100 Questions by Tom “Big Warrior” Watts (2014)

100 Questions by Tom “Big Warrior” Watts

1. What is class struggle all about?

A: Class society is divided into exploiting and exploited classes. The history of class society has been the history of class struggle. As Mao put it: “Classes struggle, some classes triumph, others are eliminated. Such is history; such is the history of civilization for thousands of years. To interpret history from this viewpoint is historical materialism; standing in opposition to this viewpoint is historical idealism.”

 

2. Hasn’t it always been that way? Isn’t it just the way of the world?

A: No, that’s historical idealism. People have been around for many, many tens of thousands of years, but class society has only been around a few thousand years. It represents a specific historical period with a beginning and an end. In fact we are very near to the end of it.

 

3. But isn’t it human nature to be greedy and selfish?

A: No, that’s more historical idealism. Primitive cultures were based on sharing and cooperation, that is why the pre-exploitative epoch is called “Primitive Communalism” or “Tribal Communism.” Survival was dealt with as a communal issue, and the community shared the fruits of their labors, gathering, and later hunting as well.

 

4. Well, then how did society change? Why did they stop sharing?

A: As gathering evolved into agriculture and hunting into herding, surplus wealth was created, and it became possible for some people to convert this tribal property (or some of it) into private property, and by force compel others to labor for them.

 

5. You mean the stronger took power over the weaker?

Yes, the first class division was into masters and slaves.

 

6. So as long as people were living hand to mouth from nature, everyone was free and equal?

A: Exactly, only when surplus wealth was created did private property and people as property appear. This stage is called “patriarchy.”

 

7. Doesn’t patriarchy have to do with the oppression of women?

A: Yes, it does. Women were free and enjoyed equal status under primitive communalism. This equality was overthrown by patriarchy, and women and their children were reduced to the status of male property.

 

8. You mean women could be bought and sold?

A: Precisely! They could also be taken as captives in war along with men or as payment of debt along with children.

 

9. Do you mean to say the early patriarchs overthrew their own mothers?

A: Yes, according to Frederick Engels, in his landmark work, The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State, the first domestic institution in human history was not the family but the matrilineal clan. Because of the sexual freedom enjoyed by women, descent (and thus clan membership) was figured according to the female line only until the advent of private property. The overthrow of “mother right” ensured that the patriarchs could pass their property and position to a male heir. To assure their paternity, they instituted monogamy, taking away women’s sexual freedom.

 

10. But what about custom and religion?

A: These had to be overthrown and replaced by new customs and religions or dramatically altered. The new religions, which became “world religions,” enshrined the idea of patriarchy as the “divine order” of things.

 

11. So, you are saying that the major religions originate in the justification of the subordination of women and the division of society into exploiting and exploited classes and/or castes?

A: Exactly! Although the caste system became particularly rigid due to its institutionalization by the British Raj during colonialism.

 

12: What about feudalism then?

A: Feudalism emerges with the breakdown of empires and power devolving onto local despots and gentry who hold hereditary tittle to, or authority over, large tracts of agricultural land. The land is worked by peasants as slaves, serfs or tenants. A system of vassalage exists between lower nobility and the lords and kings whereby the lesser swear and owe service to the greater lords.

 

13: Why do we still have feudalism in South Asia?

A: In its revolutionary phase, capitalism sweeps away feudalism to make way for itself, but then under colonialism it accommodates to it and incorporates semi-feudal relationships to keep the subject country underdeveloped and dependent. This continues under neo-colonialism taking the form of semi-feudalism that retards the development of national capitalism.

 

14: How are proletarians different from peasants?

A: The proletariat is the class that has no means to exist except by selling its labor power to the capitalists as a commodity. Where the peasant may rent land to work and give up a portion of his crop to the landlord, the worker must buy the necessities to survive from his or her wages.

 

15: But many peasants are landless and have to hire out as laborers. Doesn’t that make them proletarians?

A: Many are semi-proletarians and some become agricultural workers. The trend is for large-scale agribusiness to replace semi-feudal relations with mechanized capitalist farming owned by large transnational corporations. This displaces a lot of peasants who become agricultural workers or go to the cities seeking employment as wage workers.

 

16: Is that where the proletariat comes from?

A: Yes, that and tradesmen and artisans who can no longer compete with cheap manufactured goods. The Agrarian Revolution creates the labor force for the Industrial Revolution, but the Technological Revolution keeps reducing the number of workers needed for both agriculture and industry creating a “Surplus Army of Labor” that cannot be profitably exploited as peasants or proletarians under capitalism.

 

17: So what can the Socialist Revolution do about this?

A: It can provide full employment for all and eliminate the profit motive as the driving force in the economy. Instead of working to make a small class rich, we can be working to make everyone’s life richer, with more freedom to enjoy life.

 

18: Don’t the people in capitalist countries like the U.S. and the U.K. enjoy a richer life than people in South Asia?

A: Yes, because of imperialism, wealth extracted from the dominated countries, the former colonies, continues to flow to the imperialist countries, but for the majority of people there, life is getting less rich and there is rising unemployment and more people being sent to prison, more than anywhere else in the world.

But to understand why this is happening and why the conditions for World Proletarian Socialist Revolution are growing around the world, we must firmly grasp the “Science of Revolution” – Marxism-Leninism-Maoism – and through applying it in a living way, enrich it and use it to illuminate not only our struggle to analyze the objective reality we live in but to guide our collective struggle to transform it to better serve the interests of humanity and our posterity.

 

19: Ok, I’m interested, how to I learn about this “Science of Revolution?”

A:  Well, as Mao says: “Whoever wants to know a thing has no way of doing so except by coming into contact with it, that is, by living (practicing) in its environment. … If you want knowledge, you must take part in the practice of changing reality. If you want to know the taste of a pear, you must change the pear by eating it yourself…. If you want to know the theory and methods of revolution, you must take part in revolution. All genuine knowledge originates in direct experience.” But we can begin to get an understanding by studying the basic works of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, recognizing that like all sciences, it is a work in progress in which new discoveries are developments are taking place.

 

20: Where do we begin?

A: With Karl Marx of course! Karl Heinrich Marx was a German philosopher, economist, sociologist, historian, journalist, and revolutionary leader of the working class. He is considered the “Father of Scientific Socialism.” Marx’s work in economics laid the basis for the current understanding of labour and its relation to capital, and has influenced much of subsequent economic thought. He published numerous books during his lifetime, the most notable being The Communist Manifesto (1848) and Das Kapital (1867–1894).

 

21: Ok, tell me about The Communist Manifesto, what is that about?

A: In 1847, a party was formed in London called The Communist League, and two of its leading members, Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, were called upon to draft a statement of principles, which they wrote in the form of a manifesto. It begins with the bold assertion that, “The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.” Further, it states that this class struggle has inevitably led either to the revolutionizing of society or “the common ruination of the contending classes.”

“Our epoch,” They write, “the epoch of the bourgeoisie, possesses, however, this distinct feature: it has simplified class antagonisms. Society as a whole is more and more splitting up into two great hostile camps, into two great classes directly facing each other — Bourgeoisie and Proletariat.” Moreover; “The bourgeoisie cannot exist without constantly revolutionising the instruments of production, and thereby the relations of production, and with them the whole relations of society. Conservation of the old modes of production in unaltered form, was, on the contrary, the first condition of existence for all earlier industrial classes. Constant revolutionising of production, uninterrupted disturbance of all social conditions, everlasting uncertainty and agitation distinguish the bourgeois epoch from all earlier ones. All fixed, fast-frozen relations, with their train of ancient and venerable prejudices and opinions, are swept away, all new-formed ones become antiquated before they can ossify. All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses his real conditions of life, and his relations with his kind.”

 

22: Yes, the pace of change in the world keeps accelerating. This is the cause?

A: And the world keeps getting smaller. “The need of a constantly expanding market for its products chases the bourgeoisie over the entire surface of the globe. It must nestle everywhere, settle everywhere, establish connexions everywhere.”

“The bourgeoisie has through its exploitation of the world market given a cosmopolitan character to production and consumption in every country. To the great chagrin of Reactionists, it has drawn from under the feet of industry the national ground on which it stood. All old-established national industries have been destroyed or are daily being destroyed. They are dislodged by new industries, whose introduction becomes a life and death question for all civilised nations, by industries that no longer work up indigenous raw material, but raw material drawn from the remotest zones; industries whose products are consumed, not only at home, but in every quarter of the globe. In place of the old wants, satisfied by the production of the country, we find new wants, requiring for their satisfaction the products of distant lands and climes. In place of the old local and national seclusion and self-sufficiency, we have intercourse in every direction, universal inter-dependence of nations. And as in material, so also in intellectual production. The intellectual creations of individual nations become common property. National one-sidedness and narrow-mindedness become more and more impossible, and from the numerous national and local literatures, there arises a world literature.”

 

23: Back then, they were talking about globalization?

A: Not only globalization but also urbanization: “The bourgeoisie has subjected the country to the rule of the towns. It has created enormous cities, has greatly increased the urban population as compared with the rural, and has thus rescued a considerable part of the population from the idiocy of rural life. Just as it has made the country dependent on the towns, so it has made barbarian and semi-barbarian countries dependent on the civilised ones, nations of peasants on nations of bourgeois, the East on the West.”

 

24: “Barbarian and semi-barbarian countries,” “idiocy of rural life!” Isn’t that pretty Euro-centric?

A: Yes, it is, but it is also the language of their day and how Europeans looked at the rest of the world.

 

25: Well, it is true the Europeans saw themselves on a “civilizing mission,” taking their own national cultures as the epitome of civilization. Didn’t they?

A: So true, and capitalism promoted the rise of European nationalism: “The bourgeoisie keeps more and more doing away with the scattered state of the population, of the means of production, and of property. It has agglomerated population, centralised the means of production, and has concentrated property in a few hands. The necessary consequence of this was political centralisation. Independent, or but loosely connected provinces, with separate interests, laws, governments, and systems of taxation, became lumped together into one nation, with one government, one code of laws, one national class-interest, one frontier, and one customs-tariff.”

 

26: What else does the Manifesto say?

A: It explains that capitalism has an internal contradiction that leads to a cycle of crisis: “Modern bourgeois society, with its relations of production, of exchange and of property, a society that has conjured up such gigantic means of production and of exchange, is like the sorcerer who is no longer able to control the powers of the nether world whom he has called up by his spells. For many a decade past the history of industry and commerce is but the history of the revolt of modern productive forces against modern conditions of production, against the property relations that are the conditions for the existence of the bourgeois and of its rule. It is enough to mention the commercial crises that by their periodical return put the existence of the entire bourgeois society on its trial, each time more threateningly. In these crises, a great part not only of the existing products, but also of the previously created productive forces, are periodically destroyed. In these crises, there breaks out an epidemic that, in all earlier epochs, would have seemed an absurdity — the epidemic of over-production. Society suddenly finds itself put back into a state of momentary barbarism; it appears as if a famine, a universal war of devastation, had cut off the supply of every means of subsistence; industry and commerce seem to be destroyed; and why? Because there is too much civilisation, too much means of subsistence, too much industry, too much commerce. The productive forces at the disposal of society no longer tend to further the development of the conditions of bourgeois property; on the contrary, they have become too powerful for these conditions, by which they are fettered, and so soon as they overcome these fetters, they bring disorder into the whole of bourgeois society, endanger the existence of bourgeois property. The conditions of bourgeois society are too narrow to comprise the wealth created by them. And how does the bourgeoisie get over these crises? On the one hand by enforced destruction of a mass of productive forces; on the other, by the conquest of new markets, and by the more thorough exploitation of the old ones. That is to say, by paving the way for more extensive and more destructive crises, and by diminishing the means whereby crises are prevented.”

 

27: This is what they call the “Boom Bust Cycle?”

A: Yes, but really it is  more like a downward spiral of crisis upon crisis.

 

28: What else does it say?

A: Marx and Engels explain that the proletariat is the first all-the-way revolutionary class in history, because to effect its own liberation, it must overthrow all existing social relations. In Medieval days, the world was divided into four parts called the “Four Alls.” These roles were said to be “chosen by God.” They were: “the peasants who worked for all, priests who prayed for all, knights who fought for all, and kings who ruled all.” Marxism proposes another set of “Four Alls:” The Four Alls are: 1) the abolition of class distinctions generally, 2) the abolition of all the relations of production on which they rest, 3) the abolition of all the social relations that correspond to these relations of production, and 4) the revolutionising of all the ideas that result from these social relations.”

 

The Manifesto then discusses the relationship of the Communists to the proletarians. The immediate aim of the Communists is the “formation of the proletariat into a class, [the] overthrow of the bourgeois supremacy, [and the] conquest of political power by the proletariat.” The Communists’ theory simply describes a historical movement underway at this very moment. This includes the abolition of private property. It explains that the communists are the “advanced detachment” of the proletariat: “The Communists are distinguished from the other working-class parties by this only: 1. In the national struggles of the proletarians of the different countries, they point out and bring to the front the common interests of the entire proletariat, independently of all nationality. 2. In the various stages of development which the struggle of the working class against the bourgeoisie has to pass through, they always and everywhere represent the interests of the movement as a whole.”

“The Communists, therefore, are on the one hand, practically, the most advanced and resolute section of the working-class parties of every country, that section which pushes forward all others; on the other hand, theoretically, they have over the great mass of the proletariat the advantage of clearly understanding the line of march, the conditions, and the ultimate general results of the proletarian movement.” It explains how “Scientific Socialism” is a qualitative leap beyond the “Utopian Socialism” that preceded it representing the idealism of the petty-bourgeoisie. “The theoretical conclusions of the Communists are in no way based on ideas or principles that have been invented, or discovered, by this or that would-be universal reformer. They merely express, in general terms, actual relations springing from an existing class struggle, from a historical movement going on under our very eyes.”

29: So what happened with the Communist League?

A: It was suppressed in the wave of reaction that followed the short-lived “Revolutions of 1848” that swept across Europe. But in 1864, at a meeting in London, the International Workingmen’s Association (IWA) was formed, that at its height counted more than five million members. From the start, Marx and Engels would be leading members of the IWA, but the Association was an eclectic mix of many tendencies then current in the working class movement. The meeting was attended by a wide array of European radicals, including English Owenites, French followers of Pierre-Joseph Proudhon and Louis Auguste Blanqui, Irish and Polish nationalists, Italian republicans, and German socialists. An unsuccessful worker’s uprising in Poland had been the stimulus for forming the IWA. Even though the IWA was mostly men, they voted at the first meeting to admit women, as the “Industrial Revolution” was drawing masses of women, as  well as children, into the proletariat.

 

30: Was the IWA revolutionary in its aims and goals?

A: Not entirely, but in March of 1871, a revolution broke out in Paris that was to have a profound effect on the worker’s movement internationally and the history of the world. In France hundreds of associations were affiliated with the IWA, and its influence was great, even among non-affiliated workers. Paris was also home to many thousands of radical political refugees, from Poland are other countries. The Franco-Prussian War brought contradictions to a head.

Emperor Louis Napoleon III was defeated and captured at the Battle of Sedan. When news of his surrender, and that the Prussian Army was marching on Paris, reached the capital, Empress Eugenie fled the city and the government collapsed. Members of the French National Assembly met at the Hotel de Ville and proclaimed a new French Republic. They formed what they called the Government of National Defense.

By September 1870, the Prussian Army had surrounded Paris. Masses of workers came forward to defend the city as the National Guard, and money was conscripted to buy them uniforms, guns, ammunition and cannons. In February of 1871, the Government of National Defense signed an armistice with the Prussians. In March, the newly-elected government of Adolf Thiers ordered units of the regular French Army to seize some cannons from the National Guard, who resisted, and the soldiers found themselves surrounded by the armed people of Paris. Most of them went over to the people and the officers were arrested and two of the generals in command were shot. The army and the government withdrew from Paris and fled to Versailles. The National Guard seized power under an elected Central Committee.

A popular election was held and a new government called the Paris Commune was proclaimed on March 28th. It was composed of workers and lower petty-bourgeoisie. They raised the Red Flag and proclaimed, “The flag of the Commune is the flag of the World Republic.” Immediately they reopened the abandoned factories and shops, closed the pawn shops so workers could reclaim their tools, and proclaimed the separation of Church and State, confiscating the property of the Church, turning churches into community centers, and removing religious symbols and texts from the schools. Neighborhood revolutionary committees were set up to administrate affairs democratically, with the participation of the masses.

Some, particularly the Blanquists, argued for marching immediately on Versailles to dissolve the bourgeois government, but the majority wanted to consolidate things in Paris first. This was a fatal mistake. When they did march on the morning of April 3rd, they came under heavy artillery fire and were repulsed, Paris was once more under siege. On May 21st, the French Army entered Paris after discovering a weak spot in the city’s defense in a bourgeois neighborhood. The army was able to flood into the city unopposed until they reached the worker’s neighborhoods, where barricade fighting ensued. Lacking unified command and military discipline, the communards fought neighborhood by neighborhood, heroically, and often with women and children fighting and falling on the barricades, which the soldiers learned they could easily flank by cutting through the walls of houses with their bayonets.

