(from Communist Voice #21, August 15, 1999)
* ZN's letter of 5 April 199
* CV replies: April 29, 1999
* ZN responds in favor of Maoism and looking towards
the present Chinese and Russian CPs, May 1, 1999
* Our comments on ZN's response
5 April 1999
Dear Communist Voice,
. The latest Communist Voice touches on the Big Picture, and so I thought I might comment on it from my own Leninist perspective. You yourselves roundly condemn just about everyone since Lenin's time, except the oppressed working masses themselves, and I can't say that I disagree with that attitude too much. Lenin stressed the importance of leadership more than Marx did, and I do believe that the decay of the planet since Lenin's death has been largely due to a lack of great leadership. We agree that Stalin was a tyrant. I myself feel that he ruined Soviet socialism, by converting it into something very like fascism, under the influence of Mussolini. Mao was unfortunately influenced by Stalin, but I think you misinterpret Mao, and deny his great accomplishments. You ignore several major point of Maoist thought, to wit: anti-colonialism, the united front against colonialism and its explicit inclusion of the national bourgeoisie, and the struggle of two lines. All of these concepts are repeated ad infinitum in Maoist propaganda -- repetitio mater memoriae -- so it's impossible for anyone who has done even a cursory study of Maoism not to be familiar with them. So how can you say that all the bourgeoisie went to Taiwan? I myself feel that Mao's embracing of the national bourgeoisie was a mistake; certainly it is anti-Marxist and anti-Leninist. But one must consider that Mao was a non-white person enraged by Western colonialism, and how it had turned his beloved China into the "sick man of Asia." His first priority was to free China of colonialism, Western and Japanese. He hated those bourgeois who colluded with the colonial powers and China's struggle was so difficult that he placed the anti-colonial struggle above socialism, and welcomed the national bourgeoisie -- those who wanted Chinese capitalism independent of colonial powers -- into the Communist party. Ultimately the Chinese bourgeois who supported colonialism were expelled to Taiwan, but the Communist party was a conglomeration of socialists and national bourgeois. Mao then promoted the struggle of two lines, against the bourgeois faction within the party, which I myself feel he should never have embraced in the first place. But he had felt he couldn't free China of colonialism without them. It's true that, as a Stalinist, Mao saw, on the one hand, a "deviation of the right" -- the national bourgeois within the party, and also a "deviation of the left." This included stricter Leninists who put more faith in the people than Mao did. They wanted a less Stalinist/fascist power structure to the party, and more dependence on the spontaneous revolutionary explosiveness of the people. And they had no use for the national bourgeoisie. The "deviation of the left" also referred to anarchists.
. After the revolution succeeded, Mao saw himself as a mediator between what he saw as the extreme left and right elements in the party. Psychologically, one can see how egoism might lead him to cling to Stalinist/fascist type power and personality cult for himself. In fact his power was limited, and he had to make concessions to both sides, both to maintain his own position, and to prevent the national bourgeoisie from taking over -- as they have today.
. During the 50's, the CIA set up who knows how many thousands of agents in China. The original intent of the Cultural Revolution was to weed out these agents. As things developed, the country became chaotic. Mao condemned the chaos as being "anarchistic" in the sense of being a real threat to the integrity of China and its independence from the West -- if the party were defeated and China fell apart, the CIA would have succeeded, and China would fall into neo-colonialism. And Mrs. Mao's later activities in the Gang of Four clearly demonstrate that she was not in fact any kind of "ultra-leftists" from the Maoist point of view.
. For all of Mao's faults, he did see the post-WWII world as divided into the camps of Western capitalism, Russian Stalinism, and the Third World of non-whites, whom both the West and Russia were trying to dominate. So while he himself was too much corrupted by both the national bourgeoisie and by Stalinist ideas, I don't see how his three-world analysis can be faulted. He saw himself primarily as the leader of the Third World versus colonialism Western and Russian, and in this he was quite successful. In regressing to capitalism under the domination of the national bourgeois in the party today, China at least does maintain its independence from the West. And the leftist line in the party still exists. When economic conditions worsen, as the current shrinkage of world capitalism continues, the leftist line in the party will have an opportunity to come to power, and perhaps cut the national bourgeoisie out of the party once and for all. Then Mao, for all his faults, will have succeeded, and his contribution to humanity will be great and lasting.
