A scientific evaluation of history must have as its core the study of revolutionary movements. We seek to draw upon what is positive in these experiences and to learn from the negative. Four great revolutions have marked the forward thrust of humanity: the Paris Commune, the Russian Revolution, the Chinese Revolution, and the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (GPCR). Workers and oppressed people have been able to advance because and only because of these revolutions.
These momentous revolutionary movements were not mystical events. They were all made and led by masses of people and their leaders. The revolutionary movement of the past hundred years has been a series of attempts by workers to wrest control of their lives from the ruling class. Revolution determines the class that holds state power, and each of these four revolutions attempted to resolve this central question in favor of the proletariat.
The struggle for state power is inseparable from the struggle between correct and incorrect ideas about how to win. keep, and consolidate it. The ideological struggle against revisionism--the ideas and practice of the class enemy within the communist movement--has taken place since the beginning of the struggle for proletarian revolution. Revisionism attempts to distort the revolutionary content of Marxism-Leninism. It assumes many forms; it seeks to ride the revolutionary tide of world history by appearing in increasingly militant disguise, but its counter-revolutionary essence remains the same.
We believe that the struggle against revisionism has not nearly ended. The struggle rages in every Marxist-Leninist party and group in the world. No party has avoided it in the past. No party can avoid it now. No party will avoid it in the future. It will continue to rage until the realization of world communism. The long term error of the international communist movement has been right-opportunism.
We should welcome the destruction of the bourgeoisie's ideas just as we welcome the destruction of the bourgeoisie. If the military struggle for state power must be protracted, the ideological struggle to keep it will be even more so. In the course of this fight we will face many twists and turns, many ups and downs, many victories and defeats. This is not a cause for resignation, passivity, discouragement or cynicism. The fight against revisionism is a life and death struggle. It cannot be avoided. It has always advanced the cause of workers and oppressed people. In each period, new advances are made as revisionism is progressively unmasked. Because the political understanding of the masses increases, their fighting strength grows. They wrest power from and expose the ruling class. In the course of ideological and political struggle, they rip away the red fig-leaf from revisionist bosses. As the battle against revisionism intensifies, the people prove that they can win and hold state power. The struggle against revisionism is a protracted process. It is a good thing.
In the context of revolutionary advances and the continuing fight against revisionism, revolutionaries have made serious errors that have allowed the local capitalist class and its imperialist allies to regain state power temporarily in some countries. If we understand them, we can avoid them and defeat revisionism qualitatively. We do not look to minimize the great accomplishments of the revolutionary movements. Obviously, we could not carry out this task if others--many others--had not preceded us. We wish especially to credit the millions in the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (GPCR) who opened new ideological horizons for us. We know, however, that revisionism reversed the Soviet revolution. We know that revolutionary movements in eastern Europe that followed the Soviet path have all ended badly. We know that the GPCR all along was a mass movement to defeat China's "red" bourgeoisie and re-establish proletarian dictatorship. And now we view the spectacle of the Mao Tse-tung leadership pursuing right-wing policies with a vengeance. Current policies of the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) have reversed the revolutionary process in China, and have taken China back on the path of capitalism. How can such developments occur? How can they be reversed?
The Paris Commune of 1870-71 was the first great proletarian revolution in history. Ultimately, it failed and was ruthlessly smashed by the combined efforts of the French and German bourgeoisie. However, Marx, Engels, Lenin, and others were able to draw heavily on the experience of the Commune. The Commune clarified in practice for the first time the content and forms of working class power. It taught Marx and later Lenin four profound lessons about the revolutionary process:
- The need to smash (as opposed to taking over or "appropriating") bourgeois state power and establish the dictatorship of the proletariat.
- The need for equality--particularly economic equality--between revolutionary cadre and the masses of workers. In one of its first acts, the Commune abolished the gross discrepancy between the wages of working people and state functionaries.
- Immediate recall of leadership by the masses if leaders fail to carry out the desires and aspirations of the working-class.
- The abolition of a bourgeois-type standing army and the distribution of arms to the masses of people. The Commune correctly foresaw that a standing army could serve as a "special repressive force" only against the workers and other oppressed people and not against the bourgeoisie. The workers had made the revolution: they and only they could defend it.
In State and Revolution, Lenin raised and expanded these points at some length. He also showed that the class struggle would continue after socialism. The rich experiences of the Paris Commune provided a source of inspiration to all revolutionaries. They enabled the world communist movement to take a giant stride forward.
The Russian revolution was the first serious attempt by workers and peasants to seize, hold, and consolidate state power. Prior to the revolution Lenin had written the historic What Is To Be Done? to fight the right opportunists who would have frittered the revolution away by relying on spontaneity, by engaging in reform struggles without introducing communist ideas, and by agitating for a bourgeois-democratic revolution instead of socialism. Between 1919 and 1921, the revolutionaries made a magnificent and victorious stand against military intervention by foreign imperialist powers. The masses showed great courage and determination to defend and build their revolution. It showed that the masses, the leadership of their revolutionary party, and revolutionary violence on the part of the working class and peasantry were vital to the seizure of state power.
From its onset, the Russian revolution drew an endless series of attacks from the international bourgeoisie. The sharpest external form these attacks took was the fascist invasion of the Soviet Union in 1940. The Soviet struggle against the invasion was a key factor enabling other revolutions--particularly the Chinese revolution --to develop. Communists all over the world led the fight against fascism and Nazism. The Soviet Union was the bulwark of this fight. The armed might of the Nazis, supported by the fascist "master race" theory, seemed invincible. Yet, the Red Army, the Soviet people, and the world communist movement smashed this "master race" of fascist imperialists and its Wehrmacht.
However, this tremendous mass struggle to defeat fascism, which involved hundreds of millions who were led mainly by the communist movement, did not result in socialism. The leadership of the international communist movement, led by the Soviet Union, did not advocate socialism--the dictatorship of the proletariat--as its primary goal. So after the war western Europe, particularly France and Italy, were handed back to the bourgeoisie. This was wrong. The workers were armed. They believed in socialism. And they would have carried the class struggle through to the end. Instead communist leaders advocated the turning in of guns to the Allied military government, and winning socialism through the parliamentary process. So capitalism was put back on its feet in western Europe, and it eventually engulfed eastern Europe and the Soviet Union.