Quarter by quarter, Paris fell as the bourgeois-commanded army advanced, executing prisoners as they went. Outnumbered and disorganized, the armed people were no match for the disciplined butchers, and after a week of bloody street fighting, the Commune was suppressed. Masses of people were rounded up, tried and executed by firing squads. Perhaps as many as 10,000. Those who escaped the bloody purge, were sent off to penal colonies like the notorious “Devil’s Island.”

Karl Marx’s The Civil War In France (1871) is a collection of addresses by Marx to the General Council of the International (IWA) as events were unfolding that were translated into many languages and widely distributed through the IWA internationally. From it we learn that, “The members of the Central Committee of the National Guard, as well as the greater part of the members of the Commune, are the most active, intelligent, and energetic minds of the International Working Men’s Association… men who are thoroughly honest, sincere, intelligent, devoted, pure, and fanatical in the good sense of the word.” While Marx denies that the International in any way planned or ordered the uprising, which was spontaneous.

Marx concludes: “Our Association is, in fact, nothing but the international bond between the most advanced working men in the various countries of the civilized world. Wherever, in whatever shape, and under whatever conditions the class struggle obtains any consistency, it is but natural that members of our Association, should stand in the foreground. The soil out of which it grows is modern society itself. It cannot be stamped out by any amount of carnage. To stamp it out, the governments would have to stamp out the despotism of capital over labor – the condition of their own parasitical existence.”

“Working men’s Paris, with its Commune, will be forever celebrated as the glorious harbinger of a new society. Its martyrs are enshrined in the great heart of the working class. Its exterminators history has already nailed to that eternal pillory from which all the prayers of their priest will not avail to redeem them.”

 

31: Wow! This is some amazing history! What happened with the IWA after the Paris Commune?

A: A big internal struggle developed over how to sum up the lessons of the Commune. As it was composed of very different ideological and political tendencies, there were necessarily different views, but a major polarization developed between the Marxists on the one hand and a tendency that would become known as Anarchism, centered around the person of Mikhail Bakunin, who had joined the IWA in 1868, whose followers at the time called themselves “Collectivists” and “Revolutionary Socialists.” Bakunin accused the Marxists of being “Authoritarian Communists” for advocating a “Dictatorship of the Proletariat,” and extolled what they considered the weaknesses of the Commune as virtues, namely lack of centralized authority and discipline, and championed the idea of unfettered individual liberty. In Bakunin’s words:

“The difference is only that the communists imagine they can attain their goal by the development and organization of the political power of the working classes, and chiefly of the proletariat of the cities, aided by bourgeois radicalism. The revolutionary socialists, on the other hand, believe they can succeed only through the development and organization of the non-political or anti-political social power of the working classes in city and country, including all men of goodwill from the upper classes who break with their past and wish openly to join, them and accept their revolutionary program in full.

“This divergence leads to a difference in tactics. The communists believe it necessary to organize the workers’ forces in order to seize the political power of the State. The revolutionary socialists organize for the purpose of destroying – or, to put it more politely – liquidating the State. The communists advocate the principle and the practices of authority; the revolutionary socialists put all their faith in liberty.”

In 1872, the conflict in the First International climaxed with a final split between the two groups at the Hague Congress. The Anarchists went on to form their own International. The IWA struggled on a few more years and then was dissolved. But in 1889, a Second International was formed at a meeting in Paris commemorating the centennial of the French Revolution. This was also known as the “Marxist International” and the “Red International” in contrast to Bakunin’s “Black International.”

 

32: So, basically the difference between Marxists and Anarchists centers on the question of political power and whether or not the workers need to form their own state power?

A: Exactly!

To Marx, the Paris Commune represented the embryonic form of the proletarian state and the “Dictatorship of the Proletariat,” by which the armed workers could transform society and create the conditions for the eventual withering away of the state with the abolition of classes.

 

33: So, what the 2nd International do?

A: At that first meeting in Paris in 1889, a proposal was made by Raymond Lavigne, called for international demonstrations on the 1890 anniversary of the 1886 Chicago protests for the eight hour day, which had resulted in the trial and execution of seven Anarchist leaders. May Day was formally recognized as International Workers’ Day, an annual event, at the International’s second congress in 1891. For many decades, workers had been fighting to limit the number of hours they must work. Concessions would be won and then swept away by the next economic crisis.

The Crash of 1873 and the depression that followed had led to mass unemployment, pay cuts and general reversal of gains made by the workers’ struggles. A spontaneous strike by railroad workers in West Virginia had spread like wildfire up and down the rail lines and resulted in pitched battles between armed workers and the police and military in several U.S. cities, and most particularly Chicago. A decade later, Chicago again became the storm center of the 8-Hour Day movement. In the wake of massive demonstrations on May 1, 1886, striking workers at one factory were fired on by police and workers were killed. The Anarchists called a protest in Haymarket Square. The protest was peaceful, but as it was breaking up, a squadron of police marched up to disperse the crowd, and someone threw a bomb into the police ranks. The police responded by opening fire on the crowd, killing and wounding several.

The “Haymarket Riot” was used as a pretext to attack the Left organizers of the 8-Hour Day movement. The prosecution made no effort to link the defendants to the bomb-throwing other than to identify them as Anarchists. People around the world signed petitions and demonstrated trying to stop their execution, but the state was relentless. From their martyrdom sprang a growing sense of international solidarity, and on that first International May Day, workers around the world downed their tools and marched in disciplined ranks flying the Red Flag of the Commune.

 

34: So, the Second International was more revolutionary than the First?

A: Well it had a good start, and masses of workers joined it, but as it grew and the leaders gained respectability, revisionism began to set in behind the militant rhetoric. The test came when World War broke out, and in one country after another, the Socialist parties rushed to close ranks with their own bourgeoisie, voting war credits and urging workers to defend their own “fatherlands.” One notable exception was Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, the leader of the left-wing “Bolshevik” faction of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (RSDLP). Lenin called for “revolutionary defeatism” and turning the imperialist war into revolutionary class war.

 

35: So after all the talk about international working class solidarity, the leaders of the 2nd International betrayed Marxism and called on the workers to kill each other?

A: Exactly!

 

36: Please, tell me more about Lenin and the Bolsheviks, ok?

A: Lenin’s real name was Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov. Born to a wealthy middle-class family in Simbirsk, Lenin gained an interest in revolutionary leftist politics following the execution of his elder brother, Aleksandr Ulyanov, in 1887, for plotting to kill the Czar. But young Vladimir chose a different path than his brother, inspired by Marx, he aligned himself with the working class. Russia was the least developed of the imperialist powers of that time, where capitalism and the proletariat were only marginally developed. In 1893 Lenin moved to St. Petersburg, and became a senior figure in the RSDLP. Arrested for sedition and exiled to Siberia, he married Nadezhda Krupskaya, a comrade, and fled to Western Europe, living in Germany, France, England, and Switzerland, where he became known as a prominent party theorist. In 1903, he took a key role in the RSDLP schism, leading the Bolshevik faction against Julius Martov’s Menshevik faction.

 

37: What was the contention between the factions?

A: The two factions were originally known as “hard” (Lenin’s supporters) and “soft” (Martov’s supporters). Soon, however, the terminology changed to “Bolsheviks” and “Mensheviks”, from the Russian “bolshinstvo” (majority) and “menshinstvo” (minority). Martov wanted a party that was easy to join and had lax discipline, much like the Social Democratic parties in Western Europe, but Lenin wanted a party that was “hard core” and tightly disciplined, an organization of “professional revolutionaries.”

 

38: So that is what is meant by a “Leninist Party”?

A: Yes! In 1901-02, Lenin wrote What Is To Be Done? in which he explained the fundamental difference between trade union and socialist consciousness: “We have said that there could not have been Social-Democratic consciousness among the workers. It would have to be brought to them from without. The history of all countries shows that the working class, exclusively by its own effort, is able to develop only trade union consciousness, i.e., the conviction that it is necessary to combine in unions, fight the employers, and strive to compel the government to pass necessary labour legislation, etc. The theory of socialism, however, grew out of the philosophic, historical, and economic theories elaborated by educated representatives of the propertied classes, by intellectuals. By their social status the founders of modern scientific socialism, Marx and Engels, themselves belonged to the bourgeois intelligentsia.”

 

39: So, Lenin is telling the Mensheviks that the workers don’t need them to tell them what they can see for themselves?

A: Exactly! Not only that, but he accuses them of blind-sideing the workers by playing to their spontaneous consciousness to gain popularity instead of arming them with an understanding of what they can’t see and how it holds them in bondage.

 

40: I like this Lenin! What else does he say?

A: He says, “…the only choice is — either bourgeois or socialist ideology. There is no middle course (for mankind has not created a “third” ideology, and, moreover, in a society torn by class antagonisms there can never be a non-class or an above-class ideology). Hence, to belittle the socialist ideology in any way, to turn aside from it in the slightest degree means to strengthen bourgeois ideology. There is much talk of spontaneity. But the spontaneous development of the working-class movement leads to its subordination to bourgeois ideology, to its development along the lines of the Credo programme; for the spontaneous working-class movement is trade-unionism,… and trade unionism means the ideological enslavement of the workers by the bourgeoisie. Hence, our task, the task of Social-Democracy, is to combat spontaneity, to divert the working-class movement from this spontaneous, trade-unionist striving to come under the wing of the bourgeoisie, and to bring it under the wing of revolutionary Social Democracy.”

 

41: Is Lenin saying the workers shouldn’t fight for higher wages and better conditions?

A: No, he is saying they don’t need Communists to be “trade union secretaries.” They need Communists to illuminate a path forward out of their bondage to “wage slavery.” and he proposes a way to build such a party, and that is around an All-Russian illegal newspaper, one that doesn’t “dumb-down” the message to escape police censorship.

 

42: I see, to write, print and distribute such a newspaper over the whole of Russia, you would need a tightly-knit, covert “organization of professional revolutionaries,” willing to face arrest and imprisonment, right?

A: Right, and to do much more. Lenin gives an anecdote about a conversation he had with a revisionist: “It is only natural to expect that for a Social-Democrat whose conception of the political struggle coincides with the conception of the ‘economic struggle against the employers and the government,’ the ‘organisation of revolutionaries’ will more or less coincide with the ‘organisation of workers.’ This, in fact, is what actually happens; so that when we speak of organisation, we literally speak in different tongues. I vividly recall, for example, a conversation I once had with a fairly consistent Economist, with whom I had not been previously acquainted. We were discussing the pamphlet, Who Will Bring About the Political Revolution? and were soon of a mind that its principal defect was its ignoring of the question of organisation. We had begun to assume full agreement between us; but, as the conversation proceeded, it became evident that we were talking of different things. My interlocutor accused the author of ignoring strike funds, mutual benefit societies, etc., whereas I had in mind an organisation of revolutionaries as an essential factor in “bringing about” the political revolution. As soon as the disagreement became clear, there was hardly, as I remember, a single question of principle upon which I was in agreement with the Economist!”

 

43: What else did Lenin write?

A: Another of his important works is State And Revolution, (1917). In it, Lenin upholds Marx’s definition of what a state is:

 

“On the one hand, the bourgeois, and particularly the petty-bourgeois, ideologists, compelled under the weight of indisputable historical facts to admit that the state only exists where there are class antagonisms and a class struggle, “correct” Marx in such a way as to make it appear that the state is an organ for the reconciliation of classes. According to Marx, the state could neither have arisen nor maintained itself had it been possible to reconcile classes. From what the petty-bourgeois and philistine professors and publicists say, with quite frequent and benevolent references to Marx, it appears that the state does reconcile classes. According to Marx, the state is an organ of class rule, an organ for the oppression of one class by another; it is the creation of “order”, which legalizes and perpetuates this oppression by moderating the conflict between classes. In the opinion of the petty-bourgeois politicians, however, order means the reconciliation of classes, and not the oppression of one class by another; to alleviate the conflict means reconciling classes and not depriving the oppressed classes of definite means and methods of struggle to overthrow the oppressors.”

Lenin re-examines Marx’s summation of the lessons of the Paris Commune:

“The Commune, therefore, appears to have replaced the smashed state machine ‘only’ by fuller democracy: abolition of the standing army; all officials to be elected and subject to recall. But as a matter of fact this ‘only’ signifies a gigantic replacement of certain institutions by other institutions of a fundamentally different type. This is exactly a case of ‘quantity being transformed into quality:’ democracy, introduced as fully and consistently as is at all conceivable, is transformed from bourgeois into proletarian democracy; from the state (= a special force for the suppression of a particular class) into something which is no longer the state proper.

“It is still necessary to suppress the bourgeoisie and crush their resistance. This was particularly necessary for the Commune; and one of the reasons for its defeat was that it did not do this with sufficient determination. The organ of suppression, however, is here the majority of the population, and not a minority, as was always the case under slavery, serfdom, and wage slavery. And since the majority of people itself suppresses its oppressors, a ‘special force’ for suppression is no longer necessary! In this sense, the state begins to wither away. Instead of the special institutions of a privileged minority (privileged officialdom, the chiefs of the standing army), the majority itself can directly fulfill all these functions, and the more the functions of state power are performed by the people as a whole, the less need there is for the existence of this power.

“In this connection, the following measures of the Commune, emphasized by Marx, are particularly noteworthy: the abolition of all representation allowances, and of all monetary privileges to officials, the reduction of the remuneration of all servants of the state to the level of ‘workmen’s wages.’ This shows more clearly than anything else the turn from bourgeois to proletarian democracy, from the democracy of the oppressors to that of the oppressed classes, from the state as a ‘special force’ for the suppression of a particular class to the suppression of the oppressors by the general force of the majority of the people–the workers and the peasants. And it is on this particularly striking point, perhaps the most important as far as the problem of the state is concerned, that the ideas of Marx have been most completely ignored! In popular commentaries, the number of which is legion, this is not mentioned. The thing done is to keep silent about it as if it were a piece of old-fashioned ‘naivete,’ just as Christians, after their religion had been given the status of state religion, ‘forgot’ the ‘naivete’ of primitive Christianity with its democratic revolutionary spirit.”

“In order for capitalism to generate greater profits than the home market can yield, the merging of banks and industrial cartels produces finance capitalism—the exportation and investment of capital to countries with underdeveloped economies. In turn, such financial behaviour leads to the division of the world among monopolist business companies and the great powers. Moreover, in the course of colonizing undeveloped countries, Business and Government eventually will engage in geopolitical conflict over the economic exploitation of large portions of the geographic world and its populaces. Therefore, imperialism is the highest (advanced) stage of capitalism, requiring monopolies (of labour and natural-resource exploitation) and the exportation of finance capital (rather than goods) to sustain colonialism, which is an integral function of said economic model. Furthermore, in the capitalist homeland, the super-profits yielded by the colonial exploitation of a people and their economy, permit businessmen to bribe native politicians—labour leaders and the labour aristocracy (upper stratum of the working class)—to politically thwart worker revolt (labour strike).”

Lenin takes on his old mentor, Karl Kautsky, who had become a leading theoretician of the revisionism within the 2nd International and apologist for its capitulation to the bourgeoisie: “The growing world proletarian revolutionary movement in general, and the communist movement in particular, cannot dispense with an analysis and exposure of the theoretical errors of Kautskyism. The more so since pacifism and “democracy” in general, which lay no claim to Marxism whatever, but which, like Kautsky and Co., are obscuring the profundity of the contradictions of imperialism and the inevitable revolutionary crisis to which it gives rise, are still very widespread all over the world. To combat these tendencies is the bounden duty of the party of the proletariat, which must win away from the bourgeoisie the small proprietors who are duped by them, and the millions of working people who enjoy more or less petty-bourgeois conditions of life.”

 

45: So, Lenin is saying that the “super-profits” generated by imperialism allow the monopoly capitalists to bribe a section of the workers and middle class to avoid the worker revolt Marx had predicted in the imperialist countries?

A: Exactly, Lenin writes:

“It is precisely the parasitism and decay of capitalism, characteristic of its highest historical stage of development, i.e., imperialism. As this pamphlet shows, capitalism has now singled out a handful (less than one-tenth of the inhabitants of the globe; less than one-fifth at a most “generous” and liberal calculation) of exceptionally rich and powerful states which plunder the whole world simply by ‘clipping coupons.’ Capital exports yield an income of eight to ten thousand million francs per annum, at pre-war prices and according to pre-war bourgeois statistics. Now, of course, they yield much more.

“Obviously, out of such enormous superprofits (since they are obtained over and above the profits which capitalists squeeze out of the workers of their ‘own’ country) it is possible to bribe the labour leaders and the upper stratum of the labour aristocracy. And that is just what the capitalists of the ‘advanced’ countries are doing: they are bribing them in a thousand different ways, direct and indirect, overt and covert.

