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March 2006: Contribution of the Marxist-Leninist Party of Germany (MLPD) to the book project on the Cultural Revolution

I.1. A short introduction to Germany and the history of its workers' and people's struggles

Germany is a leading imperialist country at the stage of development of state-monopoly capitalism; economically it is the strongest country in the European Union (EU). With more than 82 million inhabitants it also has the biggest population in the EU. Thirty-five million people are gainfully employed, 85 percent of them are in dependent employment. Forty-five percent of the gainfully employed are women; the labor force participation rate of women is about 66 percent. In late 2005, 6.8 million of the wage-earning workforce were organized in unions of the German Trade Union Federation (DGB).

The Marxist-Leninist work of the MLPD in factories and trade unions among the about 6 million blue- and white-collar workers in the big industrial factories is the main line of struggle of the MLPD. Here it concentrates 50 percent of its forces.

In the first stage of the class struggle, the stage of relative calm or the non-revolutionary situation, our strategic goal is to win the class-conscious workers in the 500 biggest industrial enterprises over to socialism; today up to three million workers are employed in these industrial enterprises.

We combine our strategy of winning over the decisive majority of the working class for genuine socialism with involving the broad masses in the struggle against the monopolies and the government. We place special emphasis on Marxist-Leninist work among the masses of women. The militant women's movement constitutes a strategic link between the working-class movement und the movement of the petty-bourgeois strata. In our youth work, we organize the rebellion of the youth with the MLPD youth league, Rebell. Today, Rebell is the biggest youth league left of the "Young Socialists," the youth league of the Social-Democratic Party (SPD).

After more than 37 years of systematic work and continuous progress in Marxist-Leninist party building, the MLPD has at present got its highest number of members and its biggest influence among the masses. Meanwhile, the party is active in about 500 towns und regions in all federal states of Germany in the East and the West; it carries out systematic work among the rank and file in more than 20 percent of the biggest industrial enterprises, and, in organizational terms, is directly present in about 50 percent of these enterprises. Yet our work is still limited to 5 to 10 million people in Germany. This means that the MLPD is a party which still must primarily build itself up and become the party of the masses.

Germany has a long history of workers' and people's struggles, rich in tradition. In the early bourgeois revolution in the 16th century, the masses of peasants under the leadership of Thomas Müntzer rose against feudal exploitation and oppression. They were defeated, battered and bleeding. Yet in their defeat, with their heads held high they predicted, "Our grandchildren will fight it out better…."

When in 1848 a wave of bourgeois-democratic revolutions seized the whole of Europe, workers and craftsmen played a prominent role in Germany. They were the main carriers of strikes, struggles on the barricades and armed revolts. However, the German bourgeoisie threw away its victory over feudal rule, for fear of the fighting working class, instead forming an alliance with the feudal Junkers; this alliance was the breeding-ground for the particularly reactionary and aggressive German imperialism until 1945, which also generated Hitler fascism. When Hitler fascism was smashed, feudal remains in Germany were smashed, too. Since the middle of the 19th century, the Germans Karl Marx and Frederick Engels developed scientific socialism. Their main works like Capital and the Communist Manifesto are also studied today by progressive workers and young people and begin to have a renaissance on the background of the latent political crisis.

When Germany fomented the First World War in 1914, it became obvious that the formerly revolutionary Social Democracy had changed from a revolutionary into an opportunist party. Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg were the first to excoriate this betrayal. Attracted by the signal of the Russian October Revolution, the German workers and soldiers stopped the war by way of the November Revolution. German history was at a crossroads. A victory of the revolutionary workers and soldiers would have paved the way for a socialist Germany, for an alliance with the Soviet Union and possibly for a wildfire of the world revolution. But the working-class movement was not yet strong enough to chase away not only the emperor and the noblemen, but also the entire rule of monopoly capital. It was not until December 1918 that the organizational break with Social Democracy was carried out by founding the revolutionary Communist Party of Germany (KPD). The lack of the revolutionary workers' party was the main reason for the painful defeat of the revolutionary German proletariat in the November Revolution.

Under the leadership of the KPD, the masses revolutionized in the early 1930s. Thereupon, the monopolies changed their social mainstay and, with the help of a demagogy using socialist terms, established a fascist dictatorship in 1933. It was a result of the split in the working class that the establishment of the fascist dictatorship could not be prevented. The reformist Social Democracy was mainly responsible for this split, which, however, was also abetted by sectarian errors of the KPD and the Communist International. Over decades, the German proletariat was not able to recover from this second historical defeat in the 20th century.

At the end of the Second World War, the anti-Hitler coalition had crushed the fascist monopoly dictatorship. The Potsdam Agreement, mainly based on the proposals of the Soviet Union and negotiated between the victorious powers, USSR, USA and Great Britain, intended to deprive German imperialism of its power and, at the same time, maintain the German nation. Workers rebuilt the factories, often against the will of the Western military authorities. Very soon, however, due to the change of US policy towards Germany, the Western occupying powers helped the German monopoly capitalists back into power. By founding the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) on May 23, 1949, they divided Germany and advanced the rise of new German imperialism. From then on, new German imperialism was the spearhead of the imperialist world system against the Soviet Union, still socialist at the time, and against socialist construction in the Eastern European countries and the German Democratic Republic (GDR).

The Potsdam Agreement was implemented only in the Soviet zone of occupation. On the basis of denazification [Note: The eradication of Nazi influence, the removal of Nazis from business and public life], the expropriation of war and Nazi criminals as well as of big landowners, an antifascist democratic order was established as a concrete form of the dictatorship of the proletariat. In response to the division of Germany by the Western powers, the GDR was founded on October 7, 1949. In the subsequent years, out of the masses' initiative and with the support of the Soviet Union, the hopeful transition towards a people's democracy, towards the first socialist society on German soil, developed.

Upon the restoration of capitalism in the Soviet Union after the 20th Party Congress of the CPSU in February 1956, the GDR, too, changed into a bureaucratic-capitalist society. The building of the Berlin Wall in 1961 was a declaration of failure of the bureaucratic-capitalist system of the GDR and, at the same time, reflected the intensified rivalry of the superpowers. In the revisionist GDR, the Marxist-Leninist forces and party were banned and brutally prosecuted. The works of Mao Zedong and Stalin ended up in the bureaucrats' safes. Owing to these difficult conditions, the rebuilding of the Marxist-Leninist Party since the late 1960s could at first begin only in West Germany.

