Social Revolution Party

"Philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways: The point, however, is to change it."

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A Communist Position on Bourgeois-Democracy and the Parliamentary System

Posted by sorev on 03/01/2010

I. Introduction

In light of the recent debates within the International Communist Movement1 as to the value of working within the bourgeois parliamentary system, and because of questions posed to the Social Revolution Party as to its position on bourgeois elections, it seemed prudent to write an article on the bourgeois parliamentary system and the attitude that communists should be taking towards parliament. For whatever reasons, it seems that English speaking communists often romanticize the parliamentary experience; indeed, almost all of the “official” Communist Parties within the Anglosphere have been reduced to, in the words of Marx, “parliamentary cretinism”2.

In the interests of a detailed and thorough exposition of the problem at hand, this article will begin by looking at the original debates surrounding communist involvement in bourgeois parliaments dating back to the inception of the Third International. Careful attention will then be paid to Lenin’s critique of both British and German communist involvement in their respective parliaments, with an eye as to whether or not Lenin was being consistent in his critique. We will then step forward 80 years and examine the modern Canadian context and whether or not advocating parliamentary involvement in Canada in 2009 is a Leninist position. Lenin’s position itself will then be the focus of extreme critiques, examining the effects of parliamentary involvement on communist organisations. Finally, after careful investigation, a position for the Social Revolution Party will be put forward. Onwards!

II. What is Parliament?

Due to the deceptive and anti-analytical nature of politics within the Anglosphere, it is worthwhile to take a brief step back and define what we mean by parliament. By parliament, within the context of this article, we mean the legislative branch of the state. It is nominally the role of parliament to establish state policy and to hold the other branches of the state accountable. In Canada parliament formally includes the Sovereign, the Senate, and the House of Commons3.

It needs to be stated, before we continue, that even when parliament is functioning according to ideal circumstances, it still has a very limited role in the actual functioning of the state. The legislative branch can only set policy; underneath the legislative branch is the massive bureaucracy that carries out the day-to-day tasks of the state. This is a fact oft-overlooked by communists when assessing the role that parliament plays in the life of the state. Winning parliamentary power does not give one power over the state, but rather over the accounting and administration of the state. The state carries on a life of its own, independent of the 308 people that sit at its head.

III. Lenin on Parliamentary Involvement

Lenin’s main critiques of communist anti-parliamentarism are found in his oft-misquoted piece “Left-Wing” Communism, An Infantile Disorder. While categorising and critiquing a series of left-communist heresies, Lenin touches significantly on the question of whether or not communists should participate in bourgeois parliaments4. Lenin’s answer is that unequivocally, communists should engage in the bourgeois parliamentary system; he derides those on the left that abstain from parliamentary activity as having proved that “they are not a party of the class, but a circle, not a party of the masses, but a group of intellectuals and of a few workers who imitate the worst features of intellectuals.”5 There is no ambiguity in Lenin’s work as to whether or not communists should engage in bourgeois parliamentary activity.

It would be completely intellectually dishonest however to look simply at Lenin’s final position on the question of bourgeois parliaments, without examining the reasoning behind Lenin’s position. In responding to assertions that parliament has become historically obsolete, Lenin replies:

Parliamentarism has become “historically obsolete”. That is true as regards propaganda. But everyone knows that this is still a long way from overcoming it practically. Capitalism could have been declared, and with full justice, to be “historically obsolete” many decades ago, but that does not at all remove the need for a very long and very persistent struggle on the soil of capitalism. Parliamentarism is “historically obsolete” from the standpoint of world history, that is to say, the era of bourgeois parliamentarism has come to an end and the era of proletarian dictatorship has begun. This is incontestable. But world history reckons in decades. Ten or twenty years sooner or later makes no difference when measured by the scale of world history; from the standpoint of world history it is a trifle that cannot be calculated even approximately. But precisely for that reason it is a howling theoretical blunder to apply the scale of world history to practical politics.6

Lenin outlines the nature of his position extremely well in the afore-quoted passage; despite the fact that parliamentary democracy is clearly historically obsolete, it may still be necessary in a practical political framework to struggle “on the soil” of parliament.

Lenin continues:

How can one say that “parliamentarism is politically obsolete,” when “millions” and “legions” of proletarians are not only still in favour of parliamentarism in general, but are downright “counter-revolutionary”!? Clearly, parliamentarism… is not yet politically obsolete. Clearly, the “Lefts”… have mistaken their desire, their political-ideologlical attitude, for objective reality.7

And:

Parliamentarism, of course, is “politically obsolete” for the Communists… but – and that is the whole point – we must not regard what is obsolete for us as being obsolete for the class, as being obsolete for the masses. Here again we find that the “Lefts” do not know how to reason, do not know how to act as the party of the class, as the party of the masses. You must not sink to the level of the masses, to the level of the backward strata of the class. That is incontestable. You must tell them the bitter truth. You must call their bourgeois-democratic and parliamentary prejudices – prejudices. But at the same time you must soberly follow the actual state of class consciousness and preparedness of the whole class (not only of its Communist vanguard), of all the toiling masses (not only of their advanced elements).8

Despite the fact that parliament is historically obsolete, and despite the fact that a Marxist analysis allows communists to realise that parliament is historically obsolete, parliament is not yet practically obsolete for the vast majority of the working class because they still continue to participate in it. For Lenin, the entirety of his position on parliamentary involvement rests on the fact that the masses have not yet moved beyond a bourgeois-democratic frame of mind, and therefore communists, in order to stay in touch with the masses, have to struggle within that same framework. Communists must struggle where the masses are, and therefore communists must struggle within a parliamentary framework.

It is worth noting that within Lenin’s critique one finds no mention of the usefulness of parliament for accomplishing social change; quite the opposite in fact. Lenin’s position in favour of parliamentary involvement is purely based on staying in touch with the masses.

IV. The Parliamentary Question in Britain and Germany circa 1920: Is Lenin Consistent?

The main focus of Lenin’s critique lies within the realm of practical politics, and it is no surprise that Lenin deals not only with the “ultra-left” in the abstract but also how the political positions of the “ultra-left” play out in reality. In doing so, Lenin focuses very specifically on the emerging Communist movement in Britain and the already established communist movement in Germany. It is worth investigating the content of Lenin’s critiques of both the German and the British ultra-left, in particular looking at whether or not Lenin is being consistent within his own critical framework, and if there is anything that we today can practically pull from Lenin’s insights.

The main thrust of Lenin’s position on Germany has already been explored; the quotes contained in section III of this essay were directed against the German “lefts”, but were highlighted there as they hold a more universal significance. Concretely, the German “lefts” believed that parliamentary struggle had become historically obsolete, and therefore struggling within the framework of bourgeois parliaments could be at best a waste of time. Against the arguments of historical obsolescence forwarded by the German “lefts”, Lenin retorts:

This is said with absurd pretentiousness, and is obviously incorrect. “Reversion” to parliamentarism! Perhaps there is already a Soviet republic in Germany? It seems not! How then, can one speak of “reversion”?9

Lenin attacks the German “lefts” for what he conceives as prematurely not engaging in parliamentary activity.

In dealing with the British “lefts”, Lenin advises similar tactics. In the context of the newly forming communist movement in Britain, a communist movement that was already rife with ultra-left tendencies, Lenin advises a parliamentary coalition with the British Labour Party. Speaking to the specific conditions in Britain at the time, Lenin remarks:

In my opinion, the British Communists should unite their four (all very weak, and some very, very weak) parties and groups into a single Communist Party on the basis of the principles of the Third International and of obligatory participation in parliament. The Communist Party should propose a “compromise” to the Hendersons and Snowdens10, an election agreement: let us together fight the alliance of Lloyd George and the Conservatives, let us divide the parliamentary seats in proportion to the number of votes cast by the workers for the Labour Party and for the Communist Party (not at the elections, but in a special vote), and let us retain complete liberty of agitation, propaganda, and political activity.11

Lenin then goes on to suggest that if the Labour Party accepts a deal it will provide a platform for the Communist Party from which they can agitate amoungst the masses. And if the Labour Party doesn’t accept a deal, then it will expose the Labour Party as allies of the bourgeoisie who are against the unity of the working class. In Lenin’s opinion, the British communist movement will make gains regardless of the actions of the Labour Party if it takes the parliamentary road.

Lenin further reiterates his position on British communist involvement in parliament when he writes:

If I come out as a Communist and call upon the workers to vote for Henderson against Lloyd George, they will certainly give me a hearing. And I will be able to explain in a popular manner not only why Soviets are better than parliament and why the dictatorship of the proletariat is better than the dictatorship of Churchill (disguised by the signboard of bourgeois “democracy”), but also that I want with my vote to support Henderson in the same way as the rope supports a hanged man – that the impending establishment of a government of Hendersons will prove that I am right, will bring the masses over to my side, and will hasten the political death of the Hendersons and the Snowdens just as was the case with their kindred spirits in Russia and Germany.12

On a superficial level it appears that Lenin is being consistent in the application of his analysis to both Britain and Germany. On one hand, Lenin suggests that the German “lefts” support parliamentary involvement. In the same vein, Lenin suggests that British communists do the same. However, internal to Lenin’s argument is the idea that parliament is parliament is parliament the world-over, without taking into account the specific nature of the individual political climates of the respective parliaments themselves. Lenin applies his critique equally to all situations, but fails to understand that a critique of parliamentarism in Germany and Russia does not necessarily apply to parliamentarism in Britain.

To take a step back for a moment, an unspoken assumption in Lenin’s argument is that the space for an anti-capitalist critique exists within the context of bourgeois parliamentary action. Lenin assumes, incorrectly as will be pointed out, that this is the case in all parliaments in 1920. Nowhere does Lenin explore, even for a second, that this isn’t the case; indeed, the entire nature of his critique, especially towards the British communists, is that they should be entering into parliament specifically to fill that space. Lenin, while grasping the specific historical events leading to the establishment of ultra-left varieties of communism in both Germany and Britain, seemingly fails to apply an actual historical analysis to parliamentary involvement.