This stratum of workers-turned-bourgeois, or the labour aristocracy, who are quite philistine in their mode of life, in the size of their earnings and in their entire outlook, is the principal prop of the Second International, and in our days, the principal social (not military) prop of the bourgeoisie. For they are the real agents of the bourgeoisie in the working-class movement, the labour lieutenants of the capitalist class, real vehicles of reformism and chauvinism. In the civil war between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie they inevitably, and in no small numbers. take the side of the bourgeoisie, the ‘Versaillese’ against the ‘Communards.’

“Unless the economic roots of this phenomenon are understood and its political and social significance is appreciated, not a step can be taken toward the solution of the practical problem of the communist movement and of the impending social revolution.”

He also states that: “Imperialism means the progressively mounting oppressions of the nations of the world by a handful of great powers.” Imperialism is driven to expand and demand ever more profit from the countries under its colonial or neo-colonial domination.

 

46: So Lenin’s answer was to turn imperialist war into revolutionary class war?

A: Exactly! That is what happened in Russia, first in 1905, when Russia was defeated in the Sino-Russian War, and then again in 1917 during World War I.

 

47: What happened in 1905?

A: Even before the war, there was great hardship for the workers, peasants and oppressed national and ethnic minorities in the Russian Empire. Defeat by the Japanese caused widespread outrage and exposed the weakness of the Czar’s regime. When striking workers in St. Petersburg marched to petition the Czar, lead by a police agent priest, the soldiers guarding the Winter Palace opened fire on them, killing hundreds. This set off a wave of strikes, mass protests and mutinies. This is how Lenin summed it up:

“Prior to January 22 (or January 9, old style), 1905, the revolutionary party of Russia consisted of a small group of people, and the reformists of those days (exactly like the reformists of today) derisively called us a “sect”. Several hundred revolutionary organisers, several thousand members of local organisations, half a dozen revolutionary papers appearing not more frequently than once a month, published mainly abroad and smuggled into Russia with incredible difficulty and at the cost of many sacrifices—such were the revolutionary parties in Russia, and the revolutionary Social-Democracy in particular, prior to January 22, 1905. This circumstance gave the narrow-minded and overbearing reformists formal justification for their claim that there was not yet a revolutionary people in Russia.

“Within a few months, however, the picture changed completely. The hundreds of revolutionary Social-Democrats “suddenly” grew into thousands; the thousands became the leaders of between two arid three million proletarians. The proletarian struggle produced widespread ferment, often revolutionary movements among the peasant masses, fifty to a hundred million strong; the peasant movement had its reverberations in the army and led to soldiers’ revolts, to armed clashes between one section of the army and another. In this manner a colossal country, with a population of 130,000,000, went into the revolution; in this way, dormant Russia was transformed into a Russia of a revolutionary proletariat and a revolutionary people.”

But the masses were not resolute enough, the Party was not strong enough, and too many troops remained loyal to the Czar. One by one the people’s councils (Soviets) were suppressed and mutinies crushed. The revolution was followed by a decade of brutal repression. But for the Bolsheviks and revolutionary workers, it had been, in Lenin’s words, “a dress rehearsal.”

 

48: What else did Lenin sum up about the Revolution of 1905?

A: In 1906, Lenin wrote a pamphlet entitled “Guerrilla Warfare,” in which he argued in favor of flexibility of tactics:

“Let us begin from the beginning. What are the fundamental demands which every Marxist should make of an examination of the question of forms of struggle? In the first place, Marxism differs from all primitive forms of socialism by not binding the movement to any one particular form of struggle. It recognises the most varied forms of struggle; and it does not ‘concoct’ them, but only generalises, organises, gives conscious expression to those forms of struggle of the revolutionary classes which arise of themselves in the course of the movement. Absolutely hostile to all abstract formulas and to all doctrinaire recipes, Marxism demands an attentive attitude to the mass struggle in progress, which, as the movement develops, as the class-consciousness of the masses grows, as economic and political crisises become acute, continually gives rise to new and more varied methods of defence and attack. Marxism, therefore, positively does not reject any form of struggle. Under no circumstances does Marxism confine itself to the forms of struggle possible and in existence at the given moment only, recognising as it does that new forms of struggle, unknown to the participants of the given period, inevitably arise as the given social situation, changes. In this respect Marxism learns, if we may so express it, from mass practice, and makes no claim what ever to teach the masses forms of struggle invented by “systematisers” in the seclusion of their studies. We know—said Kautsky, for instance, when examining the forms of social revolution—that the coming crisis will introduce new forms of struggle that we are now unable to foresee.

“In the second place, Marxism demands an absolutely historical examination of the question of the forms of struggle. To treat this question apart from the concrete historical situation betrays a failure to understand the rudiments of dialectical materialism. At different stages of economic evolution, depending on differences in political, national-cultural, living and other conditions, different forms of struggle come to the fore and become the principal forms of struggle; and in connection with this, the secondary, auxiliary forms of struggle undergo change in their turn. To attempt to answer yes or no to the question whether any particular means of struggle should be used, without making a detailed examination of the concrete situation of the given movement at the given stage of its development, means completely to abandon the Marxist position.”

He further stated: “In a period of civil war the ideal party of the proletariat is a fighting party. This is absolutely incontrovertible. We are quite prepared to grant that it is possible to argue and prove the inexpediency from the standpoint of civil war of particular forms of civil war at any particular moment. We fully admit criticism of diverse forms of civil war from the standpoint of military expediency and absolutely agree that in this question it is the Social-Democratic practical workers in each particular locality who must have the final say. But we absolutely demand in the name of the principles of Marxism that an analysis of the conditions of civil war should not be evaded by hackneyed and stereo typed talk about anarchism, Blanquism and terrorism, and that senseless methods of guerrilla activity adopted by some organisation or other of the Polish Socialist Party at some moment or other should not be used as a bogey when discussing the question of the participation of the Social-Democratic Party as such in guerrilla warfare in general.”

 

49: So how did the Revolution of 1917 come about?

A: Actually, there were two revolutions, one in February and one in October. The first was a spontaneous uprising of the masses that overthrew the Czar. This broke out in St. Petersburg on International Women’s Day (Julian Calendar). Bread rioters and industrial strikers were joined on the streets by disaffected soldiers from the city’s garrison. As more and more troops deserted, and with loyal troops away at the Front, the city fell into a state of chaos, leading to the abdication of the Czar. The Czar was replaced by a Russian Provisional Government under Prince Georgy Lvov. The Provisional Government was an alliance between liberals and socialists who wanted political reform. They set up a democratically-elected executive and constituent assembly. At the same time, socialists also formed the Petrograd Soviet, which ruled alongside the Provisional Government, an arrangement termed “Dual Power.”

When Lenin arrived in the city from exile on April 3rd, (along with many other radical refugees), he began agitating at once for “All Power to the Soviets!” He recognized that the situation of dual power could not last and that if the proletariat did not soon act to seize power the bourgeoisie would suppress the workers. At first, even most of the Bolsheviks did not agree with Lenin, but the bourgeoisie and revisionists were determined to continue the war against popular opposition after a half million took to the streets in protest during the “July Days,” repression came down and many were arrested. Lenin was forced to flee to Finland to escape arrest. Lvov was replaced by the Socialist Revolutionary minister Alexander Kerensky as head of the government.

The situation changed dramatically when General Kornilov, the Provisional Government’s Commander-in-Chief, attempted to march on the capital to restore the Romanov dynasty. In desperation Kerensky turned to the Soviet to defend Petrograd (St. Petersburg), and issued arms and ammunition to the workers. Kornilov’s soldiers were persuaded to join the workers, soldiers and sailors of the Petrograd Soviet. Now it became obvious that Lenin had been right all along, and the stage was set for the October Revolution.

50: Was the October Revolution very bloody?

A: Actually not, but it was immediately followed by the Russian Civil War, which lasted until 1922. To get a good picture of the October Revolution, one should read Ten Days that Shook the World, by John Reed, the American journalist. This is Lenin’s forward to the book:

“With the greatest interest and with never slackening attention I read John Reed’s book, Ten Days that Shook the World. Unreservedly do I recommend it to the workers of the world. Here is a book which I should like to see published in millions of copies and translated into all languages. It gives a truthful and most vivid exposition of the events so significant to the comprehension of what really is the Proletarian Revolution and the Dictatorship of the Proletariat. These problems are widely discussed, but before one can accept or reject these ideas, he must understand the full significance of his decision. John Reed’s book will undoubtedly help to clear this question, which is the fundamental problem of the international labor movement.”

 

51: Who did the Bolsheviks fight in the Civil War?

A: Everybody from Czarist aristocrats to Mensheviks and Anarchists, as well as Ukrainian nationalists and foreign interventionists, including troops from the U.S., England, Canada, Japan, India, Romania and Italy. All the forces of reaction teamed up to try to prevent the formation of the first socialist state. It took six months just to end the war with the Germans, who continued to attack. The Red Army had to be built from scratch, often by utilizing former Czarist officers who were only loyal because their families were held hostage. Countrywide famine broke out and food and taxes had to be collected by threats and peasants conscripted at gunpoint. Russia was blockaded and no country was friendly. Only the workers and poor peasants supported the new government. It was a bitter struggle! But one after another, the White Armies were defeated and nationwide political power was consolidated by the Reds.

 

52: Then what happened?

A: Lenin realized that some temporary concessions had to made to get production going again and compromises would have to be made with the capitalists and rich peasants, so he came up with the New Economic Policy (NEP). This was opposed by the Left Opposition within the Party, who could not see the necessity of taking a step back to go forward. Most prominent in the Opposition was Leon Trotsky who commanded the Red Army. In the midst of this struggle, Lenin had a series of strokes and died. Josef Stalin, who was General Secretary of the Party, continued to lead the struggle to uphold Lenin’s line. Trotsky ended up expelled and forced into exile.

 

53: Didn’t Trotsky get killed with an ice pick in Mexico City?

A: Not until years later. Trotsky made a career out of attacking Stalin and slandering him, insisting that he was Lenin’s “true disciple” and “chosen successor,” even though he had been a Menshevik and a “Centerist” and only allied with the Bolsheviks on the eve of the October Revolution. Stalin, on the other hand, had been Lenin’s “right hand” right up to his death, and afterwards summed up Lenin’s contributions to Marxism and created Marxism-Leninism. You should read Stalin’s Foundations of Leninism (1953). Stalin summed up that:

“Leninism is Marxism of the era of imperialism and the proletarian revolution. To be more exact, Leninism is the theory and tactics of the proletarian revolution in general, the theory and tactics of the dictatorship of the proletariat in particular. Marx and Engels pursued their activities in the pre-revolutionary period, (we have the proletarian revolution in mind), when developed imperialism did not yet exist, in the period of the proletarians’ preparation for revolution, in the period when the proletarian revolution was not yet an immediate practical inevitability. But Lenin, the disciple of Marx and Engels, pursued his activities in the period of developed imperialism, in the period of the unfolding proletarian revolution, when the proletarian revolution had already triumphed in one country, had smashed bourgeois democracy and had ushered in the era of proletarian democracy, the era of the Soviets.”

 

54: What then is “Stalinism”?

A: Trotskyists’ pet phrase for attacking Marxism-Leninism.

 

55: Why didn’t the revolution spread to other countries in Europe?

A: It did, most particularly to Germany.

 

56: What happened?

A: In November of 1918, a mutiny broke out in the German fleet,  and the spirit of rebellion spread across the country and led to the proclamation of a republic on 9 November 1918. Shortly thereafter Emperor Wilhelm II abdicated. Inspired by the Russian Revolution, the German Workers elected soviets, but the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) leadership refused to work with those who supported the Bolsheviks.

 

57: Why?

A: That takes a little explaining. By 1912, the SPD had become the largest political party in Germany, with a million members and control of the unions, which had 2.5 million members. In addition, the Party controlled or influenced numerous cooperative societies and had 112 members in the Reichstag. It was the largest and most influential party in the 2nd International, and it had the prestige of being the “Party of Marx and Engels.” Led by August Bebel, who, along with Wilhelm Liebknecht, had refused to vote for war credits during the Franco-Prussian War, and vocally supported the Paris Commune, leading to his and Liebknecht’s arrest on charges of “high treason,” and their imprisonment for two years. A worker of humble origins, Bebel was, on his passing in 1913, eulogized by Lenin as the “ideal Marxist leader.”

SPD had consistently voted for resolutions of the 2nd International calling for worker solidarity in the event of war between the Great Powers, but on two occasions, Bebel had made contradictory statements.  In 1904 he had declared in the Reichstag that the SPD would support an armed defense of Germany against a foreign attack. In 1907 at a party convention in Essen he assured that he himself would “shoulder the gun” if it was to fight against Russia, the “enemy of all culture and all the suppressed.” When Germany declared war on Russia in 1914, these statements were used to justify the SPD delegates voting war credits, which effectively ended the 2nd International.

 

58: Wow! So did the whole party support the World War then?

A: No, a faction led by Rosa Luxembourg continued to uphold the pre-war resolutions of the International, and won over a Reichstag deputy, Karl Liebknecht, (son of Wilhelm), who refused to vote further war credits, stating: “The present war was not willed by any of the nations participating in it and it is not waged in the interest of the Germans or any other people. It is an imperialist war, a war for capitalist control of the world market, for the political domination of huge territories and to give scope to industrial and banking capital.” Liebknecht was subsequently expelled from the SPD and imprisoned for “High Treason.”

 

59: What about the rest of the 2nd International?

A: A conference was called in Zimmerwald, Switzerland of diverse factions that opposed the war, which Lenin helped to organize. Lenin’s draft for a manifesto that strongly criticized the social chauvinism and opportunism of the leaders of the International was voted down in favor of a more watered down version drafted by Leon Trotsky, who got to write the final version along with a comrade named Grimm. It read in part:

“Workers!

“Exploited, disfranchised, scorned, they called you brothers and comrades at the outbreak of the war when you were to be led to the slaughter, to death. And now that militarism has crippled you, mutilated you, degraded and annihilated you, the rulers demand that you surrender your interests, your aims, your ideals – in a word, servile subordination to civil peace. They rob you of the possibility of expressing your views, your feelings, your pains; they prohibit you from raising your demands and defending them. The press gagged, political rights and liberties trod upon – this is the way the military dictatorship rules today with an iron hand.

“This situation which threatens the entire future of Europe and of humanity cannot and must not be confronted by us any longer without action. The Socialist proletariat has waged a struggle against militarism for decades. With growing concern, its representatives at their national and international congresses occupied themselves with the ever more menacing danger of war growing out of imperialism. At Stuttgart, at Copenhagen, at Basel, the international Socialist congresses have indicated the course which the proletariat must follow.

“Since the beginning of the war, Socialist parties and labor organizations of various countries that helped to determine this course have disregarded the obligations following from this. Their representatives have called upon the working class to give up the class struggle, the only possible and effective method of proletarian emancipation. They have granted credits to the ruling classes for waging the war; they have placed themselves at the disposal of the governments for the most diverse services; through their press and their messengers, they have tried to win the neutrals for the government policies of their countries; they have delivered up to their governments Socialist Ministers as hostages for the preservation of civil peace, and thereby they have assumed the responsibility before the working class, before its present and its future, for this war, for its aims and its methods. And just as the individual parties, so the highest of the appointed representative bodies of the Socialists of all countries, the International Socialist Bureau, has failed them.”

A headquarters was set up in Bern, Switzerland. It was the beginning of what was to become the 3rd International.

 

60: So, what happened after the Russian Revolution broke out?

A: After the outbreak of the Russian February Revolution in 1917, the first organized strikes erupted in German armament factories in March and April that year with about 300,000 participating workers. Since 1916, the anti-war faction of the SPD had been organized as the Spartacus League (after the leader of the Roman slave revolt) around the leadership of Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxembourg, who had been jailed. In April 1917, the Independent SPD (USPD) was formed by uniting with revisionists, led by Eduard Bernstein, and centrists, led by Karl Kautsky. The USPD was united in demanding an end to the war, but divided as to how to achieve it. When the revolt came, it was neither planned nor organized.

Over a million workers joined the general strike, and they formed “soviets,” after the Russian model, but the leaders of the SPD joined the strike leadership to sabotage it. They conspired with the bourgeoisie and the Army General Staff, and they hired the right-wing militia groups known as the “Freikorps” to suppress the workers and assassinate Liebknecht and Luxenbourg, after they tortured them.

Abortive revolutions by the proletariat took place elsewhere as well, in Hungary, Finland, Poland, Bavaria, Bulgaria and Italy, but everywhere they were opposed by the entrenched revisionist leadership of the Socialist Movement who had subordinated themselves to their respective bourgeoisie. “Socialism cannot be achieved at the point of a bayonet,” they intoned, “only through democratic elections!”

 

61: When was the 3rd International formed, and how was it organized?

