May 9, 2002: "I Have Been Fighting All My Life"

Speech at the MLPD Rally at the 10th Anniversary of the Death of Willi Dickhut in the Civic Hall of Wuppertal by Stefan Engel

Dear friends,

dear colleagues,

dear comrades,

Today we have gathered here in the beautiful civic hall of Wuppertal on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the death of Willi Dickhut.

When we were inviting people to participate in our series of meetings, we sometimes were asked the critical question:

"Has the MLPD gone over to cult of the individual?"

This question deserves to be answered exhaustively.

In Hitlerite fascism, the cult of an individual was a firm component of the system of rule.

For instance, people had to salute each other saying "Heil Hitler" (Hail to Hitler) in order to prove their unconditional subordination to the fascist regime.

Due to this experience, the sensitiveness against any kind of cult of an individual is a deep-reaching component of the antifascist and democratic consciousness of the masses in Germany.

However, honoring personalities who have gained merit for social progress is a justified concern of the working-class movement.

The Russian revolutionary Plekhanov aptly characterized the relationship of the revolutionary working-class movement to its great personalities:

So the great man is a beginner because he sees farther than the others and wants to be stronger than the others. He solves the scientific tasks which have been put on the agenda by the preceding course of the spiritual development of society; he is endowed with the new social needs generated by the previous development of society; he takes the initiative to satisfy these needs. He is a hero ... in the sense that his activity is the conscious and free expression of this necessary and unconscious course. Herein lies his entire importance, his entire strength. But it is a tremendous importance, an enormous strength. (Our translation from the German)

Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin and Mao Zedong particularly embodied the struggle and the goals of the international revolutionary working-class movement. The names of these important leaders of the revolutionary proletariat do not only stand for an entire period of class struggle, but also for the content and the method of the scientific foundations of the international Marxist-Leninist and working-class movement.

However, we also know how the modern revisionists like Khrushchov, Brezhnev, Ulbricht and Honecker developed a downright cult with revolutionary working-class leaders. Whereas, on the one hand, they rode roughshod over the theoretical tenets of Marx, Engels and Lenin, they put up oversized memorials of them and covered the entire social life with their pictures.

This was a component part of their revisionist method to pose as socialist in words, but to destroy socialism in reality and restore capitalism.

The revisionist cult of the individual was only suited to discredit Marxism-Leninism in the eyes of the masses. Because, due to this, to the masses the anti-people rule of the new, bureaucratic capitalists seemed to be the implementation of the teachings of Marx and Lenin.

It will take generations until this error, entailing downright traumatic effects is overcome in the thinking, feeling and acting of the masses. Also, the modern anti-communists like to use this revisionist cult of the individual as an argument intending to foment reservations against Marxism-Leninism and the revolutionary working-class movement.

It is absolutely necessary to expose these petty-bourgeois methods of the cult of the individual as anti-Marxist, to differentiate oneself from them, that is, to fight them.

Without doubt, the cult-like elevation of leading persons to an idealized "figure of light" is an out-and-out bourgeois and petty-bourgeois method which does not have a place in the revolutionary working-class movement.

If today we honor the lifework of Willi Dickhut, we direct our entire attention to his indelible bequests to the working-class movement.

From the start, Willi Dickhut considered it his main task to accomplish those tasks which are of significance for party building beyond his death.

Therefore, he renounced being himself a member of the Central Committee of the party.

After the founding of the Communist Workers’ League of Germany (KABD), the forerunner of the MLPD, in 1972, he was head of the Central Control Commission.

It was a matter near to his heart to personally build up and further develop this Central Control Commission following the example of Lenin. This was one of the most important conclusions which had to be drawn from the revisionist degeneration of the erstwhile revolutionary Communist Party of Germany (KPD).

This function made it possible for Willi Dickhut to carry out comprehensive educational work towards the young organization and the members of the Central Leadership of the KABD and to see to it that party building took a clear course.

In 1976, he saw that the situation had come about that he could leave the work of the Central Control Commission to younger cadres so that he could concentrate on heading the theoretical organ Revolutionärer Weg.

Willi always gave concrete advice to the Central Committee and the Central Control Commission. If fundamental mistakes had been made, he conducted a principle-based debate.

In doing so, he did not relent until the matter had been settled completely.

In this way, the settling of a factual issue was always combined with learning principle-based criticism and self-criticism.

He wrote hundreds of letters, held innumerable consultative talks and elaborated various fundamental writings which were to help the party and the Central Committee to accomplish their tasks in the new-type party.

The objective role of Willi Dickhut caused one party unit to make the suggestion to elect him honorary party leader at the party congress. Willi resolutely objected to this, saying:

If you want to "honor" me, then intensify your ideological, political and organizational work in building the revolutionary party in connection with organizing and leading the struggles of the working class.

Like no other person, Willi Dickhut has shaped the MLPD in theory, practice and method.

One cannot understand the MLPD – its history and its future – unless one understands the lifework of Willi Dickhut and the legacy he left to the MLPD and to the international Marxist-Leninist working-class movement.

Honoring the lifework of Willi Dickhut is tantamount to the acceptance of the roots, the history, the special character and the societal role of the MLPD as a new-type party.

From 1926 up to his expulsion in 1966, Willi Dickhut was a member and, most of the time, a functionary of the formerly revolutionary KPD. With this, he was part and product of the old communist movement in Germany from its beginnings to its decline.

Willi Dickhut had a critical and self-critical mind with firm principles for which he stood up with iron discipline. Of course, he had shared many errors which the old communist movement had made.

He frankly admitted: "The errors of the KPD are my errors, too."

He despised the style of Walter Ulbricht, the General Secretary of the Socialist Unity Party (SED) of the GDR, who, in later editions silently deleted fundamental mistakes from his earlier writings from the time of the Weimar Republic, just as if he had never made them. This method served to give the impression of the infallibility of the leaders of the German Democratic Republic (GDR); in reality, however, this had the result that various fundamental mistakes of the KPD were never basically assessed. Among other things, this applies to the sectarian theory of social-fascism, the harmful policy of the revolutionary trade-union opposition of the KPD in the nineteen-twenties or the unprincipled treatment of the revisionist critique of the twofold conception of production of Marx and Engels in the political economy of the KPD.