In the case of the Soviet Union and these other countries, the roots of revisionism all converged at the point of granting concessions to the bourgeoisie, concessions that either allowed the old ruling class to reconquer power or paved the way for the emergence of a new, "red" bourgeoisie:
- In the course of revolutionary struggle prior to the seizure of power, the revolutionary party falsely divides the bourgeoisie into a "left" and a "right" camp, calls for an alliance with the "left," and consummates this alliance by granting the "left" certain privileges such as immunity from expropriation.
- This alliance is maintained after the revolution, and the privileges granted to the "good" wing of the bourgeoisie are extended.
- Many of the privileges granted to the bourgeoisie inevitably assume other than purely economic forms. Economic concessions require prior ideological concessions: if you pay an architect far more than a bricklayer, a general a lot more than a private, or pay a mayor 20 times more than a peasant, you have to come up with a theory to justify the discrepancies. One of these ideological concessions is the promotion of nationalism ("Let's all be a little less piggy--all of us, that is, except the bourgeoisie--for the sake of the nation.") Nationalism is a bourgeois theory. Like the bourgeoisie, it has no progressive aspects. Lenin and Stalin were consistent in defining nationalism as a totally reactionary ideology. But they often wrongly suggested that a little nationalism could be useful.
- Revolutionaries view the united front as an alliance between themselves and the "better" section of the bourgeoisie. Thus, the front unites around a bourgeois nationalist line as opposed to a revolutionary line for the dictatorship of the workers. As part of this deal, communists make the biggest concession of all by renouncing the struggle to win the masses to a socialist program.
- One of the principal reasons offered for the above concessions is the assumption that a large section of the masses--particularly the peasantry--cannot be won to socialism. The argument is put forth that the socialist revolution must pass through a two-stage process, the first stage of which will be something other than socialism. The Chinese called this first stage "New Democracy." Others argued for a-period of bourgeois democracy that would somehow transform itself into socialism.
The writings of Lenin, Stalin, and Mao are filled with warnings about the inevitability of a comeback attempt by the bourgeoisie after the revolution. The historical experience of revolutionary movements seems to validate these warnings without exception. The bourgeoisie's desire to reverse socialist revolution is constant. Its ability to reverse socialism depends upon the amount o~ leverage and maneuverability it is left with. Every time revolutionaries have made concessions to the bosses, the bosses have been able to use the concessions to regain power.
After the revolution, Russia was decimated. After the defeat of the interventionists, the Bolsheviks undertook the task of building the first socialist society. Before long, the leaders of the party decided that the slow pace of socialist construction would lead to ruination. They contended that the revolution would go down to defeat unless they could win the "more advanced" members of the old ruling class to cooperate in building the workers' state. Therefore, sweeping class concessions were in order. Accordingly, in the twenties, the Bolsheviks began implementing a policy known as NEP (New Economic Policy).
The NEP called for the reintroduction of capitalist methods, capitalist competition, and capitalists into the government and economy. The program sought to restrict the development of capitalism. But communists were assigned to control and nurture this base of capitalism. Obviously, communists administering capitalist concessions is at least contradictory. Profits and there fore exploitation were allowed. High living was tolerated. The equalitarianism that Lenin had admired in the Paris Commune and that he had called an indispensable aspect of socialism in State and Revolution never truly came into being. Communist cadre and leaders soon began aping the old bourgeoisie. As the economic gap increased between them and the people, the ideological gap followed suit. As this disease progressed, the CP ultimately restored full-blown capitalism to the Soviet Union. This time the bourgeoisie consisted of CP leaders and the managerial class they represented. But this new bourgeoisie could not have developed strength to take power without the concessions initially granted to the old bosses in the twenties. The seeds of capitalist restoration were already inherent in the NEP.
The transition from socialism to capitalism was a protracted process that unfolded over many years. The working class held fundamental power during this period. As in all developments, however, quantity turns into quality. The process of capitalist restoration was completed around the time of the Twentieth Party Congress in 1956. Led by Khrushchev, this congress set forth a systematic revisionist program. It called for unity between the Soviet Union and any party or nation calling itself socialist. According to Khrushchev and the Twentieth Congress, it was possible and even desirable to envision a peaceful transition to socialism, because a new period had dawned in which socialism and imperialism could co-exist non-antagonistically. Socialism would triumph not by force but by example.
Khrushchev formulated a right-wing attack on the Stalin cult for use as a battering ram in demolishing Marxism-Leninism. He capitalized on bad errors made by Stalin and other revolutionaries to obscure his own reactionary ideas. Over the years the Stalin leadership committed wholesale errors:
- Making concessions to the old Russian ruling class.
- Introduction of material incentives instead of political-moral incentives.
- Relying on nationalism to defeat the Nazis--thus making the policy of the international working class subservient to the interests of the Soviet Union. So, nationalism triumphed over internationalism.
- This policy led the Soviets into alliances with the international ruling class. This was most evident during the war against the Nazis. U.S., British, some French and other bosses were pictured as progressive forces.
- Democratic centralism, which is the only system of revolutionary organization, was reduced to arbitrary centralism. Friends were not distinguished from enemies. Thus, many good revolutionaries were killed by the Stalin leadership because they might have had differences. Many counter-revolutionaries who should have been put down were able to slip through because of these abuses
- Probably the most important error Stalin and others made was not winning masses of people to Marxism-Leninism. So, an elite held power without much participation by workers and peasants. Socialism was for the party leaders. The masses were only involved in carrying out this or that policy. Because these policies seemed progressive at the time, there was little resistance to them.
When the Khrushchev gang came to power there was only a slight adjustment needed to consolidate capitalist ways of life and production which had developed over the years. He capped off his revisionist program by asserting that the Soviet Union had completed socialist construction and could now undertake the transition to communism and that therefore the dictatorship of the proletariat had become an obsolete concept to be superseded by the "state of the whole people." In the space of two generations, the Soviet Union had turned from a socialist state that allowed "limited" capitalist enterprise into a fascist dictatorship.
