Saturday, June 03, 2006

Revisionism and Capitalist Restoration: Contribution to the debate on the line of Freedom Road Socialist Organization

Some interesting discussion of revisionism and antirevisionism has come up lately, particularly in relation to the position put forward by Freedom Road Socialist Organization [Marxist-Leninist]. (People are using brackets these days it seems to distinguish by ideology the two groups that use the same name, the other being FRSO [Left Refoundationist]).

First Pottawatomie Creek (henceforth PC) struck at the line of the Marxist-Leninist FRSO (the publishers of Fight Back! Newspaper) with his article, FRSO [Fight Back!]'s Decent into Revisionism? to which Left Spot (LS) responded polemically in Debate on FRSO and Revisionism. Celtic Fire (CF) chimed in with Understanding Revisionism in an attempt to reopen the debate.

I'll summarize the debate thus far as I see it:

PC began by basically equating "revisionism" with not upholding the Left Refoundationists' Crisis of Socialism document, upholding the DPRK and the PRC as a socialist countries, and by referring to 1989 events in China as an attempted counter-revolution.

LS took note of these central points, and in my view, did pretty well at addressing them in his article.

Regarding the "Crisis of Socialism," LS addresses the defeatism of the statement.

While the statement makes some good points, its overall verdict on socialism in the 20th century is defeatist and is fundamentally wrong. The worst error of the Crisis statement is that it sums up all the efforts of socialist revolution in the 20th century as an overall failure. I quote: “overall the experience of building socialism in the Soviet Union must be summed up as a failure. All subsequent socialist revolutions have drawn to a great extent from the Soviet model, and the crisis of socialism is not confined to the Soviet Union.” This is straight-up wrong, and is drenched in the confusion and defeatism that much of the U.S. left succumbed to around 1991 when the statement was first adopted.

Regarding the socialist countries, LS notes some confusion regarding the Left Refoundationist line on the question.

And if they believe that Cuba is socialist [I understand there is a resolution put forward by FRSO [LR] to that effect], I would ask what FRSO [Left Refoundationist] sees as the distinction between the political economy of Cuba and that of, say, Vietnam, and why one is allegedly socialist and the other is allegedly capitalist.

And regarding the 1989 counter-revolutionary events at Tiananmen Square:

As for Tiananmen in 1989, would anyone deny that there were forces prominent, including some of the leadership, in the 1989 student movement that were aiming for Western-style capitalism? And that forces within the Chinese Communist Party that supported moving toward Western-style capitalism were working very closely with, and supporting, the protests?

He summed it all up, saying:

FRSO [ML] has successfully steered away from the many varieties of revisionism that have confounded many other groups. I think that compared to the alternatives, FRSO [ML] is the most advanced revolutionary organization in the US. FRSO [ML] is grounded in proletarian internationalism and Marxism-Leninism, incorporating key contributions of Mao Zedong and the Chinese revolution. FRSO [ML] engages in dynamic mass work using the mass line better than anyone else on the US left (to be fair, FRSO [Left Refoundationist] has some mass work I’m familiar with that is also very good). FRSO [ML] maintains a regular bilingual publication (Fight Back Newspaper www.fightbacknews.org) that highlights advanced experience in mass struggles around the country and world. And FRSO [ML] sees the need for Leninist organization and is building toward a new communist party to lead revolution in the US. That is not revisionism – that is Marxism-Leninism.

That's the essense of it.

Time I made my little contribution.

I think we've been messing around with secondary contradictions for too long in these debates. Lets get down to principal.

While some want to contest that while FRSO does some really good mass work, it isn't communist mass work. This seems to be, from what I've heard, because of a percieved lack of ideological content in Fight Back! I presume this to be the case, as I don't think those who have raised this have encountered much of FRSO's mass work first hand. I've worked along side some of these people for a while though, and I'd say that its very revolutionary, and that while Fight Back! may not be tailored for a petite bourgeois "communist" readership, it does well as a mass line publication to build the struggle among rank & file workers.

But that's not the crux of the matter.

Again and again on the blogs (not only the above mentioned blogs, but on Burningman's as well) we see the problem as coming down to the question of giving support to actually existing socialism. This gets to the heart of the issue: what is revisionism and what is capitalist restoration and how are they related? The crux of the argument seems to revolve around whether revisionism in command equals capitalist restoration, and further, what role is played by the dialectical relationship between relations of production and superstructure.

I would want to look at the history of the USSR and CPSU to get at this. Of course since we're talking about antirevisionism we'll have to get into the PRC and CPC as well. While it would be simple enough to use some of the documents from the Workers Party of Belgium which have dealt with the issue very throughly, I've done that here before and the trend is to dismiss them, apparently because they aren't "Maoist" in RIM sense of the term or because they don't see Mao as having surpassed Stalin. So, instead, I'll jump off of an article put out by the Communist Party of the Philippines (a group recognized around here as firm antirevisionists) in their theoretical journal Rebolusyon, number 2, series 1992, April-June. The article is "Stand for Socialism Against Modern Revisionism," by Armando Liwanag (some say this is the nom de guerre of Jose Maria Sison). It should be noted that this document represents the line of the organization at that time is approved by the Central Committee of the CP Philippines. I have the relevant issue in pamphlet form so I'll summarize the relevant passages, give page numbers, and quote where necessary.

Here (pp. 17-36) Liwanag outlines the "process of capitalist restoration" in the USSR through three stages:

The first stage is the Krushchev regime (1953-64). Ideologically this began with the secret speech to the XXth Congress of the CPSU - the slanderous diatribe against Comrade Stalin, successor of Lenin and architect of the world's first socialist society. Liwanag notes this "inspired the anticommunist forces in Poland and Hungary to carry out uprisings" and gave the green light to other Eastern European Rightists to "adopt captialist-oriented reforms." This was more or less the coming to power of an almost identical line as that put forward by Bukarin and the Right Opposition in the late 1920s and early '30s, which was defeated in the intra-party struggle by the Stalin-led party majority. This Rightist line meant putting "NEP style" reforms (liberalization and privatization of industry and agriculture and a turn toward a preference of light industry, that is, consumer goods, over heavy industry which had long been the backbone of socialist construction) in place.