To approach such an analysis, it becomes important to look at the context that the emerging communist movements found themselves in. In Germany, the “lefts” that Lenin rails against were members of an organisation known as the Communist Workers Party of Germany (KAPD). The KAPD had split off from the Communist Party of Germany (KPD) in April of 1920, specifically in opposition to electoral tactics. The KPD itself was a newly formed organisation as of 1918, which essentially amounted to the left-wing of the then reformist Social-Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) finally declaring independence/regrouping after expulsion in post-war Germany. The SPD itself, despite being reformist and reactionary by the time 1914 came about, had a long history of being an actual anti-capitalist party. Even after the SPD had been thoroughly exposed as reactionary, the debates within the SPD, specifically those trying to justify the SPD’s support for Imperial Germany in World War I, took place within a nominally Marxist framework.

It can be said then, that the German “lefts” of the KAPD emerged onto the political scene in a context in which there had been a long history of anti-capitalist action and debate. The German working class would not have been unfamiliar with such ideas; the fact that nominally Marxist debates were taking place within the German governing party at the time Left Wing Communism, an Infantile Disorder was written shows how deeply entrenched some semblance of Marxist thought was within the German working class. Therefore the space existed for an anti-capitalist, anti-state movement to exist and actually benefit from a parliamentary presence; Lenin is exactly right within his own framework when he criticizes the KAPD for being out-of-touch with the masses, for being “not a party of the class, but a circle”13. Or, to put it slightly differently, due to the inundation of Marxist and anti-capitalist ideas within the German working class, the space existed for the German left to both agitate against capitalism and the state while engaging in parliamentary activity for the sake of propaganda without getting the two messages confused. It was the space created by nearly 50 years of SPD agitation that afforded this to the German left.

The same however can not be said for the British communist movement. There, the “lefts” that Lenin referred to belonged to four organisations, namely the British Socialist Party, the Socialist Labour Party, the South Wales Socialist Society, and the Workers’ Socialist Federation14. None of these parties had any institutional history with any groupings before them; while individual members assuredly were involved in movements before the inception of their respective parties, the parties themselves were new formations.

On the parliamentary front, there existed only the Labour Party which had been founded in 1900. Prior to its inception, many of its constituent groups had in fact been associated with the Liberal Party15. Even in its best days the Labour Party was purely a reformist organisation; there was never a revolutionary or Marxist current that existed within the Labour Party. Because of this, the space for an anti-capitalist critique in British parliamentary action never existed the way in which it had in Germany. Lenin therefore, not taking into account his unspoken assumption as to the existence of an anti-capitalist space within parliament, urges the British communists to engage not only in parliamentary activity but to seek out an alliance with the Labour Party. Lenin, within his own framework, is incorrect and inconsistent; the situation in Britain was not analogous to the situation in Germany. Or, to put forward the argument again in a slightly different manner, due to the fact that there was no history of anti-capitalist agitation in Britain, the space did not exist within the British Parliament for an anti-capitalist critique. The two messages, that of being anti-capitalist and anti-state, as well as struggling within the context of bourgeois parliaments would not have been as clearly received by the masses as they would have been in Germany.

In summary, Lenin’s position on parliamentary involvement rests on three pillars: The first is that the masses are engaged in parliamentary activity. The second is that the masses have not yet moved beyond a bourgeois-democratic framework. And the third, unspoken pillar is that within parliament there exists a space for an anti-capitalist, anti-state critique. When these conditions are satisfied, as was the case in Germany in 1920, Lenin is quite correct in criticising the KAPD for being anti-parliament. However, when these conditions are not fulfilled, particularly the third condition, as was the case in Britain in 1920, Lenin is being inconsistent within the framework of his own critique. Parliamentary struggles should not always be engaged in, and communists need to take careful stock of their own conditions to decide the correct course of action.

V. A Brief Interjection from Lenin

For those familiar with the text of Left Wing Communism, an Infantile Disorder, one can already see a rebuttal to the above arguments from the text of the aforementioned piece itself. Responding to the argument that the masses can’t understand the nuances of both an anti-state position combined with parliamentary activity, Lenin retorts:

And if the objection is raised that these tactics are too “subtle,” or too complicated, that the masses will not understand them, that these tactics will split and scatter our forces, will prevent us concentrating them on the Soviet revolution, etc., I will reply to the “Lefts” who raise this objection: don’t ascribe your doctrinairism to the masses! The masses in Russia are probably no better educated than the masses in England; if anything, they are less so. Yet the masses understood the Bolsheviks; and the fact that on the eve of the Soviet revolution, in September 1917, the Bolsheviks put up their candidates for a bourgeois parliament (the Constituent Assembly) and on the morrow of the Soviet revolution, in November 1917, took part in the elections to this Constituent Assembly, which they dispersed on January 5, 1918 – this did not hamper the Bolsheviks, but on the contrary, helped them.16

Here Lenin makes three mistakes. The first is that he fails to grasp the analytical effects of liberalism on a given population. The second, stemming from the first, is that he again conflates two unequal groups in order to prove his point: in this case, the British and the Russian masses. The third mistake, and whether this is an intentional mistake or not is not known, is that Lenin equates bourgeois parliamentary involvement with involvement in a constituent assembly.

Speaking to the first mistake, if one can not conceive of a society after capitalism and without a state, then one can not actively work towards such a society. For Britain this was the case; the working class by and large would have had no conception of a society beyond capitalism17. Lest we forget that capitalism had existed in Britain far longer than elsewhere on the continent. This fact was coupled with the lack of a history of revolutionary agitation in an extra-parliamentary context (revolutionary trade unions, workers’ associations, etc.). The specificities of the British situation (that of being unlike Germany in that the working class lacked a revolutionary identity, and that of being unlike Russia in that capitalism had had more time to permeate the consciousness of the working class) would have in fact led to a confusion of the British masses (and the Party itself!) as to what exactly the Communist Party’s goal was. And in fact this is what happened elsewhere in the Anglosphere as will be demonstrated later.

As for Lenin’s second mistake, we can clearly see even in 1920 that the English masses and the Russian masses were incredibly different in terms of their ability to understand how parliamentary action and anti-capitalist and anti-state critiques could compliment one another. The most glaring indication of difference is that the Russian masses had managed to have a revolution, whereas the English masses had yet to even establish a Communist Party. Add to this the experience of 1905 and the presence of Soviets, themselves anti-state or dual-power institutions, and a comparison between the English masses and the Russian masses seems strange at best. By conflating the two Lenin misses the point; there clearly are situations where the tactics being espoused by Lenin are too subtle and too complicated for the masses to understand, and parliamentary activity is not always the way forward.

Lenin’s third mistake is perhaps the most glaring. Even if we were to accept the comparisons between the English and Russian masses, Lenin’s argument still falls apart based on the fact that a Constituent Assembly is not a bourgeois parliament. A Constituent Assembly is a temporary body whose only role is to draft a constitution; after that, the Constituent Assembly is folded and the constitutionally decided organs are put in place. In the context of Russia in 1917, the class nature of the Constituent Assembly was uncertain. Russia was a society poised on the brink of revolution; had the Bolsheviks won a majority within the Constituent Assembly, the drafted constitution could very well have been Soviet and working class in nature. For Lenin to suggest that British communists engage in bourgeois parliament because their Russian comrades engaged in the Constituent Assembly mis-represents the nature of the two societies as well as the role played by each body.

VI. A Parliamentary Path for Canada?

Having shed light on Lenin’s position circa 1920 in regards specifically to Britain and Germany, it is now time for our gaze to be shifted to something more concrete: Canada in 2009. In order to discern whether or not, within the context of Lenin’s position, a parliamentary way forward is possible within Canada we must look at the conditions that Lenin put forward in analysing the political situations in Germany and Britain. Three aspects need to be examined: first, whether or not the masses are engaged in the parliamentary process; second, whether or not the masses have moved beyond a bourgeois-democratic frame of reference; and third, whether or not the space exists within the Canadian parliamentary experience for an anti-state and anti-capitalist message to reach the masses.

On the first condition, that of whether or not the masses are engaged in the bourgeois parliamentary process in Canada, it can safely be said that they are not. The most recent federal elections in 2008 saw a record low for the last 100 years in terms of voter turnout: only 58.8% of those eligible to vote did so18. This was down from an equally pathetic 64.7% in 2006. In fact, within the last 30 years the highest voter turnout occurred in 1979, where 75.7% of Canada’s electorate voted. Indeed, in the entire history of Canada’s federal elections, 1958 holds the record for the highest voter-turnout with 79.4%19. Even in the historical best case scenario, over 20% of the electorate was not engaged in parliamentary activity. In more normal situations, such as the past 10 years, anywhere from 35%-40% of the people of Canada have not voted.

Distaste for the bourgeois political system is pervasive; not only is voter-turnout down, but membership in political parties is also dwindling20. What this means is that under normal conditions, 35%-40% of the electorate in Canada finds the parliamentary process so disengaging that they can’t even be bothered to cast a ballot. This clearly shows that in Canada, the masses as a whole are not eagerly engaged in the parliamentary process. Only a fringe element is intimately engaged, and only a small majority have any engagement at all. The first condition established by Lenin for communist involvement in the bourgeois parliamentary process is not met in a modern Canadian context.

The second condition, that the masses in Canada have not moved beyond a bourgeois democratic frame of reference, is still the case. Indeed, there is no mainstream political party or movement in Canada that even questions the basic assumptions behind a bourgeois democratic framework. While the masses are not engaged in the current bourgeois parliamentary framework, due to the non-existence of palatable alternatives (namely Soviet democracy), the masses still find themselves within a bourgeois democratic framework.

The third and final condition established by Lenin, that the space for an anti-state and anti-capitalist critique exists within the context of parliament, can unquestionably be said to be false. The Canadian state has a long history of anti-communist action; when the Communist Party was at its peak popularity, and on the eve of the election of the first Communist MP, the Communist Party of Canada (CPC) was banned under the War Measures Act. The banning still went forward even after the CPC and its constituent labour organisations not only supported the war effort, but agreed not to strike for the duration of the war! The CPC was forced to re-organise under the name of the Labour-Progressive Party (LPP).