Willi Dickhut was one of the few old working-class cadres who knew how to assess the decline of the old communist and working-class movement, its strengths and its weaknesses, its victories and defeats, its successes and errors in a critical and self-critical and an unconditional way.

In this context, he resolutely objected to a fashionable trend in the petty-bourgeois "ml movement" to simply want to copy the KPD of the Weimar Republic. As if the culture, the mode of thinking and way of life or the language of people, to which the persuasive work of the Marxist-Leninists must be related, had stood still in the nineteen-twenties.

In the initial period of our party, too, for a time there was a widespread bad habit of uncritically republishing revolutionary novels of the Weimar Republic and arbitrarily adopting and spreading songs and forms of actions of the old KPD in our time.

In spite of all the necessary defense of the old communist movement against the anticommunist attacks and revisionist distortions, a harmful myth of the old KPD thus was cultivated which was opposed to assessing its strengths and weaknesses in a critical and self-critical way.

This myth of the old KPD of the Weimar Republic objectively was an influence of the revisionist methods of the GDR on the young Marxist-Leninist movement in West Germany.

In a letter dated June 19, 1975, Willi Dickhut wrote:

Again and again I try to find out why entire communist parties as, for instance, the KPD, which I joined as a member fifty years ago, could degenerate into revisionism (with individual persons, the question is clear). When I worked in the cadre department, I examined thousands of comrades for various training courses of the party school, followed their ideological-political development and made proposals for their employment in accordance with their ideological level. They all received a certain, though different basis of Marxism-Leninism and gathered experiences in the class struggle.

Why do they join this revisionist course? It is impossible that they had probed into the essence of Marxism-Leninism, or they would have had to condemn this revisionist line.

The subjective explanation "They are all traitors!" does not solve the problem.

With this, Willi Dickhut revealed the basic connection between dogmatism and the modern revisionism which led the old communist movement into general decline.

Dogmatism prevented that Marxism-Leninism was really comprehended. On this basis, modern revisionism was able to embrace and destroy the majority of the parties of the old communist movement.

Every active party member of the MLPD and, I think, the representatives of the international Marxist-Leninist and working-class movement who are present here today, will be able to confirm that the struggle against revisionism and dogmatism still is and must be a constant subject of party work. But this also shows that the seed of a new defeat of the Marxist-Leninist and working-class movement exists against which the revolutionary vigilance of the Marxist-Leninists must be directed.

Dear colleagues,

dear friends and comrades,

When in 1917, subsequent to the successful October Revolution, the socialist Soviet Union came into being, it was a shining beacon light for the masses of the workers and people all over the world.

Supported by the enthusiasm of the workers and the poor peasants who, for the first time, worked for their own benefit instead of for the profits of the capitalists and the feudal lords, the successes that were achieved were almost incredible.

Right after the October Revolution, the eight-hour working day was introduced. Ten years later, the majority of the workers had the seven-hour working day and, for special work, for instance underground or at night, the six-hour working day.

In no country of the world did women and children enjoy such comprehensive rights. In 1926, half of the Soviet people were unable to read. In 1934, this figure had already been reduced to one tenth. Already in the early nineteen-thirties, the backward agrarian country with feudal characteristics had become an industrial country. Compared to 1917, the industrial production of the Soviet Union had increased fourteen-fold in 1937! In 1960, the Soviet Union was considered the second biggest economic power behind the USA although it had to carry the main burden of destruction and human losses in the Second World War.

After Hitlerite fascism was smashed, a socialist camp emerged. Under the blows of the revolutionary liberation movements and with the solidarity and support of the socialist countries, the old imperialist colonial system was smashed.

Everyone must understand the huge progress which the socialist Soviet Union meant for the history of mankind. Otherwise one cannot grasp the significance of the fact that, starting from the Twentieth Party Congress of the CPSU in February 1956, the restoration of capitalism was introduced in the Soviet Union. A degenerate petty-bourgeois bureaucracy under the leadership of Khrushchov took over political power, destroyed the dictatorship of the proletariat and established a system of a bureaucratic monopoly capitalism of a new type. With the exception of Mao Zedong’s China and Albania, more or less all socialist countries and most communist parties followed this fatal way of Khrushchov. Of course, this did not go smoothly and we can only guess what struggles took place within the individual communist parties of the world. But, for the time being, Khrushchov’s modern revisionism gained the upper hand with all its destructive force.

In the book, The Struggle Over the Mode of Thinking in the Working-Class Movement," the MLPD analyzed, on the basis of the example of the GDR, why, for the masses, modern revisionism was so hard to see through:

Only a working class educated in Marxism-Leninism would have been able to see through the revisionist betrayal of Ulbricht in 1956 and understand that he was turning away from the road to a socialist Germany. But in the GDR, a bogus Marxist-Leninist ideology had been thrust upon the masses by administrative methods. Training courses were designed not to promote independent thinking and action in the spirit of Marxism-Leninism but trained petty-bourgeois thinking in the form of a dried-up dogmatism and collections of quotations without any real bearing on social practice. Hardly anyone could escape this nonstop ideological-political downpour. The majority of the 17 million citizens of the GDR were integrated in revisionist-controlled parties and mass organizations....

Membership in the SED or in one of the bloc parties was a prerequisite for getting ahead in GDR society. This is confirmed by the de facto self-dissolution of the SED in 1989–90, with more than two million members leaving the party as a result of the new relations of power.

Bureaucratic-capitalist rule in the GDR assumed the form of a centrally run limited bourgeois democracy. Civil rights were sharply restricted. Under the pretext of "partisanship," for example, freedom of information and freedom of association were largely abolished. Comparable to the situation in West Germany during the period of strict application of the KPD ban from 1956 to 1968, it was illegal to read and spread revolutionary publications directed against state power. Strict controls and criminal prosecution prevented people from acquainting themselves with the fundamental criticism of the revisionism of the CPSU and the SED by Mao Zedong and other Marxist-Leninists and with the analysis of the restoration of capitalism. Any hint of a democratic, let alone Marxist-Leninist, opposition was branded as "counterrevolutionary attempts of class enemies" and relentlessly suppressed by the state security service.

