In their introduction to this book, Leo Huberman and Paul Sweezy, the American sponsors of Debray, claim that the revolution in Latin America:
Debray's book seeks to lay the basis for such radical revisions by spurning Marxist-Leninist theory in every one of its essential tenets: replacing proletarian hegemony and discipline by petty-bourgeois hegemony and anarchical relations, replacing class by individuals, proletarian parties by "focos" of undisciplined petty bourgeois insurectionists, historical materialism by naïve mechanical materialism, scientific analysis by sweeping presumptiousness.
Like countless other renegade products which attack Marxism-Leninism, this book has been received favourably by the bourgeoisie. In that it offers a way to "make revolution" from scratch, learning by the simple empirical process of trial and error and rejecting the Marxist-Leninist scientific method of the universality of contradiction and the unity of theory and practice, it serves them well. For if the "third way" of Debray were to remain unchallenged and be applied in practice, it would result in the most tragic setbacks and useless losses to the revolutionary cause in Latin America.
Indeed, the Bolivian adventure which cost Debray his liberty and Guevara his life was merely the latest in a long series of defeats and annihilations for which the addicts of spontaneity who exist in the national liberation fronts of many Latin American countries are responsible. It is for this reason that it is essential to deal with Debray's claims in some detail. On the first page we read:
Unfortunately, of course, Mr Debray has not understood Lenin, or Marxism, on this elementary point. The involved and rich experience, of the tactics and strategy of "making revolution" the Marxist-Leninist way are a closed book to Debray (as a student of bourgeois philosophy still in his early twenties, this is not surprising) who assumes throughout that such wild and unqualified statements, can serve as the starting point for his even wilder flights of innovation around them.
Lenin and Stalin remain (despite the distortions of petty-bourgeois innovators such as Debray who wish not to see that which deflates the balloon of their pretentiousness) the most notable of those few proletarian leaders who have successfully led the working people through to the seizure of state power and the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat. This is distinct from that seizure of power by the national bourgeoisie in alliance with the peasantry, usurping the leading role of the proletariat, which masquerades as "the dictatorship of the proletariat" in some corners of the globe - and to the building of socialism. Given this historically unique position, we can assume that the definitions and experiences of Lenin and Stalin, hold important lessons for us in establishing further theoretical and practical bases of proletarian dictatorship without which there can be no socialism - in our respective countries.
In every fundamental essential, Debray betrays not only his divergence from these principles, but his total ignorance of them.
Not once does he justify his claims against Marxist-Leninist theory - we are presented merely with surface details and Debray's own brand of arrogant ignorance of the harsh facts of the struggle against imperialism. Thus, in justification of the "spontaneous inevitable progress of history":
On an even more alarming scale, on page 2 the cry of the petty bourgeois intellectual reveals itself in full swing in its justification of spontaneity, taken to the lengths of advocating the pleasures and benefits of a blissful ignorance of theory. In this assertion, Debray is typical of the worst philistine intellectual who steeps himself in book learning but condescends to the "masses" in their ignorance - in such a way he seeks to preserve the prestige of learning which can only stand up when contrasted with the "low level" of the masses. Anathema to Debray are the forces of the organised proletariat with their developed theory:
CLASS ANALYSIS IN SOUTH AMERICA: THE "THIRD" WAY
Firstly, that the leading instigating role of the intellectuals and students is unique. From this assumption he intends to demonstrate, that a new concept of the vanguard, a "foco" (a small band of guerrillas with allegiance to one "leader") follows logically, and from this that the normal political channels should be ignored and give place to armed struggle as an end in itself.
However, his claim for uniqueness of situation in Latin America is a red herring raised in order to conceal his anti-proletarian, thoroughly bourgeois thinking. For in Russia the revolutionary students and intellectuals also initiated the struggle against imperialism and capitalism: it was they who formulated the theory of the vanguard party and the strategy of the world's first proletarian revolution. And it is here that we come to the crux of the difference between those petty-bourgeois forces which, when declassed and pushed into the ranks of the working class, overcome their bourgeois thinking and thoroughly embrace the proletarian world view and its revolutionary struggle; and those who fail to identify themselves with the aims and aspirations of the majority class. These latter merely use their new class position to air their own minority grievances against capitalism, objectively striving to climb back to their former class position, sowing confusion and propagating theories in the process which act against the tide of revolutionary struggle.
There are of course, vast differences between the aims of those intellectuals who led the way in Russia and the aims of those in Latin America who advance Debray to be their spokesman. The intellectuals in Russia worked for the hegemony of the proletariat in the socialist revolution and, as its necessary preliminary, in the bourgeois democratic revolution.
Debray and those he represents, are that section of the petty bourgeoisie which stand for the hegemony of bourgeois ideology and the petty bourgeois forces, not for a socialist revolution and not even for the final victory and, consolidation of the national democratic revolution. For in the epoch of imperialism, this can only be led by the proletariat in alliance with the poor and middle peasantry if it is to be consolidated and is to prepare the around for the transition to the socialist revolution. The petty bourgeois and bourgeois view is for the holding of the revolutionary process at the stage of the national democratic revolution, in order that the groundwork for capitalism may be sown and the path towards the re-incorporation of the nation into the imperialist sphere once again be laid. They seek to prevent that national democratic revolution from being turned into the stream which feeds the proletarian revolution by crying "against dictatorship", "against bureaucracy", thus serving the interests of the national bourgeoisie.
And so, Debray's claims that his "third way" is the new form of worker-peasant revolutionary alliance:
In further imaginative vein, the "back to nature" aspirations of the dilettante petty-bourgeois fleeing from the terrors of the era of machinofacture and proletarian organisation are eulogised:
"Nothing like getting out to realise to what extent these lukewarm incubators
(the cities - Ed.) make one infantile and bourgeois. In the first stages
of life in the mountains, in the seclusion of the so-called virgin forest
life is simply a daily battle in its smallest detail: especially is it
a battle within the guerrillero himself to overcome his old habits, to
erase the marks left on his body by the incubator - his weakness."
Also, in magical vein, we are told that:
From a reference he makes to Castro on the subject of the inherent qualities of "the people" we can draw only the conclusion that the term refers to the peasantry alone (p.112). And of course this is as it must be, for despite the loud claims, these theories bear absolutely no relation to the proletariat whatsoever.
The fig-leaf cover required to normalise this petty bourgeois leadership and masquerade it under the false cloak of a "worker-peasant alliance" leading to socialism was the verbal trick of claiming that a handful of petty bourgeois guerrillas, through their relationship to their "means of production" in the rural environment - the "dispossessed class" - were the proletariat leading the peasantry.
