Capitalism is once again in a crisis phase. In general, it is a historical context of revolution. Because there is the “law of the non-correspondence between the development of the productive forces and the social relations of production,” revealed by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. But it is only within a historical context, that the task of the revolution must be properly dealt with.
Revolutionaries, especially if we are communists, must maintain the perspective of the revolution in our daily lives; as a daily task, whatever the circumstance, or the relationship of forces that prevails between the revolutionaries and the conservatives. Because it is the supreme ideal that calls us to militancy. And it is a work that is built, day by day, under certain conditions.
Although there is no revolutionary situation in the country, what is consistent with our ideal is to work to create it, and more so, to make it lead to a victorious revolution.
Not seeing the revolution as a daily task and purpose leads to a work without perspective, a routine without a goal, and even letting opportunities escape that could be used to promote it. This happened in April 1984 when the popular masses took to the streets of the main cities of the country for several days with a willingness to fight that, had there been a political and organized vanguard focused on the purpose of the revolution, could have created a revolutionary situation.
As has been said, the revolution is a task to be built every day under the conditions dictated by reality. Tactics, not strategy, orients this daily building, which is what the general orientation indicates; however, tactics are subordinated to strategy, and aims at what to be done now, specifically, at each moment, according to the forces at stake, and especially our own.
In matters of tactics, there is an essential question that every activist must ask himself, especially if he is a Marxist-Leninist, or simply a revolutionary, which is: How many of the masses do you have for your politics?
If you do not have sufficient mass support for your calls to action, the tactics remain on paper, or in speeches sometimes of the obvious, about what should be done to make things change. But nothing happens; or what continues to happen is what the ruling classes decide.
In our environment, it is common to hear leaders for whom the revolution is a strident speech on each occasion, without contributing anything practical or building a sustainable social base for that purpose. They are commanders of the spoken word. Before April 1984, groups were often heard shouting that they were ready to repeat the war of April 1965. Their leaders always had the word revolution on their lips and used all kinds of adjectives to describe themselves as consistent revolutionaries, and also to discredit with adjectives those who disagreed. On the walls of the cities were visible words that stated “We have guns.” Such slogans still remain in the northern part of the city of Santo Domingo.
But April 1984 arrived with the force of a mass insurrection, spread throughout the country, but the promised revolutionary will and the guns that were available in words, never appeared in actuality.
One should not and cannot continue in this manner.
Nor to follow the routine of daily living; waiting for symbolic dates to praise the events of the past; or even to take advantage of burials to proclaim revolutionary generalities, which even the system’s media broadcast, aware that they are not dangerous.
To set out on the path of the revolution is to conceive a great work to which it is always necessary to add steps. We must stop seeing it as something that will happen one day and take it up as a problem that we have raised and await a solution, as stated by Comrade Enver Hoxha in his political report to the VIII Congress of the Party of Labor of Albania (PLA).
One has to want it and have the will to build it. This is fundamental, and it is an important factor in the revolutionary plan, without which the corresponding tasks will not be carried out.
But it is not only will; to support the work towards this can lead to confusing wishes with reality, to a deviation of voluntarism. Voluntarism, very present in the Dominican left, is a non-Marxist philosophical current, according to which will is more important than knowledge of reality, on which decisions are based.
It is not like that. The will must be adapted to the circumstances, to the objective conditions, external to our consciousness and which are just as necessary. The revolution is the result of the combination of a will to build it and the circumstances in which it is built.
It is a reality of mutual influences. The revolutionary will influences by strengthening the factors appropriate to the circumstances; and these can encourage certain wills. An idea and an action sometimes create situations that change the mood of the masses, create the subjective conditions of struggle, or of the masses’ willingness to fight, different from the one that prevailed prior to that idea and action.
To advance from the instinctive and emotional state that the mass movement sometimes has, to a state of consciousness of why and for what they struggle, is the purpose of everyone who always proposes how to build the revolution in the movement of the masses in struggle.
The popular struggles are the main scenario in which the revolution arises and develops. That is why it is necessary to propose to organize them always and better, to prepare them and guide them away from deviations of the right or leftism, that hold back their development.
The question of the electoral struggle
The electoral struggle, which many of us have been taking up with for forty years, must be understood by consistent revolutionaries as one form among many that the revolutionary struggle takes up, within the framework of political circumstances. As a tactical matter, in order to accumulate forces; but never as an end in itself. One can and should participate in the elections, knowing that it is alien terrain, and besides with traps of all kinds.
It is important to always reflect on whether participation in one or another election, or at a particular time, accumulates revolutionary forces or simply invests energy, resources and ideas for a token presence.
It is a question of making the necessary assessment, not of having a theoretical discussion regarding whether or not communists and revolutionaries should participate in bourgeois parliaments.
