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Vitiated with inherent flaws, need to diagnose International Communist League formation

By Harsh Thakor 

The International Marxist and anti-imperialist contingent should salute with revolutionary greetings the 15 Communist Parties of 14 countries that held Unified Maoist International Conference (UMIC) few months ago and formed the International Communist League (ICL). However Marxists must diagnose and highlight its fundamental flaws.
In recent times the ICL has conducted remarkable work in knitting together anti-imperialist and Communist forces in several corners of the globe ,with most diverse issues ,ranging from Israel terror in Palestine, to Peru, Attack on Maoists in India and Phillipines ,Venezuela, Brazil ,French riots, Birth anniversary of Chairman Mao etc. It is remarkable how it has given Marxism or Maoism an International colour. It has given a fitting blow to New Left trends, Trotskyism or revisionism.
The CPI (Maoist) sums up how the ICL has a powerful tendency of analysing Maoism as a separate entity or not an integral part of Leninism, devalue Stalin, mechanically apply Chinese path of protracted peoples War, and treating Gonzalo, n the bracket of Marx ,Lenin, Stalin and Mao.
In this article I am summarising the main views of the CPI (Maoist), on the positive points and constructive criticism of ICL’s flaws. I offer my congratulations to it for so astutely and constructively, refuting the erroneous trends of the ICL, displaying such clinical grasp of Marxism –Leninism-Maoism. The CPI (Maoist) has diagnosed the ICL in the manner of a surgeon conducting an autopsy on body. Most lucidly and surgically it dissects all the aspects, expressing how the ICL makes an over assessment of the strength of subjective forces, eulogizes Marx, Lenin and Mao , indirectly advocates militarisation of the party and overemphasis on military aspect, and over estimates strength of revolutionary movements all over the globe and development of Communist parties.
I salute the declaration of International Communist League ICL for having a correct understanding of several ideological, political and organisational aspects regarding ICM and world socialist revolution. I hope this would crystallise unity in ICM and to achieve the objective of world socialist revolution. However ICL must rectify the discussed mistakes of understanding in its declaration and serious shortcomings. It constructed the organisation according to the principle of democratic centralism without any scope for debate to exchange opinions, Marking revolutionary violence to be a demarcation between Marxism and revisionism; the understanding that party must be built around the gun; a contradicting assessment on Stalin against the understanding of Mao-CPC; analysing ‘power is fundamental in Maoism’; ignoring the importance of mass line that is one of the fundamental aspects of MLM. All this illustrates its sectarian approach.
The ICL declaration said, “The new international organization is a centre of ideological, political, and organizational coordination, based on democratic centralism…”.However in my opinion when the current situation where internationally Marxist-Leninist-Maoist movements are weak, it is a premature step to form a new International organisation basing on Democratic Centralism without a critical study or review at the international plane about the reasons for the collapse of the IIIrd International in 1943; about the reasons for the CPC under the leadership of Mao in refusing another International; and the work and experiences of the earlier Revolutionary Internationalist Movement (RIM); without the decision to form an appropriate organisation in the current situation of ICM basing on agreed opinions after a discussion (in various forms) at the international level on the Program and Principles of Organisation to form an organisation such as ICL, similar to the Communist International. However, all communist parties should establish lively relations with it to shimmer the red proletarian International flag and the flags of MLM and World Socialist Revolution and take up struggle against revisionism and neo-revisionism so that revolutionary struggles develop all over the world.
I assert it is imperative for an International organisation coherent to the current situation of the Maoist parties in various countries in the scenario f the deteriorating current world capitalist- imperialist economy and its neck-deep crisis. However an organisation based on democratic centralism acts in contravention to current situation of ICM. We are clear that International organisation must not dilute the independence and initiative of the member parties; the place of bilateral relations- activities among those; and the place of relations with other revolutionary parties and organisations. We have to learn from the lessons from the CPC under the leadership of Mao and also from the experiences of RIM and other international activities since 1980 that, in order to construct such an International organisation, it is imperative for revolutionary movements to be continuously nurtured in member countries. In order to justify proper preparations on the ideological, political and organisational plane to realise International organisation of Maoist parties, consultations among the different parties is absolutely imperative. This process was not taken up properly by the UMIC. The differences on the ideological, political and organisational attitudes of the respective parties were not addressed. The process of two line struggle initiated at the international plane is not yet complete.

