Rules of the road

Kasama

On the Shelf

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August 12, 2007

Comments

the burningman

Thanks, of course, to the comrades who pass on interesting or otherwise important declarations and documents of this sort. One of the wonders of the internet is a far-flung readership and the ability to connect with friends old and new.

Please all feel free to forward any statements or public documents from groups explicitly on a liberation course. Special love for self-criticism, polemics, histories and declarations like the one above.

redflags.us@gmail.com

Proud revisionist

These people are nuts. It was not revisionism that led to the collapse of the socialist bloc, it was the bloody Stalinist terror, the crushing of internal dissent and creativity, the failure of that system to be accountable and responsible to its people.

Go ahead and live in your fantasy land if you want, but you will never achieve anything like socialism. If by historical fluke you do take power somewhere, it will only result in purges, terror, mass killings and economic devastation.

occam

Incredible. Even the neocons have abandoned "Sovietology" and begun to focus on what you might actually-existing reality. How alienated do you have to be to think the primary task in 2007 is denouncing Kruschev's speech at the 1956 CPSU convention?

DW

I think this is a good statement. A key point missing from it, however: the mobilization of the masses in the GPCR targeted the key handful of people in positions of authority who were taking the capitalist road. Notably, these were party members--leaders of the communist party and the socialist state.

Failure to educate present-day activists on this point is bound to have negative effects in the short-term, let alone the long-term. People not educated on this point are bound to see revisionism and opportunism as more of an external phenomenon rather than something to be fought at close quarters and/or against one's own formal leadership.

“You are making the socialist revolution and yet you don’t know where the bourgeoisie is. It is right in the Communist Party – those in power taking the capitalist road.”
--Mao, 1976

r. John

It is great this is posted and discussed.

My personal view is that the key point of Mao's analysis is missing.

Mao's view was that the "rise to power of revisionism in a socialist country is the rise to power of capitalism."

This document puts forward a different theory -- that the rise to power of revisionism puts the country "on the road" to the restoration of capitalism.

You could sign this statement if you believed the "left breznev" theory that Krushchev was a revisionist who weakened socialism, and Gorbachev was the traitor who finally killed it, and that the restoration happened with the rise of Yeltsin.

The document says:

"The actions of the Soviet revisionists headed by Khrushchov laid bare the phenomenon of modern revisionism in opposition to the proletarian dictatorship and put the Soviet Union on the road of capitalist restoration. They reorganized the Soviet Party, the state, the economy and the cultural institutions in order to subvert Marxism-Leninism and the socialist system."

This is not Mao's view, or his theory. This is the view that Maoists have (correctly) opposed.

The changes in 1956 didn't "subvert Marxism-Leninism and the socialist system" -- they overthrew them. Revisionism is not weakened socialism staggering toward restoration.

The wording of the following paragraph is done to be ambiguous:

"The full restoration of capitalism in China and in the former Soviet bloc countries vindicates the teaching of Comrade Mao that socialism is lost when the revisionist line prevails within the ruling communist or workers' party and that eventually the bourgeoisie within the party and state succeeds in unleashing a coup and overthrowing the proletariat."

But the concept of "full restoration" is designed to slip in the analysis that the restoration of capitalism in the Soviet Union started in 1956 but was finally completed decades later. And the restoration of capitalism in china may have started with the 1976 Deng coup, but that the "full restoration" is something else -- and happened further down the road.

There are many many issues involved in this. And I am obviously not offering here a defense of why Mao's argument is correct (and this opposing thesis is wrong). That requires a great deal of discussion and analysis -- precisely because it is so controversial (and so openly contested by the forces listed here).

But one issue worth noting: How key is state power? Is the rise of a Deng to power the key turning point of restoration (the point where the bourgeosie is in power) -- or is restoration when that process "trickles down" to the production level (when the people's communes are disbanded, or when workers face the first layoffs, or when the first imperialist sweatshop exports the first imperialist profits from Shanghai)?

Is the revolution in DANGER when state power is lost at its heights? Or is that where it is lost?


proud revisionist

didn't Lenin have something to say about an "Infantile disorder?"

Christopher Day

Frankly I find this sort of declaration tedious in the extreme. R. John makes some interesting points re: what is missing and the implications of the view of revisions as short of full restoration. The question this raises for me is that if Kruschev represents full restoration shouldn't we be looking more at the Stalin era to understand its gestation? I tend to view the fixation with the date, rather than the process, of restoration (whether its 56 in the USSR or 76 in China) as serving to evade the question of how the capitalist roaders were able to gain traction under Stalin and Mao. This is where the words of Proud Revisionist, while perhaps not stated very constructively, contain more than a grain of truth.

Finally, I'd like to put in my two cents against the Maoist use of the term "revisionism" for post-Stalin Soviet and Soviet-aligned politics. It flattens out two quite distinct phenomena -- the Bernsteinian revision that arose in the Second International and the politics of the Soviets during the Cold War. Like calling contemporary actors "Mensheviks" or "Bundists" it encourages sloppy categorical thinking and is generally poisonous of serious discussion on the left across tendencies at a moment when a lot of things are in the air and might move in all sorts of directions. There are many reasons to criticize Fidel Castro, but a category that lumps him in with Eduard Bernstein is not really helpful.

independentmaoist

I agree with r.john that the Declaration does not clearly state when the restoration of capitalism took place in the Soviet Union and China, and that this could open the door to views that capitalism was not fully restored in the Soviet Union until the early 1990s, or that the key point in restoring capitalism in China was decollectivization or dismantling the state enterprises.