The GDR, particularly in the 1980s, increasingly suffered from a deep technological and economic setback compared to the West. This resulted in a constantly deepening contradiction to the preservation of social achievements. On this basis, and as a result of a distinctive bureaucratic bossism [Note: People were held in leading strings and told what to do], pseudo-socialist phrasemaking [Note: Bureaucratic-capitalist content disguised with socialist-sounding phrases] and political oppression, deep disappointment emerged among the masses; in 1989, a broad democratic people's movement developed, which reached its climax with the mass demonstrations in autumn 1989 and forced the Honecker regime to resign. On November 9, with the fall of the Berlin Wall, the symbol of divided Germany fell, too. The reunification was the result of the democratic people's movement of the GDR and of the deep wish of the entire German people to overcome the split of the nation. Thus the national question in Germany could be solved peacefully. But because the reunification did not happen under socialist conditions, it became possible to absorb the GDR into the political and economic power sphere of West German monopoly capital. Now, the task and the possibility arose to advance the building of the MLPD in Germany as a whole and to overcome the unnatural division of the working class.

The relative stabilization of capitalism in the FRG led to a long-lasting stage of the class struggle without a revolutionary situation. Since the 1980s, however, the development of class consciousness turned. In 1996, class consciousness awoke on a broad front; the working-class struggles for economic demands increasingly adopted an independent character and combined with political demands. There is a transition from single struggles to mass struggles. An increasing part of the masses, in particular among the youth, looks for a social alternative. The trend in Germany in the working-class movement clearly moves in the direction of the working-class offensive, which constitutes a special form of the strategic counteroffensive of the working class, decisively driving forward the transition from the strategic defensive towards the strategic offensive in the class struggle.

On November 1, 2003, an independent mass demonstration against the government with more than 100,000 participants was successfully organized in Berlin – against the will of the reformist trade-union bureaucracy, of the "critics of globalization," Attac, and the revisionist Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS, successor organization of the Socialist Unity Party, SED). This was the biggest independently organized mass demonstration since the Second World War and stood under the decisive influence of the MLPD. In this situation, the 2004 contract negotiations in the metal industry evolved increasingly into a test of power between the working class on the one hand and the government and the monopolies on the other. In a provocative way, the employers' associations had demanded an unpaid prolongation of the workweek to 40 hours and a reduction of real wages. In the face of the activities of 500,000 participants in the struggles, the General Confederation of Employers' Associations of the Metal Industry and the leadership of the Metal Workers Industrial Union (IGM) backed out in order to defuse the situation. When, in the following summer and autumn, leading international corporations subsequently tried to revise the results of the contract agreements and to extort from the workforces the prolongation of the workweek without wage compensation, plus other concessions, there began a series of corporation-wide struggles, among others at Bosch, Siemens and DaimlerChrysler. In October 2004, the 7,600 Opel (General Motors) workers in Bochum launched a seven-day independent strike combined with a blockade and occupation of the factory. At its climax, on October 19, 2004, the international day of action of the GM workers took place with a hundred thousand participants in demonstrations, along with strikes in factories in Belgium, Brazil, Germany, England, Poland, Austria, Portugal, Spain and other countries. This day of struggle ushered in the transition to the working-class offensive on a broad front, which entailed a new quality of the class struggle. The Opel workers frustrated the aim of the General Motors management to close the Bochum Opel works. The reformist leadership of the metalworkers' union and rightist works council members stopped the strike by manipulative means, and in the following years several thousand jobs were cut, however avoiding open mass layoffs [Note: Various other means are used to whittle down the workforce]. The struggle gave a signal all across Germany, and since then the slogan has been circulating, "Fight like the Opel workers." Without the organizing activity of the MLPD party factory group, such a strike was inconceivable.

Ties to Social Democracy increasingly dissolve, in particular among the workers. A downright process of erosion of the mass base of the monopolies' dictatorship took place which was reflected in an increasing number of people staying away from and boycotting parliamentary elections. In spring 2006, there was an upswing of trade-union and independent struggles. The employees in the public service sector carried out their longest struggle since the existence of the Federal Republic; the strike was directed against provocative demands of the public employers to extend weekly working hours to 40 without paying for the extra hours. After the public employers failed to force the public service workers’ union, ver.di, into capitulation, they increasingly went over to proceed against the strikers with disciplinary measures and partly even the use of police. The MLPD with its comrades in public institutions took an active influence with a series of leaflets, orienting now to go into the offensive politically instead of ending the strike with bad compromises.

Simultaneously, the intermediate strata in Germany have increasingly begun to move. In the years 2003 to 2005, about 6.6 million people went out into the streets. The new people's movement in parts expressly refers to the workers' movement and leans towards it. This is also true for a clearly invigorated and politicized student movement. Also, the peace and the antifascist movements are active in Germany. In the environmental movement, a new awakening is in the offing linked with digesting the betrayal of the former environmental party, The Greens.

At the same time, the living conditions of the broad masses in Germany deteriorate drastically. While the standard of living rose constantly until the mid 1970s, an increasing mass unemployment as a permanent phenomenon emerged in Germany since that time, a result of the international structural crisis. It intensified considerably in the new millennium. In real terms, there are now about 7.8 million unemployed and about 9.8 million underemployed people in Germany. Thus, about 50 percent of the wage earning population are either unemployed or underemployed. Due to mass unemployment, general wage reduction and the wrecking of social reforms, appearances of general destitution come up as we have known to date mainly from neocolonially dependent and oppressed countries. Today, 860,000 people in Germany are acutely threatened by homelessness, millions live under the poverty line, among them 1.5 million children under 14 years of age.