Nevertheless, the political system of bureaucratic capitalism could not have survived for more than three decades if the rulers had not underpinned their revisionist deception with material concessions. Particularly after Walter Ulbricht was replaced by Erich Honecker as SED general secretary in 1971, probably also as a response to the social reforms in West Germany, social benefits were expanded under the slogan of the "unity of economic and social policy." The so-called "socialist achievements for the working people" such as free kindergartens, a social public health system, cheap housing and low-priced public transportation, cultural and sports facilities for the masses, were reforms from above granted for a purpose. They served to veil the complete control over the means of production, and over the values created by the workers and farmers, exercised by the bureaucratic monopoly bourgeoisie and by the social-imperialist Soviet Union, whose neocolonialist client the GDR was. The great majority of the working people were reconciled with the apparent shortcomings and afflictions of the system so much so that they kept still.

Under the slogan of "socialist personality" – and with the aid of a sophisticated system of material privileges for the party bureaucracy – careerism, privilege-seeking and moral cowardice were bred. (Stefan Engel, The Struggle Over the Mode of Thinking, pp. 155-156 and 157-158)

And yet, it could not be prevented that in 1989/1990, the GDR disappeared from the scene, due to the struggle of a democratic people's movement in the GDR.

The revision of Marxism-Leninism by the CPSU was also the starting point of an unprecedented split and fragmentation of the international Marxist-Leninist and working-class movement.

In November 1956, Mao Zedong wrote to the Soviet leaders:

You have abandoned Stalin and practically all of Lenin as well, with Lenin's feet gone, or perhaps with only his head left, or with one of his hands cut off. We, on our part, stick to studying Marxism-Leninism and learning from the October Revolution. (Selected Works of Mao Tse-Tung, Vol. V, p. 342)

In West Germany, an open discussion in the KPD on this change of direction was made impossible because in August 1956, the KPD had been banned. In spite of this, Willi Dickhut got hold of Chinese literature – in particular the "Beijing Review" – in order to form his own opinion. He agreed with Mao Zedong's principle-based critique of the CPSU and was expelled from the KPD in 1966, together with his wife Luise, because he refused to cancel his subscription for the material from China.

The "Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution" in the People’s Republic of China in August 1966 and the successful people’s war in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia against the barbarous war of aggression of the USA was a great incentive for all revolutionaries in the world to take up the struggle against modern revisionism and to bring about a new upswing of the Marxist-Leninist and working-class movement.

Willi Dickhut joined these international efforts and was among the first who, in late 1968, set off to rebuild the revolutionary workers' party in Germany. However, he knew very well that this revolutionary workers' party could not simply be a new edition of the old KPD.

Before a new Marxist-Leninist party could be built up, the revisionist degeneration of the old KPD had to be proved. Anything else would have been an unpardonable split of the revolutionary working-class movement.

Also, Willi Dickhut proposed not to build up a new party right away, but, in the first place, to create the necessary ideological, political and organizational prerequisites for a revolutionary workers' party of a new type in Germany.

To most of the petty-bourgeois "ML leaders" this effort was a process that was too protracted, too long. A real competition set off among them on who would be the one to found the new Marxist-Leninist party at the highest speed, with the loudest pathos and the biggest amount of paper. The result was 152 organizations and parties in the year 1972 claiming to be Marxist-Leninist – that is, tremendous fragmentation and confusion.

The motive of all of them for quick party founding was the petty-bourgeois claim to leadership, the attempt to demand that the other Marxist-Leninist groups and organizations subordinate themselves to one's own organization and to the allegedly outstanding leading personality.

Willi Dickhut, however, required the elaboration of a comprehensive ideological-political line made to fit the current conditions of the class struggle in the Federal Republic of Germany and the world and which exhaustively answers all the essential questions confronting the revolutionary working-class movement.

This is why, starting in 1969, he assumed the leadership of the theoretical organ Revolutionärer Weg.

As one of his first tasks Willi Dickhut saw the necessity to analyze the restoration of capitalism in the Soviet Union. In conversations, he repeatedly told me that he was disappointed that the CP of China had not made this analysis although this was so imperative for the international and working-class movement and because the CP of China can be supposed to have had the best concrete insight into what happened in the Soviet Union.

Under greatest difficulties and efforts, Willi Dickhut, backed by several assistants able to speak Russian, started to assess loads of authentic material from the Soviet Union and to comprehensively prove the process of the restoration of capitalism in the Soviet Union.

The book with this title appeared in 1971/1972. Today it exists in at least ten languages and was internationally distributed in several tens of thousands of copies.

In the book, Willi raises the question to start from:

How were the bureaucrats able to destroy proletarian democracy and set themselves up as the capitalist rulers of the Soviet Union? We want to give an answer to this question in the following.... (Willi Dickhut, The Restoration of Capitalism in the Soviet Union, English edition July 1994, p. 1)

In later publications, too, again and again until his death, Willi Dickhut dealt with the development in the Soviet Union, its causes and the conclusions which had to be drawn from it. The most important conclusion for Willi Dickhut was the "Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution" which had been called by Mao Zedong. Willi Dickhut characterized it as the highest form of the class struggle in socialism against the danger of capitalist restoration by the degenerated bureaucracy in the leadership of the party, the state and the economy. A few weeks before his death, he wrote the book The End of Socialism? which, referring to meanwhile newly available sources from the GDR, probed more deeply into the laws of the degeneration of the petty-bourgeois bureaucracy. There, Willi Dickhut saw the roots of the restoration of capitalism in the encroachment of the petty-bourgeois mode of thinking in the central bureaucracy of the leadership of the state, the economy and the party. He worked out two decisive factors for the development of the petty-bourgeois mode of thinking of this bureaucracy: First, working as a bureaucrat and, second, the transformation of the way of life. Willi Dickhut pointed out how a petty-bourgeois feeling of power of the bureaucrats spread broadly, expressing itself in a high-handed attitude and bourgeois ambition. In addition, there was an insatiable urge to grab personal advantages from one's office for oneself, one's own family and close friends. Both factors had the effect that the leading functionaries got increasingly removed from the people and developed into a stratum seeking its own advantage and striving to exercise power.