At its clearest, the Declaration says that the key point in the process of capitalist restoration is the overthrow of proletarian rule by the bourgeoisie in the party. The key issue here is what is meant by "process." The way I understand this is that a revisionist coup brings a capitalist state into being, but that it takes a period of time to transform the socialist economic base and superstructure. Thus, you could argue that the Kosygin reforms of 1965, which put profit in command of investment decisions and enterprise management, was a key point in the capitalist transformation of the economic base in the Soviet Union.

In short, what we have seen in both the Soviet Union and China is that the seizure of state power by the bourgoisie in the party (the key point) is followed by a process of the all-around capitalist transformation of society as a whole. What defines a country as capitalist is which class holds state power; in this sense, the "restoration" takes place when the bourgeoisie in the party seizes power.


A part of the Declaration that is more problematic is these two paragraphs:

"There are ideological, political, socio-economic and cultural causes of modern revisionism. The major causes include deviation from materialist dialectics, abandonment or waning of the proletarian class stand and class struggle, worship of outdated or revisionist Soviet examples and the degeneration of a great number of bureaucrats and intellectuals due to their petty bourgeois social conditions and ways of thinking, which are the gateway to modern revisionism as full bourgeois ideology.

"Hankering for personal privileges, nepotism, careerism, abuse of power, enrichment and other forms of self-interest, those afflicted with the petty bourgeois mode of thinking gain the upper hand among the leading functionaries in the party, state, economy and cultural institutions and give rise to modern revisionism as bourgeois ideology and as platform for bourgeois policies."

While this statement mentions materialist dialectics, it is just plain idealist. It ignores the material conditions of socialist society from which petty bourgeois and bourgeois ideology arise, and from which a fully developed revisionist political line arises, in several ways. First, the formulation lays undue emphasis on the persistence of petty bourgeois thinking among relatively privileged strata. Government bureaucrats, managers, engineers and intellectuals are part of the social base for revisionism, but they are not the new bourgeoisie itself, which is the focal point of the development of revisionism in socialist society.

Second, the formulation draws attention away from an understanding of the material basis for the development of a new bourgeoisie, especially the class-based inequalities that are inherited from capitalism and are continually reproduced in socialist society. Thus, revisionism doesn't simply develop from a "petty bourgeois mode of thinking," but arises from the continued existence of classes and the contradictory nature of socialist society itself.

Third, the formulation ignores the critical question of political line. On a whole range of questions--the organization of production, the revolutionization of the relations between people in production, the restriction of class-based inequalities (bourgeois right), overcoming the difference between mental and manual labor--the interests of bourgeois elements in socialist society are concentrated in a revisionist political line. A revisionist line develops in the party, and becomes a major force and danger when advocated by leading members of the party, and it develops in opposition to a line and policies of deepening the socialist revolution and pushing on to communism in unity with the proletariat and oppressed peoples of the world.

This underscores the critical importance of struggle around politicl line in socialist society. This determines whether the socialist road or the capitalist road is taken. And this is very different from campaigns to criticize petty bourgeois thinking, which do not address the real challenges confronting the working class under socialism.

I also share Chris' sentiment about the need for a deeper understanding of how a new bourgeoisie gained traction in the Soviet Union. Today's ICM will not have settled accounts with the 20th century without a serious investigation and summation of the roots of capitalist restoration in the period of Stalin's leadership. True, this question wasn't well understood at the time, and errors were inevitable in the first socialist country, but we have a responsibility to sum up how the Soviet leadership and people met the challenges they faced, and the positive and negative lessons that can be drawn from that experience. Fortuneately, we have Mao's theoretical breakthroughs in understanding this question, the experience of the Cultural Revolution, and the experience of a developed two line struggle in the party to guide us. Having said that, who is doing this work here or elsewhere in the world?


JB

The theory and practice of continuing revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat through the GPCR constituted a new and higher stage in the development of Marxism-Leninism. It posed a series of problems in the building of socialism, for a whole historical epoch in transition from capitalism to communism, and brought up the basic principles and methods for solving said problems, involving the existence of classes and class struggle in socialist society, the relations of the social base and superstructure, the mass line, cultural revolution, revolution and production, succession by the youth, leadership in the factories and communes and the formation of the organs of political power.

Many of these issues were not understood or could not have been understood through the decades of socialism in the Soviet Union. The launching of the GPCR reflected an understanding and summation of that Soviet experience, and was an unprecedented political mobilization of the masses against revisionism, this time in the CPC.

I don't know, is it just me or is this the opposite of "tedious"?

In any case, I'm strangely resistant to the pitch that this is all "so far behind us." It's not. The lessons, learned and imposed, are all around us in the work we do and assumptions we take out.

I hear what R. John is saying about the conflation of socialism and what has been called "Modern Revisionism", to distinguish it from classical "evolutionary socialism" and refers to state capitalism/social-imperialism of the late Soviet variety.

Without dealing with that, we would be at a loss to understand the accomodations of, for just one instance, the South African Communist Party and COSATU to a neo-liberal agenda. Or to understand how the CPUSA operates as a backdoor channel between the Democratic Party and sections of the activist left.

Before the foundation of Communism as a distinct movement, we were a melange with social-democrats, even some really reactionary forces who were racists and European imperial chauvinists. That split was crucial, but a little background is important. Not tedious – the history that is either living in our consciousness or a dead letter best left to dust.

I opt for the former in that formulation.

Eduarn Bernstein was the godfather of Revisionism. He was a theoriest with the German Social-Democratic movement and more or less openly argued to ditch any move against the bourgeoisie and their state. Instead he said that socialism would "evolve" through a democratic (parliamentary) process, and left unsaid (as far as I know) on wealth generated on the back of colonies in the global south. (Think "Swiss" chocolate or "French" rubber.)