Soviet concessions to capitalism were predicated upon the assumption that the peasantry could not be won immediately to socialism. Communist theoreticians devoted many treatises to the peasants' "backward mentality." Marxist-Leninists claimed that the peasant was petty-bourgeois, either in his orientation or in his relation to the mode of production. Given this estimate, revolutionaries reasoned that the peasantry was unwinnable to socialism without initially passing through a "stage" of bourgeois democracy. According to this theory, each peasant first had to receive his own plot of land. Next, some of these plots would be turned into cooperatives. Then the cooperatives could be developed into collective farms. But even within these transitional phases, each peasant was entitled to his "own" land, cow, horse, chickens, donkey, etc. In reality, this bourgeois- democratic "revolution" consigned the vast majority of peasants to capitalist exploitation. Capitalist production relations breed a capitalist and nationalist outlook.
When peasants and oppressed people rebelled against imperialism in alliance with "anti-imperialist" local bosses, Marxist-Leninists supported this alliance. The theory was that since the fight against the imperialists took precedence over everything, local bosses in competition with the imperialists could help in building the united front. In practice, this produced two irreconcilable contradictions: in the first place, it called upon communists to win the peasantry to capitalism; secondly, it rejected nationalism as an ideology but often embraced it as a "tactic."
Virtually all the world's peasants and oppressed people are proletarianized. The vast majority own neither land nor the means of production. This is certainly the case today, and we believe that it was also the case during Lenin's lifetime. As a worldwide system of exploitation, imperialism proletarianizes people, whether they work on the land or in factories.
This development is particularly obvious in our own country. Millions of agricultural workers in the U.S. are fighting the bosses, not for individual plots of land, but for higher wages, shorter hours, improved working conditions, etc. These are proletarian class demands. If properly led, the struggle to win them can help develop socialist consciousness. In the case of the so-called "colonial" and "semi-feudal" countries, tremendous economic growth has taken place. It is true that this growth has developed unevenly. It is also true that workers in the colonial countries are far more exploited than workers in imperialist countries. But why should communists attempt to convert these conditions into national capitalism, when this type of exploitation affords ample opportunity for winning workers and peasants--especially the most oppressed--to socialism?
History has proved many times that once national liberation movements seize power, they remain the pawns of imperialism. Algeria, Ghana, Guinea, and other cases all demonstrate that liberation without proletarian dictatorship is a fairy tale. History has also proved the futility of attempting to sneak socialism in through the back door. The wreck of Cuba stands as a living monument to the theory of socialism by deceit. As its economy sinks yearly and it becomes increasingly dependent on the revisionist Soviet Union, the Cuban revolution must pay dearly for failing to win the masses to a socialist outlook during the war against Batista. Withholding socialist ideas from part of the oppressed population because these ideas appear too "advanced" fatally undermines the development of socialist society.
The notion that the masses cannot understand socialism and will not fight for it is a myth that leads to elitism: "only a select few of us can understand such lofty, complex ideas." This error also compounds racism, because it vindicates the bourgeois idea that non-white people are too backward and stupid to exercise full social responsibility. Socialism does not belong to a chosen few; it belongs to the masses. They must develop socialist ideas, fight for them, and put socialism into practice. Superficially, this approach may appear more protracted than the old two-stage approach. In the final analysis, however, it may well prove to be the shorter route. In any event, we believe, it is the only route.
The Seventh World Congress of the Communist International in 1935 marked another turning point for the international communist movement. As the Congress opened, fascism was spreading throughout Europe. But neither the Congress nor the communist movement in general called for armed struggle, people's war, or revolution as the only method of defeating fascism decisively.
Fascism did not arise in Hungary, Italy, Germany, or Japan by fluke or default. Since these countries all had feeble economies, bourgeois democracy proved too weak a form for effective political control. The Bolshevik revolution and the world communist movement it helped generate made fascism necessary for the bourgeoisie. Intervention in 1919-21 had failed to destroy the Soviet Union. Consequently, the world bourgeoisie decided to establish fascism in certain strategic countries as a more violent form of anti-communism than bourgeois democracy. The imperialists armed Germany and Japan to the teeth. They entrusted Japan with the mission of fighting communism in Asia and Germany with the mission of fighting it in Europe and destroying it in Russia.
The Seventh World Congress divided the imperialists into fascist and anti-fascist camps and proposed a united front with the same bourgeois-democrats who had helped bring fascism into being. The social-democrats--the most rabid anti-communists on the pseudo left--were viewed as co-leaders of the united front.
In reality, both fascism and bourgeois democracy are forms of capitalist dictatorship. Both are equally counter-revolutionary. Neither can be smashed without proletarian revolution. If revolution was not imminent at the time of the Congress, revolutionary preparation and agitation--not alliances with "good" bourgeois democrats--should have been the order of the day. The parliamentary tactics adopted by the Seventh Congress served only to create the fatal illusion that fascism could be prevented without armed struggle. By systematizing unity with the "better" section of the bourgeoisie, the Congress strangled the communist movement and substituted opportunism for communist tactics. A world war was necessary to defeat fascism. Although the bourgeois-democratic imperialists intervened with their armies, communist-led armed struggle by the masses was the decisive factor.
However, the communist movement failed to give this struggle revolutionary leadership. Because the Seventh Congress did not make a correct distinction between friends and enemies, it put forth the revisionist "main danger" theory. The Soviets tried to forestall Hitler's invasion by making a pact with him. He double-crossed them. Then they entered into a full-blown alliance with the liberal imperialists who had initially sponsored Hitler and whom Hitler had also double-crossed. This alliance served to deepen illusions about qualitative differences among imperialists: since Hitler was the "worst," the others must be "better." The Chinese Communist Party still pursues this idea.
The line of the Seventh World Congress and the line of modern revisionism are essentially the same. They fail to grasp that although contradictions exist within the bourgeoisie, bourgeois class unity always predominates in the case of opposition to communism. This was a big lesson from the Paris Commune. Therefore, they fail to see that liberal bourgeois democracy feeds and develops anti-communism and fascism. Now, after decades of "lesser evil" imperialists, the CCP has taken the theory a step further by advancing the concept of "lesser evil" revisionists: the Soviets are the "worst;" the others are "better."
The "lesser evil" line has two main consequences: it either prevents revolutionary movements from seizing power or causes parties in power to restore capitalism. Today's Soviet Union furnishes a developed example of the latter consequence. Today, the only struggle conducted by the Soviet bosses is for a senior partnership in the international bourgeoisie. They are aided in this quest by the opportunism of the CCP.