A: It was formed in Moscow, in March of 1919, in the midst of the Russian Civil War. Present were delegates from factions and parties of over 30 countries. They chose the name Communist International, in homage to Marx and Engel’s Communist Manifesto and the Communist League, and it came to be known by the abbreviated “Comintern.” Grigory Zinoviev served as the executive officer, but Lenin was the leader everyone looked to. The general belief was that socialist revolutions must happen quickly in Europe if Soviet Russia was to survive and not be crushed like the Paris Commune. The Comintern was organized on the basis of “Democratic Centralism” to provide for the greatest democracy in discussion combined with unity in action, once a vote had been taken. They voted to have a five member executive, but this never materialized, and Zinoviev held the position alone until 1926, in addition to other leadership duties.

 

62: What was the Socialism In One Country vs. Permanent Revolution controversy about?

A: To grasp the essence of this, or any other controversy, we have to look at who was arguing for what and why. At the time of the Russian Revolution, everyone, including Lenin and Stalin, believed that it was imperative that proletarian socialist revolution succeed in the West (particularly Germany) for red political power to survive in Russia, but by the mid-1920’s, it was evident that the revolutionary situation that existed in 1918-1923 had passed. Did this mean the Soviet Union was doomed? Stalin, and others, recognized the necessity of moving forward with socialist reconstruction and preparing politically, economically and militarily to defend the SU against all out attack by the imperialist powers. Idealists like Trotsky saw this as futile and distracting from World Revolution. From Trotsky’s idealist perspective, what was holding back immanent World Revolution had nothing to do with objective conditions outside of Russia at the time and rested entirely on Stalin’s being chosen to carry on Lenin’s work instead of him.

Trotsky was posing as “Lenin’s true disciple,” but as pointed out on Wickipedia:

In his 1915 article “On the Slogan for a United States of Europe”, Lenin stated the following: “Uneven economic and political development is an absolute law of capitalism. Hence, the victory of socialism is possible first in several or even in one capitalist country alone. After expropriating the capitalists and organising their own socialist production, the victorious proletariat of that country will arise against the rest of the world….” Again, in 1918, he wrote, “I know that there are, of course, sages who think they are very clever and even call themselves Socialists, who assert that power should not have been seized until the revolution had broken out in all countries. They do not suspect that by speaking in this way they are deserting the revolution and going over to the side of the bourgeoisie. To wait until the toiling classes bring about a revolution on an international scale means that everybody should stand stock-still in expectation. That is nonsense.” (Speech delivered at a joint meeting of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee and the Moscow Soviet, 14 May 1918, Collected Works, Vol. 23, p. 9.).

In fact, under Stalin’s leadership, socialism was advanced well beyond the borders of Russia to the point where Mao could correctly state after his passing that, “The East Is Red!” The followers of Trotsky could not lay claim to have added one square inch of territory to the Socialist Camp, nor can they today claim to have led any revolution anywhere. But not every idea promoted by Trotsky was wrong, or original. Marx coined the phrase “Permanent Revolution,” not Trotsky. Again, as pointed out by Wickipedia:

Marx’s most famous use of the phrase ‘permanent revolution’ is his March 1850 Address of the Central Committee to the Communist League. His audience is the proletariat in Germany, faced with the prospect that ‘the petty-bourgeois democrats will for the moment acquire a predominant influence’ – i.e. temporary political power. He enjoins them:

While the democratic petty bourgeois want to bring the revolution to an end as quickly as possible, achieving at most the aims already mentioned, it is our interest and our task to make the revolution permanent until all the more or less propertied classes have been driven from their ruling positions, until the proletariat has conquered state power and until the association of the proletarians has progressed sufficiently far – not only in one country but in all the leading countries of the world – that competition between the proletarians of these countries ceases and at least the decisive forces of production are concentrated in the hands of the workers.

In the remainder of the text, Marx outlines his proposal that the proletariat ‘make the revolution permanent’. In essence, it consists of the working class maintaining a militant and independent approach to politics both before, during and after the ‘struggle’ which will bring the ‘petty-bourgeois democrats’ to power.

Of course, Imperialism changed conditions, and the creation of the Soviet Union changed conditions, and the development of Leninism and later Maoism reflected those changed conditions and the development of Marxism. Trotsky was wrong in opposing the admittance of Sun Yat-sen’s KMT into the Comintern and the inclusion of the Chinese Communist Party in the KMT, even though the Party was betrayed and massacred after Sun Yat-sen’s passing. It had still gone from a small sect to a party with a mass base. Errors were made by the Comintern, by Mao and the Chinese comrades sorted it out without Trotsky’s help at all. He wasn’t proved right, he was proved wrong by the success of the Chinese Revolution, and this paved the way for a more correct understanding of making revolution in semi-feudal and semi-colonial

 

63: How did the Russian Revolution influence the Chinese Revolution?

A: In 1911 a nationalist revolt began in Southern China that led to the overthrow of the Qing Dynasty. Sun Yat-sen, a nationalist with socialist leanings, was chosen as the first president of the Chinese Republic. After initial setbacks, Sun Yat-sen and the Kuomintang (also known as the Guomindang, KMT or Nationalist Party), which had emerged as the dominant political force after the fall of the Qing Dynasty, managed to establish a secure base in southern China, and began training a National Revolutionary Army (NRA) with which to challenge the northern warlords.

Meanwhile, talks between the Comintern and prominent Chinese Marxists eventually resulted in several Chinese Marxist groups banding together to form a Communist Party of China at a meeting in Shanghai in 1921.

The Comintern, from 1922, pushed the CPC to ally with the Kuomintang. The union was short-lived. After Sun Yat-sen’s death in 1925 a power struggle emerged in the Kuomintang between those sympathetic to the Communists and those who – headed by Chiang Kaishek – favored a capitalist state dominated by a wealthy elite and supported by a military dictatorship. This lead to the Shanghai Massacre of Communists by Chiang’s forces, followed by other massacres, that marked the beginning of the Chinese Civil War (1927-1950). Invasion of China by Japanese imperialism in 1931 led to a temporary alliance and suspension of the civil war between the KMT and CPC.

In 1939, Mao outlined “The Tasks Of The Chinese Revolution:”

“Imperialism and the feudal landlord class being the chief enemies of the Chinese revolution at this stage, what are the present tasks of the revolution? Unquestionably, the main tasks are to strike at these two enemies, to carry out a national revolution to overthrow foreign imperialist oppression and a democratic revolution to overthrow feudal landlord oppression, the primary and foremost task being the national revolution to overthrow imperialism.

“These two great tasks are interrelated. Unless imperialist rule is overthrown, the rule of the feudal landlord class cannot be terminated, because imperialism is its main support. Conversely, unless help is given to the peasants in their struggle to overthrow the feudal landlord class, it will be impossible to build powerful revolutionary contingents to overthrow imperialist rule, because the feudal landlord class is the main social base of imperialist rule in China and the peasantry is the main force in the Chinese revolution. Therefore the “fundamental tasks, the national revolution and the democratic revolution, are at once distinct and united.

“In fact, the two revolutionary tasks are already linked, since the main immediate task of the national revolution is to resist the Japanese imperialist invaders and since the democratic revolution must be accomplished in order to win the war. It is wrong to regard the national revolution and the democratic revolution as two entirely different stages of the revolution.”

 

64: So Mao approved of Stalin’s position?

A: In his own words:

“We Chinese people are now living in a time of profound calamity unprecedented in history, a time when help from others is most urgently needed. The Book of Poetry says, ‘Ying goes its cry, seeking with its voice its companion.’ We are precisely at such a juncture.

“But who are our friends?

“There is one kind of so-called friends who style themselves our friends, and some among us also unthinkingly call them friends. But such friends can only be classed with Li Linfu of the Tang dynasty. Li Linfu was a prime minister of the Tang dynasty, a notorious man who was described as having ‘honey dripping from his tongue and a sword concealed in his heart.’ These friends today are precisely friends with ‘honey dripping from their tongues and swords concealed in their hearts.’ Who are these people? Part of those imperialists who say that they sympathize with China.

“There is another kind of friends who are different; they have real sympathy for us, and regard us as brothers. Who are these people? They are the Soviet Union, and Stalin.

“Not a single country has renounced its special rights and privileges in China; only the Soviet Union has done this.

“At the time of the Northern Expedition, all the imperialists opposed us, and the Soviet Union alone assisted us.

“Since the beginning of the anti-Japanese war, not a single government of any imperialist country has really helped us. The Soviet Union alone has helped us with its great resources in men, materiel, and money.

“Is this not clear enough?

“To the cause of the liberation of the Chinese nation and the Chinese people, only the socialist country, the socialist leaders, the socialist people, and socialist thinkers, statesmen, and toilers are truly giving assistance. Without their help, it is impossible to win final victory.

“Stalin is the true friend of the Chinese nation and of the cause of the liberation of the Chinese people. The Chinese people’s love and respect for Stalin, and our friendship for the Soviet Union, are wholly sincere. Any attempt, from whatever quarter, to sow dissension by rumor-mongering and slander will be of no avail in the end.”

—“Stalin Is the Friend of the Chinese People” (Dec. 20, 1939)

 

65: Did Trotsky and his allies really conspire with the Nazis and Japanese fascists against Stalin?

A: There appears to be evidence that this is true. According to historian Grover Furr: “Leon Trotsky and his son Leon Sedov were indicted but absent defendants at each of the three Moscow Trials. If the charges against and the confessions of other defendants were basically accurate, as our research has suggested so far, that has implications for the charges voiced at those trials that Trotsky was in league with fascist Germany and militarist Japan.”

It stands to reason that if Trotsky believed that it was not possible to build socialism in Russia and that Stalin’s leadership of the Soviet Union and the world communist miovement was the principle obstruction to world socialist revolution, that Trotsky would employ any and all means to get rid of that obstruction. It is clearly evident that Nazi and Trotskyist propaganda and slanders of Stalin buttressed one another and that the Nazis beamed Trotskyist propaganda into the Soviet Union via radio broadcasts.

 

66: What about Hitler and Stalin’s “Non-Aggression Pact?”

A: After the Western “Great Powers” rebuffed Stalin’s proposal of an “Anti-Fascist Alliance,” Stalin did adopt a different strategy to put off German invasion and deflect Nazi aggression back on the West. Where the “Great Powers” had intended to use the Nazis to “Bleed Russia White,” Stalin turned their “Frankenstein Monster” back on them and bought time to prepare the Red Army to bear the brunt of an all-out fascist invasion. From the betrayal of the SPD on, it was a forgone conclusion that the Soviet Union was going to have to face an all-out imperialist invasion, and Stalin’s leadership, – the strategy of “socialism in one country,” the purges and five year plans to rapidly proletarianize, industrialize and transform Russia from a wooden plow peasant agriculture into collectivized and mechanized agriculture, and remold the slapped-together Red Army of Trotsky’s creation into a modern, motivated and ideologically and politically united war machine – can only be properly understood in this context.

The Trotskyist, and revisionist mantra of “Stalin’s Crimes” can all be summed up as one “Crime,” that he led the Soviet Union as a Marxist-Leninist to overcome all obstacles, and defeat all enemies, to build a powerful socialist state that could survive and stand tall in the era of an imperialist-dominated world. Furthermore he was the loyal and resourceful friend of all oppressed peoples and nations, who gave precious aid and assistance as well as diplomatic and political support to many struggles for liberation around the world. This is not to say that he never made mistakes or failed to do things that might have been done or done better, but who are we comparing him to? Trotsky? Talk about a “cult of personality!”

 

67: Do you think Trotsky deserved an icepick in the head?

A: Like Mussolini deserved the meat-hook!

 

68: What about Khrushchev’s “Secret Speech?”

A: As Grover Furr put in the tittle of his book, “Khrushchev Lied!” Once again we have to grasp the essence of who is saying what and why. Khrushchev was the guy who took the Soviet Union off the “Socialist Road.” He had to attack the legacy of Stalin and by implication anyone who upheld Marxism-Leninism.

 

69: Was there a “cult of personality” built around Stalin?

A: Sure there was, and Khrushchev was one of the main architects. In the same sense, Lin Biao was one of the main architects of Mao’s “cult of personality.” Revisionists will “Raise The Red Flag To Attack The Red Flag!” Don’t the revisionists of today invoke Marx and Engels, and so on to mask their betrayal of everything these revolutionary thinkers and leaders stood for? After Lenin was dead, Trotsky invoked the image of Lenin, whom he had generally opposed in life, and claimed to be his “true disciple.” Of course, he couldn’t resist presenting himself as even greater than Lenin and the “true genius” of the Russian Revolution.

 

70: Didn’t Stalin and Mao have absolute power in their countries?

A: Not at all! Class struggle intensifies under socialism, and it is for control over the party and state apparatus and for public opinion and ideological and political line. Class struggle is particularly intense in the upper levels of the party and state apparatus, where a “new bourgeoisie” can, and will, emerge within the bureaucracy. Both Stalin and Mao had to fight for inner-party democracy and “power to the people” in society against these “new bourgeois” elements, as well as the weight of old ideas and ways from historic exploitive class relations.

The principles of “Democratic Centralism” and “Collective Leadership” are essential to communist organizations. Mao expressed it thus in 1948, during the Chinese Civil War, when the Party was leading millions of people:

“The Party committee system is an important Party institution for ensuring collective leadership and preventing any individual from monopolizing the conduct of affairs. It has recently been found that in some (of course not all) leading bodies it is the habitual practice for one individual to monopolize the conduct of affairs and decide important problems. Solutions to important problems are decided not by Party committee meetings but by one individual, and membership in the Party committee has become nominal. Differences of opinion among committee members cannot be resolved and are left unresolved for a long time. Members of the Party committee maintain only formal, not real, unity among themselves. This situation must be changed. From now on, a sound system of Party committee meetings must be instituted in all leading bodies, from the regional bureaus of the Central Committee to the prefectural Party committees; from the Party committees of the fronts to the Party committees of brigades and military areas (sub-commissions of the Revolutionary Military Commission or leading groups); and the leading Party members’ groups in government bodies, people’s organizations the news agency and the newspaper offices. All important problems (of course, not the unimportant, trivial problems, or problems whose solutions have already been decided after discussion at meetings and need only be carried out) must be submitted to the committee for discussion, and the committee members present should express their views fully and reach definite decisions which should then be carried out by the members concerned…. Party committee meetings must be divided into two categories, standing committee meetings and plenary sessions, and the two should not be confused. Furthermore, we must take care that neither collective leadership nor personal responsibility is overemphasized to the neglect of the other. In the army, the person in command has the right to make emergency decisions during battle and when circumstances require.”

 

71: So a communist army does not function like an army under capitalism?

A: Not at all, because it does not have the same function. A communist army is the people’s army. As Mao put it, “The army must become one with the people so that they see it as their own army. Such an army will be invincible….” and, “Every comrade must be helped to understand that as long as we rely on the people, believe firmly in the inexhaustible creative power of the masses and hence trust and identify ourselves with them, we can surmount any difficulty, and no enemy can crush us while we can crush any enemy.” Speaking on behalf of the People’s Liberation Army, Mao said: “We hail from all corners of the country and have joined together for a common revolutionary objective…. Our cadres must show concern for every soldier, and all people in the revolutionary ranks must care for each other, must love and help each other.”

 

65: Did Trotsky and his allies really conspire with the Nazis and Japanese fascists against Stalin?

A: There appears to be evidence that this is true. According to historian Grover Furr: “Leon Trotsky and his son Leon Sedov were indicted but absent defendants at each of the three Moscow Trials. If the charges against and the confessions of other defendants were basically accurate, as our research has suggested so far, that has implications for the charges voiced at those trials that Trotsky was in league with fascist Germany and militarist Japan.”

It stands to reason that if Trotsky believed that it was not possible to build socialism in Russia and that Stalin’s leadership of the Soviet Union and the world communist miovement was the principle obstruction to world socialist revolution, that Trotsky would employ any and all means to get rid of that obstruction. It is clearly evident that Nazi and Trotskyist propaganda and slanders of Stalin buttressed one another and that the Nazis beamed Trotskyist propaganda into the Soviet Union via radio broadcasts.

 

66: What about Hitler and Stalin’s “Non-Aggression Pact?”

A: After the Western “Great Powers” rebuffed Stalin’s proposal of an “Anti-Fascist Alliance,” Stalin did adopt a different strategy to put off German invasion and deflect Nazi aggression back on the West. Where the “Great Powers” had intended to use the Nazis to “Bleed Russia White,” Stalin turned their “Frankenstein Monster” back on them and bought time to prepare the Red Army to bear the brunt of an all-out fascist invasion. From the betrayal of the SPD on, it was a forgone conclusion that the Soviet Union was going to have to face an all-out imperialist invasion, and Stalin’s leadership, – the strategy of “socialism in one country,” the purges and five year plans to rapidly proletarianize, industrialize and transform Russia from a wooden plow peasant agriculture into collectivized and mechanized agriculture, and remold the slapped-together Red Army of Trotsky’s creation into a modern, motivated and ideologically and politically united war machine – can only be properly understood in this context.

The Trotskyist, and revisionist mantra of “Stalin’s Crimes” can all be summed up as one “Crime,” that he led the Soviet Union as a Marxist-Leninist to overcome all obstacles, and defeat all enemies, to build a powerful socialist state that could survive and stand tall in the era of an imperialist-dominated world. Furthermore he was the loyal and resourceful friend of all oppressed peoples and nations, who gave precious aid and assistance as well as diplomatic and political support to many struggles for liberation around the world. This is not to say that he never made mistakes or failed to do things that might have been done or done better, but who are we comparing him to? Trotsky? Talk about a “cult of personality!”