Violating understanding of proletarian ideology

Quoting the CPI (Maoist)” So, the ICL formed in the name of ‘unified’ reflects only the path of one kind of Marxist-Leninist-Maoists. It does not represent the unified understanding of several parties. Instead of the process followed for the formation of ICL and ICL, we feel we need to mobilise people into a common forum based on the approval and unanimity of all parties, so as, in addition to the parties in ICL, all the Marxist-Leninist-Maoist revolutionary parties and organisations that are ideologically close to these, have the scope to mutually exchange their experiences and ideological and political stands; issue joint statements on international issues; take up struggle campaigns of common agreement against imperialism; draw clear lines of demarcation with the various revisionist and neo-revisionist trends (such as Prachanda-Avakian) and take up joint struggle against them; take up common campaigns with the objective to establish new democracy, socialism and ultimately communism in the light of Marxism- Leninism-Maoism; to exchange mutual help between the various parties; and, to make mutual suggestions and constructive criticism for the development of the revolutionary movements. “
“Although proletarian revolutionary forces of the respective country are unanimously the principal factor to accomplish revolution in any country of the world, all kinds of possible support of the proletariat and oppressed people of other countries is also necessary. All Maoist parties and organisations including ICL must pave way for the proletariat organising its independent political party-the Marxist-Leninist-Maoist communist party in every country; that the genuine communist parties of all countries unite into an international common forum concurrent e to the present situation of ICM; and that this common international forum needs to be built with the objective of forming new Communist International, to operate with international outlook.”
Prior to this the CPI (Maoist) published a document in which it clearly wrote about the experiences of International Communist Movement, synthesised the present international situation and of the movement and about the formation of International communist organisation appropriate to it,.ICM published this too. Communist Party of Nepal (Revolutionary Maoist), Tunisia, PCR-RCP Canada- Isra, Communist Party (Maoist) of Afghanistan, Union Obrera Communista (MLM) made responsible study and observation, wrote critical notes and sent to CUMIC for debate. However t there was no response from the organisers and supporters. They did not review these stands, contradictions and differences of opinion that arose among revolutionary communists. The sheer void of Marxist-Leninist-Maoist work style that applies the method of unity-struggle-unity, of ICL is an obstacle to international unity.
I basically agree to a large extent with the critical assessments and arguments of MLM parties and organisations internationally on the formation of ICL. The draft proposal that the ICL proposed and certain important issues in the concepts of its declaration cannot be a general basis for the unity of Marxist-Leninist-Maoists.
The debate on the formulation ‘Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, principally Maoism’ or Marxism-Leninism-Maoism is a predominant feature in ICM. The formulation ‘principally Maoism’ is highly eclectic. This violates the understanding that proletarian ideology is indivisible and Maoism is an integral part of Marxism-Leninism. It virtually confines scientific socialism to the contribution of Mao Tse-tung, relegating Lenin and Marx.
Marxism-Leninism-Maoism is an integrated phenomena, being the most advanced and scientific ideology of the world proletariat. Not only that, MLM is the all-powerful weapon, by which we can extinguish bourgeois ideology and all brands of revisionism, including that which may don the garb of Maoism.
The CPC led by Mao made historic and comprehensive analysis of the development of Mao Thought (now Maoism), through its 9th Congress, held in 1969. Here Mao Tse-tung Thought, whose historic significance was to be upheld by the Marxist-Leninist forces worldwide ever since The Great Debate became established as a qualitatively new and higher stage in the development of the proletarian ideology by the time of the 9th Congress of the CPC.
The formulation “along with the universal contributions of Chairman Gonzalo” was mentioned in CUMIC draft document. I opine that synthesising the contributions of Comrade Gonzalo into Gonzalo Thought is eclectic. It is not correct for ICM to address him as Chairman Gonzalo. If ICM needs to write about Comrade Gonzalo, he can be mentioned as the Founder Chairman of Peru Communist Party. The formulation ‘World People’s War’ is most un-Marxist. Coordinating People’s Wars in the world mentioned in this document requires subjective conditions. In the present scenario where worldwide Marxist-Leninist-Maoist subjective forces are at a formative or embryonic stage, it is not at all feasible to coordinate people’s movements and people’s wars from an International centre.
The document mentioned about the ‘universality of people’s war’ but did not say anything about the concrete strategy, basic tactics, clear program or principles of how it would take place in capitalist-imperialist countries. We feel it is ideologically and politically wrong to turn Protracted People’s War that Mao formulated and China implemented, into a blue print and that it should be implemented in all countries irrespective of the stage of social development of various countries of the world.