These "Revisionist" theories were not in opposition to Communism as we understand it today, but "Orthodox Marxism" with a man named Karl Kautsky as the socialist pope.

This battle between revisionsim and orthodoxy was smashed aside by a new synthesis formulated in practice by Lenin. We need a revolutionary party, not tied to simply waging reform struggles for a piece of the bourgeoise, imperial society – but to destroy it, exercise political dictatorship over the former ruling classes and use each breakthrough as a base for the world revolution.

This new synthesis was needed, and it did speak to the times. It wasn't a given, or granted – it was fought for tooth-and-nail. Parties split, and many new organizations were formed particularly in East, Central and South Asia – several of which were contending for power within a generation.

Modern Revisionism refered to both the Kruschevites and later Tengists in China who restored capitalism at the "commanding heights" of socialist countries.

The section I took here, about the class struggle under socialism is exactly the kind of understanding we need, with the important (crucial) caveat that R. John referenced in detail above.

We cannot accomodate with (what has been called) revisionism inside our parties, collectives or movements.

THAT SAID, "revisionism" as a term is no longer suffient to deal wth the range of ideas is hopes to combat – and serves to bolster nostalgic, dogmatic claims to "orthodoxy".

We don't need orthodoxy, but a scientific approach.

Further, Chris – on this question of what is tedious (and stereotyped party writing, etc):

It is not at all wrong for a party like the CPI-Maoist, TKP/ML and even small US collectives (apparently) to deal with these crucial issues. The other two paths, such as Ludo Martens-style accomodation (and embrace) of authoritarian, bureaucratic conceptions of socialism (ala Eastern Europe!) with revolutionary communism would literally choke the "revolutionary" out of socialists in power and out!

It is the Sam Marcy analysis, when you get down to it, that denies class struggle and adopts a totally knee-jerk (and quickly reactionary) conception of international politics. Who cares what Baathism actually is, when it fights the US anyway... It's just a recast of the same Popular Frontism that wrecked the left when it told us to take our marching orders for the "democratic" bourgeoisie.

The other option is to chuck it all, agree with the "communist" conflators that socialism and revisionism are the same thing (history, and decades of real lessons and struggle be damned) and continue on with "movement building" and talk of the "500 year struggle".

No, we can't do that and we don't have to. Which is not to say it's being done well enough.

For example: there is no reliable history of the socialist experience written with a communist orientation. I mean in one volume.

There's Bettelheim's Class Struggles in the USSR. That's the best thing I've seen, but it doesn't deal with these thorny questions that our friend Occam thinks we might as well chuck.

(Of course, the Spanish Civil War is still the hot topic in some circles, and someone even called me, incorrectly, a Jacobin... so history does live!).

JB

One other quick note (and oh god please don't be a total detour...)

This is where Avakian has made a fundamental contribution that should not be ignored or denied simply because he's not a particularly effective leader.

I'm not sure where I stand on the issue of line in the "commanding heights" and exactly where capitalist restoration occurs...

But the importance of those commanding heights, or "the color of the sky" as it were – has shown itself to be decisive. When I've criticized fetishism of the Argentinian syndicalists, for example, its not because they aren't wonderful and exciting. It's that without a change in state, such partial victories are largely at the convenience of the bourgeois state, and exist in a larger economic fabric of commodity production regardless of the local management forms taken.

After all, I exploit myself plenty under capitalism. I can't simply blame my particular boss.

Noting the decisive shift is important, but it does compel us to go back into the Stalin era and class struggles inside socialist China to understand not how a few renegades "grabbed the reins" – but what is it in socialim that engenders capitalism.

Some may demand a simple, royal road as it were – but we aren't going to get it. Because we recognize roadblocks, that doesn't mean we won't face them ourselves again and again.

Some may argue that the failure of our first great attempts means we can't defeat capitalism and develop a socialist hegemony, or to carve out niches here and there as the best we can do.

No. There is no safe space, and they fight us even if we don't fight back.

So.

Christopher Day

Just be clear, I don't find the discussion of the restoration of capitalism or any other relevant historical question tedious. What I find tedious is the declaration that initiated this particular discussion and the hackneyed way it sets the terms of that debate.

JB

Mao didn't coin the phrase "stereotyped party writing" for nothing. I call it "commie classic".

It happens when documents must past muster through several languages, and where position is "hammered together" as unity in place of synthesis. This document seems very formalized, yet is hard to read exactly because formula stands in, as R. John noted specifically, for analysis.

LS

The only U.S. signatory to this statement is the "Marxism-Leninism-Maoism Revolutionary Study Group (USA)".

Anyone know who/what this is?

JB

Nope. My guess? Well, what's the point of guessing...

Maybe they'll wander by and say hello. LOL.

Bonnie Black Hat

Just a brief note:

With capitalist restoration there is both a longer process that occurs – and that process is class struggle – as well as there being a decisive moment that power changes hands from one class to another. This is also true of revolution, itself.

The new gains strength within the confines of the old and when it overcomes the old there is then a qualitative change that takes place. In the case we are talking about that qualitative change is the seizure of the reins of power by capitalist roaders.

Historically there are very vivid and clear shifts in policy that occurred rather immediately in China in 1976 after the arrest of the ‘gang of four’ and in the Soviet Union immediately following the rise to power of Krushev and those around him.

Bonnie Black Hat

Also, these policy changes caused almost immediate changes in the conditions of the class and in the economic structure. In China, I do not know about the Soviet Union on this point, there was a change from being actively involved in society and in the policies implemented in the factories to going back to the head down slave position of workers in capitalist society.

JB

True true.

The reading of shifts towards capitalism is complicated. It was during the Soviet New Economic Policy or, today, in the political maneuvers and relationship to capitalism that are unfolding in Nepal.

