CPN(M) - Worker #11
The Worker, #11, July 2007, pp. 29-38.
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Imperialism and Proletarian
Revolution in the 21st century
Communist Party of <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Nepal (Maoist)
On the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the initiation of the great people’s war the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) is organizing an international seminar on “Imperialism and proletarian revolution in the 21st century”. The topic, we think, will give ample scope to begin meaningful discussion on the issues related to it and focus specially on defence, application and development of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, the science of revolution. This science, however, cannot be defended without developing it in accordance with the changes taken place in the objective situation and the development of other faculties of science as well. As the correctness of ideological and political line can be tested only when it is put into practice so the revolutionary practice, which is linked to revolutionary theory, must validate it at all times.
In the history of class struggle, the proletariat has won great victories and it has faced disgusting defeats as well. It is a bitter truth that our class, which had captured state power almost in one-fourth of the world in the 20th century, including Russia and China, and had practiced socialism for decades, has now lost them. Neither we have state power anywhere in the world nor has our movement gathered till date an adequate amount of strength from the positive and negative lessons of those past experiences to challenge imperialism and its world order. Although it has temporarily created a negative impact on the whole movement, but there is a treasury of revolutionary experience as precious heritage to enlighten and inspire the international proletariat along the path of revolution. We must not escape from this challenge rather make every effort to synthesize both of these positive and negative features to advance revolution in the days to come.
History has posed many important questions to deal with. Why the dictatorships of the proletariat turned into their opposite without any bloodshed no later than the main leadership died? How could revisionist forces so smoothly overturn dictatorship of the proletariat and restore capitalism without any resistance from the powerful red army, state apparatus and the revolutionary people? Why comrade Stalin failed to curb the counter-revolutionary renegades to emerge from and sustain in the party he had led in spite of forcefull suppression against them? Whether the counter-revolution in China was an overnight coup d’état or there was a long process of degeneration that culminated in 1976? Why those great socialist countries failed to produce proletarian successors to continue revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat?
Apart from these there are some other questions that did not go along as our pioneer leaders had predicted in their life time. Comrade Lenin had defined imperialism as a moribund stage of capitalism. But, why is imperialism not only sustaining but also developing? When the inter-imperialist contradiction, during the 70s, had reached at the brink of the third world war, Mao had said “Either revolution will prevent war, or war will give rise to revolution”. But, neither one has happened till date. Why? These and alike are some very important questions that our generation must answer correctly to advance proletarian revolution in the 21st century.
Along with aforesaid questions posed by history, we the Maoists of today have to deal with the challenges of the present situation in which, firstly, the imperialism, led by the US, is escalating its offensive in the pretext of war against terror against oppressed nations and people, secondly, people’s resistance of various kinds is on the rise all over the world and thirdly, the Maoist pole is becoming weaker day by day to lead the proletariat and oppressed masses against imperialism and its world order. What it means is that today’s proletariat is locked up in such a situation where both the opportunity and challenge prevail. The victory of our generation lies on, firstly, how correctly we grasp dialectical and historical materialism to find answers of these questions, secondly, how dialectically and artistically we apply Marxism-Leninism-Maoism in the present concrete condition of the world, and thirdly how creatively we develop it through the practice of class and line struggle nationally and internationally. We are hopeful that this seminar can prove to be an important milestone in our step forward to grasping, applying and developing MLM and uniting MLM forces internationally to fight imperialism.
Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, the founders of Marxism, did not in their life time conceive of capitalism developing into imperialism. It was Lenin, who through a thorough study of functioning of capitalism in his lifetime, characterized imperialism as a monopolistic and moribund stage of capitalism. Analyzing dialectically the contradictions the imperialism had created and developing strategy and tactic to agree with them Lenin adeptly led the proletarian revolution in Russia to victory. The era following this revolution, popularly known as October Revolution, is termed as Lenin’s era or the era of imperialism and proletarian revolution. We the Maoists of today generally hold this position.