The Soviet bosses must be treated like any other section of the bourgeoisie. Lenin's idea of recall by the masses might have been feasible when the Soviet Union was still a socialist state, but the party leadership had eliminated this idea in the earliest stages of the revolution. Since the masses were too "backward" to understand socialism, they were also too "backward" to understand the "need" for reintroducing limited capitalism or for allying with the "lesser evil" section of the bourgeoisie. In a word, they couldn't be trusted.
Today, the Soviet bosses have less reason than ever to trust the masses, because the masses now need to "recall" all of them by means of violent revolution. Overthrowing the Soviet leadership is a necessary and desirable goal. Revolutions are bound to erupt in all the former socialist countries.
Once proletarian dictatorship had been established in Russia, one-sixth of the world's land surface, the international relationship of forces changed irrevocably in the direction of revolution. Millions of communists and their supporters were actively engaged in political struggle from one end of the earth to another. A vibrant communist movement had begun to develop in China. Despite certain key mistakes in the initial period, the party and the revolutionary masses had grown in numbers and strength. By the late 1940s, they had won control of the Chinese mainland and established the dictatorship of the proletariat.
The Chinese revolution proved conclusively that a non-industrial country could move directly to socialism. Heretofore, many Marxist-Leninists had thought that socialist revolution was feasible only in countries with an industrial development at least on a par with Russia before 1917. Although China had some industry and therefore also a small working class, the number of city-dwelling workers was small before and during the revolution. But Mao Tse-tung and others understood that the peasantry could be a revolutionary force and unite with workers in the cities to seize power.
Nearly thirty years elapsed between the founding of the CCP and the seizure of power. Therefore, Mao correctly pointed to the need for an outlook of protracted struggle. Organized armed struggle led by a communist party was one of the main aspects of the struggle. And Mao always insisted that revolutionaries must never surrender their weapons to local nationalists.
This titanic battle helped clarify and enrich many other important revolutionary concepts, such as party building, cadre training and development, inner-party struggle, etc. The success of the Chinese revolution threw imperialism--especially U.S. imperialism--into a panic. By 1949, another huge section of the world had gone over to the revolutionary camp. Asia had taken its first qualitative step away from colonialism and imperialism. Mao's statement that the "east wind prevails over the west wind" summarizes this historic development.
However, the Chinese revolutionaries never broke with the old policy of concessions to the so-called "progressive" bourgeoisie. On the contrary, they implemented it with a vengeance, so their revolution stood on wobbly legs from the outset. In the Soviet Union, this policy did not begin to develop fully until after the revolution. In China, on the other hand, it reached maturity well before the seizure of power. In the course of the anti-Japanese war, the CCP made alliances with large sections of the "national" bourgeoisie. As usual, these alliances required serious ideological and economic concessions. One of the most important was the CPC's willingness to curtail its open advocacy of proletarian dictatorship and socialism.
After wresting power from the "right-wing" nationalists, Mao called for a period of "New Democracy," a supposed joint dictatorship of four revolutionary classes, including the "progressive national bourgeoisie." We do not believe that a state commonly ruled by several classes ever existed in China or any other country, or that it will ever exist anywhere. In the modern epoch, either the proletariat or the bourgeoisie, and no one else, is capable of wielding state power. What actually existed in China during the "New Democratic" period was essentially proletarian dictatorship. The People's Liberation Army (PLA) was led by communists, and the party was the only effectively functioning political instrument in China.
The "theory" of New Democracy served merely as a tactic to justify the serious concessions made by the party to the bourgeoisie. New Democracy was nothing more or less than the Chinese version of the NEP. New Democracy enabled the bourgeoisie to acquire footing and maneuverability in the party, the state apparatus, and the economy. Small wonder, then, that educational institutions never changed their class character or that after nearly twenty years of proletarian dictatorship, Chinese culture was primarily bourgeois.
Like the Paris Commune, the Soviet revolution, and the first Chinese revolution, the principal question raised by the GPCR was the class nature of state power. By the early sixties, the ferocity of class struggle in China had begun to intensify dramatically. The concessions granted to the bourgeoisie by the policy of New Democracy had enabled a new ruling class to emerge and gain ascendancy. It differed in form from the old ruling class, but its capitalist essence remained identical. The heart of this new ruling class was the party itself. In the space of a few short years, the CCP had turned into its opposite. Virtually all of its leading cadre had become a "red" bourgeoisie. The GPCR therefore constituted an effort on the part of the masses to win power back from these revisionists.
The GPCR erupted within the framework of a worldwide anti-revisionist struggle apparently led by the CCP. In the late fifties, the CCP launched a significant attack against Soviet revisionism and Yugoslav opportunism. But this attack was not comprehensive. It took aim at several branches of revisionism without digging deep enough to ferret out its roots. The Soviet Union had become revisionist because it had repudiated armed struggle and was now calling for peaceful coexistence with imperialism. This criticism was correct-- but only as far as it went. During this entire period, the CCP never critically examined socialist construction in the Soviet Union or China, never repudiated the theory of concessions to the bourgeoisie, and never conducted an all-out ideological struggle against nationalism and the 7th World Congress.
Given the nature of the CCP, a thorough evaluation of these questions was inconceivable. Why should China's "red" bourgeoisie have put into question the very principles that had helped foster its development as a class? China's red bourgeoisie didn't fundamentally oppose revisionism; it attacked the Soviets because the Chinese masses were too advanced politically to swallow the obviously right-wing line of the CPSU. A more militant left cover was necessary in order to restore capitalism in China. The only hitch came when the Chinese masses began to take seriously the idea of overthrowing the bourgeoisie and reconquering state power.
The GPCR helped inject a number of vital ideas into the world revolutionary movement:
- The absolute primacy of political incentives over material incentives. From the earliest days of the Bolshevik revolution, Soviet leaders were convinced that the masses could be won to socialism only if they were impelled by the promise of special material rewards. The Soviet leaders reasoned that a worker would be willing to increase his production if he received additional pay for producing over the norm. Correspondingly, it was felt that peasants would also produce more if they owned a part of the land they worked. The same system had developed in China. In the course of the GPCR, the left mass movement tried to smash it.
- The primacy of politics over technique. The GPCR demonstrated that the prime requisite for socialism was not a bevy of "experts" or technocrats but rather the masses' understanding and implementation of socialist ideas.
