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 Chapter  IX

The Sixth Period : 1976 onwards

Crisis of Imperialism

Reorganisation of Revolutionary Forces

Some Anti-Marxist Ideological Trends

Advance to Final Victory guided by Marxism-Leninism-Maoism

Crisis of Imperialism

This period has been one of a severe intensification of the General Crisis of Capitalism. The world economic crisis since 1973 is the most protracted in world history and it has not been merely limited to the sphere of production and trade, but has also affected the financial system, service sector, debt settlements, foreign exchange, etc., and has also intensified the contradictions in the social and political spheres. Even the setback of the socialist bases has not mitigated the crisis of capitalism.

The growth rate between 1960-73 and 1973-89 fell for the US from 4% to 2.6%, for Western Europe from 4.7% to2.2% and for Japan from 9.6% to 3.9%. Unemployment in Western Europe rose from an average of 1.5% in the 1960s to 4.2% in the 1970s. Even at the peak of a temporary boom in the late 1980s it averaged 9.2% in the European Community and in 1993 it had reached 11%. Thus a long period of recession gripped all the main imperialist powers.

As for Soviet social imperialism, it saw a continuous fall; its GNP growth rate which had been higher than the imperialists in the 50s and had started falling back since the 60s continued its fall from 3.7% in the first half of the 70s to 2.6% in the second half to just 2% in the first half of the 80s. East Europe saw a similar trend. The situation after the collapse of the revisionist regimes was even more devastating. Production actually started contracting. Poland lost over 21% of its GDP in 1988-92, Czechoslovakia almost 20%, Romania and Bulgaria 30% or more. Russia’s GDP fell by 17% in 1990-91, by 19% in 1991-92 and by 11% in 1992-93. Thus the integration of the Soviet bloc into the world imperialist market only aggravated the problems of the system. Only China, of the ex-socialist systems, managed to provide some market, particularly for finance capital desperate for destinations to invest in - $ 242 billion went into China by 1998. But this was hardly sufficient to mitigate the crisis of imperialism. The Third World throughout this period was sinking into deeper and deeper debt crisis constantly threatening the fragile stability of the world financial system. Total debt of the oppressed countries amounting to $130 billion in 1973 rose to $ 1.9 trillion in 1995. The Latin American countries, with debts of hundreds of billions, and sub-Saharan Africa, all with debts far higher than the annual GNP, were in constant crisis throughout this period, many a time threatening to throw the largest imperialist banks into bankruptcy. South Asia continued in endemic poverty and also moved into the debt trap. East Asia - the so-called Asian tigers - were also thrown into severe crisis in the late nineties with the failures of their financial systems and most of their economies contracting.

There has thus been an excellent revolutionary situation with the sharpening of all the fundamental contradictions and the further weakening of imperialism. In particular the colonies and semi-colonies have continued to be the storm centres of world revolution. At the beginning of this period guerrilla struggles continued in Zimbabwe, Nicaragua, Eritria and other countries. The People’s War started in Peru in 1980 under communist revolutionary leadership. The Shah of Iran was overthrown and an anti-American Islamic Republic came into existence. National liberation war broke out in Afghanistan after the installation of a Soviet puppet regime in 1978 and occupation by the Soviet social imperialist army in 1979. The heroic struggle of the Afghan people dealt a serious deathblow to the Soviet regime and proved to be a major factor in the final collapse of the USSR. The epochal significance of the struggles of the peoples of the colonies and semi-colonies has been that it has forever changed the nature of the relations between imperialism and the oppressed nations. Both the Vietnam and Afghan wars proved that even a superpower could not occupy even a small and weak country. This truth was brought out even more starkly in the 90s in the numerous spots where UN peacekeeping forces tried to intervene. Bosnia-Herzegovina, which had been occupied and controlled without serious problem by the collapsing Habsburg empire before the First World War, in the 90s required the mobilisation of a multinational armed force equivalent to that necessary for a full scale war. Somaliland, which had been controlled for numerous years without major difficulty by British and Italian colonialists, had in the 90s become the Somalia where thousands of American and other troops were forced to ignominiously retreat when attacked by the people. Even the large scale and continuous bombing of Iraq and Yugoslavia without the commitment of ground troops is the recognition by imperialism that no country, nation or people would in this period be prepared to accept an occupation army.

Ever since the collapse of the bureaucratic regimes in East Europe and the various republics of the former Soviet Union, there had been a continuous revolutionary crisis there too. Even in the Western imperialist countries the worsening of the crisis has led to the intensification of the contradiction between labour and capital and repeated waves of strike struggles by the industrial working class. The revolutionary forces however have not been organisationally strong enough to utilise the excellent world-wide revolutionary situation to advance the World Socialist Revolution.

Reorganisation of Revolutionary Forces

In the years immediately after the death of Mao, there was a considerable amount of confusion in the international communist movement, with the Deng revisionists, through Hua Kuo-feng, attempting to project themselves as upholders of Maoism. In particular they falsely peddled the revisionist Three World Theory as Mao’s general line for the international proletariat. Many revolutionary sections accepted these positions and it was only after the very openly revisionist History Resolution of the CPC in 1981 and the Twelfth Congress in 1982 that most revolutionary forces throughout the world started coming out openly against Deng revisionism. However some sections continued to follow the Dengist revisionist line and abandoned Mao’s revolutionary teachings. Certain other sections allied themselves with the opportunist attack by the Albanian Party of Labour on Maoism. However these parties later either disintegrated or openly revealed their revisionist nature.