. When criticizing Russian socialism, it is also necessary to consider the Big Picture and the balance of power. Lenin's socialism was purer than Mao's by a large degree. But the corruption here also took place, and a more complete collapse. Nonetheless, here too, the structure of the Russian Communist party is something that leftists can build upon when the conditions are ripe. By the next presidential elections, early or on schedule, Russians may be ready to elect Zyuganov. Sincere Leninists will have an opportunity to work back to a Leninist system, and to evolve it without Stalinist warpage this time.
. As for anti-Semitism, it is typical that during capitalist booms, as during the 80's, racism against working class minorities, such as blacks, is rampant. During capitalist depressions, such as the 30's, and now in Russia, and soon world-wide, racism against bourgeois minorities such as the Jews runs rampant. We see it in Southeast Asia and Oceania against the Chinese bourgeoisie in the current depression there. If it has infected the Russian Communist party in this period of Russian misery, don't take it as essential -- it's not -- a return to real Leninist values will solve the problem. It is, as Marx explained, only a surface phenomenon of economically troubled times under capitalism.
. The play between the capitalist West and Russia -- now no longer communist -- is now a factor in the Kosovo situation. In this small situation, as in the macro pictures of Russia and China, you fail to point to practical solutions, because you offer theoretical generalizations as answers to specific problems. You don't discuss things on a practical strategic level. This is hardly socialist Realpolitik. You talk about the spontaneous uprising of the people as the solution. In Kosovo, they have already done that. But there are only 2 million of them, up against 10 million Serbs, heavily armed, and supported by Russia, while the West also prevents the Kosovars from being armed. The extermination of the Kosovans would be a great victory for racist fascism, and a defeat both for humanity and for NATO. Thus, Realpolitik demands that NATO be used to defeat Milosevic in Kosovo. What we the defenders of the interests of the working class and peasants must do is to clamor for the arming of the Kosovars. The more powerful the Kosovars, the smaller the influence of NATO in a Kosovo State. A small victory for the peasants is possible, because NATO's "credibility" is at stake. A victory by Milosevic would be a disaster for the whole world. Milosevic's power must be confined to Serbia. Let the Serbs deal with him in their good time, or suffer the misery they support. The "leader" who led the last Serb uprising against Milosevic is now in the Serb government, supporting the genocide against the Kosovars in the world media. The Serbs cannot be allowed to exterminate the Kosovars before they themselves achieve class consciousness. Thus generalization about working class revolution do not meet the Realpolitik needs of the situation.
. The working class has no interest in post-modern gibberish at this time. I don't know why you waste space on this controversy among bourgeois lackey pseudo-intellectuals. Nobody cares, least of all the productive classes.
. . .
. I was glad that you took the time to send your thoughts on the issues raised in the last issue of Communist Voice. You express many disagreements with our views, but we hope you find further discussion on these matter fruitful.
. To begin with, you raise the question of Maoism. Our recent article pointed out that during the Cultural Revolution, Mao undermined the efforts of the masses to carry out a thorough struggle against the state-capitalist bureaucracy that had developed there. You don't say much about the content of this article however. Rather, you tell us that Mao also had accomplishments, namely, he led an anti-colonial revolution. That much we agree on, however. That Mao led a revolution is true, and it was not only anti-colonial, but involved a vast peasant revolution against semi-feudal conditions. Of course, the article you were referring to was talking about another subject, the course of China after Mao's new order was established. This is why it did not discuss the accomplishments of Mao from a much earlier period.
. You note that there was a united front against colonialism which included the national bourgeoisie in China, but say including the national bourgeoisie was a mistake. At the same time you maintain that uniting with the national bourgeoisie was a necessity of the anti-colonial struggle. Furthermore, you seem to attribute the "two-line" struggle inside the Chinese party to Mao having to fight the private capitalists who were welcomed in to the party by Mao.