Nevertheless, the imperialism, as an object, cannot remain static but must develop for its survival. Basic essence remaining the same, it had undergone various changes in form in the past so will be in the future unless it is entirely overthrown by world proletarian revolution. Imperialism in itself is a source of war. But, the form of imperialist wars and the role different imperialist powers had played to grab maximum economic benefit out of this in various junctures of the history did not remain the same. If we look at the history of imperialism, we will find various turns in its way of functioning. However, mainly three different phases are distinct till the date.
2.1 The period before the Second World War:
Ever since the emergence of imperialism, this long period had been basically marked by sharp contentions among rival imperialist powers. Their competition of establishing colonies to loot cheap labor and resources from the underdeveloped countries led naturally to intensification of the inter-imperialist contradictions. The specificity of that period was that no imperialist power was unusually superior to another, principally in terms of military strength, that would oblige the weaker one to seek other ways to dilute the existing antagonism. That was one of the important objective reasons for two World Wars to break during this period.
Right here, we the revolutionary communists of today must have deeper grasp of the fact that both of the earth-shaking proletarian revolutions, Russian and Chinese, were respectively accomplished right in the situation when the first and second world wars had considerably weakened imperialism. The key question to bear in mind here is that Lenin and Mao could successfully lead the socialist and new democratic revolutions to victory in their respective countries because they were able to creatively develop their independent strategy and tactic based on ‘concrete analysis of the concrete condition’. Today, Russian path of revolution, the insurrection and Chinese path of revolution, the protracted people’s war, are often known in the ICM as the Russian and the Chinese model of proletarian revolutions.
Another fact noteworthy to take into account here is that the end of the Second World War not only gave rise to a considerable shift in the imperialist power equation but their form of exploitation too. Firstly, the US imperialism, which was relatively a weaker strength before the Second World War, paved its way to rise up as a superpower of the world and the erstwhile major imperialist contenders like for example Germany, Italy and Japan got away from their previous dominant position significantly. And secondly, the national liberation movements forced the colonial occupiers to concede so-called independence to a number of countries.
However, this shift was not a step back on the part of imperialism but a forward one to cool down anti-colonial sentiment of the masses and thereby create easier ways for the deeper penetration of imperialist finance capital into the third world countries. The semi-colonial form of imperialist plunder in lieu of direct colonial one resulted in conversion of the anti-colonial national bourgeoisie into comprador ones. Consequently, there remained no class other than the proletariat to lead bourgeois democratic revolution and national liberation movement as well. Hence, following the emergence of semi or neocolonialism both of the national liberation movements and proletarian revolutions became inseparable from each other. This is the reason why no other class except the proletariat can lead national liberation movement in the era of imperialism.
2.2 The period of Cold War:
The counterrevolution in Russia, in 1956, and its manifestation in the form of social imperialism led to a new power equation in the world. It resulted in placing the US imperialism and Soviet social imperialism at the forefront of international politics as rival superpowers. Earlier contenders, like British, Germany, France, Italy and Japan got their role limited mainly to assist the US pole to reinforce. In this manner, the whole world basically polarized into two camps, the US and Russian, that at times created situations in which the inter-imperialist contradiction reached at the brink of devastating third world war. No world war occurred but what else did not, most dreadful arm race and untold loot, plunder and impoverishment of the entire third world countries were the normal phenomenon of this period.
In spite of such an intensification of inter-imperialist contradiction in this period why did not the third world war erupt? What did work to let it not happen? And also, there was a wave of mass upsurge under proletarian leadership all across the world in 70s. Also Mao had said, “Either revolution will prevent war, or war will give rise to revolution”. But why neither revolution nor the world war took place? These are questions on which we have to reach at depth and deduce a correct summation. Presence of China and the revolutionary wave all across the world could be one of the main factors to prevent the imperialists from jumping into war. But, why no revolution could succeed during 70s despite a socialist pole existed in China that could provide ideological and political boost for the revolutionary masses and the parties leading those upsurges? Although our party has not yet reached at a concrete summation, we roughly hold a position that the reason behind this lies in the erstwhile parties’ line of sticking into a specific model, the Chinese or Russian, instead of creatively developing strategy and tactic based on “concrete analysis of the concrete condition”.
