Towards a Revisionist International?
Marxist-Leninist Komunist Parti (MLKP) - Turkey
The parties and organizations present here are invited and expected to agree on coming together and uniting to establish or reestablish the international communist movement. The grounds for this project are set forth in various documents, such as the Pyongyang Declaration of 20 April 1992, PTB (Party of Labor of Belgium)'s "Seven Propositions For the Unity International Communist Movement" of 2 May 1993 and the "Propositions For the Unity of International Communist Movement" of 3 May 1994. In these and similar documents and announcements of various parties and organizations the following views are expressed:
1-"In order to safeguard and advance the socialist cause all these parties ("parties ... that aspire after socialism") must firmly maintain independence and strengthen their own forces." ... "The socialist movement is an independent movement".... "The socialist cause is a national cause and, at the same time, a common cause of mankind". (Pyongyang Declaration)
2-"Ours is an era of independence and the socialist cause is a sacred one aimed at realizing the independence of the popular masses".... "Socialist society is, in essence, a genuine society for the people where the popular masses are the masters of everything and everything serves them". (Pyongyang Declaration)
3-"Every party applies the Marxist-Leninist principles to the present reality according to its own concept.... Every party defines its policy in complete independence. But this doesn't contradict the duty to maintain the unity of the international communist movement, for this unity is also an important question of principle" (Propositions For the Unity of the International Communist Movement)
4-"Since 1956, the international communist movement has been divided and split, mainly due to the revisionist line adopted by Khrushchev, but also under the influence of ultra-left attitudes". (Propositions For the Unity of the International Communist Movement)
5-"Whatever opinion one may have about the correctness or necessity of these splits at a certain point in history, today the possibility exists to overcome these divisions and to unite Marxist-Leninist parties traditionally divided along pro-Soviet, pro-Chinese, pro-Albanian, pro-Cuban or independent lines".... "In the actual situation, all parties that stay to the revolutionary principles of Marxism-Leninism feel the need to bypass former divisions and unite". (Propositions For the Unity of the International Communist Movement))
6-"After the complete restoration of capitalism in the Soviet Union all communists can agree that revisionism is the most dangerous ideological enemy of Marxism-Leninism. Life has proven that revisionism represents the bourgeoisie within the communist movement". (Proposition For the Unity of the International Communist Movement)
7-"Communists must unite on the basis of Marxism-Leninism and proletarian internationalism. It is necessary to consolidate unity, based on Marxism-Leninism, and in the struggle against revisionism, sectarianism and dogmatism. We must accept that severe and even extreme differences of opinion continue to exist among communists for a long period. It is necessary to accept criticism and counter-criticism and maintain unity" (Propositions For the Unity of the International Communist Movement)
8-"In the sixties it was Mao Zedong who best grasped the danger of revisionism. Enver Hoxha, Ho Chi Minh, Kim Il Sung and Che Guevara also made important contributions to the fight against revisionism". (Propositions For the Unity of the International Communist Movement)
9-"The ideological struggle against revisionism is a complex and prolonged task. Revisionism, that has destroyed so many parties, will not disappear spontaneously. Tito's revisionism had been criticized by the international communist movement as early as 1948. If the revisionist ideas and theses are not analyzed and criticized in depth, they continue to exist and the liquidationist current can strike again and claim new victims". (Propositions For the Unity of the International Communist Movement)
The international communist movement can not be established or reestablished on the basis of above-mentioned theses and premises. We do not question or doubt about the sincerity and good intentions of at least most of the parties and groups represented here. But, as the saying goes the road to hell is paved with good intentions. First of all, we should make a distinction between the problem of uniting communist forces and the problem of uniting anti-imperialist and anti-fascist forces. The above-mentioned documents talk of the necessity of a fight against imperialism, racism, fascism, capitalism etc and then proceed to propose the unification of all revolutionary forces, including non-communist ones under the banner of communism! It is our belief that under these circumstances where a strictly clear line of demarcation has not been drawn between democratic and socialist tasks and between revolutionary-democratic forces and communist ones, even a real anti-imperialist and democratic front can not be established. But we'll dwell on this question later.
