Myths Concerning Non-Revisionist Marxism-Leninism

In our time as revolutionaries, we at the APL have been exposed to a great many myths propagated about our ideology, our historical perspective and our method of work. In this essay, we will address some common misconceptions concerning our ideology as put forward by our opponents and offer a rebuttal for each.

The first myth about non-revisionist Marxism-Leninism is that by understanding the latter USSR and China for being social-imperialist in their actions and ends, anti-revisionists, in essence, supported the mass murder of revisionist progressives for the reason that they did not completely agree with or accompany Albania in the Sino-Soviet or the Sino-Albanian split.

The notion that not supporting revisionist states is comparable to supporting their annihilation at the hands of Western imperialism is absurd. It is also every bit as absurd as Brezhnevism’s tacit approval of everyone who flies a red flag. The bottom line here is that being “progressive” in comparison to the grossest manifestations of imperialism and reaction does not make one into a communist. For instance, we at the APL remain consistently anti-imperialist, and we support Cuba and Democratic Korea’s right to not be invaded or controlled by the forces of imperial capitalism. Yet, while we do this, we continue to understand that Castroism and Juche are revisionist ideologies, and that both states are objectively not socialist, are not ruled by the dictatorship of the proletariat.

The second myth is that those who don’t conform to “Hoxhaism” are automatically considered revisionist in our eyes, and it is implied that our referring to someone as being “revisionist” comes from some “sectarianism” or “ultra-leftism” on our part, rather than the practiced application of Marxist-Leninist dialectics.

First, it must be noted that “Hoxhaism,” like “Stalinism,” does not exist as a separate tendency from Marxism-Leninism. While we uphold Enver Hoxha and Joseph Stalin as theoreticians, revolutionaries, and leaders of the revolutionary proletariat, we do not see these figures as revolutionizing Leninism in the way that Lenin restored and advanced the revolutionary character of Marxism. Hoxha and Stalin were defenders of Leninism, and put these theories to practice in the Soviet Union and Albania, and their theoretical works served to defend and elaborate on the existing theory of Leninism, not to alter it.

On the other hand, there exist political sects which assert that their leaders, such as Trotsky and Mao, “advanced” Marxist-Leninist theory through their work. These groups even go so far as to call themselves “Trotskyist” and “Maoist” to bring attention to the “advances” made by their particular theories. The reality is, however, that nothing particularly new or revolutionary was asserted in the case of Mao or Trotsky. In addition to plagiarizing existing theorists and asserting classic theory as their own (albeit with minor adjustments in phrasing), Mao Tse Tung and Leon Trotsky adopted opportunistic and counterrevolutionary stances when it suited their immediate political needs. Their theoretical line was reflected in this opportunism, and it is the deviance of revisionist theory from the fundamentals of Marxism-Leninism that has led such trends down the road of ineffectualism.

A revisionist is not a revisionist because we don’t like them. A revisionist is a revisionist because they wander off of Leninism’s revolutionary path. Those who advance anti-Leninist positions such as “peaceful coexistence with capitalism,” submitting to the economic domination of the Soviet Union or People’s Republic of China rather than building one’s own socialist industry (as was the case in Eastern Europe and Kampuchea), and head down the path of peaceful reformism are revisionists. Those who would see the construction of socialism in a country halted and reversed, following a theoretical line that would have us throw up our hands because “there aren’t enough proletarians” and “we must allow more advanced capitalist construction before we can attain socialism” are revisionists (as well as counterrevolutionary traitors). There is nothing arbitrary about who the APL calls revisionist, and we are happy to explain who we’d call a revisionist and why.

A third myth has it that we are “mechanical” and “dogmatic.” At this juncture, we must confess that we are dogmatic, in that we insist on world communist revolution, we insist on the establishment of a dictatorship of the proletariat, and we intend to follow Marxism-Leninism, the revolutionary method which has been tried and proven as the proletariat’s theoretical mainstay against the forces of capitalism, imperialism, and revisionism. In short, we are dogmatic in our intention to win, and the whole of our ideology and activity conforms to the demands of such an intention.

It is for this reason that we continue to be open to debate, and conduct ourselves on the basis of democratic centralism. Marxist-Leninists must always be willing to struggle, because it is in struggle that we find the correct path. It was Lenin’s struggle against the revisionism of the Second International which, in a time when other “communists” were willing to retreat and cling to the trouser-legs of the bourgeoisie in the name of nationalism, gave birth to our theory. It is in struggle that we Leninists are able to remain consistent to the scientific method which Marxism-Leninism provides.