. I find this analysis both puzzling and wrong for several reasons.
. It appears to be true that sections of the Chinese bourgeoisie had at times some interest in participating in the Chinese revolution in its bourgeois-democratic stage, i.e., when it was aimed against imperialism and the semi-feudal system. So some form of alliance with this section was possible. But the question after the 1949 revolution was whether or not the revolution would go on to establish socialism. We don't believe this happened, though the leadership of the CCP to this day pretends that China has been socialist. But as far as the issue of class alliances goes, it would be ridiculous to think the national bourgeoisie anywhere would support the proletariat in the struggle against capitalism itself. This would be tantamount to the bourgeoisie committing suicide.
. Pete Brown's article is talking about China when it was supposedly building socialism, many years after the democratic revolution of 1949. Hence, even if Mao was right to form certain alliances with the national bourgeoisie prior to 1949, it would be a betrayal of the socialist cause to imagine a perpetual alliance with the bourgeoisie through the transition to socialism. The class alliances that might be appropriate in the bourgeois-democratic stage of the revolution are, of necessity, different, if the revolution is to embark on a transition to socialism.
. In your analysis, however, you do not bring up that there are distinct stages in the revolution, instead arguing the pros and cons of allying with the national bourgeoisie regardless of what the general goals of the struggle are at the various stages. But talking about what class alliances are appropriate independent of what type of struggle you are undertaking is bound to create confusion. Thus you wind up with the following muddle: Mao was right to unite with the national bourgeoisie, but it was also a mistake to do so.
. In dealing with the question of the Cultural Revolution, I think the main difference between us is that you fail to take note of the fact that the party/state bureaucracy developed into a new type of bourgeoisie, a new class of state-capitalist rulers. The issue was whether the masses would be able to launch a new revolutionary onslaught against this pseudo-communist (what we call "revisionist") power structure, or whether Mao would be able to contain it, as ultimately was the case. You ignore this, which is the issue at the heart of Pete Brown's article, and instead talk about the old bourgeoisie. You say the old bourgeoisie was brought into the party by Mao, and so a fight had to be waged against them. But Mao did not bring the OLD bourgeoisie into the CCP, they had their own parties, and the bulk of them eventually fled to Taiwan. What excited the Chinese masses in the Cultural Revolution was that Mao claimed he would launch a struggle against the new bureaucratic bourgeoisie whose power and privileges didn't come from the old system, but were developed under the new one. A section of the masses took Mao at his word and set about a struggle against the state-capitalist bureaucrats in earnest. But Mao really wasn't interested in a thorough struggle against the system that he himself since taking power, so he soon squashed the mass motion.
. While Mao undermined the struggle against the new revisionist state-capitalist oppression, you glamorize this as a great fight against CIA agents and anarchists. It's hard for me to figure out what you are referring to here because you don't say who these CIA agents were, what they supposedly did, or what Mao did about them. But more importantly, you completely ignore the issue of whether China would be socialist or state-capitalist -- so long as it is an independent oppressor of the masses, you don't seem to mind. Even regarding today, when you yourself acknowledge the capitalism is being built, you promote that the key thing is that China is independent.
. Your ignoring the consolidation of a state-capitalist order under Mao (and your mistaken notion that the CCP under Mao included the national bourgeoisie) is also reflected in your idea of how things will change in China. You think that the left-wing of the party will discard the national bourgeoisie in a two-line struggle and all will be well. But with the consolidation of the state-capitalist order, the class struggle was no longer mainly against private capital, but against the ruling state/party bureaucracy. Today, the state-capitalist bureaucrats in China are giving more and more room for private capitalism, and, their political independence not withstanding, also for foreign imperialist corporations and capital. China wants to be welcomed into the organizations of world capital such as the WTO. There may be those in the CCP who want to carry out the transition from state-capitalism to private capitalism in a slower way or who are sentimental for the old state-capitalist institutions. But the salvation of the Chinese toilers does not lie in either the old Maoist state-capitalism or the private capitalism that is expanding presently, but in opposing both and charting their own independent course. Thus, the issue is not to hope that the Chinese "C"P will reform itself, but to build a trend independent of and opposed to these fake communists.