 

67: Do you think Trotsky deserved an icepick in the head?

A: Like Mussolini deserved the meat-hook!

 

68: What about Khrushchev’s “Secret Speech?”

A: As Grover Furr put in the tittle of his book, “Khrushchev Lied!” Once again we have to grasp the essence of who is saying what and why. Khrushchev was the guy who took the Soviet Union off the “Socialist Road.” He had to attack the legacy of Stalin and by implication anyone who upheld Marxism-Leninism.

 

69: Was there a “cult of personality” built around Stalin?

A: Sure there was, and Khrushchev was one of the main architects. In the same sense, Lin Biao was one of the main architects of Mao’s “cult of personality.” Revisionists will “Raise The Red Flag To Attack The Red Flag!” Don’t the revisionists of today invoke Marx and Engels, and so on to mask their betrayal of everything these revolutionary thinkers and leaders stood for? After Lenin was dead, Trotsky invoked the image of Lenin, whom he had generally opposed in life, and claimed to be his “true disciple.” Of course, he couldn’t resist presenting himself as even greater than Lenin and the “true genius” of the Russian Revolution.

 

70: Didn’t Stalin and Mao have absolute power in their countries?

A: Not at all! Class struggle intensifies under socialism, and it is for control over the party and state apparatus and for public opinion and ideological and political line. Class struggle is particularly intense in the upper levels of the party and state apparatus, where a “new bourgeoisie” can, and will, emerge within the bureaucracy. Both Stalin and Mao had to fight for inner-party democracy and “power to the people” in society against these “new bourgeois” elements, as well as the weight of old ideas and ways from historic exploitive class relations.

The principles of “Democratic Centralism” and “Collective Leadership” are essential to communist organizations. Mao expressed it thus in 1948, during the Chinese Civil War, when the Party was leading millions of people:

“The Party committee system is an important Party institution for ensuring collective leadership and preventing any individual from monopolizing the conduct of affairs. It has recently been found that in some (of course not all) leading bodies it is the habitual practice for one individual to monopolize the conduct of affairs and decide important problems. Solutions to important problems are decided not by Party committee meetings but by one individual, and membership in the Party committee has become nominal. Differences of opinion among committee members cannot be resolved and are left unresolved for a long time. Members of the Party committee maintain only formal, not real, unity among themselves. This situation must be changed. From now on, a sound system of Party committee meetings must be instituted in all leading bodies, from the regional bureaus of the Central Committee to the prefectural Party committees; from the Party committees of the fronts to the Party committees of brigades and military areas (sub-commissions of the Revolutionary Military Commission or leading groups); and the leading Party members’ groups in government bodies, people’s organizations the news agency and the newspaper offices. All important problems (of course, not the unimportant, trivial problems, or problems whose solutions have already been decided after discussion at meetings and need only be carried out) must be submitted to the committee for discussion, and the committee members present should express their views fully and reach definite decisions which should then be carried out by the members concerned…. Party committee meetings must be divided into two categories, standing committee meetings and plenary sessions, and the two should not be confused. Furthermore, we must take care that neither collective leadership nor personal responsibility is overemphasized to the neglect of the other. In the army, the person in command has the right to make emergency decisions during battle and when circumstances require.”

 

71: So a communist army does not function like an army under capitalism?

A: Not at all, because it does not have the same function. A communist army is the people’s army. As Mao put it, “The army must become one with the people so that they see it as their own army. Such an army will be invincible….” and, “Every comrade must be helped to understand that as long as we rely on the people, believe firmly in the inexhaustible creative power of the masses and hence trust and identify ourselves with them, we can surmount any difficulty, and no enemy can crush us while we can crush any enemy.” Speaking on behalf of the People’s Liberation Army, Mao said: “We hail from all corners of the country and have joined together for a common revolutionary objective…. Our cadres must show concern for every soldier, and all people in the revolutionary ranks must care for each other, must love and help each other.”

 

72: What is fascism?

A: Lenin summed up that: “Fascism is capitalism in decline.” Kevin “Rashid” Johnson explains:

“In the late 19th Century, banking and industrial capital merged to form finance capital and ushered in the Age of Proletarian Revolution. V.I. Lenin pointed this out in Imperialism the Highest Stage of Capitalism. However, Lenin by no means meant that Imperialism (monopoly capitalism) would not itself continue to evolve until it was overthrown. In fact, he emphasized that we must define imperialism “as capitalism in transition, or, more precisely as moribund capitalism,” or capitalism in decay, capitalism rotten ripe for revolution.

“He emphasized that this decay was by no means negated by the rapidity of its growth, that the accelerated growth rate was symptomatic of its rottenness and parasitism. And that this decay manifested itself most profoundly in the countries richest in capital. Since Lenin’s time, we have seen the evolution of Fascism as an even more virulent form of imperialism.

“Lenin also recognized that in whatever stage of its evolution, capitalism balances two approaches to maintaining its power and control over the working masses 1.) The Carrot — bribery and liberal concessions, and 2.) The Stick — violence and repression. In Lenin’s words:

“The receipt of high monopoly profits by the capitalists in one of the numerous branches of industry, in one of the numerous countries, etc., makes it economically possible for them to bribe certain sections of the workers, and for a time a fairly considerable minority of them, and win them to the side of the bourgeoisie of a given industry or given nation against all the others. The intensification of antagonisms between imperialist nations for the division of the world increases this striving. And so there is created that bond between imperialism and opportunism, which revealed itself first and most clearly in England, owing to the fact that certain features of imperialist development were observable there much earlier than in other countries.”

“Fascism emerged in Italy and spread to Germany and other countries which did not have the colonial base to extract super-profits from to compete with the Western Democracies in the employment of bribery for the workers. Thus they employed “the stick.” Ironically, Fascism, founded in 1919 by Benito Mussolini, should come from the name of a bundle of sticks. The Italian name of the movement, fascismo, is derived from fascio, “bundle, (political) group,” but also refers to the movement’s emblem, the fasces, a bundle of rods (sticks) bound around a projecting axe-head that was carried before an ancient Roman magistrate by an attendant as a symbol of authority and power…”

 

73: Wasn’t Mussolini originally a socialist?

A: Yes, he was a prominent member of the Italian Socialist Party (PSI) who was expelled for his opposition to the Party’s neutrality on World War One. The following is from Wickipedia:

“The following excerpts are from a police report prepared by the Inspector-General of Public Security in Milan, G. Gasti, that describe his background and his position on the First World War that resulted in his ouster from the Italian Socialist Party.

“The Inspector General wrote:

“Regarding Mussolini

“Professor Benito Mussolini, … 38, revolutionary socialist, has a police record; elementary school teacher qualified to teach in secondary schools; former first secretary of the Chambers in Cesena, Forlì, and Ravenna; after 1912 editor of the newspaper Avanti! to which he gave a violent suggestive and intransigent orientation. In October 1914, finding himself in opposition to the directorate of the Italian Socialist party because he advocated a kind of active neutrality on the part of Italy in the War of the Nations against the party’s tendency of absolute neutrality, he withdrew on the twentieth of that month from the directorate of Avanti! Then on the fifteenth of November [1914], thereafter, he initiated publication of the newspaper Il Popolo d’Italia, in which he supported – in sharp contrast to Avanti! and amid bitter polemics against that newspaper and its chief backers – the thesis of Italian intervention in the war against the militarism of the Central Empires. For this reason he was accused of moral and political unworthiness and the party thereupon decided to expel him … Thereafter he … undertook a very active campaign in behalf of Italian intervention, participating in demonstrations in the piazzas and writing quite violent articles in Popolo d’Italia …

“In his summary, the Inspector also notes:

“He was the ideal editor of Avanti! for the Socialists. In that line of work he was greatly esteemed and beloved. Some of his former comrades and admirers still confess that there was no one who understood better how to interpret the spirit of the proletariat and there was no one who did not observe his apostasy with sorrow. This came about not for reasons of self-interest or money. He was a sincere and passionate advocate, first of vigilant and armed neutrality, and later of war; and he did not believe that he was compromising with his personal and political honesty by making use of every means – no matter where they came from or wherever he might obtain them – to pay for his newspaper, his program and his line of action. This was his initial line. It is difficult to say to what extent his socialist convictions (which he never either openly or privately abjure) may have been sacrificed in the course of the indispensable financial deals which were necessary for the continuation of the struggle in which he was engaged … But assuming these modifications did take place … he always wanted to give the appearance of still being a socialist, and he fooled himself into thinking that this was the case.”

 

74: What! Mussolini still considered himself a socialist?

A: At first, but he came to embrace capitalism wholeheartedly. He stated, “Fascism should rightly be called Corporatism, as it is the merger of corporate and government power.” The Labour Charter of 1927, promulgated by the Grand Council of Fascism, stated in article 7: “The corporative State considers private initiative, in the field of production, as the most efficient and useful instrument of the Nation,” then goes on to say in article 9 that: “State intervention in economic production may take place only where private initiative is lacking or is insufficient, or when are at stakes the political interest of the State. This intervention may take the form of control, encouragement or direct management.”

 

75: So, how is fascism different from neo-liberalism?

A: Exactly!

What distinguishes fascism is its “shock troops.” As Comrade George Jackson explained: “The shock troops of fascism on the mass political level are drawn from members of the lower-middle class who feel the upward thrust of the lower classes more acutely. These classes feel that any dislocation of the present economy resulting from the upward thrust of the masses would affect their status first. They are joined by that sector of the working class which is backward enough to be affected by nationalistic trappings and loyalty syndrome that sociologists have termed the Authoritarian Personality.’ One primary aim of the fascist arrangement is to extend and develop this new pig class, to degenerate and diffuse working-class consciousness with a psycho-social appeal to man’s herd instincts. Development and exploitation of the authoritarian syndrome is at the center of ‘totalitarian’ capitalism (fascism). It feeds on a small but false sense of class consciousness and the need for community.”

From his prison cell, Comrade Jackson wrote: “Settle your quarrels, come together, understand the reality of our situation, understand that fascism is already here, that people are dying who could be saved, that generations more will die or live poor butchered half-lives if you fail to act. Do what must be done, discover your humanity and your love in revolution. Pass on the torch. Join us, give up your life for the people.”

 

76: Speaking of fascism, what happened with the Spanish Civil War?

A: In 1898 Spain lost most of its last colonies overseas (Cuba, Philippines, Puerto Rico, Carolines) in the Spanish-American War. In the early 20th century, the war against Morocco, the economic crisis and the corruption in the political system lead to a military coup d’etat by Primo de Rivera supported by the king, Alfonso XIII, in 1923. In 1930, under popular pressure, the military dictator, Primo de Rivera stepped down, the king abdicated, and the 2nd Republic was declared. Initially, the Liberal-Socialist government enjoyed broad popular support, and when the Great Depression hit, it carried out sweeping reforms to address the suffering of the people, including the 8 hour day and a new liberal-democratic constitution. Included in the constitution were provisions to secularize the intensely Catholic country. This provoked the Church and a conservative backlash.

In 1933, the right-wing swept the elections and rolled back the reforms of the previous administration, cutting wages in half and provoking strikes, riots and street-fighting. In 1934, a general strike called by the communists and anarchists led to an armed uprising of miners in Asturias, which was violently suppressed by the Spanish Foreign Legion and Moroccan colonial troops, led by General Franco. In 1936, a Popular Front alliance barely captured a majority in the elections. The Republican government sacked General Francisco Franco as chief of staff and moved him to command of the Canary Islands, and other right-wing generals suspected of plotting a coup were moved around. On 12 July 1936, in Madrid, members of the fascist Falange murdered Lieutenant José Castillo—a Socialist party member—of the Assault Guards police force. The next day, members of the Assault Guards arrested José Calvo Sotelo, a leading Spanish monarchist and a prominent parliamentary conservative. Calvo Sotelo was shot by the Guards without trial. Two days later, Franco arrived in Morocco in a chartered airplane.

The fascist rebellion started in Morocco, followed by revolts by the army on the mainland, but the rebels failed to capture any city but Seville, which became the landing port for rebel troops from Morocco. On the urging of the Communists and Socialists, the government eventually agreed to distribute arms to the workers, after Republican leader Casares Quiroga was replaced by José Giral. The Spanish Civil War was bitterly fought, with massacres perpetrated on both side, by design by the fascists and as a result of anarchy by the Republicans. Only the Soviet Union and Mexico came to the aid of the Loyalists, while Nazi Germany and fascist Italy and Portugal supported the rebels. The Western Great Powers embargoed Spain.

International Brigades were formed in many countries to fight for Loyalist Spain, mostly of Communist and Socialist workers. Many Spanish Anarchists rallied to defense of the government, but others, along with Trotskyists, saw it as an opportunity to make a revolution of their own, leading to some bitter street-fighting between Anarchist and Communist-led forces, that is still hotly debated on the Left as to who was responsible for “losing Spain.” In any event, the fascists won, and Franco ruled as dictator from 1939 until his death in 1975.

 

77: Would you agree that Spain was a “dress rehearsal for WWII,” where the Germans and Italians got to test their new weapons, tactics and officers?

A: The same can be said for the Russians, whose tanks were considered the best in the conflict. It also served to polarize the people of the world into fascist and anti-fascist camps, particularly among the educated classes. Many famous writers, poets and artists fought in the International Brigades, and this had a big influence on intellectuals and academic circles worldwide.

 

78: I’ve heard that the Loyalists executed priests and landlords as well as fascist officers, while Franco’s troops slaughtered teachers, union members and leftists. Is that right?

A: Basically, but the fascists also killed Protestant clerics and Jews, and anyone suspected of supporting the Popular Front. A slogan raised by the Falange was “Long Live Death!” They carried out many times as many assassinations and executions, including in the aftermath of the war.

 

79: Didn’t the Soviet Union commit an act of aggression when the Red Army invaded Eastern Poland?

A: No it didn’t, and at the time, no one considered it as such, not even the Polish government, which had fled to Romania. In fact, every country, and the League of Nations, continued to recognize the Soviet Union as a neutral and “non-belligerent” power. Germany agreed to halt its aggression at a specified line, beyond which it recognized as the Soviet Union’s sphere of influence. As the Polish government was interred in Rumania, also a neutral country, in September of 1939, it could not continue to govern nor maintain order. If the Red Army had not stepped in, the German Army certainly would have and occupied up to the Soviet border. Molotov’s diplomacy had not been an agreement to partition Poland but to check German aggression. Poland declared war on the German aggressors for invading their country, they did not declare war on the Soviet Union. France and England declared war on Germany over its invasion of Poland, but not on the Soviet Union. Only later, during the “Cold War” did the myth of Soviet aggression in Poland get fabricated and accepted as “history.”

 

80: After the fascist Axis Powers invaded the Soviet Union, in June of 1941, didn’t Stalin summon forth a powerful partisan movement in all of the territory occupied by the Axis Powers?

A: Yes, he did, though there were already Communist-led Partisans in France and elsewhere while the Soviet Union was neutral. Albania did not even have a communist party when the Italians invaded in 1939. Enver Hoxha, a veteran of the Civil War in Spain, founded one in November 1941, and he remained its General Secretary until his death in 1985. Under his leadership, the Albanian partisan army fought the Italians until Mussolini was overthrown, and then the German Army which replaced them, as well as local collaborators. Many former Italian soldiers were recruited into the partisan army. By the end of the war, they had not only soundly defeated the Germans in Albania but assisted the Yugoslavian partisans led by Marshal Tito in liberating Kosovo.

The Yugoslav partisans, led by the Communist Party of Yugoslavia (KPJ), had the difficult task of not only building an army with the weapons they could capture from the enemy, but of cobbling together a multi-ethnic nation. This meant fighting not only Germans but the nationalist and royalist Chetniks. By April 1945, the KPJ-led Partisans numbered over 800,000 men and women.

As the Red Army was pushed back towards Leningrad, Stalingrad and Moscow, remnants of shattered units went underground to form partisan detachments behind the advancing German lines. Joined by local Party members and Communist Youth, these seed units were augmented with cades of specialists parachuted in to organize resistance. They disrupted lines of communication and supply, gathered intelligence and at times supported the Red Army at the front. By the end of 1941, nearly 100,000 partisans were active in the German-occupied territory.

Greece was occupied by German, Italian and Bulgarian fascist forces, and the resistance was primarily organized by the Communist Party (KKE). The National Liberation Front (EAM) became the most powerful resistance movement in Europe, with more than 1,800,000 members out of a population of 7,500,000 people.

 

82: Didn’t the resistance in Greece turn into a civil war in the aftermath of WWII?

