Stefan Engel

Stefan Engel

Polemic Against Diethard Möller’s Pamphlet “What About the International Revolution?”

In November 2016 Diethard Möller wrote a Criticism of Stefan Engel’s “Dawn of the International Socialist Revolution” and the MLPD’s Positions.

This pamphlet entitled What About the International Revolution? is so absurd, dilettantish and unscientific that it could actually be ignored. However, because this document, signed by Niels Clasen, in the meantime was made known to the international public in 2018 by the Conference of Marxist-Leninist Parties and Organizations (CIPOML) founded 1994 in Quito/Ecuador, a public reply is necessary.

On 30 pages Diethard Möller made the attempt, so to say en passant, to “finish off” Revolutionärer Weg (Revolutionary Way) 32-34, which appeared in public under the title, Dawn of the International Socialist Revolution. In his opinion this book “confuses … readers by juggling with terms” (p. 1). He accuses the book of expressing a “vague pipe-dream of an ‘international revolution’” (p.9); These phrases are similarly vague (p. 17);escape into pretty spiritual utopias” (p.17). Moreover, he finds it completely sufficient to study the Communist Manifesto of Marx and Engels, which appeared more than 170 years ago, as well as Lenin’s analysis on imperialism, in order to answer the questions that the class struggle for overthrowing imperialism poses today. Not least, he accuses the writing of upholding Karl Kautsky’s theory of ultra-imperialism and reactionary Trotskyism.

Can Diethard Möller substantiate this devastating assessment in his remarks?

1.) He begins with the claim: “We are not provided with facts for the rather odd idea of a ‘cartel of the solely ruling international finance capital’” (p. 1). This is eclectic trickery, because he deliberately ignores the reference to the work, Twilight of the Gods – Götterdämmerung over the “New World Order”, in the introduction to the writing.

It is not enough that Möller completely ignores this book. He even maintains that this analysis doesn’t even exist. That is not only audacious eclecticism, but counts on readers not even taking the book Götterdämmerung… into their hands after he has made this claim. The two books Götterdämmerung over the “New World Order” and Dawn of the International Socialist Revolution are actually two consecutive volumes, whereas the first volume elaborates the economic basis of the proletarian strategy and tactics developed in Dawn…. On almost 600 pages with 68 tables and 31 charts not only enough “facts were provided” for the thesis of the reorganization of international production, but irrefutable proof of the all-sided dictatorship of solely ruling international finance capital was elaborated.

2.) Diethard Möller criticizes: “Obviously, Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin are only quoted as showpieces in Engel’s book, to enhance the master’s glory rather than to seriously deal with their real and dialectic-materialist analyses. We could provide numerous other examples where Engel twists quotations. And if Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin did indeed already confirm all the theses of Stefan Engel, we must ask him, what is really new. In all these passages Engel is rather vague, as for example on the question of whether the state still has real power or not.” (p. 11)

This depiction completely fails to recognize the necessity to always proceed from the fundamental aspect in theoretical work, i.e. from the classics of Marxism-Leninism and Mao Zedong Thought, in accordance with the dialectical principle of the unity of analysis and synthesis, when making a concrete analysis. The many quotations from Marx and Engels are therefore no “showpieces”, but a scientific initial synthesis from which any concrete analysis must proceed. Tearing apart the principle of analysis and synthesis must lead either to dogmatism or to revisionism.

For Möller, quotations of the classics are mere “showpieces”. He fails to comprehend that they serve the purpose of understanding the essence of their writings and separating their generally valid statements from the concrete text specific to the time. This distinction between fundamental statements of the classics and those specific to the time is something foreign to Diethard Möller when he maintains that many theses in the analysis of Götterdämmerung... and Dawn... can already be found among the classics.

3.) Apparently Diethard Möller doesn’t understand much of the quotations of the classics when he shrugs them off as showpieces with which the author wants to elevate himself. And so he criticizes in his pamphlet, “Engel (speaks of) ‘supermonopolies’…. By creating such a word, Engel apparently means that there is something quite new that Lenin did not already know, something that towers over a monopoly.” (p.1) “Should the creation of such a word have the effect of intimidating the readers and impressing them with the creator’s ‘greatness’?” (p.1) Möller asks ironically. This criticism only shows that Diethard Möller knows nothing about Marxism-Leninism. The term supermonopoly is by no means a word I newly coined in my writing, but was already used by Lenin in his world-famous and for all Marxist-Leninists fundamental book, Imperialism – the Highest Stage of Capitalism. Lenin speaks there ofa new stage of world concentration of capital and production, incomparably higher than the preceding stages. Let us see how this supermonopoly develops.” (Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 22, p. 246 – highlight by author). At that time Lenin’s statement was still a thesis, a prognosis for the future, because such supermonopolies were first beginning to emerge. More than 100 years later we dealt with what had developed from this thesis. The supermonopolies are no longer only a peculiarity of the imperialist world system, but have become a generality. They have joined together to form a sole-ruling international finance capital which enacts its dictate over the entire world economy.