In terms of actual representation in the House of Commons, one of only two Communist MPs to ever be elected, Fred Rose who was elected in 1943 on the LPP ticket, was accused of being a Soviet spy and was imprisoned mid-way through his term in 194521. Following his release from prison he was tailed from job to job by the RCMP; as punishment for having the audacity to win an election as a Communist, his life was destroyed. He eventually returned to Poland. Doris Nielson, the other Communist who was elected in 1943, ran initially for the Progressive Unity Party22 but once in office shifted her allegiance to the LPP. She was not re-elected.

As can be seen, the Canadian state goes out of its way to ensure that there is no anti-state, anti-capitalist space within the Canadian parliamentary framework. This is something that even the CPC, a party heavily involved in parliamentary cretinism, admits in its program:

State-monopoly capitalism undermines the basis of traditional bourgeois democracy. The subordination of the state to the interests of finance capital erodes the already limited role of elected government bodies, federal, provincial and local. Big business openly intervenes in the electoral process on its own behalf, and also indirectly through a network of pro-corporate institutes and think tanks. It uses its control of mass media to influence the ideas and attitudes of the people, and to blatantly influence election results. It corrupts the democratic process through the buying of politicians and officials. It tramples on the political right of the Canadian people to exercise any meaningful choice, thereby promoting widespread public alienation and cynicism about the electoral process.23

Even if interference in the electoral process by the Canadian state was not an issue, one still faces the problem of the lack of saturation of the Canadian working class with anti-state and anti-capitalist influences. Much like Britain in 1920, it is quite reasonable to predict that an anti-state message would become confused if pushed through the medium of parliament. The Canadian working class does not have any conception of life beyond capitalism; all of the reasons to not engage in parliamentary activity in Britain in 1920 apply more-so to Canada in 2009. The active involvement of the Canadian state in anti-communist activity, as well as the lack of class consciousness amoungst the Canadian working class amount to the fact that within the Canadian parliamentary system there is no space for an anti-state and anti-capitalist critique. Lenin’s third condition is not satisfied.

To recap: in modern Canada the masses are not engaged in parliamentary activity. While they may not have moved beyond a bourgeois-democratic framework, they certainly have not embraced the currently existing bourgeois-democratic framework. The Canadian state has historically also engaged in anti-Communist activity whenever a Communist has had a chance of being elected to the House of Commons. This, when coupled with the fact that there is no long history of anti-capitalist agitation in Canada, shows that the space for an anti-capitalist and anti-state critique does not exist within the current Canadian parliamentary system. Within Lenin’s framework then, a parliamentary path is not the way forward. It is not a Leninist position to suggest parliamentary involvement in Canada in this particular historical context.

VII. Is Lenin’s Position Correct?

Thus far, we have only looked at the issue of parliamentary participation in the context of the framework that Lenin advanced nearly 90 years ago. It has been the assumption that communists should work within the bourgeois parliamentary system should the possibility present itself. But is this the case? Or should communists refrain from parliamentary involvement even in the best circumstances? This is the question that will now be explored, as we move towards an actual tactical position for our modern context.

Pushing aside the assumption that parliamentary involvement is always good given the chance, there are three main dangers that struggling within the bourgeois parliamentary system brings: the first is that parliamentary struggle brings the wrong kind of attention towards the Party; the second is that parliamentary struggle can take the place of struggling for alternative organs of power; and the third is that the Party risks internalising their own rhetoric around parliamentary struggle, and in so doing, loses sight of the goal of establishing a state based around organs of workers power. Each risk will be explored in further detail.

Struggling within a parliamentary context inevitably brings a certain type of focus towards the Party. Within Lenin’s framework, it is suggested that one engages in parliamentary activity as a way of spreading revolutionary ideas throughout the masses. However, those that will receive the message being put out by the Party in a parliamentary context will be those that are engaged in the parliamentary process to begin with. And while some of them may be won over to the revolutionary ideas, the vast majority of people seeing the message will not be disillusioned in the bourgeois-parliamentary system. One runs the risk then of the message being lost on the masses due to the medium it is being transported through. One also runs the risk of wasting time all-together; assuredly it is easier to convince those that have no interest in bourgeois-democracy about the failings of parliamentary systems than those that do.

On the second danger, in a context of limited time and resources certain types of struggle need to take precedence over others. If our goal is the establishment (and subsequent withering away) of soviet democracy, then one would hope that our limited resources would be going towards that end. Unfortunately, electoral politics take up massive amounts of time and resources. In so far as time and resources are being spent on electoral politics, they are not going towards the establishment of workers’ councils or a mass movement capable of smashing the state. And indeed we see this; the parliamentary presence of the CPC and other parties on the left is felt, but there is no mass movement being invested in.

The third risk is the most dangerous and therefore deserves the most amount of attention and analysis. The danger lies in the notion that in the process of engaging in parliamentary struggle, the Party will become so wrapped up and enamoured with this form of action that it will come to espouse parliamentary struggle above all else. This is especially dangerous in a context where liberalism is as pervasive as it is, as well as in a context where limited resources force the Party to prioritize certain actions over others. While this may seem like the most far-fetched danger associated with struggling within the bourgeois-parliamentary system, it is also the most common. To prove this, it is worthwhile to look at the program of the CPC.

The Communist Party of Canada has an undoubtedly revolutionary and progressive history; amoungst its many achievements we can include support for the Republicans during the Spanish Civil War, mobilisation to crush fascism in Europe during WWII, and the creation of the Workers Unity League. It is likely the most important revolutionary organisation in Canada’s history; with all criticism it is important to give credit where credit is due. However, found within its most recent program, the CPC takes a position that elevates parliamentary struggle beyond merely usefulness as a propaganda tactic. The CPC puts forward:

A democratic, anti-monopoly, anti-imperialist alliance will have as its objective the democratic restructuring of Canadian society so that the interests of the majority of Canadians come first, and the stranglehold of finance capital on every aspect of life is broken. It will seek to advance the working people’s interests through all available avenues of struggle, based on massive and united extra-parliamentary action.

The alliance will strive to score electoral advances, and the winning of power by a people’s government dedicated to carrying out sweeping measures to democratize society and transform economic relations in the interests of the working class and the Canadian people as a whole.

Such a breakthrough will be difficult to accomplish given the sophisticated means at the disposal of the ruling class to manipulate public opinion, discourage political activism and otherwise influence the outcome of bourgeois elections. A crucial task for the alliance will be to defend and expand democracy and to fight against corporate and governmental attacks on the electoral process.

A democratic, anti-monopoly government, based on a parliamentary majority, and acting in concert with the united and militant extra-parliamentary movements of the people, would signal a qualitative shift in the balance of class forces in Canadian society, and open the door to the revolutionary transformation to socialism. It would involve the people in a truly meaningful way.

The people’s government would be committed to a program of action geared to serve people before profit. That program would arise in the course of the social, economic and political struggles of the working class and its democratic allies, and be subject to the widest discussion and approval among all of the forces of the alliance.24

The CPC suggests, as the way forward, the creation of a massive anti-imperialist, anti-monopoly, and democratic parliamentary bloc. Upon this bloc winning a majority in parliament, that is to say upon the bloc gaining control over the legislative branch of the state, it would institute a series of reforms designed to promote the creation of a socialist Canada. Indeed, according to the CPC, this parliamentary bloc would “open the door” to a socialist Canada. The CPC even goes so far as to refer to the supposed parliamentary bloc as the “people’s government”; a far cry indeed from Marx’s warning in The Civil War in France “that ‘the working class cannot simply lay hold of the ready-made state machinery and wield it for its own purposes.”25.

The CPC’s program, in its current parliamentary-oriented context, does not differ in any meaningful way from the program of a social democratic party. Despite mentioning extra-parliamentary activity in passing, the CPC has elevated bourgeois-parliamentary struggle to the place of prime importance. The CPC has substituted any notion of change from below with the concept of change from above; the parliamentary bloc “opening the door” for a socialist Canada. And in doing so, the CPC has abandoned any revolutionary theory of the state as an organ for one class suppressing another and has replaced Leninism with class-collaborationalism. Instead of building alternative organs of power, such as the Workers Unity League of over 50 years ago, the CPC suggests taking control of the bourgeois state and using the bourgeois state to somehow further proletarian ends. The CPC’s position is thoroughly revisionist and inexcusable.

To further highlight the ridiculousness of the CPC’s parliamentary fixation, and the dangers of going down the parliamentary road, it is worthwhile to briefly look at the WFDY’s26 statement regarding the acension of Madhav Kumar-Nepal to the position of Prime Minister of Nepal27. The WFDY remarks:

Nepal has achieved in recent years a tremendous magnitude of political changes by the strength of Great People’s Movement 2006 in a greater consensus and understanding among political parties. We do believe that those achievements can only be consolidated after a more upgraded understating among all political parties to put the peace process in a logical end and by carrying out the agendas to a progressive restructure of the state.28

Completely ignoring the brutally collaborationalist content of the statement, including calls for cooperation with reactionary parties (and therefore classes) and an end to the revolutionary process, what strikes one most strongly is the similarity of the statement with that of the recommendations of the US State Department in regards to increased “friendship” (i.e. renewed imperialist exploitation) between the US and Nepal:

And I think one of them is that the Maoists renounce violence and terrorism. The second would be that they stop the violent activities of the Young Communist League. And the third would be that they actively participate, and work together with the other parties, to support the peace process. There are other things, but those are the main factors that likely will go into our consideration.29

Focusing on the parliamentary process has clearly put the WFDY, and by extension the YCL and the CPC into the reactionary camp in regards to Nepal. It becomes clear that the fetishization of the parliamentary process can only lead an organisation down a path of revisionism and eventually reaction. We can however learn from our mistakes: the Social Revolution Party does not need to repeat the follies of the past.

VIII. The Social Revolution Party on Bourgeois-Parliamentary Involvement

The Social Revolution Party is against struggling within a parliamentary context both in terms of focusing on parliamentary activity as a means of progress and running for office in bourgeois-democratic institutions. Struggles within the parliamentary medium can only lead to revisionism and reaction; either the Party risks attracting the wrong kind of attention, risks spending limited resources on reformist ends, or risks internalising the message of parliamentarism. Furthermore, the Social Revolution Party does not believe in legitimising institutions that serve only to uphold the rule of capital and the ability of the ruling class to oppress, exploit, and alienate the people of Canada.