This particular line of attack is the favorite of the Maoists, who assert that it is their theory and theirs alone which offers a historical analysis and revolutionary path that is neither revisionist nor “dogmatic.” Yet, the reality is that Mao’s Philistine theory traded science for bourgeois metaphysics, and in this opportunism concocted such anti-Leninist positions as “the Theory of Three Worlds” and the notion that a society somehow between capitalism and socialism (New Democracy) could exist. These revisionist ideas would inevitably lead to allowing the old bourgeoisie to maintain leadership positions in industry, the support of US imperialism and a whole host of reactionary regimes, including those of Pinochet and Mobutu Sese Seko. Certainly Mao cannot be blamed for subjecting himself to the “mechanical dogma” of Marxism-Leninism in these cases! We at the APL have no need for unquestioning dogmatism, yet we refuse to throw out what is correct and revolutionary in our understanding, or adopt petty-bourgeois and post-materialist positions simply because they are popular among the “left.”

Going along this line of attack, our critics accuse us of supporting every action taken by Enver Hoxha and Joseph Stalin. This is untrue. For instance, we are critical of Stalin for not doing enough to battle his cult of personality. Even though Stalin didn’t actively encourage his personality cult like Mao and Kim Il-Sung did, and even spoke against it, we cannot forgive his failure to act in this matter. We are also critical of Enver Hoxha for banning religion all together, which our party has no intention of doing. Yet, while we hold these criticisms, we must disagree with the Maoists’ 7/10ths assessment of Stalin, being that their method contains more metaphysical garbage than sound dialectical thinking, and hence results in a less than useful synopsis of Stalin’s work.

Categories: Albania, China, Cuba, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Germany, History, International, Revolutionary History, Soviet Union (USSR), Theory

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18 replies

  1. This analysis is very good without getting “too deep” into it. It is utterly painful to read exchanges between APL members and other revisionists – the opposition never stand a chance against the APL really. According to these people anyone who criticizes Castroism is in objective unity with the CIA and wants the country occupied and turned fully market capitalist. Their replies are so stupid I could write whole volumes about them.

    What’s funny about this whole thing is that they are wrong, since you criticize but defend against reaction. Only hardline Leninism can explain Yugoslavia, the degenerated USSR, China and the U$A all in the same breath.

    • The pro-Soviet ideology was somewhat understandable back in the day, since the Chinese, the most “visible” opponents of the USSR were collaborating with US imperialism and under Dengism invaded Vietnam. Back then, the movement couldn’t realize that there was another pole aside from Chinese revisionism and Soviet social-imperialism (Marxism-Leninism alive in Albania). These days though, Brezhnevites have no excuse since their ideology has been corrected.

      I would say they should act like Marxists and correct themselves, but they never do a class analysis anyway, just welfarism, geopolitics and appeal to emotion, so I’m not sure if they can be classed as “Marxists” at all.

      • They really can’t be classified as Marxists. The PSL and other brezhnevites are defending Cuba’s mass layoffs and privatization practices! When Cuban social democracy turns to free-market exploitation in earnest, when their welfare state is dismantled, what do the Brezhnevites do? Pretend it isn’t happening. And for a bit of flavor, they throw in a little Dengism, saying they’re following China’s “socialist” model. It makes me positively SICK!

        • This is pretty much true. I’m sick of their attitude of “anyone who is anti-US and waves a red flag is a friend of mine!” although these days the red flag is not even needed. It’s pathetic they don’t support REAL communists because they’re “ultra-left” or whatever the excuse is these days for rightists cuddling up with the bourgeoisie.

          • Agreed. I guess Cuban “socialism” was supposed to be their safety blanket after the revisionist CCCP and Eastern Bloc states went back to full-blown Capitalism. It’d be funny if it weren’t so depressing. I guess it was just easier to blame Gorbachov for that mess and hope beyond that the same thing wouldn’t happen to Cuba. Looks like they were wrong though…

            Kudos to the APL for another good theoretical artical!

  2. I find all of this useful but I call on all Parties/Groups/Academics to call for – and make happen – a Fifth International to form a consensus International assault on Capitalism. Out of that consensus I would hope that we arrive at the conclusion that Fidel Castro (despite his revisionism) is not the enemy we need to worry about. Further as Stalin is dead, at this stage of the game I could give a damn what party supported him in the past or not.

    Call for a Fifth, find a consensus, abide by it, follow its coordination, appeal to and find the proletariat and move forward!

    A Proletarian looking for leadership!

    • Gathering the world’s social democrats, revisionists and liberal half-wits together in a 5th international will likely yield little in the way of results for the international proletariat. With the state of the contemporary left, this international would most likely be a rehashing of the second: bold in its initial proclamations, but ultimately cow-towing to the bourgeoisie as so called “socialists” like Castro and Chavez fall back on the idea of “peaceful coexistence” with imperialism. Castro isn’t the “enemy” — no one said this, yet in order for the proletariat to be able to take effective action against international imperial capitalism, their actions must be guided by sound theory, and therefore anti-Marxist charlatans need to be called out.

