Today the world is on the threshold of momentous events. The crisis of the imperialist system is rapidly bringing about the danger of the outbreak of a new, third, world war as well as the real perspective for revolution in countries throughout the world. During the last few years revolutionary struggles have erupted, including in certain areas of strategic importance. All the imperialist powers are preparing to lead the workers and the oppressed people to an unprecedented mutual slaughter to protect and expand their empires of profit and exploitation throughout the world. The imperialist powers and reactionary ruling classes are joined in two rival bands of cutthroats and slavemasters, two blocs which are led one by the U.S. imperialists, the other by the equally imperialist USSR. This war is looming on the horizon and will break out unless the revolutionary struggle of the masses, the seizure of power by the working class and oppressed peoples, is able to prevent it. Still if this does break out, it will represent an extreme concentration of the crisis of the imperialist system and will heighten the objective basis for revolutionary struggle that must be seized by the Marxist-Leninists.
But at the very time when such great dangers, challenges and opportunities are placed before the workers and oppressed of all countries, a great crisis exists within the ranks of the Marxist-Leninists who have the responsibility of leading the working class and peoples in making revolution. After revisionism had clearly come to power in the USSR with Khrushchev, the international proletariat suffered a further grievous loss after the death of Comrade Mao Tsetung in 1976 with the seizure of power in socialist China by a new, counter-revolutionary bourgeoisie dragging one fourth of humanity back down the capitalist road. This great loss was further compounded by the attacks on the great contributions Mao Tsetung made to the revolutionary science of the working class, Marxism-Leninism. These attacks were not only launched by the new reactionary rulers of China, but have been joined by deserters from the revolutionary ranks, and clearly the Soviet revisionists themselves are mixed up in these attacks.
In the face of this sharpening situation, and recognizing the critical need to rise to the great challenge that this situation represents, delegates from a number of Marxist-Leninist Parties and organizations have held a meeting to discuss how to emerge and advance from this crisis on the basis of forging and uniting around a correct ideological and political line for the international communist movement. Through the course of the meeting unity was achieved on the following points, which the undersigned Parties and organizations consider important elements for the development of this line:
Imperialism means war. This basic truth analyzed by Lenin holds particular meaning for today as another world war shapes up on the horizon. This is not a result of the desire of any particular bourgeois leader but stems from the very laws of the imperialist system.
In the current historical conjuncture it is only the two most powerful imperialist powers, the U.S. and the USSR, who are capable of heading up imperialist blocs to go to world war. These two imperialist powers are also the most powerful bastions of reaction in the world today.
All the other imperialist powers are also driven by their nature toward war—they are also big exploiters, thoroughly reactionary, aggressive and enemies of the proletariat and the peoples of the world.
In the face of the growing danger of world war the proletariat and the oppressed people must develop their revolutionary struggle against imperialism and all reaction. If such a war breaks out they must strive to turn inter-imperialist war into a revolutionary war aimed at the overthrow of the reactionary ruling classes.
In the last few years powerful revolutionary movements have developed in a number of countries, which have greatly battered or even toppled the reactionary regimes and shaken the imperialist system. While none of these revolutionary movements has yet led to the dictatorship of the proletariat, they are another clear indication of the possibility of doing so. The objective conditions for revolution are ripening throughout the world and in some countries these conditions are already mature. But the subjective conditions, especially the development of the Marxist-Leninist movement, are lagging seriously behind the objective conditions.
It is necessary to rescue and build upon basic principles of Marxism-Leninism which revisionists and opportunists have done their best to obscure and bury.
The dictatorship of the proletariat has been and remains a cardinal point of Marxism-Leninism. This principle too has been trampled on by revisionism. From the time of Karl Marx down to the present, fighting to establish the dictatorship of the proletariat and to defend and strengthen it where it is established, have remained touchstone questions for Marxist-Leninists.