Subjectivism reigns in the "blogosphere" where everyone really values their "independence" and a lot of claims and terms are thrown around like boulders without much of an attempt to scientifically think them through or back them up. "Brezhnevism" is one of those terms. Whereas it was once applied to those parties who were considered "puppets" of Soviet "Social-Imperialism" (as the Chinese called it) under Brezhnev, it is now thrown at anyone who thinks the Soviet Union during the Brezhnev period was still socialist. It is worth noting that if that is your charge (and it isn't mine), it must be leveled here against Liwanag, who considered the Breshnev regime (1964-82) to be the second of the three stages. While Liwanag states that in this period "socialism was converted fully into state monopoly capitalism" he goes on to say that the Gorbachav regime (1985-91) "marked the third and final stage in the anti-Marxist and antisocialist revisionist counterrevolution to restore captialism and bourgeois dictatorship." Here liberalization was extended from the base to the superstructure, with the legalization of the bourgeois parties, the institution of multi-party contested elections and the eventual liquidation of the CPSU and the USSR and the overturning of the socialist revolution. This marks the completion of a counter-revolution that took over 30 years.

To quote Liwanag:

To restore capitalism, the Soviet revisionist regimes had to revise the basic principles of socialist revolution and construction and to go through stages of camoflaged counterrevolution in a period of 38 years, 1953 to 1991. It is a measure of the greatness of Lenin and Stalin that their accomplishments in 36 years of socialist revolution and construction took another long period of close to four decades to dismantle. Stalin spent 20 years in socialist construction. The revisionist renegades took a much longer period of time to restore capitalism in the Soviet Union. (ibid. p.17)

This is more or less the same line on revisionism and capitalist restoration put forward by the WPB (see, for example, the International Communist Seminar 1999 Declaration, On Certain Aspects of the Struggle Against Revisionism (.doc), and Breznjev and the National Democratic Revolution for a few samples) and by the Marxist-Leninist FRSO. Revisionism is a real danger and counter-revolution is a lengthy process.

This means we are at the point where we must clearly define socialism. I'll use as a working definition the one put forward by Lenin in his Economics and Politics in the Era of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat.

Theoretically, there can be no doubt that between capitalism and communism there lies a definite transition period which must combine the features and properties of both these forms of social economy. This transition period has to be a period of struggle between dying capitalism and nascent communism -- or, in other words, between capitalism which has been defeated but not destroyed and communism which has been born but is still very feeble.

Now, some (mostly Maoists, and I count myself among those who uphold Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin, and Mao) argue that the instant persons come into power who take a revisionist line (who Mao and the Leftists in China called "capitalist roaders" for their desire to set the party and the state on the captialist, rather than the communist, road) capitalism is restored. In the past, we called this "Great Man Theory" and recognized it as metaphysical and unmarxist, but we'll put that aside for now (if you want a debate on Great Man Theory, please see the interventions put forth by LS in this debate on the role of Kim Jong Il and Kim Il Sung in North Korea that took place on Burningman's Blog). Surely we all know that the masses are the makers of history.

And this theory of instant capitalist restoration seems to discount the experience of the Cultural Revolution (GPCR) more than uphold it, contrary to what the proponents of this theory would like to have us believe. It is very clear that the call in 1966 was in fact to "bombard the headquarters" and to criticize and expose those "persons in power taking the capitalist road." The GPCR was also seen as an extension of the socialist revolution given the theory of "two line struggle" - the view that there are two roads in contradiction during the socialist transition to communism - the contradiction between captialist and communist relations of production - and thus two lines at odds with one another in the party at all times during the socialist revolution. This means that the Chinese understood this in such a way that revisionism in command did not mean an end to the socialist revolution and capitalist restoration.

So, my contribution to the debate - two questions:

Is it the case that capitalist restoration means restoration and consolidation of capitalist relations of production, or does it mean the comming to power of revisionist leadership in the party? I don't think, from a materialist point of view, that one could argue that these things are equivalent.

The question that follows this one is what does that mean for us?

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Blogger Klement, in the spirit of unity-struggle-unity, said...

I was just reading the CPP document last night, interestingly. I think it Liwanag is a pseudonym of Sison.

"Anti-revisionists" have often been too haphazard in tossing around "1956" and "1976." I mean, it's not as if as Krushchev gives a speech, capitalism is restored. The speech did represent the assertion of the coming to power of revisionism over the whole Party, however. But even here, there was struggle waged to defend Stalin and the socialist experience for at least a couple years. I think the military coup in China was a clearer-cut case, though.

In China, I see two stages: the first was the coming to power of revisionism in October 1976 through the end of the year, as revolutionaries are purged. The second stage is from the 11/78 11th CC 3rd Plenum, at which Deng basically won out over Hua. It was after that that the basic, organizational features of socialism were dismantled. The first stage was superstructure, the second was base.

We haven't seen a case yet in which revisionists seized power but failed to restore capitalism. So if, say, revisionists were leading a socialist Vietnam (I don't agree with that sentiment)right now, it would be precedent-shattering if socialism is maintained. It does seem that without state power, maintaining a socialist society is not possible.

1:10 PM  
Blogger Comrade Zero, in the spirit of unity-struggle-unity, said...

Deng winning out over Hua doesn't equal capitalist restoration. Its the same as I was talking about before.

There was a violent coup in the USSR. Beria killed Stalin and was in turn killed in a rutheless power struggle that left Krushchev in power. That's just as clear. But it is still "Great Man Theory" to think such a coup means the restoration and consolidation of capitalist relations of production.

11:01 AM  
Blogger Klement, in the spirit of unity-struggle-unity, said...

I do not mean that the 11/1978 plenum "restored capitalism," rather, that it paved the way for dismantling socialist organization in the economy. While I think that one shouldn't one-sidedly look at the superstructure, it is still an important aspect.

11:37 AM  
Anonymous L.S., in the spirit of unity-struggle-unity, said...