      The proletariat is indeed looking for leadership and those who would serve as its vanguard must be guided by the revolutionary theory that has been vindicated by history. Asking that we look past theory and dive into some ad-hoc agglomeration of reformist and revisionist parties demonstrates how little you have actually read of our work.

      • Hello Francis,

        Pardon me for being so little educated a Proletarian.

        I am out here waiting for your precious inflexibliity to grab the masses and move them.

        I spend quite a bit of my time reading theory but perhaps I am to ignorant to graps it. Again my apology.

        There is much that you also do not seem to grasp.

        Most impotantly that you are getting nowhere in your petty disputes over what is correct application of Marx and the Climate and resource situation on planet earth is not waiting for you.

        Further if the best you can do is insult me – a worker all my life- currently an unemployed 51 year old student – you answer my points excellently.

        I am not looking by the way for a Vanguard that “would” do anything.

        The word “would” is not an action word is it?

        Further a vanguard that alienates itself form the masses by dismissively saying that we are too ignorant to grasp your message without applying any is but a joke.

        Are you so lacking in belief in the principles that you espouse that you are afraid to argue them before an international gathering of those who by invitation must share a genuine desire to end Capitalism? Or must they also refuse to support the Bolivarian Revolution etc etc because of a lack of purity to satisfy you?

  3. Two of the last four internationals were steeped in opportunist anti-communism. The second broke with Marxism and gave into bourgeois nationalism in the wake of World War 1. The fourth provided many implements to the bourgeoisie for their psychological warfare against socialism and set the worker’s movement in western countries back by many years. When opportunist theory is what guides your international, the result is not useful. This much is simple.

    Putting your “prolier than thou” non-arguments aside, as well as your straw-man of the American Party of Labor dismissing the proletariat as being ignorant, it is important to understand that mere desire to bring about an end to capitalism is not enough. Revolutionary action must be guided by revolutionary theory. We have seen many examples of how progressive revolutions have degenerated into capitalist restoration. When revolutionaries fall short of exercising all-round dictatorship over the bourgeoisie when they take power, the capitalists are able to fight back harder than ever and revolution is doomed to fail as long as capitalist accumulation is allowed to persist.

    It is for this reason that Chavez cannot be called a “socialist.” The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela is not socialist and will not become socialist as long as the bourgeoisie are allowed to own means of production. Make no mistake; we prefer progressives like Chavez to the dictatorial bourgeoisie. We support those who resist imperialism, but a communist international would require that those attending are infact communists. Those who don’t or won’t resist capitalist exploitation in their own countries to the fullest extent possible are not communists and therefore are incapable of leading the struggle to construct socialism and communism.

    Reformism, mere progressivism and other toothless forms of resistance cannot yield a victory. Revisionism is fated to bring about capitalist restoration. In order to stand any chance of success, a 5th international would need to follow a Marxist-Leninist line. This is the only theory that has led to the construction of socialism. There is too much to lose by failing now; we don’t have the luxury of fiddling around in a bum international led by social democrats while the genocide of capital continues to spill blood through starvation and imperialist violence. We must learn from the mistakes of history, take guidance from the sobriety of theory and act ruthlessly to defeat capitalism and those who would defend it, be it purposefully or unintentionally, to secure victory for the proletariat.

  4. To Ron ODaniels:

    —Pardon me for being so little educated a Proletarian. —

    I’d like to know why you consider being uneducated inherently a “proletarian” trait, which raises questions about your own class ideology. Having knowledge of theory and practice does not make one an intellectual, nor does knowledge of history make someone something other than working class. The fact that we are all part of the workforce and ignore whatever disadvantages we may have in life in order to seek out knowledge that people at a university might also have obtained does not make us less proletarian, and setting aside the time for intense historical study and dialectical processes also does not make one an “armchair intellectual,” but rather someone who wants to use science to understand reality. To assert that someone capable of eloquently expressing a point is “not proletarian enough” is not only vulgar anti-intellectualism, but anti-working class, since it denies their quest for knowledge.

    —I am out here waiting for your precious inflexibliity to grab the masses and move them.—

    And where exactly are you? Have you been where we have or attempted to get into contact with APL cadres in your area for united front work? Or have you merely been looking for overtly visible signs of the APL’s precense within US borders, such as a CNN update? The days when that will happen are likely decades away in a revolutionary situation.

    If you want romance, stick with Trotskyism and “all socialists unite!” line. You are not the first person to put forward this idea, nor will you be the last. This has been tried since the times of Lenin and Marx. It has been put forward time and time against for the past 150 years. Isn’t it obvious that it is not working? The First International could not “unite” with the Fabian Society, a racist and reactionary sect because of inherent conflicts between the two’s ideologies and because an alliance with the Fabian Society would’ve meant that if a revolution happened eugenicists would’ve been in the government and would’ve influenced and promoted their reactionary ideology.