I don't think there's anything intrinsically "rightist" or bourgeois in seeing the necessity of these relations while not accepting them as the limit. Political power in the hands of the CPN-M is what will enable the conscious social life of the masses in Nepal, and at the same time oppressive relations won't be eradicated by decree. Right now, they are a vanguard in fact, the party of revolution.

If we can see that as real, then I think we also have to understand why it's not so obvious to all when real counter-revolution kicks in.

"If it can swing one way, why not the other?" Certainly it did, and the demonization of the Great Leap Forward as a famine/disaster and the GPCR as mob anarchy meets palace intrigue highlights how key political fighting is.

It took political intervention, guaranteed by state power, including the Chinese army, to allow these mass movements to erupt against the conditions of their life. There were no Tianenmen Square massacres when the soldiers saluting a living Mao, and not the George Washington portrait they keep there now.

The political changes of 1976 in China and the rise of Kruschev in the Soviet Union were the political watershed. The sentencing of the members of the so-called "Gang of Four", the revolutionary core of the Central Committee, who refused accomodation to death was the public ritual to confirm it.

At the time, and even to this day, there were "Maoists" who went right along with that, equating the line of the Chinese state with revolutionary communism.

"Where it is by proxy it is not."

I think, though I'm not versed enough to expound, that this is dealt with by Badiou in his essays on the Paris Commune and the Cultural Revolution. While being and event don't correspond neatly to the social and political, the imperative singularity of revolution in the deep sense is teased.

I hope that made sense.

Another version of this statement, with three 'asterisked' comments at the bottom, has been released:

DECLARATION TO REAFFIRM THE SIGNIFICANCE AND RELEVANCE
OF THE ANTI-REVISIONIST STRUGGLE AND THE GPCR

01 May 2007

Signatories updated on 10 August 2007

We, the undersigned Marxist-Leninist, Mao Zedong Thought and
Marxist-Leninist-Maoist parties and organizations, hereby issue this
declaration to reaffirm the significance and relevance of the struggle
against modern revisionism starting in 1956 in opposition to the
revisionist content of the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the
Soviet Union (CPSU) in February 1956 leading to the Great Proletarian
Cultural Revolution from 1966 to 1976 and continuing after the
bourgeoisie seized power in China in 1976. We do so after one year of
activities celebrating the 50th anniversary of the anti-revisionist
struggle and renewing our commitment to pursue this struggle.

We honor and pay the highest respect to Comrade Mao Zedong for leading
the Communist Party of China (CPC) and all Marxist-Leninist parties in
the struggle against modern revisionism. He promptly caused the
publication of the editorial of the People's Daily, "On the Historical
Experience of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat" in April 1956 in
response to the 20th Congress of the CPSU. In this congress the
Khrushchov revisionist clique repudiated in February 1956 under the
pretext of opposing "personality cult" the fundamentals of
Marxism-Leninism and the great revolutionary achievements of the Party
of Lenin and Stalin in building socialism, fighting fascism and leading
the international communist movement for more than 30 years.

The actions of the Soviet revisionists headed by Khrushchov laid bare
the phenomenon of modern revisionism in opposition to the proletarian
dictatorship and put the Soviet Union on the road of capitalist
restoration. They reorganized the Soviet Party, the state, the economy
and the cultural institutions in order to subvert Marxism-Leninism and
the socialist system.

They opposed the dictatorship of the proletariat and propagated
bourgeois populism with the notions of "party of the whole people" and
"state of the whole people" and bourgeois pacifism with the notions of
"peaceful transition," "peaceful competition" and "peaceful
coexistence". They undertook to undermine the international communist
movement and pushed "peaceful coexistence" as the general line to oppose
proletarian internationalism and to attack the international communist
movement and the national liberation movements.

Revisionism destroyed all the formerly socialist countries. It
transformed these into colonies of social imperialism, deprived the
revolutionary world movement of its revolutionary center, destroyed
revolutionary parties and brought confusion, division and liquidationism
into the international communist and working class movement. It had a
corroding effect on the proletarian class struggle and the
anti-imperialist struggle and led to defeats involving heavy losses. The
process of the international proletarian revolution has been set back
for decades.

There are ideological, political, socio-economic and cultural causes of
modern revisionism. The major causes include deviation from materialist
dialectics, abandonment or waning of the proletarian class stand and
class struggle, worship of outdated or revisionist Soviet examples and
the degeneration of a great number of bureaucrats and intellectuals due
to their petty bourgeois social conditions and ways of thinking, which
are the gateway to modern revisionism as full bourgeois ideology.

Hankering for personal privileges, nepotism, careerism, abuse of power,
enrichment and other forms of self-interest, those afflicted with the
petty bourgeois mode of thinking gain the upper hand among the leading
functionaries in the party, state, economy and cultural institutions and
give rise to modern revisionism as bourgeois ideology and as platform
for bourgeois policies.

Comrade Mao defended the theory and practice of Marxism-Leninism against
the line of modern revisionism. He denounced the revisionists for
sowing confusion in the international communist movement and generating
disorder and uprisings against the socialist cause in Yugoslavia,
Poland, Hungary and elsewhere in Eastern Europe.

Under the direction of Comrade Mao, the delegation of the CPC pursued
the anti-revisionist line in the Moscow meetings of communist and
workers' parties in 1957 and 1960. Thereafter, the Marxist-Leninists
led by the CPC launched an international ideological struggle on a
comprehensive range of issues against the modern revisionists centered
in the Soviet party.

