27th October 2003
You can read the letter we are answering to on 1 August 2003 ( here.)
1.We thank you very much for your long letter concerning our Founding Declaration. It is a honour for our organisation to receive a detailed contribution from supporters of the famous Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist). We understand this as an important contribution to the development of the international relations between Communist forces in different continents and of a deep interest of advanced Communist Parties in neo-colonial countries where class struggle is much further developed in the activities of Communist parties and organisations in imperialist countries where at present the Communist movement is in an extraordinarily complicated situation and makes only very little progress. The hints in your letter are a great help for strengthening our political basis and enlarging and further developing our political line as the fundament in the process of party building.
2.We regret that with our weak forces we are unable to translate a series of important publications of our organisation into English to present them to the Internatonal Communist Movement (ICM). For many years we have deliberately restricted ourselves to publications in German (and sometimes in Turkish) language. In the 4 brochures „Against the ruling Order“ („Fight imperialism! Fight EU!“, „Fight the Austrian bourgeois state!“, „Fight the bourgeois trade unions, labour aristocracy and social partnership!“ and „Fight social and wage cuts and capitalist working conditions!“) and in the „Theses on imperialist war“ essential elements of our political line are summed up and concentrated. But we know that Communist organisations not speaking German can have only a very restricted view of our organisation and our activities.
Our participation in international debates is made made very difficult by the fact that essentially only our Founding Declaration (FD) is available in English (plus French and Turkish).
On the other hand we are conscious of certain important weaknesses of our FD, especially the lack of important positions regarding programmatic and tactical fundamentals as well as questions of party building. For reasons on the organisatoric level, at the time of our foundation the KOMAK-ML was unable to sum up the positions having been developed up to that time (in the forerunning organisations and within the Revolutionary Platform) in a larger and clearer Programmatic Declaration.
Party and Ideology
3. You citicize with good reason the vage phrasing in our FD reading: „… the following experiences and teachings form the most important pillars of our political line …“ (FD, section „Foundations“, p. 3) and point out that the „events and developments in the international communist movement“ must be assessed differently – „many (of them) … make us rejoice, yet there have also been many things in the movement which should cause us to grieve“ (your letter, section „Ideological Foundation“). It is true that the points mentioned in the FD give only the very rough contours of the „fundamentals of our struggle“ and are formulated statically. We agree with you that – as you say – Communists must make a use of “ learning from these“ events and developments to „contribute to the advancement of the science of proletarian revolution. (…) For a new communist organisation … it is necessary to delve into many of these great events and developments so as to recognise our weaknesses as well as our strengths and learn from them.“ (your letter, section „Ideological Foundation“)
At the time of our foundation the discussion regarding the conclusions of the positve and negative experiences of the Soviet Union, China, Albania etc. were not brought such far that we could have expressed a precise position. We as a whole organisation, are still in the course of finding larger clearness and forming a well-founded opinion on these essentials. This however will take us some more time. But we regularly publish our position on some of these questions in leaflets and articles in our Proletarian Review.
4. There is however another reason, connected with the concrete experiences of the Communist movement in Austria (but also in other EU countries) in the passed 30 years, that at our foundation we have done without a decided statement about Mao (or Hoxha) and have concentrated on the main questions of class struggle and party building in Austria. We are however of the same opinion as you that Mao was „tremendously enriching the proletarian ideology, so much“ that his „conclusions and lessons … have indeed become indispensable for any revolution in the world today“ in this sense „that failure to recognise, uphold, defend and apply the body of new contributions to Marxism by Mao greatly handicaps“ Marxist-Leninist parties and organisations (your letter, section „Ideological Foundation“). We judge the attacks of the Albania-oriented Communist forces against the works of Mao since the „Scientific Conference“ of Tirana 1978 as a serious error and an important reason for the dissipation of the ICM. In PR 12 we e.g. published an article under the title „Mao in Europe“, where it reads: „With good reason Mao Zedong enjoys the appreciation and esteem of revolutionary Communists of all countries as a Marxist theorist and organizer of the victorious Chinese people’s revolution of 1949. (…) Today it is essential for Communists to develop a sound stand-point on Mao, the Chinese Communism and the modern revisionism of the Chinese forming. That is neither a question of raising Mao into the heavens as a semi-god nor knocking him to pieces as a clumsy oaf from the Chinese rural areas. That would be a ‚left‘ or right opportunist position untenable from the standpoint of revolutinary Communism.“ (Proletarian Review 12, p.34) In our opinion Mao’s works and contributions refering to people’s war, class struggle in socialism and the cultural revolution count to his greatest merits. Both Stalin and Mao have enriched Leninism and successfully led the construction on socialism.