By mid 2004, a nationwide "Monday demonstration movement" developed which since then goes out into the streets every Monday, mainly against the anti-people social policies of the government. At its climax in August 2004, it embraced more than 250,000 people who took to the streets in almost all German cities with the slogan "Down with Hartz IV!" (which is the name of the "job market reforms") – "We are the people!" To counter this upswing of peoples' protests, the state installed political centers to analyze the situation and coordinate the activities of intelligence, state apparatus and mass media. Owing to the disinformation of public opinion and the split by rightist trade-union and "Attac" leaders, the number of participants decreased in the end of 2004. Simultaneously, it is a novelty in German history that, since then, about 10,000 people go onto the streets every Monday in more than 100 cities. They generated forms of direct democracy like the election of delegates to the national Monday demonstration assemblies, open microphones for all and a culture of debate in solidarity. Today, they are considered the "social conscience" in Germany and are inseparably linked with the rank-and-file work of the MLPD.

At present, the extension of the European Union is an important new challenge to the workers' class consciousness. Those in rule present it as a peaceful reunification of divided Europe. In reality, it is a neocolonial integration of ten countries exploited and oppressed by imperialism, especially in Eastern Europe. In order to divide up the new markets among the 150 West European supermonopolies, the EU set up an investment program of 40.8 billion euros. Under the program, each enterprise will get between 37 and 70 percent state subsidies, tax relief or other benefits if it invests in the new EU countries in the next years or transfers its production there. This is the reason for a number of transfers of parts of factories from Germany to these countries. Those in rule as well as the reformist trade-union leaders divert attention from this neocolonial course by asserting that the transfer mainly takes place because of the low wages and longer working hours in the new EU countries. This economistic propaganda has the purpose to drive the workers into merciless competition against the workers of these countries so that workers here accept massive wage reductions and the prolongation of weekly working hours to 40, without wage compensation. However, it is an illusion that this could prevent the neocolonial offensive and the transfer of parts of production. With an average 7.9 percent proportion of wages to sales in industry, even if wages here were 50 to 70 percent lower the proportion would hardly decrease. To see through all this requires a higher class consciousness so that the workers can cope with this new stage of competition among them and launch cross-border struggles. As long as capitalism exists, there is competition among the workers. The reorganization of international production added competition among the individual countries to competition in national production. It is very important that the workers realize beyond borders that they all belong to one and the same class and that they not allow themselves to be played off against the workers of other nations. The reformist trade-union bureaucracy, for instance, tries to split up the workers with slogans aiming to preserve certain local or national industry locations at the cost of others, etc.

The MLPD has set itself the task to organize the strategic counteroffensive of the working class and to promote the development of class struggle from the stage of the non-revolutionary situation to the stage of the acutely revolutionary situation. In this process, it can look back on very positive results. In the last years, the MLPD succeeded in moving and leading masses of people. At focal points of the working-class movement and also of the women's, youth and peace movements it could adopt a crucial role. The Seventh Party Congress set the main task to make party building the leading factor in the class struggle. This calls mainly for overcoming any form of worshipping of spontaneity. Only in the unity of the objective and the subjective factor can the party of the masses emerge and mature. Class contradictions will sharpen considerably, but nobody can predict how the class struggle will develop concretely. The MLPD must be prepared for everything and must put party building into the center of its work as the leading factor.

 

I.2. What influence did China's struggle against revisionism after the 20th CPSU Party Congress, and the beginning of the Cultural Revolution in 1966, have on the founding of your party?

Subsequent to the seizure of power by the new bourgeoisie at the 20th CPSU Party Congress in February 1956, the formerly revolutionary Communist Party of Germany also changed into a revisionist party. At the same time, an open discussion within the KPD had been made impossible because the West German imperialists banned the KPD in the same year. However, Willi Dickhut – who was a KPD member since 1926 and became a co-founder of the MLPD – got hold of Chinese literature translated into German to form his own opinion about the differences between the CPSU and the CP of China. In his memoirs, Was geschah danach? (What happened then?) he wrote:

In 1965, the Chinese communists published the 650 page writing "Polemic on the General Line of the International Communist Movement" in German. It was an outstanding debate with the modern revisionism of the Soviet leadership, Khrushchov in particular, and a great help in the international ideological-political discussion. Instead of taking up this help and comparing the contents of the Polemic with the Soviet material…, like my wife and I did, [the regional KPD leadership] condemned and denigrated everything that came from China or Albania, without knowing a thing about it. We were insulted as "slit-eyes" and "Chinese." (p. 408)

At first, Willi Dickhut tried to counter the revisionist degeneration within the KPD with a principle-based ideological-political struggle. Leaning on the "Proposal for the General Line of the International Communist Movement," he had made an elaboration on the differences between the CPSU and the CP of China as a basis for discussion within the KPD. The West German revisionists, for the first time within the party confronted with a concentrated summary of the criticism initiated by Mao Zedong, did not have anything to counter it. They used the illegality of the party to suppress a broader discussion and categorically demanded, "cancel the material from Beijing." When Willi Dickhut refused, they resorted to administrative means. In 1966, Willi Dickhut, after 40 years of membership, was expelled from the KPD by the revisionist leadership.

In the GDR, which degenerated into revisionism after the 1956 20th Party Congress of the CPSU, the Chinese texts on the criticism of revisionism were never published. In 2002, a former inhabitant of the GDR reported:

Mao Zedong Thought about the Cultural Revolution was kept under wraps or consciously denigrated by the SED leadership. For good reason, too, as we know today. In its last years, democratic centralism in the SED had sunk deeper and deeper into a mechanism for sanctioning decisions submitted "from the top." Independent control was completely out of the question. (Quoted from: Dokumentation der Veranstaltungsreihe zum Lebenswerk von Willi Dickhut [Documentation of the Series of Public Meetings on the Lifework of Willi Dickhut], Essen, 2002, p. 236)

In 1967-68, members of the illegal KPD strove to call the revisionists to account, thoroughly and unconditionally, by publishing the magazine Spartakus. In their contribution, "Problems of the Marxist-Leninists," dated September/October 1967, they wrote:

No serious lessons were drawn even from the most alarming events of June 17, 1953 [workers' unrest against bureaucratic measures of the SED leadership – the author]…. After these events at the latest, fundamental changes would have been a necessity. An all-embracing cultural revolution under the conditions of the then circumstances in the GDR would have been necessary to renew the party on a revolutionary basis, in accordance with the principles of Marxism-Leninism, and to clean it of all disgraceful elements.

