World Revolution and True Marxism - A Letter from Norway

As we were going to press we received the following letter from a sympathiser of the communist left tradition in Norway who has informed us that he was previously a follower of Maoism which he no longer regards as a proletarian current. The letter is to be welcomed as it underlines what many correspondents have been telling us since the collapse of the former USSR and its empire that capitalist relations in the territory of the old Russian Empire were not overthrown but were developed with the state becoming a collective capitalist. "Really existing socialism" as its defenders smugly asserted having now collapsed, we can get back to analysing what a really socialist society is all about. It is not, as our correspondent makes clear simply the opposite of what passes for free enterprise capitalism in the West. And it is certainly not the nightmare produced in Stalin's Russia or Mao's China (where, unlike Russia, no proletarian revolution ever took place). Nor will it be brought about via the populist antics of Chavez in Venezuela or by the bloody rebellion of the Maoists in Nepal. Socialism or Communism (Marx used the terms interchangeably) is an entirely different mode of production upon which rises the superstructure of a new society which has abolished the state, national frontiers, classes and exploitation.

For such a society to come into being requires the presence of an active proletarian movement conscious of its task to create that new society. It means that the proletariat in the course of its struggles has to create the instruments to forge such a new society. On the one hand it has to create a whole series of mass organisations which express the living effort of millions of human beings to create socialism, whilst on the other, it has to have a political leadership to coordinate, guide and lead the assault on the capitalists. This, the comrade clearly understands, and is correct to see that existing revolutionaries have to work to create such an organisation. This is what the International Bureau is dedicated to. As we have said many times we are not the party but a place where those who are already aware of the nature of socialism and what it needs to build it can coordinate their efforts before more auspicious circumstances gives us the opportunity to make our analysis more widely heard. We thanks the comrade for his words and support, and look forward to receiving the more extensive critique of Stalinism and Stalinists that he has begun.

Last summer and autumn, I went through a lot of thinking, and I have been studying the Marxist classics. Through these studies, I have arrived at many “new” ideas about what really serves the proletariat. There is a lot of talk about “revolutions” in the present world situation, for instance in Venezuela and Nepal, and an increasing number of young people are gathering in organisations which are allegedly “revolutionary”, “anti-capitalist”, and in particular “anti-globalisation”.

The “anti-globalisation” movements are, in particular, movements like the confused gang, named Attac. The “discoveries” of Attac, were clearly described by Marx and Engels in the Communist Manifesto more than 150 years ago. And, in contrast to the so-called “anti-globalisation” movement of today, Marx and Engels had a clear and “simple” view of how the question of anti-globalisation, could be solved: “Unified action - at least in the civilised countries, is the first condition for the proletarian liberation”. (The Communist Manifesto). Marx and Engels stated that the “workers have no fatherland” (The Communist Manifesto). And, because of that, they said: “Workers of all countries, unite!”. This was not an empty phrase, like it has been for the “left” since the Stalinist counter-revolution. But even Stalin, with his anti-marxist slogan of “socialism in one country”, had to, just to avoid becoming unpopular in the proletariat, make the following “concession” to marxism:

... the Leninist theory of revolution... is at the same time also the theory of the development of the world revolution.

But this was an empty phrase. The remnants of real proletarian internationalism still present in the working class, presented by what was left of real marxists, like Anton Pannekoek, Herman Gorter, Sylvia Pankhurst, Amadeo Bordiga and others. The Stalinist counterrevolution, and reign of terror, has been extremely harmful to the international working class.

Stalin’s “foreign policy”, was based on what served the state capitalist ruling class in the USSR, and was not at all a policy of serving the international proletariat. Stalin´s only important opponents were neither the social democrats, nor the capitalists, and not even the Trotskyists, nor even the official anarchists, who fought alongside the Stalinists in the Spanish Civil War. The only significant opponents of Stalinism, social democracy, and all other kinds of reformism, was the communist left, with representatives like the ones mentioned above.

Lenin, even though he eventually, went against the communist left in his “Left Wing Communism - an Infantile Disorder” booklet, expressed the true Marxist view in “Socialism and War”: “Socialism or nationalism”. Regarding “cooperation” on the “left”, Lenin wrote, in the same article:

Unity with the opportunists means unity between the workers and “their” national capitalist class, and means division of the international working class.

These words should not be misunderstood!

Rosa Luxemburg wrote:

... socialist society is... obtainable only on a world scale.

The reason for all these quotations, is to prove that the opinions which today are not popular on the “left”, are the views of the real revolutionaries. In our time these opinions are presented by groups like the IBRP and the ICC. Groups like these, are in my opinion, the only ones with political potential to develop into a real vanguard of the international proletariat. As Lenin expressed in “Socialism and War”:

To rally these Marxist elements - however small their numbers may be at the beginning - to recall in their name the now forgotten words of genuine Socialism, to call upon the workers of all countries to break with the chauvinists and to come under the old banner of Marxism - such is the task of the day.

This is more true than ever, and it puts an enormous responsibility on the IBRP and the ICC, and on all revolutionaries of the world, to try to discuss, and eventually, unite.