- Intensified struggle against revisionism. One of the slogans advanced by the left during the GPCR was "no aid from revisionists." China's own experience had shown that Soviet "aid" would lead to its opposite by creating illusions about revisionism and diluting the class struggle. The left also stated its opposition to negotiations with revisionists and imperialists.
- Intensified struggle against imperialism and its nationalist stooges. The left and the masses led a series of attacks on imperialist diplomats residing in China. Chinese workers laid siege to the British "crown colony" of Hong Kong. These developments helped strengthen revolutionary movements in Asia and the West. The revisionists and imperialists were always babbling that Peking was "isolated from the community of nations." The left said that isolation from imperialists like DeGaulle or stooges like Sihanouk was just fine because it was a necessary condition for unity with revolutionary forces, workers and oppressed people around the world.
- The revolutionary doctrine that the masses are more important than weapons and can defeat any imperialist war, including nuclear war. The U.S. imperialists and Soviet revisionists increased their war provocations against China during the GPCR. The GPCR was not intimidated. It took the line: "China will never launch a nuclear war or any war of aggression. Despite the apparent superiority of your weapons, the Chinese people and the workers and oppressed people of the world are invincible. Imperialism and revisionism will be crushed. Start your war--we will finish it."
The Chinese masses took many of these ideas in dead earnest and attempted to act upon them. A large organized movement developed against Soviet aid to Vietnam. Shipment after shipment of Soviet arms was derailed by left forces in the GPCR. The purpose of these actions was to show revolutionary solidarity with the people of Vietnam by opposing the machinations of the revisionists. Only the direct, violent intervention of the Mao Tse-Tung controlled People's Liberation Army was able to put a stop to this movement.
Underlying the GPCR was the premise that the class struggle grows sharper after the seizure of power. The GPCR was a struggle for state power. It proved that workers and revolutionaries must fight back to win power away from the "red" bourgeoisie and keep the red flag of revolution in the vanguard of the mass movement.
Various forces allied with Mao Tse-tung have portrayed the GPCR as "personally led and initiated" by Mao. This is a myth. The GPCR really began in the late fifties, when masses of people rebelled against the new "red" bourgeoisie and attempted to implement a program for drastic change in Chinese society. The commune movement of the fifties was one of the first expressions of this struggle. Although the commune movement was identified with Mao, it was crushed while he dominated the Chinese political scene.
Two distinct elements participated in the GPCR: a left, represented by certain forces in the party, by the Red Guard movement, and by revolutionary workers' councils; and a right, represented by Mao Tse-tung and Liu Shao-chi. The initial actions of the GPCR had nothing to do with Mao. One of the first struggles launched by the pre-Red Guard movement was a rebellion against revisionism at Peking University. This movement and the workers' movement rapidly grew into huge mass phenomena. Mao and the forces allied with him used them in a struggle against the more exposed rightists like Liu and P'eng Ch'en.
The only differences between Mao and Liu centered around the question of whether or not China would continue its development along the Soviet line. Some of Liu's friends who were Marshals in the PLA wanted to build the Chinese army with Russian weapons, thereby making China economically and militarily dependent on the Soviet Union. Mao and his allies wanted the Chinese economy to develop independently of the Soviet Union. They wanted to produce their own brand of national revisionism. Led by Mao, they used the revolutionary mass movement as a battering ram to drive the very exposed right-wingers like Liu out of the party. But the masses wanted to drive out the entire party leadership. This was the necessary condition for seizing back state power and the means of production. Mao uttered left formulations and issued left directives to ingratiate himself with the masses and win their confidence. But every time the masses went "too far" in carrying out his instructions, he immediately called upon the PLA to beat them into submission.
Liu and his associates were used as scapegoats. Many of the errors pinned on the "black gang" were errors made by Mao Tse-tung. During the thirties Mao had said not to advocate the dictatorship of the proletariat; Mao advocated concessions to landlords and other businessmen in order to win them to the anti- Japanese struggle; Mao called for. alliances with every kind of nationalist fink.
The left of the GPCR wanted to model socialism in China after the principles of the Paris Commune. By establishing himself as the "symbol" of these principles, Mao was able to deceive much of the left. His own apparatus and many honest forces in the mass movement worked swiftly to elevate him to the status of demi-god. He became the "red sun in our hearts" and it was discovered that he had never said or done anything wrong. He got away with this by giving lip service to the revolutionary aspirations of the masses.
Mao helped put his man Lin Piao in charge of the armed forces. In this way, he succeeded in creating the impression that the GPCR was being carried out within the PLA. According to opportunists, the PLA had already become "a great school of Mao Tse-Tung Thought"; therefore any disruptions in it would be harmful to China's stability and would render China vulnerable to external attacks from the imperialists and revisionists.
After Mao's rapid ascension to divinity, his authority was enormous. The political self-reliance of the masses could not possibly have developed in these circumstances. Bit by bit, Mao methodically whittled away the reforms initiated by the GPCR and dismantled the organizations that had led the fight to win them. He dispersed the Red Guards and other leftists. He removed those leaders of the GPCR who opposed him or who "mistakenly" persisted in "ultra-leftist" thinking. He distorted the great slogan "serve the people" until it became indistinguishable from the slogan "serve Mao."
In the initial phase of the GPCR, when the masses said they wanted to drag out all the power holders, they meant concretely that 90 percent of the senior party cadre should "stand aside." Mao claimed, however, that only 5 percent of the cadre were hopeless right-wingers. He said that since 95 percent were good, they could be rehabilitated and re integrated into the party. This fable completely contradicted the aims of the GPCR. In addition, Mao called for a non-violent revolution, although he accurately described the GPCR as a class struggle for state power. But Marxist-Leninists, including the left of the GPCR, know that there is no such thing as a non-violent revolution. The class struggle for state power has never been peaceful; it was not peaceful during the GPCR and it will never be peaceful.