Further on, the Marxist-Leninists led by Comrade Mao proceeded to the
criticism and repudiation of the phenomenon of monopoly bureaucrat
capitalism and social imperialism during the long regime of Brezhnev.
Monopoly bureaucrat capitalism masqueraded as socialism while the
bureaucrats and businessmen connived to steal from the state sector. In
international relations, the Soviet revisionists engaged in socialist
phrase-mongering and in the practice of imperialism.

Comrade Mao did not rest content with the critique of modern revisionism
as it had arisen and grown in the Soviet Union and in the other
countries of the Soviet bloc. He examined and analyzed the growth of
modern revisionism in China, arising from both homegrown factors and
external influences. Thus, he united the leading antirevisionist
revolutionaries in the CPC, who rallied forces to launch the Great
Proletarian Cultural Revolution in May 1966 in order to carry out the
theory of continuing revolution under proletarian dictatorship. This is
to combat revisionism, prevent the restoration of capitalism and
consolidate socialism.

The theory and practice of continuing revolution under the dictatorship
of the proletariat through the GPCR constituted a new and higher stage
in the development of Marxism-Leninism. It posed a series of problems
in the building of socialism, for a whole historical epoch in transition
from capitalism to communism, and brought up the basic principles and
methods for solving said problems, involving the existence of classes
and class struggle in socialist society, the relations of the social
base and superstructure, the mass line, cultural revolution, revolution
and production, succession by the youth, leadership in the factories and
communes and the formation of the organs of political power.

Many of these issues were not understood or could not have been
understood through the decades of socialism in the Soviet Union. The
launching of the GPCR reflected an understanding and summation of that
Soviet experience, and was an unprecedented political mobilization of
the masses against revisionism, this time in the CPC.

Comrade Mao successfully led the Chinese proletariat and people from
victory to victory in the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution against
tremendous odds and against powerful adversaries. But soon after his
death, the enemies of the Chinese proletariat and people made a coup and
reversed his proletarian revolutionary line in carrying out socialist
revolution and construction. Since then the new bourgeois rulers in
China have launched the most brutal attacks against the Chinese workers
and peasants. While they have continued to claim the title of the
"Communist Party of China", they in fact, are now the worst oppressors
and exploiters and abusers of the Chinese people.

There are manifestations of China's all-round retrogression and
degradation to the status of being a big-comprador neocolonial adjunct
of the US and other imperialist powers. China has completely tied itself
to the policy of imperialist globalization pushed by the US and other
imperialist powers. But China is also trying to become a relatively
autonomous imperialist power, extending its economic investment and
political influence on a world scale in places such as Africa, Latin
America and Asia. It is reminiscent of a generally backward and poor but
imperialist Russia before the Bolshevik revolution.

The full restoration of capitalism in China and in the former Soviet
bloc countries vindicates the teaching of Comrade Mao that socialism is
lost when the revisionist line prevails within the ruling communist or
workers' party and that eventually the bourgeoisie within the party and
state succeeds in unleashing a coup and overthrowing the proletariat.

Comrade Mao has bequeathed to us a legacy with which we can combat and
defeat modern revisionism and with which we can revive and further
develop the forces of socialism. We are alert to and oppose the
continuing dangers of revisionism, modern revisionism and other forms of
opportunism.

We reaffirm Comrade Mao's revolutionary theory and practice of
continuing revolution under proletarian dictatorship through the Great
Proletarian Cultural Revolution. We condemn the betrayal of socialism
and of Comrade Mao's proletarian revolutionary line by the Liu
Shaoqi-Deng Xiaoping clique and the new Chinese bourgeoisie.

We renew our determination and efforts to carry out the historic mission
of the proletariat, which is to carry out a new-democratic and socialist
revolution and construction. All the evils that have beset the former
revisionist-ruled countries drive us to uphold Marxism-Leninism-Maoism
against modern revisionism and to pursue the revolutionary cause of
socialism.

Upon the temporary success of modern revisionism against
Marxism-Leninism and the dictatorship of the proletariat, monopoly
capitalism headed by US imperialism has been able to launch the worst
attacks against the proletariat and the oppressed peoples, such as "free
market" globalization, racism, repression and wars of aggression. In
response to the escalation of oppression and exploitation, the
proletariat and people are intensifying their resistance through armed
struggle and other forms of resistance.

It is not enough to defend Marxism-Leninism and Maoism in order to
generate a new upswing in the struggle for genuine socialism. The
international Marxist-Leninist and working class movement must draw the
lessons from the defeat of socialism by revisionism and from the
successes of the 50 years of struggle against revisionism.

The building of Marxist-Leninist parties world-wide, the overcoming of
the fragmentation, the strengthening proletarian revolutionary parties
closely linked to the masses and their international revolutionary
collaboration are the essential ideological, political and
organizational preconditions for the liberation of humankind.

It is the internationalist duty of Marxist-Leninist-Maoist parties to
unite and to arouse, organize and mobilize the proletariat and people in
their respective countries and in the world at large in the struggle for
national liberation, democracy and socialism against imperialism,
revisionism and reaction. We renew our commitment to persevere in the
revolutionary struggle and strive to win ever greater victories under
the guidance of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism.

Uphold, defend and advance the teachings of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin
and Mao!
Reaffirm Marxism-Leninism-Maoism against modern revisionism!
Carry forward the revolution against imperialism, revisionism and reaction!
Glory to the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution!
Long live all Marxist-Leninist-Maoist parties!
Long live proletarian internationalism!
Long live Marxism-Leninism-Maoism!