In the prologue to the 1895 edition of Karl Marx’s book The Class Struggle in France, 1848-1850; Friedrich Engels made an assessment of the political and social process that followed the defeat of the Paris Commune (1871) and addressed the issue of communists’ participation in bourgeois parliaments. In it, he saluted the German proletariat for how well it was conducting the parliamentary struggle, and the results it obtained for the organization and development of the political consciousness of the working masses.
In this prologue, Friedrich Engels expressed the importance of preparing the proletariat for long processes, in which open forms of accumulation of forces would be the main ones; very different from how they had been at the time of the Paris Commune, in which the barricades and the revolutionary blow prevailed with the participation of a vanguard of the class, as forms of struggle to achieve power.
The summary of V.I. Lenin in his book “Left-Wing” Communism, an Infantile Disorder, on the question of electoral participation, is better known. There he recognizes that, in the struggle for the democratic revolution and socialism, the Bolsheviks took part in the most reactionary parliaments in Russia at the time of the Tsar.
Therefore it is not the theoretical question about taking advantage of bourgeois elections that should be discussed; but rather the circumstances under which we have taken them up, and the practical results achieved by the Dominican communists and revolutionaries in the application of that policy.
This assessment must be made from a perspective of revolutionary honesty. What are the results of the institutional struggle that we have carried out so far for the cause of the revolution that we are fighting for, and for the well-being of the people? Have we accumulated forces?
Is it possible to change the electoral system?
A different electoral system can be won, and different in a progressive democratic sense from the one that dominates the country. How many important things have been accomplished. And here too, we must insist that it is possible with a broad and vigorous mass political movement. Mass struggle is the answer. To create with the masses a political situation that forces the ruling sectors to modify the established institutions.
We must develop the imagination, and always create forms of struggle that contribute to advancing the revolutionary political process; and avoid the very present fossilization in the minds of many people that reduces the political struggle to the false dichotomy of revolution or electoral participation.
The revolution is a science.
Friedrich Engels said in the 1874 preface to his book The Peasant War in Germany, “Socialism, having become a science, demands the same treatment as every other science – it must be studied.” He spoke of the importance of theory for the revolutionary struggle, and emphasized that the strength and invincibility of the German workers’ movement rested on the expanding attack that it developed, politically, theoretically and practical-economically.
Anyone who takes up the revolutionary cause, especially if one is fundamentally dedicated to it, should concern oneself, even minimally, in studying revolutionary theory, its laws and categories of analysis. Marxism-Leninism provides a broad theoretical framework from which we communists and revolutionaries can interpret reality and guide our work with a view to advancing and carrying out the revolution.
In his book What Is To Be Done (1902), Lenin addresses the question of the organization and strategy to be followed by a communist party; and in chapter 4 he emphasizes the importance of study and theoretical struggle with the idea, “Without a revolutionary theory there can be no revolutionary movement.” This point is even more important in the Dominican Republic since it is clear that in our movement there is a clear abandonment of revolutionary theory. Voluntarism (Saint Augustine, Arthur Schopenhauer and others) and existentialism (Friedrich Nietzsche, Soren Kierkegaard, Albert Camus, Jean Paul Sartre and others) are very much present, whether or not their bearers are aware of them.
In the Dominican Republic there is a great deal of militancy without revolutionary thought. In this sense, groups appear from time to time without the most elementary concern in defining even a declaration of principles that unites them in the same purpose. They are united by a revolutionary verbal declaration, with more emotion than reason.
This is rebellion more than anything else. Something that is initially good. Because the rebel rejects indifference to injustice and decides to take up a practical response. This is a revolutionary potential that needs to make the leap to revolutionary militancy; this is only possible from taking up a theoretical position that supports revolutionary practice.
Theory is also necessary to overcome a very present problem in the Dominican revolutionary movement; which is, to make tactics an end in itself, bringing strategy along with it; or in reverse, to limit oneself to the general strategic discourse, without specifying answers that correspond to what is happening at the moment.
The revolution does not advance if tactics do not seek to advance strategy; nor if they remain in the general discourse and do not enter into practice, responding to the specific situation.
The relationship and accumulation of forces are two categories of theoretical analysis that allow one to orient ones revolutionary political work. They express in living politics one of the three fundamental laws of Marxist dialectics, that of quantitative changes into qualitative ones, which is a universal law of development, existing in all phenomena, and therefore, in political and social ones.
The mobilized popular masses are the possibility of revolution in the Dominican Republic.
The struggle of the popular masses constitutes the main scenario in which the revolution arises and develops. In this, the militants are forged, leaders emerge, and of course the communist and revolutionary parties grow.
In these struggles, the masses learn and raise their consciousness; they distinguish their true friends and allies from their open and concealed enemies. They learn the importance of their unity, strength, and the need to persist on that path.
Promoting these struggles, getting involved in their thought and action, always seeking their political clarity and the perspective of power, is an attitude of principle of the communists and revolutionaries.