This makes the formula complete. But no amount of verbal juggling can make these theories any other than what they really are -
Namely , the laying of the foundations of the dictatorship of the national bourgeoisie in Latin America with all the jargon that goes with it:
Thus the claims of the Debrayists are not new. Always and everywhere they have been part of the arsenal of the petty bourgeoisie in attempting to further their social and class aims - and they are theories which are inimical to the hopes and aspirations of the only truly revolutionary class, the proletariat; theories which at root and beneath the libertarian cover are nothing but a vicious attack on the proletariat and its class mission.
THE ROLE OF THE INDIVIDUAL – THE MAXIMUM LEADER - FIDELISM
If the character of the theories we have outlined are correct, it will follow that, in place of proletarian discipline and democratic centralism, petty bourgeois individuality will be enthroned. And this is so. We read:
"This reconstitution (of the "party" Ed.) requires the temporary suspension
of ‘internal’ party democracy and the temporary abolition of the principles
of democratic centralism which guarantee it."
In other words, discipline and organisation, which are the main manifestations of proletarian organisation, 'hamper' the freedoms of the petty bourgeois leaders, who wish to answer to no strata or section of the population - and indeed, by their very hybrid class position, do not directly represent any. To these military adventurists, the primacy of political struggle which is supplemented by military struggle, is the source of all evils. It brings with it the necessity for disciplined leadership, political discussion of strategy, the difficult work of actually involving the working people in struggle. All these tasks are anathema to the Debrayists and their foolhardy bands of "trial and error" revolutionaries.
But we have only proceeded a little way in our analysis.
We have now to deal with the real reason why Debray has thought it necessary to throw all previous historical experience overboard, to decry and reject any lessons from the revolutions of Russia, China and Vietnam, the theories of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin; to throw the leading role of the proletarian party overboard. It is because:
But it would appear that in the sierras under the sway of "Fidelism", in place of the proletarian party and its healthy collective discipline, that body representing the best qualities of a class, such inverted and ingrown petty bourgeois acts of hero worship are commonplace. For Guevara himself, on the basis of his experiences with Fidel, stated that "the aim is for all qualities to be united if possible, in one person". This maximum leader", as the world knows, has not been slow to bask in the limelight of glory and rise to the heights of demagogy which this mystical cult has presented to him.
Thus we are dealing with an idealisation of the petty bourgeoisie, an idealisation which can only finish up in extremely deep water.
And it does, for such baseless hero-worship and unquestioned allegiance to one "leader" is the very essence of bourgeois class thinking, when confronted with the problem of misleading and subjugating vast social forces for its own ends. It represents a crisis in the leadership of a historically obsolescent class when the normal, logical, although unequal, system of maintaining its power is threatened from below. This initial demagogy of the "maximum leader" often appears too ridiculous to take seriously. But beneath it, lies the sabre of a force which is responsible to no constitution, to no labour laws, no checks by the working people, no power other than to itself. All too often it has finally resulted in bloodbaths not only involving the working class but any other strata which have got in the way of a totally destructive and anarchic force.
The seeds of such theories of an independent armed force, are present in the thinking of the Debrayist petty bourgeoisie:
Such is the demagogy which wears the mask of "Marxism". It is this monstrous deformation which results from the failure to build a vanguard party based firmly on the alliance between the working class and peasantry in the conditions of a national democratic struggle. For with this party denigrated, with the proletarian role usurped and the peasantry dragged in as fodder to back up and strengthen the inherently vacillating national bourgeoisie, the net result can only be, once foreign imperialist domination is overthrown, the imposition of the dictatorship of this national bourgeoisie fully confirmed in its class role – a national bourgeoisie forced to adopt the fascist-type "maximum leader" principle in order to maintain its hold over the vast masses of the people and obtain its surplus value from an underdeveloped economic system by screwing up the rate of exploitation - free from the bugbear of any organised opposition and defence by the working people of their own interests.
This is precisely the same demagogy which we see today stretching from China to Indonesia and Cuba: with the party of the proletariat destroyed, the national bourgeoisie walks into its repressive role, and the proletariat is denigrated viciously as "a bourgeois force" in order to cover up the real bourgeois nature of these leaders. There is an exact parallel with the Chinese national bourgeoisie and its assumed "leftism": the "'cultural revolution", which aims to destroy the proletarian vanguard party.
THE "FOCO" AS SUBSTITUTE FOR THE PROLETARIAN PARTY
We have already had a pretty rounded introduction to the theories of Debray.
It comes as no surprise therefore, that for Debray the Marxist-Leninist theory of the vanguard party of the proletariat, must give place to yet another unique contribution to "Marxism-Leninism"; that is, the theory of the immaculate conception, or the spontaneous begetting, of the vanguard nucleus.
"The people's army will be the nucleus of the party, not vice-versa.
The guerrilla force is the political vanguard in nuce, and from its development
a real party can arise .... That is why at the present juncture, the principal
stress must be laid on the development of guerrilla warfare and not on
the strengthening of existing parties or the creation of new parties."
"Eventually the future People's Army will beget the party of which it
is to be, theoretically the instrument: essentially the party is the army."
And, of course, Debray, in addition to his ignorance of Marxism or Leninism, is completely at sea on the facts of the Cuban revolution and its outcome, as we shall see in more detail later. Suffice it here to say that he is under the totally erroneous impression that the "theories" he claims to have unearthed, were actually borne out in practice:
Debray devotes a good percentage of his book to attacks on those revisionists (such as of the Popular Socialist Party) - attacks which are justified to a certain extent – but what cannot be justified is his attempt to make of the sell-out which the Cuban revolution was to become a model of "Marxism-Leninism", every unprincipled turn of which must be copied throughout the Latin American continent.
When the Cuban leadership granted Mr. Debray full facilities to study the Cuban revolution and its history that is, employed him to embroider a myth and bury the facts they chose wisely. They chose a representative of that privileged section of the petty bourgeoisie which devotes all its time and energies to the renegade task of attempting to destroy the only theory and practice which can liberate all the oppressed social classes by a revolution which will end for ever the unequal privilege whereby those who create wealth and culture are robbed by those who make of it a reactionary metaphysical mystique.
The discovery of this "new" path has led to many errors, but these are inevitable "at this stage of exploration, of revolutionary conceptions and methods which are new in spite of their deceptive kinship with other international experiences" (p.23). The aim of the armed foco is to build up "through guerrilla warfare carried out in suitably chosen rural zones a more mobile strategic force, nucleus of a people's army and future socialist state" (p.25).