The problem of the mode of thinking is so fundamental that Willi Dickhut came to the conclusion:

It is impossible to build up socialism with a petty-bourgeois mode of thinking.

On the contrary:

Socialism is softened up, undermined and finally destroyed.

Dear friends and comrades,

It was Lenin who, when imperialism emerged, had already pointed at the fact that reformism had become a state-upholding ideology. Reformism was the result of the revision of Marxism by the social-democratic leadership around Kautsky, which had thus changed the erstwhile revolutionary Social-Democratic Party (SPD) into a bourgeois workers' party and had supported the German Emperor in his imperialist war. Reformism became the main obstacle of the development of revolutionary class consciousness in the working-class movement. The victory of Marxism-Leninism over the revisionism of Kautsky and the leaders of the Second International was the necessary precondition for the 1917 October Revolution and the emergence of the communist world movement.

It is the tragic dialectics of history that, with the revisionist degeneration of the CPSU in 1956, a new edition of Kautsky's revisionism, on a new basis, was successful. A modern revisionism came into being which inflicted a crushing defeat on the communist movement from which it has not yet recovered.

Willi Dickhut characterized this fundamental problem as follows:

To overthrow the dictatorship of the proletariat is impossible without revising Marxism-Leninism. The XXth Party Congress revised Marxism-Leninism on the questions of war and peace and the road to socialism, among others. It denied that monopoly capitalism must inevitably cause imperialist wars, that imperialist wars will disappear only after the complete overthrow of the monopoly-capitalist social system worldwide. It denied that the working class and the oppressed peoples can win their national and social liberation only by a violent revolution. Instead, the peaceful road to socialism by reforms and by winning the majority in parliament was preached.

Thus, Marxism-Leninism was robbed of its revolutionary spearhead. The Soviet Union was no longer the bulwark of revolution and the support of the working class and of the oppressed peoples in their liberation struggles. (State-Monopoly Capitalism in the FRG, pp. 452-453)

With the restoration of capitalism in the Soviet Union modern revisionism became a genuine political power. A power which even adopted the form of a social-imperialist superpower and which, therefore, could penetrate into the social life of the whole world and, in particular, into the working-class movement in an all-around way. Nobody will doubt that, due to these facts, the relative strength between the Marxist-Leninists and the revisionists was very unfavorable for a long time.

It was the more important that this social-imperialist system of rule of the Soviet Union collapsed in 1989/1990, thus creating the precondition for a change of the relative strength between Marxism-Leninism and modern revisionism in favor of socialism again. And yet, modern revisionism will leave behind its harmful traces among the masses still for a long time to come.

Meanwhile, a variety of multi-colored currents of revisionism exists all of which we have summed up under the term neo-revisionism.

Thus the leader of the Party of Labor of Belgium (PTB), Ludo Martens, in an adventurous explanation, says on the times subsequent to the Twentieth CPSU Party Congress:

This great strength of the socialist system could still be felt even when the party leadership chose the path of revisionism, that is, the path of the progressing renunciation of Marxism-Leninism. In 1975, the Soviet Union had reached the peak of its power ..., but this power was already thoroughly undermined by the ideological and political currents which were soon to destroy it. Breshnevism is the continuation of a great strength inherited by Stalin and, simultaneously, an ideological and political degeneration which deepened progressively and which resulted in the complete destruction of socialism under Gorbachev. ("Leonid I. Brezhnev and the National-Democratic Revolution," p. 1; our translation from the German)

What an absurd theory!

On the one hand, the CPSU party leadership is said to gave gone the path of revisionism since 1956. On the other hand, the Soviet Union, in spite of this, could remain a socialist country and even gain strength until 1975. This means: socialism can exist and take a positive development even on the basis of revisionism.

This is not a Marxist-Leninist analysis, this is saying farewell to Marxism-Leninism, Mr. Martens!

There will be no new upsurge of the struggle for socialism without the victory over modern revisionism and the overcoming of the effect of the petty-bourgeois-revisionist mode of thinking among the masses.

After the decline of the Soviet Union in 1990, modern revisionism became imbued with a modern anti-communism.

In relation to this problem, we said in our party program:

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, p. 47)

A new upsurge of the struggle for genuine socialism requires the complete clarification of the harmful role of modern revisionism and the overcoming of the effect of numbing modern anticommunism on the thinking, feeling and acting of the masses.

With his lifework, Willi Dickhut created a decisive basis for this.

Dear friends and comrades!

Willi Dickhut held the opinion that a revolutionary new-type party requires also a new theoretical basis.

To this end, Willi Dickhut developed the concept of the theory of Marxism-Leninism further. From the start, he understood theoretical work not simply as ideological work, but as ideological-political work. This is not simply a change of terms, but the basic knowledge that Marxism-Leninism will seize the masses and will become a new material force only if it is combined with the concrete political experiences of the masses and their struggle. The unity of theory and practice is the fundamental aspect also in theoretical work. Therefore, Willi Dickhut coined the fundamental expression:

brief - concrete - comprehensible.

Even the most complicated theoretical connections must be assessed in such a way that they do not build up unnecessary hurdles for the understanding of the masses. At the same time, Willi Dickhut also rejected any kind of flattening and vulgarization of the Marxist-Leninist theory.

Without revolutionary theory – no revolutionary movement!

He was of the opinion that theory is not simply the activity for individual party leaders but that the entire membership of the Marxist-Leninist party must arm itself with the theory of Marxism-Leninism. In a contribution to the Second Party Congress of the MLPD in 1985 he wrote:

Therefore, every Marxist-Leninist is obliged to help with the elaboration and application of this theory.