. You ask what was wrong with Mao's three-worlds theory. After all, you say, Mao succeeded in fighting colonialism and in being a leader of the Third World. But what of the class struggle after the issue of political independence is won? The victory over colonialism in many countries was important, but political independence by itself does not solve the class exploitation of the worker and peasant masses. The struggle against colonialism facilitated the development of capitalism in the Third World and new domestic elites coming to power. Many of the domestic capitalist rulers were closely allied with imperialism and were downright tyrants to boot. The three-worlds theory is anti-Marxist precisely because it hides the class struggle in the third world. For the three worlds theory, the only problem was the 2 superpowers, but not the national bourgeoisie. Thus, under this theory the Maoists could make common cause with everyone from Pinochet in Chile to the Shah of Iran and Mobutu in Zaire. For some, including Mao, the three-worlds theory even became a way to embrace Nixon and U.S. imperialism under the theory that of the 2 superpowers, it was the Soviet Union that was the most dangerous. Thus, while Mao certainly did have accomplishments, Maoist theory is an assault on the basic principles of Marxism-Leninism.
. I am also puzzled by your hopes in Zyuganov's phoney brand of "communism." You excuse its racism by arguing that racist scapegoating may flourish in times of economic crisis. But are we to have faith in a party that bows down before a racist atmosphere and has mightily contributed to fostering it? Of course you also argue that racism flourishes in times of economic boom. So evidently we will have to wait for a capitalism without economic fluctuations in order to rid Zyuganov's party of racism! Meanwhile you write as if this were just an unfortunate blot on an otherwise fine record. Once again you ignore the question of what the Soviet state-capitalism was. When you talk about Stalin, you say how bad the state-capitalist system was. But Zyuganov's party is a remnant of the old Soviet ruling party that created the social system you earlier decry. This party was abolished by Yeltsin, but various of its fragments reformed it in the early 90s. This regrouped party has generally gone along with the Gorbachev-Yeltsin path that led the Soviet Union from state-capitalism to market capitalism. These "communists" are participating in the Primakov government that is crushing the masses on behalf of the new Russian robber barons and the IMF. Yet, you evidently consider this a fine tradition from which a "return to Leninism will take place."
. On Kosovo, you assert that we are daydreaming about an immediate workers revolution that will solve everything. You contrast this to your view that we must support NATO in order to aid the Albanian Kosovars. But we have never claimed that there is some workers revolution just over the horizon. All we have talked about is how important it would be for even a small workers trend to arise in Serbia and among the Albanian Kosovars.
. Meanwhile, I think our main duty as regards NATO is to expose what it is up to. We agree that a Serb victory would be a horror. As well, you are right in pointing out that NATO motives are, among other things, to show that NATO threats are credible. But this brings out why our main job as regards NATO is to show that it is playing a cynical game, puncture its democratic pretensions, and expose what their imperialistic motives mean in practical political terms. For instance, our article in the last CV exposes the Rambouillet agreement which would create the same type of mess created by the Dayton settlement in Bosnia and was predicated on the disarming of the KLA so as to pave the way for NATO to be the final arbiter in Kosovo. Events have since put Rambouillet on the sidelines, but still the Western powers are not willing to grant the Kosovars their rights. Rather they are contemplating things like turning Kosovo into their own protectorate, or even diving Kosovo into two parts, the north to Milosevic and the rest where NATO makes the law. Of course it is true that just about any settlement will be better than the complete ethnic cleansing of Milosevic. But for the national question to be solved in some reasonable fashion requires having a perspective beyond the rotten "solutions" NATO has in store.