However, it is not correct and is especially harmful today, to fail to take into account the important experience, positive and negative, the proletariat has acquired in this respect since the time of the October Revolution. In particular the great teachings of Mao Tsetung on continuing the revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat and the experience of the Cultural Revolution he led are of vital importance. Comrade Mao Tsetung correctly pointed out that during the entire period of socialism, that is in the period of the transition to communism, classes and class struggle still exist. He pointed out the continued existence and constant regeneration of the bourgeoisie under socialism, its material and ideological base, and the means for combatting it. Mao clearly indicated, for the first time in the history of the science of Marxism-Leninism, that the ringleaders and most important section of the bourgeoisie during the socialist period (after the socialist transformation of ownership has in the main been completed) are those leading people in the Party and the state apparatus taking the capitalist road. Mao made clear that it would be necessary to wage repeated mass revolutionary struggles, such as the Cultural Revolution, against the new bourgeoisie during the entire socialist transition.
The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution was an unprecedented mass revolutionary movement which succeeded for ten years in blocking capitalist restoration, training revolutionary successors who are fighting today against the new capitalist rulers in China, and helped to spread Marxism-Leninism throughout the world. The fact that the Cultural Revolution did not succeed in the final analysis in preventing the overthrow of the dictatorship of the proletariat in no way lessens its historic importance nor its important lessons for the world proletariat.
“The seizure of power by armed force, the settlement of the issue by war, is the central task and the highest form of revolution.” This is universally true for all countries. The “peaceful road to socialism” is littered with the corpses of countless masses who were pointed down this road by revisionist betrayers.
The principle of armed struggle of the masses has also been abandoned by revisionists who replace it with putschist theses and practices or empty phrases which renounce all types of political and organizational preparations. No matter what stages the revolution may go through, the need to seize political power by the force of arms must be propagated broadly among the masses of people, the Marxist-Leninists must carry out the necessary ideological, political and organizational preparations with this goal in mind and must strive to launch the armed struggle for power as soon as the conditions are ripe. In short, communists are advocates of revolutionary warfare.
The armed struggle must be carried out as a war of the masses and through it the masses must be prepared ideologically, politically and organizationally to exercise political power.
Whatever the necessary forms and stages of the revolutionary process the principal reliance must be based on building up the armed forces of the masses led by the party, while it is also necessary to carry out political work among the armed forces of the enemy to help disintegrate these armed forces and win over as many of their soldiers as possible in the course of the revolutionary struggle.
The existence and the leading role of the party of the proletariat is another cardinal principle. This is expressed in an organization of the vanguard of the proletariat which must be based on a Marxist-Leninist ideological, political and organizational line on the principal problems of the revolution; which at every moment, inside and outside its ranks, combats all bourgeois and revisionist influences; which permanently practises criticism and self-criticism and centralism based on democracy; which has a conscious iron discipline, all in order to link closely with the masses, to raise, generalise and coordinate their struggles, particularly political struggles, leading them to seize power from the ruling classes. With this aim, the party must attach great importance to formulating and spreading, according to principles, a concrete strategy, line and policy in accordance with the concrete conditions of the country and the interests of the masses and their wish to liberate themselves. The party must give great attention to the illegal forms of struggle and organization, in order to preserve its independence and to educate the masses in the struggle against their enemies. From a strategic point of view, illegal forms of work are fundamental. At the same time the party must make use of legal opportunities in order to broaden its influence without falling into or promoting bourgeois democratic illusions and while preparing for the inevitable repression by the reactionaries.
The party must gain the leadership of the struggle of the masses and the revolution in practice, by correctly applying the mass line. The party must continually strengthen its leading role by ensuring that the masses and the working class continually raise their ideological, political and organizational level and that they take over an increasingly important part of the tasks of the revolution. In this way, the party will create the conditions for an authentic dictatorship of the proletariat and likewise the final withering away of the party with the withering away of social classes, communism.
Capitalism has long ago reached its final stage of imperialism, one of the most important features of which is the pillaging of the dominated countries and the exploitation of the oppressed peoples. In doing so, imperialism also greatly expands and strengthens the gravediggers destined to overthrow it.
