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Archive for August 18th, 2006

Why Maoism is Left Revisionism?

Posted by Taimur Rahman on August 18, 2006

As a supplement to what Bhagat Singh has written I would like to bring to the forum three points of disagreement with the founding document of RIM (one of the main international centers that promote Marxism-Leninism-Maoism).

Poland: Support for Solidarity by RIM

“In the capitalist and imperialist countries of the Eastern bloc important cracks and fissures in the relative stability of the rule by the state-capitalist bourgeoisie are more and more apparent. In Poland the proletariat and other sections of the masses have risen in struggle and delivered powerful blows to the established order. In these countries, also, possibilities for proletarian revolution are developing and will be heightened by the development and intensification of world contradictions.”

This document, signed by the constituting members of the Revolutionary International Movement in March 1984, clearly argues that the Eastern European countries were “capitalist and imperialist” and ruled by a “state-capitalist bourgeoisie”. Against this established order in Poland “the proletariat and other sections of the masses have risen in struggle”. Is there any doubt that this is a clear reference to the growth of Solidarity in the early 1980s in Poland?

The fact that the growth of this CIA funded reactionary trade-union Solidarity that culminated in the counter-revolution across Eastern Europe after their electoral victory of in 1989 could be viewed by RIM as signaling the “possibilities for proletarian revolution” is about as clever as claiming that neo-liberals are socialists. What results other than defeat could the anti-revisionists expect when the leadership of these parties did not merely fail to recognize the counter-revolutionary and imperialist character of Solidarity but led others to believe that the growth of this movement presented the possibility of the development of a proletariat revolution?

On “Cuban Revisionism”

“However this openly capitulationist, right-wing revisionism always corresponded with, and has become increasingly intermingled with, a kind of “left” armed revisionism, promoted at times by the Cuban leadership and others, which separated the armed struggle from the masses and preached a line of combining revolutionary stages into one single “socialist” revolution, which in fact meant appealing to the workers on the narrowest of bases and negating the necessity of the working class to lead the peasantry and others in thoroughly eliminating imperialism and the backward and distorted economic and social relations that foreign capital thrives on and reinforces. Today this form of revisionism is one of the major planks of the social-imperialist attempt to penetrate and control national liberation struggles.”

The attempt to combine the bourgeois democratic and proletarian stages into one single socialist revolution is not a revisionist but a Leninist position. Please note here is what Lenin wrote as far back as 1905.

From the democratic revolution we shall at once, and just in accordance with the measure of our strength, the strength of the class-conscious and organised proletariat, begin to pass to the socialist revolution. We stand for uninterrupted revolution. We shall not stop halfway…

Without succumbing to adventurism or going against our scientific conscience, without striving for cheap popularity, we can and do say only one thing: we shall put every effort into assisting the entire peasantry to carry out the democratic revolution in order thereby to make it easier for us, the party of the proletariat, to pass on, as quickly as possible, to the new and higher task—the socialist revolution.[1] [emphasis added]

On the fourth anniversary of the October Revolution, sixteen years after the above quotation, Lenin wrote:

The Kautskys, Hilferdings, Martovs, Chernovs, Hillquits, Longuets, MacDonalds, Turatis, and other heroes of ‘Two-and-a-Half’ Marxism were incapable of understanding… the relation between the bourgeois-democratic and the proletarian-socialist revolutions. The first grows over into the second. The second, in passing solves the questions of the first. The second consolidates the work of the first. Struggle, and struggle alone, decides how far the second succeeds in outgrowing the first. [2] [emphasis added]

Similarly, in The Proletarian Revolution and the Renegade Kautsky Lenin wrote,

Things have turned out just as we said they would. The course taken by the revolution has confirmed the correctness of our reasoning. First, with the “whole” of the peasantry against the monarchy, against the landlords, against the medieval regime (and to that extent, the revolution remains bourgeois, bourgeois-democratic). Then, with the poor peasants, with the semi-proletarians, with all the exploited, against capitalism, including the rural rich, the kulak, the profiteers, and to that extent the revolution becomes a socialist one. To attempt to raise an artificial Chinese wall between the first and second, to separate them by anything else than the degree of preparedness of the proletariat and the degree of its unity with the poor peasants, means monstrously to distort Marxism, to vulgarize it, to substitute liberalism in its place. It means smuggling in a reactionary defense of the bourgeoisie against the socialist proletariat by means of quasi-scientific references to the progressive character of the bourgeoisie as compared with medievalism.[3]