When our comrades pointed out this lapse to Diethard Möller in a spoken criticism, he silently deleted this passage in his pamphlet, without losing one self-critical word or taking back one single word of the denigration of the head of the theoretical organ of the MLPD Revolutionärer Weg that it entailed.

And what is the criticism of the creation of such a word actually worth? Every theoretical work must also bring forth new terms for new manifestations and essential changes in order to correctly qualify them and get to the essence. The task of the concrete analysis of the concrete situation is exactly to deal with these new questions and so extend Marxist-Leninist theory, concretize it and also develop it further. This corresponds to the dialectical principle of creating ever finer terms in order to correctly qualify the process from the essence to an ever deeper essence. But you cannot expect Diethard Möller to understand this. He thinks that one can already read up on 100 years of the development of imperialism in the Communist Manifesto of 170 years ago. Capitalist imperialism did not even exist at that time. Lenin saw the emergence of imperialism at about the turn of the 20th century.

4.) Diethard Möller asks: “What is new about the ‘international character of production’? Already in the Communist Manifesto, Marx and Engels describe how capital creates the world market and subordinates the entire world to it.” (p.2)

Can it really be that Diethard Möller does not understand the fundamental difference between a scientific prognosis and its becoming reality? Of course capitalism already brought forth a tendency to extend the political economy to the world market. However, Marx could only base this on a handful of capitalist countries in which capitalism prevailed. The world market had just begun to develop, and it developed on the basis of this tendency. However, this does not yet have anything to do with the international character of capitalist production. Because in the era of free competition, and even in the imperialist era until the beginning of the 1990s, the organizational form of capitalist production had a national-state character. The national state became a necessity for capitalism even to develop. For this reason the struggle for the creation of national states, as opposed to the dominating feudal small states, and the anti-imperialist struggle of the colonies to form their own national states was progressive in character. So national state and the emergence of capitalism form a basic international unity.

However, today we have a situation in which exactly this national-state production is no longer the main organizational form of capital. Today cross-border production, trade and distribution are typical and so increasingly break through the political organizational form of the national state, which remains necessary. Neither Marx nor Lenin assumed that this would already happen in capitalism. In his dogmatism Diethard Möller deliberately ignores this small distinction, although it is fundamental for the mode of existence of the international monopolies and their national states.

5.) Möller is of the opinion: “In a very striking manner, Lenin analyzed the special characteristics of imperialism, demonstrating them with facts. What is new about this?” (p.3). No one wants to deny that Lenin accurately analyzed the specific features of imperialism and delivered the facts. However, these features were related to the situation at that time. In the meantime, a number of new features of imperialism have emerged, and some old ones have disappeared.

Such features are the transition from monopoly capitalism to state-monopoly capitalism, the replacement of the old colonial system with a neocolonial system of imperialism, the restoration of capitalism in the Soviet Union with the emergence of a bureaucratic state-monopoly capitalism of a new type, the reorganization of international production since the 1990s, but also the emergence of a number of new-imperialist countries on this basis and, last but not least, the law-governed destruction of the environment as an imperative law of imperialism in its advanced stage today. Of course, these new manifestations and essential changes did not exist at Lenin’s time.

However, such features can only be studied if you engage in a comprehensive and all-sided analysis of the new manifestations and essential changes in reality, as the MLPD has been doing since 1969 in its system of Revolutionärer Weg (Revolutionary Way). Each of the 35 issues up till now has examined a problem that was a focal point; all issues together form a system for the practical solution of the tasks in party building and class struggle.

6.) Diethard Möller maintains that the qualification of an internationalization of the class struggle is “very bare and has not been demonstrated, especially in the economic part” (p.1). The book Dawn of the International Socialist Revolution points out that, on the basis of the reorganization of international production, “Cross-border strikes in the enterprises of the international supermonopolies are a new phenomenon since the reorganization of international production. They shake capitalist production most deeply and have a tendency to spill over into other countries quickly, expanding into a wave of strikes across national frontiers.” (p.361)

Also manifestations such as the cross-border revolutionary ferment in Latin America after the turn of the millennium or the “Arab Spring” of 2011 can only be understood at all on the background of the internationalized character of production.

