On Revisionism

By Jan Makandal
(November 28, 2009; last edited 3/30/2013)

There is no story telling in the realm of theory. The effect of theory in class struggles is determined by the effect of class struggle on theory. Nowadays, our biggest problem is that history and class struggles are advancing and proletarian theory is at an ebb.

Our whole philosophical problematic, the scientific objectivity of our theory depends, historically, and practically, on the determined class position that is being realized through the practices guided by that theory. In order for proletarian theory to develop, we must have the freedom of discussion, and the freedom of constructive criticism in the unity of the proletarian organization and the proletarian mass movement. Proletarian revolutionaries must seek for truth to triumph, for our theory to be validated [checks and balances], within the proletarian organization in its autonomy and in the relation of the proletarian organization with the mass movement, while respecting the relative autonomy of the mass movement. This requires and realizes the most advanced form of democracy and democratic practices, incomparable to bourgeois democracy and bourgeois democratic practices, a non-bureaucratic pathway in addressing contradictions in the proletarian revolutionary movement and in its relation with the mass movement.

Proletarian theory is constantly in danger of a dual deviation in the theory and practice of proletarian struggle. These two deviations are right opportunism and left opportunism. It is important to struggle, equally, against these two deviations and to lay the groundwork for the manifestations of these deviations not to reproduce. The fight against these two deviations doesn’t put us in a middle between these two deviations but, simply put, the fight against these two deviations has allowed proletarian revolutionaries to develop a just political line from these three inseparables realities: the process of capitalist exploitation and the process of proletarian revolution and class struggle that prepares and accomplishes them.

The common roots of left and right opportunism are dogmatism and pragmatism. Simply put, left opportunism is right opportunism temporally reversed. For example the RCP [Revolutionary Communist Party] totally abandoned organizing work in the working class because of economism, and initiated an orientation corresponding to petit bourgeois reformism, such as Refuse and Resist, the anti-police brutality and pro-abortion movements. These movements could only achieve reformist goals since these types of struggle will not even weaken bourgeois dictatorship, but rather reform it.

It must be understood that economic struggle is only effective as long as it is preserved from economism. Economic struggle, as far as wages are concerned, is directly linked to surplus value. The theory of surplus value is a concept addressing new historical forms of capital accumulation and new historical forms of exploitation of labor. The appropriation of the concept of Surplus Value is the underpinning of the development of the maturity of the proletariat from a class by itself to a class for itself.

What makes revisionism inevitable, and even more so nowadays, are its social roots in our times. We must recognize the unequal process of proletarianization that always maintains a constantly growing petit bourgeoisie beside the working class. The ever-growing new fractions in the petit bourgeoisie are therefore not a temporary question but a permanent process. This permanent process will continue its effect even after proletarian led revolutions.

The actual struggle between proletarian theory and revisionism, the continuation of class struggles in a proletarian-led society does share the same basics. In all social formations, in their own specificity, we should consider a dual reality, an absolute relative permanent process, the constant process of proletarianization of the petit bourgeoisie and the constant reconstitution of the petit bourgeoisie. Revisionism is the theoretical foundation of that petit bourgeoisie in the process of proletarianization: Troykism, Maoism, Anarchism and, in the current state of ossification of proletarian theory, some trends of Marxism-Leninism.

It is also equally important to understand the specifics ways bourgeois ideology intervenes and influences proletarian theory. Bourgeois ideology not only intervenes on the field of theory but also on the field of practice in a way that effects, influences the unity of theory and practice that can render possible and effective the unity of proletarian revolutionary theory to the working class movement. On the theoretical field: on imperialism, on concentration of capital, on different crises of capitalism, on theory of value on contradictions of capitalism, on the theory of the State Apparatus, the confusion between the State Apparatus and governments. On the political field: Reformism, Economism Populism, Electoralism and Parliamentarianism, unity of antagonistic classes, anti-imperialist struggle and unity with pro-imperialist elements in the anti-war movement.

Our theoretical vision must be constructed as the science of the proletarian revolutionary organization. It should not be a pre-conceived science but rather a science determined by its materialism, a science in a constant and never ending process of validating itself through the dialectic of unity and practice. What gives strength or regression to proletarian theory is its internal relation to dialectical philosophy and materialism, which depends the union of theory and practice.

Finally, the theoretical deviations of proletarian theory are philosophical deviations realized on the field of knowledge that produce an effect on proletarian theories and at the same time on the working class movement.

There are no pre-determined remedies to fight, to struggle against revisionism. We need to recognize the period and the conjuncture that the social bases of revisionism are using to sap proletarian theory from the inside, in order to preserve the fusion of proletarian revolutionary theory to the working class movement.

In our period, the struggle against opportunism/populism is important and crucial. Opportunism and populism manifested in the Chinese and Vietnamese revolution, in the Cuban revolution and the totality of the National Liberation Movement and in all the anti-government struggles, including the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa. All these struggles not only needed the support of proletarian revolutionaries and the working class but more importantly they needed also the struggle against opportunism and populism.

These approaches of unity and struggle that constitute proletarian theory need to be addressed even in the inequality of the fusion of proletarian theory to the working class movement. It is the case in Haiti. Proletarian revolutionary theory is being developed unequally in a moment when the working class movement is not advancing at the same rhythm. The fusion is happening in a very unequal process. In this context, proletarian revolutionary theory is being constantly threatened to reverse itself, to degenerate, to revise itself instead of the proletariat constantly addressing the problematic of proletarian revolution and how to unify the people’s camp under its leadership. To correctly address this unequal development, the more advanced sector of the proletariat needs to rely on the determination of its political line, and the strength and determination of its revolutionary organization in the midst of the scientific …

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