Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Leonid Brezhnev: Evolution of the ideological and political propositions of Maoism

From a Speech by L.I. BREZHNEV, General Secretary of the CC CPSU and Head of the CPSU Delegation at the International Meeting of Communist and Workers' Parties
in Moscow on June 7, 1969  [1]

Comrades, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union regards with the greatest attention and respect the great work being carried on by our foreign comrades.

The historical experience of many countries, the experience of the class struggle has given convincing evidence of how necessary the activity of the Communist Parties is for mankind and how fruitful this activity is for social development. Guided by Marxist-Leninist theory, the Communist Parties show the peoples the road to the communist future. They rally the peoples to the struggle and steadfastly march in the van of the mass movements for the great goals of social progress. Communists are always in the front ranks of the fighters for the vital rights of the working people, for peace. They carry high the invincible banner of the socialist revolution.

Soviet Communists, whose path to the socialist revolution was complex and difficult, are well aware of the vigour, the determination and flexibility, steadfastness of spirit and readiness at any moment to sacrifice everything for the Party's cause that the revolutionary fighters confronting the class enemy must constantly display. These qualities of Communists are of especial importance in our time, a time of intense and dogged class battles.

The successes which the Communist Parties have achieved are incontestable. But our Meeting is right to concentrate its attention on unresolved tasks, on the new possibilities in the anti-imperialist struggle and on the difficulties that arise in the path of this struggle. Such difficulties do exist, and some of them spring from the state of affairs in our movement itself, which is going through a complex period of its development. Unity has been seriously impaired in some of its links. Some fraternal Parties have suffered setbacks and even defeats.

There are various reasons for these difficulties.

One is that in present-day conditions, when a tremendous social break-up of the pillars of the old world is taking place under the onslaught of socialism and all other revolutionary forces, there is growing resistance from the bourgeoisie. To maintain its positions it strives to use all the economic and political possibilities of state-monopoly capitalism. In the capitalist countries, anti-communism has been elevated to the status of state policy. To erode the communist and the whole revolutionary movement from within is now one of the most important orientations of the class strategy of imperialism.

Another reason is that fresh millions of people belonging to various social strata are being drawn into vigorous political action. Many of them enter politics with a great store of revolutionary energy, but with rather hazy ideas about how to solve the problems agitating them. Hence the vacillations—the swings from stormy political explosions to political passivity, from reformist illusions to anarchistic impatience. All this tends to complicate the activity of the Communist Parties, multiplies the number of their tasks and increases the demands on their practical work. In this situation, Communists must display Marxist-Leninist firmness and loyalty to principle and a creative approach to the problems of social development, if they are to keep control of developments and tackle their problems in the light not only of short-term requirements but also of the long-term interest of the revolutionary movement. Otherwise, grave errors in policy are inevitable.

We cannot afford to ignore the divergences existing in the communist movement today and pretend they do not exist. These divergences have been caused largely by the penetration into the communist movement of revisionist influences both of a Right and of a "Left" nature. And these influences are making themselves felt not only in the sphere of "pure" theory. Revisionism in theory paves the way to opportunist practices, which inflict direct harm on the antiimperialist struggle. Revisionism is, after all, a departure from proletarian class positions, the replacement of 7 MarxismLeninism with all sorts of bourgeois and petty-bourgeois concepts, old and modernistic.

We subscribe to the stand of the fraternal Parties which in their decisions draw attention to the need for resolutely combating this danger. The Communist Parties rightly contend that their own unity and the interests of the whole anti-imperialist movement insistently demand an intensification of the struggle against revisionism and against both Right and "Left" opportunism. A principled stand on this issue has always been a most important condition for strengthening a Party's political positions and has always rallied Communists and made them more active in the class struggle.

Right-wing opportunism is a slide-down to liquidationist positions, signifying conciliation with Social-Democracy in policy and ideology. In socialist countries, Right-wing opportunism goes to the extent of repudiating that the Marxist-Leninist Party should play the leading role; this can lead to surrender of the positions won by socialism and to capitulation to the anti-socialist forces.

"Left"-wing opportunists use ultra-revolutionary verbiage to push the masses into adventurist actions, and the Party onto the sectarian path, which paralyses its ability to rally the fighters against imperialism.

With all their distinctions, the deviations from MarxismLeninism to the Right or to the "Left" ultimately result in similarly harmful consequences; they weaken the militancy of the Communist Parties and undermine the revolutionary positions of the working class and the unity of the anti-imperialist forces.

A frequent feature of "Left" and Right opportunism is concessions to nationalism, and sometimes even an outright switch to nationalistic positions. Lenin showed up this connection a long time ago. He wrote: "The ideological and political affinity, connection, and even identity between opportunism arid social-nationalism are beyond doubt."  [2]

Of course, in one country or another the struggle against opportunism and nationalism is, above all, a sphere within the competence of the fraternal Party concerned. No Party can advance successfully unless it consistently and resolutely upholds the purity of Marxist-Leninist principles. But it is also true that when this struggle is abandoned in some sector of our movement, this affects the movement as a whole.

