascism. National chauvinism is the ideology constantly promoted by the bourgeoisie in the working class movement in its attempts to mobilize the working class around the rich and their aims, in its attempts to mobilize the working class to support the imperialist and aggressive policies of the British ruling class. This national chauvinism of the British bourgeoisie is totally racist, colonialist and anti-working class. It is based on the alleged “superiority” of the “British nation”, on the alleged “common” interests, within “the nation”, between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie, on the glorification of the bloody colonial robbery, plunder and aggression of the peoples and nations throughout the world.
Hand in hand with the reactionary bourgeoisie’s national chauvinism stands social-chauvinism. Social-chauvinism is “socialism” in words and chauvinism in deeds. It is the ideology of the opportunists of all hues, seen in its most blatant and concentrated form in the ideology of social-democracy, in the line and policy of the “Labor” Party and the trade union aristocrats. Social-chauvinism is an important ideological prop for the bourgeoisie in the working class movement. Using “socialist” words to disorientate the working class and to spread maximum ideological confusion in the working class movement, it attempts to mobilize the working class around the aims of the bourgeoisie, around the national chauvinist policies, program and ideology of the bourgeoisie.
As the all-sided crisis of British monopoly capitalism deepens, this national and social-chauvinism of the British bourgeoisie is becoming even more rabid. It is being used to justify and further the all-sided onslaught on the British and world’s people. Under the slogan of “saving the ’great’ British ’nation’”, all sections of the bourgeoisie are promoting this rabid chauvinism in their attempts to further foist the crisis onto the backs of the working people, in their attempts to further develop fascism to force the working class into submission, in their attempts to gain the support of the working class for their intensified plunder of other countries, and for their war preparations. It is, for instance, at the heart of the propaganda of the trade union bigwigs who try to force various government policies onto the working class and people under the plea of “everyone pulling their weight to get the ’nation’ out of the crisis.” It is at the heart of the propaganda of all the bourgeois politicians and bourgeois news media in their promotion of racism. National and social-chauvinism are used by the bourgeoisie to incite and organize the nazi movement which merely concentrates this reactionary ideology in its most blatant and rabid form.
It is a crucial question for the proletariat, for all working people and for the proletarian vanguard, the Marxist-Leninist Party, to firmly oppose this rabid national and social-chauvinism of the British bourgeoisie. The proletariat has no common interests, no unity whatsoever, with the British state, the British ruling class and its system. This “great” British system is a system of bloody aggression, robbery and violence, murder, plunder and exploitation of the world’s people, as well as of the British working class and people. It stands directly and antagonistically against the interests of the world’s people. The attempts by the bourgeoisie and opportunists to disorientate the masses of people by promoting the concept of the British “nation” in such a way as to hide this fact, to hide the oppressor nature of this nation, to hide the antagonistic relationship that exists between the proletariat and bourgeoisie within this nation, must be firmly exposed and opposed. The proletariat must take a firm stand against the attempts of the rich to mobilize the working class and people around themselves and their aims. The proletariat must develop its OWN INDEPENDENT AIMS, GOALS AND PROGRAM, a program standing in total antagonism to that of the rich, a program in active support of and unity with the world’s working class and people, a program centering on uniting with its allies to overthrow this bloodstained state and system of the rich and establishing a genuine socialist state and system based upon the principles of Marxism-Leninism and PROLETARIAN INTERNATIONALISM.
The “pre-party” section of the followers of “Mao Zedong Thought” in Britain has adopted a most reactionary social-chauvinist theory, the theory of “three worlds”. Under the guidance of this theory they strive to line up the proletariat and working people around the aims of the British bourgeoisie, around its plunder of and aggression against the world’s people. They have advanced the theory that the proletariat should unite with the British bourgeoisie for the “defense of national independence” of Britain. They write: “We must.. .use the contradictions between our enemies in order to effect a temporary alliance with the secondary enemy (i.e. the British bourgeoisie among others – ed. WW) to defeat the main enemy.” Also: “It is quite dogmatic, in the current international situation, to say that a second world imperialist power cannot fight a just war.” Further: “The second world countries’ dual nature can be made use of in international class struggle. Because these countries are subject to superpower exploitation and oppression they can be won over as temporary allies ... in the contemporary international class struggle.” Or again: “But we can also unite with them (i.e. the “second” world imperialist powers – ed. WW) against the superpowers.” Finally, they say that the proletariat should support “the British and other European governments’ struggle to build up defense forces.”