In this context we however want to inform you that we disapprove the term of „Maoism“ and do not understand Maos contributions as the „third stage of Marxism“ . We have not yet dealt enough with the documents of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement (RIM) but we can say at the present state of discussion that we have much less differences with the RIM Declaration of 1984 than with the declaration of 1993 „Long live Marxism-Leninism-Maoism!“ In any case we agree with you that the RIM Declaration is a good fundament – as you you put it – for „healthy ideological and political discussions and debates… (to) take place among revolutionary communists“ (your letter, section „Ideological Foundation“). For this reason we offer this brochure in our LiteratureDistribution and on our info tables, and will try to deal with it in our entire organisation.
5. We agree with you when you point out that we will have to cut out much clearer the character of the fighting Revolutionary Communist Party for the construction of which we are doing proparatory work. Since the complete degeneration of „K“POe (the so-called „Communist“ Party of Austria) in the 1950ies, the historical teachings are nearly completely forgotten in the Austrian working class that – as you say – „building up of a vanguard party of the proletariat is a vital question to make revolution.“ (your letter, section „Ideological Foundation“) We agree with you when you emphasize that the acquiring of the „scientific ideology“ , the development of the „political line“ and the „programme for the revolution“ , as well as the importance of „inner party struggles“ (or „two-line struggle“ ) for the development of „democratic centralism“ are focal tasks in party building (your letter, section „Three instruments“). All these are principled issues of party building and without a clear attidude and outlook toward that, the process of party building must get stuck at the very beginning and fail soon, and „the many great efforts might be wasted“ (your letter, section „The line“).
We were aware of this already before the foundation of our organisation and have dealt with this problem. But we did not go further into it in our FD because the discussion is not finished yet. Therefore, regarding the political line we have only stressed in our FD that „in our publications we will develop especially our revolutionary political line.“ (FD p. 13)
6. In two passages of our FD the revisionist countries are mentioned and stated that through the restauration of captialism a new bourgeoisie has emerged within the communist party. In view of the relatively wide neo-revisionist current – who in fact agree that revisionism seized power under Chrushtchew but deny the restauration of capitalism – you are right in stressing that „there is also need for proletarian revolution in revisionist countries“ (your letter, section „Situation today“). Especially for the debate with opposition forces within „K“POe and regarding a whole string of organisations taking part in the Brussels Conferences it is important to state it clearly.
Class struggle and revolution in Austria
7. For our country we make a strict difference between the United Front (UF) of the working class for Socialism and a (even broader) people’s front in a special situation, as e.g. fascism or war. You mention the relation to „the organisation of armed-detachments“ as the main difference between a UF in oppressed countries and in imperialist ones (your letter, section „Three instruments“). In our opinion this is true but not sufficient. We think that such a broad front as you propose it also for imperialist countries – namely including relevant parts of the petty bourgeoisie and the middle bourgeoisie – is only wise and possible under very special conditions, e.g. a broad people’s front against an imminently threatening or already successful fascist coup of the monopoly capital. Leading core of such a people’s front must however be the UF of the working class.
8. Altogether there seem to exist different opinions on the issue of the united front (UF) and its concrete contents for the revolutionary struggle in a country like Austria . So you mention „the revolutionary movement … of the broad masses … and not just one class “ as the aim of the „united front of different class forces “ (your letter, section „Three instruments“). At the same time you write in the opening of your letter correctly that in Austria „the working-class make up the majority of the population.“ (your letter, 1st paragraph).