To this end, the Social Revolution Party puts forward an alternative: instead of worrying about bourgeois organs of power, we should be busy constructing our own proletarian organs of power. The Social Revolution Party believes that investing power in workers’ councils is the only way forward; “All power to the soviets!” is more than just a catchy phrase. Therefore, the efforts of members are best spent building the Popular Action Movement. A new world is possible, but it is up to us to build it; nobody will build it for us. Onwards!

Footnotes:

1Particularly the Two-Line Struggle within the Communist Party of Nepal – Maoist, as well as the recent debate on Kasama titled Can Our Revolution Use Elections to Organize? (September 7, 2009). Clearly the two aren’t of the same magnitude on the international level, but within the Anglospheric Communist Movement, debates on Kasama punch above their weight, so to speak.

2“They were therefore reduced to moving within strictly parliamentary limits. And it took that peculiar malady which since 1848 has raged all over the Continent, parliamentary cretinism, which holds those infected by it fast in an imaginary world and robs them of all sense, all memory, all understanding of the rude external world — it took this parliamentary cretinism for those who had destroyed all the conditions of parliamentary power with their own hands, and were bound to destroy them in their struggle with the other classes, still to regard their parliamentary victories as victories and to believe they hit the President by striking at his ministers.”

Marx, “The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte.”

3The Sovereign being the Queen of Canada who is represented by the Governor General; this position is, in most cases, purely ceremonial. The Senate is appointed by the Sovereign on recommendation of the Prime Minister, and is in modern times essentially a rubber-stamp for the House of Commons; except on issues dealing with Senate reform it would seem. The House of Commons is directly elected by the people of Canada and is usually what is meant when the Communist Party of Canada talks about winning a parliamentary majority.

4Indeed, chapter 7 bears the name “Should We Participate in Bourgeois Parliaments”. Lenin’s work is extremely illuminating; it is worthwhile for comrades to read not only this chapter, but the entire piece.

5Lenin, “Left Wing” Communism, An Infantile Disorder. 51

6Ibid, 50

7Ibid, 51

8Ibid, 52.

9Ibid, 49. It is worth mentioning that Lenin’s quote here is extremely intellectually dishonest; he has purposely mis-represented what the German “Lefts” meant by “reversion”. The German “Lefts” were actually referring to an inner-movement reversion to focusing on parliamentary activity as opposed to mass-based activities, as opposed to a reversion to parliament from Soviet democracy as Lenin implies.

10Both Phillip Snowden and Arthur Henderson were prominent members of the Labour Party at the time Left Wing Communism, an Infantile Disorder was written.

11Ibid, 87.

12Ibid, 91

13Ibid, 51.

14Ibid, 77.

15In particular, the Lib-Labs (Liberal Party members with the backing of trade unions), and the Labour Representation League provided, amoungst many other groups, the ideological basis for the formation of the Labour Party.

16Ibid, 91.

17We should remember that as early as 1858, Engels in a letter wrote: “and the fact that the English proletariat is actually becoming more and more bourgeois, so that the ultimate aim of this most bourgeois of all nations would appear to be the possession, alongside the bourgeoisie, of a bourgeois aristocracy and a bourgeois proletariat.”.

Frederick Engels, letter to Marx, October 7, 1858, http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1858/letters/58_10_07.htm

18Voter Turnout at Federal Elections and Referendums

Elections Canada, Voter Turnout at Federal Elections and Referendums, 1867-2008

19At the time, “eligible voters” did not include the first nations people, who were only given the right to vote in 1960.

Canadian Human Rights Commission, Aboriginal Rights

20While there are no concrete numbers available, one of the biggest issues amoungst the intellectuals of the Canadian parliamentary elite is lack of engagement in the political system, including political parties. One can be sure, however, that the number of people registered as members of political parties is only a small fraction of those who vote.

21This was referred to as the Gouzenko affair; indeed, the state-run media in Canada was still slandering the name of Fred Rose well into the 1980s.

22The Progressive Unity Party was an attempt at a united front between the CPC and the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation (CCF). CCF riding associations that attempted to participate in the united front were shut down.

23Communist Party of Canada, “Canada’s Future is Socialism!: Program of the Communist Party of Canada”

24Communist Party of Canada, “Canada’s Future is Socialism!: Program of the Communist Party of Canada”

25Marx, The Civil War In France, 64

26World Federation of Democratic Youth; an international organisation that the youth-wings of many “official” Communist Parties are involved in world-wide. The Young Communist League is a member.

27Madhav Kumar-Nepal is a member of the Communist Party of Nepal – United Marxist and Leninist, a reactionary and revisionist organisation that actively struggled against the Nepalese Revolution. He was elected to the position of Prime Minister after Prachanda and the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) stepped out of the bourgeois parliamentary system.

28World Federation of Democratic Youth, “Congratulatory Message to the New Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal”

29US Department of State, Friendship Between the U.S. and Nepal

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The Berlin Wall Bonanza!

Posted by sorev on 12/11/2009

The Red Flag Over the Reichstag

The Red Flag Over the Reichstag

By Evan Bury

We must celebrate! Just yesterday, thousands poured out to celebrate the great blow to communism, the fall of the Berlin Wall. At last, after a long forty years, the people of Germany finally had self-determination and unity.

Think I’m wrong? Just ask the very credible corporate media. They were all chanting praise of the fall of the most brutal oppression ever seen in Europe! The colonization of Germany was over. Clearly we should celebrate.

And let’s not forget that while we celebrate, we must at every turn viciously hack at socialism, for the evil Soviet Empire brutally colonized Germany.

But I must ask, while we celebrate the achievement of autodetermination for the German people, why can we not demand the same for others? In fact, shouldn’t the German people, afflicted by a whopping 40 years of being divided and be standing in solidarity with others afflicted by oppression.

Well, let’s not forget that the oppression of Germans was especially bad. Not only were German capitalists not permitted to make a profit, but during the division of Germany, the people in the East had access to full employment, housing, medicine, education from childcare through university and food.

But of course, the absolute worst part of it all: that the great German people, those of an ancient, Western civilization who had conquered overseas in Africa and the Pacific, were subjected, brutally, to the same denial of freedom usually reserved only for the Africans, First Nations, Arabs, Kurds, Indians, Tamils, Puerto Ricans or East Asians. To think: the great Aryan people reduced to the status of the Irish.

After all, how unbearable could it be: the Irish have been occupied for 800 years! The Québécois for more than 200. The Aboriginals for 500. The Tamils for 500 too. The Puerto Ricans for over 100. The East Asians and some Arabs and Indians have got independence. But let’s remember, that these people are just not civilized enough, so occupation isn’t as hard for them to go through.

That’s why when Palestinians, Tamils or Irish demand the tearing down of walls and the right to self-determination, they are terrorists. When the Québécois, Aboriginals, Puerto Ricans and Kurds demand freedom and their own states, they are ingrates who would be best off assimilated.

So my friends, lets be happy for the Germans, united, independent, in control of their own destiny after a rough 40 years. And I guess the rest of us will just have to wait until we reach the same pinnacle of superhuman progress as the Germans before we can hope for self-determination.

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Final Offer by Robert Collison, Sturla Gunnarsson

Posted by sorev on 18/10/2009

The history of the Canadian labour movement (and the left more generally) is marked by a continuous struggle between international and national unionism. In Canada, one of the reasons why we have a separate Canadian Autoworker Union is because Canadian Autoworkers wanted to maintain their shop floor militancy at a time when their American counterparts were retreating. The following film deals with this struggle and lucidly demonstrates how the Canadian section of the UAW became the CAW. Over the coming weeks and months, Social Revolution will be dealing with this subject in a number of different ways and we hope that our work will begin to spark debates about how it is that communists within Canada will handle the complex issue of international relations.

And now, we present Final Offer by Robert Collision!

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Final Offer by Robert Collison, Sturl…“, posted with vodpod

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In Memory of Norman Bethune

Posted by sorev on 13/10/2009

The following is a short essay on the late Norman Bethune of Gravenhurst, Ontario.

The original document can be found here.

Mao Tse-tung

IN MEMORY OF NORMAN BETHUNE

From the
Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung,
Foreign Languages Press
Peking 1967

First Edition 1965
Second Printing 1967

Vol. II, pp. 337-38.


Prepared © for the Internet by David J. Romagnolo, djr@marx2mao.org (October 1999)


    page 337

    IN MEMORY OF NORMAN BETHUNE December 21, 1939

    Comrade Norman Bethune,[1] a member of the Communist Party of Canada, was around fifty when he was sent by the Communist Parties of Canada and the United States to China; he made light of travelling thousands of miles to help us in our War of Resistance Against Japan. He arrived in Yenan in the spring of last year, went to work in the Wutai Mountains, and to our great sorrow died a martyr at his post. What kind of spirit is this that makes a foreigner selflessly adopt the cause of the Chinese people’s liberation as his own? It is the spirit of internationalism, the spirit of communism, from which every Chinese Communist must learn. Leninism teaches that the world revolution can only succeed if the proletariat of the capitalist countries supports the struggle for liberation of the colonial and semi-colonial peoples and if the proletariat of the colonies and semi-colonies supports that of the proletariat of the capitalist countries.[2] Comrade Bethune put this Leninist line into practice. We Chinese Communists must also follow this line in our practice. We must unite with the proletariat of all the capitalist countries, with the proletariat of Japan, Britain, the United States, Germany, Italy and all other capitalist countries, for this is the only way to overthrow imperialism, to liberate our nation and people and to liberate the other nations and peoples of the world. This is our internationalism, the internationalism with which we oppose both narrow nationalism and narrow patriotism.