Your comments are interesting Klement. So if you agree with Comrade Zero that China did not become a capitalist country in 1976 when Hua came to power, or on the 11/1978 plenum, when do you mark the point in time that China ceased to be a socialist country and became a capitalist country? (I assume from your comments that you think China is no longer socialist.) Or do you consider China to still be a socialist country that is ruled by a revisionist party, but there is still a 2-line struggle in the party and it is still possible that the revisionist line can be defeated? Thanks for your thoughts in teasing out this important question.

4:45 PM  
Blogger ShineThePath, in the spirit of unity-struggle-unity, said...

I like to contribute as from my Maoist understanding.

Now if you look at what is "Revisionism," Revisionism is the Bourgeois line masquarading as the Proletarian line. It is fundamentally a negation of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat. If we look at Lenin's criticism of the revisionism of Kautsky, Bernstein, and the rotten Second International, he noted the main error and their fundamental counter-revolutionary thesis was their refutation of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat. The Revisionists, by proxy, represented a Bourgeois line, and not the Proletariat.

This is the same criticism that was made once again by the Chinese Communist Party (CPC), the PLA (Party of Labor of Alabania), and others in the International Communist Movement (IMC) about the revisionism of Khruschev.

Khruschev refuted the Dictatorship of the Proletariat by bringing the name of Stalin in the mud. It wasn't a struggle of men, it was a struggle of line. Khruschev used Stalin in an ideological battle against Marxism-Leninism, to promote his brand of revisionism. The Politburo attacked Khruschev for his outstanding blatant Bourgeois Populist ideology and his break from Marxism-Leninism; however as we know Khruschev himself purged the Politburo. He effectively changed the fundamental character of the state from a Dictatorship of the Proletariat to a Bourgeois Dictatorship in 1957.

Yes it is true, it was a prolonged struggle since 1953 against Khruschev's revisionism; and the struggle continued well after 1957, but the line of Khruschev and his revisionism was consolidated the day of his coup. The process of liberalization of the economy into State-Capitalism was completed by Kosygin and even more so by Perestroika.

The battle in China against the "Capitalist Roaders" was also very similar. Mao and the Maoist group drew clear lines during the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, that there was a struggle for the very course of the future for Chinese Socialism. "Chinese Khruschevs'" were bound to the same in China, was the battle. At first, it wasn't quite clear who these "Chinese Khruschevs" were, but the GPCR revealed the biggest revisionists were Liu Shaoqi and Teng Hsiao Ping. It wasn't just a question of bureaucraticism, but their actual attempt to fundamentally change the Chinese socialist nation after the three bad years into State-Capitalism.

Now we see fully where this line is leading to in China today. Capitalism is restored in China, as well as the Bourgeois dictatorship. The Bourgeois take over of power led to the fudamental change of the economy, into an economy which has allowed itself to be dominated by foriegn capital, exploited the masses, smashed basic socialist economic tenents and political tenents, and has belittled the class struggle as a relic of the past.

9:18 PM  
Blogger ShineThePath, in the spirit of unity-struggle-unity, said...

by the way...I'll email you Comrade Zero the works we are reading.

9:19 PM  
Blogger celticfire, in the spirit of unity-struggle-unity, said...

I agree with shinethepath on this.

Understanding the nature of the proletarian state is key. What distuinguishes state capitalism from socialism, proletarian from bourgeois dictatorship?

My problem with the WWP/FRSO(Fight Back) line is that it is a swamp that leads to defending reactionary oppressive states like North Korea.

It isn't, as klement said, like Krushchev gave a speech and socialism disappeared. No, it was the consolidation of state power by revisionist forces.

Grasping this will help understand why there was no socialism in China under Deng, or in Russia under Krushchev.

Obviously there was superficial elements that changed slowly, like the USSR, but the class charecter of that state had been long changed.

5:54 PM  
Blogger Klement, in the spirit of unity-struggle-unity, said...

L.S.: You said "Your comments are interesting Klement. So if you agree with Comrade Zero that China did not become a capitalist country in 1976 when Hua came to power, or on the 11/1978 plenum, when do you mark the point in time that China ceased to be a socialist country and became a capitalist country?"

What was key in 1976 was that there was a military coup that overthrew the communists and instituted a dictatorship of the bourgeoisie. If a country can still be "socialist" under such circumstances, then it is possible that it was for a while. My point is that capitalism was not restored overnight. Likewise, the Bolsheviks did not abolish it overnight.

What is tricky here is the relationship between base and superstructire. I said the 11/78 plenum was key because it did mark the beginning of a new stage. Between 10/76 and late 1978, you had a situation similar to that in the Soviet Union in the respect that a new state-bureaucratic bourgeoisie emerged in power. But the forms of socialist legality were still in place. After the 11/78 plenum, these were dismantled, and employing others' labor and other private capitalist practices were allowed and in fact encouraged.

I think it would be very difficult to argue that China has a socialist economy right now. Perhaps one could argue that the proletariat still rules the state and is using a "super-NEP" strategy to pursue capital accumulation, but I don't agree.

12:52 PM  
Blogger ShineThePath, in the spirit of unity-struggle-unity, said...

I think what one of the problems we see with Communists today is really an abuse of the idea of the Super-Structure (Repressive State Apparatus and Ideological State Appartus to use terms from Althusser) and the Base (The Economy).

With many Communists, including many Maoists, there is a reasoning that a change in the Super-Structure of a change in the Base leads to an automatic change in the other, and so on. For example it was a line of Marxist-Leninists, including Stalin, that we just build the productive forces of society, and socialize those forces in accordance to the class consciousness of the Proletariat and you move to Socialism through these means. All that was left to do was to sort out the "counter-revolutionaries" from society. The CPSU and Stalin failed to realize that this was not Dialectical, as they said it was, but mechanical materialism. Those counter-revolutionaries emerged out of the class anatgonisms that emerged from Socialism, but the line in the CPSU was those lines no longer existed because we have already reached Socialism...the threat of the Bourgeoisie was not there.