    —Further a vanguard that alienates itself form the masses by dismissively saying that we are too ignorant to grasp your message without applying any is but a joke.—

    You make a remarkable assumption here—nowhere did my comrade say you were ignorant, he noted that you show signs of not reading our work or engaging with it. This cannot be denied if you look at your original post. You posted here calling for us to help form a “Fifth International.” Nowhere did you even attempt to refer to the original work. Your message was not to engage with the work directly, but to call for something different and in fact opposite to what the article was talking about.

    —Are you so lacking in belief in the principles that you espouse that you are afraid to argue them before an international gathering of those who by invitation must share a genuine desire to end Capitalism?—

    The question is, DO they have a desire to end capitalism or merely curb its more vicious traits while keeping the basic structure intact? Furthermore, who exactly is this “international” and “they?” You assume the APL will refuse to participate in whatever organization you mention without providing the name or investigating whether it has ties to that organization already.

    You are an outside commentator who has a blog under the name “Permanent Revolution” and yet you were allowed to comment here and your comments are being carefully responded to. Does that now show a sign of engagement on our part?

    —Or must they also refuse to support the Bolivarian Revolution etc etc because of a lack of purity to satisfy you?—

    If we cannot even learn our own theory, why should working people want to live in a society you would create?

    Revisionism kills nations, it kills millions by preserving capitalism under a socialist banner.

    No matter what our class backgrounds may be, if we cannot grasp these theoretical concepts we simply cannot be the vanguard for the proletariat, and we certainly can’t be if we openly refuse to.

  5. Perhaps the American Party of Labor could post here after a review of the many other points of view on the subject of a Fifth International:

    [The American Party of Labor prohibits the advertising of websites belonging to non-affiliated organizations. This comment space is for ideological debate only. If the poster wishes to post another counter-argument, he/she is welcome to.]

  6. Part of my argument is for you to take your commentary to a website – not my own – which as a very lively history between various groups on the subject of a 5th International. A great bringing together of different points of view and a place where it seems that different parties form around the world are posting their commentaries on the subject. That you would consider a website such as that – as advertising – is ridiculous to say the very least. Not interested in seeing anyone here having another view point, or reading what you have to post on such a forum? You delete a link I post as being advertising? Sickening.

    • Why do THEY have to go to some website or host the link just because YOU asked them to? You came to THEIR blog, and now you act as if they have committed some crime for not going to some other site and spending time arguing with your buddies?

      Also, this was an artical about Leninism vs. Revisionism, not about a 5th international, so none of your posts are really on topic. All you did was say “we need a 5th international” and complain when you were called out on not reading the actual work! Get off your high horse for Lenin’s sake, bub.

  7. This isn’t an argument. If you have something to say that is germane to the discussion, go right ahead.

  8. Uh…”would” is not technically an “action word”. It’s a modal verb which modifies a lexical verb. Trots need to go to the grammar GULag.

  9. I’m very happy about your existence in USA.
    Hold up the flag of Marxism-Leninism, the banner of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin and E.Xoxha !!!
    You say: “For instance, we are critical of Stalin for not doing enough to battle his cult of personality. Even though Stalin didn’t actively encourage his personality cult like Mao and Kim Il-Sung did, and even spoke against it, we cannot forgive his failure to act in this matter”.
    How sure are you about this? What are your sources of information about the Stalin’s struggle against personality cult?
    I agree with almost all your views. My questions are honest and I don’t have something else in my mind.

    PS Please, excuse me for my English !

    • Thank you very much for your comment comrade. We appreciate your support.

      In regards to our commentary about Stalin’s struggle against his personality cult, it is true that on many occasions that Comrade Stalin actively spoke out against this cult. Grover Furr, in his recently translated work “Khrushchev Lied,” such instances of Stalin’s resistance to the cult are outlined and there is a rich appendix of primary source material which corroborates this story. Comrade Stalin was a Marxist-Leninist, and like any good Marxist-Leninist, had no use for anti-Marxist personality cults. In fact, it was Stalin’s enemies within the party who were most avid in propping up the personality cult, which was used by the Khruschevite bloc to hijack the Soviet Union and begin the dismantling of Soviet Socialism.

      The fact of the matter was, however, that those who worked to build this cult and put into place the mechanisms which would ultimately destroy the Soviet Union, were not effectively stopped. Such elements should have been purged from the party as their subversion was taking place. We cannot fault Stalin too much on this; the man was in no way omnipotent, and in his advanced age it is understandable that he would be unable to exert the pressure needed to weed out such enemies of the party. Our criticism of him personally is minor, but nonetheless, something must have been done about the opportunism of the Khruschevites.

      • Thank you for your response.
        I’m afraid of any criticism to Stalin because of my experience until now.
        That’s why my reaction.

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