In History of the MLPD, the development was assessed:

Above all, it was the Cultural Revolution in China in 1966-67 which helped the comrades to deeply assess their personal experiences with the revisionist phenomena in the KPD/SED in a principle-based criticism of revisionism. They directed the main thrust of their criticism against the petty-bourgeois lifestyle of the functionaries in the SED, which they considered the main cause of the revisionist degeneration. (Part I, Essen, 1986, English ed. 2000, p. 23)

In a summary in the book, The Struggle over the Mode of Thinking in the Working-Class Movement, we stated that the starting point for rebuilding the Marxist-Leninist Party in Germany was the

fight against modern revisionism and the defense of Marxism-Leninism as the ideological foundation of the party. The guidepost was the "Polemic on the General Line of the International Communist Movement" that was carried on between the CP of China and the CP of the Soviet Union in 1963 as well as the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution initiated by Mao Zedong in 1966. This dispute climaxed in West Germany in the break with the parties and organizations of modern revisionism and the beginning of the building of a new Marxist-Leninist party. (Essen, 1995, English ed. 1996, pp. 113-114)

With the beginning of rebuilding the Marxist-Leninist party in the late 1960s, the struggle over the proletarian line unfolded.

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 US war of aggression were a great inspiration for the revolutionaries all over the world to take up the struggle against modern revisionism. In Germany, mainly many young people joined the new Marxist-Leninist and working-class movement.

Willi Dickhut was one of the first few cadres of the old KPD who in late 1968 undertook to rebuild the revolutionary workers' party in Germany. Before a new Marxist-Leninist party might be built, the revisionist degeneration of the old KPD had to be proved scientifically. Anything else would have effected an unpardonable split of the revolutionary working-class movement. Also, Willi Dickhut proposed not to found a new party right away, but to first create the necessary ideological, political and organizational preconditions for a new-type revolutionary workers' party in Germany. By this he did not mean the bolshevization of the communist parties as in the 1920s, but fundamental conclusions from the revisionist degeneration of a major part of the old communist movement and from the restoration of capitalism in most of the formerly socialist countries. This direction embodied the proletarian line in rebuilding the Marxist-Leninist party, which had to assert itself and hold its ground in a sharp struggle against the petty-bourgeois stamp being put on the Marxist-Leninist movement, which was the cause of a wave of splits, disorganization and liquidationism aimed at the young Marxist-Leninist movement.

Subsequent to the decay of the petty-bourgeois student movement, and attracted by the development in China and Indochina as well as by the 1969 September strikes in Germany, tens of thousands of petty-bourgeois students turned to Marxism-Leninism in the late 1960s/early 1970s. A downright competition emerged among them who could launch the one and only and, of course, "leading" new Marxist-Leninist party, beating his drums the loudest and producing the thickest piles of paper. The result were 152 organizations and parties in 1972 with the pretension to be Marxist-Leninist – an awful splittism and confusion. The leaders of the petty-bourgeois ML movement were incapable of understanding, let alone implementing, the mass line. They did not succeed in linking deeply with the proletariat, learning from it, merging with it and adopting a proletarian mode of thinking. Instead, they attempted to build the organizations and parties in conformity with their petty-bourgeois images and goals. Dogmatism, revisionism, sectarianism and opportunism as well as petty-bourgeois claim to leadership determined the ideological-political bases of the petty-bourgeois movement, which, of course, was doomed to failure. When the spontaneous ML movement subsided in the mid 1970s, most of these petty-bourgeois students proved incapable of drawing correct conclusions from their defeat. They proved their total lack of character by quickly returning to the fold of the bourgeoisie, withdrawing to private life or joining the petty-bourgeois Green party or the modern revisionists. Naturally, this was not done without vehemently attacking Marxism-Leninism, Mao Zedong Thought and, in particular, the concept of the Great Proletarian Revolution as the alleged cause of their failure.

Above all, they were incapable of applying Marxism-Leninism and Mao Zedong Thought in an all-around way to the concrete reality of state-monopoly capitalism in Germany. It is Willi Dickhut's special merit that a fundamental refutation of the revisionist line of the KPD/DKP was elaborated in the theoretical organ Revolutionärer Weg, first published in 1969. The fight against modern revisionism runs through all 31 numbers of Revolutionärer Weg published up to 2003. Willi Dickhut considered the necessity to analyze the restoration of capitalism in the Soviet Union one of his first tasks. Beset by greatest difficulties and exerting greatest efforts, he set about to prove in an all-around way the process of restoration of capitalism in the Soviet Union. In 1971-72, his book of the same name appeared, The Restoration of Capitalism in the Soviet Union. Today, it exists in at least six world languages and was internationally distributed in tens of thousands of copies. This comprehensive theoretical work was connected with the concentration on the main line of struggle, that is, work in factories and trade unions, and winning over and educating proletarian cadres.

The victory of the proletarian line in party building climaxed in the divorce from the petty-bourgeois ML movement, which was carried out by founding the Communist Workers' League of Germany (KABD) – the forerunner organization of the MLPD – in August 1972. The League’s Declaration of Basic Principles reads:

Admiringly, all real communists look at the historical deed of the Communist Party of China, which held up high the banner of Marxism-Leninism against all attacks of the revisionists. It encouraged the Marxist-Leninist forces all over the world to take up the struggle against the superior strength of revisionism themselves and to unfold a new revolutionary movement. (German edition, p. 20)

After the death of Mao Zedong there was a worldwide wave of modern liquidationism. The restoration of capitalism in China under the leadership of Deng Xiaoping and the attacks by the Party of Labor of Albania split the communist world movement anew.