Well now Maoists and many Communists are in a sense doing the same thing, by denying the Two Line Struggle and reverting into "Great Man" theory of History. I think Comrade Zero has rightfully called this out. Many Maoists have really taken a dogmatic and simplistic view of the events that occurred with the rise of Revisionism and the Capitalist Restoration, this largely comes from an unwillingness to study with a scientific analysis of the situation, and rather just give a linear “pin-point” type of history. I think Comrade Zero is wrong in some certain areas to insist that the Two-Line struggle even after the consolidation of power by Revisionists, which has occurred in China. It is only time really after consolidation, that the economy is liberalized to suit a State-Capitalist or outright Capitalist model economy.

I have to also fundamentally point out that NEP is STATE-CAPITALISM. So when the FRSO or Comrade Zero says China is using an NEP type model for Socialism that is inherently contradictory. NEP is not Socialism to begin with. So what is the line of FRSO? That the Communist Party of China is run by Revisionists and it uses a State-Capitalist and Capitalist methods; however it is still a Proletarian State? It sounds to me a bit disillusioned.

And even if CPC were using “NEP” methods, it would seem to me that they are following a line of “Buhkarin on Steroids,” the slogan should be “Socialism at a Rock’s Pace.”

2:42 PM  
Blogger celticfire, in the spirit of unity-struggle-unity, said...

I am all for deep and meaningful investigation into revisionism. It is something, I think, should always be investigated and questioned. We need to cast off "sacred cow" ideas. However, I think the evidence is contrary to Comrade Zero's assumptions, despite his impressive presentation of his views.

Where do we draw the line? At what point do we say we can no longer defend this? The actions taken after Stalin's death, be it 53 or 56, to me longer represent the interests of the proletariat on the whole.

There are good points here that are being raised here.

I am a bit confused by shinethepath's comments about the NEP program. I would be interesting in further eloboration.

1:18 PM  
Blogger celticfire, in the spirit of unity-struggle-unity, said...

Although I have much respect and love for the CPP, I have questions about lines that equate N. Korea with socialism. Does socialism exist in present day China? Or Vietnam? Cuba? North Korea?

All my study, investigations point to no to all of the above. These are not societies were class and other social divisions are being broken down, but actively built up (N. Korea's hereditary procession of power appears to me as blatant feudalism).

Revisionism is the rise of oppressor politics within the new socialist society. We have learned not everyone who waves the red flag is a communist. As Klement said, there were many loyal communists within the USSR and even China, but “The pretense of communism kept many of them politically disarmed.” (Socialist Planning vs. Market Economy, and the Question of the Destruction of Soviet Socialism.)

I think this is an important point the Martens circles fail to grasp.

This is why Mao's leadership in the GPCR was so indispensable. The 3-in-1 committees, the decentralization of culture and industry, the recallability of leaders by mass action, and the dignity of land reform (vs. simple "nationalization") -- it's the difference between People's War and armed revisionism. It is about the people's power.

Revisionism suppresses forms of popular agency. Upholding countries like Cuba or North Korea as socialist, well, is really confusing the understanding of revisionism.

2:54 PM  
Blogger Comrade Zero, in the spirit of unity-struggle-unity, said...

Thanks to everyone for such a frank and lively discussion!

There's a lot to reply to here: I'll start with Celt and work backward.

Celt: Two big points.
1.) Revisionism is not "the rise of oppressor politics within the new socialist society." That is a fundamentally anarchistic definition of revisionism that replaces a class-based understanding with a power-dynamic-based understanding. It seems the flawed view of North Korea stems from this, as well as your Rightist views in favor of multi-party contested elections. The best definition I have heard of revisionism is "opportunism in theory." But, as I understand it, the Dictatorship of the Proletariat is, as a State, inherently oppressive. Leninism 101.

2.) North Korea. One instance of son following a father into leadership does not equal a precedent of hereditary succession, and even if it did, that doesn't equal feudal relations of production. That is the strangest equation I've ever heard come from a Marxist. Where is the landlord class?

Shinethepath: FRSO and Comrade Zero do nott say that China is advancing down a NEP road to socialism. FRSO's line, as I understand it, is simply that China is a socialist country and deserves the support of socialists, regardless of whether said socialists agree with every instance of line, policy and planning or not.

My position is not that China is advancing along an NEP road (though I admit that I once toyed with that idea elsewhere) but that Chinese socialism (or in any country, for that matter) is very very complicated, involving many aspects of both the capitalist and communist relations of production, as Lenin said it would, and as it always did as it grew and changed in the USSR, China, or anywhere else.

I don't pretend to know enough about the inner workings of the Chinese party and economy to analyze it inside and out, but, from what I see, it looks as though I am much more optimistic than most others here.

3:26 PM  
Blogger celticfire, in the spirit of unity-struggle-unity, said...

By "the rise of oppressor politics" I don't mean it is the rise of oppression in general, it is the rise of oppression over the exploited masses by new exploiters with the intent to create a state-capitalist model. This manifested in a myriad of ways, including party and state bureaucracy.

I had to laugh when you call multiparty elections rightist. The RCPer's called it anarcho-formalism. And others called it ultra-leftism. LOL.

Such an uncritical approach to Stalin, and dangerously deceptive, will not get us to be better critical thinkers or revolutionary communists.

What is so important about what is coming out of Nepal is the shedding of the Stalinist baggage, the turning of every contradiction among the people (or Party) into line struggle, the mechanical thinking, etc.

I uphold Stalin, but not his errors (or Mao's, Lenin's or Marx's for that matter.)

Not recognizing the need for a Party accountable to the masses, being uncritical of Stalin, leads just where I said it did - to the swamp of defending North Korea.

What about North Korea is socialist? State ownership does not equate to socialism, as much as social security in the U.S. does.

Where is the landlord class? you ask, look at your "Workers" party and you will find it.

5:37 PM  
Blogger Comrade Zero, in the spirit of unity-struggle-unity, said...

The funny thing, Celt, is that you don't uphold Stalin. The only time you uphold Stalin is when you say "I uphold Stalin." This is then, without fail, followed by a list of errors ripped from the Secret Speech. I guess in normal human relationships, that's called being "two-faced". In Marxist-Leninist terms it is called something else.