As Lenin analysed, the world proletarian revolution, in the era of imperialism, consists of two great currents allied against the imperialist system—the proletarian socialist revolution in the capitalist countries and the new democratic revolution in the semi-feudal, colonial, semi-(or neo-) colonial countries subjected to imperialist enslavement. There are many features in common between the revolution in these two types of countries: above all that in both instances the revolution must be led by the working class and its Marxist-Leninist party, through whatever stages, and to the dictatorship of the proletariat, socialism. But there are also some important distinctions in the path of the revolution in the two types of countries.
In the semi-feudal, colonial, semi-(or neo-) colonial countries the revolution must in general pass through two stages—first that of the new democratic revolution led by the proletariat which leads to the socialist stage. Those who insist on making a principle of skipping this stage or eclectically combining the democratic and the socialist revolution do great harm to the revolution.
While the exact course of the revolution in any given country is dependent on the concrete conditions found there, the teachings of Mao Tsetung concerning protracted people’s war are of great relevance in these types of countries. Those revisionists who attack Mao’s theory of surrounding the city by the countryside as having failed to insure the hegemony of the proletariat or dogmatically insist that insurrection in the city is the sole form of seizing power in these types of countries are in fact attacking the revolutionary struggle there.
Experience has shown that without the leadership of the proletariat and a genuine Marxist-Leninist line it is impossible to free these types of countries from imperialist enslavement, still less to advance on the socialist road. While in general it is possible and necessary to build a very broad united front in such countries, even at times involving sections of the exploiting classes, experience has underscored the importance of the Marxist-Leninists maintaining leadership and political and organizational independence, of conducting widespread education on the need to advance to socialism and ultimately communism, to combat narrow nationalist tendencies even while waging a struggle for national liberation, and exposing and combatting in the appropriate ways the bourgeoisie, even the sections with which it may be allied in this struggle against foreign imperialism and the reactionary ruling classes in power.
There is an undeniable tendency for imperialism to introduce significant elements of capitalist relations in the countries it dominates. In certain dependent countries capitalist development has gone so far that it is not correct to characterize them as semi-feudal. It is better to call them predominantly capitalist even while important elements or remnants of feudal or semi-feudal production relations and their reflection in the superstructure may still exist.
In such countries a concrete analysis must be made of these conditions and appropriate conclusions concerning the path, tasks, character and alignment of class forces must be drawn. In all events, foreign imperialism remains a target of the revolution.
In the Communist Manifesto, Marx and Engels pointed out that the “workers have no fatherland”. Lenin stressed that this is particularly applicable in the imperialist countries. This, too, is not only a cardinal principle of Marxism-Leninism that must be rescued from decades of revisionist distortion but takes on special importance in the current conjuncture with the approach of a third world war. Communists combat every form of national chauvinism within the working class and other sections of the oppressed people. This means fighting against every tendency which identifies the interests of the proletariat with the interests of its “own” imperialist ruling class either in plundering people of the colonial and dependent countries or, especially in today’s situation, in going to war to protect the interests of the bourgeoisie. If a third world war breaks out the proletariat must work actively for the defeat of its own bourgeoisie in the war, attempting to transform the war into revolutionary civil war and to establish the dictatorship of the proletariat.
While the road of the October Revolution is universally applicable in the sense of the need for the armed revolution, the leadership of a proletarian vanguard party, the dictatorship of the proletariat, the establishment of socialism, etc., in all countries; in addition in the capitalist and imperialist countries the October Revolution remains the basic point of reference for Marxist-Leninist strategy and tactics. The Marxist-Leninists recognize that in each country the revolution will take specific forms and must analyse the concrete conditions and sum up the experience of the masses in struggle while upholding the basic Leninist line concerning the political and organizational measures necessary for the preparation for and the seizure of power by the proletariat. Again, the distortion and negation by the revisionists of basic Leninist principles in this regard is not only an historical fact but continues to be a current problem. While paying attention to concrete analysis of concrete conditions in each country, it is necessary to study and apply correctly Lenin’s theses on the importance of raising the political consciousness of the working class to its historic mission and developing its political and revolutionary struggle, on the importance of the communist press, and of combatting the influence of economism while paying attention to the needs and conditions of the life of the masses. It’s also necessary to study and apply Mao’s teachings of the need to base oneself on the profound sentiments of the masses to liberate themselves.
