Keynote Speech to the study conference to celebrate in advance the 100th anniversary of the October Revolution in Amsterdam, The Netherlands on September 23, 2017
By Prof. Jose Maria Sison
Founding Chairman, Communist Party of the Philippines
Chairperson, International League of Peoples’ Struggle
Dear comrades and friends,
I am honored and grateful to address you in this two-day study conference to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution and to uphold its validity and relevance to the struggle of the proletariat and people for national liberation, democracy and socialism against US imperialism and all reaction. Let me extend to all the participants and guests my warmest revolutionary greetings on behalf of the International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS).
My task today is to give an overview of the four major topics to be presented by subsequent speakers and discussed in the interaction with the other participants. I shall comment briefly on the topics and try to whet your interest in the presentations of the speakers and in the subsequent open forum.
Re Topic 1: Achievements of the October Revolution: Celebrate the Historic Significance of the October Revolution
The great Lenin extended and developed the theory and practice of Marxism to that of Marxism-Leninism in the era of modern imperialism and proletarian revolution. He led the Bolsheviks and the people in turning the inter-imperialist World War I into a revolutionary civil war, thus overthrowing Tsarism through the February 1917 revolution and subsequently the bourgeois Kerensky government in the Great October Socialist Revolution. All power passed on to the soviets of workers peasants and soldiers, which led to the establishment of the Soviet Union on one-sixth of the surface of the earth.
by 1920, the Red Army defeated the White Armies and by 1922, the foreign allied interventionist forces of the United Kingdom, France, Greece, Canada, Australia, United States, Japan, Italy, Romania and China. Under conditions of civil war, Soviet Russia adopted the economic and political policy of “war communism” from 1918 to 1921. It subsequently adopted the New Economic Policy in order to revive the economy by giving concessions to small and medium entrepreneurs and traders. Thereafter, Stalin carried out full scale industrialization and the collectivization and mechanization of agriculture.
The Soviet Union stood as the world’s center of socialist revolution and construction. It served as the bulwark of socialism against imperialism and all reaction. Through the Communist International (Comintern), it propagated the principles of the October Revolution and inspired the proletariat and peoples in various countries to build their revolutionary parties, alliances and mass movements in the face of colonial and imperialist plunder, crisis and aggression.
During World War II, the Soviet Union became the target of a massive invasion and occupation by Nazi Germany. It launched a determined and victorious counteroffensive and played the key role in the defeat of fascism in Europe. Consequently, several socialist countries arose in Eastern Europe and in East Germany. In Asia, the Communist Party of China and its Red Army fought and defeated the main bulk of the Japanese fascist aggressors in orchestration with the resistance of other communist parties and peoples in Asia.
Consequently, national liberation movements arose and aimed for socialism. In 1949, China won nationwide victory in its people’s democratic revolution and became the biggest bulwark of socialism with a quarter of the world’s population. The US waged wars of aggression against Korea in 1951-53, and Vietnam and the rest of Indochina in the 1960s and 1970s but failed to subjugate them. By the early 1950s, one third of humankind were governed and led by the revolutionary parties of the proletariat.
Re Topic 2: Revisionist betrayal and consequences: Draw and share lessons from the reversal of the October Revolution
After the death of Stalin, modern revisionism gained ascendancy in the Soviet Union under Khrushchov in 1956. It spread the wrong notion that the working class had accomplished its historic mission of building socialism. This notion was traceable to the premature declaration in the Soviet Constitution of 1936 that classes and class struggle had ended, except the struggle between imperialism and the Soviet people. Learning from capitalism to advance socialism was considered creative. The Soviet state and economy were decentralized. The factories were autonomized and made responsible for their costs and profits and managers were allowed to hire and fire workers. The agricultural collectives were likewise autonomized and became the owners of the machine and tractor stations.
Bourgeois populism was propagated through such concepts as the state and party of “the whole people”, and bourgeois pacifism with such concepts as “peaceful transition” to socialism, “peaceful economic competition”, and “peaceful co-existence” as not only the line for diplomatic relations among states but as the general line for both the Party and the state in all types of international relations. These bourgeois concepts violated the principle of proletarian internationalism, thus discouraging or undermining the revolutionary struggles for national liberation and socialism. Khrushchov was obsessed with developing détente with the US and its imperialist allies, in general discouraging armed revolutions despite instances of adventurism.
