Rebellion Is Justified!: Continued Revolution under Socialism Means Seizing Power

Wednesday, May 24

Continued Revolution under Socialism Means Seizing Power

In 1975, a film was released in China called “Breaking with Old Ideas.” The central plot of the movie surrounds the struggle of working people to gain entrance to an agricultural college, as well the struggle over what role education should serve in a socialist society. My favorite scene in the film is when there is mass meeting concerning the criteria for student admissions, and a revolutionary cadre at the college holds aloft the hand of a young worker, and proclaims, “These calluses are his qualification for admission!” The point here is that educational institutions under socialism must serve the working people, and also must promote overcoming the contradiction between mental and manual labor, and between town and countryside.

There is a weakness in the film, however: until the very end of the movie, it is unclear whether or not the revolutionary forces at the school will win out against the backward school officials. Finally, an official in a government car arrives with a note from Mao Zedong, praising the revolutionaries. The masses erupt in celebration of their victory, and then the film ends. A year after the film was released, a counterrevolutionary military coup was carried out, and the revolutionary leadership was crushed, with little armed resistance. Had many good revolutionaries become too accustomed to looking to the center for strength? Perhaps a more apt film would have portrayed the January Storm in Shanghai during January of 1967. In this uprising, the reactionary-led local Party committee was overthrown, and the revolutionary forces seized control of media, factories, and state offices. They masses did so without getting a note from anyone in Beijing.

“Petitioning the Center” or Seizing Power?

Under Stalin, aggrieved workers and farmers wrote to Stalin, in the hopes of finding relief from the abuses of local officials. The same was true of working people in China under Mao’s leadership. And there is nothing at all wrong with this, in itself. A revolutionary leadership is crucial to the success of socialist revolution and construction. However, such activity alone is insufficient, and is furthermore a great hindrance if the masses of people do not mobilize to actually seize political power for the revolutionary forces, and overthrow those officials carrying out reactionary policies.

On the other hand, there is a real danger from rampant, misdirected “leftism.” Zhang Chunqiao, one of Mao’s closest comrades arrested after the chairman’s death, raised criticism of anarchism, and in particular pointed out the ways in which rightists use ultra-“leftism” to sabotage the Party and socialist society. In other words, legality cannot be completely dispensed with. There must be a legal mechanism to provide channels for revolutionary renewal in society, without opening the door to class subversion and counterrevolution. It will not be an easy task for future socialist states to devise such organizational forms.

Nepal’s Answer

A Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) document states that “(e)xperience has proved that after assuming state power, when various leaders and cadres of the Party are involved in running the state affairs, then there is strong chance that physical environment may swiftly reduce the Party into a bureaucratic, careerist and luxurious class. With intensification of this danger the Party will become more formal and alienated from the masses, in the same proportion. This process when it reaches to certain level of its own development, it is bound to be transformed into counter-revolution. In order to prevent such danger as counter-revolution to happen, it is important to develop further organizational mechanism and system so that Party is constantly under the vigilance, control and service of the proletariat and working masses according to the theory of two-line struggle and continuous revolution.”

The document gives specific policy recommendations as well, calling for “organizing political competition within the constitutional limits of the anti-feudal and anti-imperialist democratic state. Only by institutionalizing the rights of the masses to install an alternative revolutionary Party or leadership on the state if the Party fails to continuously revolutionize itself that counter-revolution can be effectively checked.” It may well be the case that the CPN (Maoist) has gone the furthest of the communist parties to date in assimilating the lessons of the reversals to the cause of socialism, and in understanding how to simultaneously protect a revolution from its enemies while preventing political degeneration resulting from bureaucratization.

Reference: http://cpnm.org/new/English/worker/9issue/document.htm

2 Comments:

At May 29, 2006, Blogger celticfire said...

I think the CPN(M) has made significant contributions in this regard. Political agency among the masses is a subject that makes dogmatists uncofortable, but is very important that there is a formal expression of the massline within then new socialist state. Of course, as you correctly write - the point is to keep power in the hands of the masses of people, not a handful of officials, and over relying on the center can lead to an opening for revisionism.

This is my core difference with Bob Avakian. He correctly analyzed that China had fallen to the revisionists, but when it comes to solving the problem of preventing revisionism, he falls flat. And the continuation of the cult of personality equates the leader WITH socialism itself. Another problem, because when the leader dies (he can NEVER retire because there is a cult of personality..) it leaves a wide gap for revisionists to seize, not because of the "greatness" of the leader at defending the state from revisionists (althought that might be the case, especially in Mao, it isn't the point--) both in the Soviet Union and China the revisionists forces utilized the cult of personality for their own aims. So a cult of personality, especially the one the RCP is developing, is not in anyway a legitimate dividing line for "who is a communist and who isn't."

Good post!

In revolutionary struggle--
cf

 
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