The proletariat is a single class worldwide with a single historic class interest in liberating humanity from all exploitation and oppression and in ushering in the era of communism throughout the globe. For this reason proletarian internationalism is something inseparable from Marxism-Leninism and a constant need of the working class and its Marxist-Leninist vanguard in all countries. In addition to this obvious, but often forgotten, truth, the current conjuncture also demands vigorous efforts to establish the unity of Marxist-Leninists and the revolutionaries in all countries if we are to meet the tests and opportunities facing us. In fact, the need for the unity of the Marxist-Leninists is not only objectively necessary but is increasingly demanded by revolutionaries and the masses throughout the world. In this process, as in all things, ideological and political line is decisive.
As Lenin emphasized, “Unity is a great thing and a great slogan. But what the workers’ cause needs is the unity of Marxists, not unity between Marxists and opponents and distorters of Marxism”.
In our view unity can only be achieved on the basis of drawing firm and clear lines of demarcation with revisionism and opportunism of all forms. These lines of demarcation are not something which have dropped from the sky or been concocted by sectarians nor can they be treated as mere topics for sterile, academic debates—they reflect the main and decisive forms in which revisionism confronts the revolutionary proletariat and the Marxist-Leninist movement in the world today.
Upholding the contribution of Mao Tsetung to the science of Marxism-Leninism represents a particularly important and pressing question in the international communist movement and among the class conscious workers today. The principle involved is nothing less than whether or not to uphold and build on decisive contributions to the proletarian revolution and the science of Marxism-Leninism made by Mao. Mao Tsetung made important developments of Marxism-Leninism in the area of the anti-imperialist democratic revolution leading to socialism, people’s war and military strategy generally, philosophy (where he made important contributions on the analysis of contradictions, which is the essence of dialectics, and on the theory of knowledge and its links with practise and the mass line), revolutionizing the superstructure and continuing the revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat, as well as in the struggle against revisionism on the practical and theoretical fronts. It is therefore nothing less than the question of whether to uphold Marxism-Leninism itself. Mao’s theoretical and practical leadership represent a quantitative and qualitative development of Marxism-Leninism on many fronts and the theoretical concentration of the historical experience of the proletarian revolution over the last several decades.
We are still living in the era of Leninism, of imperialism and the proletarian revolution; at the same time we affirm that Mao Tsetung Thought is a new stage in the development of Marxism-Leninism. Without upholding and building on Mao’s contributions it is not possible to defeat revisionism, imperialism and reaction in general.
Closely linked to the above is the need to vigorously oppose the new revisionist rulers in China who have overthrown the dictatorship of the proletariat and are restoring capitalism. They have utterly capitulated to imperialism, and have demanded that others follow suit, at the present time under the signboard of their reactionary “strategic theory of the three worlds” which they have fraudulently tried to pass off to the ignorant as the work of Mao himself.
The Soviet revisionists and those revisionist parties historically linked to them remain bitter enemies of the international proletariat. In recent years the Soviet revisionists have adopted a more militant posture vis a vis the Western imperialist powers. This is consistent with their own requirements as a great imperialist power heading up a rival imperialist bloc. They have on several occasions intervened directly by military means or made use of the Vietnamese and Cuban revisionists who are part of their bloc, to seek to expand their imperialist domination. This is often masked as “internationalism”. In some cases revisionist parties historically tied to the USSR have prompted such counterrevolutionary lines as “peaceful roads” and “historic compromise” with the bourgeoisie; in other cases these revisionist parties prepare military coups and armed actions divorced from the masses. The role and nature of the revisionist parties today must be further analyzed and studied, both in particular cases and in general, but in any event it is completely clear that they stand as bitter enemies of the proletarian revolution and must be unmasked and defeated as a crucial part of developing the revolutionary movement of the proletariat and mobilizing the masses in revolutionary struggle.