    Comrade Bethune’s spirit, his utter devotion to others without any thought of self, was shown in his great sense of responsibility in his work and his great warm-heartedness towards all comrades and the people. Every Communist must learn from him. There are not a few people who are irresponsible in their work, preferring the light and shirking the heavy, passing the burdensome tasks on to others and choosing the easy ones for themselves. At every turn they think of themselves before others. When they make some small contribution,

    page 338

    they swell with pride and brag about it for fear that others will not know. They feel no warmth towards comrades and the people but are cold, indifferent and apathetic. In truth such people are not Communists, or at least cannot be counted as devoted Communists. No one who returned from the front failed to express admiration for Bethune whenever his name was mentioned, and none remained unmoved by his spirit. In the Shansi-Chahar-Hopei border area, no soldier or civilian was unmoved who had been treated by Dr. Bethune or had seen how he worked. Every Communist must learn this true communist spirit from Comrade Bethune.

    Comrade Bethune was a doctor, the art of healing was his profession and he was constantly perfecting his skill, which stood very high in the Eighth Route Army’s medical service. His example is an excellent lesson for those people who wish to change their work the moment they see something different and for those who despise technical work as of no consequence or as promising no future.

    Comrade Bethune and I met only once. Afterwards he wrote me many letters. But I was busy, and I wrote him only one letter and do not even know if he ever received it. I am deeply grieved over his death. Now we are all commemorating him, which shows how profoundly his spirit inspires everyone. We must all learn the spirit of absolute selflessness from him. With this spirit everyone can be very useful to the people. A man’s ability may be great or small, but if he has this spirit, he is already noble-minded and pure, a man of moral integrity and above vulgar interests, a man who is of value to the people.

    NOTES

    [1] The distinguished surgeon Norman Bethune was a member of the Canadian Communist Party. In 1936 when the German and Italian fascist bandits invaded Spain, he went to the front and worked for the anti-fascist Spanish people. In order to help the Chinese people in their War of Resistance Against Japan, he came to China at the head of a medical team and arrived in Yenan in the spring of 1938. Soon after he went to the Shansi-Chahar-Hopei border area. Imbued with ardent internationalism and the great communist spirit, he served the army and the people of the Liberated Areas for nearly two years. He contracted blood poisoning while operating on wounded soldiers and died in Tanghsien, Hopei, on November 12, 1939.    [p. 337]

    [2] See J. V. Stalin, “The Foundations of Leninism“, Problems of Leninism, Eng. ed., FLPH, Moscow, 1954, pp. 70-79.    [p. 337]

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Only Communists Can Stop Pollution And Save This Planet

Posted by sorev on 07/09/2009

This piece was taken from a pamphlet entitled Class Analysis for Canada published by Towards Communism some time in the early 1980’s.

Since the industrial revolution and the introduction of capitalism, pollution has become endemic. Incidental pollution has been with us for a long time, but endemic, massive, and critical pollution has a mere 200 year history. In the two hundred years that capitalism has ruled the roust we have trashed this planet.

Capitalism is driven to produce. There must be production next year, and the year after, etc. . This imperative binds not only the owners and management of Ford Motor Company inter alia, but also the employees. Everyone is committed to cars that break down. There will be hell to pay of the work runs out. In a society based upon exchange value and driven by the needs of capital we must continue to produce, and indeed, to step up production.

Without exchange value production would be based upon use value. Aesthetics, want and need are all included here. You perform your personal and your familyu chores. You do not require that these constantly take up your time. When chorse are done you have free disposable time. With production based upon use value, commodities (cars, appliances, etc.) that lasted forever would not be a threat to society.

(Incidentally with virtually everyone involved in creating, making, and delivering the goods and services we need, want and desire and with no bean counters, supervisory, financial, exploitative or other employment based upon exchange; and with products made to last, the amount of work per person would decrease dramatically. All this with a dramatic rise in quality of life and living standard. This is possible only in the free communist society. Think about it.)

With the burden of constant production removed and with a sane population policy we can save this planet. NOTHING ELSE CAN. The longer we wait the harder it will be to recover from that ecological disaster called capitalism. Join us now. Only when Communists are in a majority can this planet be saved.

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The Manual: A Brief What, Why, and How of the Popular Action Movement: Part 1

Posted by sorev on 30/08/2009

What:

Look upon the “Popular Action Movement” (PAM) as being the New State. Unlike the current State this new state would be us, the people ourselves, organised. There should be no State that stands above the people and governs them: for the state must in fact be the people. There should be no departments and ministries1. There will have to be people doing specific jobs at specific times, but this does not mean that there will need to be an administration; in fact, we must eliminate administration and management. In other words, we are not describing a protest movement here. Nor are we describing a political party. Thus the programme becomes: How do we provide goods and services for ourselves? How do we want to control the ownership of private and capital property? Do we want to outlaw interpersonal exploitation? We have to get used to thinking as a free people rather than as petitioners who beg the state for crumbs here-and-there. We are interested neither in begging the state to look after us nor in voting for which people will look after us. It is necessary that we get used to being free and having to figure out how to run society for ourselves. We will figure these things out in the process of doing them.

Why:

For some time now, in fact for longer than many care to admit, but especially for the last ten years and intensifying over the past four or five years, there has been a marked concentration of wealth in the hands of very few people. Entities referred to as Corporations are drawing the wealth of society into themselves. This concentration of wealth has been accompanied by very little actual wealth creation with the result that most people have been getting poorer while a few people have been getting much richer.

Where is this wealth coming from and where is it pooling? In general wealth is flowing away from wage and salary earners and towards people who are deemed to own capital. The situation is more nuanced than this of course. Corporate financial entities are gaining control over most of the wealth and the people who control these financial corporations are directing the use of this wealth. In other words there is a group or class of people who work for wages and salaries and a group or class of people who control and direct the wealth that is created. (There are also people who partake of both aspects and also those who fall beneath the entire process.) The two sets or classes of people mentioned first thus have an antagonistic relationship with each other and have different interests. The people controlling the wealth understand these things. Most of the people being stripped of their wealth don’t. Most of those being stripped of their wealth don’t want to understand these things. In fact, many working people don’t even want to be considered working people, and in spite of every sign of a shrinking personal and social wage, deny that this drift of wealth away from themselves is happening. Many people who acknowledge that it is happening claim that this drift of wealth into the hands of transnational bankster cartels is a good thing. Or others claim that nothing can be done about it: we can work to overcome the worst of the consequences but the process itself it untouchable and unstoppable (the NDP line).

Although most people know and understand, very few will acknowledge that the concentration of wealth in the hands of the very rich is a political decision, agreed to and supported by all of the major parties in Canada, and in fact does not have to be happening. Let me repeat: the impoverishment of working people is actively (actively!) sought by all of the major parties (Liberals, Conservatives, NDP, Bloc) in Canada. The mass media support the impoverishment of working people. Most of the supporters of the impoverishment of working people don’t claim to be supporters of this policy. The supporters of the concentration of wealth in the hands of fewer and fewer and fewer people mainly pretend that it is not happening, or that it has to happen, or even that it is a good thing.

Furthermore: Capital has to return 5% on investment; if the economy is not growing at 5% or better the stolen wealth can’t come from the pie getting bigger but rather has to come from some sector of society other than the bankster sector. It comes from a variety of places: the public sector through cut backs and profitisations; it comes from working people through the destruction of decent jobs and their replacement with low paying jobs and through the slow robbery of inflation; and it also comes from the industrial and commercial capitalists who are now the servants of the banksters. Social programmes are robbed. State owned businesses, for example: water, electrical, gas and medical delivery have to be profitised. The Third World has to be increasingly impoverished and their resources stolen. Countries with a large social sector: the National Socialist Ba’athist regimes, Eastern European countries, Iran, North Korea, China and so on have to be destroyed and their state enterprises, mineral resources etc. have to be internationalised and profitised. Their social programmes have to be wiped out in order for capital to survive. These activities are on the agenda of all major political parties in North America and most in Europe. The European governments are pursuing these policies even though they were elected not to. When people say that these policies have to be followed and that the best we can do is to minimise the damage they are partially correct. They are correct unless one is willing to strike at the cause of all of this destruction and suffering: the rule of capital over labour (called the Dictatorship of the Bourgeoisie).

Let’s return our gaze to capital stripping the state. This process is quite far advanced in the United States of America. The National Debt continues to rise. The interest on the National Debt for the month of June 2006 was US$ 98,255,216,240.82. There will come a time when they can’t even afford the interest on the debt. It is our contention that the system in the U.S. of A. will be destroyed by the forces of Capitalism itself. Capitalism is beset by periodic crises of overproduction which lead to crises of unemployment. These crises are chronicled; we know when they happened, the events leading up to them, the severity and the duration etc. At the time that this document was originally written, everyone was predicting an oncoming serious recession or depression. We are currently in the midst of the predicted depression. Unfortunately, the current depression will not destroy the current system; it will take two more downturns in the economy, each one more severe than the previous, to destroy this system. In other words we are three downturns away from the end of the system. One will happen almost immediately and two more will occur with eight to twelve years between them. As State services terminate chaos will develop.

This is where PAM: The New State comes in. There has never been a situation where poor people have made a Revolution to overthrow rich people. That is a romantic fantasy. A Revolution occurs when the Rich and Powerful do not control the State: for example, the English Revolution 1642 – 1649, the French Revolution 1789 – 1793, the U.S. Revolution 1776 – 1783. The other time a Revolution can occur is when the State ceases to function owing to general collapse of State Institutions: for example Russia 1917 – 1919, China 1924 – 1949. (At present there are several Revolutions going on in remote areas of the world where there is no effective State presence). We are building the Popular Action Movement now, so that it can be an organised force when the Institutions of State Power dissolve sometime between 2020 and 2050.

One should also take into account that the nature of the State is changing. Under pressure from capital to profitise the services provided by the State, it is returning to its pre-1860’s nature: that is to say a bare skeleton. Before the mid-nineteenth century the State owned very little and did very little. What there was of Social Services were mainly run by the Church. There was no Post Office. Many roads were private. Much of the army was private. We can look forward to a pre-Victorian State: a small group of people who award contracts to each other. Areas of the country which prove to be unprofitable (roads up North for example), or certain services (pensions and affordable housing for example), will just cease to exist. These services will only exist if the we are able to do it for ourselves. In a failed State situation capitalists will take the cream. For example there will only be a postal service where it makes money. Hospitals and procedures will only be found where they make money and only rich people will be able to afford to use them. Services will be a business like any other and will only be found where there is a return on investment.