Notice that the Russian Revolution passed from the bourgeois democratic stage of the revolution directly into the socialist phase of the revolution without interruption. Lenin correctly argued that the bourgeois and proletarian revolution could become telescoped into one revolutionary crisis contingent upon the revolutionary preparedness of the proletariat. He summed up this idea perfectly in the phrase “struggle and struggle alone, decides how far the second succeeds in outgrowing the first”. Stalin held the same view as Lenin and wrote:

Consequently, Lenin fought the adherents of ‘permanent’ revolution, not over the question of uninterruptedness, for Lenin himself maintained the point of view of uninterrupted revolution, but because they underestimated the role of the peasantry, which is an enormous reserve of the proletariat….[4]

The RIM statement upholds the opportunist view that a substantial period of development between the democratic and socialist stages of the revolution is necessary. How can the revolutionary preparedness of the proletariat, the key factor according to Lenin that determines “how far the second succeeds in outgrowing the first”, take place if revolutionaries are prohibited from organizing them for a socialist revolution?

Further the RIM statement implies that organizing around a socialist program will repel not merely “the others” (we can assume RIM implies the progressive sections of the petty or national bourgeoisie) but even the peasantry. Now it should be very clear that such a thesis is flawed not merely because it misrepresents the position of pro-Cuban communists on the Agrarian question (to my knowledge they have not eliminated commodity production in agriculture but merely engaged in redistributing the property of landlords, i.e. no communes have been built) but more importantly because it completely underestimates the revolutionary potential of the peasantry. The view that the peasantry would recoil from the democratic revolution at the prospect of a proletariat socialist revolution belongs exclusively to the anti-Leninist camp. In sum, this position implies that the proletariat should remain within the ideological confines of the revolutionary bourgeois-democratic program of the peasantry. In one word, far from bestowing on the proletariat the role of leadership, it advocates a position that subordinates the socialist-proletariat to the bourgeois democratic peasantry. That the peasantry has to go through several stages of revolutionary transformation is a foregone conclusion but how quickly these transformations occur is contingent on the level of class-consciousness and organization of the proletariat.

RIM on Hoxha

“At the same time, revisionism in its dogmatic form continues to be a bitter enemy of revolutionary Marxism. This current, most sharply expressed in the political line of Enver Hoxha and the Party of Labour of Albania, attacks Mao Tsetung Thought, the path of the Chinese Revolution and especially the experience of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. Masquerading as defenders of Stalin (when in fact many of their theses are Trotskyites), these revisionists soil the genuine revolutionary heritage of Stalin. These imposters use the shortcomings and errors of the international communist movement, and not its achievements in order to buttress up their revisionist-trotskyite line, and demand that the international communist movement follow suit on the basis of a return to some mystical “doctrinal purity”. The many features this Hoxhaite line shares with classical revisionism, including the ability of Soviet revisionism (as well as reaction in general) to promote and/or profit from both openly anti-Leninist “Euro-communism” and Hoxha’s disguised anti-Leninism at the same time, are testimony to their common bourgeois ideological basis.”

I’m at a complete loss to explain how Hoxhaism has anything in common with Trotskyism. Does Hoxhaism uphold that socialism cannot be built in one country? Does Hoxhaism uphold that after the death of Lenin a “Stalinist bureaucracy” took power in the name of the proletariat and the USSR became a “degenerated workers state”? Do Hoxhaists uphold the thesis of “permanent revolution”?

One has merely to state the positions associated with Trotskyism to realize that a world of a difference separates Trotskyism from Hoxhaism.

I strongly disagree with Hoxha’s assessment of Mao Tse-Tung but it’s a bit of a stretch to imagine that Hoxha was organizing on the basis of a Trotskyite thesis. I’m sure the Trotskyites are falling over themselves with laughter at the utter inanity of this statement.

Clearly then RIM is using the term “Trotskyism” as a pejorative description without realizing that such unscientific statements make a laughing stock of the science of Marxism.

I hope we can constructively engage with members of RIM on these and other questions on our forum.

In solidarity
Taimur Rahman


[1] V.I. Lenin, “The Attitude of Social-Democracy Towards the Peasant Movement”, Vol. VIII, pp. 186-87, September 1905 (pg. 167).
[2] V. I. Lenin, “Fourth Anniversary of the October Revolution”, Vol. XXVII p. 26, October 1921 (pg. 167).
[3] V. I. Lenin, “The Proletarian Revolution and the Renegade Kautsky”, October-November 1918, Foreign Languages Press Peking 1970 (pg. 97-98).
[4] J.V. Stalin, “The Foundations of Leninism”, J. V. Stalin Works, Vol. 6, pp, 34 (pg. 165).


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