Of course this armed spontaneity diverges radically from all other successful experiences to date - and, naturally, has met with innumerable failures. Therefore, we have to have a scapegoat. Upon this scapegoat are blamed residual "imported" errors, that explain the "inevitable" errors on the "new" path. He makes this scapegoat, the dangerous "imported political conceptions" of Vietnam and elsewhere, with such out-of-context claims as the "subjection of the guerrilla force to the party" (p.25) contentions, which are not applicable to the "historical and social conditions peculiar to Latin America." (p.56)
He notes that:
Another "irrelevant" theory to Debray, employed as it has been in all the successful national liberation struggles of our time, is that the guerrilla forces should aim to be so integrally a part of the people that they remain unnoticed "like a fish in water";
It has been put forward in order to cover up the
essential heresy which lies beneath the claims to a "people's army";
by inventing a uniqueness which prevents the application of the theory
of people war, as it is understood by all genuine representatives of the
working people, it is hoped to cover up the fact that this was the work
of a handful of insurgents who bear no relationship whatsoever to the
real aspirations and political requirements of the forces in struggle against
In a vulgarisation of the role of the guerrilla we read:
"During the first stage (of the guerrilla war Ed.), clearly the hardest
to surmount and the most exposed to all sorts of accidents, the initial
group experiences at the outset a period of absolute nomadism."
In this scheme of things the working people and peasantry serve merely as fodder for the adventurist, personally gratifying, military gambles of the unstable, dissatisfied petty bourgeoisie. We begin to see why the solidarity of the Vietnamese people in their genuine people's war is anathema to the Debrayists, and why they constantly warn of the dangers of "imitating the Vietnamese experience."
So Debray has disposed of the class base of a genuine
revolutionary movement, of its wholehearted dedication to and identification
with the exploited and oppressed classes;
Debray has disposed completely of the alliance of the two major oppressed classes, proletariat and peasantry, which when welded together into an invincible alliance, constitute the only force which can resolutely oppose and defeat imperialism by classing the proletarian forces of the cities as "bourgeoisie";
Debray has cancelled out the role of political struggle by scorning the tasks of building a revolutionary movement around a programme, forging alliances, educating the people for struggle, organising, agitating propagating in the course of building this powerful force of the working masses, and revealed his thoroughly bourgeois content by ignoring the vital and indispensable role of the general staff of a revolution, its vanguard party;
And at the tail end of this rejection of all that constitutes a genuine revolutionary force, his guerrilla focos resemble nothing more than bandit groups, cut off from the oppressed people to such an extent, that at a certain stage of their reckless ill-conceived adventures they are forced to break the cardinal principle of genuine people’s war - never to steal the property of the workers and peasants by advocating raids - on villages for supplies:
Debray claims that the great misconceptions which exist concerning the Cuban revolution are the reasons for so many failures in recent years on the Latin American continent. He claims his book is the vehicle which distils the true essence of that revolution and lays down its theory for the edification of all like-minded insurgents. It has been pointed out that the essence he has distilled, besides its dangerous implications, bears very little resemblance to the actual course of the Cuban revolution add the lessons which are to be learned from it.
We must therefore now look at that Cuban experience and distil from it our own essence - one which has been processed according to the scientific principles of Marxism-Leninism.
Debray takes as his point of departure the right revisionist betrayal over many decades in Latin America, and seeks to counter-pose his leftist theories as the way forward.
But whereas the right deviation seeks to tie
the class forces of the proletariat and its allies to bourgeois ideology
and practice in such a way as to transform the party into an instrument
of foreign imperialism, the comprador bourgeoisie and the feudal reactionary
Its leftist counterpart, the "left" revisionist deviation, also reflects, the influence of bourgeois ideology and practice within the class forces of the proletariat, but in this case adapted to the class needs of the national bourgeoisie.
The national bourgeoisie has an objective interest, at least for a time, in the victory of the national democratic revolution, but wishes to achieve that victory under its class leadership and not under that of the proletariat and its allies.
It therefore needs to make use of revolutionary phraseology, the best form of which is provided by the petty bourgeois left distortions of Marxism of which Debray’s teachings are typical.
These deviations are able to take an extreme and clear form within the contradictory framework of political institutions in Latin America. The apparently organic and established character of the state frameworks in most Latin American countries has resulted from the early formal independence won against Spanish colonial rule which resulted in an earlier development of semi-colonial forms of domination by USA imperialism. This has seduced the majority of the revisionist parties in those countries into believing that the doctrine of "peaceful transition" could be applied there without the disguise of leftist phraseology and lip service to guerrilla and other violent forms of struggle. As a consequence, right revisionist policies in Latin America have met with the most abject failure of any in the world, driving those parties, in a number of instances - the best known being that of Batista's Cuba - to degenerate into direct, tools of foreign imperialism and indigenous comprador reaction.
This history of open right-revisionist betrayal and errors is the main factor determining the current swing to the "left" in a diametrically opposed direction. This history counterposes "peaceful legal advance without violence" and the militarist spontaneity of "military struggle without politics" .
It represents a classic manifestation of the spontaneous division between "left" and right. We say spontaneous, because these extremes occur in the vacuum-left, when genuine scientific analysis and the revolutionary leadership which results from it are lacking. A right deviation delivers the working people and peasantry helpless to the massacre of imperialist guns and without any means of defence. Whilst leftism provokes isolated violence and brings down the full force of imperialist violence on an inadequately steeled and prepared nucleus, divorced from the mass of the people but involving these forces in the bloodshed which accompanies their defeat.
These complementary deviations have wreaked havoc within the national liberation fronts of the Latin American continent and make more essential the return to a class analysis as the basis for a scientific theory of revolution.
Certain countries of the Latin American continent have been viewed by right revisionism as possessing sufficient formal trappings of democracy to justify a full programme based on electoral advance to socialism by peaceful means, such as Uruguay, Chile, Argentina, Costa Rica and Brazil. The remaining long-standing open dictatorships have necessitated right revisionist programmes of a more militant type, albeit singularly lacking in any guide to action to overthrow the repressive regimes, but relying on the hope that "democratic rights" would be established under restrained "mass pressure". It is therefore to the statements of the Communist Parties of the former category that we should turn for the clearest expression of "parliamentarism" on the Latin American continent.
A reference to the Costa Rican Communist Party's
"competition" some years ago makes the right revisionist position
Here instead of the vanguard party thriving in a situation of heightened class struggle, we are presented with the novelty of a "vanguard party" which finds itself losing ground; when objective class struggle is seen as a nuisance factor which has interfered with the prime task of the ingrown little organism’s race to achieve a per capita paper representation in some imaginary "democratic institution" - whilst all comprehension of the realities of class remains blissfully outside its scope.