And, at the end of his contribution, he called:

Comrades, in this sense, become theoreticians of the working class! (Second Party Congress of the MLPD, 1985)

In the MLPD, intensive ideological-political work has been done at all times.

For a party with seventy percent of the membership consisting of workers and small white-collars, this is neither always self-evident nor easy. But it has become a feature of the MLPD party work. The meetings of the party groups take place in rotation with meetings for schooling and education. Within the party, there are study movements in which our members arm themselves with Marxism-Leninism and the ideological-political line of the party. It is in this ideological-political work, which has become a subject of the rank-and-file work of the masses of the party members, that the lifework of Willi Dickhut lives on. The foundations for this were built in the system of the theoretical organ Revolutionärer Weg.

With Willi Dickhut as head of the editing board, twenty-four numbers of Revolutionärer Weg appeared between 1969 and 1988. It is not without good reason that the series Revolutionärer Weg headed by Willi Dickhut is concluded by the issue No. 24, The Dialectical Unity of Theory and Practice. This book is not only an outline of the development of the dialectical-materialist world outlook of the Marxist-Leninists starting from Marx going on to Mao, but it also constitutes an excellent guidance for assimilating the entire theory of Marxism-Leninism critically and self-critically and creatively putting it into practice with the aid of the conscious application of the dialectical method.

Because mastering the dialectical method is the key to the independent orientation in every task and every situation of life!

Dear colleagues, dear friends and comrades,

Willi Dickhut paid great attention to the analysis of state-monopoly capitalism in the FRG subsequent to the Second World War. In state-monopoly capitalism, the monopolies have completely subjugated the state, and the organs of the monopolies have merged with the organs of the state. On this basis, the monopolies were able to establish their all-round dictatorship over all of society.

The development of the multinational corporations took a rapid upswing and became the characteristic feature of the world economy. As early as in 1969, the United Nations estimated the number of multinational corporations to run to 7,300. Together with their 27,300 daughter companies, they accounted for about 25 percent of world exports at the time. In 1979, Willi Dickhut summarized this new development as follows:

The internationalization of production means a new stage in state-monopoly capitalism, an extension and, at the same time, a stronger concentration of the monopolies.

Since the end of the nineteen-eighties and in the early nineteen-nineties, however, important changes took place in the world, conditioned by the political collapse of the Soviet Union, but also on the basis of the relatively concluded introduction of microelectronics and automation in the industry and administration of all capitalist countries. This had rendered capital even more hungry, and it more aggressively looked for new possibilities for investment.

Thereupon, an international wave of concentration set in, of unprecedented scope and effect. Worldwide capital exports exploded from an average US $ 67 billion in the years 1982 to 1987 to US $ 1,149 billion in the year 2000.

What was even more interesting about it was that, in the year 2000, 99.5 percent of capital export had been used for cross-border mergers and takeovers. With this, internationalization of capitalist production had reached a new quality: the reorganization of international production under the dictate of a ruling stratum of international monopolies.

About 500 international monopolies dictate the stroke for the world market and worldwide industrial production and subjugate to themselves entire national economies. Willi Dickhut had pointed at this new development as early as in 1990.

In a conversation he said "that imperialism today has changed from national to international production and politics. The national aspect of imperialism develops backwards as compared to the international aspect." (Conversation on October 17, 1991)

Thus, for example, in the year 2000, 59.5 percent of all Siemens employees worked abroad. Foreign investment ran up to 57.6 percent. In 1970, the percentage of employees abroad was 22.3 percent and foreign investment was at 22.4 percent. Such a development can be observed at almost all the leading German monopolies. Of course, this has all-round effects on the entire interrelationship between the state and the monopolies. The state-owned enterprises are privatized step by step. The beginning was made by the former state-owned industrial enterprises which, meanwhile, have advanced in the world market very aggressively (like Volkswagen, VEBA, RAG). Subsequently, the big state-owned service enterprises like the federal post office, railway and airline (Lufthansa) were privatized. In the years to come, hundreds of thousands of regional and municipal service enterprises are to be privatized, entailing all-round effects on the jobs of the masses; costs for services like refuse disposal, etc, can be expected to explode. The changes of imperialism have deep-reaching effects on the masses and there will be vehement clashes. Together with the reorganization of international production, an international stratum of the industrial proletariat also has developed in the enterprises of the international monopolies.

It comprises about 50 to 100 million male and female workers who, in terms of their production work and labor productivity, increasingly adjust to each other. The working class increasingly grows out of the national-state system of production and into an international system of production. With the international stratum of industrial workers in the international monopoly corporations, a leading force has constituted itself capable of guiding the other strata of the proletariat and the non-proletarian masses in the struggle for the overthrow of imperialism.

With the international industrial proletariat, imperialism has generated a mighty enemy who, together with the peoples of the world fighting for their liberation, will put an end to imperialism. Willi Dickhut put up the thesis that, due to this internationalization of production, the proletarian revolution, too, must adopt an international character. We can observe a tendency towards the internationalization of the class struggle, although this still takes place on a low level:

