July 17, 2000: The Character of the Revolution

Contribution written by Stefan Engel and Otwin Herzig and held at the 4th International Seminar, "Problems of the Revolution in Latin America", July 17-21, in Quito, Ecuador.

Dear comrades, 

Currently, the correct determination of the character of the revolution is actually the most important topic in the international Marxist-Leninist and working-class
movement, which is struggling for a new upsurge of the struggle for socialism. The correct determination of the character of the revolution is fundamental for working
out the concrete strategy and tactics of class struggle. In a speech held at the anniversary of "People's Paper" on April 14, 1856, in London, Karl Marx speaks about the fundamental character of the proletarian revolution as a revolution, which means the emancipation of their own class all over the world, which is as universal as capital-rule and wages-slavery. (Marx/Engels, Collected Works, Vol. 14, p. 656) 

This is how Karl Marx defines the universal character of the proletarian revolution. 

Constant Concrete Analysis of the Concrete Situation 

The concrete character of a revolution results from the concrete analysis of the social-economic order and the class structure of the respective country. That makes it
necessary to guard against all dogmatic and revisionist notions. Lenin therefore emphasized: 

At the same time, all classes and all countries are regarded, not statically, but dynamically, i.e., not in a state of immobility, but in motion.... (Lenin, Collected Works,
Vol. 21, p. 75) 

More than 80 years have passed since the October Revolution and it is necessary to exactly study the development of the concrete reality of imperialism and those
countries which are dependent on and oppressed by imperialism. Some revolutionaries make it too easy for themselves and think that they only have to study the
principles of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin and Mao Zedong and that alone would suffice as a basis for working out correct strategy and tactics. But concrete reality is
constantly changing. In fact, it is one of the essential features of capitalism that it is forced to constantly renew and change its own social relations; the alternative
is its downfall. The "Communist Manifesto" points this out: 

The bourgeoisie cannot exist without constantly revolutionising the instruments of production, and thereby the relations of production, and with them the whole
relations of society. Conservation of the old modes of production in unaltered form, was, on the contrary, the first condition of existence for all earlier industrial
classes. Constant revolutionising of production, uninterrupted disturbance of all social conditions, everlasting uncertainty and agitation distinguish the bourgeois epoch
from all earlier ones. (Marx/Engels, Collected Works, Vol. 6, p. 487) 

That means that Marxism-Leninism can only be realized by means of the constant concrete analysis of the concrete situation in which, on the basis of the universal
knowledge of Marxism- Leninism, all essential changes and new appearances in societal reality, in the class struggle or in class consciousness are systematically

New Developments 

Especially since the end of World War II, a lot of developments in the imperialist world system have taken place. Whereas the foundations of the imperialist system
have remained the same, its concrete forms, methods and interrelations have, indeed, undergone important changes, which must be taken into account in the
strategy and tactics of the revolution. 

The old colonial system broke down under the blows of the liberation struggles. The process of the restoration of capitalism began in the mid-fifties in the Soviet
Union and later in China and Albania, in that the formerly socialist countries were transformed back to capitalist ones. Under these conditions, imperialism had to
change its methods. The concrete main method of imperialist politics was the economic penetration of all countries in the world by neocolonialism, through which
the dependent and oppressed countries were tied more closely to the imperialists. 

Capitalism developed from free competition to monopoly capitalism and, finally, to state monopoly capitalism. This constitutes the immediate pre-stage of a
socialist society. Monopoly capital has totally subordinated the state and its organs are fused with the organs of the state apparatus. It has established its universal
rule over all of society. 

Internationalization of the Capitalist Mode of Production 

After World War II, more and more multinational enterprises developed which not only erected branches, but also production sites in the entire world. This
internationalization of the capitalist mode of production signifies a new stage in the socialization of production on an international scale. But the promises of
bourgeois "theories of globalization" about a uniform spreading of growth and prosperity to all countries contradict the facts in the imperialist world system. In the
nineties, the unevenness of development even increased, especially between the imperialist countries and those countries that are dependent on and oppressed by
imperialism. The world economy is dominated by the 500 biggest monopolies. They have their centers in a mere number of 9 developed industrial countries, with
only few exceptions. Its internationally integrated production system is limited to about 36 countries, of which only about 17 are among the dependent countries in
Latin America, Asia and Africa. 

