"C" against revisionism
100423.2040 at compuserve.com
Wed May 8 14:58:15 MDT 1996
The position of "C" from Australia is a particularly interesting addition
to the l'st. It represents an attempt to apply the logic of the
anti-revisionist polemic in the international Communist movement of the
early 60's to conditions not in a third world country like Peru,
but in a capitalist country like Australia.
C briefly gives a historical context about the founding of the
Communist Party of Australia Marxist Leninist, whose paper, I noticed
recently on a visit to the Marx Memorial Library, is still being
published. C's argument seems to be that because the CPAML did not
concentrate on going lower and deeper into the real masses, because
it was over centralised and (perhaps) because it had a not sufficiently
anti-revisionist line on the question of violence, it failed.
However it was founded over 30 years ago, and interesting though C's
position is, one would have thought that if the anti-revisionist
line as expressed in the Chinese polemic in the early 60's had
more going for it, it would have been more successful by now, in
a capitalist country.
C drew a difference with Adolfo, and defended the position about
a party accumulating strength. This is an argument that
in various forms surfaces from time to time on this l'st. Criticisms
were made by one French subscriber of the failure of the
PCF to be ready for the mass protests earlier this year.
The ANC was not ready for the Soweto uprising. I suspect that often
these flare ups occur very rapidly, and parties by definition
almost, are not going to be there at the beginning. There is no alternative
but for a party to accumulate strength and hope it is close to the
right place at the right time. Maybe however, Adolfo or
others will shed light on the extent to which the decision in 1980
of the PCP to engage in People's War is claimed to be an active
strategic decision or a response to the developing nature of the
struggle in Peru.
C tries to argue a self-declared anti-revisionist position on the
question of violence in a capitalist country. And it is hard to see
how it is relevant or what it means in practice. For example
following the killing of 34 people by Martin Bryant in Tasmania,
it appears there are strong moves towards the control of firearms.
Is C in favour of this or not? Or does it have nothing to do
with his anti-revisionist strategy?
C has in fact to quote selectively from the Polemic on the General
Line of the International Communist Movement.
"The proletarian party... should concentrate on the painstaking
work of ACCUMULATING REVOLUTIONARY STRENGTH (emphasis added -- C),
so that it will be ready to seize victory when the conditions for
revolution are ripe or to strike powerful blows at the imperialists
and reactionaries when they launch surprise attacks and armed assaults.
(point 11 of its 1963 PROPOSAL CONCERNING THE GENERAL LINE OF THE INTERNATIONAL
The missing words are "The proletarian party must prepare itself
for two eventualities - WHILE PREPARING FOR A PEACEFUL DEVELOPMENT
OF THE REVOLUTION, it must also fully prepare for a non-peaceful
development. It should concentrate on the painstaking work of
accumulating revolutionary strength ... etc" (emphasis added - Chris)
The strategic thrust of work in a capitalist country, even in this
polemic therefore cannot be doubted. Indeed earlier in this section
11 it is frankly stated "Communist would always prefer to bring
about the transition to socialism by peaceful means."
It is clear of course at every demonstration in a capitalist country
that there is am implicit question of force, and that order can only be
maintained by the possibility of force. This question is on the
agenda in England in terms of protests about live calf exports
and protests about motorway developments damaging the environment.
Physical confrontations have occurred. And the police bill for
their control runs into millions of pounds.
The question is also on the agenda and well understood in terms
of the surveillance powers of the state, and civil liberties.
There have been not a few references on this l'st to the reality
that whatever is written here may be scanned by government forces.
It is in this sense that there may be a line of demarcation with
revisionism: if anyone wanted to pretend that this l'st is just
a happy knock about place of fun of no interest to the supporters
of the capitalist status quo that would be to prettify
the conditions under which democratic debate has to take place.
But all this does not amount to a credible argument from C that
an anti-revisionist stance gives a qualitatively new perspective
for marxist advance in a capitalist country. It is not
conceivable for example that the unions in such a country
should or could be encouraged to set up self-defence
And I would argue where it does intersect with
real politics at present, what is the point of the ancient
democratic argument that the people should be able to carry guns
when the state has machine guns and worse? Better to
develop a culture about the accountability of the
forces of law and order. Again it is the same painstaking
struggle to build strength through a series of democratic
reforms, in however militant or revolutionary way they
Gary put the relevance of C's strategic position more pithily.
Although at one level C's argument may appear to his/her?
critics as a historical curiosity
a) they represent one of several currents of rethinking
marxism which emerged in the 60's in response to
profoung changes in the world.
b) the issue of force, and democratic legitimacy, are
recurring ones for marxism and for politics in general.
It includes Lenin's handling of the question of violence.
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