Backed by the prestige of Mao's vast authority and the power of the PLA, the opportunists were able to impose the old revisionist methods in China. A clearly revisionist foreign policy began to emerge. Since then, it has rapidly progressed further rightward. In 1967, masses of workers and students threw snowballs at the French ambassador in Peking. In 1968, hundreds of thousands demonstrated in Peking to support the French worker-student rebellion. But by 1970, the leaders of the Chinese party and state were holding "cordial talks" with Pompidou's emissaries, and Chairman Mao "personally led and initiated" the sending of a heart struck letter of condolence to Mme. DeGaulle. This loveletter was the symbol of New Democracy on a world wide scale. According to the CCP, DeGaulle had been independent of U.S. imperialism. Therefore his memory should be revered. His role in suppressing the same worker-student rebellion that the Chinese masses had rallied to defend was conveniently overlooked. The Chinese leadership has now entered into negotiations with the Soviets, whom the GPCR characterized as "worse than Hitler." The CCP gave Yahya Khan $20,000,000 worth of aid for the Pakistani bosses. Then the Pakistani army met rebelling workers on the steps of the palace in the capital with Chinese tanks and guns. The CCP had given arms to the Pakistani rulers because of their feud with the Indian bourgeoisie, which was allied with U.S. imperialism and Soviet revisionism. The Pakistani bourgeoisie was in competition with it. Therefore, the Pakistanis were "better," and the Indians were the "bigger enemy." But as is always the case when this revisionist line is applied, the main enemy of the opportunists in Peking proved to be the masses themselves.
Because the CCP never really broke with the old policies that eventually led to revisionism, some of the ideas it now advances to explain developments in the Soviet Union and China are inadequate. The CCP says that the "black gang" of capitalist roaders (i.e. the right led by Liu) have been rotten for decades, and that a "handful" of them usurped power before the GPCR. Mao's only self-criticism is that, some years ago, he allowed himself to be outmaneuvered by them and kicked upstairs. Although Mao's critique of Liu contains many correct points, it fails to explain how Liu managed to become top dog in the state. This critique is unprincipled and opportunist, because Mao nowhere explains why he and Liu held many of the same political positions during the thirties and forties. Because the CCP never correctly analyzed its own development or the development of revisionism in the Soviet Union, it has not solved this problem.
Therefore, it is no surprise that the GPCR has been crushed and the changes fought for in China have been reversed. It is no surprise that the momentary left direction of China's foreign policy has turned into its opposite? and that Chinese foreign policy is now to the right of the right-wing Bandung Conference program of the fifties. Additionally the CCP never mounted an anti revisionist attack on the Cubans, the North Koreans, or the North Vietnamese. Why should it? Le Duan, Castro, and Kim Il Sung are faithfully carrying out Chairman Mao's thesis of New Democracy.
Consequently, it is a very logical development that the Mao Tse-tung leadership moves for accommodation with U.S. imperialism. How ironic that the CCP feverishly tries to get into the U.S.-Soviet imperialist's UN, after giving the ex-Indonesian leader, Sukarno, roses for leaving it. During the GPCR the CCP attacked the UN. They carefully explained the class role it played in the world. And they were emphatic that they had no intention of trying to get into this nest of vipers. Obviously, the CCP has changed its policy of reliance on the masses to reliance on the world's bourgeoisie. The rationale is to prevent an attack on China, but this policy has never worked on its own terms. It has subverted, confused and held back revolutionaries.
We would be guilty of the same error committed by the CCP in analyzing the roots of revisionism, however, if we ascribed the defeat of the GPCR and the present right drift of Chinese policy to Mao's errors alone. The key error in the GPCR was made by the left, when it failed to separate itself ideologically and organizationally from Mao. It tolerated and in some cases encouraged the anti-Marxist Mao cult. The principal task in China remains the overthrow of the "red" bourgeoisie. If the left is to give leadership in accomplishing this task, it must regroup and irrevocably split from Mao & Co. This is the only course that can lead to the realization of the excellent slogans advanced by the GPCR: serve the people; no "aid" from revisionists; no negotiations with revisionists and imperialists; support only the broad revolutionary masses; bombard the headquarters; drag out the power-holders; draw a clear line between us and the enemy; and no unity of action with revisionists.
We are convinced that the defeat of the GPCR is temporary. This profound revolution enriched Marxism-Leninism and enabled the international communist movement to advance. We would never have been able to discuss many of the ideas in this report without the forward thrust of left forces during the GPCR. True, Mao and his group were able to turn the left's own weaknesses against itself, but in order to do so, he had to popularize left ideas and slogans to millions. We believe in these ideas and slogans. They light the way forward for our party, and we must strive to carry them out.
We have already attempted to show how this bourgeois concept helped reverse the GPCR. The myth of leaders' infallibility has been a millstone around the neck of the communist movement for decades. Cultism and the doctrine of infallibility did not originate with the struggle for proletarian dictatorship. They have appeared down through the ages and have affected every aspect of social life. This reactionary doctrine thwarts the political development of the masses. Since someone "up there" does our thinking for us, why should we bother to do it ourselves? It takes political power out of the hands of the masses. It encourages bourgeois individualism, by urging the masses to seek individual self-improvement through emulation of the "infallible one."
Khrushchev attacked the Stalin cult from the right, in order to discredit Marxism-Leninism and secure political power for the new Soviet bourgeoisie. We attack the cult from the left, in order to serve the masses and win socialism. We believe in a revolutionary working-class party directly tied to the masses and controlled by them. We believe in democratic-centralism. We believe in leadership that sets proletarian dictatorship and socialism as its goal. We believe in criticism and self-criticism by all party members and leaders. We view infallibility and cultism as class questions.
Today the U.S. ruling class consciously uses cultism to impede the growth of the left. The bosses are only too happy to use their media to build up a left leader. They would like to turn his head, transform him into a celebrity, and thereby separate him from the masses. By using cultism, extreme egoism, and individualism, the bosses try to determine the identity of the people's leaders and the content of their leadership. The bosses choose certain "leaders" and slate them for instant stardom. Suddenly, everyone is reading their books or watching their interviews on the tube. Then, when the bosses decide they need a fresh image, they shunt these gurus into oblivion by shutting them off the tube and publishing someone else's books.
In the final analysis, we must decide once and for all who is the prime motive force in history: individuals or the masses.