Since 1977, it became the main feature of a Marxist-Leninist organization whether it persists in and defends Mao Zedong Thought or is taken in by the distortions and slander and fights Mao Zedong Thought. In Germany, the KABD was the only organization which analyzed the events in China correctly from a Marxist-Leninist standpoint. In a short time, seven publications of the series China aktuell appeared (in English entitled China Today):

  • China Today 1, China's leadership is Drifting in the Right Deviationist Wind! (A Documentation of the Development of the Class Struggle in the People's Republic of China), 1977

  • China Today 2, The 'Theory of the Three Worlds' as a Strategic Conception Smacks of Right-Wing Opportunism!, 1978

  • China Today 3, Defend Mao Tsetung Thought! (Open Letter of the KABD Central Leadership to the CC of the Party of Labor of Albania), 1979

  • China Today 4, The Chinese Leadership Destroys the Dictatorship of the Proletariat! (A Documentation on the Restoration of Capitalism in China), 1979

  • China Today 5, Hoxha versus Mao Tsetung, (Defend Marxism-Leninism and Mao Tsetung Thought), 1980

  • China Today 6, From the Restoration of Capitalism to Social Imperialism in China, Part 1: Revisionist Domestic Policy, 1981

  • China Today 7, From the Restoration of Capitalism to Social Imperialism in China, Part 2: Social-Imperialist Foreign Policy, 1981

[Note: The years refer to the German publications; only Nos. 2, 5, 6, 7 were translated into English and published – the translators]

The KABD was not spared the sharp two-line struggle either. Inspired by the great concept of the Proletarian Cultural Revolution, Willi Dickhut, who at the time was also the leader of the Central Control Commission (CCC), developed a new method in the inner-party struggle between lines. In 1976, petty-bourgeois liquidators intended to destroy the KABD from within. Their line boiled down to canceling the orientation of the KABD towards the interests of the broad masses of workers and, therefore, also canceling the mass line and replacing it by the sectarian theory and practice of orientation towards the so-called "progressive workers." In this situation, the CCC mobilized the entire membership in a criticism and self-criticism campaign to defend the correct ideological-political foundations of the organization. In an unprecedented campaign of criticism and self-criticism, the liquidationist positions, which temporarily had been adopted by the entire central leadership, were criticized, rejected and overcome. The liquidators were exposed and isolated, the organization was preserved from destruction, and party building got new impulses. The KABD recognized the petty-bourgeois mode of thinking as the main cause of liquidationism and clarified the fundamental importance of the struggle against the petty-bourgeois mode of thinking for building the revolutionary party. A call-up of 1976 for the criticism and self-criticism movement to prepare the founding of the party read:

We summarize these perspective tasks as the three goals of this criticism and self-criticism movement:

1. overcome the petty-bourgeois mode of thinking and assert the proletarian mode of thinking,

2. overcome the circle stage [Note: A pre-party stage characterized by circles – small, relatively independent units with few links among them] and introduce and consolidate the structures of a full-fledged organization,

3. overcome the petty-bourgeois style of work and assimilate the proletarian, the Marxist style of work.

This was a crucial issue for the successful foundation of the MLPD in 1982.

Subsequent to its foundation, the MLPD extended its work step by step to other social fields: participation in elections, work in international solidarity, participation in the peace struggle, in the struggle for the protection of the natural environment, the antifascist struggle, development of a rank-and-file work among the broad masses of women, etc. In his speech at the public meeting in commemoration of Willi Dickhut on May 9, 2002, the party chairman, Stefan Engel, pointed out:

In all these experiences, a number of errors were made all of which were attributable to one point: a violation of the dialectical method. Therefore, after the Fourth Party Congress in 1991 we drew the conclusion that the party had to succeed in avoiding mistakes in order to resolve the difficult problem of the relative isolation of the party and to become the party of the masses.

In this situation, Willi Dickhut formulated the thesis, "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, also contains the legacy of Willi Dickhut. The struggle over the mode of thinking is a basic task for the development of the class consciousness of the workers, for party building and also for the construction of socialism….

Meanwhile, the party systematically assimilated the doctrine of the mode of thinking and made important progress in all fields. The main purpose was to make all activities a conscious application of the dialectical method and to resolutely rebuff any manifestation of petty-bourgeois vanity, arrogance and self-importance, sectarianism and contempt for the masses, opportunism and pragmatism as well as dogmatism and revisionism.

The doctrine of the mode of thinking foots on the cognition of Mao Zedong that the struggle between the proletarian and the bourgeois world outlooks is reflected within the working class, within the Marxist-Leninist party and also in socialism as a struggle between the proletarian and the petty-bourgeois modes of thinking. The masses must cope with the petty-bourgeois mode of thinking, otherwise they will not be capable of liberating themselves in a struggle to change society.

 

In the meantime, the MLPD could systematically gather experience with the work on the basis of the proletarian mode of thinking.

In this process, the dialectical understanding of the system of self-control crystallized as the key to develop the MLPD further. As early as in the Revolutionärer Weg, No. 15, we pointed out:

The question of the mode of thinking is of such significance for the working-class movement that it must be examined constantly; nay, one must always check who influences whom.

Therefore, from the very beginning of its party building, the MLPD had independent control commissions. The elimination of independent control commissions under Stalin in 1933 expressed an underestimation of the ideological struggle over the mode of thinking. Obviously, the fact that Mao Zedong did not recognize this was an error, as is shown by the negative development of the CP of China after his death.

From this, the MLPD drew the lesson: The systematic struggle over the mode of thinking in the Marxist-Leninist party is guaranteed by the dialectical unity of the three aspects of control. It starts from the point that, besides the control from below through the members' revolutionary vigilance, the self-control of the cadres and members, control also must be organized from the top with the help of independent control commissions. The realization of a proletarian control and self-control of the entire party is the crucial guarantee against the danger of revisionist degeneration and for the further development of the MLPD towards the party of the masses.

 

I.3. Concrete examples of how the MLPD used Marxism-Leninism and Mao Zedong Thought in carrying out struggles and in organizing its work (including Mao's teaching on the mass line)

From the start, the MLPD considered Marxism-Leninism and Mao Zedong Thought a guide to action. Concerning the first years of party building, we already made a few references to it under I.2., and concerning the current situation in Germany, in I.1.