Right here, two important events that took place in 80s and 90s in the international politics deserve special mention. First, the loss of proletarian power in China, in 1976, on the one hand spread negative impact on the entire Maoist movement and on the other provided an ideological respite temporarily for the imperialism as a whole. Second, the collapse of Soviet social imperialism, including its block in 1989 brought the US imperialism in an unrivalled position internationally.
As a result of the aforesaid events, the imperialism, particularly the US, didn’t have any restrain to prepare further in all the realms of ideology, politics, economy, culture and military as well to sustain and develop imperialism. Its rhetoric of “failure of Marxism” and “inevitability” of the so-called multiparty democracy was nothing other than a part of its ideological and political preparation. Globalization, privatization and liberalization were its tools to spread imperialist finance capital to the developing countries. Right here, none must loose sight from the fact that all of these were possible only by projecting military strength at the fore. Reinforcement of the US army with sophisticated nuclear weapons including those camping in the military bases of more than 100 countries, which were established mainly in the cold war period, does not justify other than this.
In consideration of the imbalance of military strength, other imperialist powers, despite of feeble opposition, had no choice left to act otherwise than agreeing with what the US imperialism was going to enforce to the world people. It must not be meant by this that the inter-imperialist contradiction had already ceased to exist. Given the nature of imperialism, it goes on intensifying and is so now too and will be so in future. But, what it only means is that they were unable to contend with the US, so they were forced to keep happy with and invigorate from the crumbs of exploitation of the third world under US domination. It holds true till today. Pushing other imperialist powers into defensive position and taking hold of the third world countries in its fist, the US imperialism had already started working, right from the advent of the 21st century, in the form of a global state.
2.3 The running period of ‘War against Terror’:
Ever since the implementation of imperialist economic policies like Globalization, Privatization and Liberalization and as a result of unrivalled US hegemony upon the masses all over the world, generally the basic contradictions, namely the contradiction between labor and capital and inter-imperialist contradiction, and particularly the contradiction between imperialism, mainly the US, and oppressed nations and people of the world were getting sharper. People’s spontaneous protests all over the world during the last decade of 20th century justify this. In that situation, the imperialism had no other option except imposing war against the world masses to resolve contradictions temporarily. The only thing it was short of was an operative pretext for war to confuse the masses. Right at this juncture, the September 11 episode came to play a midwife role for the US to put into action the design that it had been preparing against the oppressed nations and people since before. With this event, the US imperialism coined a word ‘war against terror’ other regimes echoed it, and triggered off war against the innocent people of Afghanistan and Iraq. And now, those in Iran and North Korea are in the pipeline to get slaughtered anytime in the pretext of ‘axis of evils’.
The US imperialism, terrorizing the regimes that stand against its interest and masses of the people the world over through its doctrine of ‘pre-emptive measures’ and ‘war against terror’, is enforcing its superpower ambition to control the entire world in the form of a globalised state. Bush’s dictum, ‘either you are with us or against’ reveals his imperialist design to impose war on whoever stands against the US interest. The US has been dictating third world regimes to follow their policy as the central federal government does with its state governments and diplomatic boundaries are no more working for it. In fact, the pre-emptive doctrine is a receipt to legitimatize military attack upon any nation which US thinks is going against it and thereby change the regime in its will in the pretext of ‘defending’ democracy.
Lenin had defined imperialism as the highest stage of capitalism with a monopolistic, parasitic and moribund character. Nevertheless, in spite of its moribund character it is sustaining and expanding because, among other things, the proletarian class while in power in its later period could not prove its supremacy over capitalism. After the fall of Soviet social imperialism, the US, the sole superpower of the world, is implementing its “Rule of Ruin” policy all over the world.