It does not require a very detailed knowledge of the situation Costa Rica to understand that the way to salvation of the Costa Rican working People does not lie through such "struggle" as advocated by the "Costa Rican People's Vanguard":
The theme was repeated in Chile, the
same reformist dreams of "The British Road to Socialism" being applied
to a situation where striking workers were murdered, where any substantiation
to the claim to a "democratic facade" had been ripped away a decade ago
by the brutal dictatorship of Gonzalez Videla which outlawed
the Communist Party and subjected it to persecutions all too familiar under
the heel of open reaction, and where any democratic facade exists merely
as a perfected weapon for ensuring the continuation of bourgeois dictatorship
by drawing to its assistance in this conspiracy the renegade "leaders"
of the working people.
Thus the Chilean Communist Party leadership hotly denied any revolutionary intentions ascribed to it:
The Brazilian Communist Party, the leading mouthpiece of right revisionism in Latin America had a carefully mapped out plan for "utilising democratic rights and liberties". In 1964 it was striving by means of a system of "structural reforms" to win power by:
"the basic task of the vanguard forces in the struggle for structural
reforms now is to build up the national and democratic movements. It is
along these lines that we envisage the possibility of a peaceful revolution."
(World Marxist Review: Jan 1964; p.22)
"Although we sensed a certain tension (! Ed) we failed to act accordingly".
(World Marxist Review, February 1965; p.28)
Such is the face of right revisionism in Latin America.
It has been against this background of betrayal that the working people and peasant masses have been compelled to resort to spontaneous armed struggle - struggle which was, and largely remains, outside the framework of control of the revisionist parties of the right. In those countries where such armed struggle has already taken root and the masses of the working people are beginning to be drawn into the struggle against semi-colonial dictatorship and foreign imperialist oppression, the further result of this has been that those, communist parties subservient to Soviet right revisionism have been forced to pay lip service to armed struggle and modify their more blatant parliamentary transition formulas in a bid to regain the influence within the armed liberation fronts which previously they were threatened with losing completely.
In its wider context, this pragmatic and opportunist response to the spontaneous growth of armed struggle reflects the shift in policy on the part of the Soviet revisionist leadership which has taken place since Khrushchev’s overthrow - a shift away from "all-round cooperation with US imperialism" to one of striving for the establishment of independent spheres of influence in areas hitherto comprising sectors of the US sphere. Within the overall task of developing this policy, a certain independent sphere of operations in relation to the national liberation movements of the underdeveloped colonial and semi-colonial sectors of the world has been allotted to the so-called "centrist" bloc of revisionist communist parties and "socialist" states, of which Cuba is one, and has given rise to the need for lip-service to armed national liberation struggle to be admitted to the platforms of some, though by no means all, of the Latin American communist parties under the influence of Soviet revisionism.
An example of this is offered by the criticism of the 20th Congress formulations on peaceful transition and peaceful coexistence made by the Brazilian right revisionist leader, Prestes. The alternative to the long discredited right revisionist formulations put forward is the flexibly leftist slogan of "armed struggle as a tactic, democratic constitutional advance as a strategy". With its perceptible overtones of Kautsky and Bernstein, this formulation neatly solves the dilemma of how to maintain the long-cherished peaceful transitional shibboleths of right revisionism, now becoming so tarnished, simply by reversing Marxist-Leninist theoretical principles and relegating to armed struggle a subordinate tactical role serving the main strategy of seeking to secure minor palliatives to the increasingly oppressive life of the working people through reforms and the ballot box.
The outcome of these opportunist policy manoeuvres has been that, utilising the dominant hold which they exercise over the apostle of "violent struggle" in Latin America, Fidel Castro and the Soviet revisionist leadership has been able to control the transition to support for "centrist" revisionist policies on the part of certain Latin American Communist Parties without loosening in any way their traditional control over the leaderships of those parties - and even in some cases to increase it through the prestige added by the accession of Castroite "centrist" revisionism to the overall force available to Soviet policy needs.
As for "left" revisionism and Trotskyism, these take many forms in Latin America. The case of Guevara and Debray, woh take an "ultra-leftist" position themselves, while condemning the trotskyites as revisionists, has already been analysed. The lessons of their position, i.e. of an armed struggle divorced from any political and class organisation of the working people, have been borne home most clearly following the collapse of Guevara’s mission in Bolivia. So much so, that Arguedas, a firm sympathiser of the guerrillas, wrote as his epitaph to Guevara:
Trotskyism in Latin America - as represented
particularly in Guatemala and Peru is "left"
opportunism which claims a "theory" of socialist revolution. This "theory"
completely denies the national democratic stage of the revolution in a
colonial-type country and insists that "socialist revolution"' is at any
given moment on the order of the day.
Its effect is to isolate the genuine revolutionary forces from class allies who stand objectively for the national democratic revolution, and without whose added weight imperialism cannot be defeated and the national democratic tasks achieved. In practice, however, they resort to all manner of semi-anarchist, syndicalist and outright irridentist ideologies in order to win bases amongst the peasantry and urban poor, purveying such illusions as the direct growth of the village peasant-commune into socialism, the romanticism of the primitive subsistence economy and so on.
In strategy and tactics, their aim is to sow the usual kind of confusion associated with their name, advocating peaceful legal advance in the manner of the right revisionists whenever and wherever an actual revolutionary situation is close at hand, and pressing for ultra-revolutionary forms of struggle whenever and wherever the revolutionary tide is temporarily on the ebb turn. Thus they contribute directly to rendering the more militant vanguard forces an easy and isolated target for imperialist guns. Within these overall perspectives of betrayal, however, the "socialist revolution" for which they aim is, as with the right revisionist communist parties, in essence a peaceful one.
Thus all of these trends, "left" or right, spell defeat and betrayal for the revolutionary aspirations of the working people of Latin America and the decimation of their actual or potential organisations, of struggle.
At the helm of all this confusion and betrayal,
seeking to unite the political manifestations of bourgeois and petty
bourgeois thinking within the forces of the developing national
democratic and socialist revolutions of Latin America under the one "super
revolutionary" centre, has stood the Cuban revisionist leadership.
They have encouraged every kind of anti-proletarian and anti-Marxist-Leninist
theory and practice, inspiring the most infantile forms of petty bourgeois
leftism, and nationalist euphoria; and finally, they have resolved the
failure of both "left" and right revisionism into the doctrine of a "centrist"
revisionism, a position which has emerged as a specific heritage
of the Cuban-revolution.