Thus, these followers of the “three worlds” theory are openly calling upon the proletariat to line up behind the bourgeoisie; line up behind and support its reactionary preparations for war; line up behind and support the bourgeoisie’s so-called “defense of the fatherland”, i.e., inter-imperialist wars and re-divisions of colonial and neo-colonial territories. With their calls for the unity of the “second” world and “third” world, these followers of the v three worlds” theory are openly calling upon the proletariat to line up behind and support the British and European bourgeoisie’s vicious plunder, aggression and robbery of the nations and peoples of Asia, Africa and Latin America. With their program of “unity of all forces against the main enemy (the Soviet social-imperialists), these followers of the “three worlds” theory are openly calling upon the working class and people to line up behind and support all the reactionary forces of the western imperialist bloc headed by U. S. imperialism in their aggressive contention with Soviet social-imperialism and its allies over colonies and neo-colonies; throughout the world. They are calling upon the proletariat to line up behind and support the imperialist policies of U. S. imperialism, the Chinese social-imperialists, the European imperialist powers, all under the guise of “opposing the Soviet threat”. This “three worlds” theory, this program of the “pre-party collectives” in Britain, is a reactionary program which is, in all its forms, a repetition of the theory and program of the renegades of the Second International (including the main leaders of the British “Labor” Party and the trade union aristocrats) who, under the justification of “defense of the fatherland”, called upon the working class and people to support the 1914-18 inter-imperialist war, to support the British bourgeoisie’s efforts to forcibly maintain and extend its colonial territories, to die as cannon fodder for the rich in their bloody imperialist war. The theory and program of this section of the followers of “Mao Zedong Thought” in Britain is straightforward and downright social-chauvinism, using the sacred banner of Marxism-Leninism and socialism to defend the interests of the British bourgeoisie, to perpetuate the bourgeoisie’s bloodthirsty aggression against and plunder of the world’s people, to oppose the struggles of the peoples and nations that have suffered so much under British colonialism and imperialism.
The “C”PB(M-L), while pretending to “oppose” the “three worlds” theory and its aims, has, in essence, the same reactionary and chauvinist position as the “three worlds” theoreticians. Its theory and program serve and support the open social-chauvinists.
With a garbled and muddled version of the “three worlds” theory, the “C”PB(M-L) has put forward the theory of “saving Britain” and of “stopping the destruction of Britain”. It writes, for example, “We press on with our national purpose of saving Britain, the Britain we have made by our skills and energy” (“The Worker”, January 4, 1979). What is this “Britain” which the ”C”PB(M-L) is so keen on saving? It is a nation which for many centuries has been viciously plundering other nations and peoples throughout the world. It is a nation which today still has a vast neo-colonial empire and is still carrying out armed aggression against nations and peoples, as in Ireland. The BRITISH NATION IS AN OPPRESSOR NATION. To raise, in whatever form or guise, or with whatever justification, the question of “saving Britain”, of saving this oppressor nation, objectively serves the open social-chauvinists, objectively serves to create the same reactionary illusions about this “great” British “nation” in the working class movement, objectively serves to divert the working class to supporting the imperialist and exploitative aims of the British bourgeoisie.