Assessment of Stage of strategic offensive and 50 to 100 years for world revolution

The analysis that ICM is in the stage of ‘strategic offensive’ also reflects an over assessment. Although imperialism is entangled in all round crisis; the current objective condition of the world is utmost favourable to the advancing World Socialist Revolution; the condition of ICM, MLM Communist parties, People’s Armies, revolutionary forces and revolutionary movements have been gradually escalating for the past two decades, If we see on the whole, the present condition of revolutionary parties in the world is weak. If the crisis situation of the present imperialist system and its puppet-comprador bureaucratic reactionary countries can be exploited in all spheres, the present parties-movements shall definitely mushroom and also revolutionary proletarian parties will take birth and develop in many more countries.
The assessment that world revolution will be successful in the coming 50 to 100 years is another subjective derivation and against the objective reality. There is no socialist country in the world since 1976. When Mao said it can be achieved in 50 to 100 years, it was correct in the then concrete conditions. He said so in the background of declining of imperialism, the establishment of socialist states-camp, communist parties were strong in several countries, Asia, Africa and Latin American countries were storm centres with national liberation struggles and new democratic revolutions and the proletarian struggles in capitalist-imperialist countries. The great Marxist teacher Mao said so to express the assessment of success of revolution that although there is an 5 atmosphere and abundant opportunities for revolution and struggle for socialism, keeping in view the change in world situation at the time, in the balance of forces in the camp of revolutionary camp and reactionary camp.
Coming to the question of applying the theory of Protracted People’s War (it is very strange that ICL removed the word ‘Protracted’ from Protracted People’s War that Mao said, and shrunk it to mere People’s War) to practice, ICL comrades totally ignored ‘concrete analysis of concrete conditions’. As a result, they are trying to apply Maoist principles about Protracted People’s War with a dogmatic perspective.. They emphasised that People’s War applies to social systems of countries in different stages in the world and in all times and conditions and that it is the sole path for revolution. They think that People’s War, formation of People’s Army and Base Areas will happen in exactly the same manner without assessing the differences in the social conditions of various countries.
ICL declaration document says –
“The fundamental of Maoism is Power, in other words, the power to the proletariat, the power to the dictatorship of the proletariat, the power based on an armed force led by the Communist Party.”
“This demands us to lead People’s War to face the imperialist wars of aggression against the oppressed nations in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and even in Europe itself.”
“The Revolutionary War, the People’s War, is the superior form of struggle - through which the fundamental problems of revolution are solved; it is the military strategy that correspond to the political strategy (conquest of power) to transform society in favor of the Class and the people; it is the principal form of struggle and the People’s Army is the principal form of organization…. People’s War is a war of masses led by the Communist Party to conquer and defend the New Power for the proletariat.”
“In order to carry out People’s War it is necessary to have four fundamental problems in mind: 1) ideology of the proletariat – Marxism-Leninism-Maoism - applied to the concrete practice and the particularities of revolution on each country, either oppressed countries or imperialist countries; 2) the necessity of the Communist Party to lead the People’s War; 3) specification of the political strategy for its path; 4) base areas. The New Power or Front-New State - that is formed in the base areas - is the core of the People’s War.”
All the above mentioned concepts in fact apply to semi-colonial, semi-feudal societies in Asia, Africa and Latin American countries but not to capitalist-imperialist countries. If these concepts are imposed on all the revolutions, it shall turn into a hindrance for ICM. In my view, one cannot prepare an absolute programme (blue print) for revolution from the beginning to the end. Marxist-Leninist-Maoists need to apply theory to actual concrete conditions, learning from practice and further enriching the theory
We must acknowledge the fact that every country in the world has its own distinct characteristics and its own particularities. Different countries will have to apply different paths of revolution. In the process of formulating guiding principles for the path of revolution in a country, then if the MLM party/ organisation of the country fails to consider the distinct characteristics and particularities, revolution will face losses.
The experiences of world socialist revolution, especially those of the two great proletarian revolutions in Russia and China proved the above mentioned things. Revolutionary war took place in two different paths in the two countries. This principle was creatively applied, following the distinct, particular characteristics of the respective countries. In Russia, revolution took the form of countrywide armed general insurrection to seize political power. In China, revolution took place in the path of Protracted People’s War. Whatever be the forms of revolutionary wars in different countries, the essence is same. It is to seize power through armed force.
This is the ‘the era of imperialism and proletarian revolution’. In this era, the process of revolution throughout the world is the process of world socialist revolution. We believe the generalisation of the experiences of proletarian revolutions of the imperialist era and the classification of the revolutionary wars in different countries of the world into two kinds, on the whole, according to the nature of the respective society, economy and political systems.
I firmly adhere to the view that the path of Protracted People’s War applies to revolutions in colonial, semi-colonial, semi-feudal countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America. The history of national liberation struggles and new democratic revolutions that took place in Asia, Africa and Latin American countries since after World War II proves this. For example, the present New Democratic Revolutions in India, Philippines, Turkey, Peru and other such countries are proving the same. In all these countries, armed struggle is the main form of struggle and army is the main form of organisation. People’s struggles and Mass Organisations in other forms are also a certain need. Prior to war all organisations and struggles are for preparations of war.
Contrary to this understanding we should not apply the concept of Protracted People’s War to capitalist- imperialist countries and the entire International Communist Movement in a dogmatic manner. MLM understanding in such countries is to follow the first path – the path of General Armed Insurrection. It is erroneous to conclude that realising the ‘omnipotence of revolutionary violence’ is the demarcation between Marxism and revisionism.
The third page of ICL declaration said that the ‘omnipotence of revolutionary violence’ is one of the demarcations between Marxism and revisionism. In support of it, the declaration improperly mentioned Mao’s quote separating it from the context, in the last paragraph (Page numbers 28-29) as a conclusion of ‘proletarian new principles.’ This is against the fundamental understanding of MLM. All the Maoists know that Mao repeatedly said that ‘armed struggle is the main form of struggle and red army is the main form of organisation’.
If they had understood the occasion when Mao wrote the article, ‘Problems of strategy of war’ (1938 November 6) in which he said ‘Omnipotence of revolutionary war’, ‘in this sense the entire world can be changed only with arms’, the declaration would not have described it in this manner. If we interpret the words of great Marxist teachers not taking into consideration f conditions as mere words, no one can properly understand the principles of MLM. Mao said armed struggle is the main form of struggle but epeatedly emphasised the importance of other forms of struggle. In fact, the word ‘omnipotence’ reflects idealism. I feel that the word be removed.