Before proceeding towards the question of the unity of communist forces, we want to criticize some hazy and opportunist formulations that betray an open departure from Marxism-Leninism.In these documents, the special and world-historical role of the proletariat has never been mentioned, nor the absolute necessity of the dictatorship of the proletariat. Lenin once said,
"The chief thing in the doctrine of Marx is that it brings out the historic role of the proletariat as the builder of socialist society". (The Historical Destiny of the Doctrine of Karl Marx, Collected Works, volume 18, p. 582)
And in his famous book, The State And Revolution he said:
"He who recognizes only the class struggle is not yet a Marxist; it may turn out that he has not yet gone beyond the bounds of bourgeois thinking and bourgeois politics. To confine Marxism to the doctrine of the class struggle means curtailing Marxism, distorting it, reducing it to something acceptable to the bourgeoisie. Only he is a Marxist who extends the recognition of the class struggle to the recognition of the dictatorship of the proletariat. That is what constitutes the most profound difference between the Marxist and the ordinary petty (as well as big bourgeois. This is the touchstone on which the real understanding and recognition of Marxism is to be tested. And it is not surprising that when the history of Europe brought the working class face to face with this question as a practical issue, not only all the opportunists and reformists but all the 'Kautskyites' (people who vacillate between reformism and Marxism) proved to be miserable philistines and petty-bourgeois democrats who repudiate the dictatorship of the proletariat". (Marx, Engels, Marxism, p. 405-6)
The writers of above-mentioned documents negate Marxism-Leninism when they describe socialist society as a, "genuine society for the people where the popular masses are the masters of everything and everything serves them". (Pyongyang Declaration) And of course they should be criticized for not having clearly indicated at communism, classless society as the ultimate aim of communist movement too. They have forgotten the transitional character of socialism and have presented it as the ultimate aim of communist movement, which is an outright repudiation of Marxism-Leninism.In his Critique of the Gotha Programme Marx said:
"Between capitalist and communist society lies the period of the revolutionary transformation of the one into the other. There corresponds to this also a political transition period in which the state can be nothing but the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat". (Marx, Engels, Marxism, p. 411)
Here we also run into an undue emphasis upon independence, which smacks of nationalism. We are told that, "Ours is an era of independence", socialism aims at the realization of "the independence of popular masses", "The socialist movement is an independent movement" (Pyongyang Declaration). These are not Marxist assertions. Why? Because, first of all, ours is still the "era of imperialism and proletarian revolutions" and its main content is transition from capitalism to socialism. Secondly, to argue that socialism aims at "the independence of popular masses" is at best empty and idle talk, to describe "socialist movement" as "an independent movement" and to assert that "parties that aspire to socialism" must "firmly maintain independence" means reducing "the socialist movement" to a national-democratic movement and repudiating the international character of working class and communist movement. As early as 1867 Marx had said:
"That all efforts aiming at that great end have hitherto failed from the want of solidarity and bond of union between the working class of different countries;
"That the emancipation of labor is neither a local, nor a national, but a social problem, embracing all countries in which modern society exists, and depending for its solution on the concurrence, practical and theoretical, of the most advanced countries;" ("Rules And Administrative Regulations of the Working Men's Association", Collected Works, v. 20, p. 441) And in the Statutes of the Communist International drafted by Lenin in August 1920 we read the following:
"The Communist International knows that in order to hasten victory an International Working Men's Association, fighting to abolish capitalism and create Communism, must have a strongly centralized organization. In reality and in action the Communist International must be a single universal Communist Party, the Parties in each country acting as its sections. The organizational apparatus of the Communist International must guarantee the working people of every country the opportunity to receive maximum assistance at any time from the organized proletarians of other countries" (Theses, Resolutions & Manifestoes of the First Four Congresses of the Third International, p. 124)
By now it should be obvious that the perception of the question of "independence" by Marxist-Leninists is totally different from that of the authors of the above-mentioned documents. The latter interpret it in the light of national exclusiveness and narrow mindedness and reduce it to the level of chatter about solidarity and so on, which is also the essence of their "internationalism". According to Marxist-Leninists, "the socialist movement", rather the communist and working class movement needs to be independent of the bourgeoisie and other propertied classes, ideologically, politically and organizationally but not vis-a-vis the other detachments of the communist and working class movement. Different detachments of the international communist and working class movement should be as close to each other as possible. That's the reason why Marxist-Leninists are for the slogan, "Workers of all Countries, Unite". And that's the reason why they have always opposed the division of working classes in individual countries along national lines. Bolsheviks rejected the division of the working class into national sections and affirmed that,