In our opinion, in our country all other classes (except bourgeoisie and proletaiat) have decomposed to a large extent in the course of development of the past 150 years. Therefore we speak of the „united front of the working class“ and of „winning parts of the petty bourgeois intermediate strata for the struggle“. We hold – just like you – that „the revolutionary united front (UF) is … absolutely essential to give this weight, depth and broadness and power to enable the revolution to … destroy the counter-revolution“ (your letter, section „Three instruments“). For this reason, since the founding we have tried hard to develop embryo forms of „mass organisations“ of female, of immigrant and of young workers, and in the area of companies and trade unions (cf. FD, section „Next tasks“, p.12) – with varying success up to now. It is a fault in our FD that we expressly stress only the importance of „alliances of action with other fighting movements“ (FD ibid.) but the politcal framework is not sufficiently defined, namely the task of building a „united front of the working class“.
We think that the united front is necessary to fulfill two tasks: Firstly, to lead or include non-communist forces of the working class in the struggle against imperialism and capitalist state; and secondly, to widen the front against the monopoly capitalistic, oppressive state beyond the working class.
In Austria the UF comprises on the one hand: the whole working class, other working women and youth, immigrants, national minorities (in all of these the working class being the big majority, so it is easier to succeed in getting through the proletarian revolutionary line); on the other hand: semi-proletarian parts of the old and new middle strata and the lower parts of the new middle strata (these are put into a similar situation as the working class by impoverishment and state repression, but are separated from the working class by their socio-political concepts and their illusionary perspectives of an idividual way out their situation within the existing system).
9. The united front (UF) in developed capitalist-imperialist countries is the united front of the working class who, in their struggle for socialist revolution, have to carry along „other exploited and oppressed classes and social strata “ (your letter, section „Three instruments“) or at least neutralize them. Neither the urban nor the rural petty bourgeoisie (own means of production but no relevant exploitation of other people’s work-force) form a compact class in our country, but they are split up into various strata with partually totally different interests. During the last 150 years, since the bourgeois revolution and the liberation of farmers, they have decomposed into opposite, and to some extent antagonistic classes and strata (from the big agrarian capitalist to the small peasant who does have an own small farm but but earns the biggest part of his living by wage labour). The middle bourgeoisie (including their lower strata who essentially live on the exploitation of other people’s work force but are themselves forced to work in their enterprise to guarantee making headway) is a thoroughly reactionary class in Austria today. In some issues they occationally get into conflict with the big and monopoly capital (e.g. concerning the EU membership) but their demands are generally heading backwards and there is no possibility of a united struggle with them. In developed capitalist-imperialist countries there is a relatively broad intermediate stratum between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie formed by employees of the service industry (as far as they are not part of the working class anyway), fictuous self-employed intellectuals, employees in academic professions and various forms of semi-proletarians. This group is also called „middle class“ or „new middle class“ – but must not be mixed up with the middle bourgeoisie. Big parts of those are drawn near to the proletariat, especially in times of crises, and it is an important task of the Communist Party to win as large parts as possible for the struggle for socialism. Our stategic aim is the overthrow of the bourgeoisie and the construction of the dictatorship of the proletariat as a precondition for further steps. And for that an alliance or even united front with parts of the bourgeoisie is not possible.
By the way this position is not only advocated by us but similarily also e.g. by the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA who are as well as the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) participants of the RIM. In the current draft programme of RCP,USA a paragraph of the section on united front reads, „The Party’s strategy of the United Front under the Leadership of the Proletariat is a ‚magic weapon‘ for forging an alliance of forces that can bring about the victory of proletarian revolution. Wielding this strategy, the proletariat can distinguish potential friends from enemies, uniting significant sections of the middle class (teachers, farmers, professionals, etc.) against the bourgeoisie .“ As a „common enemy“ they – unlike you – do not name „the monopoly bourgeoisie“ but „the imperialist system and bourgeois dictatorship“. (Draft Programme of the RCP,USA, Part 1, chapter „The Path to Power“, section „United Front“)
10. Referring to the relationship of Communists in imperialist countries to „other exploited and oppressed classes and social strata like the petty bourgeoisie (and) middle bourgeoisie “ mentioned in your letter (section „Three instruments“) we want to explain our point of view in detail.