SIGNATORIES [In alphabetical order (English) by country]:

Argentina - Revolutionary Communist Party of Argentina*
Brazil - Communist Party of Brazil (Red Fraction)
Germany - Marxist-Leninist Party of Germany
Greece - Communist Party of Greece-ML
India - Communist Party of India (Maoist)**
Indonesia - Communist League of Indonesia
Italy - Committee to Support Resistance - for Communism (CARC)
Moldova - Maoist Anti-Imperialist Circle
Panama - Communist Party of Panama
Peru - Communist Party of Peru (ML)
Philippines - Communist Party of the Philippines***
Turkey - Communist Party of Turkey/Marxist-Leninist (TKP/ML)
United States - Marxism-Leninism-Maoism Revolutionary Study Group
Uruguay - Revolutionary Communist Party of Uruguay

(Note: Any signatory may qualify its agreement on any point in this
declaration with an annotation.)

*Revolutionary Communist Party of Argentina considers that the
bourgeoisie seized power in China in December 1978 rather than in 1976
(see 1st paragraph) and that China today is an imperialist country (see
15th paragraph).

**Communist Party of India (Maoist) stresses that China has completely
tied itself to the policy of imperialist globalization pushed by the US
and other imperialist powers (see 15th paragraph).

***Communist Party of the Philippines regards the Communist Party of
China (CPC) as the Marxist-Leninist center of the international
communist movement in the period after the Communist Party of the Soviet
Union became revisionist and before the CPC itself became revisionist
(see 5th paragraph).


Given 'independent maoists's (independent of what, exactly? accountability? materialist summations of the past century? (independent of the Filipino revisionists who have executed large sections of their own party?) do tell!) comments above, I wonder why there wasn't a fourth asterisk mentioning the MLM(R)SG's objections to the statement as listed?

celticfire

I am glad to see this discussion taking place as well. I was frankly disappointed that such material as this "declaration" has become noted Maoist material, because I don't believe it deserves that.

But this discussion is probably much more valuable that the piece we are discussing. Like Chris Day, I have wondered about the 1956/1976 dates acting as distractions from serious discussion about capitalist restoration.

I think a major factor in the inability of revolutionary communists to boldly examine this stems from the long and unfortunate religiosity that has plagued our movement - and this includes our victories, correct lines, leaders, etc. It seems to me (just thinking out-loud, as JB would say) that we hitch our wagons to the revolutionary forces in a given context, and blame counter forces for their failures.

The Gang of Four exemplifies this. Absolutely it was correct to uphold class struggle against Deng flavored revisionism, but why does this prevent us from examining in the light of materialist dialectics the errors of say Jiang Qing and the authoritarian tendencies she developed, or the striking opportunism of Zhang Chunqiao, and what part that played in hindering our side.

JB mentioned the difference between PLA soldiers saluting a living Mao and the Washingtonesque portrait, well - what role did the manifestation of religiosity, the cult of personality- play in curtailing Mao's revolutionary authority, when Mao became a religious icon? We have to see this as a serious detriment to the class struggle.

We need, desperately I think- to re-think our former notions and conclusions about the Stalin era, and start to ask ourselves at what point are we upholding socialism and the advancing of the class struggle - and at what point the revision of that process?

Our victories have been important and groundbreaking, specifically the Russian and Chinese revolutions (& the GPCR) but they have not won. So hitching our wagons to methods that have proved disastrous in the long run, seems like the wrong road to travel.

ShineThePath

I would have to say there is a certain degree of importance to this declaration, and I will not be joining in on its many fold detractors who have attacked this statement based on that it isn't thorough enough. I don't want to fuel the enemies the enemies of CPP, like the anonynmous poster who attacked Independent Maoist and slandered the CPP.

Of course there are some things desired, but what is important about this statement is that it is serving as a uniting line for the Maoists internationally, and it is something I am for. The CPP and CPI (M) are leading in the efforts to unite various Maoists internationally.

While I agree with the fact that counter-revolutionary developments have a process before 1956 and 1976, I will just echo what Burningman said, that these events serve as watershed moments for the revolutionary community in understanding the nature of Socialism in the USSR and China. It marks the consolidation of power by revisionist forces and shouldn't be seen mechanically as the percise moment in which Socialism was done and over with.

In fact I agree with this statement much more so than the vulgarization of RCP's line which is essentially that the 20th Congress marked the end of Socialism period...that it amounted to a Coup. This is just incredibly ignorant on their part and ignores the incredible class struggles that took place before and afterward and substitutes it quite frankly with the great man theory that Celticfire was rebuffing.

By the way I found the MLMRSG home page...

http://mlmrsg.com/

Two new Maoist formations and counting.

r. john

ShineThePath:

Why is it incredibly ignorant to say that there was a coup by Khrushchev?

Do you deny that there was an armed grab for power by Khrushchev (backed by Zhukov's military) against opponents in the central committee (organized around Malenkov and Molotov)?

Or are you denying that it represents a coup and a turning point in soviet history?

Maoists (following Mao) hold that the struggle over line in the heights of power within the state and party were the key arena of the class struggle in the socialist period . Is this the "great man theory" you are discussing? And if so, what exactly is wrong with that thesis, and what is your counterthesis?

r. john

IM writes: “At its clearest, the Declaration says that the key point in the process of capitalist restoration is the overthrow of proletarian rule by the bourgeoisie in the party. The key issue here is what is meant by process.”

I read the document saying that the rise to power of revisionism is a key nodal point in complex road that *eventually* leads to a decisive overthrow of the proletariat.

I.e. that the key nodal point (the actual transition to capitalism) is elsewhere.

The paragraph I see on this issue is the following one:

“The full restoration of capitalism in China and in the former Soviet bloc countries vindicates the teaching of Comrade Mao that socialism is lost when the revisionist line prevails within the ruling communist or workers' party and that eventually the bourgeoisie within the party and state succeeds in unleashing a coup and overthrowing the proletariat.”

Here it specifically posits a gap between the “prevailing” of revisionism and “eventually . . . overthrowing the proletariat.”