The MLPD basically holds the view that a revolution cannot take place without or against the masses of the people. Therefore, the contradictions within the people must be handled correctly. The guarantee of this is the strict application of the mass line. Patient persuasion work among the working class and the petty-bourgeois intermediate strata for the only conceivable way out means preparing the alliance of struggle of the working class with the petty-bourgeois intelligentsia against imperialism. According to Mao Zedong, it is the development of correct methods for the linkage of the party with the masses that decides on the success of the proletarian class struggle. One of the fundamental conclusions the MLPD draws from this is the importance of the ueberparteilich [meaning literally, above party; not affiliated to a party; see quote on pp. 12-13 below] self-run organizations of the masses and their interrelationship with Marxist-Leninist party building. The book, The Struggle Over the Mode of Thinking in the Working-Class Movement, says about this:

The way in which mass organizations, which had to subject themselves to the "leading role of the communist party" by decree, were turned into policing agencies of the degenerate revisionist bureaucratic capitalists was one of the most repulsive aspects of the restoration of capitalism in the formerly socialist countries. The victory of revisionism had converted the democratic centralism of socialist society into an ossified bureaucratic centralism embodying the new relations of exploitation between the masses and the ruling bureaucracy in the central leadership of the party, state and economy.

Even prior to the destruction of socialism in the Soviet Union, and of the beginnings of socialist construction in the GDR, by the degenerate Khrushchov bureaucracy, bureaucratic-centralistic methods of leadership had increasingly come to the fore. In publicly expressed criticisms of the practices of the SED, one could read among other things:

How must we go about implementing the leading role of the party in mass organizations? Most comrades see it as a matter of filling absolutely all leading positions in the mass organizations, political subdivisions and administrative bodies with comrades from our party… The wrong attitude towards the role of the party causes us to make one mistake after another. Instead of convincing people, we issue orders. That is more convenient, of course. (Neues Deutschland of June, 24, 1949)
(The Struggle Over the Mode of Thinking in the Working-Class Movement, 1996, pp. 229-230)

The MLPD had to draw basic conclusions from various negative experiences. Thus, in the beginning of the 1990s, it corrected its efforts to install a Marxist-Leninist women's organization in favor of supporting the building of a real ueberparteilich women's organization. No. 26 of the theoretical organ of the MLPD, Revolutionärer Weg, pointed out:

The experience in modern industrial production, the educational and cultural level and the growing discontent among the masses are material foundations for the spontaneous striving of the masses for self-organization and independence from the bureaucratic tutelage and bossism of the monopoly parties. Women's share of trade-union membership rose to 31.4 percent by 1993. In major workers' strikes, for instance the struggle of the steelworkers at Krupp in Duisburg-Rheinhausen or the struggle of the miners of Huckelhoven, women's committees were formed to support the strikers.

Many people take the path of self-organization today because they realize they themselves must take action. But in their thinking they are still attached to the ideas and programs of the monopoly parties. They often have an understanding of the work as getting politicians – particularly those of the SPD – to move their behinds and live up to their responsibility to the voters. If the pressure of their action appears to get bourgeois politicians to address the problems of the masses, these people are inclined to relinquish control of their own affairs again. This is where the task of ueberparteilich self-organization begins.

As a genuinely ueberparteilich women's association, Courage was founded in 1991. It made three "trumps" its trademark: 1) true ueberparteilich status; 2) broad democracy; and 3) financial independence. In 1994 a fourth trump was added – internationalism: "Women link worlds."

From a few women's groups, the association grew in just four years to include 65 groups with about 650 members throughout Germany. It unites working-class women and women from the petty-bourgeois intermediate strata in its ranks. That was the answer to the crisis into which petty-bourgeois feminism had fallen.

The activity of the masses under their own responsibility must unfold in the cooperation of people of different world outlooks and party affiliations and through candid ideological-political discussion. Ueberparteilich self-organization, however, can only grow in struggle against the corrosive and disorganizing role of the petty-bourgeois mode of thinking, which seeks to replace self-organization by a petty-bourgeois self-movement in which concern for personal image, favoring of individual persons or groups, disregard for joint decisions, and so on, dominate….

On the basis of experience gained from participating in the women's association Courage, we can generalize the following main characteristics of the interaction between Marxist-Leninist persuasion work and support of ueberparteilich self-organized organizations:

1. Self-organization can only develop on the basis of struggle for the economic, political and cultural rights of the masses.

2. This requires a positive program for the solution of social problems at the expense of monopoly capital [Note: A program of positive proposals/demands for the solution of social problems, forcing monopoly capital to pay the tab].

3. The activities of self-organization must include all the thoughts, feelings and actions of people learning and struggling together; mutual assistance and advice; a culture of solidarity both in celebrating and in mourning.

4. Reaching all decisions by democratic means and by mutual consent requires not only transparent democratic structures but also positive proposals, designs and plans as well as complete publicity concerning differences of opinion.

5. The self-action of the masses develops only if the masses also have full responsibility for making the decisions and carrying out the tasks that have been resolved. This is the only way to learn how to take politics and the control over policy into one's own hands and to increase the self-confidence that is the necessary basis of the self-liberation of the masses.

6.The more forces active in self-organization – forces with differing world outlooks, with or without party affiliations, of different nationalities, class situations, occupations, etc. – the greater its political appeal beyond party lines and the greater its social strength. But the demands on the Marxist-Leninists are then all the greater to establish a close connection with the working-class movement and to convince people that genuine socialism is the only social alternative.

7. The struggle against reformist and revisionist influence and against sectarian petty-bourgeois feminism must be conducted always in a concrete way on the basis of people's own experience in an ongoing collective process of learning.

8. Not mere disassociation from petty-bourgeois views and practices, but only helpful criticism and self-criticism, combined with constructive proposals, will make it easier for petty-bourgeois forces to gradually adopt proletarian thinking.