Since the end of the world economic crisis from 1991 to 1993, the multinational enterprises are stepping up the international new organization of their
production in connection with an enormous increase of the intensity of labor through lean production and the flexibilization of working time. Between
1990 and 1999, the number of worldwide company mergers tripled from about 9,000 to 25,000. With the increasing size of mergers, running up to a total of 3,430
billion dollars last year, the risk of failure is also increasing. The new organization of international production has triggered an international structural crisis in the
capitalist reproduction process. On the average, one third of capital and jobs are destroyed respectively when mergers take place. Increasing chronic mass
unemployment, underemployment, hunger and misery on a mass scale result from this crisis. 

The bourgeois state and family system, which has the task of ensuring the production and reproduction of human life in capitalist society, has been experiencing a
chronic crisis since the 1970's. The crisis of the bourgeois family system has become an essential feature of the General Crisis of Capitalism. 

The Internationalization of Crises 

The internationalization of the capitalist mode of production internationalizes the crises, too. This makes the regulation based on the national state more complex and,
at the same time, less effective. The contradiction between the rule of the monopolies organized on the basis of the national state and the internationalization of the
capitalist mode of production comes to a head in a most extreme way. 

The internationalization of production has extremely destructive and repulsive effects in capitalism. And yet, a new stage of the material preparation of socialism is
expressed in an international production connection which is constantly organized more tightly and according to plan: an international socialist world production
for the mutual benefit of the peoples and for the increasing satisfaction of their needs is very near. 

The internationally coordinated crisis programs in the respective countries and the international crisis management of the IMF and World Bank provoke the
resistance of the working class and the oppressed peoples and lay the material basis for a new upsurge of the struggle for national and social liberation. 

The industrial workers who are organized on a worldwide level in the multinational enterprises are the leading force in the international struggle for a liberated
society without capitalist exploitation and oppression. In June, a two-day strike of more than 13,000 employees took place at Opel in Bochum, Germany. It was
directed against the European-wide consequences of the new organization of production by General Motors through the alliance with Fiat. In this strike, the workers
consciously took advantage of the internationally integrated production system. On the second day, the lack of parts already held up all of European production. It
took several days until production was running again everywhere smoothly. The workers pushed through their essentially politically motivated demands to remain one
single work force. 

The International Character of the Socialist Revolution 

Under today's conditions, a revolutionary situation will not develop in one single country alone. A close interrelation will develop which can already be observed
today on a regional level. In Latin America, a process of revolutionary fermentation encompassing many countries is taking place. It is the transition from the relative
calm in class struggle to an acutely revolutionary situation. We assume that a revolutionary crisis will have international character. Therefore, the Program of
the MLPD states: 

Under the conditions of the fully developed internationalization of production, socialist revolution will adopt an international character. Today, the international
collaboration of the imperialists in organizing counterrevolution and the interaction with the international class struggle hardly allow the possibility of a revolutionary
process being led to victory if isolated in one country. (Chapter F, 8.) 

That is an important difference to the October Revolution, which served as a model for a long time. The October Revolution was supposed to be the prelude for the
transmission of the revolution in all of Europe. But this did not happen. The Soviet Union had to build up socialism in a single, as well as very backward country,
under the utmost difficult conditions and with great sacrifices. 

In spite of the intensifying inter-imperialist contradictions, the imperialists today would interfere together immediately against a socialist revolution in one country. And
they are actually preparing for this by building up international rapid-reaction forces and with joint military interventions. It is secondary whether this occurs officially
under the UN umbrella or, for instance, through the NATO. But revolutionary movements in quite a number of countries, which are strengthening each other, break
up and weaken the joint forces of counterrevolution. 