"... the interests of the working class require the unification of the workers of all nationalities in a given state in common proletarian, political, trade, cooperative, educational and other organizations". (S. Shaheen, The Communist Theory of National Self-Determination, p. 74)
The authors of above-mentioned documents have summed up the basic idea underlying their propositions in the phrase, "The former divisions between Marxist-Leninist parties can be overcome". But, absolutely no effort is made to prove the validity of this assertion and show the means and ways of overcoming the present ideological differences and even chasms. And absolutely no effort is made to define Marxism-Leninism and revisionism and to establish objective and scientific criteria to distinguish between the two. Having allegedly overcome these hurdles, they proceed to advise us "to bypass former divisions and unite". We are also advised to unite -and of course! - on the basis of Marxism-Leninism and proletarian internationalism and to be able to do it, to strengthen the fight against right and 'left' opportunism. But, still we haven't been provided by the 'supreme judges' with any guidelines. Everybody will easily grasp the logically contradictory nature of this approach. On the one hand we are told that "the former divisions ... can be overcome" and they should be bypassed and on the other hand we are called on to continue the fight against opportunism and revisionism. If all the tendencies who declared themselves Marxist-Leninist were indeed so, the following conclusions would become unavoidable:
1-The ideological struggles of the past decades were in fact struggles among Marxist-Leninists.
2-These ideological struggles should not have been waged; they have been waged in vain. This inference betrays the extreme opportunism and absurdity of position of the writers of these documents. People who are trying to embrace all parties and groups who declare themselves communist and socialist, could not have done otherwise. But they at the same time declare revisionism to be "the most dangerous enemy of Marxism-Leninism" and assert it to be "the bourgeoisie within the communist movement". And they applaud the ideological struggles waged against opportunism and revisionism both before 1956 and after. If they really believe revisionism to be representing such a big danger, then why they so carefully avoid identifying and defining this agency of imperialism and the bourgeoisie and call upon pro-Soviet, pro-Chinese, pro-Albanian, pro-Cuban and independent groups to unite and declare an ideological truce? There may be two possible explanations Either they do not know what they are talking about or are advocating the establishment of a revisionist International, which will include all parties and groups calling themselves communist and socialist. In either case, they serve the interests of imperialism and the bourgeoisie by sowing confusion in the ranks of the working class and sincere revolutionaries and assisting various brands of revisionism in masquerading themselves as Marxist-Leninist and components of the international communist movement.
Marxist-Leninist approach to the twin and interrelated questions of struggle against revisionism and of communist unity is diametrically opposed to that of the writers of above-mentioned documents. They have always been and are for uncompromising ideological struggle against opportunism and revisionism, both in individual parties and in the international communist movement. Furthermore, they have been and are for the purification of communist organizations from opportunist elements at a certain stage of struggle. In describing the Leninist attitude towards opportunism Stalin said,
"In one way or another, all these petty-bourgeois groups penetrate into the Party and introduce into it the spirit of hesitancy and opportunism, the spirit of demoralization and uncertainty. It is they, principally, that constitute the source of disorganization and disruption of the Party from within. To fight imperialism with such 'allies' in one's rear means to expose oneself to the danger of being caught between two fires, from the front and from the rear. Therefore, ruthless struggle against such elements, their expulsion from the Party, is a prerequisite for the successful struggle against imperialism". (Foundations of Leninism, Problems of Leninism, p. 82-83)
In his criticism of centrist opportunists of Zimmerwald and Kienthal, Lenin had voiced the same approach. He said:
"Struggle against imperialism that is not closely linked with the struggle against opportunism is either an empty phrase or a fraud. One of the main defects of Zimmerwald and Kienthal - one of the main reasons why these embryos of the Third International may possibly end in fiasco - is that the question of fighting opportunism was not even raised openly, let alone solved in the sense of proclaiming the need to break with the opportunists". ("The Military Programme Of The Proletarian Revolution", Collected Works, vol. 23, p. 83) In contrast with the writers of above-mentioned documents who in the name of Marxism-Leninism and proletarian internationalism advise us to make peace and unite with opportunism and revisionism Lenin said:
"He is not an internationalist who vows and swears by internationalism. Only he is an internationalist who in a really internationalist way combats his own bourgeoisie, his own social-chauvinists, his own Kautskyites." (Theses For An Appeal To The International Socialist Committee And All Socialist Parties, Collected Works, vol. 23, p. 209)
In the document entitled "Propositions For the Unity of the International Communist Movement" we read the following:
"1. Since its establishment in 1919, the International Communist Movement has stirred history and changed the outlook of the world. The Second Congress of the Communist International held in July 1920 adopted a constitution, requirements for admission, the Manifesto and other essential resolutions which characterized the international communist movement vis-a-vis Social Democracy. Until 1956, it maintained it revolutionary orientation, its unity and its strength and its influence in the world continued to increase.