Presumably this means that they see a period where revisionism rules, the proletariat is still in power, and yet capitalism has not been restored.

This is a thesis specifically opposed to Mao – including his key theoretical summation that “the rise to power of revisionism is the rise to power of the bourgeoisie.”

Elsewhere it says: “The actions of the Soviet revisionists headed by Khrushchev laid bare the phenomenon of modern revisionism in opposition to the proletarian dictatorship and put the Soviet Union on the road of capitalist restoration.”

In other words the Khrushchev coup in 1956 merely put the SU on the road to capitalist restoration.

What does the document say about the causes of capitalist restoration?

“The major causes include deviation from materialist dialectics, abandonment or waning of the proletarian class stand and class struggle, worship of outdated or revisionist Soviet examples and the degeneration of a great number of bureaucrats and intellectuals due to their petty bourgeois social conditions and ways of thinking, which are the gateway to modern revisionism as full bourgeois ideology.”

This summation specifically does not mention the Maoist analysis that, within the socialist state and party, a new aspiring state-bourgeoisie emerges that struggles with the proletariat for power. That the revisionist forces within the party are political representatives of that class – which develops (as JB noted) based on the material basis of the contradictoriness of the socialist mode of production (and a society that is literally a checkerboard of capitalist and communist elements, workplaces and institutions).

The socialist society itself is highly contradictory – repeatedly over key questions and in major crises, one road at the crossroads is capitalist and an opposing one is socialist.

For example: does this declaration hold that the revisionists who seize power are political representatives of a new bourgeoisie within the state and party? Or does it hold the different view that revisionists represent a petty bourgeois current arising from the “bureaucracy” who (with their opposition to the dictatorship of the proletariat) undermine the defense of socialism and unleash those forces that give rise to a new bourgeoisie, that then takes over society (eventually) – in a process rooted in privatization (and theft) of the “state sector.”

IM says something worth thinking about:

“The way I understand this is that a revisionist coup brings a capitalist state into being, but that it takes a period of time to transform the socialist economic base and superstructure.”

First IM’s statement is much more clearly supportive of Mao’s analysis than this Declaration.

IM makes the important point that a revisionist seizure of power means that the heights of power are in the hands of the bourgeoisie, and the state itself is no longer a dictatorship of the proletariat. Which is (as we have been discussing) specifically NOT part of the declaration.

But in looking at what IM writes, let me ask, what role does the class character of the state play in determining the nature of the economic base? How separate and distinct are they?

In other words, what makes the economic base socialist? Is it the state-owned forms, the existence of central planning? Or is it fundamentally that the heights of power are operating from the perspective of directing social change in the interests of the masses, including (in the first place) their fundamental interest in continuing the transformation toward communism?

In fact, I believe the Chinese Maoists were right in saying you can’t separate the class nature of the state from the socialist nature of economic base.

Now it is clear that the seizure of power led to a shift in how the society was run, and led to major transformations throughout society. However, there were already major parts of the society operating under capitalist lines (in both China and the USSR).

Mao’s point was “if people like Lin Piao come to power, it will be quite easy for them to rig up the capitalist system.”

IM writes: “Thus, you could argue that the Kosygin reforms of 1965, which put profit in command of investment decisions and enterprise management, was a key point in the capitalist transformation of the economic base in the Soviet Union.”

Yes you “could” argue that. And in fact some do.

This was precisely the argument made by Martin Nicolaus in his book “Restoration of capitalism in the USSR” – which is often mistakenly described (and read) as a Maoist analysis of the restoration.

His book was in fact published by Liberator Press – i.e. by the Communist Party ML in the U.S., the three worldist party that a year afterwards hailed the revisionist Deng/Hua coup in China.

His is a theory that holds that the socialist character of a society rests in its structural nature of state planning and state ownership – not in the ability of the proletariat (though various mediations of power – including its party and state) to rule society and transform society toward communism.

To put it crudely: Mao held that restoration was a process in which the decisive transformative nodal point is when the bourgeoisie overthrows the proletariat.

Nicolaus held that it is a process where the nodal point is when the plan is overthrown by the market.

Others hold that the nodal point is when the central ownership by the state is replaced by “the enfranchisement of the nomenklatura” – i.e. when the state monopoly bourgeoisie privatize the state ownership system and abolishes the existing forms of state capitalist planning, and emerge as a western-style monopoly bourgeoisie with open juridical ownership of themeans of production. (I.e. the post-Gorbachev moments!)

Look again at the Declaration and try to gauge whether it represents a clear stand or a clear fudge on these very questions -- and which of these three different and opposing views it upholds (and ascribes to Mao).

Again: I want to repeat that I have not really taken up WHY one should uphold the maoist analysis over the others mentioned (i.e. there are important historical and theoretical issues to debate and clarify.) But I am pointing out that publishing the views that Mao opposed -- and describing them as an upholding of Mao... is a problem (to say the least). And it serves to confuse rather than clarify the key theoretical and practical questions involved.

ShineThePath

R.John, first that happened in 1957, it wasn't 20th Congress in 1956. RCP marks that as the date of when the USSR goes "state-capitalist"...This is actually the point I am making, while these events represent points in which revisionists are consolidating power to give precise dates is just ignoring the process of class struggle that existed in the CPSU from the early 50s' to late-early 60s'.

For example Bulganin himself was priemer till 1958, Zhukov was quickly replaced as minister of defence shortly after the Central Committee decided Khruschev would remain as General Secretary. There was still a lot of struggle within the CPSU, that even the CPC thought after Khruschev's replacement as General Secretary and Priemier by Brezhnev and Kosygin that the USSR was still a Socialist country.