  • A signal for cross-border working-class struggles was given by the joint European-wide and successful strike day of the General Motor workers in nine works in January 2001, in solidarity with the struggle of the GM workers in Luton, Great Britain for the preservation of their jobs.
  • The Volkswagen workers in Puebla, Mexico, in their three-week strike for a 19 percent wage increase, consciously took advantage of the dependence of the Volkswagen corporation on the only remaining production facility for the "Beetle."
  • On a worldwide scale, an increasing number of struggles is directed against the internationally coordinated crisis programs and the effects of the privatization of state-owned corporations and service enterprises.
  • In South Korea, 120,000 workers successfully struck against privatization of the power supply industry and railways.
  • In India, on April 16, ten million employees in the public administration and state-owned banks carried out a nation-wide day of strike against the government's policy of privatization.
  • The workers' struggles in the People's Republic of China are of utmost importance. The largest section of the international industrial proletariat lives in China. Tens of thousands of workers, in particular in the industrial centers of North-East China, went on strike and demonstrated against planned mass layoffs and the refusal to pay outstanding wages. As early as in the year 2000, the Hongkong human rights groups informed that there had been more than 120,000 "incidences and riots." According to Frankfurter Rundschau of March 12, 2002, there were about 30,000 major instances of working-class unrest among them. The pictures of Mao Zedong that were carried at the demonstrations prove that among the Chinese workers, the struggle for genuine socialism is alive and upheld by Marxist-Leninist forces.
  • In Italy, the biggest mass demonstration against the government after the Second World War took place with three million participants.
  • The unyielding resistance of the Palestinian people against the unleashed terror of the Sharon government stands for the beginning of a new upsurge of the struggle for national and social liberation.
  • Currently we observe in Latin America how a constantly growing number of countries is seized by cross-border revolutionary fermentation.
  • Undoubtedly, the climax to date is the successful "Argentinazo" on December 19 and 20, 2001, in which the social-democratic De la Rua government, and the next three presidents, were brought down by a nationwide mass uprising.

In this worldwide surge of struggles, a new revolutionary world crisis is preparing. Presently, the Central Committee of the MLPD is comprehensively analyzing and theoretically generalizing Willi Dickhut's theses in a new issue of the theoretical organ – Nos. 29 and 30 – in order to key the party to changes in the imperialist world system.

This is particularly imperative because, following from the changes in the imperialist world system, an international petty-bourgeois protest movement has emerged which calls into question the imperialist character of the world system and, with reformist proposals like the introduction of the so-called Tobin tax and various other illusions, opposes a new upsurge of the struggle for socialism.

Today, the essential changes in the imperialist world system appear in two problems.

First, in the current world economic crisis, which, in combination with the still operating structural crisis, marks the deepest cave-in of production and causes the largest destruction of capital since the Second World War.

Second, the so-called international war against terrorism under the leadership of the USA which, step by step, transforms the whole world into a powder-keg.

In the current international world economic crisis, it becomes particularly obvious how the national economies of the individual countries condition and influence each other. They are seized more or less simultaneously by the world economic crisis, and it is difficult for the big imperialist countries in the economic crisis to successfully recover their losses at the cost of the small countries.

Last year, even the USA had to suffer an absolute drop in production of minus four percent; currently, they have the biggest problems getting the downswing under control. The International Labor Organization assumes that, on a worldwide scale, due to the overproduction crisis since the beginning of 2001, about 24 million people have lost or will still lose their jobs. The cause of the depth of the current world economic crisis mainly lies in the fact that for the first time, it occurs on the basis of the reorganization of international capitalist production.

The world economic crisis coincides with the effects of an international structural crisis on the basis of reorganization of international production and the introduction of flexibilization and lean production which, already in the nineteen-nineties, destroyed hundreds of billions of US dollars in capital. I would like to demonstrate this with the example of the development of East Germany since the German reunification.

After the reunification, the West German monopolies seized the occasion to destroy their overcapacities by way of works closures and dismissals. In East Germany alone, 80 percent of the three million industrial jobs fell victim to this process. In 1989, there still existed in the GDR 840 industrial factories with more than 1,000 employees; meanwhile, there are just thirty-five factories of that size left.

Willi Dickhut realized very early that the reduction of working hours is of enormous significance against the massive destruction of jobs within the framework of the different structural crises since the nineteen-seventies. He has a great share in the fact that, in the seventies, the struggle for the 35-hour workweek with full wage compensation could be asserted in the trade unions and that, in 1984, Germany was the first country in Europe where this 35-hour workweek could be gained by a six-week union-organized strike.

Today, it is necessary, particularly in the international industrial factories, to fight for the 30-hour workweek with full wage compensation, that is, the six-hour working day with full wage compensation. This demand is directed against shifting the burden of crises onto the backs of the workers; it is an offensive thrust of the working-class movement in the struggle against mass unemployment at the cost of the employers' profits. Above all, the workers must learn to conduct the struggle so that they can use the fruit of social progress and gain them for the working class and the working masses. Only when the working class develops its own political economy will it understand why a new society without exploitation and oppression is necessary and will join the struggle for genuine socialism.

On the background of the world economic crisis, the political contradictions in the struggle for the redivision of the world between the international monopolies and the imperialist countries have intensified as well. This is the actual reason for the increasing warlike activities of the imperialists as well as for the so-called international war against terrorism triggered by the USA after September 11, 2001. It became obvious very quickly that the attack on Afghanistan was only a pretext and had been planned long before in order to secure the raw material resources particularly in the north of Afghanistan. In these processes, new German imperialism has abandoned its former military self-restraint.

Whereas for fifty years the deployment of German troops abroad was prohibited, today German soldiers are operating in twelve crisis centers of the world: in Somalia and Afghanistan, they have currently even taken over the leadership of the international troops. This characterizes a new stage of aggression of German imperialism as well as an intensification of the general danger of war. Willi Dickhut has foreseen this development; but he always emphasized that, with the intensification of the general crisis of capitalism, the conditions for a new upsurge of the struggle for socialism improve. Under economic aspects, the internationalization of production is nothing else but a higher stage of socialization of production on an international scale. This prepares what Lenin called the "united socialist states of the world". Imperialism stands in the way of this development!

This is the problem which the international revolution must solve!

Dear colleagues, dear friends and comrades:

Since last Monday, 135,000 metal workers in Baden Württemberg are on strike.

It is actually remarkable that this strike in connection with collective bargaining does take place at all. It was in the middle of April that Chancellor Schröder participated in a meeting of the IG Metall executive committee for the purpose of consulting on how to prevent this strike. Schröder understood that once the strike began the workers would not only fight for completely fulfilling the union demand of a wage increase of 6.5 percent and an increase of the trainee compensation of 77 Euro.

