The Proletarian Front Appears in All Its Determination and Splendor!
The Communist Manifesto published in February 1848 declares, “A specter is haunting Europe — the specter of communism. [...]
“It is high time that Communists should openly, in the face of the whole world, publish their views, their aims, their tendencies, and meet this nursery tale of the Specter of Communism with a manifesto of the party itself. [...]
“The Communists disdain to conceal their views and aims. They openly declare that their ends can be attained only by the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions. Let the ruling classes tremble at a Communistic revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win. Workers of All Countries, Unite!”
The heroic words of the Manifesto summed up the practice of the Proletarian Front and fashioned its aim for the emancipation of the working class and elimination of social classes and class society. With breathtaking scope, the Communist Manifesto written by the two most active and leading revolutionaries of Europe, Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, analyzed the current conditions and reviewed the history of classes and class struggle. The Manifesto issues a clarion call for the proletariat to deepen the organization of itself into a political front capable of the conquest of political power to constitute itself the nation and free it from bourgeois rule.
“The immediate aim of the Communists is the same as that of all other proletarian parties: formation of the proletariat into a class, overthrow of the bourgeois supremacy, conquest of political power by the proletariat.
“The theoretical conclusions of the Communists are in no way based on ideas or principles that have been invented, or discovered, by this or that would-be universal reformer.
“They merely express, in general terms, actual relations springing from an existing class struggle, from a historical movement going on under our very eyes.” (Unless cited otherwise, all quotations are from the Communist Manifesto.)
Marx and Engels presented to the world a living dialectic of history and the tasks ahead using as guide the -philosophical considerations of dialectical and historical materialism only recently elaborated in their joint work The German Ideology.
Both men for years consciously participated in revolutionary acts to organize the proletarian movement for emancipation on the political, economic, social and theoretical fronts. They were leading members of the Communist League, which held its Second Congress in London from November 29 to December 8, 1847. The Second Congress was a great victory for the Proletarian Front, and upon its instructions, Marx and Engels were asked to sum up the movement and give written form to its revolutionary outlook and theoretical and practical program in a Manifesto of the Communist Party.
The result is a living dialectic that jumps from every page with its rich analysis of the conditions, tasks and aims of the proletarian movement for emancipation. The present dialectic is the title of “Chapter One -- Bourgeois and Proletarians.”
“The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.
“Freeman and slave, patrician and plebeian, lord and serf, guild-master and journeyman, in a word, oppressor and oppressed, stood in constant opposition to one another, carried on an uninterrupted, now hidden, now open fight, a fight that each time ended, either in a revolutionary reconstitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes. [...]
“The modern bourgeois society that has sprouted from the ruins of feudal society has not done away with class antagonisms. It has but established new classes, new conditions of oppression, new forms of struggle in place of the old ones.
“Our epoch, the epoch of the bourgeoisie, possesses, however, this distinct feature: it has simplified class antagonisms. Society as a whole is more and more splitting up into two great hostile camps, into two great classes directly facing each other — Bourgeoisie and Proletariat.”
Never before has the oppressed class of any society had such clarity of direction to overthrow its oppressor, never before has the reality of the objective world and a way forward been presented with such precision. The objective class contradictions drive society either to their resolution or into ruin. With the Communist Manifesto, with Contemporary Marxist-Leninist Thought, the working class has been given the tools of developing its subjective conditions on par with the objective conditions to drive history forward with conscious unity and determination.
“In bourgeois society, living labor is but a means to increase accumulated labor. In Communist society, accumulated labor is but a means to widen, to enrich, to promote the existence of the laborer.
“In bourgeois society, therefore, the past dominates the present; in Communist society, the present dominates the past. In bourgeois society, capital is independent and has individuality, while the living person is dependent and has no individuality.
“[The] proletariat must first of all acquire political supremacy, must rise to be the leading class of the nation, must constitute itself the nation. [...]”
