English translation by Red Phoenix staff
Submission of the Revolutionary Communist Party of Bolivia (PCRB) to the 21st International Seminar: Problems of the Revolution in Latin America
In commemorating the centenary of the October Socialist Revolution, it is important for Marxist-Leninist parties and organizations to systematize the lessons that such a milestone left us for current struggles.
The debates that today seem unique to “21st Century Socialism” were debated more than a century ago, separating the Bolsheviks from the various revisionist tendencies. The debates within the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party (RSDLP) between 1903 and 1917, the Revolution of 1905, the February 1917 and the October Socialist Revolution were crucial. There are many topics of discussion: from the national question to the role of the peasantry, revolutionary tactics, parliamentary politics, the party press, etc. At this point we will focus on two fundamental points: the characterization of the revolution (hence the role of the proletariat) and party organization. Likewise, we will analyze how the lessons learned in the October Revolution have influenced popular struggles in Bolivia and how they guide our grasp of the in the current situation.
The Role of the Proletariat in the Revolution
In 1898, in his text The Development of Capitalism in Russia, while the working class organizing was growing, Lenin pointed out the general characteristics of incipient capitalist development and the complex relations of on the land ownership and production. The backwardness of capitalist development in Russia was notorious in contrast to that of other European national states, as well as its archaic political superstructure of absolutist Tsarism. In competition for territorial expansion, Tsarist Russia goes to war with Japan, worsening the already poor living conditions of its exploited masses.
The nascent Russian bourgeoisie aspired to greater spaces of state power, while the proletariat was engaged in brutally suppressed strikes and protests (‘Bloody Sunday’ among others). The RSDLP was divided between Mensheviks and Bolsheviks, each with different tactics of struggle due to their different characterizations of the revolutionary moment.
Concerning the role of the proletariat in bourgeois revolutions, Lenin states that: “Marxism does not teach the proletariat to remain outside the bourgeois revolution, not to participate in it, to leave its leadership to the bourgeoisie; but, on the contrary, that it must participate in the most energetic and decisive way in the struggle for proletarian democracy, in the struggle to bring about the fulfillment of the revolution. “(Lenin, VIII, 58)
He further expands the proletariat’s active participation by indicating that it must assume the role of leadership: “The outcome of the revolution depends on the role played by the working class in it: that it should be merely an auxiliary of the bourgeoisie, a powerful auxiliary for the intensity of his push against the autocracy, but politically impotent, or that it assumes the role of leader of the popular revolution.“ (Lenin, VIII, 32)
In the month of April 1917, Lenin presents his April Theses, in which he states that: “The peculiarity of the present moment in Russia consists of the passage of the first stage of the revolution, which has given power to the bourgeoisie because the proletariat lacks the necessary degree of consciousness and organization, to its second stage, which must place power in the hands of the proletariat and the poor strata of the peasantry “ (Lenin, Selected Works, II, 17). In this way, the capitalist and imperialist character of the Provisional Government is exposed and the government of the Soviets is proposed as a way to overcome the first phase of the revolution, ending the imperialist war and giving a real answer to popular demands.
The majority composition of proletarians and peasants in democratic struggles will be appropriated by the bourgeoisie if the proletariat does not have its own sufficiently forceful political leadership. Stalin indicates that: “The bourgeoisie of all countries and nations knows well how to appropriate the fruits obtained in victories that are not theirs, knows how to get chestnuts out of the fire with the hands of others. He has never felt a desire to risk his relatively privileged situation in a struggle against a strong enemy, a struggle that is not yet so easy to win. “ (Stalin, 1, 21)
In Bolivia, the majority of workers, peasants and indigenous peoples have been fighting against colonialism, feudalism and capitalism for centuries, during which time they have become aware of the need for political leadership. After the war for independence against the Spanish crown, the once royalist leaders usurped the power spaces of the nascent Republic relegating the majority who had fought to oblivion. In the Federal War of 1900, the Liberal forces that had allied with the natives of Zárate Willka imprisoned the original leadership and maintained feudal forms of exploitation. The different fractions of the ruling classes have always used the fighting force of the exploited to resolve their conflicts with each other.
Likewise the experience of the 1952 National Revolution, in which the workers‘ and peasants’ militias defeat the Armed Forces to give power to the MNR of Víctor Paz Estensoro, whose government, under pressure from the masses, would apply lukewarm reform measures – as per Yankee imperialism – such as universal sufferage, agrarian reform and the ‘nationalization’ of the mines.
In 1970, in response to an attempted fascist military coup, the Bolivian Workers’ Confederation (COB) called for a general strike and General Juan José Torres was proclaimed President. During the government of J.J. Towers popular organizations convened the Popular Assembly, as an incipient organ of popular power. The COB, in its Socialist Thesis of 1970, would conclude that: “It is self-evident that democratic and nationalist processes that are not led by the proletariat and transformed into a socialist process, always end in frustration and defeat … The nationalizations made by such governments, just as their red-hot language in the first period of opposition against imperialism and reaction, were always replaced by apologies for their anti-imperialist past.”
In our country, the accumulation of forces in the fight against the neo-liberal model, implemented since 1985, has as its climax the Water War in Cochabamba (2000) and the Gas War (2003). The Gas War leaves as a program the October Agenda that proposes the nationalization of hydrocarbons, the expulsion of transnational corporations and the call for a Constituent Assembly.
After Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada fled the country, the state council under the leadership of the MAS, faced with a rising social conflict, ruled a constitutional succession. And, in 2005 Evo Morales, with the support of much of the traditional left (PCB, PC mlm, ELN sectors, PS-1 sectors) was elected president, with a historic majority,.
After than a decade of the MAS government the October Agenda is still unfinished. Evo’s ‘nationalization’ has meant the purchase of shares and subscription of service contracts with the same transnational companies; the Constituent Assembly concluded a constitutional text agreed upon with the right-wing opposition in the Senate. There was a policy of state repression against the popular movements: disabled, students, teachers, indigenous workers. The policy of corporatization of social movements aims to weaken popular resistance.
The growth of financial capital and the realized benefits (exploratory bonus) for transnational companies coincide with the constant increase of the country’s external debt under the discourse of ‘partners, non-employers’.
“It is impossible to promote revolution and conquer the total independence of colonies and dependent countries without isolating the conciliatory national bourgeoisie, without liberating the petty bourgeois revolutionary masses from the influence of this bourgeoisie, without applying the policy of hegemony of the proletariat, without organizing the advanced elements of the working class into an independent Communist Party. “ (Stalin, VII, 70)
The role of the proletariat is decisive in the course of the revolution. Having a correct characterization of reality and tracing the strategic and tactical lines is the responsibility of the Party of the proletariat. The policy of uncritical follow-up and justification that has been assumed by traditional leftist organizations (with the exception of Trotskyism) during the MAS government demonstrates its servile role to the national bourgeoisie.
In an international context of inter-imperialist contradictions between different blocs, it is not surprising that in national politics there are contradictions between fractions of the bourgeoisie. During the MAS government, the struggle between the old bourgeoisie linked to the ‘crescent’ (mainly agro-industrial and financial) and the new bourgeoisie (commercial, mining, etc.), has given rise to a pact, the Political Constitution of the State passed between MAS and PODEMOS) in which the government of Evo seeks to maintain a condition of ‘bonanza’ for the ruling classes.
The Revolutionary Communist Party of Bolivia was born in an act of vindication of the Marxist-Leninist principles and of class position, in face of the conciliatory and ‘tailist’ politics of the old Communist Party.
As a party, we characterize capitalism in our country as mottled by its coexistence with secondary modes of production (semi–feudal, communitarian, etc.), technological backwardness and economic dependence. We consider that the outstanding bourgeois democratic tasks could not be completed either by the Revolution of 52 or by the process of change; It must be the working class with popular power that faces those tasks together with the construction of socialism in Bolivia.
The role of the workers, peasants, exploited middle strata and indigenous peoples of Bolivia is to gain the power to build a new society. We have learned that the role of submissive auxiliary to ‘advanced’ or ‘progressive’ fractions of the bourgeoisie leads to a single fate – the frustration of revolutionaries in the face of the betrayal of the bourgeoisie. To conquer a new society requires the construction of a fundamental tool – the Party.
Today the diverse tendencies of revisionism and reformism speak to us of the role of social movements as a supposedly superseding vanguard parties. These proposals are not new: during the years of internal debate in the RSDLP, the role and characteristics of the Party were discussed: “the Mensheviks are moving farther and farther away from the revolution. They become liquidators, they demand liquidation, the destruction of the clandestine, revolutionary, proletarian Party, they are increasingly openly departing from the party program and its revolutionary tasks and slogans, and are trying to organize their own party, a reformist party. ” (Stalin, XIV, page 75)
The attempt to ‘liquidate’ the Party by uncritical incorporation into the government apparatus, as various leftist organizations in Bolivia have done, is a betrayal of Marxist-Leninist principles (for the revisionists this betrayal is not a novelty but a modus operandi ).
For the Bolivian communists, the construction of our Party – the PCRB is a fundamental task.
This party building must be carried out with a clear understanding of the Party’s essence, as a monolithic unit aspiring to a seizure of power and conspiratorial activity: “It has its own program (immediate and final objectives of the movement), its own tactics ) And its own principles of organization (form of grouping). The unity of programmatic, tactical and organizational principles forms the basis on which our Party is built … This means that it can be called a member … whoever accepts the Party’s program, lends him material assistance and participates in one of his organizations. ” (Stalin, I, pp. 65-67)
In the face of the modern Mensheviks and Social-Democrats we have a difficult task. “Progressive” governments have endeavored to erode Marxist terms and concepts by raising false images of “socialism,” “revolution” and “homeland”. Today we have to denounce the capitalist essence of these processes of change and demonstrate our viability through the construction of a real alternative for our countries – revolution and socialism.
One century after the October Socialist Revolution, the role of the proletariat must be made clear, not merely as an auxiliary of a bourgeois revolution, but as a hegemonic political direction of the coming socialist revolution, assuming the unfinished tasks of the democratic revolution and uninterrupted revolution towards the dawn of popular power and socialism.
In order to fulfill the historic role of the working class, it is necessary to build the Party under Marxist-Leninist principles, with democratic and unshakable centralism and unity around the revolutionary program, to organize revolution, popular power and socialism.