These new manifestations of the internationalization of class struggles are of little interest to the circle theoretician Diethard Möller. If he had examined them, he might have arrived at the question of why an international, cross-border class struggle emerged alongside of the national class struggle. This must have an economic basis, which we developed in the analysis of the Götterdämmerung….

The great significance of this analysis lies in the fact that Lenin’s thesis of the chain reaction of socialist revolutions in the most important imperialist countries after the October Revolution did not materialize. While the chain did break in the October Revolution, the victory march of the proletarian revolution was not continued in Germany and Europe, but was smothered in blood by the reaction. Lenin evaluated this fact self-critically in 1923 and attributed this to the fact that the internationalization of imperialism was not yet so advanced that an international class struggle could develop from that:

Thus, at the present time we are confronted with the question—shall we be able to hold on with our small and very small peasant production, and in our present state of ruin, until the West-European capitalist countries consummate their development towards socialism? But they are consummating it not as we formerly expected. They are not consummating it through the gradual ‘maturing’ of socialism, but through the exploitation of some countries by others, through the exploitation of the first of the countries vanquished in the imperialist war combined with the exploitation of the whole of the East. On the other hand, precisely as a result of the first imperialist war, the East has been definitely drawn into the revolutionary movement, has been definitely drawn into the general maelstrom of the world revolutionary movement.” (“Better Fewer, But Better,” Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 33, p.499 – emphasis by author)

Such statements of Lenin are apparently completely unknown to Möller. This would actually be an opportunity to be a bit more modest and to first inform himself before he sounds off with his ridiculous attacks in the entire world.

7.) Completely absurd is Möller’s reproach that the MLPD follows Kautsky’s opportunist theory of “ultra-imperialism”, and “based themselves on … the analysis given by the opportunist and traitor Kautsky”. For this purpose “Stefan Engel and his collective of authors did indeed bend Lenin’s text into a ‘convenient’ shape.” (p.5) The bone of contention is Lenin’s statement in which he dialectically criticizes Kautsky’s revisionist theory: “There is no doubt that the trend of development is towards a single world trust absorbing all enterprises without exception and all states without exception. But this development proceeds in such circumstances, at such a pace, through such contradictions, conflicts and upheavals—not only economic but political, national, etc.—that inevitably imperialism will burst and capitalism will be transformed into its opposite long before one world trust materialises, before the ‘ultra-imperialist’, world-wide amalgamation of national finance capitals takes place.” (Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 22, p.107).

From this quotation of Lenin follows that he indeed saw the tendency Kautsky assumed toward a “world trust absorbing all states”. Lenin’s objection to Kautsky was, however, that this development could not come to an end in capitalism because imperialism must first burst asunder and perish because of its contradictions. This differentiated view is something completely foreign to Diethard Möller. He simply denies the tendency to a “world trust absorbing all states” without understanding Lenin’s objection.

Unlike Möller’s inappropriate gimmickry, the book Dawn of the International Socialist Revolution concretizes Lenin’s polemic against Kautsky for today’s development of the reorganization of international production: “While Kautsky was dreaming about imperialism peacefully growing into socialism in order reconcile himself with imperialism and to renounce class struggle and the proletarian revolution, Lenin distinguished between the objective process of the internationalization of production within the imperialist world system and the subjective necessity of overthrowing imperialism by proletarian revolution.” (p. 135). This leaves nothing to be desired in terms of clarity.

Of course, Möller overlooked this quotation in his overzealous attempt to insinuate that the MLPD upholds Kautsky’s “ultra-imperialism”. This reproach actually only shows that he has not understood Lenin’s principled criticism of Kautsky in the least.

8.) Most absurd is the reproach of the MLPD for Trotskyism. Like many dogmatists, similar to the reaction of a Pavlovian dog, Diethard Möller immediately presumes Trotskyism behind the concept of the international revolution. The strategy of the international revolution, or also of the world revolution, is a fundamental component of Marxism from its very beginnings. The Dawn... proves that the concrete content of this international revolution has, however, changed with the further advance of society. The different classics also each implemented different concrete strategy and tactics to realize the international revolution.

Marx and Engels assumed a simultaneous, unified revolution, at least in the developed capitalist countries of Europe and North America. On the basis of the analysis of imperialism and its dissimilar development, Lenin assumed a chain reaction of revolutions, beginning in the weakest link of the imperialist world system and gradually encompassing all capitalist countries.

Stalin regarded the construction of socialism in the Soviet Union as the bulwark of international class struggle, which would advance the international revolution as the revolutionary center. Mao Zedong concretized the strategy of the international socialist revolution through the strategy of the new-democratic revolution and the strategy and tactics of the protracted people’s war in colonially dependent countries.