I don't really think I've ever said anything here or elsewhere, however, to indicate that I have a dogmatic line on Stalin. I agree that he made errors. I just don't see the need to list them every time I say his name. I uphold Mao too you know.

And in much the same way that I don't list the errors of Stalin every time I mention him (Trotsky proved how this serves the Bourgeoisie first and formost) I likewise will not list the errors of the socialist countries every time I mention them.

As for your charge that the Workers Party of Korea is the landlord class in the DPRK, that's going to need some backing up. And I'm ready to listen. I don't know that much about North Korea, all in all, but I do know some people who have there and they have very different things to say about it.

But if the landlord class is in the party, please tell me about ground rent in the DPRK, which we all know, as Marxists, is at the heart of feudal relations of production.

And I admit, I took an unfair jab at you with the Rightist comment. Your ideas regarding multi-party contested elections are well thought out and deserve a serious critique, not a cheap-shot.

Thanks for the debate, Comrade.

7:05 PM  
Blogger Umer A. Chaudhry, in the spirit of unity-struggle-unity, said...

Comrade Zero,

I am in full agreement with your conclusion.

Not only Maoists but also the followers of Enver Hoxha think that capitalism was restored in USSR at the stroke of mid-night. They compleltely ignore the processes of history. Modern Revisionism was a process that led to restoration of Capitalism. If capitalism was restored in 1956, I ask, what happened in 1991?

11:15 PM  
Blogger celticfire, in the spirit of unity-struggle-unity, said...

Comrade Zero,

Because of the sum of knowledge ascertained about Stalin, I feel it is necessary to point out the shortcomings with the advances. I try to do the same with Mao and Lenin, but if I have tripped up somewhere, please point it out and I will correct it. You will be interested to know I've asked Grover Furr to do an interview on my blog regarding Stalin, the author of Stalin and the Struggle for Democratic Reform (Part One and Two).

I didn't ask Mr. Furr for the interview simply because he is "pro-Stalin," but because he has insights which might contribute to the overall understanding of Stalin and the era.

In almost every claim I've made about Stalin, I have repeatedly and publicly said things aren't written in stone. That there is always new information, new studies, and new information.

But, the Ludo Martens issue concerns me.

To begin with, Martens doesn't recognize the contributions Mao made as significant. He doesn't recognize MLM as such.

Secondly, his defense of Stalin is largely one sided. And this leads to accusations like you just heaped upon me. One can not criticize a part without the whole. This is a wholly unMarxist approach! And it is charecterized in organizations/journals like North Star Compass. These people aren't revolutionary communists -- they are living corpses! They are trapped between defending the old world and a murky understanding of the current one.

My partner joked with me once that when I was talking to Trotskyists I was a Stalinist, and opposite when talking to Stalinists. This shows the very wrong dogmatic attitudes we communists have adopted. My last comment a blog, in irony, was denouncing Trotsky as a liar and consiprator. Trotsky was arrogant, and when he couldn't when by democratic means of the Party, he conspired. What is to defend in Trotsky? His eurocentrism? His repeatedly proven wrong theories? His armchair revolutionary following?

No comrade. I uphold Stalin. But like my disagreement with the RCP, upholding in communist terms doesn't mean upholding uncritically. I have important criticisms of Mao too that I have made public on my blog. Namely, the cult of personality, the excesses during the GLF, and the treatment of intellectuals. Does this make me anti-Mao? Absolutely not -- I see the Maoist period, and the period in Russia under Stalin's leadership is principally emancipatory and liberating. That doesn't mean there were not mistakes, even serious ones.

I have called Robert Conquest a liar (which is) publicly.

What then else then, comrade, is there to upholding a communist leader? Summing up the success' and failures, and understanding how to advance, what other duty do we have as communists?

On a person note, I used to run with anarchist and Trotskyist circles. One thing I always find suspicious was the Trotskyist lopsided understanding of history. According to their version, everything Stalin did was wrong, and what was right was Lenin/Trotsky's doing despite only being able to influence policy for but a few years! This didn't make sense at all to me. I tugged at that string and whole sweater fell a part.

And it was this that encouraged me to start reading Stalin and Mao, and start investigating socialism as it actually existed and not as certain intellecuals would like it to be.

But this comes with the consequences of accepting and the errors, including the very serious ones. As far as Stalin, I've come to understand him as not the brutal tryant the bourgeoisie portray him as, but as a loyal Marxist-Leninist struggle against incredible circumstances.

What is it about Stalin that I am not upholding but the wrong? Stalin's definition of nationalities was wrong. Stalin's understanding of contradictions among the people was mechanical. And Stalin's understanding of socialist development was wrong.

We have to do a lot fucking better then this. And it is thanks to Stalin that we have the understanding of what needs to be done, we have learned from him immensely, in both the positive and the negative.

The Soviet Union was a socialist country, under difficult conditions. And it was the first planned economy, first collectiized agriculture, and first socialist industry -- all three major, difficult, pathbreaking socialist experiments that should be upheld (despite things that we might now understand were done wrong).

Stalin led the revolution forward and (among the various lines in contention) his approach was the best (including in comparison to the semi-Trotysky line that Raskalnilov advocated.)

(more later...I have to go to bed! LOL)

12:41 AM  
Blogger Comrade Zero, in the spirit of unity-struggle-unity, said...


It is noteworthy that I do not "uphold" Ludo Martens. I am not Ludo Martens.

I admit that Ludo Martens, along with William Z. Foster and Harry Haywood, have influenced my thinking quite a bit.

Maybe there is some misunderstanding regarding Martens (or, more specifically, the WPB - he isn't like Avakian, their line is decided collectively). While comming from the Mao Zedong Thought tradition, the WPB argues that the differences that have plagued and splintered the communist movement could be overcome by building unity around Marxism-Leninism. While most of the differences that originally split the movement were regarding matters of principal, those differences can at this point be overcome.