The mood in the factories was reaching the boiling point. The warning strikes accompanying the negotiations more and more developed into a powerful warning strike movement in which a total of 900,000 metal workers participated. Already the strike ballot – with results of more than 85 percent of those entitled to vote in Berlin-Brandenburg for strike, and more than 90 percent in Baden Württemberg for strike – was a political rebuff for Schröder, who explicitly opposed every strike. Under this impression it was hardly possible for the IG Metall union leadership to reach a foul compromise with the Federation of the Employers’ Associations and "Gesamtmetall" without losing their face.

However, this strike is explicitly organized by the IG Metall union leadership in such a way that it does not go beyond the basis of class collaboration policy. For instance, in each factory concerned the strike is intended to last only one day, if possible, to be continued the next day in another plant.

The declared goal of this so called flexible tactic of selective strike is to "do the least possible harm" to industry. What kind of a strange goal is this? To wage a struggle so that it has the least possible effect? That means nothing else than organizing a concession to the militant mood of the workers so that they let off steam. The reformist union bosses don’t care a damn about the interests of the workers! Willi Dickhut taught that the class consciousness of the workers can only develop in connection with union-organized and self-organized struggles.

For this reason it is the most important task of our factory groups in the current situation to initiate and develop higher the struggles of the white- and blue-collar workers. These struggles must be waged as a school for class struggle, as a school of the struggle for socialism and the building of the revolutionary party of the working class. Everything else is reformism and has nothing to do with revolutionary strategy and tactics. When the workers launch a strike, this is in a symbolic sense also an act of withdrawing from wage labor at least temporarily and determining their labor power themselves. This liberty that the workers take in a strike is of fundamental significance.

A person who has not learned – in the struggle for the preservation and improvement of wage and working conditions – to take the liberty of self-determination in respect to his labor power in a strike, how is he going to be able to fight for the abolition of the exploitative wage system?! So a strike is not primarily about pushing through the concrete demands, it has to do much more with a strike really becoming a school for the development of the class consciousness and class struggle. This is why the struggles of the workers in connection with collective bargaining always have to be waged with the orientation that Karl Marx gave us already:

Down with the wage system!

Although the rightist union leadership strives to avoid struggles if possible, and thus hampers the development of the class consciousness, it is nevertheless necessary to develop active and constructive work in the unions. Willi Dickhut for many years personally engaged in such a constructive union work in the city of Solingen. He didn’t do it in order to subordinate himself to the policy of class reconciliation of the reformist union bureaucracy but to make the unions fighting organizations for the improvement of the wage and working conditions and to carry the spirit of class struggle, of socialism into the unions. This cannot be done, however, when you are only in opposition to the union leadership. Many workers whose class consciousness is not so developed yet could misunderstand this as rejection of the unions. The necessity of organizing the workers in the trade-unions corresponds to the gradual rousing and advancing of the class consciousness. For this, the union, as class organization of the workers, is a necessary precondition. But Willi Dickhut also taught us to take a militant position not only in trade union work.

He was also of the opinion that a unity of action, e.g., in the fight against the NATO war on Afghanistan, must only be engaged in on the basis of struggle.

Because only on the basis of struggle can such a unity of political forces lead to a higher development of the struggle.

Mere symbolic actions or alliances without struggle, though, can only create confusion and encourage bourgeois and petty-bourgeois ideas and methods in the working-class and people’s movement. The significance of struggle as the basis for developing the class consciousness has become an important feature of the systematic rank-and-file work of the MLPD. Willi Dickhut embodied this basic attitude in his own life. This is also expressed in the final assessment of his own life as he himself made it:

"I have been fighting all my life."

Dear colleagues, dear friends and comrades:

Everyone who actively participates in the struggle in factory and union, the active resistance against the war, the struggle for the liberation of women or the rebellion of youth, will learn quickly that the struggle needs a perspective which lies beyond the capitalist society. But for such a struggle, an organization for class struggle is needed. Such an organization for class struggle is the revolutionary working-class party, the MLPD. From the beginning, Willi Dickhut fought for the goal that the re-establishment of the revolutionary working-class party was indeed carried out primarily by working-class cadres. By concentrating on work in the factories and trade unions, in the beginning of party building it had to be achieved that the organization concentrated on winning and educating working-class cadres from the large-scale industrial enterprises. Without such a proletarian foundation there has been the danger from the beginning that the young Marxist-Leninist movement in Germany would be flooded by the petty-bourgeois student movement.

Because in the beginning of the seventies, Marxism-Leninism had become quite fashionable particularly among petty-bourgeois students. Tens of thousands of them joined Marxist-Leninist circles and organizations and thus carried various petty-bourgeois bad habits into the young Marxist-Leninist and working-class movement: dogmatism, sectarianism, arrogance and conceitedness in respect to the masses, as well as ideological-political confusion, revisionism and Trotskyism, and ,above all, a strongly developed petty-bourgeois claim to leadership. To form a Marxist-Leninist party in all this commotion was the central task that Willi Dickhut set himself. But there were also setbacks and a number of mistakes. The situation that all essential preconditions for the founding of the party were created did not ripen until 1982.

The party had a backbone of proletarian cadres up to the central level. In all regions and big cities of West Germany there existed party groups and the youth league of the party. The ideological-political line of the MLPD was developed in all essential questions and gave a fundamental guidance to the systematic rank-and-file work of the party. But above all, the members and cadres of the Party had learned – in the great debates against the restoration of capitalism in China after the death of Mao Zedong and against the international liquidationism of Enver Hoxha of the Party of Labor of Albania – to defend Marxism-Leninism and the ideological-political line of the MLPD against all attacks and liquidators. This enormously strengthened the Party ideologically-politically and made the organization more mature in a decisive way.

On June 20, 1982, that means twenty years ago, the Marxist-Leninist Party of Germany (MLPD) was founded in Bochum.

The Resolution on the Founding of the Party reads:

With confidence in the working class we have created ... on the basis of the dialectical unity of party building and class struggle, of learning and fighting, all necessary preconditions for the revolutionary party of the proletariat....

This only was possible because the KABD (the Communist Workers’ League of Germany) understood how to make criticism and self-criticism, the law of development of the revolutionary party, become the common property of all members and leadership levels in a movement of criticism and self-criticism.