The Manifesto not only states the aim of the Proletarian Front, it embodies dialectical and historical materialism, the philosophy of the working class. It shows how to analyze the objective conditions of the present and use the past to add clarity to the contradictions of the present and how to resolve them. In this way, the Manifesto is a living, breathing document that gains significance as conditions change. As the proletarian front analyzes the current conditions as they present themselves, the Manifesto encourages this attempt as it shows in practice how it can be done.
As a living dialectic, the content of Marxism continually evolves with the unfolding conditions and their analysis. “The present dominates the past.” And so it is with the Manifesto as it evolves with the developing class struggle into something even more compelling. Twenty-three years after its appearance, Marx and Engels alluded to the enduring quality of the Manifesto as long as the Proletarian Front bases itself on a concrete analysis of the concrete conditions. In their Preface to the 1872 German Edition of the Manifesto, they specifically point to a development in their thinking corresponding to the objective conditions:
“The practical application of the principles will depend, as the Manifesto itself states, everywhere and at all times, on the historical conditions for the time being existing, and, for that reason, no special stress is laid on the revolutionary measures proposed at the end of Section II. That passage would, in many respects, be very differently worded today. In view of the gigantic strides of Modern Industry since 1848, and of the accompanying improved and extended organization of the working class, in view of the practical experience gained, first in the February Revolution , and then, still more, in the Paris Commune , where the proletariat for the first time held political power for two whole months, this program has in some details been antiquated. One thing especially was proved by the Commune, viz., that ‘the working class cannot simply lay hold of the ready-made state machinery, and wield it for its own purposes.’ (See The Civil War in France: Address of the General Council of the International Working Men’s Association, 1871, where this point is further developed.)”
The Manifesto teaches the working class to be vigilant to defend the proletarian outlook, theory and practice under all conditions. The Manifesto presents clearly and succinctly the various political tendencies of the time in competition with the Proletarian Front, which attempt to block the working class from becoming a thinking organized force in its own interest and capable of resolving the objective class contradictions. The Manifesto analyzes the main socialist tendencies of the present and past to arm the Proletarian Front for the struggle it faces:
“Chapter III. Socialist and Communist Literature
“1. Reactionary Socialism
“2. Conservative or Bourgeois Socialism
“3. Critical-Utopian Socialism and Communism”
This content teaches the Proletarian Front to be conscious and aware of the political subterfuges of the bourgeoisie. The class enemy consciously and spontaneously organizes groups and tendencies calling themselves socialists and Marxists to undermine the proletariat on the political, theoretical and ideological fronts. In this regard, the bourgeoisie becomes ever more experienced even posing as Marxists. Engels repeats a comment where Marx famously said of a self-proclaimed “Marxist” group in France: “What is known as ‘Marxism’ in France is, indeed, an altogether peculiar product -- so much so that Marx once said to Lafargue: ‘Ce qu’il y a de certain c’est que moi, je ne suis pas Marxiste’.” (“If anything is certain, it is that I myself am not a Marxist.” — Engels’ letter of November 1882 to Eduard Bernstein)
European Socialism Revises and Defames the Communist Manifesto
The importance of a thinking Proletarian Front that is conscious of socialist tendencies and the necessity to defend the purity of Marxism intensified in the period after the deaths of Marx and Engels during the rise of imperialism at the turn of the century. European socialism subjected Marxism and the Communist Manifesto to a revision of its ideology to make it acceptable to the imperialist bourgeoisie. The worst example of revisionism and its betrayal of the Communist Manifesto was the capitulation of European socialism to the imperialist war of 1914.