The Albanian Party of Labor and its leadership have fallen completely into the revisionist swamp. Shortly after the counterrevolutionary coup in China the PLA attracted a number of genuine revolutionaries because they opposed some of the more hideous features of the Hua-Teng clique in China, especially regarding international line. Very quickly, however, they outdid even Hua and Teng in the virulence of their attack on Mao and Mao Tsetung Thought. The PLA leaders have adopted classic Trotskyite positions on a number of questions, including the nature of the revolution in semi-feudal, semi-colonial countries, e.g. excluding people’s war as a form of revolutionary struggle. More significantly their position grows daily closer to the made-in-Moscow revisionist line on a number of cardinal questions and world events, as already shown by their stand on Vietnam’s invasion of Cambodia, the workers’ upheaval in Poland, and their attacks on Mao, which are similar to the Soviets’ attacks.
The influence of Trotskyism has been strengthened by revisionism in general and has been especially strengthened recently by the coming to power of the revisionists in China and by the revisionist stands of the PLA. The organizations and Parties which endorse this communique are calling for the struggle against revisionism to be linked to the struggle against the positions of the Trotskyites, which are left in form but deeply rightist in essence, and are especially calling for opposition to the following points: their “purist”, “workerist” line of negating the alliance with the peasantry or other non-proletarian forces, negating in particular the policy of a united front against the reactionary classes in power; the negation of the possibility of seizing power and embarking on the socialist transition period in a single country; and their economist conception of the mass struggles and with regard to the way in which they see the transition to communism as consisting basically of a development of the productive forces.
The signatory organizations and Parties underline the increased danger posed by social democracy which holds power in a number of countries and which continues to serve as a Trojan horse for the interests of the Western imperialists. In addition to its usual conciliatory tactics, in some countries social democracy is attempting to form or influence armed groups in order to play a role in a situation of changing conditions. Marxist-Leninists must steadfastly combat their influence among the masses and must denounce all their tactics.
While it is not only possible but vitally necessary to take important steps now to unify genuine Marxist-Leninists on the basis of clear lines of demarcation that have emerged and in the face of the urgent tasks of the international movement, it is also necessary to carry out collective study, discussion and struggle over many important questions. This is particularly evident in relation to the necessity of developing a much fuller and deeper understanding of the history of the international communist movement. As the Chinese Communist Party pointed out in 1963 when it was a genuine communist party, in its polemics with the Soviet revisionists, with regard to the history of the international communist (and national liberation) movement there are “many experiences and many lessons. There are experiences which people should praise and there are experiences which make people grieve. Communists and revolutionaries in all countries should ponder and seriously study these experiences of success and failure, so as to draw correct conclusions and useful lessons from them”. Today, in light of further momentous experiences, positive and negative, since that time, and with the present situation and the looming possibilities in mind, this orientation assumes all the more profound significance. The need to dare to ponder and analyze more deeply and penetratingly in order to act more boldly is all the more decisive.
Before modern revisionism revealed itself openly in the USSR and various other countries, there already existed within the international communist movement different erroneous conceptions which facilitated its development.