With the reorganization of international production as a new stage of imperialism since the beginning of the 1990s, the concrete content of the strategy of the international revolution changes again. On the basis of the reorganization of international production and the international class struggle the strategy must apply universally to the imperialist world system. It encompasses the proletarian class struggle and the anti-imperialist liberation struggle in more or less all countries of the world. The international revolution will unfold in the individual countries as an interactive process of revolutions which take place at different times and differ in their character, which revolutionize each other, cooperate with each other, and must be coordinated with each other.

This places new demands on the Marxist-Leninists of the entire world, namely, that they have common responsibility for the preparation of the international socialist revolution. The dialectics of the strategy and tactics of the international socialist revolution demand the unity of national form and international content, of national and international forms of organization, of national independence and international coordination and revolutionization of the class struggles, and so forth.

Diethard Möller does not understand or does not want to understand this fundamental and concrete development of the international character of the socialist revolution, elaborated extensively in Dawn…. He claims that our concrete analysis is responsible for his thick-wittedness, dismissing it as a dream of “abstract wishes and hopes” (p.11).

The preparation of the international socialist revolution has already long been undertaken in international organizational forms such as the ICOR or the ILPS. Different revolutionary organizations and parties work together in these in joint anti-imperialist practical work and, on this basis, advance the ideological-political unification which is necessary to unite the class struggle in all countries in an international socialist revolution into a world revolution.

However, for the demagogue and petty-bourgeois careerist Trotsky, the international socialist revolution was not merely an “abstract phrase” (p.11) as Möller writes. In his eagerness to equate the MLPD with Trotsky, Möller refrains from mentioning the anti-worker class character of Trotskyism. Trotsky and his supporters not only fought against socialist construction in the Soviet Union, but also became bitter enemies of the international socialist revolution and the Communist International. In Dawn… these Trotskyite attacks are proven and the features of Trotskyism as anticommunist spearhead for the undermining of the international revolutionary and working-class movement at that time and today are elaborated. (p.70-73).

It is shear charlatanry that Möller ignores our comprehensive polemic against the Trotskyites in order to equate us with them by using a terminological trick. This hostile method is not suited to conduct an objective discussion on the questions of today, but is a liquidationist attack upon the Marxist-Leninist character of the MLPD. Möller thus disqualifies himself as a potential ally of the international Marxist-Leninist and working-class movement.

The revolutionary practice in Germany has long proven that the local circle of the Möller group was not capable of making a real contribution to party building or for the unity of the international Marxist-Leninist and working-class movement in the past 40 years. In order to conceal his meaninglessness in Germany, he appears at international conferences such as Quito as the great theoretician, although he has lost any basis in class struggle in Germany. Perhaps it has not escaped him that the MLPD has advanced party building successfully for 50 years, that it has extended its revolutionary rank-and-file work to more and more spheres since its founding and today has become an internationally recognized force in the international Marxist-Leninist movement. But maybe this is what spurs Diethard Möller on when he throws dirt at the MLPD.

9.) “That is not Marxism but is extremely superficial and a sign of intellectual bankruptcy” (p.19), Diethard Möller states in outrage at the end of his pamphlet. He does not notice that his devastating judgment rebounds on himself.

Why has Möller not even rudimentarily and a bit more modestly dealt with the new questions of the socialist revolution under the conditions of the internationalization of the capitalist mode of production? He could have independently pursued the question of the consequences of the global maturing of the material foundations of socialism, the enormous growth of the international industrial proletariat and the development of cross-border struggles for the proletarian class struggle. Instead, Diethard Möller recites from Marxist-Leninist literature old, historically conditioned answers for the solution of new problems and changed tasks.

Had he at least begun to deal concretely and objectively with the MLPD’s differentiated conclusions from the proven changes in the national and international class struggle, instead of investing his entire ambition into construed proofs of a supposed MLPD-Trotskyism and defaming attacks upon my person. Then he might have avoided making such an embarrassing appearance, and he might have been able to make a useful contribution to the international Marxist-Leninist, revolutionary and working-class movement.

May all those who are familiar with Diethard Möller’s pamphlet, especially the participants at the Quito Conference (CIPOML), form their own opinion. That makes it unavoidable to deal on one’s own with the analyses and conclusions which the MLPD elaborated in both books, Twilight of the Gods – Götterdämmerung over the “New World Order” and Dawn of the International Socialist Revolution, and which it presented to the international Marxist-Leninist, revolutionary and working-class movement for theoretical discussion and practical cooperation.

Stefan Engel, July 2019