International situation and imperialism

ICL declaration said – “First contradiction – between oppressed nations, on the one hand, and imperialist superpowers and powers on the other. This is the principal contradiction in the current moment and the principal contradiction of the epoch of imperialism at the same time….. On the side of the imperialist powers, Yankee imperialism is the sole hegemonic superpower. Russia is still an atomic superpower and there is a handful of second-tier imperialist powers”.
The theory that was mentioned about the ‘main contradiction’ in the declaration of ICL is eclectic. It falls into the trap that the emergence of super powers, the zenith of imperialism shall exist until being destroyed through war or revolution. It ignores the emergence of super powers in the era of imperialism as the zenith of concentration. It concludes that if concentration-accumulation of capital-products escalates step by step, the big imperialist forces will gradually diminish in number and few big forces shall gain absolute monopoly. Ignores the teaching of Lenin and Mao-CPC on the unequal development of capitalism and the developments in world capitalist system.
When we make a scientific study of the history of imperialism, we will know that there were changes in the balance of imperialist forces before World Wars and that the two World Wars are a result of these changes in the balance of forces. Great Marxist teacher Lenin said that as long as imperialism exists constant changes will take place in the balance of forces of the imperialist forces of the world. “…even development of different undertakings, trusts, branches of industry, or countries are impossible under capitalism.
The fundamental contradictions of the world and the main contradiction are – 1. The contradiction between imperialism and oppressed nations and people 2. The contradiction between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat in the capitalist and imperialist countries 3. The contradiction among imperialist countries and among monopoly capitalist groups.
Since the degeneration of the last socialist base China, I agree with the declaration of ICL regarding this contradiction. However, The contradiction between socialist camp and imperialist camp is temporarily extinct. The struggle between socialism and capitalism continues all through the era of imperialism and proletarian revolutions.
Today it is mainly expressed as the struggle between two contending classes in ideological, political and cultural spheres – the proletariat that represents socialist forces and the bourgeoisie that represents capitalism. The strength of guerrilla bases and Revolutionary People’s Committees formed in the countries where Protracted People’s Wars are going on did not yet develop into stable liberated areas and effective, alternate political power due to counter revolutionary offensive of the enemy.
About three great swords The description of Marx, Lenin and Mao as three great swords in the ICL declaration is not only surprising but condemnable. ICL declaration said, “…Thus, we communists have three great swords: our founder Marx, the great Lenin and Chairman Mao Tse-tung, our great task is to uphold, defend and apply Marxism-Leninism- Maoism…” 
We strongly oppose the mention in this formulation of great Marxist teachers as three great swords. Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin and Mao as great Marxist teachers. They formulated Marxism-Leninism-Maoism. Marx-Engels together founded Marxism. The additions of Engels to Marxism are an inseparable part of Marxism. Lenin preserved Marxism and developed Marxism-Leninism. We see Stalin’s additions integral to Marxism-Leninism.
Mao developed Marxism-Leninism to its third, higher, qualitatively new stage – Marxism-Leninism-Maoism. The history of class struggle and the theory and practice taught by Mao tell us that we can achieve victories through this proletarian science and further enrich this science, with the new explanations and principles obtained from the experiences of the present proletarian revolution. The teachings of great Marxist teachers and the formulation of ‘three swords’ is not compatible with this.
The mention of MLM as an almost compleltely developed theory in ICL declaration violates the understanding of MLM. Lenin said, “Marxism is not a lifeless dogma, not a completed, ready-made, immutable doctrine, but a living guide to action. It is bound to reflect the astonishingly abrupt change in the conditions of social life”.
Declaration of ICL made over assessments of several aspects .Quoting it the general counterrevolutionary offensive that was unleashed in the beginning of the 90s of the last century - mainly by Yankee imperialism - is being defeated by the Marxist-Leninist-Maoist revolutionary counteroffensive through the People’s Wars, the struggles for national liberation and the struggles developed by the proletariat and the oppressed peoples of the world” Instead of stating general counterrevolutionary offensive is being defeated, it would be more accurate to say that the revolutionary counteroffensive had been retaliating to an extent. The reason being, although the entire revolutionary democratic forces and movements in addition to the MLM parties resisted imperialist offensive with full vigour for four decades starting from 1990s, Nepal revolution suffered abject betrayal; revolutionary forces and national liberation forces suffered severe losses in the counter revolutionary offensive of the enemy. Although ICM relatively 14 strengthened with the formation of new MLM parties-organisations and its activities, it is yet weak and lacks strength to combat imperialist offensive. This is an objective reality. Today the task of every Maoist party and ICM is to develop to the level of defeating the imperialist offensive.
Objective conditions ae flowering world over. There is an upsurge of people’s struggles all over the world, but the Maoist parties are not in a situation capitalise as forces are subjectively weak. Maoist parties can lead worldwide struggles only through building strong revolutionary movements in its leadership and strengthening subjectively o convert struggles into a great wave of proletarian revolution.
IPL states, "When a New Great Wave of the World Proletarian Revolution is produced in the world with the ongoing People’s Wars in India, Peru, Turkey, and the Philippines, and its preparation in many other countries, when the heroic struggles of national resistance and people’s resistance emerge around the whole world.” I feel this is an over assessment of the situation. The level of People’s Wars in 5-6 countries or the level of other struggles mentioned above have not escalated to create a new great wave of world proletarian revolution. National liberation struggles and people’s resistance struggles are flourishing but they lack constructive leadership, being scattered. We have to politically enlighten the people, mobilise them in class struggle and affirm that people are the makers of history.