A: Actually, even before the war ended major fighting broke out between the Communist-led partisans and smaller anti-Communist partisan groups. The British considered Greece part of their “sphere of interest” and had created a “government in exile” in Cairo headed by King George II. At the end of the war, the British rushed in troops to assert their “interest,” supported by the U.S. imperialists. The prelude of the civil war took place in Athens, December 1944, less than 2 months after Germans had retreated. A bloody battle erupted after Greek government gendarmes, with British forces standing in the background, opened fire on a massive unarmed pro-EAM rally, killing 28 demonstrators and injuring dozens. The battle lasted 33 days and resulted in the defeat of EAM after the heavily reinforced British forces sided with the Greek government. The subsequent signing of the Treaty of Varkiza spelled the end of the left-wing organization’s ascendancy: the ELAS (the military arm of the EAM) was partly disarmed, while EAM soon after lost its multi-party character, to become solely-dominated by KKE. All the while, state terror was unleashed against EAM-KKE supporters, further escalating the tensions between the dominant factions of the nation.

Veteran partisans returned to their old strongholds in the mountains and formed a new army, the Democratic Army of Greece (DSE), and with support from the communist parties of Albania, Yugoslavia and Bulgaria, the KKE formed a provisional government. The DSE inflicted some serious defeats on the imperialist-backed government, but massive U.S. aid under the “Truman Doctrine,” and the defection of the Yugoslavian Communist Party from the “Socialist Camp” headed by the Soviet Union seriously undermined their ability to sustain the armed struggle. U.S. military advisors and CIA agents were perfecting counter-insurgency techniques they would later employ in Vietnam and elsewhere. Among these was the tactic of rounding up and relocating peasants to deprive the guerrillas of supplies and support. When the KKE sided with Stalin in the split between him and Tito, Yugoslavia closed its border and the DSE camps inside Yugoslavia. Stalin did not see the Greek Civil War as winnable or worth a direct confrontation with the U.S.-U.K. imperialists. The DSE had not been defeated militarily, but the KKE was politically defeated.

In the end, the British found the war too costly, and the Americans took over the show, as they would later do from the French in Vietnam and the Dutch in Indonesia. Greece was brought into NATO, and the U.S. developed a “special relationship” with the Greek military officers corps, that would lead to the Greek Junta of 1967-74.

83: The period after WWII was one of awakening of national liberation struggle in the Third World countries and the influence of Marxist-Leninism. How did Stalin sum this up in relation to the World Proletarian Socialist Revolution?

A: In Foundations of Leninism (1953), Stalin states:

“The theory of the proletarian revolution. Lenin’s theory of the proletarian revolution proceeds from three fundamental theses.

“First thesis: The domination of finance capital in the advanced capitalist countries; the issue of stocks and bonds as one of the principal operations of finance capital; the export of capital to the sources of raw materials, which is one of the foundations of imperialism; the omnipotence of a financial oligarchy, which is the result of the domination of finance capital-all this reveals the grossly parasitic character of monopolistic capitalism, makes the yoke of the capitalist trusts and syndicates a hundred times more burdensome, intensifies the indignation of the working class with the foundations of capitalism, and brings the masses to the proletarian revolution as their only salvation (see Lenin, Imperialism).

“Hence the first conclusion: intensification of the revolutionary crisis within the capitalist countries and growth of the elements of an explosion on the internal, proletarian front in the ‘metropolises.’

“Second thesis :  The increase in the export of capital to the colonies and dependent countries; the expansion of ‘spheres of influence’ and colonial possessions until they cover the whole globe; the transformation of capitalism into a world system of financial enslavement and colonial oppression of the vast majority of the population of the world by a handful of ‘advanced’ countries-all this has, on the one hand, converted the separate national economies and national territories into links in a single chain called world economy, and, on the other hand, split the population of the globe into two camps: a handful of ‘advanced’ capitalist countries which exploit and oppress vast colonies and dependencies, and the huge majority consisting of colonial and dependent countries which are compelled to wage a struggle for liberation from the imperialist yoke (see Imperialism).

“Hence the second conclusion: intensification of the revolutionary crisis in the colonial countries and growth of the elements of revolt against imperialism on the external, colonial front.

“Third thesis: The monopolistic possession of ‘spheres of influence’ and colonies; the uneven development of the capitalist countries, leading to a frenzied struggle for the redivision of the world between the countries which have already seized territories and those claiming their ‘share;’ imperialist wars as the only means of restoring the disturbed ‘equilibrium’ — all this leads to the intensification of the struggle on the third front, the inter-capitalist front, which weakens imperialism and facilitates the union of the first two fronts against imperialism: the front of the revolutionary proletariat and the front of colonial emancipation (see Imperialism).

“Hence the third conclusion: that under imperialism wars cannot be averted, and that a coalition between the proletarian revolution in Europe and the colonial revolution in the East in a united world front of revolution against the world front of imperialism is inevitable.

“Lenin combines all these conclusions into one general conclusion that ‘imperialism is the eve of the socialist revolution’ (see Vol. XIX, p. 71).”

 

84: So, because of the basic contradictions within imperialism, it is the final stage of capitalism?

A: Yeah, as Stalin explained:

“Leninism grew up and took shape under the conditions of imperialism, when the contradictions of capitalism had reached an extreme point, when the proletarian revolution had become an immediate practical question, when the old period of preparation of the working class for revolution had arrived at and passed into a new period, that of direct assault on capitalism.

“Lenin called imperialism ‘moribund capitalism.’ Why? Because imperialism carries the contradictions of capitalism to their last bounds, to the extreme limit, beyond which revolution begins. Of these contradictions, there are three which must be regarded as the most important.

“The first contradiction is the contradiction between labour and capital. Imperialism is the omnipotence of the monopolist trusts and syndicates, of the banks and the financial oligarchy, in the industrial countries. In the fight against this omnipotence, the customary methods of the working class-trade unions and cooperatives, parliamentary parties and the parliamentary struggle-have proved to be totally inadequate. Either place yourself at the mercy of capital, eke out a wretched existence as of old and sink lower and lower, or adopt a new weapon-this is the alternative imperialism puts before the vast masses of the proletariat. Imperialism brings the working class to revolution.

The second contradiction is the contradiction among the various financial groups and imperialist Powers in their struggle for sources of raw materials, for foreign territory. Imperialism is the export of capital to the sources of raw materials, the frenzied struggle for monopolist possession of these sources, the struggle for a re-division of the already divided world, a struggle waged with particular fury by new financial groups and Powers seeking a ‘place in the sun’ against the old groups and Powers, which cling tenaciously to what they have seized. This frenzied struggle among the various groups of capitalists is notable in that it includes as an inevitable element imperialist wars, wars for the annexation of foreign territory. This circumstance, in its turn, is notable in that it leads to the mutual weakening of the imperialists, to the weakening of the position of capitalism in general, to the acceleration of the advent of the proletarian revolution and to the practical necessity of this revolution.

“The third contradiction is the contradiction between the handful of ruling, ‘civilised’ nations and the hundreds of millions of the colonial and dependent peoples of the world. Imperialism is the most barefaced exploitation and the most inhumane oppression of hundreds of millions of people inhabiting vast colonies and dependent countries. The purpose of this exploitation and of this oppression is to squeeze out super-profits. But in exploiting these countries imperialism is compelled to build these railways, factories and mills, industrial and commercial centers. The appearance of a class of proletarians, the emergence of a native intelligentsia, the awakening of national consciousness, the growth of the liberation movement-such are the inevitable results of this ‘policy.’ The growth of the revolutionary movement in all colonies and dependent countries without exception clearly testifies to this fact. This circumstance is of importance for the proletariat inasmuch as it saps radically the position of capitalism by converting the colonies and dependent countries from reserves of imperialism into reserves of the proletarian revolution.

“Such, in general, are the principal contradictions of imperialism which have converted the old, ‘flourishing’ capitalism into moribund capitalism.

“The significance of the imperialist war which broke out ten years ago lies, among other things, in the fact that it gathered all these contradictions into a single knot and threw them on to the scales, thereby accelerating and facilitating the revolutionary battles of the proletariat.

“In other words, imperialism was instrumental not only in making the revolution a practical inevitability, but also in creating favourable conditions for a direct assault on the citadels of capitalism.

“Such was the international situation which gave birth to Leninism.”

 

85: But doesn’t one of these basic contradictions have to be the principle one at any given time?

A: Exactly! As Mao states in On Contradiction (1937): “There are many contradictions in the process of development of a complex thing, and one of them is necessarily the principal contradiction whose existence and development determine or influence the existence and development of the other contradictions.”

In the post WWII period, the 3rd contradiction became principle, as the peoples of the 3rd World rose up to shake off the fetters of colonialism, most dramatically in the Chinese Revolution, but throughout Asia, Africa and Latin America. Maoism provided the theoretical framework for grasping this development as well as the practical solution in the form of “New Democratic Revolution.”

 

86: What happened with the anti-colonial independence struggles in South and South East Asia?

A: India was the “Jewel of the British Empire.”  Chartered by Queen Elizabeth I in 1600, The East India Company rose to account for half of the world’s trade, particularly trade in basic commodities that included cotton, silk, indigo dye, salt, saltpetre, tea, and opium. It sported its own private navy and army, which, after the Battle of Plessey (1757) progressively expanded Company control over the Indian subcontinent. After a major rebellion in 1857, the British government decided to directly rule.  From 1858, when the Colonial Office took over the holdings of the British East India Company, until 1947, virtually all of South Asia was administered as the British Raj. Burma, which had been granted separate colonial status, was granted independence in 1948.

French Indochina was established by a series of military interventions beginning in 1858, at the instigation of Emperor Napoleon III. The Dutch East India Company was replaced by a Dutch colonial administration over Indonesia in 1800. The Philippines, formerly a Spanish colony, was seized by the U.S. in the Philippine-American War (1899-1902), shortly after the Filipinos won their independence. All four of the colonial empires were challenged by powerful independence movements after the 2nd World War. None of these colonial regimes swept away the pre-existing feudal relations, rather they incorporated them, subordinating the feudal lords and henchmen to the colonial administration. They also created comprador (bureaucratic) capitalists to act as middlemen and agents of the imperialist companies. So the people of the colonies were under three inter-related forms of oppression; imperialism, feudalism and bureaucratic capitalism.

 

87: What do you know about Bhagat Singh?

A: He was an early leader and martyr of the Indian Independence Movement and the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association (HSRA), also known as Hindustan Socialist Republican Army, established in 1928. Seeking revenge for the death of Lala Lajpat Rai – a prominent independence leader – at the hands of the police, Singh was involved in the murder of British police officer John Saunders. He eluded efforts by the police to capture him. Soon after, together with Batukeshwar Dutt, he undertook a successful effort to throw two bombs and leaflets inside the Central Legislative Assembly while shouting the slogan of Revolution, and Down With Imperialism!

Singh had a pistol on him when he was arrested that was linked to the killing of Saunders, and he and two comrades were subsequently executed by hanging, though he had requested to be shot by firing squad, as a soldier. When asked what his last wish was, Singh replied that he was studying the life of Lenin and he wanted to finish it before his death. Bhagat Singh became a hero to the youth of India and remains so today. Bhagat Singh was executed in 1931, and throughout the 30’s, there was a wave of revolutionary violence across India. By 1940, there was a lull in the revolutionary movement, and many of the militants joined established political parties, including the communist ones. During WWII, two and a half million Indians served on the Allied side on far-flung battlefields defending the British Empire. Gandhi and other nationalist leaders were imprisoned for calling for passive resistance to pressure the Brits to set a timetable for independence as a condition for cooperation in the war effort.

The Communist Party of India had been formed under the leadership of M.N. Roy, who was a delegate to the 2nd World Congress of the 3rd International in 1920. Returning to India in 1930, Roy was arrested in 1931. He did not try to conceal his advocacy of armed struggle, stating: “The oppressed people and exploited classes are not obliged to respect the moral philosophy of the ruling power…. A despotic power is always overthrown by force. The force employed in this process is not criminal. On the contrary, precisely the guns carried by the army of the British government in India are instruments of crime. They become instruments of virtue when they are turned against the imperialist state.”

Some Indians, mostly POWs, did fight alongside the Japanese as the Indian National Army. There was also a significant mutiny within the Indian Navy, starting at Bombay (Mumbai) harbor on 18 February 1946. From the initial flashpoint in Bombay, the mutiny spread and found support throughout British India, from Karachi to Calcutta and ultimately came to involve 78 ships, 20 shore establishments and 20,000 sailors.

 

88: Why did the British partition India?

A: The “game of empire” is divide and rule. The British Raj had played upon the religious differences and caste divisions to keep the Indian people disunited. Initially, Muslims and Hindus had been united in the nationalist struggle, but by 1940, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the leader of the All-Indian Muslim League, decided it would be better to separate. During the war, the Muslims had gained in influence by supporting the war while the Congress leaders were imprisoned.

On 14 August 1947 and 15 August 1947, respectively, the Indian Empire was divided into the sovereign states of the Dominion of Pakistan (it later split into the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and the People’s Republic of Bangladesh) and the Union of India (later Republic of India). “Partition” here refers not only to the division of the Bengal province of British India into East Pakistan and West Bengal (India), and the similar partition of the Punjab province into Punjab (West Pakistan) and Punjab, India, but also to the respective divisions of other assets, including the British Indian Army, the Indian Civil Service and other administrative services, the railways, and the central treasury. Burma (Myanmar) was granted independence on 4 January 1948 and Ceylon (Sri Lanka) on 4 February 1948.

Dividing India along religious lines caused great turmoil and violence. Some one million people were killed in rioting and 4.5 million forced to flee their homes. The fighting promoted the rise of right-wing fanaticism among both Muslims and Hindus, (as well as with other religious groups) and set the stage for future wars and conflicts. The people of East Pakistan (Bangladesh) suffered under cultural oppression by the West Pakistan-based government, and with support from India, fought a war of national liberation to win their independence in 1971.

Nearly all of South East Asia had been occupied by the Japanese in WWII. Communist and Nationalist-led guerrilla movements in Malaya, Indochina, Indonesia and the Philippines took inspiration from the Chinese Revolution, and after the war continued armed struggle against the returning colonial powers.

 

89: Could you break that down by country?

A: Sure! The Japanese invaded Malaya in December of 1941. During the occupation, resistance was led by the Malayan People’s Anti-Japanese Army, which received training and supplies from the British Army. When it was disbanded in 1945, some 4,000 members went underground. Its leader, Chin Peng, had by then risen to the position of Secretary General of the Communist Party of Malaya. When the Party was banned in 1948, it initiated armed struggle, and a state of emergency was declared that lasted until 1960. The Malayan People’s Liberation Army (MPLA) consisted primarily of ethnic Chinese “squatters,” who lived on the edge of the Malayan jungle. Numbering around half-a-million, these “squatters” provided the MPLA with food, recruits and intelligence.

Initially, the British tried to protect key investments such as tin mines and rubber plantations, as well as towns and cities. Later, they developed the Briggs’ Plan, which included forced relocation of the “squatters” into guarded camps called “New Villages,” and use of “Agent Orange” to defoliate along roads and areas of guerrilla operations. Reforms were also enacting, like giving voting rights to the ethnic Chinese. Eventually, the MPLA was forced to retreat into Thailand. After the creation of the neo-colony, Malaysia, Chin Peng again initiated a people’s war strategy that lasted from 1963 until 1989.

Indonesia, then known as the Dutch East Indies, was occupied by the Japanese from March 1942 until the end of the war in 1945. With the Netherlands occupied by Nazi Germany, the Dutch colonial administration was easily overrun. The Japanese encouraged the nationalist movement and dismantled the colonial administration. In September of 1944, the Japanese promised to grant independence, but no date was set. When the Japanese emperor surrendered in 1945, the nationalist declared an independent republic with Dr. Sukarno, who had been released from prison by the Japanese, as its first president. The Dutch refused to recognize the new republic, accusing Sukarno of collaboration with the Japanese. With financial backing from the U.S., the Dutch attempted to re-impose its colonial rule.

Independence also saw the resurgence of the suppressed Indonesian Communist Party. Having ignored the advice of the Comintern to form a united front with the nationalists, the Communist Party (PKI) attempted an insurrection in 1926. As a result of the failed revolution, 13,000 people were arrested, 4,500 imprisoned, 1,308 interned, and 823 exiled to Digul, West New Guinea. Several died while in captivity. During the war of national independence, many armed resistance groups were formed under the command or influence of the PKI. After the Dutch recognized Indonesian independence, the PKI-led militias were ordered to disband and surrender their arms. When some refused to do so, they were killed, which led to an uprising, which was suppressed.

In 1949, the PKI was reestablished, and following a policy of alliance with Sukarno during the 1950s and 60s, grew to a membership of over two million, making it the most powerful communist party outside of the Soviet Union and People’s China. Between April 18th and 24th, an international conference of Asian and African states was held in Bandung, Indonesia, sponsored by Indonesia, India, Pakistan, Ceylon and Burma in opposition to “colonialism in all its manifestations.” Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai attended the conference, after surviving an assassination attempt by the CIA and KMT, who placed a bomb on the Air India flight he was supposed to be on.