"2. In order to reappear on the world scene as a significant current, the International Communist Movement must claim this common history".
We totally and unconditionally agree to this approach. This is the approach of MLCP-F and it is ready to act together and in unison with all communist parties and organizations according to it. But, unfortunately the general line of reasoning and action of the writers of above mentioned documents is not consonant with this approach. Moreover their real attitude to the questions of struggle against revisionism and of unity of communists is the exact opposite of this correct one. The document speaks of claiming the legacy of the international communist movement. But its analyses, basic approach and propositions betray extreme opportunism. Those who claim the legacy of the international communist movement must think and act in accordance with the spirit of 21 conditions of affiliation to the Comintern. Two of these conditions were formulated as follows:
"6. Every party that wishes to affiliate to the Third International must not only expose avowed social-patriotism, but must also expose the falsehood and hypocrisy of social-pacifism; it must systematically point out to the workers that without the revolutionary overthrow of capitalism, no international courts of arbitration, no talk about reducing armaments, no 'democratic' reorganization of the League of Nations will save mankind from new imperialist wars.
"7. Parties desiring to affiliate to the Communist International must recognize the necessity of a complete and absolute rupture with reformism and the policy of the 'Centre'; and they must carry on propaganda in favor of this rupture among the broadest circles of Party members. Without this it is impossible to pursue a consistent Communist policy.
"The Communist International imperatively, and as an ultimatum, demands that this rupture be brought about at the earliest date. The Communist International cannot permit known reformists, such as Turati, Modigliani and others, to have the right to claim membership of the Third International. Such as state of affairs would lead to the Third International becoming, to a large degree, like the wrecked Second International" ("The Conditions of Affiliation To the Communist International", The Communist International, p. 202-3)
From the aforesaid, it should be sufficiently clear that the authors of the above-mentioned documents have never really claimed the legacy of the international communist movement, including Comintern. On the contrary, we may rightfully say that they have symbolized the direct antithesis of all that the former have stood for. Their line with regard to unity in the ranks of the international communist movement, is as opportunistic as that of the Second International or even worse than that. Despite its growing opportunism, the Second International definitely did not include all 'socialist' tendencies, all parties and organizations calling themselves Marxist or socialist. For instance, anarchist and anarcho-syndicalist parties and organizations were excluded from this platform, the more opportunistic lines of Millerrand, Bernstein etc were condemned officially by the resolutions of the congresses of the Second International, the programmes of affiliated parties were in the main in accord with basic principles of Marxism who had centered their mass political work on the working class. But our friends who have authorized themselves with the task of reestablishing the international communist movement do not recognize any such restrictions! If you put your signature under their extremely permissive and all-embracing documents, vow to defend Marxism-Leninism and proletarian internationalism and vow to fight against right and 'left' opportunism, you may immediately become one of the founding fathers of a brand new International! We will remind them of Lenin's scathing criticism of centrist opportunists of the "Berne" International:
"The most dangerous thing that comes from the 'Berne' International is the verbal recognition of the dictatorship of the proletariat. These people are capable of recognizing everything, only to keep at the head of labor movement. Kautsky now says that he is not opposed to the dictatorship of the proletariat! The French social-chauvinists and 'Centrists' put their names to resolutions in favor of the dictatorship of the proletariat!