It is to an analysis of the Cuban development itself, therefore, that we must now turn.
One was the fundamentally positive fact that US imperialist domination over Latin America had been breached for the first time, and a nation free of US imperialist oppression and ranged in struggle against it now stood as a symbol of anti-imperialist liberation struggle for the peoples of the continent.
The second and negative side was that, from
its inception, the Cuban Revolution was carried through not under the
leadership of the working class in alliance with the poor peasantry and
urban petty bourgeoisie but under that of forces representing the national
bourgeoisie. This epoch is characterised by the onset of a world pre-revolutionary
situation and the beginning of the disintegration of the imperialist world
system. Therefore, this class basis can only serve its fundamental class
interest and achieve, the construction of a form of capitalist society
in the newly emerged nations, in as much as it succeeds in manoeuvring
with the offer of its neo-colonial and comprador services between the various
competing imperialist groups. This is a strategy which leads sooner or
later to the incorporation of the newly-independent nation, willy-nilly,
into the sphere of influence of another imperialist group, most likely
one which is hostile to the imperialist power from which independence had
originally been won.
The economic in-viability of Cuba - a fundamental feature inherited from the one-sided development imposed by US imperialist domination in the past - together with its geographically isolated position and economically unbalanced character, placed Cuba in a precarious position which rendered its newly-won independence highly vulnerable.
Debray seeks in his book to paint a glowing and utopian picture of the Castro leadership which completely ignores the historical facts and sets out to enshrine every trite phrase and thought of this leadership as valid "scientific truths". It remains a quite obvious fact however, that Castro and those who fought with him to overthrow Batista were not Marxist-Leninists. Castro claims that the "Marxism-Leninism" of the Cuban leadership was learned during the course of the struggle. The absence of scientific revolutionary principle guiding a clear strategic perspective – fundamental necessities in any revolutionary process, whether national democratic or socialist in character, in which the working class fulfils the leading role and which is guided by a genuine Marxist-Leninist vanguard party - and the opportunist manoeuvring to which that absence inevitably leads –
These are all explained away by Debray, with the claim that the revolutionary process was undergoing a justifiable period of "trial and error" - not, be it understood, trial and error in the application of Marxist-Leninist science to the revolution but quite abstractly in the search for a "Cuban form of Marxism".
Castro and the inceptive forces of the guerrilla movement which he led were urban petty bourgeois revolutionists acting objectively as the leading representatives of the Cuban national bourgeoisie. The rebellion based on the Sierra Maestra drew to the ranks of the rebel army recruits from the peasantry, the mass base of the petty bourgeoisie and, in the absence of a leading role fulfilled by the working class, formed the social arsenal of the national bourgeoisie.
The movement claimed to be a liberal alternative to the tyranny of Batista, the stench of whose corruption was believed by Castro to be a constant source of embarrassment to the United States - the diaries of Guevara in his Bolivian campaign imply that, in begging aid from US monopoly interests under the threat that US holdings would be confiscated in the event of victory in Bolivia if support for the insurgents were not forthcoming. In this he was merely repeating methods prominent in the early stage of the Cuban revolution itself. The "left" revisionists of the Castro/Guevara stamp, attempt to explain these away as "tactical" covers for their real "Marxist" aims.
Throughout the course of the struggle Castro increasingly won the support of the urban petty bourgeoisie and middle classes - the involvement of the working class taking place considerably later. The tone of the Castro leadership on the role of the working class, was that the working class should be thankful for its liberation at the hands of the petty bourgeois intelligentsia and peasantry. However, support for the rebels against the tyranny of Batista was sufficiently overwhelming in its scope to cause the United States, refrain from any serious attempt to maintain Batista in power by overt force, and to give only that amount of aid to Batista which would preserve US face with lesser tyrants of the Batista stamp throughout Latin America. Although a covert attempt using Cuban exiles to restore a US colonial-type puppet regime was launched later, with the abortive Bay of Pigs landing. These were the factors which assisted the seizure of power by the Castro leadership in 1959.
The victory of 1959 brought Castro his first lessons
in the attempt to carry through reforms of a national and democratic character
in the epoch of imperialism.
Whilst at the comparatively early stage of establishing his bases in the Sierras, Castro had approached the lawyer, Urrutia, with an offer that he should form a government when victory was won - an offer which was accepted and implemented in 1959. Urrutia was a representative of the nascent Cuban national bourgeoisie, but nevertheless one of the first acts of his government was to approach US imperialism with assurances that his government intended to continue the semi-colonial status of Cuba, and to maintain the traditional agrarian structure of the economy and economic dependence on the US. It was only the rejection of these assurances by the US and the latter's refusal to recognise the Castro regime which compelled the subsequent alignment with the Soviet Union.
As for Castro himself, it was a typical and in view
of the later developments, an ironic expression of the spirit of the expediently
opportunist freebooter that he was ready and willing to place his services
at the disposal of the highest bidder, that he did not conceive of taking
any initiative in the political and state affairs, of the new government.
All the evidence shows that Castro did not wish to govern on behalf of any defined class. He saw his role as that of a latter-day Garibaldi effecting a purely military liberation on behalf of abstract "liberty, equality and fraternity" and then handing over power to a vague and undefined "liberal intelligentsia", i.e., to elements of the national bourgeoisie which, at that stage, had no conception of the revolution winning for them full national independence from US imperialism, and who merely wished to extend somewhat the scope of their economic holdings and the degree of their participation in and control over the state and administration.
According to the terms of the Urrutia government's approach to the US, agrarian landlordism, the security of US holdings in both agriculture and such service industries as existed and the corresponding structure of feudal and comprador relations, were to remain essentially untouched and only subjected to a degree of mild reform. Only the short-sighted rejection by the US of these proposals for the reform of the semi-colonial structure of Cuba as it had existed under the corrupt and brutal reign of Batista finally compelled Castro and his followers both to take up themselves the reigns of state and to implement measures designed to secure independence from the US – an independence the only available economic foundation for which was, ultimately alignment with the Soviet neo-imperialist bloc.
Amongst the first measures enacted was the land reform - a step which was essential if the base of peasant support was to be maintained. The confiscation of large holdings, particularly those owned by foreign capital, brought down the wrath of US imperialism.
For Castro the second dilemma and the second lesson
Despite numerous manoeuvres to outwit the Imperialists and to prevent their hostility and inevitable embargos on trade, the US in traditionally short-sighted fashion, declared its hostility and began to threaten Cuba with economic reprisals. Castro, countering this blackmail as best he could, entered into trade agreements with the Soviet Union, intending to walk the tightrope of a balance between the two blocs which would ensure Cuba's economic future without drastic political shifts.
