(CV #41, February 2008)
. The Communist Voice Organization was invited to participate in a panel discussion in Baltimore, organized by the friends of the Turkish communist journal Proleter Devrimci KoZ to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the October Revolution of 1917. This was a comradely action by the friends of KoZ, as we and KoZ hold quite different views. Unfortunately, however, we were not able to attend, and had to decline the invitation, but we sent a statement, which is reproduced below. Also, circumstances forced a change in the plans for the meeting. Held on November 18, it consisted of a movie about the life of Rosa Luxemburg and the history of the German revolution; the reading of the CVO statement; a presentation from the friends of KoZ about why the October revolution is relevant today and a comparison of it to the failed revolutionary attempts in Germany in 1918 and 1923; and a free discussion among the people present. This included workers, students and activists from Spark, the Revolutionary Communist Party, the Populist Party of Maryland, and Workers' Struggle (a Trotskyist organization from Turkey).
. Information about KoZ can be found at www.kozonline.org/Translations/main.htm.
6 November 2007
. . . . . .
. Unfortunately, it's unlikely that we would be able to attend a meeting on November 18. I do hope that you are able to meet with a number of other groups and activists. I would be interested to know how the meeting goes, which groups come, and what they say.
. For our part, we stand for revolutionary Marxism-Leninism. It's clear that the Bolshevik revolution was a major turning point in the world working class movement. The influence of the revolution led to large numbers of workers around the world taking up revolutionary communism, and to the development of the Third International. It meant that the collapse of the Second International during World War I, instead of leading simply to demoralization, led to the development of new, revolutionary working class parties, and it led to the working class looking to Leninism. Moreover, the attempt to build a new socialist society in Russia led to a tremendous advance in communist theory with respect to the transition period between capitalism and socialism, and the nature of socialism itself. The October revolution changed the world, and was a watershed in the development of the revolutionary working-class movement.
. The degeneration of the Soviet Union into state-capitalism and the development of Soviet revisionism is also a part of the history of the October revolution. In our view, Marxism-Leninism and the lessons of the October revolution can only survive if the communists take up an explicit and conscious anti-revisionist position. Marxism-Leninism has to be a living doctrine if it is to be a revolutionary theory that will again lead the working class to revolution. It has to take account of the experience of the working class movement since the October revolution -- it has to take account both of the positive lessons of Leninism and of mass revolutionary struggle and of the negative experience of state-capitalism and Soviet revisionism. Lenin repeatedly pointed out that Marxism was not a completed, finished doctrine, but instead the Marxist activists had to continually take account of new developments. Near the beginning of his activity he wrote, for example, that "We do not regard Marx's theory as something completed and inviolable; on the contrary, we are convinced that it has only laid the foundation stone of the science which socialists must develop in all directions if they wish to keep pace with life." (Our Program, 1899, emphasis as in the original) And near the end of his life, his writing on the tasks of the communists showed that he still held the same opinion.
. Today this means that, if Leninism is to survive, it must take account of the struggle against revisionism. It must take full account of the many advances in theory brought by Lenin and the Bolsheviks. But this can only be done if a struggle is waged against modern revisionism (including Trotskyism as well as Stalinism), which pays lip-service to Leninism but tears the revolutionary heart out of the views of Marx and Lenin and out of the experience of the Bolshevik revolution. In our view, it is impossible to have a serious unity of communists that ignores the issue of revisionism. Any attempt to unite the communists on the basis of the October revolution and, say, the views of the first four congresses of the CI, while ignoring the subsequent disorganization of the communist movement, ignoring the rise of a new bourgeois class in the Soviet Union, ignoring the development of state-capitalism, and so forth, will end up as useless posturing, as paper unity. Marxism-Leninism has to continually prove itself by showing that it is capable of dealing with the burning questions in the revolutionary movement. This includes the nature of Soviet revisionism; it includes refuting the widespread of various Trotskyist theories; it includes dealing with the new developments in world capitalism.
. Thus to commemorate the October revolution in a serious way, communists must deal with such things as the following:
. Communists can no more ignore these developments, and unite solely on the basis of, say, the views of the early Communist International, then the Communist International could ignore the collapse of the Second International and be founded solely on the basis of agreement over Marx's tactics while he was alive. The Bolsheviks spearheaded the formation of the CI by uniting revolutionaries who wanted to fight the class enemies of their own time and to fight the revisionist treachery of their days. One could only be loyal to Marx and Marxist tactics by taking account of developments since his death; and today we can only be loyal to the lessons of the October revolution and to Leninism by taking account of the treachery of the revisionism and Trotskyism that developed after Lenin's death, and of the state-capitalism that developed from the degeneration of the Soviet regime.
. Every serious issue of the class struggle will tear open the gap between Marxism-Leninism and the revisionist theories of today (Stalinist, Trotskyist, Maoist, etc). This is clear on the questions of war and peace, and on the question of imperialism. We see today, for example, that there are many revisionists and Trotskyists who are unable to oppose both Western imperialism and various local dictators and Islamic fundamentalist movements. They unite behind one enemy of the working class to fight another, supposedly in the name of Leninist anti-imperialism. This is a farce and a sham; it disorganizes the working class; it is a treachery similar in nature to the lining up of the various parties of the Second International behind their own bourgeoisies in World War I. And we have spent a great deal of time on the issue of war and peace, and the real nature of Leninist anti-imperialism, in issue after issue of Communist Voice.
. But it is also clear on other major issues.
. Today we face, for example, not just the new developments in world imperialism, but the environmental crisis. The time of mass tragedies, mass casualties, and millions of environmental refugees is looming closer and closer: and the major tragedy of the Asian tsunami, the flooding of New Orleans, the increasing droughts and water shortages, etc. are signs of things to come. In the last two issues of the Communist Voice, we have set forth an orientation for how the revolutionary working class should deal with the issue of global warming. The working class can't simply say that this issue will be solved under socialism, nor can it rally behind the establishment environmentalists. The working class needs a program of struggle with respect to this crisis. But I believe you will find that, when one tries to work out such a program, one is immediately faced with the need to repudiate revisionist ideas.
. The environmental crisis, for example, will force an increase of state regulation of the economy. At first the capitalists will try to deal with global warming and other environmental issues through market and neo-liberal methods, such as carbon trading (as in the Kyoto Protocol) or carbon taxes. The failure of these methods, as well as the crisis that will spring from environmental catastrophes and the forced relocation of millions upon millions of people, will eventually force a shift to more direct methods of state regulation of the economy. This will raise the attitude of the working class to state-capitalism, state ownership, and state regulation. This is pointed out in the articles in Communist Voice.
. Marxism-Leninism is going to have to prove itself in the struggle over the environment, as well as over imperialism, war and peace, workplace struggles, and other fronts. In fact, as we have shown in Communist Voice, if the communists take up living Marxism-Leninism, the environmental crisis will push the workers towards communism. But if communism is reduced to a unity around principles that evade the issue of state-capitalism and revisionism, if it is reduced simply to unity around some of the statements [of the communist movement] of the 1920s, then it will be incapable of dealing with the environmental crisis. There might perhaps be a paper unity around the idea that a future society will solve the problems of the environment, and probably without much consideration of what this future society will be. But what the working class needs is a program of revolutionary struggle that will allow it to get to the future society, and that will allow it to press for real environmental changes as one front of its revolutionary class struggle.
. I wish I could be present to set forward these ideas in person. As it is, I look forward to hearing
what happens at your meeting, and at having other opportunities to exchange views with you.
Joseph Green <>
Last changed on February 28, 2008.