. You claim that the practical thing to do is to demand NATO arm the KLA. It is conceivable that in the future NATO will find itself forced to arm the KLA. But even in this case, the Albanian Kosovars will still have to oppose NATO's aims in this conflict so long as it does not recognize their rights. The KLA, as far as I can tell, does not tell the masses what NATO is up to however, but promotes it as a liberating force. This does great harm to the Albanian Kosovar cause, and merely getting some NATO arms will not remedy this situation. If the Albanian Kosovars are going to reach a solution in accord with their own desires, they must be clear about NATO, and clear about what NATO is up to even should NATO find itself compelled to arm the KLA. This is not some abstract theoretical question, but a most practical one.
. I know it is impossible to deal in depth with the wide range of issues you have raised in your letter in this short reply. Hopefully, this will be of some assistance in further clarifying our stand. It might also be helpful to you in understanding our views if you look at some previous articles dealing with the question of revisionist state-capitalist society. You will note in CV a listing of our previous articles, a number of which deal with the development of state-capitalism in the Soviet Union and Cuba and those that deal with some theoretical issues regarding the transition to socialism. If you need these back issues for further study, please let us know.
. In closing, it seems that a common theme of yours is that our stand is not practical. But is it realistic for the proletariat to place its hopes in whatever is powerful or prominent today (the CCP, Zyuganov's party, NATO)? What is realistic is facing the truth about these forces and realizing that both the immediate and long-term interests of the proletariat require it to develop its own independent class stand so that it can think and act for itself and does not remain a helpless pawn of the exploiters.
Mark, for the Communist Voice
May 1, 1999
Dear Communist Voice --
. I said before that you discuss issues too abstractly. Let me add a second criticism: you see what you want to see -- not what's there. I never said that Mao was correct in uniting with the national bourgeois. I said that he felt it was necessary for the anti-colonial struggle -- I said I felt that was wrong. This leads to a second point -- the idea of stages of revolution. I believe in consistently following correct principles throughout the various stages of revolution. The Shining Path advocated something like what you have stated: work with the national bourgeois in the anti-colonial stage, & then stab them in the back when it comes time to build socialism. There are at least 4 problems with that: 1. it's anti-Marxist; 2. it's unethical; 3. no one can trust you; 4. it's not so easy to dislodge the national bourgeois once they've got their foot in the door. You argue too abstractly. Some of the bourgeois did join the party, both to help the anti-colonial struggle, & to create a kind of insurance for capitalism. Capitalists are, after all, people (?). By joining the party, they did not commit literal suicide. They gained power within the party. They were able to introduce greater class inequality into the system, the same kind of class inequality that Stalin perpetuated in Russia after Lenin's death. They were able to maintain a higher income & lifestyle within & under the rule of the communist party. What you call "state capitalism" -- & Lenin sometimes did use the term -- is a part of what Marx called "socialism" -- the first post-revolutionary stage, where a graduated income tax is set up, land is seized, a national bank is established, government industries are created & developed. This is the program of the Manifesto, but you brand it "state capitalism," & condemn it because it is not communism, the withering away of the state, the final stage of communist revolution -- & then you criticize me saying that I don't understand the stages of revolution. Thus you wind up with the following "muddle": you condemn "state capitalism," at the socialist stage of revolution, for not being communism, which you call "socialism." All communism is socialism, but not all socialism -- including the first post-revolutionary, "state capitalist" stage -- is communism. The point is that the national bourgeois who joined the party did not commit suicide -- they gained individual power. They maintained a ruling class standard of living. They corrupted the party. They introduced the "line of the right" within the party (which Mao called "revisionism"). And they struggled constantly to bring China back to capitalism. Eventually they succeeded. So it was hardly suicide. But in the meantime Mao did set up government-operated industries, which you condemn as "state capitalism," but which Marx called for in the Manifesto as part of the first post-revolutionary stage of socialism. It's hard to understand what your intentions are here. Needless to say, Mao also created many other social & economic benefits for the peasants, which are associated with socialism, in the areas of public education, health care, infrastructure. So in your over-abstraction, you miss many basic, solid socialist realities (the loss of which post-socialist Russia is suffering quite concretely today). When "state capitalism" is used by fascists, or people with fascistic attitudes, with resulting inhumanity & brutality in administration -- & the Stalinists were guilty of this -- this gives nationalized industries ("state capitalism") a bad name. But to deny that nationalized industries were part of Marx's 1st stage of socialism is more than mere "muddling." So I hardly ignore the bourgeois element in the Chinese party power structure -- but neither do I misrepresent the nationalization of industries. You then repeat that Mao did not bring the old national bourgeois into the United Front -- another "muddle." As I said, Mao was perhaps excessive in quashing rebellions which he felt would lead to chaos & the collapse of socialism, & in fact, many of these rebellions were instigated by the CIA. I don't have a list of CIA agents. Even the CIA itself works on a "need to know" basis, & the right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing -- a system as efficient as it is democratic. (But on this side I think you can safely list Richard Gere & David Letterman.) As I say, I don't absurdly condemn the system of nationalized industries as being anti-socialism. I do condemn the fascistic brutality of Stalinism. And yes I do look at the balance of power from a Realpolitik point of view. Revolution is not for the squeamish.