I salute the declaration of International Communist League ICL for striving to defend correct understanding of several ideological, political and organisational aspects regarding ICM and world socialist revolution. I hope this would crystallise unity in ICM and to achieve the objective of world socialist revolution. However ICL must rectify the discussed mistakes of understanding in its declaration and serious shortcomings. It constructed the organisation according to the principle of democratic centralism without any scope for debate to exchange opinions, Marking revolutionary violence to be a demarcation between Marxism and revisionism; the understanding that party must be commanded by or revolve around the gun; a contradicting assessment on Stalin against the understanding of Mao-CPC; analysing ‘power is fundamental in Maoism’; ignore the importance of mass line that is one of the fundamental aspects of MLM. This illustrates its sectarian approach.
Inspite of an outstanding assessment, upholding Marxist ideology against diversionary winds, the CPI(Maoist) has not touched sufficiently on aspect of mass line, changes in conditions in third world countries, lessons and errors of the Great Proletarian Cultural revolution, Maoist soft-pedalling with Islamic currents ,further development of democratisation of vanguard party, or reasons for setbacks in International Communist Movement. In this light I recommend study of writings of late Harbhajan Singh Sohi, on International Communist Movement and Mao Tse Tung Thought and study document on why CPC did not form a new International written by the CPCRCI(ML) in journal ’The Comrade’ in 2003. A fresh updated document should be written, summing up the roots of the diversionary errors of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement and how genuine communist parties crystallised or mushroomed in eras of Lenin, Stalin and Mao.
Both ICL and CPI (Maoist) have not probed into why people’s wars received such grave setbacks or failed in recent times , why they have been so delayed in so many parts of the world and why formation of Communist parties has received such a setback.-paving way for pernicious penetration of Revisionism.
Harsh Thakor is a freelance journalist who has extensively researched on Maoism



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