Vladimir Lenin writes of the degeneration of European socialism into revisionism and social-chauvinism:
“Social-chauvinism is advocacy of the idea of ‘defense of the fatherland’ in the present war [WWI]. Further, this idea logically leads to the abandonment of the class struggle during the war, to voting war credits, etc. [...] The social-chauvinists repeat the bourgeois deception of the people that the war is being waged to protect the freedom and existence of nations, and thereby they go over to the side of the bourgeoisie against the proletariat. [...] Social-chauvinism, being actually defense of the privileges, advantages, robbery and violence of one’s ‘own’ (or every) imperialist bourgeoisie, is the utter betrayal of all socialist convictions and of the decision of the Basle International Socialist Congress. [...] The manifesto on war that was unanimously adopted in Basle in 1911 had in view the very war between England and Germany and their present allies that broke out in 1914. The manifesto openly declares that no plea of the interests of the people can justify such a war, waged ‘for the sake of the profits of the capitalists’ and ‘the ambitions of dynasties’ on the basis of the imperialist, predatory policy of the great powers. [...] The Basle Manifesto lays down, precisely for the present war, the tactics of revolutionary struggle by the workers on an international scale against their governments, the tactics of proletarian revolution. The Basle Manifesto repeats the statement in the Stuttgart resolution that, in the event of war breaking out, Socialists must take advantage of the ‘economic and political crisis’ it will cause, to ‘hasten the downfall of capitalism,’ i.e., to take advantage of the governments’ embarrassments and the anger of the masses, caused by the war, for the socialist revolution.
“The policy of the social-chauvinists, their justification of the war from the bourgeois-liberation standpoint, their sanctioning of ‘defense of the fatherland,’ voting credits, entering cabinets, and so on and so forth, is downright treachery to Socialism, which can be explained only, as we will see lower down, by the victory of opportunism and of the national-liberal labor policy in the majority of European parties. [...] Not a single Marxist has any doubt that opportunism expresses bourgeois policy within the working-class movement, expresses the interests of the petty bourgeoisie and the alliance of a tiny section of bourgeoisified workers with ‘their’ bourgeoisie against the interests of the proletarian masses, the oppressed masses. [...] Opportunism and social-chauvinism have the same ideological-political content: collaboration of classes instead of class struggle, renunciation of revolutionary methods of struggle, helping one’s ‘own’ government in its embarrassed situation instead of taking advantage of these embarrassments for revolution. [...] Opportunism has ‘matured,’ is now playing to the full its role as emissary of the bourgeois in the working-class movement. [...] Unity with the opportunists actually means today, subordinating the working class to ‘its’ national bourgeoisie, alliance with it for the purpose of oppressing other nations and of fighting for great-power privileges, it means splitting the revolutionary proletariat in all countries. [...] [European socialists] rob Marxism of its revolutionary living spirit; they recognize everything in Marxism except revolutionary methods of struggle, the preaching of and preparation for such methods, and the training of the masses precisely in this direction. [...] The working class cannot play its world-revolutionary role unless it wages a ruthless struggle against this renegacy (apostasy), spinelessness, subservience to opportunism and unexampled vulgarization of the theories of Marxism. [...] [European socialism is] a combination of loyalty to Marxism in words and subordination to opportunism in deeds.” (Socialism and War -- The Attitude of the Russian Social-Democratic Labor Party Towards the War, 1915)
The adherence of the Russian Social-Democratic Labor Party (Bolsheviks) to Marxism in words and deeds and to the principles of the Communist Manifesto allowed the working class in Russia to play its world-revolutionary role with the victory of the Proletarian Front in alliance with the peasantry in the 1917 Great October Socialist Revolution. The formation of the first nation-building project of the working class proved the revolutionary thesis in the Communist Manifesto. The October socialist revolution was the living testament of the Manifesto and advanced it to a new stage of Marxism-Leninism in conformity with the objective conditions of monopoly capitalism.
Settling Scores with Modern Revisionism and the Fight to Bring Into Being the Human Factor/Social Consciousness
A specific feature of modern revisionism was its introduction of bourgeois politics and outlook into the communist and workers’ movement whereby gossip about individuals and events and character assassination of the figure of J.V. Stalin replaced the critical tasks of sorting out the problems society faced in the present, most importantly, the need for the theoretical elaboration of a path forward under socialism. In this way, modern revisionism diverted attention away from the heroic efforts and victories of the Soviet peoples in building socialism and defending the nation-building project of the working class from imperialist invasion and subversion. The Soviet Union under the authority of modern revisionism degenerated into Soviet social-imperialism in competition with U.S. imperialism, plunging the world into the danger of nuclear war. The main feature of this revisionism was to block the Proletarian Front from solving the problems of developing the socialist revolution to a new stage and extending it throughout the world.