. Again, by maintaining China's independence from Western imperialism; by maintaining the party structure with its leftist branch, now in the opposition; by maintaining some nationalized industries, which the workers defend when the rightists try to dismantle them -- this maintains a situation where, with the continuing collapse of world capitalism, there is the easiest path back to the left -- to the ascendancy of the left in the party, to more nationalized industries & fewer private industries, to more services for the people, & a stage much closer to the classless society than if the Chinese party were dismantled & a situation similar to that in Russia were created.
. The truth of Mao's three-world theory continues to be demonstrated by the fact that today most of the Third World is puppet pseudo-democracies of the West, like Nicaragua, Nigeria, Algeria, or out-right puppet tyrannies like Uganda & Saudi Arabia, versus anti-colonialist states, whether socialist (e.g. N. Korea), Islamic (e.g. Iran), or a mixture of the two (e.g. Libya). You say that where the CIA-operated Western neo-colonial empire does not reign, capitalism will develop. This hasn't been demonstrated, either in "state-capitalist" Korea, or in theocratic Iran. Western imperialism creates strong reactions. In a less authoritarian, less Western-dominated Third World, popular struggles now quashed by the CIA, popular leaders, so often assassinated by the CIA, might thrive. The three-world theory does not say that imperialism is the only problem. It expresses the fact that it is the primary problem of this stage of history. It only obscures the class struggle when it advocates including the national bourgeois in the United Front, which I have already condemned, & which you deny that Mao said & did -- another "muddle." Pinochet & the Shah were Western puppets quite in accordance with the three-world theory. Here too you are "muddling."
. The party in China & Russia provides a structure that the people can use once again when the time is ripe. That's my story, & I'm sticking to it. The destruction of these two forces would simply shore up the decaying world capitalist system. You may be assured that no amount of abstract "muddling" will convince me to support that. Perhaps communists should worry more about attacking world capitalism, & less about destroying its already weakened, less-than-perfect opponents. Yes, that's what I mean by considering the Realpolitik balance of power.
. First I want to save the lives of 2 million Kosovars. Then I'll worry about exposing NATO. Here I am apparently both more Realpolitik and more compassionate than yourselves -- you would sacrifice millions of lives for the sake of a leftist fashion statement? Where's your sentimental squeamishness for the needs of the people here? My goal is a free Kosovo, which NATO may have to deliver against its will. (And as I said, the stronger the KLA is, the more a free Kosovo will be free of NATO.) I cannot create the spontaneous uprising of the masses. I can try to help create the conditions for such -- that is in the fine Leninist tradition.
. As long as you continue to condemn the Manifesto's measure 7, "extension of factories & instruments of production owned by the state" as being anti-Marxist, I don't know what good reading more articles "muddling" this issue would do.
. Yes, it's realistic to try to save 2 million lives via brute NATO forces. Yes, it's realistic to try to maintain the structures of decadent parties for future use by the people. I hate to think what Russia would look like without even a communist opposition -- something like the US since 1970, perhaps -- Marx forbid! Let me repeat, Marx never considered the threat of Nazism as the alternative to capitalism, because it didn't exist in his time. It does today -- in the US, in England, in France, in Russia, in Israel. It seems that only the decadent left is capable of wooing the people from those psychopaths, & that's what I try to do. Don't expect me to give up any time soon. It's a question, as you say, of stages. The classless society isn't built in a day.