At a time when the British bourgeoisie and the opportunists of all hues are rabidly promoting their national and social-chauvinism in the working class movement, to raise, as the “C”PB(M-L) does, the issue of “saving Britain” is, at the least, to conciliate and to compromise with the reactionary chauvinism of the British bourgeoisie. The line of the “C”PB(M-L) is a most dangerous line in the working class movement. With its “Marxist-Leninist” and “anti”-“three worlds” face, it props up and in essence promotes the same chauvinism of the trade union aristocrats, of the open social-chauvinists, which calls upon the working class to fight for its “national” interests, the “national” interests of “saving Britain”, in unity with certain sections of the bourgeoisie and at the expense of the interests of the world’s people.
The line of the “C”PB(M-L) can only lead – does lead – to the promotion of the crudest form of chauvinism in the working class movement. The “C”PB(M-L) promotes, in a most blatant fashion, all the theories of the British bourgeoisie, of the trade union aristocrats, which maintain that Britain is the “center of the world”, the “best” at everything and the “savior” of the world’s humanity.
Among numerous other examples, the “C”PB (M-L) unashamedly writes: “Trade unions were invented by the British working class”; “It was the British working class organizational development which was the basis of the Communist Manifesto which Marx and Engels wrote in 1848”; “Britain has the only sufficient milk production system in Europe”; “the Congress of the TUC... is the best example in the world of democratic centralism”; “we begin the new year in the company of the oldest and best organized working class in the world”; the British working class “have an unmatched record of persistence in struggle and of maneuver without surrender”; “we were the first modern proletariat, once again we must lead”, etc., etc.
This outright “British” chauvinism of the “C”PB (M-L) was further enshrined in its line, program and policy at its recently held Fifth Congress. At this Congress, the “C”PB(M-L) put forward the “theory” that it is the British working class which is going to liberate the world. It writes: “But in the perspective of the firm and lasting establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat it may well prove to be the case that the oldest capitalist country will also be the birthplace of socialism as a permanent alternative to exploitative systems. From a revolutionized Britain, a proletarian way of life, thought and action could spread to the rest of the world.” (“The Worker”, March 8, 1979, our emphasis). What is this theory that “the oldest capitalist country will also be the birthplace of socialism,” that “from a revolutionized Britain, a proletarian way of life, thought and action could spread to the rest of the world”? Besides the many other anti-Marxist, anti-Albanian, anti-Bolshevik positions contained in it, the statement reveals that the “C”PB(M-L)’s slogan and program of “saving Britain” is not being misunderstood as a result perhaps of some “clumsy” formulation, but represents precisely the mantle of the British bourgeoisie in the working class, the mantle of national and social-chauvinism. As the class struggle intensifies in Britain and throughout the world, as the struggle in the international communist movement grows ever stronger in defense of the purity of Marxism-Leninism, this social-chauvinism of the “C’PB(M-L) will become, and can only become, even more open, crude and blatant.
The proletariat and its Marxist-Leninist Party must take a most decisive and militant stand against the national and social chauvinism of the British bourgeoisie and against its propagators in the working class movement. National and social chauvinism are the ideology of the bourgeoisie, the ideology of reaction, imperialism, racism and colonialism. It is a crucial question for the proletariat to oppose this ideology, whatever form it should take, and to decisively and actively uphold and strengthen the unity of the British proletariat with the working and oppressed people of the whole world. National and social-chauvinism stand directly against the interests of the British proletariat, the world’s proletariat and people and socialism and the revolution. As Comrade Lenin writes: “The social-chauvinists are our class enemies, bourgeois within the working class movement. They represent a stratum, or groups, or sections of the working class which objectively have been bribed by the bourgeoisie (by better wages, positions of honor, etc.), and which help their bourgeoisie to plunder and oppress small and weak peoples and to fight over division of the capitalist spoils.” Further, Lenin writes: “Unity with the social-chauvinists is betrayal of the revolution, betrayal of the proletariat, betrayal of socialism, desertion to the bourgeoisie because it is ’unity’ with the national bourgeoisie of ’one’s own’ country against the unity of the international revolutionary proletariat, is unity with the bourgeoisie against the proletariat ”(Lenin’s emphasis).