9. The Marxist-Leninists must develop the ability to take up and promote precisely those initiatives of the masses which advance the purpose of self-liberation and build a close relationship of mutual trust between the Marxist-Leninist party and these ueberparteilich self-organized organizations. (The Struggle Over the Mode of Thinking in the Working-Class Movement, 1996, pp. 229-235)

 

The MLPD attaches crucial significance to the revolutionary, systematic work among the rank and file. With the help of concrete analysis, the party develops convincing agitation and propaganda. It pushes back the reformist and revisionist influence and knows how to work out such slogans and forms of struggle that the workers adopt as their own. As an example, we quote the following excerpts from a report of an MLPD party factory group at the Thyssen Schalker Verein steelworks:

 

At the meeting of our party group, a vehement debate started on the position of the majority of the comrades saying that the workers are just resigned and that there will be no struggle. Subsequently, we decided to gather and investigate the workers' arguments exactly. Then we realized that opinions strongly differed from each other. Some said, "You can't do anything at all"; others: "They do what they want anyway." "We should chase off this bunch of layabouts of the works council." "I will no longer sweat blood for them." "One should do something. If somebody does, I will join."… Herein, the most important parts of preconditions for an independent struggle became clear. Then, on the Wednesday before the workers' assembly, the management's plans for closure were placed on the table. As most important demands, we put forward: Not one worker will be made redundant! Active resistance against mass redundancies! Fight for every job! All the steelworkers together for the 35-hour workweek with full wage compensation!

The will to fight grew. The first step out of the defensive was to seize the initiative. But that did not suffice.

The slogan we spread – transforming the assembly of the workers of a part of the factory into a protest assembly of all the Schalker Verein workers – was aimed at transforming the will to fight into action. The workers took it up. The Schmelzer [Der Schmelzer, The Melter, is a factory newssheet at Thyssen Schalker Verein, written by workers for fellow-workers] was distributed to nearly all the workers of all three shifts. Now, the members of the works council and the DKP had to come out into the open. And there was nothing left for them to do but to agree to the Schmelzer….

Many workers realized that their own experience, our clear demands and the idea of an independent struggle were directly opposed to the reformists: two lines – two roads. The road of the class interests of the working class – the road of class reconciliation and of subjugation under the capitalists. (Quoted in the omnibus edition, The Dialectical Method in the Working-Class Movement [first published as No. 6 of the Revolutionärer Weg series, 1971] - The Dialectical Unity of Theory and Practice, [No. 24 of the series, 1988], English ed. 2002, pp. 351-352)

 

A central issue of party work consists in systematically driving back the influence of the petty-bourgeois reformist mode of thinking. As a concrete example, we would like to give the development in the coal-mining industry in 1997:

When, on February 14, 220,000 people in the Ruhr district went out into the streets under the leadership of the Mine and Energy Workers' Union (IGBE) in the longest human chain in German history, this symbolic protest, according to IGBE chairman Berger, was supposed to have been the "highest form of struggle" against the destruction of 70,000 jobs in coal mining. The Kohl government insolently ignored the protest and, on March 6, at the coal industry summit talks, announced mass layoffs for the first time; it provocatively brushed aside the Berger plan (disguised as "socially balanced," it would have destroyed 45,000 jobs) because it was "not far-reaching enough." This met with rage and indignation among the masses. Thus, the failure of the reformist tactics of restricting activities to symbolic actions opened up the road for independent struggle.

As early as March 5, the Vortrieb [Vortrieb, meaning driving (a mine passage), is a factory newssheet written by workers' editorial teams from different coal mines in Germany and distributed at all German coal mines], acknowledged by the miners ever since it cleared up the dioxin scandal, had called for a "protest strike" at the Hugo mine. After a three-day mass discussion about the way of the struggle, the Hugo miners gave the signal by taking up their independent strike on March 7, against the resistance of the reformist works council members. At midday, already all mines in the Ruhr and the Saar area stood still. About 130,000 employees in the mining industry participated in the 6-day mass strike – the first one of such extent and length in mining for more than 40 years. It was the weakness of this struggle that its radical character and fighting spirit were far greater than the organization and political clarity. Thus the reformists, without encountering much opposition, could spread the class-conciliatory slogan of "struggle for subsidies." Tactically flexible, they also went into the lead of the strike. Although the daily attempts to stop the strike were frustrated by the miners' resistance, the reformists finally succeeded in molding the outcome of the fight in a decisive way. They were supported by the bourgeois mass media. To enable themselves to exert influence on the independent actions of the workers, the media ostensibly took the miners' side and, at times, reported every 30 minutes. Of course, this also had the positive effect that sympathy among the masses for the fight increased, and it acquired symbolic character.

Subsequent to a secret meeting with the top management of Ruhrkohle AG (RAG) on March 7, the rightist trade-union bureaucracy oriented towards "occupations of the factories" without a stoppage of production. Anyone who even mentioned the word "strike" was shouted down by the reformists. Until today, the character of the struggle as an independent mass strike is generally passed over in silence by the bourgeois media. Militant fellow-workers who stayed before and in the mines, despite the continuous activities organized by the reformists, prevented the stop of the strike for six days. However, against the reformist disorganization they did not yet succeed in organizing a conscious strike on a mass scale.

In the course of the struggle, politicization grew and the forms of struggle intensified. On March 11, miners stormed the protected zone around parliament in Bonn, shouting "We are the people! Kohl must go!" The rejection of the Berger plan increased; its real nature was grasped by many miners only now under the influence of the Vortrieb, which meanwhile appeared as strike newssheet at all mines in the Ruhr area, and of the MLPD. The struggle threatened to become uncontrollable for those in rule. Solidarity actions spread, and on March 13 the workers at the Bochum Opel works also went on strike for five minutes. On March 11, Kohl had still declared high-handedly, "Anyone who thinks he can force me, the Chancellor, to his knees is mistaken." But on March 13, his government had to openly back down. They announced that there would be "no mass layoffs." Though many people doubted whether they could trust this announcement, they pursued the hope that "things will not come to the worst." The petty-bourgeois reformist mode of thinking proved deeply rooted; a struggle can break it up, but not overcome it.