Thus we overcame the petty-bourgeois mode of thinking, the circle stage and the petty-bourgeois style of work to a high degree and strengthened our organization through the application of the Marxist style of work. (Resolution zur Gründung der Partei, Fifth Central Delegates’ Meeting of the KABD, 1982)

After the founding of the party, the party step by step extended its activities to other social fields. It took part in parliamentary elections, started work on behalf of international solidarity, participated in the peace struggle with the large peace movements of 1981 to 1983, and in the late eighties started systematic work among the broad masses of women.

Together with these substantial experiences there were also a number of mistakes made, which had one common root: a violation of the dialectical method. Therefore we came to the conclusion after the Fourth Party Congress in 1991 that the Party must succeed in avoiding mistakes for the purpose of solving the complicated problem of the relative isolation of the Party and becoming party of the masses.

In this situation, Willi Dickhut put up the thesis "that the party must work on the basis of the proletarian mode of thinking."

This thesis of Willi Dickhut, which he put up at the end of his long work in the revolutionary and working-class movement, simultaneously contains Willi Dickhut’s legacy.

The struggle over the mode of thinking is a fundamental task for developing the class consciousness of the workers, for party building and also for the building of socialism. Only when we succeed in realizing the doctrine of the mode of thinking in a comprehensive way in our party work will we be able to master the high demands of class struggle today.

After Willi Dickhut’s death in 1992, the Central Committee began to elaborate the doctrine of the mode of thinking in a comprehensive way and published it in 1995 (in German) in the book: The Struggle over the Mode of Thinking in the Working-Class Movement. Since then, the Party has systematically assimilated the doctrine of the mode of thinking and made important progress in all fields. The main point was to understand our entire work as a conscious application of the dialectical method and to reject in a determined way every manifestation of petty-bourgeois vanity, arrogance, sectarianism, hostility to the masses, opportunism and pragmatism. The doctrine of the mode of thinking is based on Mao Zedong’s realization that the struggle between the proletarian and bourgeois world outlooks is also reflected within the working class, within the Marxist-Leninist party and also in socialism in the form of the struggle between the proletarian and petty-bourgeois modes of thinking. The masses must successfully deal with the petty-bourgeois mode of thinking, otherwise they will not be able to liberate themselves in the society-changing struggle. The main problem is that the petty-bourgeois mode of thinking deeply penetrated into the working class because of certain reforms from above and material improvements after the Second World War. The petty-bourgeois mode of thinking laid itself like a veil over the class consciousness of the working class, causing a long time of relative calm in the class struggle such as had not been the case since the beginning of capitalism. Since the reforms from above were dismantled, the class struggle has been developing. The class consciousness of the workers awakened, important and remarkable mass struggles of the workers took place which shook the system.

The Kohl government had to go in 1998 mainly because there had been massive workers’ struggles for the defense of wage and working conditions and also against the law where the Kohl government intended to cut the continued payment of wages in case of illness.

Since then, the MLPD has managed to extend its mass influence considerably, in particular during the last few years.

But party building nevertheless advances very slowly. During the past months we made important and intensive experience how party building can be systematized and accelerated. When we began the election campaign in Saxony-Anhalt last year we did not have a single local branch there. Through the concentrated initiative of the entire party and its youth league we achieved that the MLPD is now present in Saxony-Anhalt in 21 of 23 cities with more than 20,000 inhabitants. In addition to those, there are three small towns, so that now we are represented in 24 cities and towns. We now have more than 300 applications for membership to the Party and the Rebell from all over Germany. One of the new comrades writes: "Since I was young I have adopted the teachings of Marxism-Leninism, internationalism has become something that is very near to my heart. Particularly today – this is how I see it – it is necessary to help the ideas of Marxism-Leninism be put into practice and thus to bring about a fundamental change of society."

The hit right now among the reasons for applying for membership is the following:

"To get active on behalf of a future for the young generation and take over responsibility for that in the MLPD."

In the past weeks since the election, 21 comrades from the youth league Rebell traveled through Saxony-Anhalt to organize the young people who wanted to be admitted to the Rebell. As a result of this activity, to date they have been able to establish seven new youth groups of Rebell! But just like membership in the MLPD, the organized rebellion also calls for a conscious self-transformation. Several youths who wanted to join were full of indignation in the beginning because they regularly had to pay membership dues in Rebell:

"What are you talking about? I thought the Rebell does something for us!?"

But the world is not changed by the Marxist-Leninists for the masses, this can only be the result of self-liberation!

Willi Dickhut laid the foundation for the Marxist-Leninist youth mass league to be implemented as a school of life of the proletarian mode of thinking for the masses of youth. He developed a principled criticism of tendencies to boss the youth league around or separate it ideologically-politically from the party; he called for the ideological-political leadership by the Party and determined commitment to the organizational independence of the youth league so that it can fulfill its task. The development of the MLPD as party of the masses is a decisive condition for a new upswing of the struggle for socialism in Germany. This stands or falls with our successfully preserving and developing further Willi Dickhut’s lifework. It is our responsibility that we see to it – in the spirit of his lifelong work – that his dream of the society liberated from exploitation and oppression, genuine socialism, comes true. The MLPD will not put Willi Dickhut on a pedestal so that he can bless us from above so to speak. If we adopt Willi Dickhut’s lifework, the point is to learn from Willi Dickhut, from his unbroken confidence in victory, from his ties with the masses, his unbounded wealth of ideas, his strong purposefulness, his systematic work, his discipline, and his proletarian ambition and will, which helped him never to go under – not even in the concentration camp or when he was in prison, sentenced to death.

What I always liked about Willi Dickhut was that everything he had achieved in his life was not the result of a miracle that can hardly be understood, but the result of a mode of thinking and a style of work that we can also adopt, every one of us.

Willi lived according to this philosophy of life:

"We as communists must be able to do everything. We only have to tackle it."

I want to finish my speech with an important demand of Willi Dickhut at the end of his life:

"Follow my example."

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