Your letter says, “ … in imperialist countries the Party will have to build, help build or encourage the building of pro-people, anti-exploitation, anti-oppression mass-organisations in order to build the UF. The party organisations must thus actively participate in struggles involving not only workers of all strata, but also youth, students, women and people of other social classes and strata like the petty-bourgeoisie, middle-bourgeoisie and working people like the semi-proletariat.“ (ibid.) In a similar sense you write at the beginning of your letter, that also „in countries like Austria … the political party of the proletariat must strive to unite all the other class forces that can be united to oppose, struggle and defeat the principal enemy“ and name it „the state representing and leading the monopoly bourgeoisie“ (your letter, 1st paragraph).
We have talked about this paragraph at some length and are of the opinion – possible misunderstandigs excepted – that our two organisations have different views on the the situation and tasks in a country like Austria.
Firstly, in our country the majority of youth and women are a direct part of the proletariat, and winning the youth and women for the struggle against the capitalist-imperialist system of oppression and exploitation does in the first instance not mean winning „other social strata“ but winning and organising especially the young and the female workers . Specific demands of the youth and women’s movement are carried forward and propagated by us if they correspond with the concerns of the working-class youth and women who objectively form the majority of these sectors of society.
Secondly, we are convinced that it would be wrong to orientate on the winning of „the petty bourgeoisie and middle bourgeoisie“ in our struggle for socialist revolution.
11. We must further deal with the theory of the “ three instruments of class struggle “ in our organisation before we can give our view on it. We suppose that in the form explained by you it is not directly applicable to imperialist countries such as Austria. Labour aristocracy e.g. is in our country a stratum so firmly linked to the bourgeoisie that the revolutionary activities in trade unions have become a crucial issue for revolution. Therefore we think that the red trade union opposition is an outstanding, independent instrument for revolution. Without such a trade union organisation and the systematic preparation of the revolutionary general strike the revolutionary struggle will be tending towards adventurism. We are convinced that the revolutinary movement must lead into an armed revolt and seizing power by the working class by means of soviets (revolutionary counsils) and that the seizing of power will be followed most probably by a long people’s war against the domestic and foreign counter-revolution. We however doubt that beside party and people’s army all other necessary instruments of revolutionary class struggle can bei summed up under the term of „united front“ as the 3rd „magic weapon“ (your letter, section „Three instruments“).
12. We think that the tactics of united front is an essential weapon for the union of all forces that come into fundamental contradiction with the capitalist-imperialist state. Especially in our intervention in struggles in factories and by trade unions, the struggle of working women, working-class youth, working immigrants and anti-fascist-democratic struggles we use it as a guide-line. In our opinion, in Austria (and other EU countries) the main problem is the weakness of the working-class itself and not the weakness of alliance politics.
We as an organisation have not so much developed up to now that we can develop an extended mass work in the above-mentioned sectors and fields. So we must limit ourselves to interventions in relevant movements and at certain points, and concentrate at the beginning of the first phase of party building on the creation of a firm nucleus of Communists who devote themselves persevering, principled and vividly to the revolutionary tasks of the proletariat. In our Founding Declaration (FD) we have, therefore, expressly pointed to the big problem of developing cadres (FD, section „Next tasks“, p.12).
In Austria the revolutionary tradition of Communist theory and practice is buried to a large extent. Although in 1963 a determined group of Marxist-Leninists have left the socalled „K“POe („C“P Austria) who had got bogged down completely and they made first steps in constructing the Marxist-Leninist Party of Austria (MLPOe) that still exists today (and who we have rather close contacts to). But the MLPOe has not succeeded in playing persistently an influential role in the class struggle in Austria. Today, the biggest organisation by far that is not totally subdued by the labour aristocracy in Austria is the petty-bourgeois and reformist „K“POe. Within this organisation there is a relatively strong opposition who define themselves as „Marxist-Leninist“ but are ideologically completely splintered and at variance. But the discussions run on an incredibly low level and the „K“POe opposition concentrate themselves nearly exclusively on the seizing of the party apparatus, and negate any questions of constructing a fighting revolutionary Communist party. For this reason the allegedly „Marxist-Leninist“ forces in the „K“POe can (as a current or grouping) not really be involved in the important issues of revolutionary struggle and party building in Austria.