As Malcolm X summed it up: “In Bandung…, was the first unity meeting in centuries of black people. And once you study what happened at the Bandung conference, and the results of the Bandung conference, it actually serves as a model for the same procedure you and I can use to get our problems solved. At Bandung all the nations came together. Their were dark nations from Africa and Asia. Some of them were Buddhists. Some of them were Muslim. Some of them were Christians. Some of them were Confucianists; some were atheists. Despite their religious differences, they came together. Some were communists; some were socialists; some were capitalists. Despite their economic and political differences, they came together. All of them were black, brown, red, or yellow.

“The number-one thing that was not allowed to attend the Bandung conference was the white man. He couldn’t come. Once they excluded the white man, they found that they could get together. Once they kept him out, everybody else fell right in and fell in line. This is the thing that you and I have to understand. And these people who came together didn’t have nuclear weapons; they didn’t have jet planes; they didn’t have all of the heavy armaments that the white man has. But they had unity.”

But the U.S. did have representation at the conference in the person of Congressman Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. from Harlem and author James Baldwin, who was sponsored by the Congress of Cultural Freedom, which was later exposed to be a front secretly funded by the CIA through the Ford Foundation. While the U.S. blatantly backed its European imperialist allies in attempting to retain their overseas colonies, it covertly subverted the anti-colonial national liberation struggles to promote its “Cold War” strategy and “neo-liberal” agenda of imperialist global hegemony.

By 1965, the CIA decided to get rid of Sukarno and replace him with a different “strong man,” Gen. Suharto. On the night of September 30th, six top ranking generals were assassinated and thrown down a well. Suharto immediately assumed command of the army and claimed the PKI was attempting a coup. With help from right-wing Muslim extremist groups, Suharto and his CIA handlers carried out a bloody “purge” of PKP cadre and supporters. Over half a million were slaughtered and another million imprisoned, effectively smashing PKI as a political force. With the communists out of the way, Suharto carried out his coup against Sukarno and replaced him as head of state for the next 30 years.

The Philippines had been a Spanish colony that won its independence in 1898, but was then invaded and occupied in the Philippine-American War (1899-1901) and remained a colony of the U.S. until it was invaded and occupied by the Japanese Empire (1942-45). The Japanese occupation was resisted by the People’s Anti-Japanese Army (Hukbalahap) in Central Luzon, which was an outgrowth of the pre-war peasant’s movement. Commanded by Luis Taruc, the Huks cooperated with the U.S. military and Philippine Constabulary in waging guerrilla war against the Japanese. At the war’s end, the U.S. and P.C. disarmed the Huks and assisted the landlords (who had collaborated with the Japanese) in reasserting their control over the peasants.

On July 4, 1946, the US Government granted sovereignty to the Philippines. By the end of the war, the Huks numbered 10,000 fighters. After the war, the Philippine Communist Party (PKP) organized the National Peasants Movement (PKM) and the Committee of Labor Organizations (CLO), which together formed the Democratic Alliance, which supported the bourgeois Nationalist Party in the 1946 elections. Six members of the Democratic Alliance were elected to Congress, including Luis Taruc, but they were prevented from being seated. Manuel Roxas of the Liberal Party, the former top rice collector of the Japanese imperial army, won the presidency. On August 24, 1946, Juan Feleo, a prominent peasant leader from Nueva Ecija, was kidnapped together with four of his companions while they were on their way to Manila. Their bodies were found floating in the Pampanga river a few days afterwards. Days later, the Huks reorganized as the People’s Liberation Army and initiated armed struggle against the Roxas’ government.

Having welcomed the retuning imperialists troops and suffering the humiliation of being disarmed and arrested, and in some cases massacred, the PKP leadership had based its whole strategy on reformist parliamentary politics and alliance with the bourgeois Nationalist Party, only to be denied their seats in Congress, now they swung to the left jumping into guerrilla struggle with little political preparation. They did know how to fight, and Roxas’ plans to quickly crush the rebellion were soon shown to be based on idealism. Roxas soon died of a heart attack, and in desperation, his successor, President Elpidio Quirino, turned to the CIA, in the person of Col. Edward Lansdale, to formulate a counter-insurgency strategy. Lansdale became the liaison officer and mentor to Ramon Magsaysay, the Secretary of National Defense, and with Lansdale’s help, Magsaysay became President in 1953.

As Jose Maria Sison explains in Philippine Society and Revolution (1970):

“After the death of Roxas in April 1948, Elpidio Quirino who was then his vice-president served the rest of the presidential term. Fearing the onrush of the revolutionary mass movement, Quirino acted to inveigle the people with an offer of amnesty to the Hukbalahap and a pledge to reinstate and pay the back salaries of the Democratic Alliance congressmen who had been ousted in 1946. The principal condition set for the granting of such concessions was the surrender of arms and the registration of the Red fighters of the Hukbalahap.

“Even as the Party leadership represented by Jorge Frianeza had been removed in May 1948 due to its rightist support for the Roxas puppet regime, the Party leadership now represented by Jose Lava allowed the traitor Luis Taruc in June 1948 to discuss the sell-out of the revolution to the Quirino puppet regime. The flimsy excuse peddled within the Party was that Taruc would merely make use of the negotiations to make propaganda. The surrender negotiations turned out to be propaganda in favor of the enemy. When an amnesty agreement was reached and Taruc reclaimed his seat in the reactionary Congress, the troops and secret agents of the Philippine Constabulary were allowed to mingle with the Red fighters of the Hukbalahap and enjoyed safe conduct in the barrios of Central Luzon. The most reliable cadres of the Party were exposed to the enemy who came to facilitate the surrender of arms and the registration of Red fighters.

“The Taruc-Quirino amnesty agreement did not even last for two months….

“In 1949, the Jose Lava leadership repeated the counterrevolutionary practice of directly participating in the puppet elections by campaigning for a particular reactionary faction and becoming a tail thereof. It supported Laurel against Quirino, that is to say, the Nacionalista Party against the Liberal Party. It obscured the dark record of Laurel as the top puppet of Japanese imperialism and ballyhooed him as a nationalist and a democrat. While Quirino campaigned on a platform of complete loyalty to U.S. imperialism, Laurel declared lamely that like Roxas his puppetry to Japanese imperialism had also been a form of loyalty to U.S. imperialism with the secret blessings of Quezon. At any rate, Quirino employed fraud and terrorism to ensure the electoral defeat of Laurel.

“After the 1949 elections, the Jose Lava leadership took the line that it could seize power within two years and for this purpose prepared a timetable of military operations and rapid recruitment into the Party. Without relying mainly on the strength of the Party and the people’s army and without rectifying a long period of unprincipled compromises with U.S. imperialism and the local reactionaries, the Jose Lava leadership considered as basic factors for the victory of the Philippine Revolution such external conditions as the ‘‘certainty” of a third world war, the economic recession in the United States and the liberation of the Chinese people. Within the Philippines, it overestimated the struggle between Quirino and Laurel as a basic factor for the advance of the revolutionary mass movement. In January 1950, the adventurist line of quick military victory was formally put forward by the Jose Lava leadership through resolutions of the Party Political Bureau.

“All units of the people’s army were ordered to make simultaneous attacks on provincial capitals, cities and enemy camps on March 29, August 26 and November 7, 1950. The attacks of March 29 and August 26 were executed. But these overextended the strength of the people’s army. On October 18, the enemy counterattacked by raiding all central offices of the Party in Manila, arresting among others the Politburo-In led by Jose Lava. Subsequently, campaigns of encirclement and suppression were launched in the countryside against the thinly spread people’s army. Overextended lines of supply and communications of the People’s Liberation Army became easy targets of the reactionary armed forces. Because of its putschist orientation, the Jose Lava leadership brought the most crushing defeats on the Party and the people’s army.”

The Huks reached their peak strength in 1950, after that, they went into decline. In 1954, Luis Taruc surrendered and accepted a 15 year prison sentence. The PKP returned to parliamentary reformism until a rectification movement, led by Jose Maria Sison, established the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), based upon Maoism, in 1968. Since then, the Party has been leading a successful protracted people’s war against the neo-colonial government based on the principles of New Democratic Revolution.

In 1953, Lansdale was transferred to Indochina to act as special advisor on counter-insurgency to the French.

In June 1940, France signed an armistice with Germany, Japan’s Axis ally. This established the neutral but pro-Axis Vichy government in the unoccupied part of France. Vichy France also controlled most French overseas possessions, including French Indochina. The League for the Independence of Vietnam (Viet Minh) was formed on May 19th, 1941. On 22 September, Japan and Vichy Indochina signed an accord which granted Japan the rights to station troops in Indochina, and to move troops and supplies through Indochina.

Within a few hours, columns from the Imperial Japanese Army 5th Division moved over the border at three places and closed in on the railhead at Lang Son, near Longzhou. This contravened the new agreement. In the Battle of Lang Son, a brigade of French Indochinese colonial troops and French Foreign Legion opposed the IJA until 25 September. The Japanese victory opened the way to Hanoi. The next day, Japanese forces landed south of Haiphong and quickly captured the harbor and occupied Hanoi.

To prepare for an invasion of the Dutch East Indies, some 140,000 Japanese troops invaded southern Indochina on 28 July 1941. Japanese forces remained in Indochina until the end of WWII. The Viet Minh started a campaign of resistance against the Japanese, as well as the French. As of the end of 1944, the Viet Minh claimed a membership of 500,000. After the nationalist organizations proclaimed the independence of Viet Nam, Ho Chi Minh proclaimed the Democratic Republic of Vietnam on September 2nd, 1945. However, within days, the Chinese KMT Army arrived in Vietnam to supervise the repatriation of the Japanese Imperial Army. The Democratic Republic of Vietnam therefore existed only in theory and effectively controlled no territory. A few months later, the Chinese, Vietnamese and French came to a three-way understanding. The French gave up certain rights in China, the Viet Minh agreed to the return of the French in exchange for promises of independence within the French Union, and the Chinese agreed to leave. Negotiations between the French and Viet Minh broke down quickly. What followed was nearly ten years of war against France.

The French Army easily drove the poorly equipped Viet Minh out of Hanoi and back to their guerrilla bases in the mountains, but they brought with them some 600 Japanese defectors who helped train them as a modern army. Under the able leadership of General Vo Nguyen Giap, the Viet Minh fought to extend their base area to the Chinese border in 1949. The People’s Republic of China permitted the Viet Minh to establish bases on their side of the border and supplied them with heavy weapons. With these, General Giap won a decisive victory over the French Army at Dien Bien Phu in 1954, and the French were forced to the negotiating table at Geneva.

The Geneva Conference opened on 8 May 1954, the day after the surrender of the garrison. Ho Chi Minh entered the conference on the opening day with the news of his troops’ victory in the headlines. The resulting agreement temporarily partitioned Vietnam into two zones: the North was administered by the Democratic Republic of Vietnam while the South was administered by the French-supported State of Vietnam. The last units of the French Union forces withdrew from Indochina in 1956. This partition was supposed to be temporary, and the two zones were meant to be reunited through national elections in 1956. After the French withdrawal, the United States, which had been bankrolling the French, supported the southern government, under Emperor Bao Dai and Prime Minister Ngo Dinh Diem, which opposed the Geneva agreement, and which claimed that Ho Chi Minh’s forces from the North had been killing Northern loyalists and terrorizing people both north and south. The North was supported by both the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the Soviet Union (USSR). This arrangement proved tenuous and would break down and escalate into the Vietnam War (Second Indochina War), eventually bringing 500,000 American troops into South Vietnam.

 

91: How did Viet Nam become America’s war?

A: U.S. military advisors began arriving in French Indochina in 1950. President Harry Truman sent the Military Assistance Advisory Group (MAAG) along with $10 million in military equipment. But the French were not exactly anxious to listen to American advise on how to run their colony. So Washington sent more money, and its “big guns,” General “Iron Mike” O’Daniel, a war hero of WWII and Korea, and former military attaché to the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, and Edward Lansdale, its counter-insurgency expert. O’Daniel was credited with having transformed the South Korean Army into a crack fighting force, and he was determined to do the same with the South Vietnamese Army (SVA).

To the French and the Vietnamese, it was a colonial war and a war of national liberation, but to the Americans it was much more, it was a test of their national will to stand firm in their policy of “Containment of Communism.” According to the “Domino Theory,” if South Viet Nam “went communist,” so too would the other countries of South East and South Asia. Africa, Latin America and Europe would follow. America’s “Leadership of the Free World” hinged on “Holding the Line in Viet Nam,” and if the French lacked the resolve to do the job, then the American Army would show them how it was done!

But they needed to find the right man to lead South Viet Nam, which they believed they had in the person of Ngo Dinh Diem, who was then living in New Jersey. Diem was an advocate of the “Third Way Strategy” being popularized by the CIA at the time. Under pressure from the U.S., Emperor Bao Dai appointed Diem as Prime Minister of the French-backed Nation of Viet Nam. The U.S. government was determined that the Geneva Accords, which called for the fate of South Viet Nam to be settled by a nationwide plebiscite, would never be implemented. Diem refused to sign the Accords, but they went ahead anyway.

Lansdale became Diem’s CIA handler, and with his help, Diem deposed Bao Dai and proclaimed the Republic of Vietnam, making himself the first President after eliminating his political rivals. Diem confirmed his “Presidency” with a plebiscite in 1955, in which he “won” 600,000 votes from an electorate of 450,000 and began building a right-wing dictatorship in South Vietnam. Diem initiated the “Strategic Hamlet” program of relocating peasants to fortified camps as Lansdale had done in the Philippines and the British had done in Malaya. He instituted a campaign of state terror against communists and anti-imperialists. He also instituted policies discriminatory to Viet Nam’s Buddhist majority and preferential to the Catholic minority. This caused a storm of protest and led many Buddhists to join the communists in forming the National Liberation Front (NLF).

After Lansdale was booted upstairs, the CIA found Diem too difficult to handle and sanctioned his assassination, which was followed by a succession of puppet “strong men” who replaced each other by palace coups. After the phony “Gulf of Tonkin Incident,” in which the U.S. claimed one of its destroyers was fired on by North Vietnamese patrol boats, the U.S. rapidly increased it’s involvement, bombing and “putting boots on the ground.” On March 8th, 1965, 3,500 U.S. Marines were dispatched to South Vietnam. At the peak in 1968, there were more than half a million U.S. troops in Viet Nam, and over the course of the war more than three million U.S. soldiers served there. In addition, the U.S. obtained sizable troop commitments from its puppet regimes in South Korea and the Philippines, and other countries such as Australia and New Zealand.

The U.S. and its puppets employed extreme brutality in attempting to crush Vietnamese resistance, and it escalated the war, bombing and invading Cambodia and Laos. Massive bombing campaigns and spraying of defoliants like “Agent Orange,” forced relocation of peasants, assassination and torture only served to stiffen Vietnamese resistance and international protest and solidarity with the Vietnamese people.

 

92: What happened with the Tet Offensive in 1968?

A: Beginning on the evening of January 30th, 1968, the NLF and NVA regulars launched a countrywide offensive in South Viet Nam. 80,000 troops attacked simultaneously in over 100 towns and cities, taking the South Vietnamese Army and Americans completely by surprise. The offensive had been more than a year in planning amidst a three-way struggle over ideological and political line. The Right identified with the “peaceful co-existence” line of the Soviet Union and favored negotiations, the Left, identified with People’s China and demanded no negotiations and holding out for military victory, and the Center, represented by President Ho Chi-minh, favored continued alliance with both the SU and China, and a policy of negotiating while fighting. On July 27th, 1967, the arrest of hundreds of pro-Soviet officers and intellectuals signaled that a military solution would be sought. The Chinese promoted Mao’s line of protracted people’s war and supplied weapons suitable for guerrilla warfare, the Russians, on the other hand, sent weapons for conventional-style war. It was decided to wage the offensive by a mixture of conventional and guerrilla-style attacks using both regular and irregular formations with General Giap, who favored protracted people’s war, drafted to work out a compromise. It was hoped that the sudden offensive would stun the ARVN and American forces and spark a national uprising.

The imperialist and puppet troops were stunned, and forced to abandon many positions, but they recovered and a mass uprising was prevented by suppression, including air strikes on cities. Those most affected were the American people, who were already sharply divided over the war. For months the Johnson administration and the media had been selling the idea that the U.S. was winning the war and down-playing the strength of the opposition. The American public was alarmed over the rising casualty figures, but many felt that if the U.S. hung in a little longer victory could be won. Even though the Tet Offensive failed militarily to achieve its objectives, the ferocity and willingness to die fighting, even when surrounded and cut off, by the NLF and NVA soldiers, and the casualties they inflicted, destroyed the credibility of the Johnson administration in the eyes of a majority of Americans. Clearly they had been lied to, and the war was far from over. From this point on, the war became increasing unpopular and anti-war demonstrations more massive and militant.

President Johnson announced he would not seek a second term. Robert Kennedy, the brother of the assassinated President, was himself assassinated while running for President as an anti-war candidate. At the Democratic Party National Convention in Chicago in the summer of 1968, the Party regulars tried to suppress the anti-war faction of the Party inside the convention and unleashed a police riot on the anti-war protestors outside. “Cold War Liberalism” died on the streets of Chicago, and the whole world was watching.