The stand taken by the leadership of the Communist Party of China offers a striking example of the harm that can be done to the common cause of Communists by a departure from Marxism-Leninism and a break with internationalism.

Frankly speaking, just recently we had no intention at all of touching on this question at this Meeting. However, the events of the recent period, particularly the nature of the decisions taken by the Ninth Congress of the CPC, have forced us to deal with it. There has arisen a new situation, which is having a grave negative influence on the whole world atmosphere and the conditions of the struggle of the anti-imperialist forces.

Peking's present political platform, as you are well aware, was not shaped either today or yesterday. Almost 10 years ago Mao Tse-tung and his supporters mounted an attack on the principles of scientific communism. In its numerous statements on questions of theory the CPC leadership has step by step revised the principled line of the communist, movement. In opposition to this line it has laid down a special line of its own on all the fundamental questions of our day.

At the same time, Peking started a political offensive against the communist movement. fThis offensive steadily gathered momentum, assuming ever sharper and more open forms. From polemics with the Communist Parties the CPC leaders went on to divisive, subversive activity, to active attempts to range the revolutionary forces of our day against each other. From a folding-up of their ties with the socialist countries to hostile acts against them. From criticism of peaceful coexistence to the staging of armed conflicts, to a policy undermining the cause of peace.

The Ninth Congress of the CPC marked a new stage in the evolution of the ideological and political propositions of Maoism. In the new Rules of the CPC, Mao Tse-tung's thought has been proclaimed the Marxism-Leninism of the modern epoch. Chinese propaganda openly proclaims the task of "hoisting the banner of Mao Tse-tung's thought over the globe".

It is a big and serious task to make an all-round MarxistLeninist analysis of the class content of the events in China 9 over the last few years, and of the roots of the present line of the CPC leaders, who have jeopardised the socialist gains of the Chinese people. The CPSU, like the other fraternal Parties, is giving it due attention. But in the light of the tasks facing the Meeting there is a need to dwell here, primarily, on the international aspects of the Chinese leadership's policy. It is doubly important to speak about it, because a section of progressive world opinion still believes that the present Chinese leadership has revolutionary aspirations, believes its assertions that it is fighting imperialism.

It seems to us that the Ninth Congress of the CPC revealed whom the Chinese leadership is really fighting, and for what purpose. The Congress indicated that "a merciless struggle" had to be waged principally against so-called "modern revisionism". Yet, in this category Peking classifies not revisionists, but the overwhelming majority of the socialist countries and Communist Parties.

You will recall that the Chinese leadership accused the Communist Parties of France, India, the United States, Italy, Latin America and other countries of refusing "to conduct revolution", of being renegades and of other deadly sins. "Traitors", "social strike-breakers", "social-imperialists"— those are the labels attached to many of the Parties represented here. Everybody here knows what insults have been showered on all the participants in the present Meeting by the CPC leadership in its reply to our invitation.

The Peking leaders impute "revisionism" to all Parties that do not subscribe to their views and aims. They resort to all possible means against these Parties—from slanderous charges of "connivance with imperialism" to organising subversive splinter groups. Such groups now exist in nearly 30 countries. The Peking leadership is trying to give them the nature of an organised movement.

The damage done by Peking's divisive activities should not be underestimated. Recent class battles clearly showed what great harm Peking's activity, which prods people on to an adventurist path, is doing to the organised struggle of the working class, of all working people.

The present Peking leadership's fight against the MarxistLeninist Parties for hegemony in the communist movement is linked closely with its Great-Power aspirations, with its territorial claims on other countries. The idea that China has a Messianic role to play is drummed into the heads of 10 the Chinese workers and peasants. A wholesale conditioning of minds in the spirit of chauvinism and malicious antiSovietism is under way. Children are taught geography with textbooks and maps that show territory of other countries as belonging to the Chinese state. The Chinese people are being oriented to "starve and prepare for war". Nor is any doubt left about what sort of war is meant. Only two days ago the Peking Kuangming Jihpao issued the call "to prepare for both a conventional and a big nuclear war against Soviet revisionism". Of course, noisy statements are a far cry from actual possibilities. The Soviet Union is strong enough to stand up for itself, and the Soviet people have firm nerves— they will not be frightened by shouts. But the orientation of official Chinese propaganda speaks for itself.

In the light of all this, the policy of militarising China takes on a specific meaning. We cannot help comparing the feverish military preparations with the fanning of chauvinistic feelings hostile to the socialist countries, with the general approach of the Chinese leaders to the problems of war and peace in the modern epoch.

Possibly, many of the comrades here remember Mao Tsetung's speech in this hall during the 1957 Meeting. With appalling airiness and cynicism he spoke of the possible annihilation of half of mankind in the event of an atomic war. The facts show that Maoism calls not for struggle against war but, on the contrary, for war which it regards as a positive historical phenomenon.

The combination of the Chinese leaders' political adventurism with the sustained atmosphere of war hysteria injects new elements into the international situation, and we have no right to ignore it.