On the other hand, a revolution today will take a course different from a revolution under capitalism of free competition. Today, a simultaneous revolutionary uprising
even in the developed capitalist centers is hardly probable. The uneven development in the various countries is too great. Also, imperialism will not be overthrown in
a single, homogenous vital struggle. Due to the different level of development of the social mode of production and due to the contradiction between imperialism and
the oppressed nations, there are different revolutionary tasks in the respective countries. Therefore, the MLPD draws the conclusion: 

Proletarian class struggle is mainly national in form. It will generate various revolutionary movements proceeding in leaps and differing in character and breadth in
each in each country. And yet, in its essence, it will be a world revolutionary process with mass strikes, mass demonstrations and revolutionary struggles of the
individual countries standing in mutual, inseparable interaction. (ibid.) 

The Marxist-Leninist parties face the task of developing strategy and tactics respectively for their own country; but these strategy and tactics must also be related to
the joint preparation of the international revolution. This is what proletarian internationalism requires at the beginning of the third millennium. 

Revolutionary Strategy and Tactics in Germany 

Today in Germany, the stage of development of state-monopoly capitalism is in rule. Therefore, the revolution in Germany has the immediate character of a
socialist revolution. 

The leading force and the main force in Germany is the working class. Even though the core of the working class, the industrial proletariat, has become
smaller in recent years, the sum total of wage-dependent employees and workers has increased. Out of the approximately 35 million employees, 6.3 million are
industrial blue-and-white collar workers. The number of industrial workers in the huge monopoly factories is about two to three million. Concentrated in big
production on a mass scale, they learn organizational discipline, which enables them to take the lead in the class struggle. 

Precisely the revisionist parties forward the thesis that the working class is disappearing. This is sheer nonsense. What is changing is the way in which these workers
work today. In the era of telecommunication, automation and microelectronics, for many wage-dependent workers, physical labor has increasingly given way to
supervising work with computers. This, of course, also affects the consciousness of the masses. This is circumscribed with non-Marxist terms like "occupations in the
public service sector". But the broad masses of employees in the so-called public service sector are wage-dependent blue-and-white collar workers, too. Actually,
the number of working people who are dependent on wages is constantly increasing in Germany and internationally, as well. 

Today, the main alliance partner of the working class in Germany are the petty-bourgeois intellectuals. Due to the ruination of the livelihoods of farmers on a
mass scale, there are hardly any small- and medium-scale farmers left. The main method of preparing the revolutionary alliance with the petty-bourgeois
intermediate strata is to develop the militant women's movement. This movement encompasses the proletarian, the petty-bourgeois and even sections of the
bourgeois women's movement. The militant women's movement against the special exploitation and oppression of women must become the connective link
between the working-class movement, active people's resistance and the rebellion of the youth. To this aim, it must successfully deal with the splittist effect
of petty-bourgeois feminism. 

No revolution can take place without or against the will of the masses of the people. Monopoly capitalist rule will be overthrown only by the conscious action of the
masses of the people. Without the leadership of its revolutionary party of the masses, the working class will not go over to storm monopoly dictatorship. In
Marxist-Leninist strategy and tactics, we distinguish three stages the development of proletarian class struggle in Germany will pass through: 

The Stages of Proletarian Class Struggle 

In the stage without an acutely revolutionary situation, the strategic aim is to win over the decisive majority of the working class for the struggle for socialism.
The transition to the working-class offensive is the crucial factor: 

The struggle for every-day demands and partial slogans must be launched in an offensive way so that it can be developed higher. 

The economic struggle must be combined with the political struggle or be transferred into a political struggle. 

Individual struggles must be concentrated and further developed into mass struggles. 

If necessary, the trade union framework must be broken through and the working class must go over to independent struggles. 

The working-class struggles must increasingly be internationally coordinated and developed into a joint class struggle. 