We in Austria are at the very beginning of party building and therefore want to point out to you the special importance of the two phases in the construction of the Party to create a better understanding of our situation. We stress with Lenin and Stalin the necessity to concentrate in this first phase on the most advanced class-conscious workers (on „winning the vanguard of the proletariat for Communism“, Lenin). That is also of importance for a correct assessing of work among the masses and the application of the tatics of united front.
Contradictions on an international level and their relvance for the revolution in our own country
13. Concerning the assessment of the relevance of international monopoly capitalist organisations such as IMF, WB, WTO etc. mentioned in your letter (section „Situation today“) our standpoint is as follows: On the one hand these organisations are inter-national imperialist alliances, on the other hand they are bodies in which the big imperialist powers fight out their word-wide murderous competition in a „peaceful“ way and assert their economic and military influence according to their relation of power. As we do not have enough clarity yet in our organisation about these new developments and the importance of the democratic struggle of the masses of the people in imperialist countries against the extension and consolidation of these imperialist organisations, we did not deal with this contradition separately in our FD. The international organisations and their new role also towards the approx. 10 smaller imperialist countries, Austria among them, must be further dealt with in detail. There is also an article on this topic in No.13 of our Proletarian Review.
Of course, the concrete practical struggle in Austria against these imperialist alliances has rated high in our political work; among others we have taken part with much efforts in the demonstrations of recent years against the World Economic Forum in the Austrian town of Salzburg. A leaflet distributed by us on one of these occations reads: „New people’s movements are developing that are not only directed against the own ’neo-liberal‘ governments but more and more decisively against imperialists and their rapacious alliances such as IMF and WB… Today the capitalist system has gone so far in its imperialist final stage, the accummulation of capital is so concentrated, that a small number of multinational combines … rule the global economy… Down with imperialism and its bodies like IMF, WB, WTO! Solidarity with the peoples fighting for freeedom! (10 Sep.02)
We still proceed from the assumption of three fundamental contradictions (capital – wage-labour, imperialism – suppressed peoples, contradictions among imperialists) and do not consider the contradition between the imperialist alliances and the peoples as an additional contradiction. We see WTO etc. as new, important instruments of the imperialists (especially the big ones) and a special expression of the world-wide contradiction between imperialism and suppressed peoples as well as of the contraditions between the imperialists, for within these imperialist organisations also struggles for hegemonial zones are fought. That should have been clearly said in our FD. In general we agree with you that „most economies and societies world-wide are … also controlled through powerful organisations like the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, controlled by mainly US imperialism“ (your letter, section „Stuation today“). We however assess the (still at present) dominating role of US imperialism as a passing situation of a changing relation of power – and that should therefore not be fixed in the short text of our Founding Declaration. In an article in Proletarian Review No. 13 refering to WTO, IMF and WB we write: „The line of action of the big imperialist powers, at present quite united, is a temporary phenomenon . It is based on their common interests… In their world-wide chase for maximum profits even today the various big imperialist powers get into quarrels against each other. (…) This rivalry … will become much more intense in the near future and will finally lead to new inter-imperialist wars.“ (PR 13)
14. Concerning the national oppression by imperialism you have correctly pointed at a mistake in our FD. There, mentioning the fundamental contradictions we write: „The contradiction between the financial oligarchies with their imperialist states on the one hand and the large mass of the economically, militarily, culturally and politically suppressed people in the semi-colonial countries on the other hand “ (FD, section „Situation today“, p. 5) . You write that this contradiction is characterized by „the oppressed nations and peoples on one hand and imperialism on the other“ (your letter, section „Stuation today“) . In our enumeration of the fields of suppression we obviously omitted the „national oppression“.