Many people will say that PL is arrogant and cruel: "They sit on their asses and say it was wrong to make this concession or that one. Do they want people to fight and starve endlessly?" The masses--not we--have already answered this question. If everything had been hunky-dory in China, why did the GPCR erupt? How come the people of Vietnam rebelled and built their revolutionary movement after the 1946 negotiations with the French? How come they rebelled again and built an even stronger movement after the Geneva accords? Both China and the Soviet Union signed the 1954 Geneva agreement to break up Vietnam. They relied on imperialist promises of free election guaranteed by the UN. But the South Vietnamese people never went along with this sellout. Before the ink had dried on the Geneva agreement, they were organizing and fighting. Ho Chi Minh didn't organize them. He and the other Vietnamese leaders latched onto their movement only after it had become the fact of life. These revisionists made sure the Vietnamese revolution would remain well within the bounds of nationalism and bourgeois democracy.
The people never accept betrayal. They always see through it and fight back. Even on its own terms humanism fails, because every time "humanitarian" arguments are induced to bring about negotiations, the people have to pay a stiffer price after the inevitable sellout. They are left with the same rotten, murderous exploitation that they attempted to smash in the first place. They often have to rebuild their movement from scratch. Their fight for socialism becomes longer and harder than it would have been without the betrayal. But no deal, no concession can stop this fight. Nothing can.
Every time revolutionaries foist a nationalist hack like Sihanouk on the backs of the people, the people must pay a high price to get rid of him. How many Indonesians did Sukarno's line enable the bosses to slaughter? Yet the. Chinese hailed Sukarno. There is no correct way to unite with nationalists or imperialists. Where did such unity ever advance the cause of revolution? During the GPCR, the masses rejected this old, wrong, despicable policy. They will do so again.
In this period, the mounting contradictions faced by U.S. imperialism are embodied in its economic, political, and military weaknesses. Contradictions in revisionist countries are helping to intensify class antagonisms. Revolutionary ideology will strengthen its foothold among the masses, and the revolutionary process will spread internationally. Imperialism and revisionism cannot stop this process. For this reason, we say that the present period is one of wars and revolutions.
We hope and work for more revolutions. We welcome mass armed struggle. Conditions for sharper, more serious struggle are constantly maturing in the U.S. We believe that nuclear blackmail as it was used by the Soviets during the Sino-Soviet border clashes won't work. It may have scared Chou En-lai & Co. to back down. But it will not intimidate the masses. The left in China and the rest of the world will not be bamboozled by any kind of blackmail. The GPCR and the initial stages of people's war in Vietnam have shown that in the period that has seen great increases in the sophistication of imperialist weaponry and in imperialist ferocity, revolutionary struggle has taken giant strides forward.
We reject the concept of a united front with bosses, revisionists, Trotskyists and the herd of various fakes on the left. We believe in a united front from below that takes the form of a left-center coalition. Many people in our country are ready to grasp socialist ideas now. The contradictions between them and their leaders are increasing daily. In addition, there are many millions of good people who have no basic organizational or political allegiance to the bourgeoisie. In some cases, the party can help organize groups and work with them around questions of immediate interest. In other cases, we can attempt to ally with groups that already exist. We may also ally with formations within national or state organizations that separate themselves from the policies of their liberal-imperialist or revisionist "leaders." The united front necessarily assumes the organizational form of an alliance between ourselves and other groups. Within this alliance, we must implement the policy of "struggle with--struggle against."
We also work within reactionary groups if they have a hold on significant numbers of people. But this is not united front work. The purpose of our presence in such groups is to win their membership to socialism and our party, not to build the groups.
The political basis of the united front is our mass line on whatever issue workers and others deem important at any given moment. At present, the fight against racist unemployment constitutes the principal aspect of our mass line. Our participation in this fight enables us to make a united front with many different forces. Without a mass line, the united front is meaningless. We know that the masses are always embroiled in struggle. We attempt to raise the level of political consciousness both within and outside the mass movement. We should never separate ourselves from the people by abstaining from the class struggle. A party that doesn't fight dries up and dies. A party that doesn't bring communist ideas into the movement isn't a communist party: at best, it is a reform group.
We can best support the people's struggles by fighting for socialism and by defeating revisionism. This approach is as applicable to wars of liberation as it is to the fight at home for more jobs. The best support we can give our comrades in Vietnam is to struggle for the U.S. to get out now, to organize for the defeat of imperialism at home and in Vietnam, and to reject revisionism in the U.S., Vietnam, and everywhere else.
The united front is a critical form for winning people to socialist consciousness. Ultimately, no struggle can succeed unless its goal is proletarian dictatorship and the only way to win proletarian dictatorship is to defeat imperialism and revisionism.
There are many questions around which the mass struggle is raging. These include: unemployment, wages, prices, taxes, more schools, improved medical care, racism, war, and living conditions. Within these struggles we can link the fight for reforms to the need for socialism. Most people in our country are not yet for socialism. However, many more people than we ever dreamed of are open to struggle for working class ideas for workers' power. In doing this we can avoid the old error of creating illusions that capitalism can reform itself; and we can avoid the old Trotskyite error of separating ourselves from the struggle of all people. We are a working class party. No struggle is meaningless to us. No struggle is something that belongs to other people whom we are just helping out. We need to fight on all questions of principle. Socialism is not just something we need: it is necessary for the survival of our class.
In the past, we have been too reticent in seeking out and working with other forces in the international movement. We have been slow in raising support for the class struggles conducted by workers in other countries. However, we know that each struggle abroad is interrelated to struggle in the U.S. We also know that communism can't advance with a bad line.
Over the years we have been guilty of many of the same errors made by the CCP. In our earlier period we supported many nationalists at home and abroad. We were unable to make the correct link-up between nationalism--the "militant" variety--and capitalism. We believed that "revolutionary" nationalism as espoused by a Malcolm X, Robert Williams or a Sukarno or Boumedienne type would be a transition belt from capitalism to socialism. Sometimes we arrived at these erroneous conclusions ourselves, or we were guilty of following the CCP policies unquestioningly.
In doing this we deluded ourselves into taking incorrect class positions. This cop-out from the ideological struggle often led us into making racist errors. It was our belief that most black and minority workers couldn't be won to socialist ideas. Hence, we didn't engage in sharp ideological struggle. Many black and minority people who were won to the party drifted away as they recognized that the party had two standards for black and white. White members had to believe in socialism; minority members could believe in anything they wanted. Naturally, they reasoned if the party had a nationalist outlook why did you need a party in the first place. After all, many non- communists in the mass movement advocated many national reforms.