While recognizing the undeniable contributions made by the Third International to the unity of the international proletariat, to the founding of communist parties and to their struggles; and while recognizing the tremendous role played by the October Revolution, which initiated the epoch of proletarian revolutions and opened the way for the construction of socialism in the USSR, communists must endeavor to critically sum up these experiences, making it possible to explain in the light of Marxism-Leninism the seizure of power by the bourgeoisie in that country and in other socialist nations, and also making it possible to learn from the errors and deviations which were committed and to evaluate to what extent they had bearing on the degeneration into opportunism of the majority of the international communist movement. In the face of the demoralization caused by these facts among broad sectors of the masses, and given that the bourgeois sectors are taking advantage of these facts, claiming that they prove the “failure” of Marxism, it falls on us communists to show that it is not scientific socialism which has failed, and that, on the contrary, scientific socialism makes it possible for us to grasp what objective and subjective factors gave rise to these events. Among other things, we must investigate and struggle over the experiences of the Third International and the reasons which led to its self-dissolution; the way in which the relationship between the revolutionary struggle against the bourgeoisie and imperialism and the policy of forming an anti-fascist united front was handled during the last world war, and also the very reasoning behind this policy; the origin of the revisionist tendencies, such as Browderism, which spread faith in the idea that it would be possible to establish a lasting peace and improve the living conditions of the masses on the basis of agreements between the USSR and the imperialist powers who were fighting against the fascist states, and of the tendencies to conciliation which these gave rise to; the deep roots that led to the restoration of capitalism in the USSR and other socialist countries, paying particular attention to the way in which the development of the class struggle was handled and the question of how the need to consistently apply the dictatorship of the proletariat was treated in those countries, to the handling of the relationship between politics and ideology, between politics and economic and technical questions, the question of the mass line, the question of the correct handling of contradictions among the people and with the enemy on the basis of mobilizing the masses, the relationship of centralism and democracy within the party and the relationship of the party to the masses. By throwing light on these questions, while staying clear of the slander of the Trotskyites and other enemies of the revolution, we will be able to draw important lessons for the development of the revolution.
In sum, in order to achieve the unity of the Marxist-Leninists, it is essential to deepen the study so as to make an evaluation of the theoretical and practical activity of the communists during the period of the Third International, the Second World War and especially the causes of the coming to power of the revisionists in the countries in which the proletariat held power, particularly in the USSR and in China.
The undersigned Parties and organizations received and discussed a major draft text prepared jointly by the Revolutionary Communist Party of Chile and the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA. They hold that, on the whole, the text is a positive contribution toward the elaboration of a correct general line for the international communist movement. With this perspective, the text should be circulated and discussed not only in the ranks of those organizations who have signed this communique, but throughout the ranks of the international communist movement. 1
To carry out the struggle against revisionism and to aid the process of developing and struggling for a correct general line in the international communist movement, the undersigned Parties and organizations are launching an international journal. This journal can and will be a crucial weapon which can help unite, ideologically, politically and organizationally, the genuine Marxist-Leninists throughout the world.
These Parties and organizations signing this communique stress the need not only to maintain contact and carry out discussion and struggle with each other but actively to seek out and develop relations with other genuine Marxist-Leninists around the globe and carry out an ideological struggle and political work to win still broader forces of the international movement and the masses to consolidate the revolutionary position and reinforce the revolutionary struggles.
The current conjuncture in the world and in the international movement presents the revolutionary proletariat, the oppressed peoples and the Marxist-Leninists with great tasks, trials and, above all, great opportunities. Marxism-Leninism, the science of the revolutionary proletariat, has always been forged and tempered in the furnace of class struggle. Today we must rise to meet the challenges before us, race to catch up with the rapid developments of the objective conditions, reconstruct the unity of Marxist-Leninists on the basis of a correct line and summing up the experience of the past, fight for proletarian internationalism—and in so doing push ahead the advance toward communism throughout the world.
Joint Communique of
Ceylon Communist Party
Groupe Marxiste-Leniniste du Senegal
Grupo para la Defensa del Marxismo-Leninismo (Spain)
Mao Tsetung-Kredsen (Denmark)
Marxist-Leninist Collective (Britain)
New Zealand Red Flag Group
Nottingham Communist Group (Britain)
Organizzazione Comunista Proletaria Marxista-Leninista (Italy)
Partido Comunista Revoludonario de Chile
Pour l’Intemationale Proletarienne (France)
Reorganization Committee, Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist)
Revolutionary Communist Party, USA
Union Comunista Revolucionaria (Dominican Republic)
- “Basic Principles for the Unity of Marxist-Leninists and for the Line of the International Communist Movement” is available in English, French and Spanish editions from: RCP Publications, P.O. Box 3486, Merchandise Mart, Chicago, IL 60654, USA.