The US has been able to sustain its policies of globalization, liberalization and open market because the countries like China, India and oil kingdoms of the Middle East have brought sea changes in their previous policies and removed many barriers to foreign investment even majority ownership of the high growth industries, banks and energy sources. Almost 50% of the 500 biggest multinational corporations are US owned and headquartered. It is not difficult to understand that the so-called new phenomenon of globalization has grown out of the barrel of the gun wielded, pointed and fired by the US. Despite inter-imperialist rivalry in many fields the overseas expansion of the multinational corporations has been possible because of the collusion between the US and other imperialist countries. The fundamental character of imperialism hasn’t been changed in essence but as said in our party document the imperialism in its course of development has been acquiring new forms and shapes. The initial colonial form of imperialism changed its form into neocolonialism. Now the neo-colonial form is taking its shape in the form of a globalised state. Naturally this change in form of imperialism should be taken into account while developing path of revolution.
However, the argument made by some scholars that capitalism has been changed into a stateless, classless empire without imperialism is a dangerous notion based on superficial discussion intended to put a cover on the ruthless exploitative character of imperialism.
3. The world situation:
Since the fall of Soviet Social imperialism the US imperialism has emerged as the sole super power of the world and it has further intensified its offensive against oppressed nations and people. Under the guise of war against terror the US is leading a war of intervention against the oppressed nations and people of Afghanistan and Iraq and trying to flex its muscle in Asia particularly South Asia which is going to be an epicenter of revolutionary volcano. In one way, the war juggernaut that the US imperialism has been leading is bringing the world towards a global village and on the other it has brought itself under the ring of fire of the rebelling people all over the world.
The present world situation is marked by intensification of all of the contradictions existing in the world. On the part of reactionary camp, the formation of EU, growing competition of Euros with Dollars, revival of Russian economy, new alliance between Russia and China, Russian backing to Iranian nuclear program, Chinese economic growth and her backing to North Korea’s nuclear agenda, etc. is leading towards a new equation against the US imperialism internationally. In spite of all these, given the military and economic might of the aforesaid countries, they are not right now in a position to stand firmly against the US imperialist interest but are forced to collaborate with it to plunder the world. So, collusion remains the principal aspect among imperialist powers at present.
On the other hand, the challenge before the imperialism, mainly US, is growing from the masses of oppressed nations in various forms, including the people’s wars led by MLM forces. Above all, the victory achieved one after another by people’s war in Nepal, under the leadership of our party, one of the contingents of the international proletarian class, has become a considerable ideological and political troublemaker for imperialism, particularly the US. Its naked intervention in the internal affairs of Nepal, justifies this reality. The development of the people’s war in Nepal, India, Peru, Turkey and Philippines, under the leadership of proletarian vanguard parties, has further sharpened the international principal contradiction.
Not only has the globalization impoverished the underdeveloped countries but the working class of the developed countries too has been affected badly. The industries that cannot compete with multinational companies in the globalised market have been forced to shut down. This, on the one hand, has been augmenting unemployment in those countries and on the other their economy is in serious decline. As a result of this the contradiction between capital and labor is also intensifying. The resentment and anger of the workers that had poured in the streets of France a few months back is an example of this.
This shows that all of the basic contradictions in the world are intensifying. As a result of this, the objective situation for revolution is ripening more than ever. However, no revolutionary crisis has yet emerged. It is mainly our conscious effort that can transform this revolutionary situation into a worldwide revolutionary crisis.Contrary to favorable objective condition for revolution the subjective strength has not been developed to that height from where the proletarian class can initiate and develop people’s war as to create threat for imperialism. It is a positive challenge ahead of the Maoist movement today. But, how much we can transform this challenge into opportunity will depend on and [be] decided by how firmly we grasp MLM, how artistically and dialectically we apply it in the practice of two-line struggle to develop proletarian unity nationally and internationally and how creatively we develop it from the practice of class and two-line struggles to meet new challenges in the concrete condition of present world situation. Business as usual cannot help us fulfill this task except making a spent force of history.