I've spoken with several cadres of the Workers Party of Belgium. They strongly identify with Mao. While they don't see Mao as having developed a new science (Maoism) for a new era (there is no need for a post-Leninism - that is, we are still in the era of imperialism and proletarian revolution) all of the WPB comrades I have spoken with still identify with Mao Zedong Thought (they sometimes call it "Maoist Thought" as a comprimise).

And to be quite frank, I think this project for building unity in the ML movement is quite noble. This is why hundreds of groups as diverse as FRSO, the Workers Party of Korea, and the CP Philippines attend their annual seminar in Brussels.

Ok, now for Stalin, then hopefully we can get back on topic.

I listed another Marxist that I think influenced me a great deal: Harry Haywood. One thing you attack in "Stalinism" is Comrade Stalin's theories regarding the national-colonial question. I would ask what you find wrong with it? Everything I have read (except for the most heinous bourgeois or Trotskyist distortions) indicates that, not only did Lenin support this theory fully and build off of it himself, but that its application in the Soviet Union and by the Comintern (especially in the SACP and the CPUSA) worked wonders.

I would encourage you to read Harry Haywood's autobiography, Black Bolshevik if you haven't before.

I agree that conditions are different for building socialism in the U.S. However. I don't understand what you mean by "doing a lot fucking better" than Stalin (unless we're getting into that mulitiple parties thing again). I think Stalin applied Marxism-Leninism to his conditions in a way that could not have been surpassed. I think there is a lot of "Stalinism" to be carried forward, not just negative lessons. Especially regarding the nationalities question.

But comrade, I humbly request, let us please stay on topic. I'll make my next post about Stalin and the National Question. For this one, lets talk about revisionism and capitalist restoration and you can tell me about your understanding of how ground rent works in the DPRK.

9:25 AM  
Blogger celticfire, in the spirit of unity-struggle-unity, said...

It was going to relate to revisionism, but I didn't finish it. But I will stay more on topic next time.

BTW: I was talking about the forcible re-location of national minorities.

12:21 PM  
Blogger Umer A. Chaudhry, in the spirit of unity-struggle-unity, said...

Comrade Zero, I have noticed over and over that your political positions coincide with that of my party -- Communist Workers and Peasants Party, Pakistan (CMKP; we are also aligned with the ICS of Brussels). I have already provided you with the link of CMKP discussion forum and I must urge you to share your contributions with us on that platform as well.

Moving on to one of the questions raised by CF:

I have not been able to comprehend the terms "Maoists" and "MLM" in the Marxist-Leninist paradigm. Such terminologies first emerged around 1984 in Peru. According to my study, there are some errors in the RIM ideology that must be addressed. As Comrade Zero prepares his post on the National Question and Comrade Stalin, I would take some time to prepare an essay on the relationship between RIM and Marxism-Leninism.

CF has also critiqued the employment of word “un-Marxist”. Any person who doesn’t accord with the principles of Dialectical Materialism, one who doesn’t see things in processes, can not be seen as following a Marxist methodology. Obviously, that doesn’t mean that he is not Marxist as a whole, but in a given debate he is not taking a Marxist stand.

Why is Stalin such an important figure in the struggle of revisionism?

As of present, Marxism-Leninism has turned out to be a potent and coherent ideology which corresponds with the material realities. It is extremely hard to refute the fundamental tenants of Marxism such as Dialectical Materialism and theory of Surplus Value. Therefore, the only path left for the enemies of the proletarian struggle is to question the application of theory.

Stalin is the first person, and CPSU the first party, who got the opportunity and time to build a socialist society. The outcome was radical and unprecedented. A backward agrarian country was transformed into a super-power in a couple of decades. It became very important for the imperialists to negate the victory of USSR. However, socialism can not be crushed by external war because of the support provided by workers and peasants. The best possible way for the imperialists is to make use of the revisionist and opportunist tendencies.

One of the main lessons that Lenin sends to the activists in the Marxist-Leninist movement is to oppose and destroy the opportunist and revisionist inclinations as soon as they emerge.

In Solidarity,

11:23 PM  
Blogger Comrade Zero, in the spirit of unity-struggle-unity, said...

The interesting thing, Vidrohi, is that there seem to be many in the international communist movement today who call themselves Maoist and who, oddly enough, equate revisionism with "Stalinism". To advance, they say, we must "jettison the baggage of Stalinism." All because Mao once uttered the ratio, 70:30.

And I just don't get it. It seems to me that for Mao, Stalinist that he was, it was just the opposite.

Maybe it is ultraleftism. "Any party that does not agree exactly with my interpretation of socialism is a revisionist, not a Marxist."

It rests upon defining the new era. As Stalin had made clear, Marxism as developed by Marx and Engels was the science of the proletariat in the era of nascent capitalism. Leninism is the Marxism of the era of imperialism and proletarian revolution. Thus Marxism-Leninism. If we are to add a new hyphen and new ism, we must have the need to define a new era. What is it?

I see Mao Zedong as have made tremendous contributions to Marxism-Leninism. Namely, he developed the theory of Protracted People's War and the idea of continuing the revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat, i.e., the two-line struggle throughout socialism. He also made clear the theory of the mass line and elucidated the dialectical materialist theory/practice of Marx, Engels, Lenin, and Stalin.

For this reason I see Mao Zedong as an equal to Marx, Engels, Lenin, and Stalin. No others compare to the scientific contributions of these five in theoretical importance, as far as I can see.

But these contributions of Mao do not create a new era, nor do they mean that we must seperate ourselves from those who do not wish to allign themselves with the Maoist trajectory. There are many non-Maoist/Mao Zedong Thought parties that are waging communist guerilla war that deserve our support, such as the FARC-EP and the PFLP. There are groups doing very important revolutionary work such as the WPB and FRSO.

Nor does it mean that all Marxist-Leninist parties in power that did not follow the Maoist trajectory became revisionist when they failed to allign themselves with the "Marxist-Leninist-Maoist" ideology. Who cannot see the great problems of such an idea?

1:26 PM  
Blogger ShineThePath, in the spirit of unity-struggle-unity, said...