In retrospect we can now see the processes and the factors leading to the rise of revisionism in the USSR and PRC; however of course bringing it down to a few events as where the whole thing was turn over in my opinion ignores the contradictions and struggles before and after an event.

This document is right in that it understands that consolidation of revisionist power at these events meant the process of capitalist restoration and destruction of Proletarian power, not its end in one stroke.

JB

Hey all...

I think the problem with "coup" thesis isn't that there weren't some elbows thrown during intra-party conflict, or that there weren't contending lines (and a definite "capitalist road")... but that it acts as if the whole range of social relations is pretty much moot when compared to the "line at the contending heights".

If the relations of production are essentially capititalist – while there is a political leadership attempting to move towards socialism (on the path to communism)... then "restoration" is simply a matter of a bad line in command.

So how do we approach that problem?

Maybe a renewed emphasis on changing the relations of production, developing modular "model projects" that create new norms at the base, constitutionally limiting what is expected of a socialist state and fundamentally rejecting "orthodoxy" of any kind.

Orthodoxy (and all the cults of personality) are really about making hard struggle seem simple. It's a messiah/savior approach that owes more to feudalism and religiousity than the true, rich history of people in their masses in struggle.

In other words, socialism is not a state monopoly on culture (what can be said), economics (who sells and manages) or politics (who gets to decide what and how they enforce it).

There has been discussion about what it is we can learn from Gramsci – and I'd say the importance of cultural hegemony beyond "the party line" is a good place to start. It's not like we'd be starting from zero!

r. john

the social relations are not "moot" compared to the line struggle at the commanding heights. But their nature and development is fundamentally dependent on which class holds state power.

Again: There was a protracted process. In the Soviet Union, the revisionist forces were extremely powerful, and had been ascendent over decades. The population had been widely depoliticized (including by the treatment of political controversies as criminal -- and capital -- affairs.)

The fact is that history has turning points.

Let's not just focus on 1956.

When was the liberation of China? Well it was a process. and an ongoing struggle through the whole period from 1930 to 1976. But there was a nodal point (the seizure of natinwide power in 1949) that has a real, not merely symbolic importance. Does that mean that there were not parts of the country controled by imperialism (nah, look at Taiwan among others), or that important parts of the country weren't liberated (look at Tibet where the lamaists ruled until the late 1950s).

Or look at the complex process involved in liberating institutions like the universities from feudal thinking and elitism.

But 1949 represents a key moment. And to deny that you have to miss the importance of state power.

Similarly, we can get down into the details of Soviet history -- and the powerful rightist winds that blew after 1933, and the incredible conservatization that happened as a result of World War 2 (and the Russian nationalist basis it was fought on). and the powerful sentiment among the survivors for peace, normalcy, some home life, and stable access to goods.

But it remains true that Krushchev came to power and injected a radically different direction (rooted in all that was reactionary and capitalist in the Soviet Union until that point).

He redefined socialism to mean consumer goods. He called of world revolution in a systematic way -- and called the struggle of the worlds people a danger to the survival of humanity. He restructured the Soviet foreign policy to be a nakedly colonial one -- based on establishing new "spheres of influence" by snatching neocolonies (like egypt and india) from rival powers.

And he first announced these thesis in 1956, and did so while announcing a repudiation of Stalin and the whole approach that led before. And he followed it up with a military coup de main against his rivals (backed by Zhukov) when opposition came to a head in 1957.

This represented a fundamental change. and one of the proofs of that is that all the precepts of capitalist cost accounting and profit (that had long been advocated by certain forces, and repressed by Stalin) blossomed and quickly became the capitalist norms (in both meanings of the word).

Now there is a reverse method that i suggest people not adopt. It goes something like this: We conceive of socialism as power to the people, and as socialist relations as something real and transformative for peoples lives. so therefore to conceive of the decisive moment being a shift of power at the top is to conceptually rob the people of power as motive force.

It is a difficult thing that there was so little resistance to this restoration of capitalism in Russia -- and that the people were so deeply pacified, exhausted, and confused by all that had gone before. But this is the case. It is also true that the new imperialist society stampeded in with high-flown promises of goods and communism, abundance and peace, loosening of repression and cultural modernity. Khrushchev made atheist speeches as cosmonauts sent into space (declaring "they have not seen any gods or heavens out here.")

there was the precious figleaf of Cuba that emerged just in time, to give the new soviet regime a "left" flavor, just as they shifted to a policy of "reliance on nukes" for their world position.

this is real life, folks. Real politics. Real struggle of classes. there are nuances, shades of grey, new phenomena, stages, deception, need for scientific discovery, and more.

But the fact is that there was a major decisive shift in the Soviet Union in 1956 (with Krushchev's rise to power), that shook the world and the communist movement. And in rapid succession all kinds of vicious changes revealed that something sinisiter had come to power -- in a country and a situation that was neck deep in problems.

Soviet socialism was a very sick puppy as it emerged from world war 2. And the death of Stalin meant that all kinds of forces dared raise their heads and race to be the ones defining the future. And in that fight, not surprisingly, the revisionist forces of capitalist restoration proved unstoppable.

this is not a cardboard story, of easy myths and non-factual orthodoxies.

This is how it went down.

* * * * * *

One further thing: There were folks around the world (often in the third world) who for quite a while chose to hope, and claim, that the soviet union was still a "socialist superpower" that they could ally with, and use as a supporter against the U.S. -- and that would not impose new oppression as the cost of its support.

But let's not be confused by that.

Any trip to the Eastern bloc in the sixties and seventies -- for anyone with a glimmer of revolutonary hopes -- was a trip to a rival capitalism. It sucked. It was not "weakened socialism" it was a new form of the old order.

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