Also we will have to be organised enough to compete with global capital in those areas in which they are profiting, that is where they will still be found. Further, working people will also have to contend with local capital moving in to replace global capital. Local capital merely replicates the system and renews interpersonal exploitation only with a lower living standard and less efficiently.

Coping Mechanisms and our self-willed decay:

Two mechanisms employed by people in the face of shrinking real wages, generally disguised as rising prices, are to do without and/or to go further into debt. People under thirty-five or so often find themselves going without. They often don’t know that they are going without because they aren’t fully aware of the sorts of options that were available to people in their situation twenty years ago. Houses, holidays, travel, home furnishings, wardrobes, cars and other toys for adults were more readily available. Higher education was open to a wider strata of society and upon completion the graduate was left with a smaller debt, more options and generally greater buying power.

People in their twenties find themselves tasting fewer of these pleasures and/or building a greater debt for themselves in order to have them. Their debt is accumulated mainly in the quest for a higher education. Other aspects of experience/acquisition are indulged in to a lesser extent than they were by people a generation ago. This is often true in the case of purchasing a house and of family life in general. For their part, older people often are drawing down the equity on their houses in order to maintain their “middle-class” life styles.2

The Result of these Coping Mechanisms:

Doing without, cutting back and going further into debt are nonsustainable mechanisms for the maintenance of a thriving economy.3 These non-sustainable coping mechanisms are the only reactions available to us as the objects of history.4 But in fact these reactions, these coping mechanisms, serve merely to undercut still further the already faltering economy. The economy is driven by what is referred to as effective demand. In other words, the housing industry is not driven by peoples’ need for houses but by people with ready cash who want to buy houses. That is, for the demand to be effective it has to be able to be put into effect.

Without cash (or credit) there is no effective demand. The problem of the concentration of wealth by the very rich and the impoverishing of most of society is continuing and is supported by the two major parties in the U.S. and by the four major parties in Canada. There is no reason for this trend to turn around. Over 99% of the voters in Canada and the U.S. support it. It will continue. It will destroy our society. In twenty or thirty years the social fabric will tear.5 The roads will fall apart. The school systems will cease to exist. The hospitals will close; in fact health care will cease to exist. The lights will go out. Food will not come through from the South. Fuel will be unattainable. This does not have to happen! It is merely a political decision, or political programme; one that is promoted by all four major political parties in Canada and one which almost every voter supports. It is a political decision that over 99% of Canadians and Yanks are in favour of. It will happen. We are witnessing the Fall of Rome. It is self willed and self caused. Everyone seems to support it and everyone supports political parties that are promoting it. It is very bizarre.

Self Organisation:

Thus our survival depends on our ability to organise ourselves to provide for ourselves. In other words, we must take our future into our own hands and to become actors rather than objects. As the current supply and command lines fall apart new ones will take their place. Thus we have an opportunity to replace a failed system of alienation and exploitation with a democratic collective response. One in which Labour rules. One in which millions of people can organise themselves without a new clique taking over.6

Our organisational norm must be Democracy. We are attempting, as individuals to work out our individual salvation. We are coming together not to acquire new supervisors and new bosses but to enhance our personal liberation through a pooling of resources. Further, and just as important, to live a full life in this climate people have to live in a community. It may be possible to live alone for a short period of time, but, as the saying goes, “heavy work calls for many hands.” We do not seek security, comfort and a social wage through collective action in order to be brought under someone else’s control. In fact one’s struggle against alienation is just as important as one’s struggle against economic scarcity. Many of us will gladly give up some worldly comfort in order to live a freer less alienated life.7

These reasons and many others spur us on to build Democracy into any collective response to social or economic problems. Let’s unite our desire for a self-actualising existence with Democratic practice, that is, let’s achieve Democratic Praxis.

End Notes

1. This introduces the question of “line command”.
2. The rich getting much richer and the poor getting much poorer are even stronger trends in the U.S. than they are in Canada. It should be noted that all three major political parties in English Canada (as well as the Bloc in Quebec) want Canada to integrate to a greater extent with the U.S. economy and to become more like the U.S. socially, politically and economically. With no force opposing and every force encouraging greater similarity and integration we have to assume that this is the way of the future. We can expect, at least over the next ten years, that we will become more warlike, have greater differences between rich and poor, have less access to health and education, higher unemployment, more people in jail, more crime, more racism, more interpersonal brutality, more pollution and more carcinogens among the many other benefits that being like Yanks will bring: including being hated by the rest of the world. The Conservatives are all over this. The Liberals are into “deep integration” and the NDP is convinced that becoming like Yanks will solve the problems in Auto, Steel, Lumber, Beef, Base Metals and advanced technology. Thus we can assume that the road we are on, that of the ruin of the working and middle classes, will continue and even accelerate. We are all agreed that the only option for Canada and Canadians is to copy the U.S. social and economic model. We should tie ourselves to the U.S. so that Parliament is no longer sovereign. We should be governed by treaties between the two countries rather than by the laws of our land. In other words Congress trumps Parliament. Thus we can posit a future in Canada controlled by the destiny of the U.S. The problems faced by Canadians with respect to health care, education, falling wages, increasing unemployment, jailing of people because they aren’t white, increased interpersonal brutality etc., etc. are more acute in the U.S. Over 99% of English Canadians support Political parties that work towards greater integration of Canadian Society into the social and political norms of the U.S. It will happen. There is absolutely no doubt about it. Ask Ignatieff. Ask Layton. They are totally in favour of the “Americanisation” of Canada. It will happen. It is happening. It will continue to happen.
3. One should note how anti-popular that sentence was. That is the type of wording one finds in essays on political economy. That’s because most essays concerning political economy are written by hirelings of the ruling class who don’t concern themselves with the plight of the masses. A popular essay such as this one written for and by working people has different concerns. We don’t look at the economy as some sort of computer model in which we juggle parameters. No, we look at how we can control the levers of production, and in harmony with nature, provide for our needs: physical, emotional, social, intellectual and spiritual.
4. We seek to be the subjects, the actors. We have to make history and fashion our lives. We will no longer merely re-act to our circumstances. We will create our circumstances.
5. An explanation of how this estimate was arrived at appears later in The Manual.
6. A headline concerning the Zionist war-crimes in Lebanon read “Vigil in Liverpool Fails to Stop Bombing”. And yes, the article was even better. We are not alone in understanding that actual functioning structure on the ground, for example a Bicycle Co-op, is more valuable than peace Marches. If one were a police agent, one would be best to organise peace marches; they keep radicals from doing something useful. As someone said to me “But we have to do something! Well Marches are next to nothing. One should not confuse a peace march with getting organised. Only through the democratic Organisation of our class will we get anywhere.
7. Alienation comes in many sizes and models. One form that bedevils Canadians is alienation from community: we are often isolated individuals lacking the reality of Social Solidarity.

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The Students, United, Wage Cultural Revolution!

Posted by sorev on 30/08/2009

The following essay focuses on the effect that students had in constructing the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in China. Our focus in this section on the GPCR is to draw the attention of comrades towards the concept of Social Revolution; that is to say, a revolution which attacks the very basic social relations of society in order to change them. The Social Revolution Party considers the GPCR to have been such an attempt. Furthermore, comrades should note that the role of students in the mass struggle is important. It is possible to change the world.

I. Introduction

…in the last fifty days or so some leading comrades from the central down to the local levels have acted in a diametrically opposite way [to Marxism-Leninism]. Adopting the reactionary stand of the bourgeoisie, they have enforced a bourgeois dictatorship and struck down the surging movement of the great cultural revolution of the proletariat. … How poisonous! Viewed in connection with the Right deviation in 1962 and the wrong tendency of 1964 which was ‘Left’ in form but Right in essence, shouldn’t this make one wide awake?1

It was with these words, written in early August of 1966, that Mao Zedong officially marked the beginning of the great proletarian Cultural Revolution. After months of unrest in much of China, particularly amoungst students and young workers, Mao latched himself onto a growing movement and in doing so provided the legitimacy required in order for the blossoming revolution to become a truly national phenomena throughout China. One of the most controversial periods in the history of modern China had been born.

rossoquote1The Cultural Revolution is considered by many historians to have begun around August of 1966, however the end point remains more ambiguous.2 Historians are generally divided into two camps in regards to the ending point of the Cultural Revolution; some consider the Cultural Revolution to have ended in December of 1968 with the destruction of the Red Guards and the establishment of the Down To The Countryside campaign,3 whereas others, including the official line of the Communist Party of China, believe the Cultural Revolution envelopes the drama surrounding the Gang of Four and comes to an end with the abolition of the Down To The Countryside campaign in 1977. While not mattering greatly within the scope of this paper, I fall into the former camp.4

It goes without saying that the interpretation of such a controversial event in the history of China is also greatly disputed. Though unfortunately not within the scope of this paper to argue, it is my conviction that the Cultural Revolution was a legitimate and honest struggle for socialism within China4. The Cultural Revolution attacked most of the old state institutions that existed within China, and specifically went after party bureaucrats who had become entrenched within the post-1949 Chinese state. The Cultural Revolution saw attacks on bourgeois forms of education, saw the creation of workers’ and students’ councils, saw the arming of said councils and the formation of the Red Guards, and ultimately saw the establishment of the Shanghai Commune in 1967.5 This is the historical bias from which I will approach the subject matter being discussed. However, the Cultural Revolution provides only the backdrop on which the events discussed in this paper occur. The main intent of this paper is to show how the student movement in China was instrumental in constructing the Cultural Revolution. The power of the student movement in China during the time leading up to and during the Cultural Revolution exists as a shining example to student and worker struggles everywhere, and indeed the Cultural Revolution needs to be re-evaluated within this light if we are to have success within the student movement in Canada. Particular attention will be paid to the experience of students at Peking University, and Tsinghua University. In the end, it will be proven that the student movement in China was instrumental in constructing the great proletarian Cultural Revolution.