However, the breach was forced by US imperialism with the cutting of the quota for the import of Cuban sugar, forcing Castro to look elsewhere for cheaper supplies consequent upon the loss of US dollars. There followed a train of reprisals and counter-reprisals culminating in the Soviet offer to buy Cuban sugar (at an unspecified price) and to meet the Cuban demand for oil. The refusal of the US to refine Soviet oil, was met by Castro’s nationalisation of the key US interests in Cuba as a final and irrevocable reprisal. The course of Castro's future was now set - a future which had originally never been intended or planned; but which had developed piecemeal out of the course of events. By 1963, according to Castro, the trade balance with the Soviet Union had risen to over one hundred million dollars.
The previous emphasis on the role of the intellectuals as the leading force in the revolution, and as the "liberators of the working class" was now dressed up in a more conventional "Marxist-Leninist" disguise to accord with the announcement of the "socialist revolution", albeit a multifarious class definition typical of national bourgeois "socialism":
The history of the Cuban Communist Party
offers an appalling record: of opportunism and class betrayal.
Based mainly on the urban working-class and aimed at building a mass social-democratic party, engaged in negotiations for economic improvements to the exclusion of almost all other forms of struggle and bound up with unprincipled agreements and alliances with whatsoever dictator happened to be in power, it was only to be expected that it could play no role in the struggle to overthrow Batista. Denouncing Castro as a mere adventurer, in the early days of the guerrilla struggle, and effectively assisting the sabotage of all attempts by the guerrillas to mobilise urban strikes, it only changed its tactics in the later stages, when the victory of Castro was already clearly inevitable. At this stage, certain leading revisionists were sent to join the guerrillas, with the aim of establishing the first bridgehead within the revolutionary forces in preparation for the later penetration of the right-revisionist party into the anti-imperialist front and the newly-founded national democratic state.
In the period immediately following the seizure of power, the clear anti-communist content of the half-hearted national democratic revolution which was "spontaneously developing", effectively blocked the entrance of careerist-minded revisionist party members into positions of influence in the state. But this situation changed radically when apathy began to strike the middle class and comprador-orientated bourgeoisie after the confiscation of their property and the establishment of the open alliance with the Soviet Union, and especially after significant numbers of these strata had begun to desert to the Florida mainland. In the chaos of Castro’s "spontaneously developing" revolution the tried and tested organisation men of the revisionist party were drafted in large numbers in an effort to stem the growing confusion and pull together the basis of a workable economic and political system - matters which Castro had formerly considered could be left to merge spontaneously with the passage of time.
Thus arose the third of Castro's dilemmas.
He had given up the political initiative almost completely. The revisionists, "always intent on mere political questions", as Debray spurningly pointed, out, had after all played one better than the child of spontaneity, Castro. The price Castro had to pay for a viable political and, administrative apparatus was the achievement by the right-revisionists of an increasingly dominant role in party and state, despite their history of betrayal during the struggles leading to the overthrow of Batista.
Through a combination of external pressure from the Soviet Union, including economic blackmail, and internal penetration by the agents of Soviet revisionism, the indigenous revisionist leaders, Castro and his old guard of insurrectionists were gradually out-manoeuvred and sewn up in a web of inexorable dependence and commitment. No doubt, this was to the horror of the existentialist coterie of sun-seekers of the Sartre ilk who had seen in the Cuban development, the embodiment of their ideas about a liberal spontaneous revolution giving birth to an anarchistic utopia around which they could spin the subject matter for countless bestsellers.
The merciless straitjacket of unequal colonial-type economic relations, together with the necessity for a heavy defence programme in the face of the increasingly aggressive posture of US imperialism in the period prior to the 1962 crisis, represented further pressures inexorably pushing Cuba into dependence on the Soviet Union. The ominous features of the limited crop economy, had once again begun to dominate economic development.
The political counterpart of this situation of dependence, expressed the reciprocal need of the Soviet revisionist world centre to "explain" the obvious contradiction of a successful armed revolution taking place in an epoch the main feature of which was allegedly "the peaceful co-existence of states with differing social systems". This was reflected in the corresponding determination of the Cuban right-revisionist party leadership to build and maintain the myth of Cuba as an example of "peaceful transition" in line with the precepts of the Khrushchevite international programme as laid down by the infamous 20th Congress Report:
Castro, who was later to announce demagogically:
Thus it is that, under the overall condition of a
former semi-colony newly emerged from imperialist domination, with an urban
and rural proletariat, labouring peasantry and urban petty bourgeoisie
amongst which revolutionary feeling is at a high level, any national capitalist
class attempting to build a viable system of state capitalism can only
hold out for itself any prospect of success provided that it can utilise
to some degree the ideological strength and power for conviction and mobilisation
of proletarian ideology and organisation of Marxism-Leninism.
This type of social development may be characterised in general terms as the demagogic abuse of the international working class and communist movement, of its world view, Marxism-Leninism, and of its organised strength and influence in order to bend them to the service of the enemies of the working class and socialism, amongst which the national capitalist classes of colonial-type countries emerging from imperialist domination must ultimately be placed, whatever class alliances may appertain in the period of the national democratic revolution.
In this light, the case of Cuba illustrates with convincing clarity an example of the harnessing of the potential or actual forces of the socialist revolution, the exploited and oppressed proletariat, poor peasantry and urban petty bourgeoisie, to the task of establishing not the socialist system under the democratic dictatorship of the proletariat, but a system of centralised state capitalism of a bureaucratic and comprador type under the dictatorship, albeit concealed by demagogic "left" phraseology, of the national bourgeoisie, and under the conditions of intensified class struggle and heightened inter-imperialist competition typical of the contemporary advanced stage the disintegration of the imperialist world system.
Left revisionism tends to find the appropriate
objective conditions for its application and a fertile subjective ground
for its dissemination and growth primarily in national and political terrains
in which not only the objective conditions for the onset of the national
democratic revolution are present - this in itself is also a feature of
the situation in many American states - but also where a militant and
politically conscious working class and a more or less powerful Marxist-Leninist
vanguard are, or at the least have been in the past, to some degree in
control of the revolutionary process of at least participants in it.
In view of the progressive undermining and final liquidation of the world communist movement through modern revisionism since approximately 1943-45, the presence of such features in a national democratic revolutionary movement in a colonial or semi-colonial country since World War Two, in spite of a majority of the leadership having long since fallen into the hands of "left" revisionists, must be attributed to the persisting influence of the Communist International and the continuing presence in the leadership of the leading cadres trained by it during the period prior to World War Two.