Nevertheless for all readers of our German publications it is clear, that we – according to your demand – „support the oppressed nations and peoples in their struggle against imperialism. These struggles might take the form of struggle for national self-determination against national oppression or defending the national sovereignty and independence… Thus we have a duty to support oppressed nations (against imperialism) even if the rulers (like Sadam) in these nations are themselves very reactionary“ (your letter, section „Stuation today“) . Our standpoint is especially clearly illustrated in our „Theses on imperialist war“ and in articles and leaflets against imperialist aggressions and wars. So we state e.g. in these Theses: „The special feature of imperialist war lies in the fact that it is waged to suppress other nations. Whoever approves the participation in such a war prolongs the imperialist suppression.“ (Thesis No.26) „In the wars of today (and the past decenniums) we are fundamentally on the side of the peoples against the imperialists. We absolutely denounce the right of imperialists to neglect the souvereignty of a country and to remove or install governments arbitrarily and to their own discretion.“ (Thesis No.43) “ The reactionary leadership of a country must not be made a criterium for the assessment of the character of a war that is waged by imperialists.“ (Thesis No. 45)
In our opinion, our wording of this fundamental contradiction expresses more clearly and unmistakably our view-point that we support the peoples, i.e. the masses of the working population, in their struggle against imperialist suppression. In general we do not speak of a „support of the nations“, therefore we do not write: „peoples and nations“. It is a question of concrete assessment, to which extent revolutionary and Communist forces of suppressed nations can include parts of a national bourgeoisie (with anti-imperialist tendencies) in their struggle for liberation.
15. Regarding the question of a world-wide „principal contradiction“ , as you state it (your letter, section „Stuation today“), there is no precisely elaborated position in our organisation. But we do not use this term to avoid misunderstanding and wrong conclusions. We proceed from the underlying fundamental contradiction of capitalism between social production and private appropriation and deduct from this all other social contradictions. To our estimation the main contradiction must be concretely analyzed and determined to advance in revolutionary struggle. We however could agree to a formulation that in most of the countries of the world the main contradition is that between imperialism and suppressed peoples. For us „main contradiction“ is first of all political term that enables us to apply the lever where the social conditions can be turned upside down.
The attempt to determine an „international principal enemy“ is in close connection with the determination of a „world-wide main contradiction“. In our „Theses on imperialist war“ (2002) we have stated as follows: „We generally reject the theory of an international main enemy because the main enemy in imperialist metropoles stands nearly always in your own country.“ (Thesis No. 29; an exception is e.g. the occupation of France by German imperialism 1940 to 1945). By writing that we do not at all want to express that in a current war e.g. of US imperialism we always direct our main blow against our own bourgeoisie. But strategically seen we will not get any step further with the revolutionary movement if we relentlessly brandish banners with the slogan: Everybody and always against US imperialism! (what is done by certain forces in Austria).
We do not understand what you mean when you first write: „The principal contradiction is still the oppressed nations and peoples on one hand and imperialism on the other“ and then continue: Thus (?!) the proletarian parties must support the oppressed nations and peoples in their struggle against imperialism “ (your letter, section „Stuation today“) . We think that the „oppressed nations and peoples“ must be supported during the whole epoch of imperialism and proletarian revolution irrespective of a certain principal contradiction assessed. Also Lenin stressed that in a situation when mainly the contradiction between wage-labour and capital was dominant. As you do not deal with the contradiction between working-class and bourgeoisie it is difficult for us to get an idea of your assessment of the big contradictions.
16. To sum up we want to stress that we find a consensus in content in large parts of your Point of View on our Founding Declaration (FD) and that some shortcomings in our FD which were criticized by you can nevertheless be found – quite in accordance with your positions- in other fundamental documents of our organisation – sorrily not available in English.
We are conscious of the fact that we have to define and explain more precisely both the Socialist society and the path leading there as well as the characteristic features of the Revolutionary Communist Vanguard Party and its political line.
The political differences we have noticed in your letter concern firstly the assessment of our epoch and your assessment of „Maoism … (representing the) … third stage of Marxism“ and secondly the question of the international „principal contradiction“ and, following from this, the problem which forces can be united in a united front in our struggle for proletarian revolution in an imperialist country.
We hope that we can improve our mutual understanding in further written and oral discussions to advance united. In any case, on our part a deeper study of the positions of the RIM is necessary and your letter was an occasion to start with it.
We are sending you revolutionary greeetings, KOMAK-ML (Austria) – 27.10.2003