But, thinking about the objective of the revolution and its immediate purposes, when speaking of the popular masses we must always take into account the place and role of the laboring classes, the working class and others directly linked to production. From the Marxist-Leninist perspective, we must always aim to put the working classes at the center, in the expression of the struggles; to ensure that they are linked to their own interests and demands, and succeed in uniting the other classes for the immediate purpose of the revolutionary process.
Because for that, and for the revolution to be crowned with success, one must unite a considerable majority that is the only way to defeat a minority that, being a minority, holds power because it has managed to subject the majority politically, militarily and culturally. It is not only a political and military domination, but also a cultural one, in terms of values.
Thus it is important to determine the driving forces of the revolutionary process, and within these, the main force. Only by having a clear the aim and the daily task of the revolution, can one determine an objective and daily work of the formation of its driving forces, and of the main force. These must integrate the political struggle in all its forms, the social, the ideological and the cultural, all at the same time. Because the struggle will only be consistently revolutionary if, while fighting the political positions of the bourgeoisie and the right in general, at the same time one demolish the theories that argue and justify the interests of that class, and the same with the values that it imposes on the collective consciousness. One cannot fight for the revolutionary victory, fighting the political positions of the bourgeoisie, while adopting its values.
We speak of building those forces, and by this we mean the organization and involving in struggle the sectors fighting permanently for their immediate and medium-term demands. They become such when they take a political position regarding the historical political problems that they must face and overcome, and they launch into action in search of this objective.
There is thus the need of forming, in the sense in which this concept is meant here, the working classes, the workers as an important nucleus; but all those linked in some way to production, which is the essential activity on which the country’s progress depends and which, therefore, determines everything.
For communists and revolutionaries, the work with the working class and the popular masses in general only makes sense if one considers and takes it up in daily life from the perspective of accumulating forces for the revolution, and carrying this out. This is the aim, although in practice it takes up intermediate forms and demands, such as in the trade union, the clubs, neighborhood councils, the electoral front, and any other.
The Dominican revolution must be the continuity of the political struggle of the working and popular masses.
In some countries, the guerrilla movement, or other military actions, opened prospects or created elements of civil war, favorable to the revolution.
But in our country, the guerrillas or attempts at military actions with revolutionary aims only created setbacks of historical dimensions, such as the losses of Manolo Tavárez and others of his companions in Las Manaclas in December 1963; and that of Colonel Francis Caamaño along with other combatants, after the expedition of Playa Caracoles in February 1973.
And, unfortunately, dozens of young revolutionaries have actually been lost who tried to be part of the possibility of marking the revolution. Some of these occurred as the mass struggle grew, and these deaths contributed to slowing down the movement.
The experience of the revolution of April 1965
As we said, in the Dominican Republic, only the political struggle of the popular masses has created revolutionary situations, or political crises that could develop into these.
The War of April 1965 is the most relevant case, which was a result of the eruption of the masses into the streets after the fall of the Trujillo dictatorship in 1961, demanding rights, public liberties, social justice and the distribution of wealth. . The 1962 elections, won by the Dominican Revolutionary Party (PRD) and Professor Juan Bosch as candidate, dampened this process of the rise of the popular struggles. But these would take shape again, after the Yankee-oligarchic coup against the government and the constitution that emerged from those elections.
The working class became the main one that began to demand “the return to the Constitution of 1963 without [new] elections.”
There was then a political crisis that created elements of civil war, and these developed into a civil-military insurrection.
The revolutionary war of April 1965 was not a spontaneous outbreak. It was the result of the accumulation of situations, events and struggles that ended up in the circumstances created in April 24 of that year.
The consciousness of the Dominican people, and the need to fight to win their freedom and democratic rights, has been developed since the struggles against the Yankee military intervention of 1916 and against the dictatorship of Rafael Leónidas Trujillo Molina (1930-1961), which was a direct consequence of that intervention.
The Constitution of 1963, promulgated by the government that resulted from that electoral victory, was a programmatic synthesis of a good part of the popular wishes of the entire period since 1916.
In short, after the fall of the Trujillo dictatorship, the working and popular masses took to the streets demanding freedom, democracy, social justice, and the distribution of the wealth of the dictator’s family. The “floodgates were opened” to popular protest, which the repression had contained. This eruption of the working classes and other popular sectors would be a prominent development in the political situation of the moment.
Between 1961 and 1963, consciousness and purposes that had been accumulating slowly for decades were condensed, and this made possible a popular political and social front, with a common demand: Restore the government and the Constitution of 1963 without [new] elections. This led to the unity of civilians and constitutional military forces.
It is worth emphasizing this question of a broad political and social front around one demand, which united all the various interests. Because all the revolutions, without exception, that have been victorious have had this characteristic. The vanguard force manages to unite other sectors around it in the crucial demand in that historical situation.
The revolution of April 24, 1965, was a resumption of the process of the political struggle of the masses and the military that the Dominican people had been waging for years.
This complete experience should be the object of further study, aiming at building the revolution in the Dominican Republic.
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