. The May 1, 1984 issue of The Workers' Advocate is now available here in its entirety as a PDF pamphlet. It's been a quarter of a century since this 126-page pamphlet first appeared, but the subjects it deals with remain of interest. The mistaken views and practices that spread in the communist movement in the decade following World War II still influence the working class movement today.
. Below are the introduction and the complete table of contents:
. The May 1, 1984 issue of The Workers' Advocate, which is now being made available on the Internet in a PDF edition, was a large pamphlet of 126 pages, which dealt with the line of the Soviet-led section of the international communist movement in the immediate post-world war II period. It covered the period of Stalin's leadership, up to his death in 1953, and analyzed the views of Soviet leaders, the Cominform, various European parties, and the CPUSA. It showed the revisionist nature of these views. The corrupt orientation of abandoning revolutionary work in the capitalist countries, and the other rotten practices which were at one time thought to originate in Khrushchovite revisionism, were already being championed by the Stalinist leadership of this time. The pamphlet illustrated how superficial was the supposed repudiation at that time of Browderism and other liquidationist views, views which had led not only to the temporary dissolution of the CPUSA in 1944, but to the elimination of the revolutionary content of the agitation of many parties that called themselves communist.
. The pamphlet regarded these practices as major weaknesses and seriously mistaken practices in a world movement that was still genuinely communist. At the time this document was prepared, although the Marxist-Leninist Party was polemicizing against the mistaken orientations of the Stalinists, it still thought that socialism was being built in the USSR during the post-war period and right up until the Khrushchovite regime that came about soon after Stalin's death. It still thought that it was under Khrushchov that socialism was first replaced with state-capitalism. Further theoretical work and study of Soviet history by the MLP and, later, the Communist Voice Organization led to the conclusions that the historic Bolshevik revolution of 1917 had begun fading away sometime in the 1920s, and that not a socialist system, but a state-capitalist one, was built up in the USSR in the 1930s. Thus in the post-World War II period the Soviet Union was not a socialist country, but a capitalist one, albeit with a new form of capitalism. This was the economic base for Stalinism being a new form of revisionism; and it's why the Soviet regime became oppressive.
. So, if this document were rewritten today, it would not just criticize various of their policies, but draw a class line against the Soviet leadership of that time, and condemn the state-capitalist tyranny practiced by revisionism. Indeed, since the May, 1984 issue of The Workers' Advocate, we have learned more about various of the betrayals and brutalities of the state-capitalist leadership, such as the mass deportation of the entire Chechen people and of several other small nationalities and the methods of subjugating other parties and countries. A rewriting of this document would sharply bring out the contradictions resulting from a communist movement, comprising the main forces of the class-conscious proletariat in various countries, that looked to a hostile class force, the Stalinist leadership of the state-capitalist bourgeoisie in the Soviet Union, as its standard-bearer. And it would also be enriched with a deeper discussion of communist tactics, making use of the further experience and theoretical study since that time by the MLP, and then the Communist Voice Organization.
. Nevertheless, the pamphlet gave a good picture of the general framework for political work in capitalist countries being set forward in the world communist movement at that time. It didn't just describe the MLP's opinion of what was going on in the post-World War II period, but provided extensive documentation from the writings of the CPSU and other parties. It was part of a series of documents in the 1980s with which the MLP brought into the open the issues worrying the anti-revisionist movement of which it was a part. The MLP took a steadfast stand against reformist treachery, no matter from what quarter, to the cause of building a militant and independent working class movement. Even though mistaken on the nature of the Soviet Union in the post-World War II period and about the system that was eventually built up in Albania, the MLP held back nothing in providing an historical account of the views and practices of the world revolutionary movement, as far as it was aware of them. In doing so, the MLP -- in company with a handful of other courageous anti-revisionist groups and individuals around the world -- refused to be intimidated by various of its one-time friends in certain other parties, and preferred to suffer protracted isolation than to hide the truth from the activists involved in collective struggle against capitalist exploitation and tyranny. These matters were discussed by all members and supporters of the MLP, and it was decided at MLP congresses and national conferences to bring the discussion, as far as we could, to all the working-class activists and communists of the world. The MLP's knowledge may have been partial, and its analysis of world communist history a work in progress, but its commitment was total to developing the anti-revisionist struggle as a conscious activity, not of a handful of knowledgeable people, but of the mass of communist activists and workers.
. The issues raised by these documents have remained issues in the left-wing movement till this day. They concern such matters as the struggle against the threat of imperialist war, the attitude that the activists in imperialist countries should take to the national liberation movement, the assessment of social-democracy and reformist forces, the stand towards the class-collaborationist labor bureaucracy, whether to adapt one's agitation to petty-bourgeois nationalist prejudices, whether to see the class nature of the entire bourgeoisie or pretend that only a small ultra-right section was responsible for the war-drive and other bourgeois crimes, and whether communist parties should join bourgeois governments. If one wants to take part in building a revolutionary working-class movement, it isn't sufficient to simply know that the communist movement was subordinated to state-capitalist Stalinist regimes, and that this helped corrupt it. One still has to know what the correct orientation for communist activity is. If all one knows about what is wrong with the views given in the post-World War II period is that the movement was subordinated to the Soviet leadership, then one knows very little about how to build the working-class movement. One can't simply answer the question of what to do by saying "just be sure, whatever you decide, not to be subordinated to the views and motives of this or that Stalinist regime or official". Trotskyism acts in this way and devotes so much effort to generalities about "socialism in one country" because it doesn't really have a good idea of what's wrong with Stalinism: underneath its misleading rhetorical slogans, its views have much in common with Stalinism. (See "An Outline of Trotskyism's Anti-Marxist Theories", at www.communistvoice.org/00TrotskyOutline.html, for an updated and anti-Stalinist critique of the basic ideas of Trotskyism.)
. As well, the study of the erroneous post-World War II orientation underlines the need to carry forward the anti-revisionist struggle to the end. The Stalinist-dominated movement sometimes claimed to be fighting revisionism; the Cominform often put on a "left" pose in its denunciations of imperialism; and a show was made of upholding Leninist theory. But this was pretense. It isn't sufficient to be satisfied with the milquetoast anti-revisionism of the CPUSA's reconstitution in 1945, that reversed its dissolution in 1944 by Browder, or with the Maoist assessment of the world communist movement. A careful study of world communist history shows the need to uphold the real standpoint of Marx, Engels, and Lenin against the contortions of Stalinist revisionism. And it is also necessary for activists today to further develop communist theory by taking account of the experience of a century of mass struggle and revolutionary organizing since Lenin's death, analyzing new developments in the economic and political situation of the world, and dealing with the new questions of our day.
. This pamphlet's coverage of the communist movement of that time was, however, geographically limited. It dealt mainly with the Soviet, French, British, and American parties; the Cominform; and the World Peace Congress. Aside from some remarks about the Maoists, it did not deal with the Asian, Latin American, Australian, and African parties. This is not because the MLP regarded these other parties and movements as unimportant; on the contrary, the pamphlet discussed and sharply condemned the general lack of interest of Stalin and various parties in the national liberation movements and other revolutionary struggles of the oppressed peoples outside Europe. Instead this limited coverage was for the sake of bringing into sharp focus the views and practices most closely associated with Stalin and the Cominform.
Joseph Green, editor, Communist Voice
April 6, 2009
Last modified on May 18, 2009.