Those in power tried to inflict a negative fighting experience on the miners. The miners were forced to work extra shifts, wages were reduced, and 45 miners were placed under investigation by public prosecutors. The bourgeois mass media kept quiet. On March 13, Berger still hoped, "March 13 stands at the end of a conflict." Vortrieb and the MLPD helped the miners to draw positive conclusions. Still during the strike, the Vortrieb had exposed the "subsidies lie" and the illusion of the "socially balanced dismantling of jobs." On both issues, the miners are disillusioned about the "social partner" RAG on a mass scale today. Many miners sense that the oncoming struggle against 11,200 layoffs and further pit closures will get harder. It must be prepared systematically and be independently organized with clear class slogans. Against this, the bourgeois mass media pointedly use demoralization as a weapon. (Political Report of the CC of the MLPD, February 1998, pp. 5-8)

 

II. On the importance of the Chinese Cultural Revolution for the international communist movement

The MLPD has the position that there will be a new upswing in the struggle for socialism only if the international Marxist-Leninist and working-class movement draws the lessons from the restoration of capitalism in, without exception, all former socialist countries. In its Party Program, the MLPD states:

The class struggle between the socialist and the capitalist road determines the development of contradictions also in socialist society over a very long historical period. This struggle is mainly waged as a struggle over the mode of thinking.

One cannot build up socialism with a petty-bourgeois mode of thinking. On the contrary, socialism is undermined, eroded and eventually destroyed. Socialism can win only with the proletarian, socialist mode of thinking prevailing. For that, the control of the mode of thinking of the responsible bureaucracy on all levels and the development and consolidation of the proletarian mode of thinking of the masses are decisive. (Program of the Marxist-Leninist Party, pp. 46-47)

 

By mobilizing the masses of the people in their millions, Mao Zedong found the only possible and correct answer to prevent a threatening restoration of capitalism and to consolidate the dictatorship of the proletariat. It is precisely the renunciation of mobilizing the masses against the degenerated representatives of bureaucracy which the MLPD emphasizes as one of the main errors of the classic of Marxism-Leninism, Stalin. It is so much the more important that the Marxist-Leninist and working-class movement assimilates the doctrine of Mao Zedong of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. The MLPD has summarized the principles of the Cultural Revolution as follows:

The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution is:

1. the highest form of class struggle in socialist society;

2. the awakening and rapid development of socialist consciousness in the masses by means of criticism and self-criticism and by studying and, at the same time, putting into practice Mao Zedong Thought;

3. the concrete form of exercising the dictatorship of the proletariat to prevent the bureaucratization of the Party, the government and management apparatus (against capitalist-roaders in power);

4. the building of an ideological-political barrier against the danger of capitalist restoration.

The concept of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution is a great contribution to Marxism-Leninism under the conditions of class struggle in socialism. This class struggle manifests itself as a dictatorship of the proletariat in the form of the sharpest control over the bureaucracy, which is guided by petty-bourgeois thinking that is spontaneously generated again and again by the tradition of bourgeois ideology. Therefore, the bureaucracy endeavors to separate itself from the masses, to look down on them and ignore them.

This bureaucracy systematically develops into a new class which takes the capitalist road and gives rise to the danger of a capitalist restoration. At that point the danger will have to be eliminated once more by a new Proletarian Cultural Revolution. (Willi Dickhut, State-Monopoly Capitalism in the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG), Stuttgart 1979; English ed. 2001, Vol. II, Part IV, p. 575)

 

The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution has been and still is the main target of the wildest attacks of modern revisionists and modern anticommunists. The present revisionist Chinese leaders likewise do not miss out on any opportunity to fight the achievements of the Cultural Revolution with lies and slander and to rehabilitate the overthrown working-class enemies and counterrevolutionaries. Greedily, the Western imperialists take up the latest concoctions from China in their media in order to deceive the working class. In their slander against the Cultural Revolution, there is a unity of the Western imperialists, modern revisionists of Moscow as well as Beijing molding, Trotskyites, the followers of the Hoxha line and the anti-authoritarians. Undoubtedly, some mistakes and exaggerations happened inevitably in the course of the Cultural Revolution, as they did in every other great revolution in history. However, they are of subordinate significance and cannot discount the success of the Cultural Revolution. Where there is struggle, mistakes are made, too, and party building does not go without mistakes either.

Mao Zedong, however, did not raise the issue of the control of the mode of thinking with all its consequences. At no time did the Communist Party of China have independent control commissions. Thus, its CC was uncontrolled and that in a situation with the sharpest ideological struggles over socialist construction. A CCC in China would have had the duty to criticize the fateful error of Mao Zedong in April 1976. Under his chairmanship, the CC of the CP of China made the decision not to expel from the party the liquidator whom Mao Zedong had exposed, Deng Xiaoping. This was a wrong handling of antagonistic contradictions. It was to prove fatal mainly after Mao Zedong's death. In no way does this discount the merits of Mao Zedong. He taught and practiced the mobilization of the masses to carry out the political leadership in the struggle against the bureaucrats with a petty-bourgeois outlook.

Lenin repeatedly called for this; Stalin repeated this call, but did not put it into practice; Mao Tse-tung made it reality through the great proletarian cultural revolution. Several cultural revolutions will be necessary for final victory over petty-bourgeois thinking in the bureaucracy through continual proletarian education. There are only two alternatives:

The triumph of bureaucracy with a petty-bourgeois outlook means the triumph of counterrevolution!

The triumph of proletarian cultural revolution means the triumph of socialism! (Willi Dickhut, The End of Socialism?, Essen, 1992, p. 36)

However, with the restoration of capitalism in the People's Republic of China, the task no longer consists in carrying out a new proletarian cultural revolution, but a proletarian revolution for the overthrow of the new bourgeoisie in the leadership of party, economy and state. But the proletarian cultural revolution remains an important lesson for conducting the class struggle in socialism.

 

CC Central Committee

CCC Central Control Commission of the MLPD

CP Communist Party

CPSU Communist Party of the Soviet Union

DGB German Trade Union Federation

DKP German Communist Party (revisionist successor to KPD)

EU European Union

FRG Federal Republic of Germany

GDR German Democratic Republic (East Germany)

IGM Metal Workers Industrial Union

KABD Communist Workers' League of Germany (forerunner of MLPD)

KPD Communist Party of Germany

MLPD Marxist-Leninist Party of Germany

PDS Party of Democratic Socialism (successor to SED)

SED Socialist Unity Party

SPD Social-Democratic Party of Germany

ver.di Public service workers’ union


Literature

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