The working class must attack the socially organized system of the petty-bourgeois mode of thinking, so that its class consciousness can unfold and class
struggle in the true sense can develop. 

These strategy and tactics of the working-class offensive must be combined with the struggle of the masses against the living conditions imposed upon them by
monopoly dictatorship. This is the only way to win over the decisive majority of the working class for socialism and to involve the broad masses in the struggle for
socialism. This requires that the MLPD becomes a party of the masses. 

The stage of an acutely revolutionary situation presupposes that the ruling monopolies and their state suffer from such a deep-reaching economic and political
crisis that they are no longer able to govern in the old way and the masses are no longer willing to live in the old way. Economic and political mass struggles and mass
demonstrations dominate. Collisions of the masses with the state machinery increase and gain vehemence. The economic and the political struggle are combined to
the revolutionary strike. Whereas, in the non-revolutionary situation, transitional slogans only entice illusions in capitalist society, transitional demands and
transitional slogans are necessary in the acutely revolutionary situation in order to gear the masses to the struggle for power. The Marxist-Leninist party must
avoid making mistakes and must become a revolutionary mass party in this process. 

The stage of armed uprising is the highest form of the proletarian class struggle in capitalism. If a revolutionary upsurge has matured, the monopolies, according to
all historical experience, will attempt to maintain their power with brutal force. Therefore, the working class, under the leadership of its party, must rise in an armed
uprising, smash the bourgeois state machinery, establish the dictatorship of the proletariat and defend it against counterrevolution. 

The System of the Petty-Bourgeois Mode of Thinking 

In order to halt a revolutionary development, the ruling forces systematically spread their bourgeois ideology among the masses. But in its open, reactionary form,
bourgeois ideology is rejected by the workers today. Aggressive anticommunism has failed. Therefore, the ruling forces have gradually developed an entire system of
the petty-bourgeois mode of thinking in society. 

With the failure of the old, aggressive anticommunism, the ruling forces use a new form of bourgeois propaganda, modern anticommunism. This appeared at the
moment when it was vital to draw conclusions from the negative experience of capitalist restoration. 

Modern anticommunism hypocritically adjusts itself to the spirit of the age, adopts a "critical" standpoint towards capitalist society, and denigrates socialism at the
same time. Constantly new dubious and untenable horror stories on the former socialist Soviet Union and Mao Zedong's China are intended to systematically build
up anticommunist reservations among the masses against the socialist alternative. Thus, actual errors and assaults which occurred during the Great Proletarian
Cultural Revolution are utilized to falsify its essence and to disparage ist objective. This propaganda is demagogically summarized under the bourgeois propaganda
terms "Stalinism" and "Maoism." 

Usually, "purified " petty-bourgeois former Leftists or ex-members of the ruling classes in the vanquished bureaucratic-capitalist countries are the leading exponents
of modern anticommunism, trying to justify their own betrayal. As star witnesses for the alleged failure of socialism, they and their parties are systematically fostered
by monopoly capital up to their elevation as wielders of governmental power. (Program of the MLPD, Chapter E, 12) 

The societal system of the petty-bourgeois mode of thinking aims at corroding proletarian class consciousness and at destroying the working-class movement by
disorganization, demoralization and disorientation. Therefore, the documents of the Gelsenkirchen Party Congress of the MLPD (Sixth Party Congress) read: 

The preparation for the international revolution stands and falls with the question of how the masses free themselves from the influence of the petty-bourgeois mode
of thinking, how they get aware of the objective relationship with the international development and go over to consciously coordinate and revolutionize their
liberation struggle. 

How the masses deal successfully with the petty-bourgeois mode of thinking vitally depends on whether they acknowledge and solve the problem of the
petty-bourgeois mode of thinking and strengthen the proletarian mode of thinking with the help of the Marxist-Leninists. 