. . .
. ZN's reply to my letter of April 29 demonstrates one of the most widespread misconception in the left today, namely, that any regime that combines nationalization of the means of production plus some progressive social measures is building socialism. ZN cannot see that these features alone do not suffice for making a transition to socialism, and that side by side with their development in the former Soviet Union, China, North Korea, Cuba, etc. there also developed a new form of state-capitalist oppression by a new ruling elite. ZN considers these societies socialist and opposes our terming them "state-capitalist." As these allegedly "socialist" countries have either collapsed, nearly collapsed or are more and more adopting market-capitalist economics, ZN does not work for the revival of Marxist socialism, but clings to the very ruling parties and remnants of the former ruling parties that led these countries to disaster. This is the "realpolitik" he prides himself on.
. ZN's assertions to the contrary, we have never put forward the idea that the transition from capitalism to socialism could take place without the revolutionary state step-wise nationalizing the means of production. But we have pointed out that this alone is insufficient to move toward socialism. To achieve socialism, the working masses must be able to exercise control over the entire economy. They must not only see to it that their particular enterprise produces in accord with an overall societal plan, but they must develop the ability to determine the overall policies and run the central institutions as well. Without this, anarchy of production will assert itself now matter how extensive the planning bodies grow. Our studies of the Soviet Union and Cuba have, among other things, shown the many ways in which anarchy manifested itself within the state economy. Thus, it is not merely the extent of state economy that determines whether these countries were moving to socialism, but whether a real social control of the masses over the economy was developing. In our articles, we did not oppose the idea of nationalization, but emphasized how this must go hand-in-hand with the development of social control over the nationalized industry. In our studies on the Soviet Union, China, and Cuba we have found that the process of social control of production did not continue to develop, but rather the new state bureaucracy hardened into a new exploiting class that lived in relative splendor. It was this new class of exploiters that ran society, while the workers were relegated to carrying out their orders.
. Instead of attaching much importance to the underlying class stratification in the revisionist societies, ZN is content with the existence of various social programs. Thus, according to ZN, Stalin was an "inhuman," "brutal" and "fascistic" leader who introduced "greater class inequality" akin to that introduced in China. But this doesn't cause him to question whether these were socialist societies or not, because there were social programs. Of course, in the transition to socialism there will be social programs. But once again, the issue is that the existence of social programs do not prove that a country is on the way to socialism. In fact, while the revolutions in countries like the Soviet Union, China and Cuba did establish a fairly extensive social "safety net," the continued existence of such programs did not prevent a new class stratification from developing, and the gap between the haves and have nots from growing. A good amount of social benefits were not even national programs, but were tied to the success, or lack thereof, of the workers' or peasants' particular economic enterprise. Social programs were subject to being slashed as the state-economies went into crisis. Today, where the state-capitalist bureaucrats still rule, the defense of social programs has to be carried out in struggle against the so-called "communist" rulers. This is the final result of the class stratification that grew up in these societies and marks their last gasp as they make the transition to a much more privatized economy.
. ZN argues that since nationalization is "part of" the process of establishing socialism, since "public education", "health care" and "infrastructure" are "associated with socialism", therefore a country with these things has a socialist regime. These things, which can be found in modern capitalist countries, make up the "solid socialist reality" for ZN while our efforts to examine the question of what role the workers are playing in the society, whether or not a new class society has formed, or whether or not the state economy is run using capitalist methods are, for him, just examples of our "over-abstraction."