Peking's practical activity on the international scene convinces us increasingly that China's foreign policy has, in effect, departed from proletarian internationalism and lost the socialist class content. That is the only possible explanation for the persistent efforts to identify the Soviet Union with US imperialism. What is more, these days the spearhead of Peking's foreign policy is aimed chiefly against the Soviet Union and other socialist countries. For a start, the Chinese leaders reduced to a minimum China's economic contacts with most of the socialist states and rejected political co-operation with them, ending up with armed provocations on the Soviet frontier. Provocative calls resound from Peking, 11 exhorting the Soviet people to "accomplish a revolution", to change the social system in our country.

The facts show that the Chinese leadership speaks of struggle against imperialism, while in fact helping the latter, directly or indirectly, by everything it does. It helps the imperialists by seeking to split the united front of the socialist states. It helps them by its incitement and its obstructions to relaxation of international tension at times of acute international crises. It helps them by striving to hamper the emergence of a broad anti-imperialist front, by seeking to split the international mass organisations of young people, women, and scientists, the peace movement, the trade union movement, and so on.

Naturally, the imperialists make the most of Peking's present foreign policy orientation as a trump in their political struggle against world socialism and the liberation movement.

To sum up: the attack on the Soviet Union all down the line, the specious propaganda, mud-slinging at the Soviet people, at our socialist state, our Communist Party, the fanning of hatred against the USSR among the people of China and, now, resort to arms; intimidation and blackmail in relation to other socialist states and the developing countries; flirtation with the big capitalist powers, including the Federal Republic of Germany—those are the guidelines of China's present foreign policy.

As you know, comrades, in March the Soviet Government, striving to end the clashes organised by the Chinese side on the Soviet-Chinese border, called on the Government of China to refrain from border actions that might create complications, and resolve differences, wherever these occur, by negotiation in a tranquil atmosphere. We proposed that the Soviet-Chinese consultations on border issues, which were begun in 1964, should be resumed in the immediate future. At the same time, we warned them that any attempt to deal with the Soviet Union in terms of armed power would be firmly repulsed.

Recently, the Chinese Government made public its reply. If one may judge from words, the Chinese side does not reject the idea of negotiations. There are also expressions of consent to avoid conflicts on the border and refrain from opening fire. At present, we are preparing the appropriate reply to this Chinese statement. This reply, like the Soviet Government's statement of March 29, will naturally be in complete accord with our principled stand: to settle differences through negotiation and to favour equitable and mutually beneficial co-operation.

It should be pointed out, however, that the statement of the PRC Government can hardly be described as constructive either in content or spirit. The wordy document is full of historical falsifications, distortions of the facts of modern times and of crude hostile attacks upon the Soviet Union. It renews groundless territorial claims on the Soviet Union, which we categorically reject.

The future will show whether the Chinese leaders are really eager to negotiate, whether they desire agreement, and what course events will take. However, we cannot afford to overlook the fact that the provocations by Chinese military personnel on the Soviet border have not stopped. At the same time, an unprecedentedly broad and intensive anti-Soviet campaign is being conducted all over China on the basis of the decisions of the Ninth Congress of the CPC. The idea is being drummed into the heads of the Chinese people that the Soviet Union allegedly wants to attack China.

It is needless to refute these fabrications. Not only Communists, but all other decent people on earth know perfectly well that our people are preoccupied with peaceful creative labour, building communist society, and that they have never attacked nor intend to attack anyone.

Our policy with regard to China is consistent and based on principle. The Central Committee of the CPSU and the Soviet Government chart their policy on the long-term perspective. We are conscious of the fact that the basic interests of the Soviet and Chinese peoples coincide. We have always persevered and shall continue to persevere in our efforts to keep alive the friendly feelings of the Soviet people for the fraternal Chinese nation, and are certain that the Chinese people, too, have the same feelings towards the Soviet Union and the other socialist countries.

At the same time, we do not feel we can remain silent about the anti-Leninist, anti-popular essence of the political and ideological principles of the present leaders of China. We shall carry on a resolute struggle against Peking's divisive policy and against its Great-Power foreign policy line. It stands to reason that we shall do everything to safeguard the interests of the Soviet people, who are building communism, from all encroachments.

We do not identify the declarations and actions of the present Chinese leadership with the aspirations, wishes and true interests of the Communist Party of China and the Chinese people. We are deeply convinced that China's genuine national renascence and her social development shall be best served not by struggle against the USSR and other socialist countries, against the whole communist movement, but by alliance and fraternal co-operation with them.

Comrades, the situation created by the policy of the Chinese leadership introduces a new element into the problem of anti-imperialist unity. We Communists must take a responsible and clear stand. The policy of subverting the communist ranks, of dividing the anti-imperialist forces, can and must be opposed by our firm will for unity, by our deeds and joint actions promoting unity.

1.   International Meeting of Communist and Workers' Parties, Moscow 1969, Peace and Socialism Publishers, Prague 1969, pp. 155–60.
2.   V. I. Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 21, p. 154.

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