In Canada, Hardial Bains led the formation of the anti-imperialist youth and students’ movement, The Internationalists, in 1963 in Vancouver to settle scores with modern revisionism and rebuild the Proletarian Front. For all communists, upholding the thesis and principles of the Communist Manifesto and settling scores with modern revisionism require organizing and building the Proletarian Front and developing modern definitions of the political, economic, cultural and social affairs of today according to the objective conditions. It demands conscious participation in individual acts of finding out how to advance the proletarian movement for emancipation; it entails collective work and individual responsibility to build the institutions of the Proletarian Front and to deepen and disseminate Contemporary Marxist-Leninist Thought.
Hardial Bains in a preface written for the 1998 Edition of the Necessity for Change pamphlet states:
“[The pamphlet by The Internationalists] puts forward the analysis that lays down ideological remolding as the key to the uninterrupted advance and victory of revolution. Basing themselves on the concrete contemporary situation and the problems of the working class movement, The Internationalists took up the questions of organization and the role of the individual in the revolutionary transformation within the context of the work of the collective. To achieve this, The Internationalists launched their most resolute offensive against the prevailing culture in ideological and social forms, so as to prepare the subjective forces for revolution in the course of waging the revolutionary class battles.
“The creation of a new class, such as the working class, has brought forth its own ideology and social form with its own coherence. The ascendancy of the working class has left its imprint to the extent it is fighting for its own interests and its own new coherence. The most distinguishing feature of the working class, making it so distinct and radically different from all other classes, is that it cannot emancipate itself without emancipating the entire humanity. Thus, its new coherence has to be consistent with its aim of emancipating the whole of humanity.
“The capitalist class, the old class, as it is passing away, has introduced its own notions of emancipation, its own corruption into the working class movement. It calls upon the workers to fight for ‘a bigger slice of the pie,’ for a redistribution of wealth, while keeping the old society intact. It has created an untenable situation whereby the working class finances its own leaders to fight against its own interests.
“By 1967, these bourgeois tendencies had also entrenched themselves in the communist movement and brought it to the point of liquidation, against which a huge movement developed. A number of tendencies were taking shape in this struggle, from purely intellectualizing about what the ‘most correct’ position should be, to merely linking with some center whether in Moscow, Belgrade, Beijing, Europe or any other.
“The Internationalists linked the ideological struggle and the struggle against bourgeois culture with the concrete work to build and strengthen an organization. The Necessity for Change (NFC) analysis was directed towards making people conscious about this approach. With its broad sweep, the analysis presented a vision that aroused everyone to undertake ideological work and take up the social forms consistent with their tasks. It was a clarion call for the activists, communists and those aspiring to be communists to break with the old conscience, the anti-consciousness, the ‘particular prejudices of society, transmitted through parents and social institutions.’ This call was linked directly with ‘seeking the truth to serve the people.’ The NFC analysis forcefully provided a world outlook based on Marx’s dialectical and historical materialism as a guide to action and provided a solution to tackle the problems of ideological struggle and social forms. [...]
“The NFC analysis begins with what is given. It analyses the given to overcome it and to establish what really is within those conditions. It establishes a valuable approach and provides a concrete way to tackle reality. It begins by taking up the important question of history. Under the section History-As-Such, the NFC puts forward the profound role of history, as opposed to what merely exists at the present time.
“History, according to our historicism, begins from the present. It reveals in precise terms the problem, which has been brought forth for solution. It is the solution of this specific problem, which creates history. If the problem, as a historical problem, or, if the contradictions which are historical are not resolved, there will be no forward march, and thus no history. [...]