These features are, of course, typical of the development of the Chinese revolution and of the Communist Party of China. They are almost totally absent from the histories of the national liberation and working class movements of the Latin American states and their communist parties.
Where, however, such a Marxist-Leninist leadership, or at least a Marxist-Leninist contingent within a "left" revisionist led party and movement, is present, its defeat and dismemberment is clearly an absolutely prime necessity if the national bourgeoisie is to succeed in its aim of wresting the leadership out of the hands of the Marxist-Leninists and of consolidating it in the sole hands of their revisionist representatives.
The fact that, in Cuba itself, no Marxist-Leninist
party, or even a Marxist-Leninist contingent within the leadership
of the party, was present requiring ideological penetration, dismemberment
and capture, in order to transform that party as a whole into a tool
of national bourgeois aims and aspirations, rendered it easier for the
petty bourgeois representatives of the national bourgeoisie to control
It rendered it possible for the petty bourgeois representatives of the national bourgeoisie to win victory in the national democratic revolution by purely military means, without' the fusion of political and military forms of struggle and without a political party and an organisational centre for the mobilization of the masses, through the sole agency of a small elitist guerrilla force of predominantly petty bourgeois composition, is also symptomatic of the objective conditions and subjective characteristics of the movements of the oppressed in at least the smaller and weaker states of the Latin American continental mainland.
In spite of the many features specific and peculiar to it, the Cuban revolution, however, was not an isolated, once for all time phenomenon. Still less does it represent an example of "specific national roads to socialism" beloved of Khrushchevian revisionist "theory". It took place and won victory, on the contrary, precisely within the general context of:
As far as the future development of the world proletarian socialist revolution is concerned, the crucial issue confronting the national liberation movements at the present time is, however, the issue of which class shall lead the revolution, the national bourgeoisie or the working class.
On the outcome of this issue depends the solution
to the question, of absolutely fundamental significance, as to:
"Whether or not the working people of the developing nations at present fighting for their liberation from imperialist colonial enslavement, for national independence and democratic rights and liberties, will succeed in bypassing the perspective of a more or less protracted period of capitalist development and will succeed in establishing new socialist states under the democratic dictatorship of the proletariat?"
Such a victory for the world proletarian socialist revolution would so weaken the already intolerably unstable and crisis-ridden world capitalist system as to render its continued operation virtually impossible.
Alternatively, on the other hand, the victory of the national democratic revolution in the colonial-type lands would merely lead to the establishment of new independent capitalist states which will thus provide a sorely needed extension to the total area and resources of the world capitalist system and so give it a new lease of life. This latter has already taken place in a whole number of formerly colonial or semi-colonial lands since the end of world war two, including People’s China, India, Egypt and, of course, Cuba.
The entire evidence provided by the experience of
the new features in the development of the world proletarian socialist
revolution since World War Two indicates strongly that
Only when the working class movements in the developed countries join with the working peoples of the colonial-type lands to form a common world-wide anti-imperialist front,
Only when powerful and influential Marxist-Leninist parties, capable of securing leadership over the entire revolutionary process in both types of countries have been built and are able to wield that decisive ideological and political initiative and influence which can ensure the leading role being fulfilled by the working class in both strategic world sectors, and so laying the basis for the uninterrupted transition of the national democratic to the socialist revolution in the colonial-type lands and for the victory of the latter in both;
and, finally, Only when the world Marxist-Leninist leadership of the world proletarian socialist revolution has developed to a point where a mighty Marxist-Leninist international is forged capable of uniting, integrating and directing the revolutionary struggles in both world sectors against the common imperialist class enemy, of elaborating a world strategic and tactical programme of general offensive on all fronts and in all sectors based on advanced scientific theory -
Then, and only then, will it be possible for the working people of any one sector, in the developed or the under-developed lands, to advance to the victory of the socialist revolution and so to bring the epoch of capitalism to its close and to commence anew, and on an infinitely higher level than previously, the epoch of world-wide socialist construction.
For the present; therefore, and until such time as the revolutionary proletariat in both the developed and the colonial-type lands, realise the primary and indispensable tasks of revolutionary leadership and organisation, particularly as regards the building of the Marxist-Leninist vanguard, the predominant influence in the national democratic movements in the underdeveloped colonial world sector is likely to remain in the hands of the national bourgeoisie and its petty bourgeois revisionist representatives.
But each and every such instance of a national arena
of capitalist development being opened up, under the conditions of a congested
and saturated capitalist world market, merely serves, in the longer or
perhaps the shorter run, to add new components of mounting contradiction
to the already unstable situation in the world capitalist system. The monopoly
capitalists of the developed imperialist countries, faced with the shrinking
of the relative size and resources of the colonial sector relative to the
developed sector, are attempting to obtain a significant intensification
of the rate of exploitation in both the colonial areas that remain and,
in an effort to offset the inevitable decline in super-profits, in the
developed countries themselves.
Only provided that Marxist-Leninist vanguard parties are built in both the developed and the colonially subjugated sectors of the world will this intensification of exploitation and oppression result in a qualitative raising of the level of class militancy and capacity for struggle of the working masses, to their revolutionisation.
In other circumstances, including those at present appertaining in which the leading influence is fulfilled by social democratic and right revisionist representatives of monopoly capital in the developed countries and by a combination of right, "centrist" and "left" revisionist representatives of the national or the comprador bourgeoisie in the colonial-type countries, the outcome of the world reactionary offensive now in preparation could equally well be a series of bloody defeats for the working people and their organisations of struggle and the descent of the blackest night of fascist repression that the world has yet seen.
The law of uneven development will undergo and is undergoing an equally profound and far reaching intensification of its mode of operation, thus accelerating the process of break-up of the existing imperialist and capitalist power groups and the formation of new ones anxious to secure a re-division of the total area and resources of maximum exploitation available to the capitalist world system, which are continually shrinking relative to the rapidly increasing rate at which capital tends to be amassed, and which are indispensable for securing that maximum rate of profit so essential if the inherent tendency under state monopoly capitalism for the rate of profit to fall is to be offset. These fundamental contradictions in their turn prepare the conditions for the outbreak of yet another imperialist world war more devastating both in its scope and its revolutionary effect than any previously known, and so also preparing for the transformation of that war, in area after area, country after country, into, socialist revolutions.