Brezhnev deposed Khrushchov in 1964 supposedly for bungling agricultural policy and irresponsible actions in foreign relations. But he adopted the basic revisionist notions of Khrushchov. Thus, Brezhnevism was sometimes defined as Khrushchovism without Khrushchov. But there were some real differences between them. Brezhnev had to recentralize certain ministries in order for the central government to have the resources for its bureaucratic operations and for the arms race with the United States. He allowed not only the bourgeoisie to flourish but also the criminal syndicates to thieve on state enterprises and deliver the goods to the expanded free market. Under his rule up to his death in 1982, the Soviet economy conspicuously stagnated from the middle of the 1970s onwards.
He practised social imperialism, socialism in words but imperialism in deeds, at the expense of other countries he regarded as having “limited sovereignty” under the international “proletarian dictatorship” of the Soviet Union. The Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 and the deployment of a million Soviet troops on the borders with China were signal acts of Soviet social-imperialism. However, the Soviet Union extended considerable support and assistance to Cuba, the struggles of the Palestinian and Arab peoples, and the wars of national liberation in Indochina and Africa in the 1970s. The invasion of Afghanistan became a quagmire for the Soviet Union, repeating the error of the US in Vietnam.
The successors of Brezhnev plodded in the political and economic stagnation he bequeathed, until Gorbachov emerged as the Soviet leader who appeared akin to Khrushchov in terms of blatant opposition to Marxism-Leninism and socialism, by promoting glasnost (new thinking) and perestroika (restructuring). During his reign, Gorbachov systematically sabotaged or dismantled public institutions and publicly-owned means of production while favoring privatization. He manipulated shortages of basic commodities to discredit the state stores and to push the organization of Yugoslavia-type cooperatives. Ultimately, he collaborated with Yeltsin in liquidating the Soviet Union and replacing it with the fictive Commonwealth of Independent States against the referendum vote of the Soviet people that favored the retention of the Soviet Union.
Modern revisionism centered in the Soviet Union led ultimately to the conspicuous 1989-91 events of rapid and full restoration of capitalism. All the countries ruled by revisionist ruling cliques engaged in the rapid, undisguised and full restoration of capitalism. Revisionist parties in or out of power discarded their communist names and disintegrated, with the exception of the Chinese ruling party. The Soviet Union no less collapsed. US imperialism emerged as the winner in the Cold War and the sole superpower in the world.
The betrayal of socialism by the ruling revisionist renegades resulted in the strategic defeat and retreat of proletarian revolutionary parties and mass movements for national liberation and socialism. It further allowed the US to engage in all kinds of offensives against the people of the world who stand for national independence, democracy and socialism in all fields: ideological, political, economic and military.
Re Topic 3: The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution as counter to the rise of modern revisionism
The dominance of modern revisionism in the Soviet Party and State resulted in two conflicting currents within the Chinese Communist Party and the Chinese state. The dominant current in China was spearheaded by Chairman Mao Zedong who asserted Marxism-Leninism against modern revisionism. He led the CPC and the Chinese people from victory to victory in the new democratic and socialist stages of the Chinese revolution.
But opposite bourgeois currents were bred by old and new factors in Chinese society after the 1949 nationwide victory of the revolution.The traditional worship and mimicry of Soviet practices, even when inapplicable or already revisionist, also had adverse influences as a result of the large numbers of students and worker-trainees who went to the Soviet Union when Khruschovite revisionism was already on the rise. Thus, there were Rightists and revisionists who opposed the leadership of Mao in the Eighth Congress of the CPC, the Great Leap Forward, the socialist education movement and the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (GPCR).
The GPCR sought to carry out the theory of continuing revolution under proletarian dictatorship in order to combat modern revisionism, prevent the restoration of capitalism and consolidate socialism. It upheld materialist dialectics, the proletarian-socialist stand, viewpoint and method and the line that class struggle is the key link against the revisionist line that classes and class struggle had already withered or were withering away and that it was necessary merely to attend to developing the productive forces. The GPCR asserted the need for the continuous revolutionization of the mode of production and the superstructure. It put forward and practiced the principles and methods for consolidating and advancing socialism.
On the whole, in its ten-year span from 1966 to 1976, the GPCR led by Mao won great victories in socialist revolution and construction, despite revisionist opposition and the twists and turns in the class struggle. But after the death of Mao in 1976, the Deng Xiaoping revisionist clique succeeded in making a coup against the proletarian revolutionaries and the legacy of Mao. It capitalized on certain ultra-Left errors even if already rectified in order to whip up a Rightist backlash in domestic affairs that paved the way for capitalist-oriented and anti-socialist reforms. It took advantage of the rapprochement with the US to push forward the integration of China into the world capitalist system under the pretext of opposing Soviet social-imperialism.