(Documents of the MLPD Gelsenkirchen Party Congress, Introductory Speech of the Party Chairman) 

The Working Class Must Successfully Deal with the Petty-Bourgeois Mode of Thinking 

We elaborated the doctrine of the mode of thinking to enable us to correctly analyze the struggle between the proletarian mode of thinking and the petty-bourgeois
mode of thinking among the masses, to find out the laws according to which class consciousness develops and to purposefully exert influence on its development to
socialist consciousness. 

The doctrine of the mode of thinking does not replace the proletarian strategy and tactics of the class struggle for the working class to seize political power. This
doctrine is rather necessary for winning the masses over for proletarian strategy and tactics. 

In the Federal German Republic, the relative stabilization of capitalism subsequent to World War II led to a long-lasting stage of class struggle without a
revolutionary situation. Since the eighties, there has been a turn in the development of class consciousness. 

In the context of mass strikes to defend continued payment in case of illness in the autumn of 1996, proletarian class consciousness awakened on a broad front in
Germany. This newly emerged tactical starting position constitutes a new quality in the struggle over the mode of thinking of the masses: "The general willingness to
fight has grown, and the working class's desire for clarity, consciousness and organization has considerably increased." (Political Report of the MLPD Central
Committee, 1997) Since the spring of 1999, a process of detachment of the masses from the bourgeois parties, bourgeois parliamentarism and its institutions
developed. The deep distrust of the SPD/Greens federal government, and also of the biggest opposition party, the CDU/CSU, has gone over to a distinctive
politicization, especially in the workers' class consciousness. This politicization is reflected in an increase of independent economic and political struggles, which are
increasingly launched in an offensive and conscious manner. The tendency towards the working-class offensive becomes more pronounced. A militant opposition
against the implementation of a sharpened crisis program emerges. 

The fact that monopoly dictatorship is compelled to launch ever more far-reaching attacks against the living conditions of the masses is the material base for the
dissolution of the political attachment of the masses that existed for decades. But only if the working class deals successfully with the system of the petty-bourgeois
mode of thinking in society can the working-class offensive unfold on a broad level. The working-class offensive is the leading factor of the society-changing
movement for socialism. It is only possible to win over the decisive majority of the working class for socialism and to involve the broad masses in the struggle for
socialism if the proletarian strategy and tactics towards the working-class offensive combine with the struggle of the masses against the living conditions imposed
upon them by monopoly dictatorship. 

Party Building is the Leading Factor 

However, the experience of revolutionaries all over the world teaches us: in the revolutionary process of each country, Marxist-Leninist party building is the leading

Therefore, the MLPD and its Youth League, Rebell, must be significantly strengthened. The interrelations between the party and the masses must be put on the basis
of the proletarian mode of thinking in order to prepare a new upsurge in the struggle for genuine socialism. The development of the MLPD towards the party of the
masses and for gaining a new level of mass influence in Germany is the MLPD's crucial contribution for preparing the international revolution. For this purpose, we
are carrying out a criticism and self-criticism movement in conjunction with an offensive of party work among the masses. 

The factors for a new historical stage of transformation from capitalism to socialism are maturing on a worldwide scale. Presently, the coordination and
revolutionization of the struggles is the main task for preparing the international revolution. A close community of struggle among the revolutionary parties and
organizations is the leading factor for the international coordination and development of class struggles. The purpose of our international work is the
ideological-political unification in conjunction with new international forms of organizations: joint solidarity campaigns, mutual support in Marxist-Leninist party
building, joint theoretical work, joint literature work. We also find it important to promote mutual understanding among different cultures and ways of life. Currently,
the founding of an International League of Struggle for Liberation in December 2000, is an important practical step which we support as much as possible. 

From our first participation in this international seminar, we hope to gain deep insight into the very diversified revolutionary process, particularly in the Latin American
countries. We wish to conduct a proletarian culture of debate so that the principle-based and comradely discussion about the different experiences and positions
advances the ideological-political unification of the Marxist-Leninists. We want to make practical progress in coordinating and revolutionizing the class struggles. 

Onward to the international revolution! 

Onward to genuine socialism!


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