"But not a hair's breadth of confidence do they deserve.
"It is not verbal recognition that is needed, but a complete rupture in deeds with the policy of reformism, with prejudices about bourgeois freedom and bourgeois democracy, the genuine pursuit of the revolutionary class struggle". ("The Tasks of the Third International", The Communist International, p. 51)
On the other hand, we can't fail to perceive an attempt to impose Maoist brand of revisionism in the above-mentioned documents. This is done under the pretence of non-sectarianism, impartiality, fight against splittism and verbal declaration of struggle against revisionism. Stalin is accused of contributing to the emergence of Khrushchevite revisionism and the beginning of the restoration of capitalism in the Soviet Union Pyongyang Declaration proclaims that,
"One of the reasons for the unsuccessful construction of socialism in some countries is that they failed to build a social structure capable of meeting the fundamental requirements of the popular masses and to build socialism in accordance with the theory of scientific socialism".
And in the Propositions For the Unity of the International Communist Movement it is said that,
"12. The discussion about the experience of the CPSU under Stalin must be reopened in the International Communist Movement. Anti-Stalinism has been the Trojan horse for anti-communism, introduced in the ranks of the International Communist Movement.
"13. For a certain period of time, disagreements about the assessment of the work of Comrade Stalin will remain. These discussion should be tackled in a scientific manner and based on class positions."
At this point we are obliged to ask: Who is judging whom? Pyongyang Declaration and the other relevant documents have the support of some communist parties and groups. Apart from these parties and groups and a multitude of centrist, Maoist groups etc, some out and out revisionist groups who have been on friendly terms with "their own" ruling classes have also supported these documents. We don't think, parties and groups, such as the Workers Party (formerly Socialist Party) from Turkey, should have any right to make any critical comment upon Stalin. The general abnormality of this state of affairs is further aggravated, since this unjustified attack on Stalin is perpetrated with the complicity or at least tacit approval of true revolutionary parties and groups, who should be defending Stalin resolutely.
While continuing the attack on Stalin and indirectly blaming him, for the restoration of capitalism in the Soviet Union Propositions For the Unity of the International Communist Movement tries to impose on communist and revolutionary parties and groups the so-called greatness and correct line of Mao Zedong. Here we are told that,
"In the light of the degeneration of the Soviet Union there is need to re-evaluate the work of comrade Mao Zedong. By leading the national-democratic revolution and its transformation into the socialist revolution in a large Third World country, he has made a contribution of world-wide significance. Mao Zedong resisted Khrushchev and later on Brezhnev's revisionism. He made the first attempt in history to draw the masses into the fight against degenerative tendencies within the Party".
We do not think that an international communist unity can be achieved under these circumstances. It definitely can not be achieved thorough diplomatic bargaining and mutual ideological concessions between various trends. Lenin, referring to Marx, who criticized the leaders of Social-Democratic Labor Party of Germany with regard to its unity with Lassalle's General Association of German Workers, said:
"... he sharply condemned the eclecticism in the formulation of principles: If you must combine, Marx wrote to the Party leaders, then enter into agreements to satisfy the practical aims of the movement, but do not haggle over principles, do not make 'concessions' in theory" (What to Be Done?, The Struggle For the Bolshevik Party, p. 47)
So, once more we'd like to ask the writers of the above-mentioned documents: Whom will you unite with to establish or reestablish the international communist movement?
With the Communist Party of Argentina, who supported the military fascist coup of 1976, through which the ruling classes murdered tens thousands of communists, revolutionaries and democrats?
With the Khmer Rouge, who after the liberation of Kampuchea from the clutches of US imperialism in 1975 imposed a reign of terror, drove millions of people into the countryside by force and slaughtered at least a million workers, peasants and intellectuals?
With PDS, the direct successor to SED [Socialist Unity Party of (German Democratic Republic)], who exploited the East German workers and toilers and oppressed them on behalf of Russian and East German bureaucratic bourgeoisie, who together with Soviet social-imperialists and Cuban revisionists spilled the blood of Ethiopian and Eritrean peoples, supported Khrushchev and Brezhnev cliques and opposed Stalin?
With the Communist Party of India, who openly sided with Indian big bourgeoisie and landlords and their state during the border conflict between India and China in 1962, supported Soviet modern revisionism and served as the agent of the ruling classes in some states of India, where it came to power?