Comrade Zero, I would like to ask how China is Socialist? You have rather just put the idea out there that the Socialism in China is "very complicated," yet you haven't actually discussed how, and how China is still a Proletarian State after some 30 years of Revisionist leadership? How is this possible?

Mao Tse Tung warned of the "Capitalist-Roaders," he did not warn of those who do Socialism a bit differently. Let us look at the very line of Post-1976 China, it had become blatantly State-Capitalist at the very least, and has incorporated itself into the global Imperialist system, allowing heavy investment of foriegn capital in its nation, as well as moving its own capital outside its borders. How can we possible say this is "complicated Socialism," when China functions in a model that Lenin would have termed "Imperialist" or "Imperialized."

Now, you have advanced the idea (as well as Ludo Martens) that we must defend "actually existing socialism." That is a needed to uphold Socialism. I think Zizek put it quite profoundly in speaking to this, that idea that we must defend a state of "socialism" because of its just mere existence shows that it is itself a failure.

Why should we defend Revisionist leadership in China, Vietnam, and Laos? Mao saw that revisionism was ultimately as much an enemy to Socialism as was the Capitalist world itself. When Tito went revisionist, Mao and the CPC did not say "lets stand behind this 'actually existing socialist' state." No, the correct course of action by all Marxist-Leninists(-Maoists) has been to call Revisionism for what it is, Bourgeois ideology and counter-revolutionary. This is what Lenin did with Kautsky and the Second International, this is what Stalin did with Trotsky and Tito, this is what Mao did with the USSR and the "Capitalist-Roaders."

Even from the official stories from the CPC itself, and its own statistics, how can we have any "Optimistic" view for its Party? The stories of Worker and Peasant exploitation have been horrendous. The destruction of the SOE infrastructure has taken its course, that SOE Industries are going bankrupt. Health Care has disappeared. Workers are exploited through sub-contracting for foriegn capital. It is now also now the CP policy to allow Capitalists into the Party!

I suggest you read "Conditions of the Working Class in China" which recently appeared in the Monthly Review.


There is no reason to uphold phonies and fakes, traitors to Communism such as Hu Jintao today. I don't pretend to have the greatest indepth knowledge of China myself; however it is really quite simple for Marxists to see through this thin viel that the CPC hardly holds up.

2:53 AM  
Blogger Comrade Zero, in the spirit of unity-struggle-unity, said...

Yes, it is complicated. I will try to deal with it now in a systematic way.

First, I remind us again of the quote from Lenin:

Theoretically, there can be no doubt that between capitalism and communism there lies a definite transition period which must combine the features and properties of both these forms of social economy. This transition period has to be a period of struggle between dying capitalism and nascent communism -- or, in other words, between capitalism which has been defeated but not destroyed and communism which has been born but is still very feeble. ("Economics and Politics in the Era of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat").

Therefore it is clear what socialism is. It is a transition between capitalist and communist modes of production, holding internal to it the contradictions between capitalist and communist relations of production.

From this, Mao draws the theory of two-line struggle:

Socialist society covers a considerably long historical period. In the historical period of socialism, there are still classes, class contradictions and class struggle, there is the struggle between the socialist road nd the capitalist road, and there is the danger of capitalist restoration. We must recognize the the protracted and complex nature of this struggle (Quoted in Important Documents of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution).

Also, we should remember that Mao has said, "Our country at present practices a commodity system, the wage system is unequal, too, as in the eight-grade wage scale, and so forth. Under the dictatorship of the proletariat such things can only be restricted."

And Mao has clearly stated that China (this is 1955) practices a "state-capitalist economy of a new type" which "takes on a socialist character to a very great extent and benefits the workers and the state."

Now, let us not forget what Stalin said in his Economic Problems of Socialism in the USSR regarding the law of value: "It is sometimes asked whether the law of value exists and operates in our country, under the socialist system. Yes, it does exist and does operate." It is tied up to commodity production, and, Stalin says, to be clear, "It is not a bad thing."

Mao read this, of course, and took notes. In his Critique of Soviet Economics, Mao agrees with Stalin on this point: "We use commodity exchange and the law of value as tools for the benefit of developing production and facilitating the transition."

Simple enough. Class struggle exists under socialism. There is inequality under socialism. There is commodity production and exchange under socialism. The law of value operates under socialism.

Now, we know that because of this complexity we cannot look at a single thing in socialist society to determine its color. We must look at the big picture. What is the big picture?

Between 1958 and 1978, the population of China doubled. The number of poor people dropped from 300 to 250 million. From 1950 to 1978, the Chinese economy's average growth rate was 6.2% a year. Beginning in 1978, the economy grew at an average of 9.5% a year (thats 8 times that of Germany and 3 times that of the U.S.). We should also recognize that between 1978 and 2004 the number of people living in extreme poverty dropped from 250 million to 26 million! (I would refer you to Peter Franssen, "Frederich Engels and Scientific Socialism in Contemporary China").

Now, I'll be the first to admit that today China has opened up more and more to foreign capital, and that there is justifiably sharp debate in China over the road China is on.

But lets consider China's Eleventh Five Year Plan. We see a move away from Deng Xiaoping's "Get rich first" to "common prosperity", from "growth rate" to "sustainable development", and an emphasis on social services.

(See also this outline of China's eleven five year plans.)

I honestly don't see how that can be construed as something other socialism.

11:58 AM  
Blogger Umer A. Chaudhry, in the spirit of unity-struggle-unity, said...

Comrade Zero,

I am going to take the liberty of sending some of your writings to the CMKP community.

I would let you know of responses, if any.

Moreover, you have to include the dominating property relations in China, as well, in order to categorize China as a socialist of a capitalist country.

One of my comrades has recently written a very good article on China:

Please visit:

It is the last article in the list.

The Post -- China.doc
The Meteoric Rise of China by Taimur Rahman

Have a good reading!

In Solidairy!

12:22 AM  
Blogger ShineThePath, in the spirit of unity-struggle-unity, said...