“The NFC actually made history. It revealed how revolutionary forces could march from point A to point B, ensuring that each step becomes a cornerstone in the development of history. Today, as was the case in the sixties, the ideological struggle and culture in social form have assumed the first position in the building of a revolutionary organization and in the creation of subjective conditions for revolution. For instance, can a communist party be strengthened if it withdraws from the ideological struggle against the class enemy or wages it in an unprofessional, amateurish and spontaneous manner? The answer is no, it cannot strengthen itself. [...] A Communist Party, if it is to realize its tasks in a mature, professional and on-going manner, must develop revolutionary culture in ideological form, on the one hand, and the revolutionization of culture in social form, on the other. The NFC analysis precisely establishes the framework for doing so. [...]
“The prevailing factor, which is everything that the capitalist class hopes would safeguard its future, can be summed up in its anti-human factor/anti-consciousness. [...] According to the capitalist class, neither human beings nor their social consciousness play any role in solving problems. It places in the first place private property and the institutions created to defend it, along with the ideology of irrationalism. The bourgeoisie subordinates human beings and the human factor/social consciousness to them. The capitalist class uses the anti-human factor/anti-consciousness as a weapon against all social forces for change, development and motion. [...]
“In all its work, CPC(M-L) pays first-rate attention to the human factor/social consciousness. No work can be realized without bringing it into play. CPC(M-L) must be seen as the political party that has as its main interest to raise the ideological, theoretical and political level of the working class and people so that they themselves can work out and build that system which will enable them to exercise control over their lives. Whether it is consolidating an aspect of the work of CPC(M-L), fighting the anti-social offensive or winning the battle for a pro-social agenda, the first problem which arises is of the human factor/social consciousness. What is the state of the human factor/social consciousness? What is needed to bring it on par with what is required to make the work successful? Raising these questions and finding the ways and means of doing what is necessary is the beginning of the development of the human factor/social consciousness. The NFC analysis provides this problem with a solution.”
At the historic meeting in Chertsey, Quebec in 1989, Hardial Bains declared, “We say very openly that we want the rule of the working class and no one else [...] because it is the working class which is the producing class and is the most thoroughgoing revolutionary class whose aims cannot be achieved without overthrowing capitalism through revolution. [...] Today it does not matter which question is taken up [...] the bourgeoisie cannot find a solution. Only the working class can find a solution. It is the working class which is at the center, and our views are the views of the working class.”
In his speech Comrade Bains emphasized that the most important problem in terms of specific work is to win the mass of workers over to the side of history: “One should go with a passion, like one goes towards a loved one because this beloved of ours, the working class, is the only social force which can save the world, save humankind. [...]”
Comrade Bains said, “This is not the era of knights and individual heroes. It is an era of the collective work of the working class and its allies. It is the era of the Party, the era of imperialism and the social revolution of the proletariat, as Comrade Lenin said. So in this meeting we celebrate the developments, the progressive movement, the strengthening, stabilizing and consolidation of a political movement. And we have that political movement here, our Party, its allies, its mass organizations, especially the mass party press of which we are very proud. [...]”
Contemporary Marxist-Leninist Thought is a single sheet of steel stretching from the present back to the Communist Manifesto and beyond to all that humanity has produced in its struggle to be. The working class is one class with one program around which it mobilizes the people to defend the rights of all and prepare itself subjectively, especially ideologically, as an organized, determined and united force to deprive the ruling monopoly capitalist class of its political, economic and ideological power to deprive the working class of its right to assume its modern role to constitute itself the nation, vest sovereignty in the people and let flower the human factor/social consciousness.
History and life itself demand that the thinking proletariat engage in acts of conscious participation in acts of finding out to settle scores with modern revisionism and solve the problems of organizing the Proletarian Front throughout the country. The Canadian working class as a contingent of the international proletariat is the inheritor of the Communist Manifesto and the Great October Socialist Revolution. The Proletarian Front pledges not to besmirch that treasured legacy. Thinking workers consciously organized and engaged in acts of finding out are determined to play their world-revolutionary role to overthrow imperialism and advance humanity towards the complete emancipation of the working class and the elimination of social classes and class society. (TML Weekly, cpcml.ca)
Long Live the Manifesto of the Communist Party!