There are far more positive lessons to learn from the GPCR than from the negative lessons laid bare by its shortcomings and eventual defeat from the revisionist capitalist-roaders. The correct attitude to take is that of Marx in thoroughly studying both the victory and defeat of the prototype of the proletarian dictatorship in the Paris Commune of 1871. We learn the positive lessons to do better in the proletarian revolution in the next round of struggle and we learn the negative lessons to prevent the bourgeoisie from prevailing.
The restoration of capitalism in China proves beyond doubt the correctness of the GPCR in posing the problem of capitalist restoration through modern revisionism. This scourge has been even more lethal than outright imperialist aggression against socialism. The GPCR provides us with the principles and methods for summing up and analyzing experience and facing up to new circumstances and challenges. The epochal struggle between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie is long and is subject to retrogressions and further advances. The struggle for socialism will take a long historical epoch in ridding the world of imperialism and paving the way for communism. The communist objective of making a radical rupture from millennia of private ownership of the means of production is no small task.
Re Topic 4: Continuing validity of the principles of the October Revolution against imperialism and for socialism
Since the restoration of capitalism in the revisionist-ruled countries and the collapse of the Soviet Union in the years 1989-91, drastic changes have occurred in the position of US imperialism in the world capitalist system. For a while from 1991 to the first decade of the 21st century, it appeared as the winner of the Cold War and the sole superpower. It launched an ideological and political offensive, claiming that the socialist cause was dead and that capitalism under US hegemony was endless. It pushed harder the offensive of unbridled imperialist greed in the form of the neoliberal economic policy as well as the most brutal of military offensives, state terrorism and wars of aggression under the neoconservative policy of full-spectrum dominance.
Since 2008, however, the US has been on a much accelerated state of strategic decline. It is confronted by a self-generated economic and financial crisis that the US-controlled multilateral agencies cannot solve until now. It is weighed down by the rising costs of crises and wars and by a public debt of unprecedented proportions. It is still the single biggest economic and military power but it can no longer dictate to several other capitalist powers in a multipolar world. The entry of China and Russia in the top circle of capitalist powers has intensified inter-imperialist contradictions and the struggle for a redivision of the world.
It is a growing problem for the capitalist powers to modulate their contradictions at the further expense of the proletariat and the oppressed peoples and nations that have too long suffered and are compelled to resist. All major contradictions in the world are intensifying as the crisis of the world capitalist system is recurring and worsening at an accelerated rate. The broad masses of the people in the imperialist and non-imperialist countries are suffering grievously from the escalation of oppression and exploitation and are waging various forms of resistance. The objective conditions are favorable for the rise of the subjective forces of the revolution.
The most resolute and militant revolutionary parties and seminal party groups are those guided by the theory of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism. They are in various industrial capitalist and undeveloped countries. They are the best motivated and best equipped ideologically to carry forward the world proletarian revolution, combat the counterrevolutionary and anti-socialist campaigns of imperialism, revisionism and other counterrevolutionary currents. In this regard, they can avail of the theory of continuing revolution under proletarian dictatorship through cultural revolution in socialist society. They are in various stages of development in arousing, organizing and mobilizing the proletariat and broad masses of the people.
We are still in the era of modern imperialism and proletarian revolution, especially because of the betrayal of socialism by modern revisionism and the full restoration of capitalism in revisionist-ruled countries. But we are confident of the prospects for the next wave of revolutionary struggles and the subsequent advance of socialism. We are now in a period of great transition to the full resurgence of the anti-imperialist, democratic and socialist movements.
The key to the advance and victories of the proletarian revolution is the building of the revolutionary parties of the proletariat under the guidance of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism and the application of this theory on the history and circumstances of every country through the adoption and implementation of the general line of struggle of the revolutionary forces and the people against imperialism and all reaction for the purpose of seizing political power and building socialism.
Re: General Declaration on the Continuing Validity of the October Revolution in the 21st Century
In conclusion, I hope that my general comments, the more focused contributions of the other speakers and the discussions in open forum would help in constructing and polishing The General Declaration: The Continuing Validity of the October Revolution in the 21st Century to be issued by the conference for signing and approval by all interested parties and groups. I am confident that the Declaration shall describe and define clearly the historical background and current conditions of the revolutionary struggle of the proletariat and peoples of the world and set forth the tasks in building the subjective forces of the world proletarian revolution in ideological, political and organizational terms.