Comrade Zero you have brought up many a number of points which I like to address. I think certainly we should try to understand State-Capitalism and Socialism in the context of the two line struggle; however the question that we are presented with is whether or not, despite the economic character of the Chinese model, is a Dictatorship of the Proletariat. We are also presented with the question of whether Chinese revisionism has led into “state bureaucratic capitalism” or even out right Capitalist Restoration.

First, I like to point out that the quotes you use are coming out of context. Let us consider first when Chairman Mao is writing about Chinese economy. This is during an era when

We have to point out that all ideology has class character, this is the reality of the two line struggle, it is the struggle of the political line of the Proletariat vs. the Bourgeois ideological line. The struggle of line is a struggle of a Class character. When we combat revisionism, we are combating the counter-revolutionary Bourgeois negation of Marxism itself. When the consolidation of political power was firmly in the hand of Revisionists, it meant the consolidation of power for the Bourgeoisie. In essence, the consolidation of political power by Revisionists is the consolidation of power of the Bourgeoisie. The Revisionists are not just Communists with a few faults, like Hoxha, Castro, Che, Kim, and I dare say Buhkarin.

Comrade Zero, I suggest you read the Communist Party of China’s comment on the open letter from the Central Committee of the CPSU. It is called “Is Yugoslavia a Socialist Country?” This is a fine polemic made by the Party under the leadership pf Mao Tse Tung against Revisionism and its Capitalist Road. The question presented is whether or not Yugoslavia, under the leadership of the revisionist Tito clique represented a Socialist nation or even a Proletarian State. The CPC under the leadership of Chairman Mao says affirmatively no, Yugoslavia is not Socialist nor is its party Proletarian. The first paragraph itself is indicting.

“Is Yugoslavia a socialist country?
This is not only a question of ascertaining the nature of the Yugoslav state, but it also involves the question of which road the socialist countries should follow: whether they should follow the road of the October Revolution and carry the socialist revolution through to the end or follow the road of Yugoslavia and restore capitalism. In addition, it involves the question of how to appraise the Tito clique: whether it is a fraternal Party and a force against imperialism or a renegade from the international communist movement and a lackey of imperialism.”
The same question must be asked of the modern CPC under the leadership of Hu Jintao.
Now if you look at why the CPC denounced Tito and his renegades in the YCL, CPC straightforwardly looks at the basic fundamental character of the Yugoslavian society and Yugoslavian policy. CPC brought forward that
1) The Yugoslavian economy had degenerated into State-Capitalism
2) Yugoslavian private capital plagued the cities, and capitalist exchange ran rampant in the countryside.
3) Yugoslavia was dependent on Western foreign Capital, especially American foreign Capital.
4) Active support for Bourgeois counter-revolutionaries against genuine People’s Struggle.
Isn’t it a bit of an ironic twist that we can look at China today in the same scope and say, not only are they committing the same acts as Tito, but they are far more outrageous in their policy.
If we look at Chinese economy, State-owned Enterprises are being gutted. Private Capital and Capital exchange is occurring rampantly through the nation. Foreign Capital has found happy residence in Chinese industry. China was supporting the feudal Monarchy in Nepal with weaponry and aid to crush the Maoists and end People’s War.
“The state power of the dictatorship of the proletariat in Yugoslavia was the fruit of the protracted and heroic struggle of the Yugoslav people. But as the Tito clique turned renegade, this state power changed its nature.
The Tito clique has declared, ‘The means of the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat, i.e., of the socialist state system, become increasingly unnecessary.’
But is there no dictatorship in Yugoslavia any longer? Yes, there is. While the dictatorship of the proletariat is indeed no more, the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie not only exists, but is a brutal fascist dictatorship at that.”
So we can see the fact of the matter is that the Two Line struggle is just not some continuous endless struggle. The point of the idea is that struggle develops, correct? The Two Line struggle in 1978, was far different than in 1967. Overtime it developed. One line at some point consolidates itself. For the consolidation of Socialist power, it is just more continuous Two Line struggle though, “one divides into two” once again. For Revisionists however, the culmination of the Two Line struggle is Bourgeois power. Obviously we can agree say there is no Two Line struggle continuing in Russia.
Let us look at a quote you take from Mao, which I believe you take out of context…
You quote Mao as saying
"Our country at present practices a commodity system, the wage system is unequal, too, as in the eight-grade wage scale, and so forth. Under the dictatorship of the proletariat such things can only be restricted."
What I find fascinating is that you don’t end the quote in Mao’s words…
“…Therefore, if people like Lin Piao come to power, it will be quite easy for them to rig up the capitalist system.”
The ESSENCE OF THE POINT! Mao made a clear cut statement that it is rather easy for Capitalist-Roaders, these Revisionists, to rig up Bourgeois Dictatorship and Capitalism…all they need is state power. And that is essentially what they have had in China for almost 30 years.
It is not really this gradual sloth to Capitalist-Restoration and Bourgeois Dictatorship, which seems to be your suggestion, Bourgeois Dictatorship happens in a qualitative step of active counter-revolution and the economy itself usually falls to the same faith shortly afterward.
Is commodity exchange the essence of Capitalism? Yes in many ways it is…and this is why Mao saw the inherent contradiction of these Socialist states dealing in commodity exchange, and still upholding the Dictatorship of the Proletariat. The fundamental thing about the Socialist development of China and the USSR, was the move away from Capitalist methods and moving forward toward advanced Socialism. When the CPSU underwent the 5 Year Plans, and began dismantling NEP policies in 1927, CPSU was setting a course for creating Socialism and ending State-Capitalism and Capitalism. The Great Leap Forward was also Mao’s attempt to turn a State-Capitalist economy toward the road of Socialism. Khruschev, Kosygin, Brezhnev, Teng Tsiaoping, Jiang Zemin, all try to set that clock back and created State-Capitalism and moved forward easily toward further Capitalist development.

2:43 AM  
Blogger ShineThePath, in the spirit of unity-struggle-unity, said...

my post was a bit messed up...I hope you can read through it.

2:43 AM  
Blogger celticfire, in the spirit of unity-struggle-unity, said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

2:10 PM  

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