II. The Experience of Students at Peking University

The origins of the Cultural Revolution at Peking University can be traced back to the after-effects of the largely failed Great Leap Forward. Despite the fact that one of the main goals of the Great Leap Forward was to extend quality education to the Chinese masses, particularly peasants, by the time 1965 arrived the Chinese education system was still extremely stratified. According to Victor Nee:

At the top were all of the elite schools… Their students were to become China’s future leaders, scientists, and professional men. Below the elite schools were the general full-time schools, which were to train middle level technicians, engineers, and teachers, most of who were destined for positions in the countryside. At the bottom were the part-time schools… which were there to provide a minimal education for China’s future peasant and working classes…6

Such a hierarchy of education ran completely contrary to the ideals of the Chinese Revolution of 1949, and “threatened to perpetuate structures which could only reinforce the social values of traditional China.”7 It was in response to the relative stagnation of progress within China’s education system that Mao initiated the Socialist Education Campaign in 1962. The aims of the Socialist Education Campaign (SEC) were three-fold. First, the SEC wanted to ensure that graduates of China’s best schools would go to the countryside and use their skills there. Second, the SEC encouraged students to go on work-study programs into the countryside in order to counter the spontaneous restoration of capitalism within small villages.8 And third, the SEC hoped to increase the enrolment of working class and peasant students within the elite schools.

Initially the SEC was limited to the countryside, but slowly and surely the SEC made its way into China’s cities. In 1964 the campaign was officially adopted at Peking University and a work-team arrived in rder to expose those within the university administration that were allegedly taking “the capitalist road.”9 The university administration, in particular the chair of Peking University’s Party Committee, Lu P’ing, was quick to criticize the work-team and actively organized for their removal. Working with the Beijing Municipal Committee, a close ally to Lu P’ing, “struggle-meetings” were organized that denounced the SEC work-team and attempted to force the work team to engage in self-criticisms. When the work-team refused to submit to criticism, they were removed from Peking University and 80 members of Peking University’s faculty who had sided with the work-team’s criticisms of the administration were forcibly removed from campus to await trial inside of the International Hotel in Beijing. This group of radical academics was to become known as the International Hotel Group.10

Meanwhile, the play Hai Jui Dismissed from Office, written in 1961 by famed historian Wu Han, was beginning to stir-up new controversy. Despite initial positive reception from Mao, various prominent leftists within China felt that the play was in fact a thinly veiled critique of Mao and his dismissal of old army bureaucrats. Mao, responding to pressure from his base of support within China, brought up the idea of criticizing Wu Han at a Central Committee meeting in October of 1965. Fearing that the renewed criticism of Wu Han would empower opponents of Peking University’s Party Committee,11 Lu P’ing organized for nearly two-thirds of the students at Peking University, particularly those students who were not members of the Communist Party, to be sent to the countryside. Under the guise of fulfilling the goals of the SEC, Lu P’ing had managed to isolate most of Peking University’s students from both the International Hotel Group and the new leftist criticisms of Wu Han.

Attempting to regain popularity amoungst the remaining students remaining at Peking University, Lu P’ing called a meeting of Party members in early May of 1966 where he encouraged the academic criticism of Hai Jui Dismissed from Office. Following this initial meeting, Lu P’ing began to organize public meetings where he echoed his encouragement of academic criticisms of Wu Han’s play. Lu P’ing had however seriously over-estimated his support within the Party at Peking University, and when various revolutionary elements within the Party began calling for a political criticism of Wu Han himself12, a call echoed by those faculty that still remained at the rossoquote2International Hotel, Lu P’ing began to realize that his control over Peking University was slipping.

Finding an opening in which the Party Committee and administration of Peking University could be attacked, the International Hotel Group began preparing a big-character poster criticizing Lu P’ing’s role in suppressing criticisms of Wu Han. The poster, entitled “What Have Sun Shuo, Lu P’ing, and P’en P’ei-yun Done in the Cultural Revolution?”,13 almost immediately began to garner support from the students still left at Peking University and within hours the walls of the school were covered in other posters criticizing the administration.14 The administration’s reaction was fierce, and in mobilizing the Communist Youth League (CYL),15 it was able to effectively shut down any meetings held by leftist dissenters and install a “reign of terror”16 at Peking University.

rossoquote3Lu P’ing’s victory was short-lived. On June 1st, 1966, Mao made a special request that the text of the International Hotel Group’s big-character poster be broadcast across Beijing;17 he would later go on to suggest that the particular poster was “China’s first Marxist-Leninist big-character poster.”18 Following the broadcast, a meeting was held at Peking University in which the leadership of the International Hotel Group was able to make a series of statements. The result was that even those students that had initially supported Lu P’ing and the Party Committee found themselves on the side of the leftists.

Throughout the following day, parades of revolutionaries from around Beijing – university students, high-school students, workers, peasants, Party cadres, etc. — made their way to the gates of Peking university in order to join the student rebels. P’eng P’eiyun, Sung Shuo, and most importantly Lu P’ing were all dismissed from office. The two thirds of Peking University students that had been sent to the countryside under the auspices of the SEC returned to the campus of Peking University filled with revolutionary vigour from their work-study experience, and the International Hotel Group was regraciated into the life of Peking University.

At the same time as celebrations were being carried out over the victory at Peking University, a new Municipal Committee had been formed. Attempting to restore order at Peking University, a work-team was dispatched in order to put down the leftist uprising. The work-team immediately closed the gates of the university and began a series of “struggle-sessions” that sought to denounce the leftists. While this initially worked, on June 7th posters criticizing the work-team appeared on the campus of Peking University. The renewed sense of struggle gradually galvanized the majority of the student population against the Municipal Committee’s work-team, and upon Mao’s recomendation,19 a delegation from Mao’s inner-circle was sent in order to inspect the climate at Peking University. The delegation was quick to issue criticism of the work-team for two main things. First, the delegation criticized the work-team for “not encourag[ing] the active participation of the revolutionary students and teachers of the whole University in carrying out the Cultural Revolution,”20 and second for failing to establish a new representative body at the university. Following an official report the work-team was immediately disbanded on July 26th, , 1966, and those students that had been dismissed for attacking the workteam were reinstated at Peking University. Peking University was renamed New Peking University; an institution which was reorganized and modelled after the Paris Commune of 1871. Attempting to network with others across China who were swept up in the revolutionary overthrow of the old post-revolutionary China, a Cultural Revolution Committee was formed on September 13th with one of the leaders of the International Hotel Group at its head.

The Cultural Revolution was in full swing at Peking University, built almost exclusively by the students.

III. The Experience of Students at Tsinghua University

If the students at Peking University reserved the right to claim the first rumblings of the Cultural Revolution, then the students at Tsinghua Univeristy, also in Beijing, reserved the right to claim the most intense conflicts during the Cultural Revolution. Immediately after Mao requested that the big-character poster of the International Hotel Group be broadcast on June 1st, 1966, students at Tsinghua University wasted no time in laying siege to their own university administration. For ten days, between June 1st, 1966 and June 10th, 1966, the students of Tsinghua University effectively turned their university into one of the key battle-grounds of the Cultural rossoquote4Revolution by launching intense criticisms of not only conservative professors, but also of those in high positions within the Party.21 The reaction of the Party bureaucrats within Tsinghua University’s Party Committee and the Beijing Municipal Committee was incredibly quick and severe. A work-team was formed and arrived on the Tsinghua Campus on June 10th in order to restore a sense of order and to ensure that criticisms of those in high positions in the Party were quickly silenced. Despite being received positively on their arrival,22 it was soon clear that the work-team was not there to aid the rebels. On June 13th, 1966, a mass meeting was held where Yeh Lin, the organizer of the work-team, laid out a twofold plan to restore order at Tsinghua University. Yeh Lin’s program amounted to: all department- and university-level cadres [being] suspended and [being] ordered to report in groups for study. … all students [being] called upon to return to their classrooms for a major campaign of self-and-mutual criticism.23 It became clear to the students that the goal of the work-team was to break up the blossoming student movement in order to prevent them from effectively waging the Cultural Revolution. Unfortunately for the work-team, the students of Tsinghua University were not ready to capitulate and resistance to the “white-terror”, as the period of the work-team was later to be known, began without much delay. On June 23rd a student named Kuai Ta-fu, who was to become one of the main student leaders at Tsinghua University, issued a poster known as “What’s this all about, Comrade Yeh Lin?” which viciously criticized the work-team. The work-team responded by calling a public meeting on June 28th in order to denounce Kuai as a counter-revolutionary.

The meeting resulted in an embarrassing failure for the work-team and posters began to surface that criticized the work-team’s commitment to not only the Cultural Revolution, but socialist revolution and Maoism in general. The work-team, reeling from criticisms, was thrown into disarray24. Rumours had been circulating that Liu Shao-chi’s wife, Wang Kuang-mei, was secretly in charge of the work-team.25 In order to hold the work-team together, Wang Kuang-mei was forced to step into the open at the June 28th mass meeting in order to ensure the work-team and the students of Tsinghua University that the workteam had the full confidence of the Party, particularly Liu Shaochi and Mao. Wang Kuang-mei’s appeal worked in that the workteam began to refocus itself, but the students of Tsinghua University were not convinced. The following day another series of posters criticizing the work-team appeared on campus.