The other side of the coin was reached when we rejected nationalism as a bourgeois outlook. Then many of our members developed a racist pattern. Many considered everyone an enemy who had a nationalist outlook. In every section of the people there is acceptance of many ruling class ideas. If they all were our enemies we would all disappear. To the extent nationalism is a mass phenomenon it is a response to racism. We have found that it isn't that difficult to win many people away from a nationalist outlook. Not to do so would result in the vilest racism. Additionally, if we accept the point that many, if not most, white workers are racists whom we should have nothing to do with, we would lose by default. This inverse racism would be an acceptance of the status-quo.
Another serious error we made was to take a superficial view of the CCP's fight against Soviet revisionism. We didn't seriously question the limited nature of the struggle against revisionism. We were too content to hear the Chinese berate Khrushchev instead of analyzing, ourselves, the fundamental reasons for Soviet opportunism.
So when the GPCR was launched we didn't question it sufficiently. While we questioned the adulation of Mao, and the fact that workers were not immediately in the leadership of the GPCR, and that many of the errors attributed to Liu were errors made by Mao, we were satisfied that Mao and Co. were going in the right direction. We weren't able to see the trends in the mass movement, or that Mao and others were really right-wingers wrapping themselves in a red flag. We couldn't see how the Mao Tse-tung leadership was taking away the initiative of the left in order to put over a right line.
We weren't sharp enough in drawing the proper lessons from Mao's one-sided support of the Hanoi and National Liberation Front leaders, who held many positions which were contrary to the CCP. For example, the Vietnamese supported Soviet revisionists and took Soviet "aid." They supported counterrevolutionary actions like the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. Hanoi opportunists never fought revisionism. They always sought to unify Peking and Moscow. Obviously, they knew more than we did. We had illusions about the Mao leadership. Ho Chi Minh must have understood that the differences between China and the Soviet Union-- as well as differences between Mao and Liu--were secondary.
Another area in which we erred for some time was our method of relying on the masses. Our practice was limited. In the past two years we have begun to reach out to workers and all people opposed to the ruling class in a much larger way with communist ideas. The response has been excellent. More workers have come into or drawn closer to the Party. While we have improved in putting forward our ideas in a much more vigorous and consistent way we have not yet achieved what is possible.
Still too little time is spent in winning workers to communism, either through mass agitation or mass struggle. And only by overcoming our weaknesses in building united fronts and base-building can we correct this shortcoming. Either we rely and have confidence in workers or we perish. Either we become communists where we work, live or go to school or we will be reduced to perpetual outsiders.
Thus, the main way revisionism appears in our party is to the degree we do not implement our line on basebuilding. It is to the degree our sectarianism separates us from the workers. The kernel of our line is reliance on the workers. But how can we rely on them if we have little or no base among them? While we have made important strides these past two years, many people are still lagging by the wayside.
During the last two years we made an important breakthrough in the battle against revisionism. We brought socialist ideas to masses of workers, and we involved ourselves with thousands. Workers, by the thousands, are interested in our party and socialism. However, most workers are not ready to launch a socialist revolution now. They are ready to fight like hell on many immediate grievances. To abstain from these fights would be to reduce socialism to an abstraction. There would be no way to win people to the need for socialist revolution, and to show how the fight for reforms by itself can never solve workers' problems.
If we are sectarian or without ties to people we can spout our line all we want. We will get no place. We will dry up and disappear. Too many people still have a "metoo" outlook--that is, a capitalist outlook. They hide their anti-working class feelings or their fear of the workers behind "correct" slogans. A holier-than-thou attitude sometimes prevails. Secondary matters become primary in the absence of a base. Many people still view Marxism-Leninism as their property. They are unwilling to bring it to workers, learn from them and enrich Marxism-Leninism. We cannot tolerate isolated members. We. cannot tolerate members who hang onto their base like money. The purpose of a political base is to bring more workers into leadership in the fight against the bosses. Most of our subjective weaknesses like fear and individualism can be corrected within the framework of base-building.
Our party wants to be involved and leading events. But we want to involve millions in the Marxist-Leninist process. Only the workers have the power and understanding to win and secure state power. History has taught us the bitter lesson that a party can grow, can lead struggles, and even hold power temporarily. But it will lose out if millions upon millions of workers aren't imbued with socialist consciousness, and take part in the political planning and direction of the party. The more people who are involved in leadership and party building the better. We reject socialism by deceit, by inches, by an elite, etc. We reject reliance on the ruling class--any section of it. We rely only on workers all over the world. The working class is one international class with the need to crush each section of the international bourgeoisie until the entire ruling class is finished. This is not a bookkeeper's approach. It is an approach which demands the unity of all workers at the highest level. It calls upon all workers to be won to Marxism- Leninism.
Undoubtedly, our ideas will be attacked as heresy. However, we have the ability to act on our mass line. Carrying out our line in practice is the decisive way to prove its validity. Every time we move our asses one tiny bit to bring our line to workers, they receive it enthusiastically. Our confidence in our ideas and our ability to make progress are closely tied to continued basebuilding for the party in the working class. Our party won't grow if it doesn't initiate struggles, if it doesn't stand in the forefront of all struggles, and if it doesn't build united fronts with those who are prepared to join with us on specific issues or sets of issues. If we don't serve the people, we are useless or harmful to them. Therefore, in the coming period, we must carry out the following tasks:
- Root out all ideas that lead to alliances with the ruling class. Reject alliances that lead to ideological concessions now and economic concessions later. They can only turn us into a revisionist organization.
- Steel ourselves and our friends to recognize and avoid nationalist traps. This can best be accomplished by fighting racism.
- Make sure that the dictatorship of the proletariat and socialism are always put forward in all party agitation.
- Wipe out all vestiges of cultism. Intensify the struggle against individualism in ourselves. As a start, the Central Committee has approved the idea of suppressing the glorification of individual images that may arise in the party. Every member of the party must be able to present the party line. We do not believe in relying on the verbal or political dexterity of a few "experts."
- Intensify our mass work. Struggle on issues. Build the united front as a left-center coalition. Win people to the Party. Build the unemployment movement.
- Improve and expand our international work. Build international unity.
We have every reason to believe that by discussing, applying, and enriching this line, our party will deepen its ties to workers in this country and internationally. We have a world to learn--and a world to win.