With the South African Communist Party, who in league with ANC betrayed the peoples of South Africa and capitulated to imperialism and white bourgeoisie, supported Khrushchev, Brezhnev and Gorbachev cliques and attacked Stalin?
With the Communist Party of Cuba, who turned the Cuban economy into an appendage of the economy of the Soviet Union, supported Russian aggression against Czechoslovakia, Afghanistan and Ethiopia, fought against Ethiopian and Eritrean peoples, supported Khrushchev, Brezhnev, and Gorbachev cliques and attacked Stalin?(1)
With the Workers' (formerly Socialist) Party from Turkey, who before the military coup of September 1980 openly sided with the big bourgeoisie and landlords in their onslaught against revolutionary movement, disclosed the names, addresses and whereabouts of revolutionary militants in its legal daily, supported the military-fascist coup of September 1980 and at present openly defends Turkish army's invasion of Northern Iraq?
With Vietnam Workers' Party, who after the victory of the glorious national liberation war followed in the footsteps of Soviet modern revisionism, invaded Kampuchea in 1979 and installed the puppet regime of Heng Samrin there, at the instigation of Soviet social-imperialists and after the fall of the revisionist bloc discovered the 'merits' of free enterprise and surrendered to international finance capital and IMF?
They should really think about it.
Under certain circumstances this platform may serve as an anti-imperialist and anti-fascist forum. But, to be able to do so, it should pass through a process of resolute ideological and political struggle against revisionism, which in some cases degenerates into open collaboration with the bourgeoisie, reaction and imperialism against all revolutionary forces. Such parties and groups should be excluded from this platform and not be admitted to similar platforms. At this point, we want to remind all communists and sincere revolutionaries that, the end of Soviet modern revisionism does not by any means signal the end of all revisionism, as the writers of above-mentioned documents have implied. Of course, we don't minimize the - positive and negative - effects of the downfall of Soviet bloc and the disintegration of social-imperialist Soviet empire, one of which has been the destruction of the most influential source of revisionism. But the problem is that, our authors have not grasped the source and nature of revisionism and its deep roots in the structure of capitalism itself. On the contrary, they have perceived revisionism as an external phenomenon imposed on various communist parties and organizations from outside, in this case by the Soviet revisionist clique. That's the main reason for their vain expectation, which lead them to think that the fall of Soviet modern revisionism offers a golden opportunity for the unification of all communist and revolutionary parties and groups. Far from living in a social vacuum, proletariat exists side by side with other classes. As long as finance capital, bourgeoisie and petty bourgeoisie exist, as long as classes and class struggle exist, proletariat, working class movement and communist movement shall be open to a greater and lesser extent, to the ideological influence and permeation of the non-proletarian classes. This is an objective phenomenon independent the will of individuals, groups and parties. Therefore communist parties, advanced detachments of the working class are obliged to continue the fight against all brands of opportunism and revisionism and they can not for a moment forget that this struggle is a very complicated, protracted and critical one, and will continue until the arrival of communism.
1. Fidel Castro once said:
"I can't say that Gorbachev played a conscious part in the destruction of the Soviet Union, because I have no doubt that Gorbachev's aim was to struggle to perfect socialism." (Fidel Castro in: 'Guardian', 30 May 1992, p. 25)
On the other hand he frantically attacks Stalin:
"Stalin committed enormous abuses of power. It seems to me that the attempt to socialize the land in a very brief historical period and through violence was very costly in economic and human terms...
"He signed the famous Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. I think, too, that the non-aggression pact, far from giving him time, reduced the time, because it definitely unleashed the war.
"And there, in my opinion, was another big error; just as Poland was attacked, he sent troops to occupy that territory that had been in dispute because its population was Russian or Ukrainian, I don't know.
"I think the little war against Finland was another monumental blunder, both from the point of view of principle and from the point of view of international law...
"Lastly, Stalin's character, his terrible mistrust of everything, led him to commit other serious errors: one of them was ... to carry out a terrible, bloody purge of the armed forces and practically decapitate the Soviet army on the eve of the war" (F. Castro, op. cit.; p. 25)
Click here to return to the Turkey Index