These are the profound and climactic contradictions
which are even now accumulating under the surface of the world capitalist
system, and it is against this background that the teachings of Guevara
and Debray relative to the struggle in Latin America must be critically
Marxism-Leninism teaches, and all experience of the world’s working class, and oppressed peoples in struggle confirms that only through the unity of the working class of all lands, forged through the exercise of leadership and an overall guiding function on the part of powerful Marxist-Leninist parties, and through the unity of all non-proletarian classes and, strata behind that Marxist-Leninist proletarian vanguard in a mighty world anti-imperialist united front, can victory in the national-democratic revolution in the colonial-type lands be secured in such a way as to ensure that that victory leads:
Not to the development and consolidation, on however temporary or unstable a basis, of new, independent neo-capitalist states (which will merely substitute exploitation by the established imperialist oppressor nations for exploitation by the indigenous national bourgeoisie and so assist in increasing, again on however temporary or unstable a basis, the total arena and resources of the world capitalist system and to lengthen by a span of a few years or decades its bloodthirsty, profit hungry life);
But that that victory will lead instead to the weakening and restricting of its arena, resources and span of life, to the choking of the arteries feeding it with the super profits which are its very life blood, to the formation of a mighty and growing chain of national democratic and socialist revolutions encircling it with a steel ring of proletarian power which steadily suffocates and finally annihilates it.
In the developed countries, it is bureaucratic
social democracy, reformism, revisionism of the right and trotskyism which
constitute the chief weapons of the monopoly capitalist class in frustrating
and diverting the potential or actual revolutionary energies of the working
class and working people.
In the colonial-type lands, it is "left" and, where appropriate, "centrist" revisionism, likewise assisted by trotskyite disruption, which fulfill this function. Within this international apparatus of counter-revolutionary disruption, a certain clearly definable division of labour can be discerned.
It is the function of social democracy and reformism in the developed countries, and of liberal-anarchist ideas of spontaneous revolution in the colonial type areas of maximum exploitation, to act respectively as the instruments for undermining the unity of the class forces themselves, of the mass base, potential or actual, of the developing class struggle and/or revolutionary movements.
On the other hand, it is the function of revisionist teaching - in developed countries mainly of the right, and in colonial-type lands mainly of either "left" or "centrist" varieties - to weaken the struggle waged by the most advanced and class conscious proletarian elements to forge powerful, steeled and united Marxist-Leninist vanguard parties without which the socialist revolution and the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat remain mere empty dreams, vistas of mechanical scheming or the subjective projection of idle wishes.
In the relationship between mass base and vanguard, it is the vanguard which must first be establish even if only in embryo, if the whole revolutionary process in a given country is to develop into the structure of proletarian power capable of incepting and carrying through the socialist revolution directly in the case of the developed countries, through the intermediate stage of the national democratic revolution in the case of the colonial-type lands.
In both these types of revolution, a clear kinship exists between the older variants of bourgeois ideology typical of a capitalist class in the period of its youth, represented by liberal spontaneity and anarchistic insurrectionism of the Garibaldist or Blanquist type, and the more sophisticated right, "left" and "centrist"' variants of revisionism which form typical anti-proletarian ideological weapons of an aspiring capitalist class in an underdeveloped country which is struggling for ascendancy and independence within a world environment and under the conditions of an epoch in which capitalism is lying mortally sick upon its deathbed.
Both deny the revolutionary historical mission of the proletariat;
Both deny the need for the violent, forcible overthrow of the rule of the capitalist class – "left" revisionism advocating the use of armed force solely against the comprador, imperialist-orientated section of the capitalist class in a colonial-type country;
Both deny the need for the independent revolutionary vanguard of the proletariat armed with scientific Marxist-Leninist theory.
The petty bourgeois insurrectionist theories of Guevara and Debray form the logical inheritance and continuation of the classical ideas of spontaneous revolt first developed by the European bourgeoisie in the 19th century. The characterisation of the bourgeois ideological basis and antecedents of "left" revisionism contained in the Report of the CC of the MLOB, "Proletarian Internationalism: The Key to Victory in Anti-Imperialist Struggle and Socialist Revolution", is as applicable to the unsuccessful, misapplied and naive variant of "left" revisionism concocted Guevara and Debray out of the historically superceded lees of liberal anarchist theories of spontaneous "uprisings of the freedom loving people" as ever it was to the more astute variant of "left" revisionism devised by Mao Tse-tung:
There are no short cuts to the socialist revolution.
The struggle to develop and change man's social practice, and the thought
processes which consciously guide that practice, is a protracted and arduous
one. In the course of this struggle, the development of conscious revolutionary
thought and practice on the part of the most advanced and consistently
revolutionary class produced by history, the proletariat, is characterised
at all stages by the close interaction of theory and practice, culminating
in the scientific principles of Marxism-Leninism and of its fundamental
theoretical guide to action, dialectical-materialism, and their embodiment
in the vanguard class party of the new type.
This final embodiment of the science of socialist revolution and of socialist revolution as a science, when theory and practice become so united as to be indivisibly fused together, is precisely what the "social scientists" of the bourgeoisie are most concerned to frustrate and disrupt by whatever means they find to hand inherited from the theories and practice of pre-scientific utopian or reformist schools - and amongst these modern "mystical schoolmen" of piecemeal reform or spontaneous revolt must be included not only such representatives of the right as Khruschev, Togliatti or Gollan, but also such leftist figures as Debray, Guevara and Castro.
The struggle to build the vanguard Leninist party
of the proletariat involves such tasks as the inner-movement struggle within
the revisionist and reformist parties and organisations, work amongst all
sectors of the working population to win them for a common front of struggle,
actions at the most basic level to build militant, class-orientated organisations
where previously none existed, the achievement of a correct balance between
legal and illegal, armed and political, forms of struggle, and so on. At
every level, the process is an extremely complex and many-sided one. It
is a test which only those who genuinely uphold, the cause of the working
class and working people are prepared to stand.
That is why Guevara, Debray and others present such a disillusioned picture to the world once they enter from the realm of their subjective fantasies into the world of class reality. In their "theory" the peasantry existed as an idealised force which could do no wrong; the grim reality of the Bolivian adventure revealed besides Debray's dilettantism, the fundamental scorn for the peasantry into which Guevara's earlier idealism was transformed as a consequence of his inability to change that reality. The diaries, with their self-pitying descriptions of ignorant and suspicious peasants threatening to betray the self-styled advance guard of the revolution constitute an elitist petty bourgeois testament which marks a disgaceful end for those who had claimed to aspire so high. And it is perhaps from this last fact that the final lesson of the Guevara-Debray affair can be most clearly drawn: that the subjective desires of any aspiring revolutionary are less than nothing in value to the revolutionary cause and will be cast aside as such if they are not based on Marxist-Leninist scientific theory.
By Cmde M.S. For the MLOB;