Those that resolutely opposed Deng revisionism and upheld Maoism in practice could however make considerable advances. Today these forces form the core of the revolutionary international proletariat. They are leading armed struggles in Peru, Philippines, Turkey, India, Nepal.

Some Anti-Marxist Ideological Trends

The loss of all socialist bases led to a concerted ideological attack on Marxism. However of these the most dangerous were the trends that emerged from within the ICM and people’s movements. In the guise of providing the answers to the setbacks to socialism there appeared trends that attempted to revise the basic Marxist formulations regarding the nature of the socialist state and the organisational principles of the Leninist party. They attempted to substitute the dictatorship of the proletariat by the bourgeois concept of proletarian democracy; they rejected the party principles of democratic centralism as the cause of bureaucracy and the restoration of capitalism. An extreme example of such anti-Marxist trends was the debate raised by the liquidationist Venu within the Revolutionary Movement (RIM). However there were many other examples where Trotskyite and Anarchist understanding was attempted to be smuggled into the proletarian movement.

An anti-Marxist ideology which gained popularity in the 90s, though not originating from within the ICM, nevertheless created considerable confusion through its intervention in people’s movements in various parts of the world. This ideology went by the name of ‘postmodernism’. Its central thesis was to announce the end of the ‘Modern’ age and with it the end of the beliefs of the Enlightenment (see Chapter II) that humanity constantly progressed through the advancement of reason and freedom. It also simultaneously rejected the ideologies rooted in the Enlightenment - bourgeois liberalism and socialism. It rejects universal values like rationality, equality or general human emancipation as ‘totalising’ concepts and contrasts them to an emphasis on ‘different’ identities such as gender, race, ethnicity, sexuality, on various particular and separate oppressions and struggles. The emphasis on differences is continued as a refusal to accept the possibility of building common social consciousness, such as class consciousness, because the individual’s identities are so different and variable. It rejects what it calls ‘grand narratives’ including the Marxist materialist conception of history, on the grounds that it reduces the complexity of human experience to a simplistic, monolithic, world-view, giving undue weightage to economics, the mode of production and class. In contrast it concentrates its focus on language, culture and ‘discourse’ on the grounds that language is all we can know about the world and we have access to no other reality. Thus the link running through all the postmodernist themes is an emphasis on the fragmented nature of the world and of human knowledge and a staunch opposition to any politics of emancipation attempting to liberate the whole of society, e.g. socialism, communism.

the material roots of the postmodernist thinking can be traced to the segmented, consumerist and seemingly continuously changing and shifting nature of contemporary global capitalism. Postmodernism simultaneously attempts to link itself to the various sectional movements growing in this period. However it principally is an example of the various defeatist philosophies that have attempted to grow in prominence in the wake of the collapse of all socialist bases. While countering it at the philosophical and ideological levels, it is also simultaneously necessary to clearly and forcefully propagate the Marxist perspective within the fighting sections in the movements where postmodernism attempts to create its defeatist confusions - the environment, women’s, caste, race, and other movements.

Advance to Final Victory guided by


The principal source of their growth in strength is the correctness of the ideology of Marxism- Leninism-Maoism. The train of main historical events in the last twenty odd years has confirmed most of the assessments of Maoism. In particular the collapse of the Soviet Union and its retreat from super power status in the face of people’s struggles and the serious weakening of the American super power in the face of the struggles of oppressed peoples of the world, have accorded to the assessment by Mao that these imperialists were only paper tigers who would be taught a lesson by the people.

Similarly Maoism has remained the best tool in the hands of the international proletariat and oppressed peoples to formulate and implement the programme for revolution in their own respective countries. It has also had a major influence over the armed struggles for national liberation being waged in various corners of the globe. Though in this period there has not been any major or significant developments in Marxist science and theory, MLM continues to be adaptable to the changing conditions in the world. It yet provides the only scientific and correct theory for the international proletariat.

The international communist movement is going through the process of victory-defeat-victory on the road to ultimate victory in the World Socialist Revolution. For those who would get despondent due to the ups and downs of this process it would help to remember the words of the article Sweep Away All Monsters and Demons written in January 1967, during the Cultural Revolution, "Even the bourgeois revolution, which replaced one exploiting class by another, had to undergo repeated reversals and witness many struggles – revolution, then restoration and then the overthrow of restoration. It took many European countries hundreds of years to complete their bourgeois revolutions from the start of the ideological preparations to the final conquest of state power. Since the proletarian revolution is a revolution aimed at completely ending all systems of exploitation, it is still less permissible to imagine that the exploiting classes will meekly allow the proletariat to deprive them of all their privileges without seeking to restore their rule." 47

Temporary defeats are therefore but to be expected on the long and tortuous path of the World Socialist Revolution. The history of 150 years of the development of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism has however conclusively proved that it is the historical destiny of this doctrine alone to lead and guide the international proletariat to final victory.


47. Debray Regis, Revolution in the Revolution? p. 322. (from Talk at a meeting of the Central Cultural Revolution Group )



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