. On another subject, ZN is unhappy that I allegedly distorted his views by accusing him of supporting Mao's decision to form a united front with the bourgeoisie at certain points in the anti-colonial struggle. But what I actually said in my April 29 letter was that he took the contradictory stand of "Mao was right to unite with the national bourgeoisie, but it was also a mistake to do so." And indeed, both views do coexist. For instance, right after saying Mao was wrong to form an alliance with the bourgeoisie, he presents a justification for it, namely, that it was understandable because Mao wanted so badly to fight colonialism. Moreover, ZN introduces the issue by arguing that I "misinterpret Mao, and deny his great accomplishments" including "anti-colonialism, the united front against colonialism and its explicit inclusion of the national bourgeoisie, and the struggle of two lines." That's a puzzling way to express disagreement with Mao. Furthermore, ZN hails Mao's "three worlds theory". This theory, which is Mao's prescription for the struggle in all the dependent countries, is notable for downplaying the struggle against the home-grown exploiters in the Third World.
. After implying that Mao's explicit inclusion of the national bourgeoisie was a good thing, ZN then argues the exact opposite. ZN argues that the three worlds theory is good except when it obscures the class struggle by bringing the bourgeoisie into the United Front. Of course, without the idea that the national bourgeois rulers in various third world countries are really part of the "anti-imperialist" united front, there is no three worlds theory. Some versions of the three worlds theory express this idea openly while other versions do this by painting every struggle against the national bourgeoisie in the third world as primarily a struggle against foreign imperialism. ZN proves this point by promoting even the Islamic clerical tyranny over the Iranian masses as "anti-imperialism" along with the crumbling state-capitalist repression in North Korea and the bourgeois nationalist regime in Libya. For that matter, ZN hails the phoney "communists" in Russia, who unite with the Russian fascists on a platform of Russian big-power chauvinism, as anti-imperialists. When proponents of the Three Worlds theory, like ZN, want to promote a regime or trend, they do not analyze the role of these forces in the class struggle inside the country or to imperialism overall, but whether they have any sort of complaints or rhetoric against the big Western powers.
. As far as ZN's efforts to clarify his views on the matter of what class alliances are appropriate at different stages of the revolution, he doesn't have any means to even approach the question. He simply rules out any consideration of the matter as being "unethical" while pretending that this has something in common with Marxism. He doesn't broach the question of analyzing what the general conditions and tasks facing the oppressed masses are at any particular point, what the general stage of struggle is, and what attitude various classes have toward those tasks. He doesn't raise the issue of whether or not some non-proletarian force is or is not actually participating in a struggle at a particular stage. He doesn't deal with whether some specific alliance will help or retard the proletarian cause.
. He does not consider that in any alliance, the proletariat must maintain its own independent class organization and stand even when it forms alliances with other class forces. He does not see that genuine Marxists disdain to hide their unique class stand on immediate issues or their ultimate goals in order to win favor with other social forces. Thus, when ZN raises "no one can trust you" as an argument against communists having any cooperation with any non-communist forces, he is only battling a parody of genuine Marxist policy. This parody has long been used by the bourgeoisie to frighten the masses away from the communists who, it is claimed, aren't really interested in their present struggles, but are only tricking them in order to achieve their evil communist goals.
. Perhaps it will be said that ZN is not objecting to the proletariat having alliances with any other class forces, only the national bourgeoisie. But from the standpoint of ZN's moralism, alliances with the peasantry in the democratic revolution are also out of the question. After all, in this struggle the peasantry is not fighting for socialism, but may be fighting for land, the end of feudal encumbrances, and democratic rights. Wouldn't the proletariat, by ZN's standards, be deceiving the peasantry if it strives to lead such a struggle? Wouldn't we also have to discard Lenin's tactics in the Russian revolution because he considered the peasantry as a whole as allies in the democratic stage, while in the socialist phase, Lenin made clear that the rural proletariat and poor peasants would have to conduct a class struggle against the peasant bourgeoisie? But there wasn't an ounce of deception in this policy. Lenin emphasized the need, even during the democratic revolution, for the rural workers to have their own class organization and to explain to the peasant masses the limits of land reform, which despite the progress it would bring, would lead to further competition among the small producers, class differentiation among them, and an eventual misery for the vast majority. This example of how a real Marxist allies with another class force has nothing in common with ZN's parody.
-- Mark, for the Communist Voice
Last changed on October 16, 2001.