In response to their waning influence, the work-team began a campaign directed entirely at Kuai Ta-fu known as the “Pull Out Kuai” campaign. Once again students did not respond and the resistance against the work-team further intensified. Everything came to a head when on July 22nd, 1966, Mao returned from southern China and wasted no time in questioning the purpose of the work-teams. Indeed, Mao had been a firm supporter of the student rebels and in reply to their queries wrote this: Red Guard comrades of Tsinghua University Middle School:

“I have received both the big-character posters which you sent on 28 July as well as the letter which you sent to me, asking for an answer. The two big-character posters which you wrote on 24 June and 4 July express your anger at, and denunciation of, all landlords, bourgeois, imperialists, revisionists, and their running dogs who exploit and oppress the workers, peasants, revolutionary intellectuals and evolutionary parties and groupings. You say it is right to rebel against reactionaries; I enthusiastically support you. I also give enthusiastic support to the big-character poster of the Red Flag Combat group of Peking University Middle School which said that it is right to rebel against the reactionaries; and to the very good revolutionary speech given by comrade P’eng Hsiao-meng representing their Red Flag Combat Group at the big meeting attended by all the teachers, students, administration and workers of Peking University on 25 July. Here I want to say that I myself as well as my revolutionary comrades-in-arms all take the same attitude. No matter where they are, in rossoquote5Peking or anywhere in China, I will give enthusiastic support to all who take an attitude similar to yours in the Cultural Revolution movement. …” 26

This letter, which was printed on August 1st but would have undoubtedly been received by the students at Tsinghua University beforehand, proved that Mao did not endorse the work-team and on July 29th a mass meeting was held where the work-team was denounced and forced to withdraw from Tsinghua University.27 The question then arose as to how best re-organize Tsinghua University after the fall of work-team’s 50 day reign. Two different lines emerged amoungst the students. The first sought to rehabilitate old and reactionary faculty in order to allow the university to return to normal. The second, headed by Kuai Ta-fu, wanted nothing to do with the old faculty and instead suggested that only revolutionary faculty should be allowed to teach. On August 8th, 1966, the latter organized themselves into a group known as the 8-8s, and the following day, the former organized themselves into a group known as the 8-9s.28 Following two weeks of active campaigning against one another, the 8-9s appealed to the university administration for help. On August 23rd, 1966, they received the support of Chian Nan-hsiang,29 effectively throwing the 8-9s into the ruling circles of Tsinghua University and silencing the 8-8s.30

Despite the fact that the 8-9s had administrative support, the 8-8s continued to campaign and gradually gained more support from the students at Tsinghua University. The 8-8s were effectively waging an up-hill battle until October 6, 1966, when Mao hosted another meeting of the Red Guards in Beijing. At this meeting Mao directly endorsed all those who were struggling against the old, reactionary order which provided a massive boom to the 8-8s and effectively put them on the offensive at Tsinghua University.31 In the days following, the 8-9s found themselves losing support to the 8-8s to the extent that they felt forced to burn their seal and flag, and in early November of 1966 the 8-9s merged with the 8-8s to form the Chingkangshan Regiment headed by Kuai Ta-fu. Kuai, due to his unchanging, and eventually correct stance throughout 1966 and 1967, became a national icon for students everywhere to emulate.

Throughout most of November and December of 1966 the Chingkangshan Regiment began consolidating their power at Tsinghua University and organizing their own cadre. Due to the Chingkangshan Regiment’s prestige throughout China, as early as January of 1967, other universities began appealing to the Chingkangshan Regiment for help in fighting their own manifestations of the Cultural Revolution. The Chingkangshan Regiment sent delegates to various universities around China, particularly in outlying regions. It was through these delegations that the cadre of the Chingkangshan Regiment learned the necessity of seizing power in order to effectively wage Cultural Revolution; indeed, their comrades in China’s outlying regions were not fortunate enough to have sympathetic administrations and had been forced to take over their universities in order to simply publish material. As a result, in mid-January of 1967 the Chingkangshan Regiment seized power at Tsinghua University and deposed the administration.32 The Cultural Revolution had become firmly established at Tsinghua University.

IV. Conclusion

As has been demonstrated, it was the students in China that jump-started the Cultural Revolution. Initially it was student revolt, and student-based challenges to entrenched bureaucrats within the Chinese Communist Party that led to the outbreak of the Cultural Revolution at Peking University. Following Mao’s support for the rebels at Peking University, the students at Tsinghua University began struggling, and intensified their struggle to the point that they managed to extend the Cultural Revolution to other institutions around China. In this way, the student movement in China was instrumental in constructing the great proletarian Cultural Revolution.

End Notes
1. Mao Zedong, “Bombard the Headquarters – My First Big-
Character Poster”, Peking Review, August 5, 1966
2. An, MAO TSE-TUNG’S Cultural Revolution , 22.
3. Nee, The Cultural Revolution at Peking University, 74.
4. My conviction rests upon the entire body of work written by the anti-revisionist school of Marxist thought, of which only an infinitely small amount was used in the preparation of this paper. Though this school of thought is certainly open to criticism, focusing too much on Mao`s role within the context of the Cultural Revolution proper detracts from the overall series of events.
5. An, MAO TSE-TUNG’S Cultural Revolution, 28.
6. Nee, The Cultural Revolution at Peking University, 38.
7. Ibid, 39
8. This spontaneous restoration of capitalism included: “increase in private plots, excessive sideline occupations, rural free markets, the tendency amoung better-off peasants to “go it alone”, and the re-emergence of rich peasants.”. Ibid, 42.
9. Ibid, 42.
10. Ibid, 43.
11. Wu Han was also the deputy mayor of Beijing, and therefore sat on the Beijing Municipal Committee. The Municipal Committee had, of course, been a staunch ally of Lu P’ing’s while Lu P’ing sought to sieze control of Peking University from the SEC work-team in early 1965.
12. As opposed to a purely academic criticism of his play. Academic criticisms focused solely on the historical merits of Hai Jui Dismissed from Office, whereas political criticisms of Wu Han sought to uncover the class nature of Wu Han’s deviancy from revolutionary ideals.
13. P’eng P’ei-yun was the Party Committee of Peking University’s vice-secretary, and Sung Shuo was a member of the Municipal Committee’s Universities Department. Ibid, 54.
14. Ibid, 54.
15. The CYL was organizationally conservative, as the leadership
was tied directly to Lu P’ing’s administration.
16. Ibid, 57.
17. The request was made in a document written by Mao that criticized Liu Shao-ch’i, the then-Chairman of the Communist Party of China and one of the main targets of the Cultural Revolution. Ibid, 57.
18. Mao Zedong, “Bombard the Headquarters – My First Big- Character Poster”, Peking Review, August 5, 1966
19. Mao had recently returned from Shanghai only to find the budding Cultural Revolution in disarray due to the intrigues of the work-team. Nee, The Cultural Revolution at Peking University, 61.
20. Ibid, 66.
21. Hinton, 100 Day War: The Cultural Revolution at Tsinghua University, 44.
22. It was believed that the work-team was being sent by Liu Shao-chi in order to aid the rebel students. While, as it was later found out, the work-team was sent by Liu Shao-chi, it was most definitely to put down the Cultural Revolution. Liu was to later become one of the prime targets of the Cultural Revolution.
23. Ibid, 45.
24. Ibid, 51.
25. Indeed, the reason for the poster “What’s this all about, Comrade Yeh Lin?” was that a female member of the work-team pretended to be Wang Kuang-mei in order to gather confessions from students.
26. Mao Zedong, “A Letter To The Red Guards Of Tsinghua University Middle School”, Long Live Mao Tse-tung Thought, August 1, 1966.
27. Hinton, 100 Day War: The Cultural Revolution at Tsinghua University, 68.
28. Ibid, 69.
29. Chian Nan-hsiang was the president of Tsinghua Univerisity.
30. Ibid, 74.
31. Ibid, 96.
32. Ibid, 106.

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First Editorial of Social Revolution’s Journal

Posted by sorev on 30/08/2009

Welcome to the first issue of Social Revolution!; the official party organ of the Social Revolution Party! This is the first of two preliminary issues that will be published before the Party’s pre-founding convention in January, 2010. The goal of publishing before such a time is to essentially announce to the world that we exist, and to provide an organising focal point for our comrades. So, to make it official: the Social Revolution Party is here.

The question then becomes: What is the Social Revolution Party? The Social Revolution Party is a mass-line communist organization. What this means is that the Party is primarily committed to building a Canadian society based on the principles of working class mass-democracy. We are Marxist in our perspective. The Social Revolution Party holds the position that the organisation of a mass-movement, a mass-movement eventually capable of seizing state power, is the primary task for revolutionaries in our current situation. As such, the Social Revolution Party is actively engaged in the creation of the Popular Action Movement.

The distinction between the Party and the mass-movement is not the only contribution that the Social Revolution Party makes special note of. We also put forward the idea of social revolution (it is in our name after all); that is to say, not just a revolution that changes the leadership in a given society but a revolution that strikes right at the heart of the social relations in society in order to change them. The society that we envision is one that is equitable and just for all, not just in the realm of laws, but also in the realm of inter-personal relationships. We have no minimum or maximum demands: our goal is communism. In order to achieve communism, we will need a social revolution.

The Social Revolution Party also believes that it is necessary to have a program that is able to guide the working class towards communism. To this end, Social Revolution! will serve as a forum to discuss ideas of both theory and practice as we head towards a founding convention. It is only through serious and honest debate that we will be able to formulate the underpinnings of the world that we want to achieve. We welcome honest criticisms of our articles and will try to print as many as possible.

In this issue you will find articles written by our own comrades, as well as the re-printing of a series of articles from our comrades worldwide. Specifically, we have reprinted material from the Worker-Communist Party of editorialquote1Iran, the Naxalite movement in India, and from the Kasama Project in the United States. The Social Revolution Party understands the contradictions inherent in printing articles from mutually-hostile perspectives and ideologies, but at the same time we feel that “fights in the old country are fights in the old country” so to speak. We believe that it is possible to move beyond a narrow sectarian horizon and begin to look at the various struggles against imperialism and for socialism all over the world with fresh eyes; most, if not all, have something valuable to teach us. Those that are actually struggling to build socialism and communism are our comrades; those that are fighting to split the International Communist Movement are not.

In conclusion, we areeditorialquote2 at the cusp of something big. After the fall of the USSR, the promised worldwide prosperity never appeared for the people of the world; indeed, for most, times have gotten much worse. The idea of change, and the understanding that a better world is both possible and necessary is resurfacing. All over the world the International Communist Movement is undergoing a period of intense soul-searching: programs are being reformulated, sins are being aired, and new struggles are becoming increasingly frequent. Communism, despite the wishes of the ruling class, is not off the agenda anymore. The Social Revolution Party is the Canadian manifestation of this phenomenon. To this end, onward comrades! We have a world to win!

-Comrade Rosso

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