The Tet Offensive was the turning point in the Vietnam War, and 1968 was the “high-water mark” of the third great wave of the World Proletarian Socialist Revolution. In Paris and Prague, students and workers rose up in “almost revolutions.” In the U.S., on April 4th, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, TN. In response, a wave of ghetto riots swept across the U.S. affecting more than 125 cities. Membership in the Black Panther Party, (formed in 1966), doubled overnight. Like the earlier Tet Offensive, the imagery on TV stunned the American people and rocked their world. Some wrapped themselves in the American flag and proclaimed “My Country Right Or Wrong!” and “Love It Or Leave It!” Others burned the American flag and their draft cards and chanted “Smash Imperialism!” and “Power To The People!”

There was also a right-wing backlash, particularly among the white middle class and the labor aristocracy. 1967 had been the peek year of post-WWII prosperity. Wages were high, unemployment was low, and the average person had more spendable cash than ever before. For many, the “American Dream” had become reality, but they saw it threatened by global communist conspiracy, by ungrateful hippies, Black militants, Mexicans, Puerto Ricans and bra-burning feminists, homosexuals and drug users. Richard Nixon was able to capitalize on this reactionary fear with his “Southern Strategy” to woo the “Dixiecrats” and “Labor Aristocrats” to vote Republican. Nixon was elected and continued the war under the strategy of “Vietnamization,” which fit into the broader détente policy of the Nixon administration, in which the United States no longer regarded its fundamental strategy as the containment of communism but as a cooperative world order centered on U.S. imperialism.

 

93: Are you saying that we entered a new period in 1968?

A: Actually, Mao said it in “A New Storm Against Imperialism” (1968):

“Some days ago, Martin Luther King, the Afro-American clergyman, was suddenly assassinated by the U.S. imperialists. Martin Luther King was an exponent of nonviolence. Nevertheless, the U.S. imperialists did not on that account show any tolerance toward him, but used counter-revolutionary violence and killed him in cold blood. This has taught the broad masses of the Black people in the United States a profound lesson. It has touched off a new storm in their struggle against violent repression sweeping well over a hundred cities in the United States, a storm such as has never taken place before in the history of that country. It shows that an extremely powerful revolutionary force is latent in the more than twenty million Black Americans.

“The storm of Afro-American struggle taking place within the United States is a striking manifestation of the comprehensive political and economic crisis now gripping U.S. imperialism. It is dealing a telling blow to U.S. imperialism, which is beset with difficulties at home and abroad.

The Afro-American struggle is not only a struggle waged by the exploited and oppressed Black people for freedom and emancipation, it is also a new clarion call to all the exploited and oppressed people of the United States to fight against the barbarous rule of the monopoly capitalist class. It is a tremendous aid and inspiration to the struggle of the people throughout the world against U.S. imperialism and to the struggle of the Vietnamese people against U.S. imperialism. On behalf of the Chinese people, I hereby express resolute support for the just struggle of the Black people in the United States.

“Racial discrimination in the United States is a product of the colonialist and imperialist system. The contradiction between the Black masses in the United States and the U.S. ruling circles is a class contradiction. Only by overthrowing the reactionary rule of the U.S. monopoly capitalist class and destroying the colonialist and imperialist system can the Black people in the United States win complete emancipation. The Black masses and the masses of white working people in the United States have common interests and common objectives to struggle for. Therefore, the Afro-American struggle is winning sympathy and support from increasing numbers of white working people and progessives in the United States. The struggle of the Black people in the United States is bound to merge with the American workers’ movement, and this will eventually end the criminal rule of the U.S. monopoly capitalist class.

“In 1963, in the ‘Statement Supporting the Afro-Americans in Their Just Struggle Against Racial Discrimination by U.S. Imperialism,’ I said that the ‘the evil system of colonialism and imperialism arose and throve with the enslavement of Negroes and the trade in Negroes, and it will surely come to its end with the complete emancipation of the Black people.’ I still maintain this view.

“At present, the world revolution has entered a great new era. The struggle of the Black people in the United States for emancipation is a component part of the general struggle of al the people of the world against U.S. imperialism, a component part of the contemporary world revolution. I call on the workers, peasants, and revolutionary intellectuals of all countries and all who are willing to fight against U.S. imperialism to take action and extend strong support to the struggle of the Black people in the United States! People of the whole world, unite still more closely and launch a sustained and vigorous offensive against our common enemy, U.S. imperialism, and its accomplices! It can be said with certainty that the complete collapse of colonialism, imperialism, and all systems of exploitation, and the complete emancipation of all the oppressed peoples and nations of the world are not far off.”

 

94: Wow! Can you elaborate on that?

A: Huey P. Newton, the leader of the Black Panther Party did in 1970. He stated that:

“Using the dialectical materialist method, we in the Black Panther Party saw that the U.S. was no longer a nation. It was something else; it was more than a nation. It had not only expanded its territorial boundaries, but it had expanded all of its controls as well. We called it an empire.”

“The ruling circle have recognized that this is one world,” he added. “They no longer acknowledge wars, they call them ‘police actions.’ They say we’re having a civil disturbance because the people of Vietnam are rioting.

“The police are everywhere and they all wear the same uniforms, and all have the same job, which is to protect the interests of the ruling circle.”

Newton said that the Panthers seek a world revolution which will establish a global group of interdependent socialist communities, or “intercommunalism within a cooperative framework.” Under such a revolutionary system, he said, the people of the world would control “the technological machine which the imperialists have built.”

The way Newton saw it, People’s China and North Vietnam were just “liberated territory” from which to fight the Empire, that might be lost, as the Soviet Union had been lost (even though it still posed as “socialist”), but that the struggle was a worldwide one that could not end until Empire was defeated.

Mao talked about this “New Period” as lasting fifty to a hundred years, and being one in which there was a dialectic between the struggle in the imperialist countries and the dependent and exploited countries. It particular he pointed to the merger of the struggle of the Black people and other oppressed people within the U.S. and the workers movement. Newton went deeper into this question by pointing out the inevitability of the growth of the lumpen-proletariat and general impoverishment of the masses under capitalist-imperialism. “As the ruling circle continue to build their technocracy, more and more of the proletariat will become unemployable, become lumpen, until they have become the popular class, the revolutionary class,” he said.

Indeed, with the loss of People’s China as a revolutionary base area for the world proletarian socialist revolution, Empire has shifted much of its industrial base there, and it has become the principle industrial center of the Empire, greater even than the U.S. home country. In particular, the most privileged section of industrial proletariat in the U.S. has been shrunk, and wages have remained frozen and even dipped below what they were in 1970, with a much higher percent of the people living below the poverty line and being long-term unemployable. Many workers are forced to seek, and qualify for, food stamps and public assistance, such as the workers at America’s largest employer, Walmart.

 

95: So where is the liberated territory today?

A: It is in the base areas created by protracted people’s war, as in India and the Philippines, and it can be created through struggle in the oppressed urban communities of every country, and particularly in the oppressed Third World countries. In countries where there is a basis for both establishing liberated zones in the countryside and the oppressed communities in the urban centers, the forces of reaction can be caught in a “nut-cracker” where they are faced with both a revolutionary peasantry and a revolutionary urban proletariat and lumpen-proletariat.

Huey said: “We, the people of the world, have been brought together under strange circumstances. We are united against a common enemy. Today, the philosophy of revolutionary intercommunalism dictates that the survival programs implemented by and with the people here in America and those same Peoples’ Survival Programs being implemented in Mozambique by the Mozambique Liberation Front are essential in bringing about world unity, from Africa to the Black community inside America, developing and uniting against a common enemy […] We are not seperate nations of men to continue the pattern of fighting amongst ourselves. We are a large collection of communities who can unite and fight together against our common enemy.”

 

96: So Huey Newton said the world is now under the dictatorship of a transnational capitalist empire which must be overturned by a worldwide dictatorship of the proletariat?

A: Yes, he said:

“We are a collection of communities just as the Korean people, the Vietnamese people, and the Chinese people arc a collection of communities-a dispersed collection of communities because we have no superstructure of our own. The superstructure we have is the superstructure of Wall Street, which all of our labor produced. This is a distorted form of collectivity. Everything’s been collected but it’s used exclusively in the interest of the ruling circle. This is why the Black Panther Party denounces Black capitalism and says that all we can do is liberate our community, not only in Vietnam but here, not only in Cambodia and the People’s Republics of China and Korea but the communities of the world. We must unite as one community and then transform the world into a place where people will be happy, wars will end, the state itself will no longer exist, and we will have communism. But we cannot do this right away. When transformation takes place, when structural change takes place, the result is usually cultural lag. After the people possess the means of production we will probably not move directly into communism but linger with Revolutionary Intercommunalism until such time as we can wash away bourgeois thought, until such time as we can wash away racism and reactionary thinking, until such time as people are not attached to their nation as a peasant is attached to the soil, until such time as that people can gain their sanity and develop a culture that is ‘essentially human,’ that will serve the people instead of some god. Because we cannot avoid contact with each other we will have to develop a value system that will help us function together in harmony.”

 

97: So did the BPP organize outside the U.S.?

A: Yes, under the inspiration of the BPP, Panther parties and formations were created in many countries. The British Black Panthers (1968-72) were based in the Brixton West Indian community of London, and included the well-known poet-singer Linton Kwesi Johnson. There was also a White Panther Party with several chapters in the UK. The BPP had international offices in Paris and Algiers. The Australian BPP was founded in 1972 by Aboriginal activists Sam Watson and Denis Walker. The Israeli Black Panthers were formed in 1971, when Angela Davis visited. They were based among Mizrahi Jews from Middle-Eastern countries, who are oppressed by the white European Jews. Later, in the 1990’s there was a Russian Panthers movement in Israel, and in 2011, a street was dedicated as the Black Panthers Way in the Muslala community.

The Polynesian Panthers were formed in New Zealand in 1971 composed of indigenous Maori and Pacific Islanders. Elsewhere groups like the Black Berets in Bermuda styled themselves after the BPP as well. The U.S. Black Panther Party always acknowledged and supported the Dalit Panther Party in India through their Black Panther Newspaper, which circulated weekly throughout the world from 1967-1980. The Dalit Panthers’ organization was modeled after the BPP. The members were young men belonging to Neo-Buddhists and Scheduled Castes. Most of the leaders were literary figures. There is a National Panther Party in India still.

 

98: So what is the new wave of Black Panthers about?

A: Since the demise of the original BPP in the 1980’s, there have been several attempts to restore the Party. Most of them have tried to dumb-down the ideological and political line of the original BPP and substitute a reactionary bourgeois nationalist line while co-opting the symbols. The most extreme case in the so-called “New Black Panther Party for Self-Defense (NBPP)” founded in Dallas, TX. Like white nationalist or other nationalist groups, it is bourgeois and  racist in orientation, homophobic and so on, based basically on the ideological and political line of a group called the United Slaves (US), which were rivals of the original BPP responsible for the murder of BPP leaders Bunchy Carter and John Huggins in LA. NBPP expropriates the name and symbolism of the BPP in order to attack and distort its true legacy.

In contrast to this are groups like the Black Riders Liberation Party (BRLP), which has chapters in LA and Oakland, CA. They were formed in the California Youth Authority by incarcerated members of the Bloods and Crips street gangs. They style themselves as the “New Generation Black Panthers” and base themselves on revolutionary intercommunalism. Ideologically and politically, the most advanced representatives of this trend has been the New Afrikan Black Panther Party Prison Chapter (NABPP-PC), founded in 2005 by Kevin “Rashid” Johnson, the Minister of Defense, and Chairman Shaka Zulu.

The strategy put forward by the NABPP-PC and the United Panther Movement (UPM) it leads is to: “Transform the ‘Slave Pens of Oppression’ into ‘Schools of Liberation’ and the oppressed communities into base areas of cultural, social and political revolution in the context of building a ‘Worldwide United Front Against Capitalist Imperialism, Racism and Repression.” The UPM sums up that Revolutionary Intercommunalism is applicable to any community of poor and oppressed people anywhere in the world and that it is by organizing a worldwide united front that we can empower the most oppressed section of the world proletariat to act as a catalyst upon the whole proletariat and masses of people to rise up and overthrow the system of capitalist imperialism and create a worldwide dictatorship of the proletariat.

The UPM does not see its strategy as being in contradiction to other revolutionary communist strategies based upon organizing the peasantry to create liberated zones of red political power through protracted people’s war or of organizing workers at the point of production to build a revolutionary workers movement or to build a revolutionary students movement. Rather it is by combining these strategies into an overall united front strategy that we can defeat the strategies of capitalist imperialism.

 

99: What do you think about “New Democratic Revolution”?

A: Well, I think we have to update our thinking about it, but basically we are fighting to overthrow imperialism, bureaucratic capitalism and the remnants of feudalism. In the imperialist countries we are more dealing with the first two, but the remnants of feudalism would include patriarchy, religious oppression, racism and “caste” oppression, and in general the cultural legacy of prejudice and superstition. All that bourgeois revolution has not swept away, “New Democracy” must sweep away to clear the way for socialist revolution and scrubbing away bourgeois ideas and class relations.

The rise of imperialism prevented bourgeois democratic revolution from sweeping away the remnants of feudalism where they could be used to serve the interests of capitalist-imperialism. Instead, capitalist-imperialism’s broom is sweeping away the remnants of bourgeois democracy. It is internationalizing the neo-liberal police state and the corporate military-industrial-police-prison complex. As Comrade Huey pointed out, “the police are everywhere, and everywhere they serve the same ruling circle.” So everywhere the people must resist police oppression and the imperialist ruling circle it serves. They must demand respect for their democratic and human rights.

Democracy is the key to socialism. Panthers raise the slogan “All Power To The People!” Here we must distinguish between the people and the enemy. Who are the people? The people are those with contradictions with capitalist imperialism, in other words the great majority. I think we need a united front of classes, but the proletariat and its revolutionary detachment must be the leading force. In the 3rd World, the peasantry is the key ally of the proletariat, and the demand for land redistribution is a principle aspect of “New Democratic” revolution. At times, the peasantry will be the main force, but overall, “New Democracy” will proletarianize the peasantry and lead to collectivization of agriculture.

 

100: What are your thoughts on building an Asian Tigers Movement based on revolutionary intercommunalism?

A:  I think it could be very important in terms of building a Worldwide United Front Against Capitalist-Imperialism, Racism and Oppression and accelerating the pace of “New Democratic” revolution in the region, particularly in South Asia and South East Asia. Just as it is important to build the Black Panther Movement in Afrika and throughout the Afrikan Diaspora, I believe an Asian Tiger Movement across southern Asia and the Asian Diaspora could be equally important. This is a densely populated region, with over 2 billion people, or half of Asia’s total population and a third of the world’s population.

All of these countries are semi-feudal with large and impoverished peasant populations, but something else is happening, and that is people being forced off the land by capitalist agricultural development to seek work in the cities faster than industry can absorb them. This impels some to go abroad seeking work and others to swell the ranks of the marginally employed urban poor. Sprawling slums surround the cities where the Tiger strategy is most applicable. There are also regions most suitable for classic Maoist-style people’s war, in fact in India and the Philippines there are well-established guerrilla and liberated zones supporting experienced liberation armies. U.S. imperialism is shifting its military forces to the region as well to exert pressure on China and North Korea and assert its global hegemony.

Climate change is going to dramatically affect these countries, particularly Bangladesh, where rising sea levels caused by global warming are predicted to cause extensive flooding of the coastal areas. Among other things, this will encourage mass emigration to other countries, such as the U.K. and the Middle East. Overseas South Asians, or “Desi” communities are also ideal for building an Asian Tigers Movement in opposition to racism and repression.

The division of the old British Raj along religious communal lines was a great tragedy that cost many lives and deeply wounded the unity of the South Asian people. “Tiger Love” and revolutionary intercommunal solidarity can help to heal these wounds and reunify the people in struggle against the common enemy – capitalist-imperialism. The proletariat has no country, and in this era of global imperialism, only the victory of world revolution can provide peace and security to the people of any country. We must be our own liberators, and we must be each other’s liberators too. An injury to one is an injury to all, and a victory anywhere is a victory for all. Unity is our strength!

Wherever we are is our front of struggle. Our communities can be transformed into revolutionary base areas where children are born into the people’s struggle; Where “Liberation Schools” teach literacy and the ABC’s of revolutionary theory and people’s history; Where “Serve The People” survival programs organize free food and health care services, co-ops, and legal clinics; Where people’s cultural workers produce art, music, literature and poetry; Where Security Tigers patrol the streets and protect the community; Where religious freedom is protected, including the right to worship no gods and to promote a scientific world outlook; Where the elderly and sick are cared for, women’s rights are respected and caste discrimination is abolished. Every oppressed community can be transformed into a stronghold of revolutionary “New Democracy!”

print
Print Friendly

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *